A/N: Here’s my entry for TFN’s Mountain Man Contest. It won 1st Place Public Vote and 1st Place Judges Vote. Thank you to TFN’s team for hosting the contest and to everyone who read or reviewed the entries and gave us a chance to win you over with our favorite Emmett stories.
I can’t ever thank them both enough, but special thanks to purplec305 for pre-reading and Midnight Cougar for beta-ing. Your suggestions and support keep me going. Thank you. xx
Summary: Sand, surf, and sun. It doesn’t get any better than that, unless your heart gets involved. Then it’s a whole other story. *My one shot contest entry for TFN’s 2019 Mountain Man Contest. AH
Twilight – Rated: M – English – Romance – Chapters: 1 – Words: 15,983 – Published: Apr 3, 2019 – Emmett, Rosalie – Complete
DISCLAIMER: Twilight and its inclusive material is copyright to Stephenie Meyer. Original creation, including but not limited to plot and characters, is copyright to the respective authors of each story. No copyright infringement is intended.
The rhythmic pounding of my bare feet on the wet sand is hypnotic as the sweat pours from my body. My shirt is long-forgotten and tucked into the waistband of my shorts while my muscles burn and calves ache from the stress and strain this jog demands. I push my body a little farther than necessary and always in this direction.
The golden rays of the early morning sun mix with the purest of blue skies while the waves crash gently along the shore and palm trees sway in the distance. The tide ebbs and flows, depositing sea life along the shore while a seagull squawks nearby, diving into the ocean, hunting an early morning snack. The ocean air fills my lungs with peace and comfort as my faithful companion keeps up with my steady pace.
That is until she comes into view.
My eyes become transfixed on her goddess-like pose while she meditates to the sounds swirling around her.
She’s perched upon a towel with her legs crossed, back straight, and hands extended to her knees. Her eyes never open out of curiosity or to acknowledge my approach.
The sight of her rattles my cool confidence, and my relaxed demeanor evaporates, as I wonder if today will be the day I stop and say hi.
Her long, blonde hair is gathered into a ponytail, but the gentle morning breeze causes the escape of a few wayward strands.
As I get closer, my eyes barely notice today’s red bikini, but instead, feast on her exposed sun-kissed skin.
I slow my pace to an easy walk and take a few cleansing breaths, glancing in her direction before focusing on Beau, my roommate’s golden retriever.
“You ready, buddy?” I take out the ball I stashed earlier in my pocket, showing him his favorite toy. Beau jumps up with excitement and spins in circles until I launch it. I watch as he charges into the ocean, searching the waves.
I glance in her direction, wondering if she has noticed our presence, to see her eyes open, watching Beau.
There’s my opening. “Sorry to bother you.”
Her eyes shift to mine as a small smile settles over her beautiful face. “You’re not.”
She returns her attention to Beau who has located the ball and is on his way back. He returns to me, dropping the ball at my feet, ready for another throw, then full-body shakes, sending ocean water everywhere. I toss the ball closer to the shoreline this time, and he takes off after it.
“Beautiful morning,” I offer, hoping to get her talking.
She eyes me carefully. “It is.”
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that each day her towel gets a little closer to the shore’s edge, making the likelihood of a conversation between us more possible.
I look around as a handful of people trickle along the edge of the shore at this early hour, then point toward the sand next to her. “Mind if I join you?”
She shrugs. “Help yourself.”
I land with a groan, but wipe my sand-covered hand on my shorts then extend it. “Hi, sorry about my hand, I’m Emmett.”
She slides her hand into mine, giving it a polite squeeze. “Not a problem. Sand gets everywhere, I’m learning. I’m Rosalie.”
“Yes, I’m on vacation with my brother and two friends.” She points to the weathered, gray cottage behind her. “We’re renting for two weeks. Are you a fellow tourist?”
I grin. “More like nomad slash surfer. I’m here for this weekend’s competition and staying with friends at a house much farther down the beach.”
“As a competitor or spectator?”
A nervous chuckle escapes my lips. “Competitor.”
“Oh, so you’re like a pro?”
I nod as Beau walks toward me and plops onto the sand nearby, dropping the ball from his mouth as it rolls in my direction. He looks around, panting while he waits for my next move.
“We flew in from Hawaii a week ago where we had our last competition.”
“Hawaii? Wow, I’m thrilled to be on a hot, Southern California beach where I don’t need to be bundled in layers.”
As much as I’m enjoying my current view, Rosalie would look amazing in just about anything—layers included, but she piques my curiosity. “Where are you from?”
“Originally, New York, but now Washington. The beaches there are cold.”
“Two very different states. What made you move from New York?”
“College and my brother, well, half-brother. Same mom, but different dads.”
“He lives in Washington?”
“He does now. He works at Seattle General. We grew up together, but his dad lives in Texas, which meant years of shuttling between homes for him.”
“That’s never easy.”
“You’re right. It isn’t.” She shifts on her towel, turning in my direction. “You said ‘nomad,’ which sounds like you’re well-traveled. Where was your starting point?”
“Not exactly the surfing capital of the world.”
I shake my head. “My family isn’t happy I left, but surfing is impossible in my landlocked home state. It was an easy decision.”
“What prompted leaving?”
“I went on spring break with my buddies to North Carolina our last year in high school, and I fell in love with the ocean. We surfed the entire week, and I couldn’t get enough. It was then I realized I didn’t need much to be happy—a board, some shorts, and a beach.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Almost ten years. I have no regrets and love what I’m doing every single day.”
“You can make a living from surfing?”
“Yeah. I do okay. I’m able to cover my travel expenses and save the rest. Money has never been a motivator for me, but sponsorships make everything easier.”
“With your body, you could be a model.”
“I’ve done a few shoots. It comes with the territory. Sponsors and competitions want promotion photos.”
“No, I mean like someone walking the runways of New York or Europe.”
“Oh. Well, that sounds like a job and I’m allergic to what people call ‘real’ work.”
“Not everyone can be so lucky to escape the grind.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a nurse. I work at the same hospital as my brother.”
“And you love it?”
“I used to.” She shakes her head. “I’ve lost the spark. Do you know what I mean? I’m missing what drew me in initially. Now I deal with endless fights with insurers and everyone’s own agendas. Egos—doctors and surgeons being some of the worst.”
“What happened to treating patients?”
“They’re there in between pharmaceutical reps, overreaching administrators, and a boss who has me plotting her death daily.” She chuckles and looks back toward the ocean. “I’m thinking about quitting and finding something else, but there’s no end in sight. I haven’t had a vacation in years and practically had to give my left kidney for this one.”
“You see that’s where I’ve got you beat—no boss.” I grin. “I meet a lot of new people and make plenty of friends. People come and go from our group, but none of us can resist the call of the ocean wherever that may take us. I don’t mind the travel. Surfers have this thirst for exploration and adventure—a united, global tribe from all parts of the world.”
“Well, my brother Jasper and his best friend Edward are hearing the call. They probably know you if you’re famous.” She fishes, but I shrug her off, then she continues. “They’re amateurs, but I would say they are more thrill-seekers than anything. They’ve been bungee jumping in China; scuba diving in Australia; and sandboarding in Northern Chile. I think they’re talking about running with the bulls in Pamplona next year. But for this trip, they’re big-wave surfing.”
“Which brings you here.”
“Yes, we road-tripped from Seattle, and my best friend Bella tagged along, keeping me company. We all work at Seattle General. Bella is a physical therapist and Edward is a neurosurgeon. He and Jasper met during college and they’ve been friends ever since.”
“Wow. I bet that was a fun ride. Sounds like a stuffy traveling medical conference.”
“It wasn’t that bad. We need a break from work, and have shelved all work-related discussions until we get back. Bella has a huge crush on Edward. So, it wasn’t like I had to twist her arm to come on the trip. Unfortunately, for her, Edward is dating someone else and has been for years. Jasper and Edward filled the time talking about surfing or locations to surf, while Bella was focused on her bikini strategy—as in, ways to get Edward’s attention during the trip and beyond.”
“Are you interested in surfing?”
She chuckles. “Not exactly. Watching—yes. I’ve never seen big-wave surfing in person.”
“You know, surfing isn’t hard. I could teach you.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“I’ve noticed you on the beach during my morning runs.”
She laughs and blushes, dipping her head down to conceal her embarrassment. Maybe she’s been noticing me too.
“What’s so funny?”
“How’s the meditating going? It looks intense,” I tease.
Her smile grows while her eyes dance with excitement. “Good, I suppose. It’s a new thing, and I get distracted easily, but it’s different from lying on the beach, soaking up the sun all afternoon.”
My eyes roam her caramel-colored skin appreciatively. “Sounds like a great way to spend the day. The sun looks good on you.”
“It’s been okay so far, but I’m an early riser with little to do until everyone wakes up. So, I come out here and gaze at the ocean, searching for answers.”
I wave my hand toward Beau. “You’re welcome to join us for a run. We go every morning.”
“I’m not really into running.”
“What about walking?”
“How do you feel about smoothies?”
Her face scrunches up with the thought. “The healthy green kind?”
“Are there any other?”
“I’m more of a coffee until it’s time for wine or liquor gal.”
“Good to know. Have you ever tried yoga?”
