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Afterglow

Summary:
The in canon tale of the daughter Rose never thought she could have. When my mother found me, fate seemed to link us together. Not only was I the daughter she never dreamed she'd have, I was unusually unappetizing for a human. However, being raised by vampires does not come without conflict. This is my tale about growing up Cullen and finding love in the most unexpected place. The world's largest coven is about to get a whole lot larger!


Notes:
Sorrowfully, I do not own the Twilight saga or any of its characters. They belong to the glorious Stephenie Meyer. But Emmalie is MINE, as is the plot. :)


8. Accidents

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 7320   Review this Chapter

Two years and 247 days later.....

"Emma, you've been in there long enough! Out now, before I take the damn door off the hinges!" rang the threatening order outside my bathroom. I sighed and pushed my luck, running a brush through my tangle-free hair and applying another layer of lip gloss. After a half-satisfying glance in the mirror, I flung open the door as requested. Exercising all of my haughty teenage antics, I awarded her a defiant stare.

Ignoring me, she slipped into the bathroom and tossed open the drawers to my vanity, searching its contents until she spotted what she was rummaging for. "You were in my stuff again," she coldly sang as she plucked out her eyelash curler and zipped it safely away in her Chanel cosmetic bag. Her death rays did all the scolding for her. I could not help but sneer as I stomped down the hall.

"Christ on a bike, Mia! I was just borrowing it!" I yelled back to her. She growled, trailing after me into my room.

"Borrowing insinuates asking, then returning. You did neither ....and take off that gunk on your beautiful face," she commanded, her perfectly sculpted eyebrows lowered.

I used to think she was lying through her pearly teeth when she told me I was beautiful. I was certain it was some family conspiracy; brainwash the human into believing she is good-looking. Yet at some point, I came to the realization that I was actually attractive.

To complement my mature, almost 16-year-oldattitude, I had all the curves a girl could want. I still was slender, small in general. Alice and I were much alike in size; like her, I was still petite but not without my assets. The thick hair that my Mia had always forbidden me do anything but trim and layer was a cascade of auburn with strands of golden blonde. The big green eyes that I always hated were often complimented upon.

"Uhhhh, why does a girl have to be eighty to wear make-up in this house?" I pouted, kicking the bottom of my window seat in annoyance. I danced around on one leg for a moment, nursing my stubbed toe in my hand, while singing a chorus of owwwww's. Apparently this was amusing to her. She chuckled as she watched me hop around.

"Emm, honestly, can't you just smile and nod when I tell you to do something? You don't need to wear make-up, at least not that much. Come on, evening eye-shadow at 10 in the morning? We subscribe to several different magazines for a reason! You should know better! Get it off or I'll take you outside and hose you down."

I was holding her responsible for my hurt toe and now she was also going to totally cramp my style. No way! I shook my head to refuse, but faster than a card dealer, she flipped open her cosmetic bag.

Before I knew it, she had invaded my personal space with one of her expensive facial wipes. She swabbed away at all my hard work until my cheeks were raw and my temper was fiery. At first chance, I pulled away and collapsed on my bed, defeated.

"You are so annoying!" I groused.

"I know. But just think, in two days you'll be here with just Alice, Jasper, and Ness. And then you'll miss me," she said with a wily smile and a playful pinch to my still raw cheek. "Oh, I set your pill case in the kitchen. Don't forget to take them at noon with that mineral supplement in the refrigerator." I nodded andscribbled down a mental note. I never forgot; I don't know why she reminded me. "Now, I'm going to go finish packing," she admitted blissfully.

It was one of my parents' celebrated times, an anniversary of some sort. She had been packing for this one for the last week. What was left to pack?

"You do know that your bag can only weigh so much? They probably won't even let you on the plane!" I forewarned, trying to sour her mood so it matched mine. She pivoted in the doorway to face me, granting me a condescending smirk.

"Emma, please, I have been traveling longer than you've been breathing! With the right amount of money, I could lug an elephant on that plane and they would just smile and ask me to fly with them again," she bragged with poise before sauntering off to her beloved packing. It was fine with me; I was ready for a break from her suffocating rules.

But, it's going to be totally weird being in this house with such a minimal number of vampires, I thought to myself. While my parents were on another one of their getaways, Nessie's parents were spending a weekend in New York.

Uncle Edward, who was a patron of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, was gifted tickets regularly. This time he traded with a Met member for tickets to La Traviata, some boring old opera that only he would want to see.

