Anywhere I Would Have Followed You
Growing up in the suburbs of New York had been something of a dream for me. Good Chinese food was never too far away, the shopping was always incredible, and there was never a dull moment. Especially since I lived next door to Emmett McCarty.
He was the dreamboat all the girls wanted, even in the third grade. He could have had anyone, could have been friends with anyone. But, he chose me. The second our moms planned a play date for us when we were three we were inseparable. Even in middle school when his friends would tease him for having a girl best friend, he stuck by my side.
The girls were jealous of me and never fully understood why he chose me. I was nothing special. Average at best. I mean, I wasn't ugly by a long shot and sometimes, my hair cooperated and I looked great. But, for the most part I dressed for comfort and pulled my hair up in a ponytail.
That's one of the things Emmett always said he loved about me. He told me some of the girls at Bronxville High were trying too hard and that wasn't what he wanted in a girl. Sometimes, he made me think he wanted...me in that way. I mean, why would a guy hang out with a girl so much without wanting to get anything?
But, Emmett never saw me like that. He always saw me as just as a friend and it was hard sometimes. He would always be my best friend, but sometimes...okay all the time...I wanted more. I was completely in love with him, and as smart as he was, he would never understand how much I loved him.
It was difficult, but somehow I managed to cope with the multiple girls he would go on dates with. He never told me the details about the date and I was thankful for that. It was just sort of an understanding we had with each other that we wouldn't always tell each other everything.
Sophomore year was a hard year, though. He finally got up the courage to ask out Rosalie Hale, the girl he'd been head over heels for since the eighth grade when she moved here. She agreed and one date turned into ten and ten dates turned into a year and a half long relationship. It was hell watching them together, but he was happy. Happier than I'd ever seen him so I guess it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened.
After the breakup, Emmett started getting more serious about school and his football career. Ohio State had been his dream ever since his dad took him to a game in the seventh grade. He had always been a decent student and he did try. But, it wasn't until Rosalie ripped his heart out and danced on it that he decided what was actually important in his life.
He wanted to go to OSU, play football, and study athletic training. It was the dream and he was going to do everything and anything he could to make that dream come true. We spent countless hours with SAT prep books, AP practice tests, and time at the football field, allowing him more practice time.
Soon enough, it was time to send in the application and I've never seen Emmett so nervous and shaky before. It was cute as I watched him pace back and forth, waiting for the envelopes to come. Finally, at the beginning of April, we got our college acceptance letters back.
I sighed in relief as I read mine. I had been accepted to Cornell University and I had to keep myself from crying. I looked over at Emmett and couldn't tell what he was thinking. He was just staring at his page.
"Emmett?" I asked softly, walking over to him. I touched his shoulder and he turned to face me. A giant grin spread across his face and he wrapped his arms tightly around my waist. He picked me up and spun around, over and over again until I had to yell at him to stop.
"I did it." He shouted as he handed me the letter. I smiled as I read the top line that said he'd been admitted to OSU with a football scholarship.
From there, everything fell into place. He took me to prom like he'd promised in the ninth grade and I fell even more in love with him. I didn't think it was possible, but it happened. It was that night though that I realized how good of a friend I had and that if we were anything more...it would possibly ruin that.
I knew I'd always harbor feelings for him, but I knew if it was supposed to happen it would eventually.
Graduation came and went and it was time to start our last summer together. September would be the first time since that first play date that we would be separated for more than two weeks for vacations and other random things. It was hard to cope with that, but we weren't going to waist our summer being sad.
We went to the county fair, Coney Island, explored the Jersey Shore up close and personal and did pretty much anything and everything a tourist would do when visiting New York. It was the perfect summer.
Up until the accident.
Emmett had gone to a party with his team from high school for one last banger before they went their separate ways at the end of August. Emmett decided to be DD since he didn't want another lecture from his parents, and since no one else was willing to be responsible that night.
It wasn't until that morning that I learned about what had happened that night. I went downstairs and found my parents and brother, Jarod, standing and staring at the TV.
"What's going on?" I asked when I saw my mom crying. I looked at the TV and it was playing a commercial. I looked at my parents and they looked at each other and nodded. "Mom?"
"Jarod, please go upstairs." Dad whispered and for once, my little brother didn't obnoxiously argue with him. "Let's sit down."
"You're scaring me..." I told them with a shaky voice. I followed them to the kitchen table and I could tell my mom was fighting tears again.
"Bella, there was an accident last night. A hit and run." Dad told me, and I could see his eyes filling with tears. My mind immediately went to Emmett, and I started breathing heavily. I knew he went to that party, and I knew he wasn't planning on drinking. But... "Jessica was hit by a car late last night."
"Jessica?" I asked. I had known Jessica since the seventh grade when she moved here from the big city. We were good friends until Emmett didn't call her after their date in the ninth grade. She concluded that I had gotten to him and convinced him not to date her. I tried telling her that I had never had anything to do with whom he went out with, but she chose to ignore me.