“Yes, Bella is always having me try the latest way to burn a few pounds.”
“A friend of mine leads a beach yoga class every morning, if you want to try it.”
“You do yoga?”
“Absolutely. I have to maintain my flexibility for competing. It helps keep me injury-free.”
“Maybe I’ll check it out.”
“I hope you do. Her name is Alice. Tell her you’re a friend of mine.” I wink, moving to stand. “We need to head back, as I’m cramping up. Let’s go, Beau. It was nice to meet you, Rosalie. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be here, working on finding peace and calming my mind.”
It’s difficult to leave her smiling face, but with a quick wave and Beau at my side, we return to a jog along the shoreline and I’m thinking paradise just got better.
Rosalie’s shorts are tiny and I’m having a difficult time not picturing myself peeling off her athletic bra after watching her contort her body at Alice’s guidance for the past hour. I’ve been trying to focus on my own movements, but it’s an impossible task. Thank goodness she isn’t wearing a bikini, but her “yoga outfit” leaves little to the imagination.
My own shorts are doing little to conceal my interest in hers, as I try to let my mind relax and deepen my breathing, while we do our final corpse pose.
After several minutes, Alice’s gentle voice brings us back to awareness. “Let’s chant ‘om’ three times to conclude our time together this morning and focus on the unity of the body, mind, and spirit.”
We finish the class when Alice puts her hands together and bows her head, whispering over the waves of the ocean, “Namaste.”
“Namaste.” We all repeat, bowing our heads in return.
Rosalie turns around smiling. “That was great. I feel wonderful—alive. Thanks for the suggestion.”
Just as I think Rosalie is about to reach up and give me a hug, Alice interrupts, “How did it go, Rosalie?”
“Wonderful. I feel amazing. Thank you.”
“My pleasure. I hope you will join us again.” Alice’s eyes shift between us. “You may be interested in my couple’s yoga class.”
“I don’t know. I’m kind of on my own.”
“No husband or boyfriend?” Alice fishes for my answers.
After I returned home from my jog and first conversation with Rosalie, I vented to Alice how I wished I had asked to clarify her relationship status.
“Uh… no. I’m on vacation with my brother and our friends. Something like that would be weird with my brother, and Bella would kill me if I suggested Edward joining me. If Bella and I tried to hold each other, I doubt we could stop laughing the entire time. Plus, they all sleep past noon.”
“I’m sure Em wouldn’t mind helping out. He’s an early riser.” Alice pauses with a sneaky grin on her face. “Or our friend Jacob is always willing to try new things. Those young guys will try anything once—sometimes twice. I can ask him.”
Why does she have to suggest Jacob?
I clear my throat, knowing there’s no way I’ll willingly let him be Rosalie’s partner. “I can do it.”
“Great. See you this afternoon, Em. The waves look promising.” Alice rises on her toes, gives me a hug, and whispers in my ear, “You’re welcome. Now you know.”
I chuckle, patting her on her back. “I’ll be there.”
After Alice leaves, Rosalie asks, “What are you doing this afternoon?”
“Surfing. Do you want to come watch? I can introduce you to my friends.”
“Yes. She’s one of the best.” I wipe the sweat from my brow with the hem of my tank and catch her eyes following my movements.
“Would it be okay if I brought everyone? Bella’s a watcher like me, but Jasper and Edward would love to spend time with a bunch of experts.”
“Sure, it’s a date. Now, would you like to try something new?” I hold out my hand as we slip on our flip-flops.
She smiles and links her fingers with mine. “What did you have in mind?”
“You’ll see. It’s a short walk from here.”
“This better not be you holding my morning coffee hostage.”
“Now, why would I do that?”
“Because you’re one of those people with unbelievable muscular bodies who eats and drinks all the right things. I’m a nurse who works long hours all night and needs my beloved cup of coffee in every form.”
We stroll along the sidewalk watching skateboarders attempt to perfect their latest tricks, until I pause in front of one of my favorite juice bars, Néktər.
“I knew it!” Rosalie stops, refusing to move toward the door.
“Oh, come on and try it. You’ll like it. I promise. We can share a smoothie and an açai bowl. They’re both delicious and I’m starving. Trust me.”
I tug on her hand, and she follows me reluctantly inside where I order a tropical cooler smoothie and an açai superfood bowl. We take our order outside, sitting at one of the tables under an umbrella, and I set the smoothie in front of her.
“It’s green,” Rosalie protests.
“Obviously. That’s the kale and spinach. They’re good for you, but there’s also pineapple and banana, which adds sweetness.”
“I’m already having caffeine withdrawals. Isn’t there a Starbucks nearby?” She looks around.
“You haven’t even tried it.” I open the straw and poke it through the hole in the lid, offering her the first taste. “You can go first.”
She’s hesitant at first, but takes a long pull from the straw. “Ugh—”
I smile. “It’s good, isn’t it?”
“It’s okay,” she says with a sly grin.
I hand her a plastic spoon. “Try the bowl.”
She digs through the fruit on top, scooping up the thick blended açai mixture on the bottom.
I wait as Rosalie finishes her bite. “It’s so creamy and fruity.”
“Okay, yes. Fine. You win. It’s good.”
My smile widens at the small victory. We share our morning snacks under the warm California sun—never making it to the nearby Starbucks, which I know is only a block away. Conversation is easy and I don’t want our time together to end, but we agree to part ways, so she can check in with her brother and friends.
“Hey, beautiful. Glad you could make it.” I hold open my arms for a hug as she approaches.
“Hi, Em.” Rosalie smiles and wraps her arms around my waist, giving me a gentle squeeze.
It would be so natural to give her a kiss on her forehead; she feels just right in my arms. But I hold back and offer my apologies. “Sorry, I’m already wet and sandy. I saw you on your way and wanted to say ‘hi’ before paddling back out again. The gang is out there. We can wait here and they’ll be in shortly.”
She pulls away, turning toward the people behind her, which include two men holding surfboards. “Then I’ll make introductions. This is my brother, Jasper Whitlock. His friend, Edward Masen, and my bestie, Bella Swan. Everyone, this is Emmett… oh God. How embarrassing. I don’t know your last name.”
Jasper, Edward, and I all exchange nods, but Bella appears stunned.
“No worries. It’s McCarty, and I don’t know your last name either,” I reassure.
She smiles up at me. “It’s Hale.”
Jasper reaches around Rosalie, shaking my hand as recognition passes over his features. “Emmett McCarty? The surfer?”
Realization dawns on Edward’s face. “As in, the Mountain Man?” he verifies, shaking my hand too.
I nod. “That’s me.”
With my confirmation, Jasper and Edward turn into giddy fangirls.
“No one can surf down a mountain of seawater like you!” Jasper marvels.
“You’ve won eight World Surfing League championships! It’s unprecedented,” Edward adds. “And those two perfect scores at Mavericks last year were unbelievable. You have the makings of a legend!”
Bella shakes off her earlier shocked expression and now sports a devious grin while watching me listen to Jasper and Edward review my career.
“Emmett ‘oh God’ McCarty. I like the middle name.” Bella winks and waves her hands toward my naked upper torso. “You weren’t kidding, Rose. He’s—”
Rosalie elbows her in the ribs.
“Ow!” Bella holds her side then shields her eyes from the sun while looking up at me. “You’re as big as a mountain. Muscles for days. Tall too. You must be over six feet.”
“I’m six-five,” I offer.
“That’s good because Rose is—”
Rosalie jabs her again.
“Ouch! Stop that and be nice. I was going to say Rose is tall too.” She sticks out her tongue in Rosalie’s direction. “Tall people fit together so much better than—”
Rosalie’s hand wraps tightly over Bella’s mouth and we can only hear muffled sounds.
When Bella stops struggling to speak, Rosalie lowers her hand with a warning. “Don’t say anything that will embarrass either one of us.”
“I’m not embarrassed. Are you embarrassed, Emmett?”
I smile. “Not at all.”
“See. It’s nice to meet you. Would it be okay if I Googled you, now we’ve met?”
Rosalie huffs. “Bella, don’t ask that.”
“I thought I was being polite to ask rather than to act like a couple of creeper fangirls.” She looks over at Jasper and Edward then raises her eyebrows.
Jasper defends their knowledge. “We aren’t fangirls. We’re fans of the sport. There’s a difference.”
“Yeah, right,” Bella says sarcastically. “So, it’s okay? Best friends have to make sure you’re good enou—”
“Bella, stop,” Rosalie warns.
I let her off the hook. “It’s okay, Bella. You have my permission.”
“I won’t find anything inappropriate, will I? Naked pictures? Compromising positions with fans?”
“Shoot. Well, I’ll check anyway.”
“You do that.” I grin and point, looking out toward the wave Jacob catches with Alice close behind him. “Here they come now.”
They are poetry in motion as they cut through the surf with Jacob wiping out before Alice. They’re laughing as they walk toward where we’re gathered on the shore.
“Shorty, I wasn’t even trying,” Jacob teases.
“Who are you kidding? You’re always trying.” Alice sets her board on the sand. “Hey, Rosalie. Nice to see you again.”
“Hey, everyone, this is Jacob and Alice, two of my roommates.”
Jacob holds his hand over his heart. “Roommate? Is that what we’re calling it now? I’m hurt.”