Nana was also planning to head out this evening to redecorate her retreat home, repainting it in what she claimed was ‘... a romantic hue of pear.' And while Papa Car was going to be ‘home' the next week, he was working double shifts at the hospital due to the new med-residents. This meant he would be ‘sleeping' there most nights. Just my Aunt Alice and Uncle Jazz were left to watch us and it was going to be great.

Ness and I were plotting to live it up. I had made plans to go to our fave hot spot in Seattle, Trinity Nightclub, and then head over to Chop Suey to check out who was playing.

Ness, unbeknownst to me,had made her own plans for that night. She and Jake were planning on having a different sort of fun in Seattle, the kind I did not want to see.

Usually, it was just the four of us: Nessie, Leah, Claire,and me. We mostly danced and laughed, pretending to be normal. Claire accompanied us after an immense amount peer pressure, but it always made her nervous.

She fretted about everything from driving the speed-limit on the way there to breathing in too much second-hand smoke at the club. Her biggest worry was what would make Quil unhappy and what made Quil unhappy was anything that caused him to worry.

It was a vicious cycle that resulted in the dullest, yet most caring, couple the world would ever know. I think if Quil could have put Claire is some type of bulletproof glass bubble to keep her safe, he would have. And Claire would willingly put herself in that bubble if it made him happy. It had to be the imprinting thing, because I did not get it.

I knew he only cared for her. Yet often times, it was as if he forgot she was no longer in grade school. The way I saw it, she was on a tight leash; one that did not allow for anything unsanitary, immoral, unsafe, or remotely fun. I tried to tell her it should have been the other way around -- that the dog should be on the leash, but she never really appreciated my humor.

This time it was going to be just Leah and me hitting the clubs. Claire called and bailed, saying that she and Quil were attending great Aunt Hilda's 104th birthday party. Could she have a more lame excuse? It was worse than my SIM character feeding the damn llama!

Anyhow, Ness agreed to let me go if I drove up and back with her and Jake. I think since my fake ID had been a present from Ness, she felt slightly guilty letting me go without her supervision. Leah's impulsiveness did not alleviate Ness's worry.

Leah was a partier; she drank but never acted stupidly trashed. She liked the bad ass persona, but both Nessie and I could see through that protective facade. According to my ID I was 18; old enough to get in but not without that cursed UNDER 21 stamp branded on my hand.

I wouldn't have drank anyways; I knew that if even the slightest hint of alcohol lingered in my breath, no amount of mints would keep me from being attacked by an angry mob of vampires. Leah was the only one who did not really have to answer to anyone -- well besides Jake, whom she frequently mocked.

Keeping our outings hush-hush was sometimes problematic. Leah provided an advantage. Mainly she served to blind Alice, allowing our lies to be accepted at face value. Our usual ‘fake plans' involved sleepovers in La Push, the forbidden land for the parental unit.

At the moment, I lay on my bed texting Claire, letting her know that we were ‘sleeping over at her house' that night. I got an immediate "k *wink wink*" from her before plugging my phone in to charge. Mia's voice once again echoed down the hall.

"EMMM, have you seen my Marc Jacobs boots?" Mia pleaded. I sat up on my unmade bed and cringed, knowing the fate of the missing boots. With Alice's replacement boots in hand, she came stampeding into my room. "Please tell me this is a cruel joke," she demanded, shaking the incriminating evidence in my face. My lips contorted into a wince, confirming what she already knew. "What in Hell's gates was she thinking?"

"She claimed they were last season," I explained, giving her the ‘don't kill the messenger` look. The expression that masked her face was priceless.

"I've told her to stay out of my closet. Now she's going to pay!" To that resolution, she tore the soles off the never worn designer boots then flung them to the ground with ample force. I rubbed at the dull pain building in my temple as she stormed from my room into Alice's across the hall.

I heard her tearing through drawers and ripping through filing cabinets until the commotion ceased and her overly sweet voice lilted clearly through the upstairs hall. It was the flawless impersonation of my Aunt Alice.

"Yes, this is Alice Cullen. I would like to freeze all of my accounts.....Thank you," she chimed still clutching the phone to her ear when I peeked out my door. Oh, this was bad, very bad. Messing with Alice's shopping money was the equivalent of dropping a grenade in the front seat of her Porsche. I needed to go for reinforcements before this progressed into World War III.