"Sweetie...Jessica was killed last night." Mom choked out.
"No she wasn't." I argued. "There was a party at her house last night. Emmett went, mom." I told her. "She was at her house at her party.
"Bella," Mom cried. "She was drunk and she went wondering around with a couple of kids from that party. The accident happened only a mile down the road."
"The cops said that she was drunk and she probably didn't know where she was and she wasn't paying attention to the road."
I couldn't take anymore of them telling me lies so I went to the TV and turned the volume up. It was the big story today and it was on every news station. The news faded back onto the screen and my heart dropped.
After they talked about the weather and how well the Yankee's did last night, each newscaster took a deep break and turned towards a new camera angle.
I listened as they told the story of how Jessica was killed. They told us what they knew about the accident, and what they were still trying to figure out. It happened at two in the morning. She died almost instantly. Whoever hit her drove off, and they were still looking for clues.
"I'm so sorry, baby." I heard dad say behind me as he touched my shoulder, trying to comfort me. I shrugged him away and ran outside. I sat down on the steps of my front porch and buried my face in my knees. I sobbed until there were no more tears and until I thought I was gonna be sick.
Even though I never really liked Jessica, I couldn't imagine dying the way she did. She was a smart girl; she was going to the University of Pittsburgh to study Psychology. She had dreams, just like the rest of our class, and now those were gone. Someone took those away from her.
I looked up and saw Emmett's jeep in the driveway, looking banged up and dented. I shrugged my shoulders, figuring anything could have happened last night and made my way across the yard. I rung the doorbell, but no one came to the door. I kept ringing the doorbell, just needing a big bear hug from him.
Eventually, the doorknob turned and the door swung open. Emmett was standing there, his eyes puffy and sunken in like he'd been crying.
"Emmett?" I asked cautiously.
"It was me." He whispered. "I did it."
"Did what?" I asked as my heart began pounding.
"I hit Jess with my car. I killed her." He told me and I thought I was going to be sick. I pulled myself together and pushed him inside the house, people didn't need to be hearing our conversation.
"No you didn't." I argued. "You didn't do that because you're a good driver and you weren't drinking last night."
"Bella," He whispered, looking at me with that look. That look he always gave me when he knew he did something wrong when we were kids. It was the look he gave me when he got into a fight with Felix in the forth grade. It was the look he gave me when he pranked the school sophomore year. It was the look he gave me when he slept with Tanya, our friend Edward's girlfriend.
"Oh my god." I said, as my breathing became fast and short. "You…you did it. You killed Jessica."
"Bella, please." He begged.
"Were you drinking?" I asked as I backed away from him and began pacing around his living room.
"I had a few." He shrugged, looking disgusted with himself. "Three. I had three drinks."
"You were DD…"
"Alec told me he would drive at the last minute." He explained. "So, I had a few drinks and when I found him…he was completely shit faced. I was the only one of us who was the slightest bit sober."
"But you weren't sober!" I screamed at him. "You were drinking, Emmett! Why didn't you just call me?"
"I wasn't thinking clearly. I thought you'd be asleep and I didn't want you to have to explain to your parents that you were going to pick my drunk ass up."
"I would have done it and you know it." I told him. "I would have called you a cab or stole the car or stole your parents care if I had to. I would have come and helped and you know that!"
"I know, Bella." He whispered as he sat down on the arm of the couch.
"Okay, so you were driving drunk…why'd you drive away?" I asked, my eyes filling with tears. "I know drunk Emmett, and he's still pretty smart."
"I just…didn't know what to do so I called 911, told them there had been an accident, and just drove away." He explained. "I got home and threw up and wanted to go back, but my parents were already pissed that I was home way past curfew so I just climbed into bed."
"Where are your parents?" I asked since their car wasn't in the driveway.
"They're helping someone from church move." He told me. "I haven't seen them since I got busted coming home last night."
"So, now what?" I asked.
"Once I shower and eat something, I'm going down to the police station."
"What?" I screeched, not expecting him to tell me that. "To do what?"
"Turn myself in." He whispered. "I can't live with this, Bella. I need to pay for what I did and you know that."
"Emmett, you'll go to jail." I reminded him. "You'll lose everything you've been working for. Everything we worked for."
"Yeah, and Jess lost everything last night when I killed her." He said as tears began pouring down his cheeks. "I killed her, Bella. I deserve whatever punishment they give me."
That was it. After we sat and stared at each other for a good thirty minutes, he went to shower and change and I went home. I changed into a pair of sports shorts and a t-shirt and grabbed the keys. I didn't want him to be alone. No matter what he did. No matter who he killed or who her hurt, he was my best friend in the world.