“Ignore him. We always do. This is Rosalie, Bella, Jasper, and Edward.”
“Nice to meet you,” Alice says to everyone. Her eyes linger on Jasper a little longer than necessary.
“Alice is from Mississippi, but Jacob is from up your way, in Washington.”
Jacob grins. “That’s right, La Push.”
“You surf out at La Push?” Jasper asks.
“Yeah, wetsuits and booties are required year-round. It’s cold and windy. But I like Westport and Neah Bay too.
“I bought a cottage recently in Seabrook. It’s a sweet little beach town,” Edward shares.
“Wait.” Bella’s brow cringes in confusion. “I think I know you.”
“Everyone does after my win out in Waimea Bay two weeks ago. Maybe you saw my ESPN coverage. That was a surfing school I put on for everyone,” Jacob brags. “Damn, I was good.”
“Jacob, you win one competition and think you’re a God. Get real,” Alice huffs.
“Jealousy doesn’t look good on you, Shorty,” Jacob warns with a smile.
“Is your last name Black?” Bella asks.
“Yeah, sweetheart. You want an autograph later? I can probably do better than that.” He winks.
“My dad is Chief of Police in Forks—Charlie Swan. I think our dads used to fish together when we were little. You probably don’t remember me. I’m Bella Swan.”
Jacob checks out her slim, bikini-clad body from head to toe. “I’m sorry, I don’t, but I believe we can make up for lost time. Are you sure you don’t need surf lessons? I can teach you everything I know.”
Alice laughs and shakes her head. “Which wouldn’t be much.”
“Jasper and Edward are surfing with us this afternoon, while Rosalie and Bella stay here and soak up the sun.” I catch movement out on the waves and see Tanya has waited for a great one. “Holy smokes! Look at Tan. She’s right in the barrel.”
“Girl knows how to pick them.” Alice watches in awe. “Does Garrett have the camera?”
“Yeah, he picked up a beauty, though. Look at him carve away at that wave!”
The pocket closes for Tanya, causing her to wipe out. When she surfaces, she makes her way to the shore, as Garrett slips from his board and swims over to greet everyone.
“That was awesome!” Tanya shouts, wrapping her arm around Garrett’s shoulders. “Did you see it?”
I wave them over. “We all saw it. Hey, I want you meet some people.”
Garrett and Tanya join our group as I make introductions of Rosalie and her friends.
I share a few details about our latest arrivals. “Tanya is from Alaska, so this is like the equator for her.”
She slugs me playfully in the arm.
“Garrett is from Maine. He wasn’t with us in Hawaii, but flew in from Cape Town for this weekend’s competition.”
“Em, the sharks were going to eat me alive. I’m lucky not to be missing an arm this trip. Those damn seals are everywhere, but the waves were perfect,” Garrett laments.
“Cape Town? Like South Africa?” Edward asks.
“Yeah, Seal Island. The great whites love that area because there’s plenty to eat. So, I test my luck every couple of years. This year I was lucky.” He twists his arm and leg proudly for everyone to see his battle scars. “Some years not so much.”
“Kate isn’t here, but she’s Tanya’s sister and Garrett’s girlfriend. She doesn’t surf. So, she’s back at the house, but maybe you all would like to join us later and we can barbeque? That way you can meet her,” I suggest.
Rosalie lights up at the idea, then looks to her brother and friends, who nod their agreement. “Sounds wonderful. We’re game.”
“Are we ready to paddle out?” Tanya asks. “I need to get back out there.”
I turn to Rosalie and grin. “Wish me luck.”
Jacob teases as he heads for the water. “Blondie, put him out of his misery and kiss him already.”
“You’ve got to earn that shit. When is the kid going to learn? Take your time, bro. There’s no rush.” Garrett pats me on the shoulder then jogs toward the water, shouting, “Hey, wait up, Tan. You should take the camera this time.”
“Let’s go have fun!” Alice waves for Jasper and Edward to follow her. “You girls don’t know what you’re missing. It’s better than an orgasm.”
“I doubt that,” Bella disagrees with a cheeky grin and a glance at Edward. “If it is, then I’m positive you’re doing it wrong.”
Rosalie smiles, rising up to leave a quick peck on my cheek. “Good luck, but I know you won’t need it.”
“Thanks, beautiful. I’ll take all the luck I can get. See you soon.” I wink, climb onto my surfboard, and paddle over the rolling waves.
“I’ll be watching!” Rosalie shouts.
I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than watching the sun set around a fire surrounded by great friends and full bellies. The grilled fish tacos were a hit, and while most are nursing beers, Tanya made her famous rum punch for our non-beer drinkers.
We’re a cozy group squished together on padded benches or sharing laps and chairs with relaxed smiles on our faces. We’re all buzzing from the warmth of friendship and alcohol. This comradery is what we live for—well that, and the next great wave. I couldn’t be happier than to have Rosalie nestled into my side as we share stories from our travels with Edward and Jasper and answer their questions.
“Emmett, what are your biggest fears while surfing?” Edward asks. “You surf like nothing scares you. You’re fearless.”
“There’s always fear of what’s in the water. It’s full of snakes, sharks, jellyfish, and stingrays. It isn’t uncommon to see sharks when we’re in Western Australia. As we search the deeper ocean to find bigger waves, we usually explore by Jet Ski and find the water to be swimming with tons of marine life. But as we get farther out, the water becomes dark blue, almost black with an eerie feeling in some spots.”
“It’s scary and hard to focus,” Alice adds, balancing on the arm of Jasper’s chair, then shakes her head.
“To surf these places, like I said, we use Jet Skis to assist us getting to them, which surfing purists hate. Picture this—we’re out there waiting for a wave while dangling from a towrope, making us look like bait to whatever is lurking below the surface. Hell, we know what’s down there, but we try not to focus on that.”
“Human lures. Here fishy, fishy.” Garrett smirks at Kate who is sitting on his lap.
I continue, “One afternoon, we’re at The Right, about a half mile out with waves of fifty to sixty feet faces. And we’re waiting and waiting. The sun is going down, causing the water to get darker and darker until we see a huge fin pop up—it’s a massive great white. It was the first time for some in our group to see one up close. We’re all scrambling to get out of the water and back on the Jet Skis. The shark swims between the Jet Skis, circling some, disappearing, only to pop up again.
“Some guys refuse to get back in the water, but there’s a huge lump of ocean coming. I jump back in and tell my tow partner to hit it. He pulls me to the wave and I’m in this huge barrel. It was unbelievable, breathtaking—one of the best waves ever. It spits me out into the channel and my partner circles around the whitewash to pick me up only to have the fin pop up between the Jet Ski and me, then disappear. He’s yelling for me to climb on, and I’m scrambling to get out of the water, as that crazy shark followed us in from the back of that wave!
“We went back out two days later to have a great white show up again. I’m sure it was the same one. We were in its territory. It’s always important to remember to respect the ocean and the life down there. Things go wrong and people lose their lives. We were lucky that time.”
“What about getting hurt?” Jasper prompts.
Tanya nods from the other side of Bella, who is squeezed between her and Jacob. “That’s a real fear too. Everyone has a story. The sea is the biggest and most powerful thing on the planet. It has a rhythm to it and you need to learn its flow, which is why we show up weeks sometimes months to surf an area before a competition. The odds of getting hurt are always high. It’s unpredictable.
“I was surfing the Pipeline on O’ahu’s North Shore, and it’s a reef break where the waves break once they hit the shallows of the reef. The barrel waves are tremendous, but sometimes you can wait five hours for the right one because it’s a popular spot with so many surfers.
“One time, there was a wave coming and nobody was jumping on it. So I thought, screw this, I’m not waiting any longer and went. There’s a reason no one grabbed that wave—it was a closeout, which collapsed and never had a surfable tube. The wave ate me and I flipped over, then boom—my head hit the reef. I reached up to feel a hole and my hand was covered in blood. I went to the hospital, and they put six stitches inside the deep cut and six on the outside. I’m glad I didn’t lose consciousness, but it’s why you never surf alone. You could end up drowning.”
We all nod our understanding—jagged rocks and reefs can be dangerous.
“Your board can take you out too, as well as leash tangles,” Alice adds, playfully shoving Jacob. “Newbies can be one of the worst problems to have.”
Jacob shifts in his spot. “Shorty, I’m hardly a newbie. I’ll be on the cover of Surfer magazine after Hawaii. Everyone knows I’m the next big thing.”
Tanya lets out a snort, smiles at Bella, and leans into her side. “We won’t hold our breath.”
“Tanya’s been on the cover seven times—almost as many as me.” I reach over, giving her a knuckle bump.
“I’m sure Bella would like to see my trophy. I keep it in my bedroom upstairs,” Jacob offers with a suggestive wiggle of his eyebrows. But we all know he shipped it back to his family in La Push for safekeeping.
Bella and Tanya burst into giggles over who knows what, probably an inside joke as they’ve become fast friends, howling with laughter ever since we got back from surfing this afternoon. It must be the punch. It’s easy going down, then it kicks in and the giggles escalate.
Garrett’s voice pulls me from my thoughts, as the arm I have wrapped around Rosalie pulls her a little closer, bringing a gentle smile to her lips.
