**Coming from Australia I am unsure of American sayings, history or places. I have researched and fact checked using the internet to try to ensure I am as close as possible, I do however sincerely apologise if they are wrong.**
**Characters and some story lines are owned by Veronica Roth**
As you drive through the outskirts of Somerset, Kentucky there stands a large two storey country house. It is shielded from the narrow bitumen road that runs adjacent by the sugar maples lining the small white picket fence. Sitting in the centre of an acre of lush blue grass the only indication of the home from the road is the sudden pebble driveway and an old milk can that's converted into a mailbox sitting precariously on top of a wooden beam. As you follow the small white pebble drive that leads you towards the home a few free range cows will lazily raise their heads alerted by the crunching of the drive as you pass before returning to their grazing.
On a closer inspection of the house you can see the white painted weatherboards are slightly chipped and worn from time, but, the steady wisp of smoke that billows from the brick chimney on the side it signals that it stands warm and inviting for those who are willing to take the time to find it. With the standard barn, shed and garage out the back it is everything that you would imagine a family country home to be, right down to the tyre swing.
Surrounding the home is a wraparound porch, it is littered with pots filled with daisies and a row of discarded shoes and boots in assorted sizes are piled messily near the front door. Just off to the right is an old porch swing hand carved from rich warm timer and hangs between chains firmly secured to a thick beam above. It gives a light creak as the elderly lady sits and gently rocks with the tips of her toes brushing against the timber underneath.
Her hair long hair once an auburn blonde has now greying from time. Still full and thick it's pinned back neatly in a bun at the nape of her neck. The petite form is nestled between large coloured cushions and is snuggled tight under a patchwork quilt that lies across her lap. She looks lovingly at the old photo in her hand and lightly brushes her fingertips across the glass of the frame. A dreamy smile forming on her lips.
Her granddaughter, Becca, is standing at the large oak front door with stained glassed windows holding a hot cup of tea in her hand. The steam lazily billows in the cool afternoon breeze as she fondly watches her grandmother reminisce. At the age of 13 she's taller than her peers at school, her long lean body a hereditary gift from her grandfather. The long dark blonde hair and smouldering blue grey eyes a gift from her.
"Grandma," she calls softy. A smile plays on her lips as she sees her grandmother jolt out of her thoughts, "sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."
The elderly lady smiles at the girl and tucks the picture she was holding into the small space beside her. Holding out her arm she gives a small shake of her head and indicates for her to come over.
"Mamma thought you might like some tea, it's starting to get a little cold out," Becca says as she gently closes the screen door behind her, padding across creaky timber in socked feet.
"Oh thank you sweetheart," she pats the spot next to her on the swing, "come sit with me."
Reaching up with slight trembling fingers she takes the cup and saucer from her granddaughter before gently blowing against the rim and taking a tiny tentative sip of the steaming liquid.
"mmm that is nice, perfect," she says as she replaces it back into its spot on the saucer with a small tinkle as the china meets.
"Your mamma knows how to make the best tea, just the right amount of honey."
Becca who is still standing watches affectionately as her grandmother finishes another sip before bending down and relieving her of the drink.
"Here, I'll put it on the table for you."
She takes the cup and saucer from the smiling old woman and places it on the small wicker table beside the swing. Seeming to glide with ease she then carefully sits next to her grandmother taking the old ladies hand, intertwining their fingers.
"You are such a good girl Becca. Looking after a poor old girl like me," she chuckles.
"Oh grandma. Don't for a second think that you aren't able to look after yourself. Lord help anyone who gets between you and your weekly scrabble battles with Aunt Chris."
The old lady laughs with glee "yes, we do tend to get a little carried away. I still say that Xanthan is a word."
Becca raises a querying eyebrow "is it really Grandma?"
"Are you going to challenge me too?" she asks with a playful huff causing Becca to giggle.