I slid in sock-covered feet down the hall and downstairs, swinging around the mahogany banister at the bottom. Nana was on a redecorating spree, rearranging the furniture in the living room, angling the massive couch ever so slightly.

She quit humming and skimmed me over with her warmhearted eyes. Seeing my distress, those same eyes then glanced to the stairs from which I had descended. I could tell she was tuning her vampire hearing to something taxing, for her heart shaped face darkened.

"What is your mother up to now?" she asked in an anxious whisper, moving to the base of the stairs.

"She is punishing Alice for replacing her boots," I enlightened. I was nonchalant about it, not because I didn't care but more because I doubted she would succeed. Esme's marble brow furrowed, as she darted up the stairs.

"Rosalie Cullen, hang up the phone!"

Ness and Bella slipped in the front door in time to hear the first muffled bout of screams. Bella was wearing her old faded jeans and an ‘Alice approved' sweater. Ness had on Jake's Nirvana hoodie and black denim jeans, a not so Alice approved outfit. She still looked stunning though it was obvious she just tossed on the clothes without thought. God, she was just so effortlessly beautiful and it was so unfair.

A muffled whine from above pulled me from entertaining any further green-eyed thoughts. Bella and Ness both gazed at the ceiling, listening in to the turmoil. Bella shook her head at us before unenthusiastically trudging up the stairs to assist Nana in calming my mother.

"Don't worry. I'm sure Alice saw this coming and transferred her funds to another account. If there is one thing that Alice has her prophetic eye on, it's her finances," Ness assured. Evidently, those few moments staring at the ceiling allowed her to be filled in on the situation.

"Yeah, that and us," I confirmed flippantly. She cursed under her breath acknowledging the unfortunate truth, and then pulled me toward the kitchen. There she yanked me into our well-stocked pantry and shut the solid oak door behind us. I fumbled around in the dark looking for the light switch, but Ness found it first and flicked it on, illuminating the small space.

"Do you think Alice suspects anything? I mean about us going to Seattle?" she asked in a charming whisper, her eyes darting to the left and right, the routine practice of a teen under constant vampire surveillance. The screams from upstairs served to drown out our whispers. My mother had unknowingly created the perfect backdrop for our scheming.

"No, I told her this morning when she was leaving for that boutique. She seemed to buy it," I whispered.

"What did you tell her we were doing?"

"I told her we were camping out in Claire's backyard, just us girls. Claire agreed to cover if they call," I added.

Ness pursed her lips, digesting the fake plan. I could tell being fraudulent with her parents was beginning to wear on her. She had avoided talking details with me until now, just to keep her mind clean of the real itinerary. Her father was not an easy person to lie to. He was always the first to hear about anything.

"What about your dad?" I asked, knowing that if anyone was going to destroy our one night of freedom, it was her father.

"He knows I'm guarding my thoughts, but he doesn't know why. He has been particularly hard on Jake these last few days. It's funny because Jake doesn't even know about our date-night yet," she said, giving me one of her stunning half smiles.

I did not know how she constantly did it; just let her dad read her every thought. Her thoughts were most likely kinder than mine; still it would drive me into a state of pure insanity.

Uncle Edward gave me the illusion of privacy for my comfort alone. It was an unspoken truth that he would not comment on my thoughts, unless they were so troubling he felt obligated to. Because of his mind reading, I think he was the uncle I was closest to but avoided the most.

My insecurities were huge and all too apparent to him. He knew how I feared the prospect of dying; but most of all, hurting our family when I did pass. He was aware of how I used my mother for a measuring stick for beauty. In my mind I was nothing short of plain. He knew that I took great pride in being my mother's child. He also knew the shade of envious green that tinted my soul when it came to his perfect daughter.

Often times, when he caught me in these covetous thoughts, I could not look at his golden eyes for days. Rarely would he confront me about my notions, but when he did he was always both accepting and loving. He had reasons not to be, yet he always was.

Weeks ago, I had grown overly flustered by the song he picked out for my piano lesson. I could play it; it was just far from perfect. Whoever said practice makes perfect was a liar. "It does not have to be perfect, Emmalie," he reminded, pulling my tense hands from the piano keys. He made me look at him. "Some of the most beautiful things in this world are the results of imperfections. Your playing is your own. I love your little mistakes. They make it your own; that is why I'm always so reluctant to point them out."