“You also need to worry about what’s not in the water—locals.” Garrett smiles, grabbing everyone’s attention again. “They can be deadly. We were surfing in Chile and our guide told us not to go past the point. There’s a cemetery there, and he warned that a family who lived nearby was known for robbing trespassers, which were usually surfers. We all understood and were grateful for the warning.
“The next day, my buddy goes barefoot, but I’m wearing sandals because we have to hike across rocks to get to where we can catch the waves. When we do, the waves are great, but we decide to move locations for bigger waves. I had to go back and grab my sandals, but when I did, I was met with a man wielding a machete demanding money. Fuck the sandals. I took off running still being pursued by the crazed local. I met back up with my group, who were waiting and we took off. It was nuts.”
I nod and stand. “Anyone else need a new beer? Or a refill? Rosalie?”
“I’m good.” Her glassy brown eyes twinkle in the firelight. “Hurry back.”
Bella hands me her glass. “I’m game for more.”
“I’ll get another beer too.” Jasper stands, following me into the kitchen.
I grab a fresh beer, twist off the bottle cap, and hand it to him. “Here you go.”
“So, what’s going on with you and my sister?”
He’s getting right to it and not mincing any words.
I shrug. “Whatever she wants.”
“You’ve been hanging out a lot.”
“I enjoy her company and plan to spend as much time as possible with her while we’re here.”
“She doesn’t need you leading her on only to move on in a week with somebody else.”
“I’m not leading her on, but this is my life. I surf the world. She’s free to spend her time with someone else at any time, but I like being with her.”
“Don’t break her heart. This little vacation romance will inevitably end. I don’t want to see her crushed when you leave and we return home. She has enough on her plate back in Seattle with her ex and her job.”
“Funny, she hasn’t mentioned anyone else. Maybe you need to realize that she’s a big girl and can take care of herself, Big Brother.”
“We look out for each other, and I can see how close the two of you are getting so quickly. I’m just saying be careful with her. She’s more fragile than she seems. We all have fears, not just surfers.”
“Hey, is everything okay in here?” Rosalie stands in the doorway, looking between us, bracing herself when she sways.
“Nothing to worry about.” Jasper smirks and heads back out to the patio, rejoining the others.
I smile and add more ice to Bella’s glass, refilling it with punch. “We’re all good. You want to go for a walk on the beach? It’s a beautiful, starry night.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“Okay, let’s give this to Bella, then we’ll go.”
We don’t have to walk far as Tanya and Bella appear at the bottom of the stairs.
“We’re going to hang out upstairs and play some vinyl. You want to come with us?” Bella offers.
“Sounds like fun, but Emmett and I are going for a walk on the beach.”
“Here’s your refill.” I hold out her glass.
“Thanks.” She takes a quick sip then starts up the stairs with Tanya. “Don’t wait up for me. I may sleep over here tonight.”
“All right. Good night, Bella. Be good and stay safe.”
“I’m always good and safe is no fun.” She smirks.
Tanya grabs Bella’s hand. “Come on B.”
Rosalie turns back toward me as they disappear upstairs. “Let’s go.”
“Do you have a jacket?”
I grab one of mine draped over the back of a chair and hold it out, guiding her arms into the sleeves. “It’ll be big, but you’ll stay warm.”
“You know there are other ways of doing that.” She turns around and I zip her up.
“Staying warm.” Rosalie’s hands lock behind my neck as she presses her body against mine in all the right places.
Fuck, she feels good.
My hands find her waist, keeping her steady. “No more punch for you. I’m cutting you off.”
Rosalie looks up at me, and I can see it in her eyes. She wants me to kiss her, and God, I want to, but I have a suspicion she may not remember it tomorrow.
Any kiss we share will be when she’s sober, and I suspect she’s on her third or fourth glass of punch. She will soon understand why it gets its name.
“I disagree. I’ve had just the right amount. I’m only a bit tipsy.” She unlocks her hands to show me the tiny space between her finger and thumb, then threads our fingers together, pulling me toward the front door. “Come on, my star-gazing, mountain-surfing man. Do you have to wear a shirt? I miss your muscles.”
Yep, she’s definitely had too much to drink. Unfiltered Rosalie may be my favorite. We head outside barely making it off the porch before she has a request.
“Can I have a piggyback ride? My legs are tired.”
“Sure hop on.” I spin around and bend at the knees.
Rosalie holds onto my shoulders until I shift her a little higher, then her arms lock around my neck with her lips at my ear as she inhales deeply. “This is good. You smell good.”
I turn my head, our lips almost touching. “Hold on and don’t forget to look up at the stars. They’re beautiful tonight.”
At the mention, she tilts her head toward the sky and lets out a gasp. “Wow, there’re so many and they’re all twinkling.”
I carry her along the shore until we make it to her cottage, then she slides from my back and struggles with her key.
“Here, let me do it.” I open the door easily.
“You want to come inside? Nobody’s here. I’m tired. We can lie down on my bed.”
“Please. For me. Say you’ll stay.”
“Maybe for a bit.”
Once through the door she peels away the layers. I follow behind her, collecting each item as it drops to the floor. My jacket goes first. Her top is next, revealing her bikini from earlier today, then she works the button and zipper of her cut-off shorts, wiggling them down her hips, revealing her bikini bottoms.
“My room is this way.” She steps out of her shorts, then reaches for the tie of her bikini at her neck.
She pauses and turns around, noticing I’m in her doorway and no longer following her into the room.
“B-Babe, what are you doing?” My mouth finally works while my hardening cock has other ideas.
“Getting ready for bed. I always sleep nude. Aren’t you going to join me? You said you would stay.”
Nude. She sleeps nude. Nude.
The word rattles around in my brain.
Fuck. I didn’t agree to nudity, especially after she’s been drinking and I only have so much willpower.
She closes the distance between us, reaching out to rub her fingers against my straining, cloth-covered cock.
Oh, dear God.
My eyes close at her touch, trying to forget exactly how enticing she is with her bikini-covered body, begging me to explore every inch. I know if I touch her, I’m a goner. She’s entirely too tempting.
“Emmett,” she whispers.
My half-lidded eyes open and I grab her hand, stilling her movements as she looks up at me.
“Do you need help getting undressed? I can do it for you.” Her hands move to the waistband of my shorts where her fingers slip under the edge.
Even though my cock is screaming Yes! my head is already shaking no.
“No. I’m good.” I stop her hands and her shoulders slump in defeat at my rejection. I tilt her chin up and wait until her eyes meet mine. “Hey, if we do this, it will be when you’re sober. Being with me is something I don’t want you to forget or regret, and trust me; Tanya’s punch isn’t on your side. You will have an unbelievable headache in the morning. Let’s get you tucked in under the covers. I’ll stay until you fall asleep.”
I move around her and pull back the edge of the covers, then wait as she settles in the middle before tucking the bedding around her.
“Will you at least hold me?”
“Sure.” I take the spot next to her outside of the covers, opening my arms in invitation.
I cover her hand on my chest and keep it from migrating any lower. She’s twisted her body, exposing the skin of her back as she snuggles into my side. My hand drifts along the smooth skin of her back, and soft sighs of comfort escape her lips.
I leave a kiss on the top of her head and enjoy this intimate moment together—just the two of us. It isn’t long until Rosalie’s breathing evens out and she falls asleep. I lay there with my arms wrapped around her and contemplate Jasper’s warnings, but end up deciding Garrett’s right. There’s no rush, and as a surfer, I can have the patience of a saint.
The afternoon waves are perfect, but the view on the shore is even better.
Jacob pointed her out between runs. I can see her even from this distance, sitting on her towel with Bella and Kate, wearing sunglasses and bikinis, watching us surf while soaking up the bright sunshine.
It’s been two days without contact, and my mind has been a swirl of insecurity, wondering how badly I’ve messed this up between us before we’ve even started. I think she’s been avoiding me, but no one has let out a peep to confirm my worries or ease my fears.
She hasn’t been on the beach during my morning jogs or in Alice’s yoga classes. Her absence has added to my grumpy mood. I’m having trouble focusing, and if I’m not careful, I won’t even place in the top five this weekend.
As we get closer to the competition, the beaches are more crowded, which also means more surfers out here waiting for the right wave. With the growing numbers, we know there will be plenty of fans waiting for our attention when we’ve had enough and call it a day. But all I want to do is spend more time with Rosalie, and I have no idea how to go about it without sending her running in the opposite direction.
“What’s the plan for this evening?” Alice wonders, gazing over her shoulder at the sun. “I think we should all go out.”
“I don’t care what we do. Maybe I should ask Rosalie on a date, just the two of us.”
“How about Matsu?” Tanya suggests. “Sushi sounds good. I’m starving.”
“You only want to go there for a chance to ogle Eric,” Alice taunts. “I bet he’s working tonight.”
“Maybe I do. I can’t help it if he’s gorgeous. Those forearms of his are incredible. I need to find out which gym he attends and do a not-so-random training session while he’s there. Maybe he will bench press me.”
“Listen to you. You’re sounding like Bella,” Alice teases.
Tanya grins. “That girl is a hoot. She’s like my long-lost sister.”
“Don’t let Kate hear you say that.”
“Oh, Kate couldn’t care less. She’s too focused on babymaking.”
“Ha! That explains why Garrett was late today.”
