I'm beyond thankful and amazed at all the follows, favorites, and reviews. Every time my phone alerts me to a new email, I get a sweet feeling inside. A little bit of a heads up... This story takes place in "Pine Cove" which may or may not be a real place in North Carolina. I made up the name (unless of course it already exists) to go along with the story. This whole writing and posting chapter by chapter thing is still new to me, so we're all on the same little journey of wonder here. Once again, thank you for being here.

I do not own Twilight, though I am a Carolina girl.


Nine years later...

I've been dreading today. Out of all the things to volunteer me for, Daddy had to choose this. It's because I'm good at it, he says, but I can't help but think he's trying to make me a little more social, even if it's only with a bunch of six-year olds. What seventeen-year old girl actually wants to spend her day surrounded by a crew of snotty kids? I'd bet you wouldn't find many jumping at the opportunity. Today is the day of the Small Town Throwdown, (cheesiest name ever, I know) an annual festival that takes place in the heart of Pine Cove, an itty bitty little dot of a place on the state map of North Carolina. That's right, I'm a Carolina girl, best in the world and all that crap. Truth is, I'd rather be anywhere but here. But instead of sitting somewhere dreaming of where else I could be, I'm reading books to a bunch of kids sitting around me in a semi-circle while their parents are off gossiping and spending money on who knows what.

Pine Cove spends a lot on this festival each year because most of us don't ever get to do anything better. You'll see kids licking on ice cream cones, getting more on their face than in their mouths, women getting their fortune told by some wrinkly old lady who's supposed to be older and wiser than thou, and men and women both lining up for, dare I say it, the kissing booth. Yeah, I said it, and it's the most disgusting thing you'll ever see. Lauren Mallory's mama signs up to run that thing along with Mr. Banner, the biology teacher at my school, every single year. It makes me wonder why anyone ever comes back to this thing. You see, Lahuren's mama is rumored to have been through more men than she has panties in her lifetime. It's a wonder we don't give out condoms at these things instead. And don't get me started on Mr. Banner. I've been trying to figure out for years why it's okay for a school teacher to kiss half the men in this town's wives. I guess things like that happen in small towns, more reason for me to want to escape this one. It's a good thing it's only early June because I sure would feel awkward having to sit in his class come Monday morning.

I'm currently reading "It Looked Like Spilt Milk," you know, the book where the white shape changes into other stuff before you figure out it's really a cloud? I'm reading that to these little kids, but I'm thinking about how good a cone of ice cream would be and that's what makes me decide to take a break when I finish the story. Angela Weber, the closest person I have to a friend, although we've only hung out a few times, takes over for me while I get a breath of fresh air. She enjoys books like I do and we're always in the same English class, so I guess we were pretty good picks for the job.

I walked over to the woodworking stand where I knew my Daddy would be. He and his friends Billy Black and Harry Clearwater run the same stand every year. They each bring their chainsaws and big cuts of logs and carve them out into different things that some people end up buying, but most of it is just for show. One year, Daddy did a carving of Buster and it looked so much like him that it made me cry. If we hadn't been in public, I think Daddy would've cried too, after all, he missed our buddy just as much as I did.

Buster and I took our last hike a few years back, but if I thought about him too much, the wound from his leaving would feel fresh all over again. I always have to remind myself that he got his big break, made it to somewhere nice, with plenty of table scraps, girl dogs, and other things he liked all at the tips of his paws. He got out of here, and someday I would too.

Right now, it looked as though Billy was working on carving out some sort of fish. He had a pretty good audience, they always did. I found Daddy standing off to the side.

"Hey there, Woodchuck!" I always called him that when he had to work this thing. "Looks like y'all have picked up quite a few onlookers this year."

"We sure have, Bells." Daddy was always calling me that, though my full name is Isabella Marie Swan. A fancy name for a very un-fancy girl. I go by Bella, but being a Daddy's girl, I enjoyed his endearment. "How's it going with the kiddos?"

"Pretty good. I handed them over to Angela for a bit. I thought I might get me a cone of ice cream. Think you can spare a buck or two? It's only fair; I wouldn't really be here if it weren't for you."

"Don't pretend you're having fun or anything for my sake, Bells." One thing I could always count on Daddy for was sarcasm. "Sure, I guess, since I didn't really expect you to make it here this long." He handed me a five dollar bill and I was on my way in search of creamy vanilla goodness.

Since he handed me a five, I thought I'd splurge and get a chocolate-dipped cone. I thought myself mighty deserving of some sort of payment. I finally found a stand that had soft-serve ice cream, and it just so happened to be a stand I didn't recognize. I've been coming to this same festival every year since I was four years old and it was a rare occurrence to see something new. Though as I stood before it, I knew I'd never seen the Cullen Creamery ice cream stand before. It was sort of ostentatious, what with its brightly colored new paint, and stood out like a sore thumb amongst the other stands and booths that were faded from years of exposure to the blinding rays of the sun.

I walked up to the stand feeling sort of joyful thinking these people had to be new in town, and being new in town meant they wouldn't know who I was, or most importantly, who my mother was. Living in close corners meant everybody knew everybody and no one didn't stay "no one" for long. Word would get out about you somehow. It got out about me a long time ago.

It's not often that I like to think about Renee, but it is often that people around here like to remind me I look just like her. You'd think they would give Daddy and I more privacy, since no one really enjoys thinking about sad stuff and all, but people around here don't have anything else to talk about. All they can talk about is what everyone else is getting into. That's one of the reasons why I refuse to go to church. All they ever do in church is gossip about the people sitting in the pews next to them or across from them or beside them. I'd rather not be there. I figure if I'm not there, it gives them less of a spark to talk about me and if they do, they'll just have to make something up because they haven't seen me in a while.

It was there, standing in that ice cream line thinking about all the things I hated about Pine Cove, that a flash of copper caught my eye. Pulling myself from my thoughts, I looked past the people in line in front of me to the counter of the booth. Standing there, was a tall boy with hair messier than mine, if possible, smiling at a little girl and her mother as he handed the little girl a cone of strawberry ice cream. From what I could tell, the mother, who looked like Mrs. Cope, the secretary at school, was utterly dazzled by the boy and his heartbreaking smile. Who could blame her? He was gorgeous, excruciatingly beautiful-definitely not from around here-and his smile was dangerous, just begging for us all to come to the dark side. After all, he had ice cream.


Thanks for reading.

-sally