Other times he contradicted my internal critique of my reflection. "Emmalie, you are beautiful. You know that, don't you?" To which I always rolled my green, not golden, eyes. "And what is more is that you have a beautiful heart. I know that very good uncle says that line. But what you forget is I'm the only uncle who gets to hear his niece's thoughts. You have so much of Esme in you, her compassion and charm. And you take after your father, getting that smile when you get your mischievous ideas. You have his love for life. Yet you're so much like your mother it is uncanny. Sometimes when you throw your little fits, I forget who I am looking at. We all love you. Do not be ashamed of who you are."

I realized that my Uncle Edward was not just a mind reader but a soul reader. He did not just hear thoughts, he often understood them.

His perception probably came from a century of trying to comprehend idiotic teenage girls. I was just glad he did not take my thoughts at face value, because I resented the one he loved most.

"Speaking of my father, what were you two talking about yesterday?" Ness asked interrupting my thoughts. She cocked her head ever so slightly and let that curious gleam sparkle in her doe-like eyes.

"Yesterday?" I asked, using what little acting skills I had to play innocent. I turned and started to OCD the pantry, organizing the items to ignore the question.

"Yeah, yesterday, when you came over to my house," she verified sweetly, clasping my hand to replay the memory of me fidgeting awkwardly as she answered the front door.

"Oh.... just things," I said with a small shrug.

"Just things?" she asked, suspiciously narrowing her eyes. She was used to me telling her everything and my cryptic replies were more than she could take. Her eyes were becoming more vampire-like by the second.

"UmmmHmmm," I said letting my mind wander back to the day before.

Yesterday was the day I opted to give my official ‘I'm sorry I always bitch about your only daughter' apology. I planned it out in my head for weeks and eventually got the nerve to do the thing before he left for New York.

So, I ambled down to the cottage he and my aunt shared and knocked. When the door swung open, I was confronted by the very reason I was apologizing. Nessie, with her perfect chestnut curls bouncing over her shoulder, quickly embraced me, unaware of the jealous thoughts plaguing my human mind.

She greeted me silently, as she sometimes did, calling me her Emmy, and showing me that same embarrassing home-video-like-memory of me when I was five announcing to everyone that she was my Nessie. Guilt surged through my mortal veins. If Jasper was here he would have done a double take.

Behind Ness, my uncle was sitting on the floor playing with my aunt's hair. Bella was nestled happily in his lap. She had a book clasped in one hand while her other hand was reflexively petting his thigh. I personally had no problems with the displaying of affection due to my parent's liberal exercise in that vicinity. But Bella quickly dislodged herself and pranced over to hug me.

"Are you having more qualms about biology?" she asked in a sympathetic tenor.

"No, actually, I came to the conclusion that if oxidative phosphorylation was not something that I have to consciously do, I would really rather not understand it."

Nessie giggled at my response. Aunt Bella smiled, but I could tell Uncle Edward disapproved of my choice to be ignorant. Smart people expect everyone to be smart.

"Does this mean that you are not going to study for the test tomorrow? We could always postpone it until I get back," Aunt Bella posed, her teacher mentality resurfacing. As of recent, she had taken over my Biology tutoring, since Papa Car had become overly swamped at the hospital.

"Aunt Bella, I don't even see the point of taking it. Couldn't you just make it and ask Alice how I will do on it? You would not have to grade and I wouldn't have to waste my time."

Everyone laughed at my suggestion, but then the room fell silent.

"Actually, I was wondering if you'd go on a walk with me, Uncle Edward," I asked, fiddling with the silver locket around my neck. He smiled at me and whispered something in my aunt's ivory white ear.

"Sure thing," he replied and escorted me out the door.

At first the walk felt really awkward. So I just shuffled along kicking the leaves, not noticing that my uncle found me amusing. We walked for a while before he broke the silence.

"Emmalie, you don't have to do this," he declared with that gorgeous smile. It occurred to me at this point that he probably had heard me practicing for the last two weeks. I could not help but laugh at my stupidity.

"Uncle Edward, I have been rehearsing this forever. Can you please just hear me out?" I requested still kind of laughing. He shrugged and nodded, his eyes warm.

"First, I would like to say thank you for not exposing me every chance you get. I do not really know why you don't tell my mom every time I plan something, but I'm grateful."

"Emm..."