Jacob paddles out to where we are sitting on our boards. “Em, Felix, and Demetri are here.”
I shrug. “Big deal. I don’t care what they do.” Which isn’t exactly true. Felix is one of my biggest competitors, and Demetri is his annoying little sidekick. There aren’t many people I can’t stand, but these two push my limits.
“It is when they’re busy talking to your girl.”
My eyes search the shoreline, then I spot them with Garrett and the girls. “Rosalie has choices. She’s not my girl.”
“Yet,” Alice inserts.
“It would be stupid of me to make those decisions for her. I’m not an easy choice. I can’t offer her stability or guarantee her much time with all the travel we do. And it may be selfish of me, but I don’t see that changing. I want to keep surfing the world.”
Jacob grins. “If that’s the case, then Felix has nothing on you other than that phony Italian accent. Girls always dig that. Maybe I should try one.”
“It isn’t phony, you idiot. They’re actually from Italy.” Tanya rolls her eyes and takes the next wave.
Jacob shrugs. “Well, either way. I’m rooting for you, big guy.”
“Thanks, Jacob. What would I do without your support?”
“What can I say? I have a way with women. If you need any advice, let me know.” He spies another wave coming. “I’m going to grab this one.”
We watch Tanya and Jacob make their way to the shore when Alice clears her throat, getting my attention. “I know you’re feeling a little off-balance, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t the right choice. Give it time.”
“I’m taking my time, but it doesn’t matter. She’ll probably forget about me once she returns home and I’m on the other side of the world.”
“I doubt it. I know I wouldn’t. No matter what you may think, you’re not that easy to forget.” Alice pauses, and I can tell she’s holding something back until she speaks again. “Emmett, do you know how many years we’ve been surfing together? I’ve never seen you so twisted up over someone until now. Sure, there have been other girls, but you wanted nothing more with them. This time is different and you can feel it. How many mornings did you jog past her before you said ‘hi’ the other day?”
I shrug. “Too many. I was nervous.”
“See, that’s what I mean. You never get nervous. You always have this cool, easygoing confidence, but for whatever reason, it seems to be missing with her.”
“I don’t want to screw this up, but it feels like it’s inevitable. What should I do? Our window is closing soon.”
“Make the most of what you have right now. This isn’t new to you. It’s how we live. But for the first time in ten years, she’s got you wanting more than living in the present.”
“Garrett says take it slow. Jacob keeps pushing me to hurry and make a move. Jasper thinks I’m leading her on. I’m in such a spin I don’t know which way is up.”
“Let’s make this real easy. How about you cook her dinner tonight?”
“I can make one dish.”
“Then make it. We’ll take Jasper, Edward, and Bella out for sushi, maybe hit up a club and go dancing while you cook at her place. Spend time together and make memories. Watch the sunset over a bottle of wine.”
“Let me worry about Jasper. You be you—the one no woman can resist. Don’t overthink this. Let it happen naturally, as it should.”
I let out a gruff in frustration. “I’m trying to be a gentleman too. You have no idea how hard that is when I’m so attracted to her. The other night, she started peeling off her clothes and I stopped her because she was drunk. I don’t want her to regret anything between us.”
“Wow, you do have it bad. Maybe tonight, if the situation presents itself—don’t stop her.” Alice winks. “You can thank me later.”
I’ve been standing outside her door for a few minutes, gathering the courage to knock. My hands are weighed down with two shopping bags, and I shift them to one hand, preparing myself mentally for whatever happens beyond this door. She agreed to the date with little thought, which should boost my confidence, but I’m still nervous. After two big breaths, I raise my hand to the door, but it opens before I have time to make contact.
“Did I hear you knock?”
“Um… I was getting to that.”
“Oh, well, come in.”
“Thanks. You look beautiful.”
She’s dressed casually in a white top with a low neckline that also shows off her midriff and lots of tanned skin. Her cutoff shorts are some of the shortest I’ve seen. The material of her top has holes all over it, revealing she’s braless, but that isn’t what draws my immediate attention. “Is that’s some kind of chain?”
My eyes roam the gold chains that appear to outline her tits under her top then reemerge to drape along her flat belly and hips.
So fucking sexy.
I’m in trouble.
“Yes, Bella and I went shopping the other day and found this great shop full of body chains and other jewelry. We couldn’t help ourselves.”
I pull my eyes away from that bewitching gold chain and hold out the mixed bunch of light pink roses and white flowers. “Here, these are for you.”
“Thank you. I’ll find a vase. Why don’t you follow me to the kitchen?”
“Sure.” We walk through the living room where the patio doors leading out to the beach are wide-open, letting in the early evening breeze blowing off the ocean.
“Hopefully, we have everything you need. The kitchen is fully furnished.”
I set the shopping bags on the countertop and unpack them.
“What are we having?”
“Pasta, salad, bread, and I grabbed a bottle of Prosecco. Sound good?”
“Sure. Let me find glasses.” She opens a cabinet door and retrieves two stemless wine glasses.
I notice soft music coming from the living room speakers. I’m surprised at the choice, as Mick croons on about not getting any satisfaction. “Are you a Rolling Stones fan?”
“Yeah. Are they okay? I can put on something else.”
“No. They’re fine. I’ll start the water for the pasta.”
“I know we have a bottle opener in here somewhere.” She digs through a drawer nearby. “Do you drink wine?”
“Um, I don’t really drink a lot of alcohol, but I have a beer now and then.”
“Ah-ha! Here it is.” She holds up the opener proudly. “You’re not going to make me drink alone, are you?”
I nod toward the two empty glasses. “No, pour me a glass.”
While Rosalie opens the wine, I divide the mixed green salad between two plates then turn on the oven to warm the loaf of bread.
She fills our glasses and offers me one. “What should we drink to?”
I blank momentarily, then think about what would be perfect.
Last first dates.
Or first kisses.
Or gold body chains.
“How about to a world of new possibilities?”
“I love that. To new possibilities.”
We clink glasses then take a quick sip of wine.
“Are you okay with eating outside? I can set the table.”
“Sounds great.” After about fifteen minutes, I slide the loaf of bread into the warm oven, add the pasta to the boiling water, then look for something to drain the pasta when it’s ready. We work in harmony, humming along to the music as we complete our separate tasks, moving from one great song to the next.
“I think the table looks good. The flowers are beautiful out there and I lit a few candles. I only need to grab silverware and we’ll be set. Are you making a sauce for the pasta?” She moves to my side, watching me sauté the garlic in another pan.
“No. I’m tossing it with olive oil, minced garlic, and hot pepper flakes. Are you okay with spicy?”
“I’m great with heat.” Her hand brushes along my forearm as she wiggles her eyebrows.
I stare down at her hand as she rubs it along my arm and my breathing increases. When our eyes meet again, I know that this kiss can’t wait any longer. I shake my head trying to clear the enticing spell she has me under and turn off both stovetop burners then the oven, knowing I can’t take it anymore.
Rosalie looks over the simmering pots in confusion, surprised by my abrupt actions. “Is the food ready?”
I dump the steaming pasta into the colander in the sink then remove the loaf of bread from the oven. “Close enough.” I turn, advancing toward her until the countertop stops her retreat.
Her eyes search mine and her hands brace against the edge as her chest heaves in anticipation.
My hand skims the soft skin at her waist while the other weaves through the loose ponytail at the back of her head. I tilt her head to mine then her lips part, tongue peeking out.
I pause with our lips only a breath apart. “You can tell me to stop.”
She whispers, “Not a chance.” Then closes the distance between us.
Our lips touch. Soft and hesitant at first, growing more confident with each pass until the heat between us becomes overwhelming and her hands move to my head, as she takes over, kissing me with a new ferocity. Her fingers tug on my hair and her tongue pushes past my lips, as I hold her tighter, needing more with every moan that escapes my chest.
While our lips remain fused together, I release her hair from my grasp and lift her onto the countertop, spreading her legs, moving between them. I pull her to the edge of the counter, and her legs wrap automatically around my waist.
She’s the first to pull away panting, while I kiss a path from her lips along her jaw to her ear, nibbling on the lobe.
I groan at hearing my name fall from her lips and recapture them briefly before moving down the other side of her neck.
“Holy—your lips. God, yes! Right there—” She moans when my hands find their way under her top and my thumbs brush across her braless, hardened nipples.
“You feel so good.” I mumble between kisses that trail to the tops of her breasts while my hands cup and squeeze two perfect handfuls.
“Let’s forget dinner and move right to dessert,” she pleads, pulling my face back to hers, smashing our lips together.
I pull away and pause, resting my forehead on hers, trying to catch my breath, and removing my hands from under her top. “Wait. We should slow down.”
“You deserve better than this.”
“Emmett, I want you.”
“And for the first time in my life I want more or the possibility of more.”
I look into her lust-filled eyes. “Yeah, more than quick vacation sex—more than tonight. But I don’t know how to do this. Us. I’ve never done this and with my schedule—fuck. I’m leaving on Monday.”
She sits a little straighter, tilting up her chin. “You want me?”
My thumbs rub across the smooth skin of her inner thighs. “Fuck yes, I want you. But Rose, I don’t want to make this harder than it already is.”
She grins. “Is that even possible?”
“You’re entirely too tempting.”