"No, I wouldn't dare. So I take it you aren't grumpy with papa anymore for insisting you install the computer and internet?"
"Well I have to admit, this whole internet web thing certainly had me and your grandfather a little baffled to begin with," she stop briefly to smooth the lap blanket before continuing, "It has made it easier though to keep in contact with everyone now that we're older, especially Chris seems she's all the way over in San Francisco. Our scrabble tournament took a lot longer by post, so much easier on the line," she pats the young girls hand "just don't tell your pa, I enjoy being a grump with him."
Sharing a conspiratorial squeeze of the hands she replies "I promise I won't. It's fun to watch."
"So tell me how school is dear."
"It's good. I have some really exciting subjects this year."
"And which is your favourite?"
"History and English."
"Your mamma told me that your English teacher thinks you have a real gift with writing stories."
"I love it!" she wriggles excitedly in the seat "I want to be a writer."
"Well, you always have loved your stories dear. I remember reading The Wizard of Oz with you when you were little. Every day afterwards you used to stand right there in the middle of the yard hoping a tornado was going to come and sweep you away so you could meet the scarecrow."
"We brought you a pair of shiny red shoes that year for your birthday, the only time you took them off was to bathe."
They share a laugh at the memory and grip their hands a little tighter. Together they sit in a comfortable silence that is only slightly disturbed by the slow creak of the swing.
"What were you looking at?" Becca eventually asks.
Reaching down and pulling the photo out from the protective folds beside her she glances at the picture again before handing it to Becca.
"This is an old picture of me and your grandpa when we were younger."
Becca looks down at the old photo of her grandparents. They are standing barefoot on a beach with an amusement park behind them, the large Ferris wheel gleaming in the background by the afternoon sun. Her Grandmother is standing in front of her Grandfather and they are beaming at the camera. As he is taller it's clear in the picture that he has a slight slouch as her rests his chin on the top of her head. His arms wrapped around her waist and she has placed hers on top as they interlace their fingers, her head leaning back into his chest.
While they both are wearing similar flared denim jeans, her grandmothers' colourful gypsy top slips from her shoulders showing a hint of a tattoo along her collar bone. Wrapped around the crown of her head is a ring of daisies helping to keep her thick hair from her face.
"WOW look at you two, so young," she says as she takes in the picture, "Where was this taken?"
"1972, we were on our honeymoon."
"I can't believe how young you both look."
"Yes and we were quite a good looking couple too don't you think."
This causes Becca to laugh before handing the picture back.
"Yes Grandma, a very good looking couple."
The elderly lady looks loving at the photo again.
"He does that every time."
"Does what Grandma?"
"Every time we hug, his chin rests right here," she indicated to a spot on the top of her head, "Every time."
As Becca curls her long legs up onto the swing she asks "Tell me the story again grandma."
"Oh dear, don't you think you've heard it enough?"
"No, I want to hear it again."
With a slight laugh her grandmother gives a nod "yes you are definitely on your way to becoming a writer I think."
Becca smiles as she leans her head onto her grandmothers shoulder.
She brushes her fingertips across the glass one last time before heaving a sigh and tucking it back in safely beside her.
"I meet your grandfather and Uncle Zeke when they were just cockie rookie cops. Both of them still new to the job, if I remember correctly only shy of a year in," a small smiles start to curl at her lips "they were young lads only just turned 20. Boy oh boy were they very very handsome in their neatly pressed police uniforms and bright sparkling badges. With your Grandfathers deep ocean blue eyes that twinkled when he smiled most girls couldn't help but flirt with him."
"The way he tells it he always only had eyes for you though Grandma."
"Well I should hope so," she grins, "Oh but they both knew how to charm the ladies without much effort."
Becca gives a small laugh "I bet Uncle Zeke was a real ladies man back then."
"No, no other girl stood a chance once he met your Aunt Shauna."
"Just like you and Grandpa?"
"Yes I suppose so."
"Did you ever like him that way Grandma?"