"Don't interrupt!" I scolded lightly, raising my hand to hush him. "Secondly, I'd like to apologize for all the times you have to hear my bad thoughts. Not the times when I refer to my mom as a vamp-tramp. I mean the times when I go on about Nessie. She... well...she is everything I wish I could be for my parents. She's really yours and I will never really be my parents' daughter. The jealousy, it... please do not think less of me. I love her like a sister, I honestly do," I spilled out in complete honesty. I took a breath and waited for him to tell me how horridly ungrateful I was, but it never happened. He did not even look mad.

"Emmalie, I understand. You know, you're wrong though. You are your parents' daughter, everything they want and more."

"But I'll never be like Nessie is to you," I said, pulling at straws.

"Emmalie, try to understand. Rose has passed up dozens of opportunities to adopt in the past. Right after the depression, why there were orphans by the car load. The idea never appealed to her then. You were chosen and you were meant to be a part of our family. I don't know what it is about you but I doubt any vampire in the world would find you appetizing." I smiled. I knew what he meant, but it did not feel like a compliment.

"We all worried at first, when Alice told us you were coming here. I mean we have had incidents in the past when Bella was human. Who was going to freak out when you fell and scraped your knee? Or what if one of us slipped? We all pride ourselves on our control, but Bella never lived here full time until after she was changed. But you, you're different. Never has any of us run into one like you. Not once has someone been tempted. You smell different. I can't explain it."

"You can tell me, Uncle Edward, do I reek?" I asked with a smirk. He laughed throwing his head back.

"No, actually you smell good, it's just not appetizing. Umm....let me think of a good smell that I can compare it to." I looked at him for a moment confused.

"Like autumn," he said as the epiphany hit him. He kicked his feet in the foliage littering the path.

"I smell like rotting leaves? Great," I said bitterly, looking dejectedly at the ground.

"No, you do not smell like it. It's just the same appeal," he corrected, coercing me into a grin with a playful nudge. We turned and started back, he matching my pace. I wondered if it frustrated him not to be able to walk faster. My family was all obsessed with speed.

"No, it does not frustrate me," he answered with his crooked grin, slowing his pace as if to prove it.

"Liar," I accused under my breath. I felt as carefree as we walked back up the winding driveway. I'm sure it looked like I was walking with my brother or my boyfriend, but definitely not my uncle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him smile.

Interestingly enough, Claire always asked me if I ever thought of my uncles, my Popeye, or Papa with anything more than just a family affection. To which I would scrunch up my face in a sour lemon expression and respond in the negative. "Uhhhgg, no!"

"Oh, come on," Claire prompted. "Your grandfather looks like the lead on some hospital soap opera, your Uncles and father have extremely gorgeous, only-a-few-years-older-than-you bodies. You live with the first four months of the Firefighter Calendar and you never think anything of it?"

"No. They all gave me baths and stuff. That's just gross, Claire," I said disgusted.

The thought made me cringe even as I walked beside him. I could tell my Uncle was following the recalled conversation, but he looked a little lost.

"What's the Firefighter Calendar?" he questioned in his musical voice. I looked at him for a moment then giggled. For someone who had been around forever, he was clueless.

"Uncle Edward, you know!" I whined, blushing when I realized I was going to have to give a description. "It's the....hunky, half-naked firemen that make that stupid overpriced calendar? It's a kind of Hallmark version of porn," I finished awkwardly. However, he did not seem to accept my explanation, instead he gazed at me pointedly.

"Your father needs to keep a closer eye on you," he admonished teasingly. My cheeks flushed with more color; I knew he was trying to torment me but I gave in just the same. It only took a single mock reproachful stare for him to have me feeling entirely guilty. "Hallmark porn!" he guffawed, picking up the pace, as if he was going to run home and tell everyone.

"Awww, Uncle Edward, I never said I had one of those calendars, just that theyexist," I defended, chasing after him.

"EMMMMAAA!"

"EARTH TO EMMA," Ness yelled jolting me from my memory with a light shake. I realized then I had completely zoned out on her. "Can you hear me? What kind of things? "

"Nothing big....just things," I stated once more. She just laughed to herself.

"You sure can be secretive when...." but just then the door to the pantry flew open and Bella and Nana stood there looking at us with raised eyebrows.

"What are you doing?" my aunt asked, one hand planted on her bony hip.

"Oh, just organizing human food, alphabetically and by food group," Ness supplied, shrugging like it was a perfectly normal thing to do. I played along, flashing a smile then placing a can of organic squash puree on the shelf in a Vanna-like-demonstration.

My Aunt frowned but Nana just beamed at us, proud that we had inherited her knack for organization. Ness began moving boxes around to enhance our ruse, but my skeptic Aunt Bella called us to a halt.