Rosalie’s flirty expression fades. “Apparently, not enough.”
“Look, let’s spend the time getting to know each other and not rush into anything. I don’t want you to have any regrets. And I could well be—”
“You’re not. Trust me.”
“Or a rebound.”
“Jasper mentioned an ex.” I peck her lips one last time then pull away and return to finishing the pasta. “We should eat. I want to hear all about your life in Washington, at Seattle General, and growing up in New York.”
Four days of competition has brought us to the end of our time here in California. It’s bittersweet, and for once in my life, I can’t wait to leave the beach. Rose and I have spent as much time as possible together from sunrise to sunset, and now we’re faced with a final night before I leave. I’m eager to get my obligations behind me.
“Congratulations, Em.” Alice kisses me on my wet cheek.
“You were amazing out there.” Tanya jumps up to give me a hug.
Garrett pats me on the shoulder. “Way to go, buddy.”
“Thanks, man. The waves were great today. You had an awesome final run too.”
“Not enough to get ahead of Demetri, but that last wave you caught was pure perfection.”
“It was a nice one.”
“Emmett!” Bella yells, running to where we’re gathered near the shore. “That was incredible! You’ve got killer moves, Mountain Man. I see why Rose speaks so highly of those happy trails of Mount Em.”
“Thanks. Where is Rose?” I glance along the beach. “Did she see the last run?”
Bella’s smile widens across her face. “Yes, she did and said you should come by the cottage when you’re through with everything.” Bella points toward the reporters interviewing Felix, the winner of today’s competition.
My smile falls at the thought of not getting to see Rose for a while. “She couldn’t stick around until—”
“Don’t worry. The rest of us have other plans tonight. Go be you.” She pushes me toward a group of waiting fans wanting autographs, as the ESPN reporter spots me, giving a nod I’ll be next.
“See you later, Em.”
“Take care, Bella.”
I work through the crowd while I wait, until Jacob appears, wrapping his arm around my shoulders.
“Hey, man! What a day, huh?”
“Every day is a great day on the water. Sand, surf, sun—what more could you want?” I wink at the young girl in front of me.
“You know it. The Holy Grail is next—Nazaré. I can’t wait. Man, I’ve never been to Portugal.”
I nod and hand the pen I’m using back to its owner. “One hundred foot swells. It’s like no other.”
“Are you coming out with us tonight or do you have plans with Blondie?”
“Plans. I’ll meet you guys on the plane.”
“You’re already packed?”
“You should know by now. Our bags are always packed.”
“All right. See you tomorrow.”
The reporter waves me over. “Em, you got a minute?”
“Great finish today behind Felix. Tell me about your day.”
“The waves were fantastic all afternoon, and I was lucky to get the ones I did.”
“And we hear you’re headed to Nazaré next.”
“Yes, it’s always exciting to go there. The waves are tremendous.”
“And dangerous. Swells like nowhere else in the world.”
“You can’t think about the danger. You need to stay focused or Mother Nature will make you pay with her unpredictability.”
“Good luck to you, Emmett.”
After a quick shower, I grab my bag for tomorrow’s trip. I’m on my way to the front door of Rose’s cottage when something red on her patio moves catching my eye. I pause, finding Rose stretched out on a lounger in a sexy, flame-red, one-piece swimsuit, looking like every Baywatch fantasy I’ve ever had come to life.
The high-cut of the suit shows off her long legs and plenty of sun-kissed skin. My eyes drift to the tops of her breasts revealed by the plunging neckline where her long blonde hair teases with the evening breeze.
I clutch my chest. “If I didn’t know better, I would think you’re trying to kill me.”
“Is your life in danger? I may be out of my jurisdiction, but I am a nurse.”
“I think my heart has stopped beating or maybe it’s my lungs since I can’t seem to catch my breath. How about a little mouth-to-mouth to be on the safe side?”
“Or a lot.”
Rosalie stands, closing the distance between us. “Congratulations.”
My eyes linger over my favorite curves, then I reach out, needing her in my arms. “Thanks.”
“I think we should celebrate. Are you up for a soak in the hot tub?” Her fingertips play with the hair at the back of my neck, while my hands rest at her waist.
“Mmmmm. Maybe later.” I moan at her caressing touch.
“Something to drink.”
Her eyes twinkle with mischief. “How about a tour of my bedroom?”
“You forget. I’ve already seen your bedroom. Multiple times.”
“Then maybe we should try out my mattress. Give it a workout.” She pulls away, grabs my hand, and guides us toward her bedroom.
“Your mattress?” I chuckle.
“Yeah.” She turns and puts two fingers over my lips to halt my protest. “Don’t overthink us. Just be here—with me and enjoy this moment we have together.”
Rosalie tightens her arms around my shoulders, leaving her body pressed to mine, as her lips trail a path of kisses along my jaw and down my neck.
She grabs the hem of my shirt, pulling it over my head.
“Mmmmm.” Her lips and hands return to exploring the curves of my chest with her tongue and fingertips, causing me to flinch. “You’re ticklish?”
I grin. “Maybe.”
She moves lower as her lips and tongue torture my abs, while her hands work the drawstring of my shorts, then she kneels before me.
Loosening the gathered fabric until it drops to the floor, her hands rub over the fabric of my boxers, moving from my thighs to around my waist. She settles on my ass cheeks, giving them a squeeze, which thrusts my fabric-covered cock in her direction. “Sensitive.”
I chuckle. “You have no idea. Be careful. I’m like a bomb waiting to go off.”
Her hands move back around to the front of my boxers, rubbing everywhere but where my cock wants her most. “A bomb, huh?”
“Yes.” I moan when her hands lower and move into the leg openings of my boxers, sliding upward until her delicate touches graze my balls then the base of my cock, causing my hips to jut forward again.
She moves toward my barely contained cock and rubs her lips over the end where the damp fabric reveals my excitement. “I better be extra careful.”
Her hands slide from under my boxers and up to the waistband, where her fingertips tease along the edge until finally easing my boxers down my legs and to the floor.
I step out of my shorts and boxers, kicking them to the side as Rosalie’s hands explore newly exposed skin, until wrapping around my length, giving my straining cock a few appreciative strokes. “Oh—”
Her head moves forward until her lips are close enough that her tongue reaches out to taste the tip.
“—fuck.” I sway, thinking I may lose my balance, but catch myself. “I-I-I think…”
“What do you think?” Rosalie asks, as the head of my cock disappears between her lips.
“I should lie down on the bed if you keep doing that or my legs will give out.”
“I like you being a little off-balance.” She grins and guides me to her bed. “But I’m ready to even the score.”
I stretch out across her covers as she eases down a strap of her swimsuit then the other and pushes it to the floor.
I groan at the sight of her beautiful, naked form and stroke myself, watching her climb onto the bed.
She straddles my waist, nestling my cock between her legs, and my hands skim her thighs, settling at her waist. I slide easily through her folds as her hands brace against my chest. Her hips tilt until I’m paused at her opening, then she sinks down until I’m inside her.
“Mmmm.” Her hips begin a slow, torturous pace. “Are you okay?”
“Am I okay? Fuck, no. I’m not okay. I will be embarrassed in the next thirty seconds… or less at this rate.”
Her grin widens at my admission of her control over my body or maybe my lack of control around her. All those showers spent thinking about her haven’t curbed my desire one bit, and now, it will be over all too soon.
“Good,” she states proudly.
In a move she isn’t expecting, I flip her over and pull out, holding her arms above her body. “Not good. You’re entirely too much for me at this moment. Hold on to the headboard.”
“So, bossy.” She smirks, but does as I request.
I settle next to her and delicately trace her collarbone from one side to the other, causing her back to arch off the bed and her hips to twist in need. “I’m a gentleman and this will be ladies first.”
“Still bossy. Oh—” She gasps when my lips suck on the nipple closest and my fingertip circles the other. “—Em.”
She pushes her chest toward my mouth, encouraging its movements, while my hand drifts across her smooth belly until it settles between her legs.
I pull off her nipple and watch her face as I trace a fingertip along her slit.
She spreads her legs wider, begging for more of my touch. “I need more.”
I add a second finger, stroking from her clit to her opening, barely dipping a finger inside before repeating the circuit, stoking fires inside her from head to toe.
I watch my hand drive her mad with desire until she’s helpless but to surrender to her orgasm as waves of bliss overtake her body.
She’s panting for breath, but I don’t give her a chance to let the feelings subside and move between her legs, pushing deep inside.
“Oh, Rose.” I growl, thrusting my hips in and out until my pace is quick and release imminent.
Her tits sway with each thrust until I can no longer hold off my orgasm, stilling my hips and releasing inside her.
“Fuck.” I gasp then groan before collapsing, as her arms and legs wrap around me.
She starts, “That was—”
“Incredible?” I glance at her face to find her as blissed out as I am.
“Yes, and a little unexpected.”
“I was thinking you were immune to my charms.”
“Definitely not.” I lean up to kiss her soft lips then slide from her body and settle beside her. “I’m serious about what I said the other day. I don’t know how to do this successfully with you. I think we just complicated everything.”
Her hand reaches up and traces a fingertip along my jaw. “Tell me what scares you.”
I sigh, rolling onto my back. “I’m positive you have certain expectations for a relationship.”
