Disclaimer: The author does not own any of the publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.

Thanks to Mrsspacecowboy and Megz0307, the judges in the Bandward contest who voted this fic as their favorite. This story also won second place in the Judges' votes. Special thanks to kitchmill for her awesome betaing skills, Ash and Shika for prereading and nitpicking, and to AliCat who read two chapters before pussing out and vamping on me, which is completely normal whenever I write anything angsty. This entry was an experimentation with writing third person POV, angst, some alt pairing. I make no promises.

Fireflies in the Meadow

Chapter One

The stage Edward Cullen stood on was rickety, made of scrap wood and rigged up by a few drunken friends. Behind him stood a wooden cabin belonging to Jasper Whitlock, his pseudo brother of sorts, the man who had been with his sister Alice for as long as his memory served. This was the last party of the summer and folks flocked to Jasper's cabin in the woods, eager to hear a few tunes and drink plenty of beer before entering their final year of high school.

On the banks of the lake in front of him, kids kicked up water, laughing and chasing one another. Boys flung girls into the murky depths, snickering as they emerged, dripping and drenched, the expression on their faces like that of a wet cat. Edward sat on an old stool and tuned his guitar, well-aware of Jessica Stanley and her group of friends staring and giggling nearby. But as scantily clad as they were in their short jeans and tight shirts, not one of them held a candle to the flame that was Isabella Swan.

Edward and his band warmed up. He tested the mic, smiling as his voice bounced off the lake waters. The crowd grew, kids running from the banks with eager smiles on their faces. Edward strummed the guitar, the chords captured with the fading sun. His drummer, Ben Cheney, followed suit softly tapping the drums, and Tyler Crowley soon chimed in on the bass.

Edward tended to play by his mood and tonight his mood was somber. He knew she'd be there. She never missed a party, and this one would be no exception.

The song was halfway over when he saw her. Like a firefly, she danced in the night, her bright light shining for all to see. Edward's greatest fear was that one day her glow would diminish, eventually flickering away with the fireflies of summer, never to return. But tonight she was free, swinging her hips in time with the music. She was so beautiful his voice broke a time or two. When he finished the song he did so with a woeful tone and the crowd erupted in hoots and cheers. The girl who held his gaze smiled and turned away, glancing over her shoulder and meeting his eyes.

Edward wanted nothing more than to follow.

But people had expectations and he was getting paid to perform. Not much money was involved, but it was enough to add to his savings account. Edward's dream was to move to Nashville to pursue his dream of singing. Chasing Isabella Swan into the dark was tempting, but with all temptations came the inevitable heartache.

Isabella Swan was the epitome of heartache.

Tyler Crowley thumped him on his shoulder, drawing him from his thoughts. "You okay, man?"

"Yeah, sorry." Edward briefly closed his eyes and shook his head, willing away thoughts of the devil-girl. "Don't know what the hell got into me."

"Finish the set list," Tyler mumbled with a knowing grin, "then you can find your girl."

Edward scowled but said nothing more. He began another song, his boot tapping the wooden platform in rhythm to the words. The song was more upbeat, a forced emotion he didn't feel. If anyone from the crowd noticed, it didn't show. They cheered and whistled, hands in the air and grins on their faces. Beer flowed freely and good times were had by all those around, but Edward's smile was forced. His thoughts were on the girl he could no longer see.

After he and his boys finished playing, Edward went in search of a cold beer. Palms sweating, he recognized his brother's jacked-up truck precariously parked on the muddy side of the gravel road leading to the cabin in the woods. Emmett's red cooler sat in the back of the truck, brimming with ice and beer. Edward pulled a beer out, relishing in the icy sensation of the can against his skin. He cracked it open and gave it a pull, swallowing half the beer in three long swallows.

She appeared when he wasn't looking for her. Shoes dangling in one hand, she ran barefoot in the nearby field. Mud coated her feet and splashed on her legs, but unlike the girls in the lake, Isabella Swan loved the sensation of mud between her toes. Ahead of her fireflies danced, flickering in and out of sight. Edward ducked behind the truck, standing in the shadow of a large oak tree.

Isabella wasn't alone. Paul Lahote, one of Edward's closest friends, chased her through the field. Isabella's soft voice was muffled, her words indistinguishable, but her laughter rang out, flirty and full of fun. When she wasn't hurting herself or anyone else, she was full of fun.

Edward finished his beer and drank another, silently seething as he watched his friend gather her up in his arms and swing her around from behind. Isabella squealed in delight, giggling furiously as Paul set her on her feet, his hands blazing a trail to her breasts. Giggles turned into delicious moans, a sound Edward knew so well from the nights they'd spent together chasing fireflies and ending in bed. Innocent nights turned into teenage sin.

"Fireflies use all their energy to glow," Isabella once told Edward after they first met. "They produce something called a cold light."

A cold light, Edward thought to himself with a grim shake of his head. That's what she is to me: a cold light.

Isabella whispered something in Paul's ear and took his hand, leading him to a nearby truck. She leaned against the door of the truck, gesturing with one finger to Edward's friend. He drew closer, capturing her lips with his own. Anger, cold anger, raced through Edward's veins at the sight before him. His first love, his only love, was making out with his closest friend against Edward's own truck.

Like a masochist, Edward continued to watch, rooted to the spot by hatred, betrayal and astonishment. The sound of a zipper lowering rang out in the air. Edward watched as Isabella shimmed her shorts over her hips until they landed at her ankles. Without a hint of discretion or a glance over his shoulder, Paul dropped to his knees, his tongue lapping at the small space between Isabella's legs.

Isabella closed her eyes, tilting her head back against Edward's truck and rolling her hips. Each lick of Paul's tongue earned a lift of her pelvis. With her fingers woven in his dark hair she forced him closer, opening her eyes and staring straight ahead into the darkness.

Edward's heart sped as her gaze met his. A slow smirk wound its way onto her face. Between her pleasure-filled moans, she raised an eyebrow, silently daring him to do something, anything.

And he did.

Edward crushed the empty can in his hand and tossed it aside. Closing the distance between them, he felt something akin to horror flood his chest at the sight of her smile. He'd hoped the smirk was one of pleasure for herself, one not meant for him to see. He'd hoped she didn't really know he was standing there in the darkness watching as she ripped what was left of his faith in her apart. But she had. She had seen him and she wanted him to find her, wanted to provoke him.

Isabella's hands flitted away from Paul's hair. Paul let out a startled gasp followed by a painful moan as Edward slammed his fist against the side of his head. The dark-haired boy crumbled to the ground, screaming and covering his head in defense. The mask slipped off Isabella's face, quickly followed by a panicked expression. Fumbling to pull her shorts over her hips, she screamed at Edward to stop the relentless beating he was giving his friend.

Blood oozed from Paul's nose. His face began to swell. Still, Edward hit him again and again until a pair of hands attempted to pull him away, followed by another.

"Edward," Emmett shouted, his brow wrinkled. "What the hell are you doing?"

Mutual friends gathered around, some gazing at Paul in sympathy and others in horror. Edward received the same mixed expressions along with those of awed admiration. He shrugged his brother's hands away and turned to Isabella. She stood with her hands in her hair, panic on her face.

"I told you to stay away from my friends," he muttered, a warning tone in his voice. "That's the one thing I asked of you, to stay away from my friends."

Isabella's dark eyes narrowed. "When you break up with someone, you don't get to give final ultimatums."

"You promised. You swore you wouldn't do something like this."

Bella smiled, holding her head up high, ethereal and glowing, beautiful and evil below the moonlight.

"I lied."