"Stop! You're creeping me out, so just...just...stop," she demanded, prying a box of oatmeal from Ness's hand and throwing it back on a shelf. We both came out of the pantry under Bella's scrutinizing stare. "I do not know what you two are up to, but I really need to go if I'm to meet your father by one. Now, do you want me to drop you off at the La Push border or should I call Jake and tell him you'd rather alphabetize canned goods?" she demanded, looking her daughter in the eyes.

"You can drop me off," Ness piped quickly. Bella looked at us both distrustfully and nodded. She then turned toward the door while talking to herself. Ness followed her, but not before hugging Nana and inviting me along.

"Do you want to come, Emm? That's really why we stopped by; I told everyone I'd bring you along! Seth and Leah are going to be over at Jake's. We can shoot pool and stuff," she stated, trying to bait me into coming. I smiled but shook my head no.

"No, I promised I would try on outfits for Alice when she got home," I said, trying to hide my lack of enthusiasm. She scoffed at me and kissed my cheek before darting out the front door Nana was holding open for her.

"Enjoy the torture. I'll see you tonight, kay?" she yelled before dashing to the purring Ferrari parked in front of our house. Nana closed the door with a sigh then looked at me.

"I can help you organize the pantry, dear," she ecstatically offered with a generous smile. It was so sweet, she thought I had been ditched and was attempting to entertain me.

"That's ok, Nana. I think I will save the rest for a rainy day," I lied. She nodded, then tucked my hair behind my ear with an icy finger.

"Well, alright. Your mother is out in the garage, but I think it would be best if you let her tinker around alone for a bit. Oh, and your father called to remind you about tonight. He said you would know what he was talking about," she added, attempting not to be the prying mother.

She always was trying to stay one step in front of my father when it came to his schemes, prank-proofing the house she called it. "Are you doing anything exciting?" she inquired. I could tell that she wanted me to share, but was not about to choke it out of me. Instead she casually glanced over her shoulder to gage my response.

"Umm, not really...nothing too exciting," I stated, looking the other way to conceal the smile that would have told her the truth.

Later that night, I was flying through the woods at some 80 miles an hour, the branches whipping against the jeep's windshield.

Popeye's expert driving had us airborne half the time and nose diving the other. He always spoiled me when he was planning on leaving the next day. Tonight was no exception. The jeep made several hairpin-turns around trees then continued on along an incline at a rapid speed.

The muddy ground must have caused the tires to slip because we skidded to the left and down a steep bank. My heart thudded in my chest as we rolled. My Popeye put his hand over me as if to protect me. He caught me before the seatbelt even locked, so I would not even suffer a seatbelt welt. When the jeep jerked to a stop, I immediately burst out into giggles. My father must have mistaken it for tears, for he sprung into action. He busted out his door, jumped down like a cat and was prying me out before I could exhale.

"Emmalie, are you alright?" he questioned, excessively concerned. His eyes had a puppy-like plea to them. I could tell he was totally hating himself ‘for almost killing me' as my Mia would say. He sometimes got mad at himself. I did not see why; this was so wicked. Not every girl got to go on extreme adventures with their daredevil fathers.

"Popeye, chill, I'm fine. In fact, I'm better than fine. That was sweet," I said, squirming down from his hard arms and to get a better look at the jeep. We totally flipped the jeep and had it wedged between two goliath trees, suspended and stuck. It was like a blue ribbon in the off-roading championships. I swelled with the small amount of pride one feels from a job well done. "It's my turn to drive!" I joked.

He winced and looked at the jeep.

"I'm not sure I can pry this one loose, hun. I think it might be totaled," he appraised, letting his dimples furrow deeper around that big goofy grin on his face. I loved that he was so care free, well about most stuff anyway.

I went over to the jeep, pulled out my new jacket, jumping when the jeep lurched forward. He pulled me a few feet away so if the jeep decided to finish its descent down the hill, I would not be going with it.

"It is soooo very totaled! Mia is going to kill you," I warned with wide eyes. He smiled at me, unafraid of the possibility that she would find out. I could tell he was just planning on buying a new Wrangler, so he did not have to tell her. Sometimes he was more like my brother than a father. He turned and uprooted a tree, laying it down.

"Want to sit down?" he asked me in good spirits, his natural charm taking over. I grinned and sat on the tree next to him. After a few seconds, he pulled out his vibrating phone and answered it.