She turns on her side, watching her fingertip move across the planes of my chest. “Give me all the reasons you think this won’t work.”
I let out a sad chuckle. “There’s no rhyme or reason to my schedule. I can be gone for months at a time without a word. I’m always surrounded by nearly naked people, which could give you the wrong idea, depending on the photo. There will be missed texts, calls, and voicemails. You’ll second-guess yourself, wondering what you’ve gotten yourself into with me.
“Most of what I own fits in a duffel bag or less. I don’t have a steady job or a home to offer you any kind of stability. I will always need to be near the water and can’t imagine doing anything else in my life other than surfing. It isn’t a phase or something I will grow out of with time.” I swallow down the lump in my throat and lower my voice, sharing our true reality. “If you’re looking for the home in the suburbs with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids, then I… I’m not your man.”
Her silence fills the room, and the pounding in my ears grows louder, until she speaks. “What if I’m not looking for those things?”
My brow cringes in confusion as I turn my head toward her. “Almost every woman is looking for those things, and they all think they can change me. That I won’t get on the plane tomorrow.”
“I’m not every woman, and I realized years ago that those ideals aren’t in the cards for me. So, trust me. I have no grand expectations.” A single tear falls down her cheek, then she clears her throat. “And not once have I said a single word about you not getting on that plane.”
I brush away the stray tear. “See? I’m already making you cry.”
“It’s not you.”
I open my arms, inviting her to settle on my chest. “Then why are you crying?”
She shakes her head, sniffing back the tears, not giving me an answer. “Don’t you have expectations?”
“No. I don’t. I take life as it comes. It’s easy for me that way, but not everyone can live like that.”
“You don’t want a wife or kids? A home some day?”
I’m careful to choose my next words. “I think I want you, but I have no idea how to keep you and make us both happy.”
She sighs, not offering any suggestions, but I’m perfectly content to stay here with her in my arms until I need to go catch the plane in a few hours. Our flight is so early I don’t bother trying to sleep while Rose snoozes peacefully. My mind won’t settle as it tries to figure out a way to do this with her.
The room is dark with only moonlight spilling through the window. My eyes drift along her naked curves, and soon I’m rolling her onto her back, jostling her from her slumber. My lips finding her neck as I hover over her sexy body.
“Em?” Her voice is groggy with sleep, as her eyes remain closed.
“Yes.” I nudge her legs apart and settle between them, then line myself up, pushing deep inside.
She gasps at the intrusion. “Again?”
I pull almost all the way out before pushing back inside. “Yes.”
My hips set a slow, tormenting pace, as my lips glide across her skin, leaving kisses everywhere I can reach.
I live for her responses as she moans and pleads for more. Her legs open wider and wrap around my thighs, urging me forward as she tilts her hips up to meet mine.
I still as she grinds her body against mine. Her panting more labored as her fingernails scratch across my chest. Her back arches off the bed, and I feel her pulse around me, riding out waves and waves of bliss.
She breaks the silence when her body goes slack, and I pick up my pace once more.
My eyes search hers as I wonder what I’m promising?
That whatever we’ve found here won’t end.
That this is only the beginning.
That I’ll find my way back to her. Somehow.
That I’ll think about her every day I’m away.
That every night I’ll wish we were together with my body buried inside hers.
That I’ll miss the softness of her lips or the sweet taste of her mouth.
That I don’t want to do this with anyone else. Ever again. Only her.
“Hey, you look tired. How do you feel?” Alice settles into her aisle seat, while Tanya lowers the window shade and curls up against her pillow.
“Exhausted.” Heartbroken. As if I’ve been twisted inside out—raw and exposed.
Leaving Rosalie two hours ago was nearly impossible, and at this moment, I’d give anything to be back in her warm bed, sleeping the day away.
“Maybe you can get some sleep on the flight. We’ve got a long way to go.”
I shove my carry-on into the overhead and flop into my seat next to an already sleeping Jacob, while Garrett and Kate talk quietly behind us.
I lean my head back and close my eyes, hoping everyone will get the message and leave me be. I’m not interested in talking.
After a little over five hours, we arrive in Newark and everyone is in slow motion, shuffling off the plane. We have a layover here and locate our gate for our next flight to Lisbon.
“We’ll meet you guys over there,” Garrett says, as he and Kate stop for snacks.
Alice moves next to me, walking the short distance to our next flight. “So, how did it go last night?”
I shrug. Too good. But I’m not up for sharing right now.
“Well, we had a blast, thanks for asking.” She is a little too refreshed after the flight.
“What did everyone do?” I ask.
Tanya holds her head. “Too many shots. I need water.”
“Grab me one too, Tan,” Jacob calls out, as he chooses a seat near a plug-in, wanting to charge his phone.
She gives him a thumbs-up and walks toward a grab-n-go restaurant.
“Maybe we should eat something.” I wait for her response. “Alice?”
Alice is grinning from ear-to-ear while texting on her phone. “Sorry, Jasper asked me to check in with him. Go ahead. I’m good.”
Her phone vibrates with an incoming call and she moves over by the windows to take it. I’ll bet it’s Jasper. I’m a little disappointed when I check my phone and find no missed calls, texts, or voicemails.
Maybe she’s still asleep.
I don’t resist the urge to send her one.
Made it to Newark.
My message needs something more, and I stare at the blinking cursor, trying to figure out what to say.
Made it to Newark. Wish you were here.
Nope. That seems like too much; we never talked about taking a trip together or her coming along with me. Even though I would love to travel with her, I need to turn it down a little. So, I delete the last sentence and try again.
Made it to Newark. Missing the California sun.
While that’s true, I’m not missing the sun. I’m missing her and move to delete the last sentence again.
Made it to Newark. Lisbon next.
There’s nothing more impersonal than sharing our itinerary. Fuck. I delete both sentences and start again, typing out the truth.
I miss you.
I press send before I change my mind and pocket my phone.
The next leg of our trip is over six hours to Lisbon and I plan to zone out with my headphones. When the final boarding call is made, we locate our seats ready for the rest of our trip.
As we get closer to Portugal, the excitement at surfing Nazaré builds inside each of us, knowing the highest of highs will soon be under our feet.
We’ve spent weeks prepping our boards and monitoring weather conditions while staying with a local couple and friends of Garrett’s, Eleazar and Carmen García.
I’ve only traded a few texts with Rosalie while we’ve been here—the eight-hour time difference is currently one of our biggest hurdles. She’s back at work in Seattle and I’m exactly where I want to be.
Today is our first day with perfect surf conditions in the making. Despite being awfully windy and cold, waves are expected to be anywhere from sixty to eighty feet.
With huge smiles on our faces, we can all feel the possibilities of something amazing about to happen. Carmen and Kate keep each other company, staying at a safe distance high above the surf.
It’s still dark out as the sun lightens the horizon in the early morning hours while we unload the Jet Skis into the water of the harbor.
We pair-off with Alice and Tanya taking one Jet Ski, while Garrett and I ride together like old times. Jacob and Eleazar are easy partners, as they have formed a unique bond during our time here despite the gap in their ages. Young or old, man or woman—the waves don’t discriminate.
When we make it to the site, the thunderous roar of the waves is deafening, powerful, and ominous. Countless photographers and spectators line the cliffs along the shore, waiting for one of us to ride the massive swells.
Our first few runs end in a broken board for Jacob, who is not to be stopped and ready for more once he has another in hand. The boards we use to surf here are shorter and heavier than normal—anything to aid in staying on a wave determined to crush even the bravest of warriors.
We’ve discussed our release points for the best strategy surfing these waves. Garrett prefers a mid-face release, while I have tried a variety of options today. Every attempt at riding a wave is bumpy and fast. There’s no time to think only react.
For this run, I release the towrope and ride straight down the center of the wave face when I probably should have stayed higher. The wave races toward me, catching up in no time at all. I’m thrown from my board as the wave closes. My back hits the surface first, which feels like being slammed on concrete while continuously dumping water on my head, pushing me deep below the surface. I get turned around and can’t tell which way is up until I pull a tab and release a carbon dioxide can of my inflation vest, which shoots me in the right direction.
Breaking the surface with a gasp, I know immediately I’m in trouble because the pain is instantaneous, shooting up my back then down my right leg. I can’t grab onto the Jet Ski or paddle in order to swim, as a second wave pushes me back below the surface.
The sea tosses me around like a ragdoll and when I resurface again, I hear Jacob yelling my name.
“We got you, Em,” Garrett shouts, pulling me from the whitewash, heading for the shore. “The medic is here. They will put you on a board and brace your neck, then we’re going for a ride to the hospital.”
“Okay.” I pant heavily, remembering my breathing techniques while trying to calm my racing heart.
There’s a flurry of activity around me, but not one person helping me is the one I wish were here. She’s thousands of miles away, and the more I think about the distance between us, the more I realize what I want.
An uneasiness settles in my stomach, as I consider what I want may not be the same as what she needs. From the look on the faces of those working feverishly around me, I can’t dismiss the seriousness of my current situation. I don’t want to be anyone’s burden, and just like that, my fears take on a new form—one I would ask no one to bear.
When I regain consciousness, I’m groggy, but I do my best to hear the whispered voices and what’s being said. Even though everything sounds muffled, I catch the words “doctor,” “broken back,” and “no surfing,” which gets my attention.
