Chapter 13: First Kiss

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Saturday morning, Emma packed her sewing bag and took the train to New Jersey. She was getting tired of taking the trip in cars, and lately, she'd been spending more time in the suburbs than she had in the city. She thought the train would be a nice distraction.

The train wasn't crowded on the weekend, so she was able to spread over two seats and pulled out her latest project—Country Girl doll personalized spring dresses for Ginger and Stella. She would make Devon and Bella matching dresses for Christmas presents, so they could be identical to their dolls instead of each other. Emma had found the patterns online, and was in the process of adding some intricate detailing to the dolls' pieces.

As she cross-stitched the "G" in Ginger's dress, her phone dinged with Teagan's special tone.

Teagan: How'd it go last night? Any progress?

She tapped out a reply.

Emma: He asked me out.

Teagan: Go girl! Finally! When's the big date?

Emma took a minute before replying.

Emma: I said no.

She knew what would happen next. Three, two...The phone rang. She debated letting it go to voicemail, but picked up the call.

"I know what you're going to say," Emma started, letting her sewing project fall into her lap. "It's not what you think."

"Oh?" Teagan's sarcasm dripped through the phone. "So it's not you being a wuss?"

"No. Not this time. It's him, Tea. He's still married in his heart and I'm not dating someone who wears a wedding ring. It's weird and I'd never feel..." Her thoughts wandered back to Dario.

"He's not Dario," Teagan said, reading Emma's mind. "Dario was actually married. Andrew's just..."

"That's it, though. Whatever you say next, whatever you say after 'just,' it's not right. Not for me. I need—"

"Perfection. You want perfection."

"Don't I deserve that?"

"Of course you do. But guess what?"

Emma huffed, and wondered if Teagan could tell she was rolling her eyes.

"You're not going to get it. Ever."

"Well, you know what they say. There are plenty of fish in the sea."

Teagan laughed obnoxiously. "You've been swimming for a decade, Memma, and this is the only fish you've bothered to mention to me since Dario. You know, you're just as bad as Andrew, living in the past with a closed heart."

Emma sighed. Teagan wasn't wrong, but Emma's situation had been different. Emma had reason to hate Dario and at least try to move on; Andrew had nothing but love for his wife and might never be able to get past her death.

The train screeched to a stop and the conductor's voice boomed over the scratchy sound system. "Sorry, Tea, can't hear, I'm hanging up."

Teagan groaned on the other end of the line. "Liar. You know I speak the truth. Go sew with the old people where it's safe. Box yourself in from any of the feelings out there in the world. It's easier, you're right. Better to live in your safe little bubble than to fight for something that may be great."

Emma's eyes watered, knowing Teagan was right, but not wanting to admit it. "I hate you."

Teagan sighed into the phone. "Well, I love you, Emma Ballard. You can do this."

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