"Yes, Alice, we're fine," he muttered annoyed at his little sister. "I don't know why you call, when you know these things!" Then he listened to her and growled deeply, the sound resonating in his chest.

"Alice, did you have to tell her? Are you trying to ruin my marriage and take my life?" He listened for a moment before growling again.

"Well, that is just the shit, Alice. Thanks a lot," he grumbled, slamming the phone shut, and then mumbling the usual Cullen string of profanities. I granted him a quick pity look.

"I take it that wasn't Onstar calling?" I questioned, trying to lighten his mood. He huffed; I could tell he was thinking about hunting down my aunt. The fierce look on his face almost frightened me for a moment.

"So, how long do you have to...exist?" I asked innocently. He did not look at me, just ahead, a death glare meant for his sister.

"Alice said she would be here in the next ten minutes," he grumbled in his grudge-holding tone. I nodded and looked back at the jeep, searching for a solution.

"Maybe you could run me home and pretend you were in the jeep alone," I suggested. I knew we were way north of Forks, probably by Ozette Lake. He could run that. Laughing broke through and I knew he was not angry any longer. "Or maybe you could distract her," I ventured. His quizzical look told me he was questioning my common sense.

"How could I distract your murder-intent mother?" he inquired dryly, raising a big brow above his handsome eyes.

"Just take off your shirt and turn on the jeep's radio to some soft rock," I suggested with mischief in my green eyes. I tried to duck as his big hand ruffled my hair.

"Have you been taking lessons from your mother or what? You're such a little rascal!" he teased, loosening up further. We both chuckled, and then it was silent for a moment. If it weren't for the fact that any minute my mother would come and screech us out, it would have been a good father-daughter moment.

"So, do you really think I could be in the Firefighter calendar," he asked with a growing smirk. I punched him then shook the sting out of my injured hand.

"Uncle Edward was not supposed to tell you that," I protested lightly. He laid back and chuckled some more. I noticed the log croak, threatening to buckle under his weight.

"You know you could be, so why do you have to ask," I jibed in my snippy teenage tone. His laughter turned into the booming kind. "And I don't know why you're laughing! You have scarred my perception of men forever!" I accused, not really meaning it. He shot to his feet like I had hit a pinched nerve and glared at me.

"Emmalie, what do you mean by that?" he asked in a gruff voice that could be easily be mistaken as angry.

"Well..." I said, "You're too perfect: handsome and strong and all. Where am I going to find a guy that will ever even come close to the standards you've set?" It was true. Every male role model in my life was a striking resemblance to the life guards on Baywatch. Guys like that did not just walk around, single, down the streets of Forks, Washington.

He took a seat once more, chuckling to himself. "So let me get this straight: I have scarred you by being too handsome." He flashed that understanding yet cocky smile, the one that made me want to punch him. The sting in my hand had me ignoring my instincts.

"Yes, well, that and you are all so old fashioned and overprotective. Jasper even stands up when a woman enters the room," I griped. "Your mannerisms...well, they do not make men like that anymore."

This was also true. Jasper was the epitome of proper. Since he was born in an age where public affection was taboo, you seldom caught him being anything but a gentleman. My Papa Car always held the door open for Nana. Uncle Edward would take it a step further even, buckling Aunt Bella's seat belt for her when driving together. I often caught my Popeye taking my Mia's arm while she descended the stairs, as if she were a delicate thing that might fall down without him. All their chivalry made you feel like you were trapped in some black and white film.

"So because your uncles and I..."

"And Papa," I added.

"Right, because we all are so handsome and genteel," he said with sarcasm, "you will never be able to find love."

"Exactly," I said, happy that he understood. But he just roared in laughter, only stopping when he noticed that I was not even smiling anymore.

"I don't see why any of this matters now. I have repeatedly forbade any dating until you're thirty," he said half teasing. I did not find it amusing, so I just pouted, then glared. He noticed and tossed his hands in the air.

"What do you want, Emm, an apology? I'm sorry I look and act the way I do? There, are you happy now!" he commanded in exasperation. To show him how happy I was, I stood up and kicked the fresh log where he was still sitting.

"No, Popeye, I want you to change me," I said firmly. He looked up, his eyes fading like embers from warm gold to black coal. I had entered the `No Trespassing Zone' of conversation world.

"Emmalie, we have had this discussion before. We agreed, we wanted you to have a normal life," he said, his eyes just daring me to fight him on this.