I crack open my eyes and focus on the ceiling in my line of sight. When I move to sit up, there’s immediate pain. My grunt brings familiar faces into view.
“Em, don’t move.” Alice hovers above me.
“Where am I? It hurts.” My hand moves to my neck, feeling something restricting movement.
“Don’t fight it. That’s a collar. You’re at the hospital. Tan, go tell the nurse he’s awake and needs more pain medicine.”
Tanya gives me a concerned smile. “I’ll be right back.”
“What do you remember?”
I think for a moment. “Surfing.”
“Do you know where we are?”
“Jacob is out in the waiting area. We’re not in Hawaii.”
“What do you remember about California?”
“Rose. She’s here?” I twist to sit up. “Ahhhh, everything hurts like hell.”
“Please, stay down. The nurse said there would be less pain if you didn’t get up. We aren’t in California.”
“My head is throbbing.”
Alice nods and lightly caresses my forehead. “Where did we go after California?”
“Yes, we’re in Portugal. You were surfing. Do you remember?”
I try, but can’t shake my head. “No. What’s wrong with me?”
“The doctor said you have a spinal compression fracture.”
“What does that mean? Can I walk?”
“Probably, but not without pain. They think you will need about three months to heal. The nurse went to locate a brace to stabilize your back, then you’ll be able to move. Apparently, you’re bigger than most.” Alice smirks.
“Everyone knows that.” I chuckle, but groan when pain radiates through my chest. “Three months.”
“You may not consider it good news, but they don’t think you need surgery and there are no signs of paralysis. The doctor will be back later to check on you, but I did my best to squeeze any information I could out of him. And for the record, they think Tan and I are your sisters. Don’t blow our cover.”
“You are my family. Not a lie. What about surfing?”
“Baby steps. You’ll need physical therapy and to stay under a doctor’s care to monitor your healing. You don’t want to risk re-injury. And you could still have pain after the fracture heals.”
“Does Rose know?”
Alice nods. “You’ve made all the news outlets. There’s video of your wipeout, which Jacob claims is epic. Bella and Jasper were blowing up our phones when they saw it. I would imagine Rose has been calling yours.”
“My phone is with my stuff.”
“I’ll have Carmen or Kate look for it.”
I hear the door open and Tanya reappears. “The nurse will be in soon.”
We’re all quiet until I break our comfortable silence, letting out a heavy sigh. “I don’t want to stay here.”
Alice sighs. “You don’t have a choice. You can’t walk and I doubt it’s safe for you to fly.”
“When it is, I’m leaving.”
I don’t miss the knowing look Alice and Tanya share, then their attention is drawn to whoever is at the door when it opens again, and I hear footsteps walking toward my bed.
Tanya smiles. “I’m going with you.”
“Me too,” Alice adds.
I hear Garrett’s voice before I see his face looking down at me with Kate at his side. “Hey, Em. It looks like you’re going to live, and where are we going?” He scans our faces, searching for the answer.
Alice grins. “Seattle. I’ll make the arrangements.”
Jacob bumps his shoulder into hers. “Shorty, you will love it. And, Em, La Push will have you back to surfing in no time. Three months is nothing with our help.”
“Three months to heal. It may be a year before you’re ready to come back here and take on the waves of Nazaré again,” Alice warns.
“I’ll be back.” A slow smile spreads across my face. “But I think it’s a good place to recover and maybe establish a home base.”
“I’m positive Rose will be happy to hear you say that. Word on the street is she’s been as miserable as you.” Alice winks.
Bella Swan is a pain in the ass, and my entire body agrees. My muscles ache, shaking with strain and exhaustion as she pushes me through her damn exercises.
“Two more, Em. Then we’ll ice everything.”
“Child’s play,” I taunt, but know I’m ready to collapse.
She raises a challenging eyebrow. “You want to keep going?”
“I would, but I have other plans.”
She snorts, grabbing the cold packs for my back and fixing them in place. “We’re following Edward’s orders. For it being two months since your accident, you’re doing great. Lean back and relax.”
I smile. “I’ll take that as a compliment coming from you, but it was only a fracture. Fractures are tiny. Nothing really.”
“Does it feel like nothing?”
She’s right, and she knows it.
“I’m walking a little easier every day and with less pain. I’ll be better than before.”
“You were lucky you didn’t need surgery. Not all my patients can say that.”
With her pleased by my progress, I push for a little more. “Jacob said some guys are headed out to La Push this weekend and asked if I wanted to join them.”
“You better stay on the shore. You aren’t cleared for more yet.”
“Can I stop wearing the brace?”
“I knew you would be one of those patients. A pain in my ass.”
“I should be mad at you.”
“For stealing my roommate.”
“You’re getting two new ones,” I point out.
“I doubt we will see much of Alice. She and Jasper seem to be joined at the hip. And lips.” Bella chuckles. “So, it will mostly be me and Tan.”
“There’s a scary combination,” I tease. “Seabrook is only two-and-a-half hours away from Seattle. Everyone is welcome anytime.”
Bella nods. “It takes me three and a half hours to go see my dad in Forks.”
“There’s an apartment above the shop’s office and retail space. I think Garrett and Kate may take me up on my offer to stay there. I asked Kate if she wanted to run the office. So, I’m waiting for her answer.”
“It will be nice having everyone nearby, even if that doesn’t always mean at the same time.”
“Yeah. I wish I were leaving with them next month for Tahiti. The swells at Teahupo’o Reef are expected to be enormous.”
“You’ll be back to surfing before you know it.”
“Not soon enough for me, but the shop will keep me busy until then. And close to the water.”
“Have you thought of a name yet?”
“Nah. I’ll come up with something.”
When we returned two months ago from Portugal, I had no idea how everything would work out between Rosalie and me. Edward suggested we check out Seabrook and stay at his cottage there. I’m happy to say the trip was a huge success on many levels.
I found a local surf shop and spent time with the owner. He called me several days after we returned to Seattle with an offer to buy the business since he was ready to retire. While unexpected, I talked it over with Rose and my friends then accepted his offer. We’ve made this a joint venture with a five-way partnership where everyone has a vested interest.
The sleepy little beach town is in need of a shop to provide more than just surfboards and wetsuits. We plan to expand with rentals for everything needed to explore the outdoors, like paddleboards, skimboards, kayaks, and bikes. We hope to offer lessons for surfing and lead hikes by foot or bike through the Olympic mountain trails.
Now, we’re all in the process of settling into life here in Washington. Tanya and Alice are moving in with Bella in Seattle while I’m trying to convince Garrett and Kate to stay in Seabrook. Jacob is looking for an apartment near the shop, while splitting time with his family in La Push. I asked Rose to move in with me and she happily agreed. We searched for homes together and finally settled on a cottage near the shop.
Rose quit her job at Seattle General after being offered a new position at an urgent care clinic in Seabrook with the help of a recommendation by Dr. Carlisle Cullen. I met with him for a second opinion of my injury and found out he was Edward’s mentor. Together we decided Edward would oversee my rehabilitation.
Rose’s new job will give her a change of scenery, better hours, and an opportunity for a fresh start.
The sound of the timer brings a smile to Bella’s face as she removes my ice packs. “Keep doing your exercises at home. It looks like your ride is here.”
I turn my head toward the main doors and find Rosalie standing there, which makes my heart speed up.
Bella lowers her voice. “Remember what I said earlier. Let her be on top and don’t get crazy. Think passive and gentle. Be the mountain and your back will be fine.”
“Easier said than done. She drives me crazy.” I can already feel the tightening in my shorts by looking at her.
“You’re such a pair.” Bella helps me to sit up then leaves to hug her best friend. “Hey, Rose.”
They share a few chuckles as I slip on my back brace, adjusting the straps, then scramble to catch up.
“Ready to go?” Rosalie asks when our eyes meet.
I nod. “More than ready.”
“It looks like my next appointment is here.” Bella watches a little old man shuffle through the doors. “Hi, Mr. Clearwater. Are you ready for some fun?”
He hangs his hat on a hook. “I told you to call me Harry, and if I was fifty years younger, I would take you out dancing, my dear. You’re too beautiful not to go dancing every night.”
“Such a flirt. See you on Tuesday, Em.”
As Bella disappears with Harry to a table behind us, I focus on my own beautiful woman, front and center.
Leaning forward, I peck her lips. “Hey.”
I’m about to pull away when she reaches up, threading her fingers through my hair, holding me in place for another kiss. “Hey, yourself.”
“Did you get everything?”
“Yes. My car is packed with the last of my things and I gave Tanya my key. I can’t believe we’re doing this.”
After closing on the cottage, Rose has been moving to Seabrook a carload at a time, packing everything that would fit while I’m here for my appointments. With only my duffle bag, I’ve been moved in for weeks. Not that anyone would let me move it on my own. I wish I could do more to help, but I don’t have the green light to lift much yet, including her.
And the way she’s looking at me right now makes me want to do more than lift her. So, I grasp her hand, leaving a kiss on the back, and tell her those three words that make me the happiest man in the world, knowing I have her by my side.
“Let’s go home.”
With Rosalie, I’ve realized I’m willing to risk my heart and encourage her to follow hers, because together, we’re fearless.