I went inside with him and sat in the small waiting room while he waited for someone to talk to. Eventually, a police officer walked into the room and asked what he could do for Emmett. I held back tears as Emmett told him what happened.
"Come with me," The officer grunted and grabbed Emmett's arm. He went without hesitation and looked back at me, asking me to reassure him everything would be fine. I nodded and gave him a small smile before the officer pulled him through a door.
I sat there for what seemed like hours, waiting for Emmett to walk back out of the doors. I wished and hoped he wouldn't face anything too drastic. I was hoping he'd get a fine and a ton of community service hours.
That moment never came.
The same officer that he talked to came out after only thirty minutes of being with Emmett. He wasn't with him and my eyes filled with tears.
"Are you with Mr. McCarty, miss?" He asked in a soft voice. I nodded and he shut his eyes. He explained to me that Emmett was being detained while they conducted an investigation.
I asked if I was allowed to stay and the officer said that I could. But, he also said there was no point unless I had the money to bail him out of jail.
Emmett's trial was scheduled for the following week after they had found enough evidence to arrest him. I went and sat there everyday for three weeks until it was time for me to go to school. I cried everyday, and as much as I loved Emmett, I couldn't look at him.
He was found guilty for killing Jessica and drunk driving. He had to pay a twenty thousand dollar fine and faced five years in prison. His dreams of OSU and becoming an athletic trainer were over.
I wanted it all to be a dream. I wanted to wake up in my bed and walk next door and find my best friend throwing the football with his dad. I cried myself to sleep the first two months of college. My roommate thought I was a freak, and my mother called me everyday worried sick about me.
The only thing I had was my schoolwork and I figured both of us couldn't lose everything because of this. I worked my ass off and finished freshman year on the deans list.
I spent the first summer at home without Emmett and locked up in my room. It wasn't that I didn't have other friends; it was that I didn't want other friends. I was still hoping that Emmett would come knocking on my door with a bundle of illegal fireworks to set off.
It wasn't until I met Alice sophomore year that I began to cope with what had happened. She was my roommate and a transfer student and she knew nothing about Emmett or me.
She had a different way of looking at life that made everything make sense. She told me there was no use to clinging to the past because there was nothing I could do, and there wasn't anything Emmett could do. What was done was done. Holding on was just going to hurt.
After many nights spent crying on her shoulder, I began to slowly take the pictures of Emmett and I down. I began to have fun and go out and I stopped worrying about if he was okay and if he was eating enough. And then, I stopped and took a moment to realize that I had been grieving him, even though he was still very much alive.
It made sense. I had spent months denying what was happening, and at that very moment, I became enraged with him. I spent an hour yelling at Alice about how I took so much time helping him study and throwing the football with him. I yelled at her about how he was so dumb and heartless to just drive away like he did. I yelled at her until I had almost lost my voice and I was crying hysterically.
Being angry was exhausting.
And then I was somehow able to move on with my life. I started going to parties with Alice and flirting with cute guys. I started really going to college. My grades improved and so did my sleep. I missed him everyday, but I needed to focus on myself. It was good for me to move on from him.
I wasn't sure if it was because I had somehow grown out of my awkward phase or I was just noticing it more, but it seemed that boys were actually taking a liking in me. I would catch one looking at me from across the room at a party, and a few boys from classes asked me out. It was nice to be the person who had people's attention.
Emmett always got that in high school.
It wasn't until spring semester junior year that a guy I was actually interested in asked me out. Jacob Black was the guy I thought was cute since my introduction journalism class freshman year. Alice and I spent two hours picking out an outfit and doing my hair.
After that first date, everything began fitting into place. Jacob and I began dating casually, and by the time senior year rolled around, we were fully committed to each other. It was amazing having someone that just loved you and doted on you. We fit together like puzzle pieces, as corny as that sounded.
By the time graduation rolled around, Jacob and I had found a small apartment in New Jersey. He was lucky enough to find a small job in the city, working for an up and coming company. I had an internship at a small paper, and I hoped it would lead to something bigger and better.
Life got even better when Alice announced she was pregnant only two months after graduating. It was hard with her living in Manhattan, but I was lucky to still have her so close. Her and Jasper hadn't even moved in together yet, but they were going to make it work.
She told him she didn't want him proposing just because she was pregnant. I had never been prouder of her when she told me this.
But, he continued to dote on her and he showed her that he wasn't going anywhere…even if she hadn't gotten pregnant. He proposed three days before she went into labor. She of course had said yes.
It was entertaining watching Jacob in the hospital after we'd gotten the call at seven in the morning. He paced around and I knew he was thinking that I had marriage and baby fever. But, I didn't. Not yet anyway. I was happy with the way things were going. I liked just going home to Jacob and I liked that we could just be together and still continue to get to know each other.
Sixteen hours later, Lillian Samantha was born and I cried the second they placed her in my arms. I didn't want a kid of my own yet, but it sure was something holding someone that small and new.