"Good heavens no. He was always more of a brother to me, both him and Uncle Uri," she gives another slight laugh "He did, well he still does, have a mischievous side to him. Can't help himself the cheeky rascal."
Feeling a slight chill she absently rubs the scare on her left shoulder, her fingertips gently gliding over the bumpy skin underneath. Slowly the smile drops from her face as she continues to recall.
"Of course how we meet….." she trails off.
Becca looks over to her and watches as she seems to focus on one of the sugar maples in the distance.
"Grandma?" Becca queries softly.
Brought back from the dark thoughts that seemed to consume her mind she looks back lovingly at her granddaughter still sitting beside her.
"I'm sorry Becca, I just sometimes wish that it was under different circumstances."
"I know, but if it didn't happen maybe you and Grandpa would never off met. You would never off had papa and then I wouldn't have been born."
The elderly lady pats Beccas hand again with a small smile and takes a deep breath.
"I fell in love with your grandfather the moment I met him, but I almost lost my chance. I had a dark desire that burned through me for a long time," she closes her eyes and huffs out another breath and traces the scar again, "I let it consume me until I almost lost everything."
"He never stopped, never gave up that stubborn grandfather of yours."
"He calls it destiny."
"humph, I called it stalking."
"I know dear. I'm just, what is it you young kids say today? lol-ing?"
"Yes Grandma, and then you insert a smiley face."
"Good, yes, right. You showed me that, the funny two dot thing."
Becca rolls her eyes as she gives a soft laugh at her grandmothers playful banter, grateful that the nightmares that hide just behind her caring eyes didn't linger. She remembered once when she was only around 5 years old and having a sleep over at her Grandparents house. The hollow screams that pierced through the night air had sent shivers right through to her bones. Grabbing her blanket and teddy she took off, her Grandfather found her some hours later huddled in the old tack box in the stables securely wrapped in her blanket. As he scooped her up holding her close to his chest tightly wrapping her in his arms he explained that sometimes her Grandmother was a little scared of the dark and has bad dreams.
Becca in her 5 year old wisdom immediately understood being a little afraid of the dark too. Wriggling out of his arms she tucked her blanket and teddy under one arm and picked a posy of daisies because they were Grandmas favourite. She marched up to their bedroom and handed them over to her. Jumping up on to the bed and settling herself snuggly under the covers with her she also offered her teddy to protect her at night, which thankfully was declined. That was the first time that she heard the story.
"Do you know what a promised kiss is Becca?" she asks absently as she skims a finger across her lips.
The young girls cheeks slightly blush at this question "no."
"Really?" raising an eyebrow, "Well a promised kiss is that first kiss you have with your soul mate. It's a very special kiss Becca. It's a kiss that promises a lifetime of many more to follow, each one just as special."
Becca screws up her nose a little at the thought of kissing a boy which causes her grandmother to softly chuckle.
"Oh Becca dear. You may not think much about kissing boys at the moment and as your grandmother I suppose it's my duty to be glad about that. I don't want you growing up too fast, that only makes me older."
"I promise I won't kiss any boys too soon Grandma."
"Good. As a woman though I'll tell you this while you are still young enough, don't you ever settle for anything less."
"Is that what it was when you kissed grandpa for the first time?"
"That and so much more."
She looks down to her granddaughter, and when she sees her button nose wrinkled at the thought she laughs as she swings her arm lovingly around her shoulders.
"OK no more kiss talk for the moment dear."
"What are my 2 favourite girls doing out here?" a deep sounding voice asks and as Becca looks up to the sound she sees her Grandfather walking up the steps wearing a cheeky half grin on his face.
Becca loved how her Grandfather walked. It was a strong, confident stride that never faltered. She watched as he casually leaned up against the railing and briefly removed his Stetson hat, running his fingers through his dark grey hair before replacing it firmly back on his head. When he smiled a small dimple played on his cheek and a twinkle shone through his dark blue eyes.