"Popeye, I'm sick. I can't have a normal life," I spit bitterly to him.

"Emm, you are in remission. Carlisle says that as far as he knows, you could stay that way for years," he retorted.

"Popeye, I want to be like you. Please let me! It is my decision to make," I argued.

"Emm, you are a minor. Until you're eighteen they are my decisions," he stated standing up. He had grown up so much. I wished he could act like he normally did when I asked him for things. "Sure thing, babe, whatever you want. Go ahead. Just don't let your mom find out."

Instead he was using the twisted lines of sitcom fathers everywhere. Perhaps, he had been taking tips from Charlie. Whatever it was, I did not care for it. I preferred the cool big brother role to the authoritative parent. I was going to tell him to cut the damn act, when her voice broke through the woods.

"Emmmmeeeetttttttt!"

We both turned toward my Mia's fury-filled voice.

"Not a word more about this, Emmalie. You know how the topic upsets her," he hissed. I could see her in a clearing not but half a mile away, her hourglass shape a shadow against the sunlight filtering through the trees. She was by our sides in a heartbeat. The first thing she did was slap my father, the second to scour me over for bruises.

"I'm fine, Mia, I promise," I reassured, but concern was still etched in her face. She turned to accuse my father, poking a slender finger at his chest.

"You could have..."

"No! I could not have killed her!" He cut her off before the accusation could be finished. "I had it totally under control. Right, Emma?"

"Yep, look how he saved us by so brilliantly lodging the jeep between those two trees. He so had it under control," I remarked sarcastically. He playful shoved me and I would have fallen down if he did not remember his strength in time to catch me in my fall.

She turned her eyes from us to the jeep and sneered. I could tell her mind was spinning with the body work that needed done. Like usual, she seemed almost elated at the task.

"Give me the diagnosis, babe. Is she dead?" my Popeye said approaching her from behind, wrapping his arms around her waist and dropping kisses on her pale shoulder. He was taking my advice. So far the makeup was going pretty well, possibly too well. She giggled; I wrinkled my nose in disgust.

"Emmett McCarty Cullen, have you ever seen a car I couldn't salvage?" she as she turned to face him with a seductive smirk and a caress to his face. He lifted her off her feet, and his lips locked to her neck. Her legs wrapped around his midsection and they were lost in the moment. Wait a minute, I thought, I never advised him to do that. Only my parents could use auto repair as a prelude discussion to sex.

The plane could not take them away soon enough. They so needed a vacation. No correction, they needed to get a room in a far-away-out-of-my-hearing-range country.

"Let's keep our hands to ourselves until a more private moment arises. Okay?" I suggested as they locked in one of those tongue-plunging kisses. I closed my eyes trying to block out what I was seeing. They totally did not hear me. "Or I know! How ‘bout you wait to do all of this stuff tomorrow when I am NOT with you? Does that sound good?" I only got moaning as a response, and I was pretty sure it was not a response to anything that I had said.

At this point, I decided to resort to Plan B: evacuation.

"Ok, so here is the deal! You stay where you are! Just let me get a good mile or so away before you go baptizing the area in bodily juices," I begged as I darted off the way my Mia had come, my hand shielding my eyes. They must have gotten the message because I heard them laugh as they followed behind me, hand in hand, no doubt.

In less than a day, they would be on that six a.m. flight. I could have my freedom and they could get whatever love potion they drank out of their systems. I glanced over my shoulder and shuddered.

Everything was going to go as planned. This weekend is going to be sweet, I thought. Nothing can ruin it now. Just then the phone in my jeans pocket vibrated. I pulled it out, seeing Leah's number flash across the screen.

"Hey, Le, what's happenin'?" I asked in an excited slur of words, looking to see if the lovebirds were paying any attention to me. There was a brief pause and then an answer.

"Uhhh, actually it's me.....Seth," he corrected sounding really awkward. His voice caught me off guard at first. "My phone is somewhere in the woods busted into a million little pieces, along with my new pair of jeans."

"My condolences," I said in a dry tone. "What is this, the fifth cell phone in the last year?"

"Sixth....but that is not what I was calling about." He sounded annoyed, I could not imagine why.

"What do you want, Seth?" I asked, mirroring his annoyance. Behind me my Mia was giggling at something my Popeye had suggested. They were wrapped up in their own little world, not even noticing that I was on the phone.

"I want you to change your plans for tomorrow night," came the voice through the phone.