It was amazing watching her and Jasper be parents to this little baby. My mother told me it would just make sense once I had a kid and I never believed her. Not until I saw Alice with Lily. She was a pro, and she said she'd only held a handful of babies when she was growing up.
Her and Jasper set a date for the following year. They wanted Lily to be a little older so they could enjoy the wedding just a little bit more. I was asked to be her maid of honor and I agreed immediately. I loved watching my best friend so happy with her little family. I hoped Jake and I would be that lucky when we were ready.
Summer was quickly approaching and the sooner August got, the more nervous I got. Emmett was going to be a free man soon and I just didn't know how to feel. Jacob didn't know anything about Emmett, and I couldn't gather up the courage to tell him. I didn't want him think I was hiding anything.
Because, I wasn't hiding anything. I didn't tell him about Emmett because when I met him I had just gotten to a good point with dealing with everything that happened. I didn't want to be talking about my best guy friend when I was trying to date Jake. It just didn't make sense.
It was May when my mother kindly reminded me that I couldn't avoid Paxton Avenue forever and I'd eventually have to come home. Jarod's birthday was conveniently two weeks after Emmett would be coming home. He was turning twenty and there was no way I was going to get out of coming home.
I told Jacob to stay in Jersey to get things done. I just didn't know how it would be actually seeing Emmett again and I didn't want Jacob there for that. I wasn't hiding it, but I needed to process this by myself.
"Tell Jarod that I really wanted to be there." Jacob sighed as he put his present in my car. "This damn presentation came at a really bad time."
"He gets it." I assured him. "Plus, he'll make you make it up to him so he'll get something out of this."
"Something other than the five gifts we're giving him today?"
"Yep. My snot nosed brother will think of something and some way of making you feel extra guilty." I laughed as I leaned in for a quick kiss.
I got in my car and started the forty-five minute drive from Westwood to Bronxville. As I got closer to my street, I began feeling sick. It had been so long since I had really thought about Emmett. Every time I did think about him, it hurt too much. So, I just decided to keep him out of my head for the sake of my sanity.
I pulled onto my street and bit my lip when I saw his parents' car sitting in the driveway. His parents being home didn't mean he was there, but where else was he supposed to go? He just got out of jail, and had nowhere to go. His parents weren't happy, but I know them. They'll take care of him until he doesn't need help anymore.
I pulled into the driveway and basically ran to the front door. My parents greeted me with hugs and a bunch of questions about where Jake was. My entire family had taken an immediate liking to Jake and I was relieved when he got my fathers stamp of approval.
I didn't think anyone would get past Charlie's checklist.
After the rest of my family had arrived, we made our way onto the back patio. Dad started grilling the food and my family began grilling Jarod about his new girlfriend. Rachel. He seemed happy, and I was just glad it was him they were hassling.
After dinner was served and everyone had a drink, my nerves had finally calmed down. It was my turn for fifty questions and I think my grandmother asked me ten times when Jake and I were going to get married. After the tenth time, I excused myself to get a glass of water from the kitchen.
I grabbed the glass and filled it with ice before going to the sink to fill it up. As I was turning the faucet off that I looked up and saw Emmett standing in his kitchen through the window. I nearly dropped the glass when I saw him.
When I saw him, all of the memories we shared began coming back to me and I had to cover my mouth to stop myself from screaming. All the pain I had suppressed over losing him when he went to jail erupted inside of me and I began to cry.
He looked up and we locked eyes for the first time in five years. He was thinner than he was and it looked like he had lost all his muscle. Everything he worked for during football season. His hair was longer than I'd ever seen it and his eyes were just as blue.
"It's okay, Bella." Mom whispered as she came inside the house. I turned around and raised my eyebrow at her. "It's okay to be sad and angry about what happened with Emmett."
"I'm fine," I lied. But, my mother knew me better than anyone and shook he head.
"No you aren't." She said simply. "Now, you go over there and get whatever closure you need. Whether you start up your friendship again or say goodbye forever."
"Mom," I sighed. "It's Jarod's birthday…"
"You both need this." She whispered. "He'll understand." She told me and I knew it was true. I had nothing left to argue about so I set my glass on the counter and made my way to the front door.
I was shaking as I walked across the lawn. This was a house that I had always felt welcomed in, and I was dreading knocking. For once, I had no idea what was in store for Emmett and I. Once I walked up the three steps leading to the porch, I froze.
Eventually, I mustered up the strength to raise my arm and ring the doorbell. It was the longest wait of my life and I didn't think the door would open. But, after only a few seconds, the doorknob turned and the door swung open.
"Bella," He whispered, clearly stunned.
"Hi, Emmett." I cried as tears streamed down my cheek.
"You wanna come in?" He asked as he stepped away. I looked into his beautiful eyes and nodded.
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