Dropping her feet back to the ground she wriggled in closer to her Grandmother allowing enough room for him to sit with them. Moving with ease he positions himself next to Becca and swings his arm across the back of the swing, running the back of his finger gently across her Grandmothers cheek. Becca was always in awe in how her grandparents showed affection towards each other, right down to the simplest gesture or word.
"We were just talking Granddad," she replied.
"About what?" he asks moving his body in to softly nudge her.
"Scrabble, The Wizard of OZ and kissing dear," her Grandmother replied with an affectionate smile.
"Kissing? Who is kissing my girls?" he asks in mock shock making them both laugh.
"Just you dear. Just you" her Grandmother replies as she closes her eyes when his finger glides across her cheek again.
"I should hope so. I worked very hard for those kisses to be just mine you know," he says throwing a wink to Becca.
These are the times that Becca loved best. While most of her peers preferred to spend time on Facebook or socialising down at the local mall, she preferred these times spent with her Grandparents.
"Can you tell me the story again Grandma?"
"And what story are we telling?" ask her Grandfather.
"Our little writer Grandchild wants to hear the story of how we met again."
"Ha yeah well she gets that curiosity from you you know."
"And she gets her stubbornness from you."
Yep these were definitely the times Becca loved best.
"Well than I think I might just stick around and make sure you tell it right this time."
"What are you waffling on about now? I always tell it right."
"ah-huh sure you do," her Grandfather says throwing her another playful wink, "do you think she's old enough to hear the whole thing now?"
This statement makes Becca ears prick up and she wriggles in the swing "what do you mean the whole thing. There's more?"
"Oh there is so much more my sweet Becca. So much more," her Grandmother replies with a soft sigh.
Wriggling excitedly in the swing again she can't help but ask "Oh please tell me the whole thing."
"I don't know. What do you think dear?"
"Yes I think she's old enough now."
"I think you're right."
After a few moments her Grandmother slowly nods her head before she starts.
"It's 1969. It was an exciting year. Pushing all boundaries and limits that have previously been set. Richard Nixon succeeded Lyndon Johnson as the 37th President, Neil Armstrong is the first man to walk on the moon, Woodstock festival is held in upstate New York and The Brady Bunch premiered on television. It's a year of political turmoil, major advancement and free love. It promised to be a future filled with peace, love and freedom."
She stops briefly to adjust herself and sink a little further into the cushions, feeling the gentle caress of her husband's hand on the side of her neck. His fingers twining a small stray of her hair.
"I had just turned 18 and was graduating from High School. Your Uncle Caleb had flown home from college just for it."
"You didn't go to college though did you?"
"No, I never went to college. Unlike you I had no idea what I wanted to do so my parents agreed to let me take a year off from my studies while I decided. The only thing was that I had to work part time at my father's office."
"Did you enjoy that?"
"I never got the chance to find out."
She closes her eyes and pauses. Her Grandfather continues on.
"When I met you Grandmother she was called Beatrice. Beatrice Rebecca Prior," he says and Becca can clearly see the love and worship that radiates from him towards her.
"That's where you get your name from my sweet Becca," she gives her tiny hand a squeeze before continuing "and your Grandfather was handsome young Chicago police officer Tobias 'Four' Eaton…."
Dreamily she starts to softly sing the song that bonded them together, forever.
Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you'll marry a music man
SNEAK PEAK AT THE NEXT CHAPTER….
"Don't be impertinent."
"Didn't you just graduate. I don't know what they teach you young kids these day."
"Obviously how to be impertinent."
"Come on go and get your pendant."
I walk back into the restaurant and head to our table, a rush of gratitude flows through me when I see that the waitress hadn't bussed it yet. Picking up the dirty napkin I find my necklace still lying where Caleb had left it. I quickly grab it and head back out to the parking lot where my family is waiting in the car and that's when it happens.