Elizabeth Masen fell in love for the first time in 1891. She was eight years old at the time and her name had been Elizabeth Ward.
It had been at the beginning of fall and, like every year before, she had been put on a train in Chicago and had been sent east to visit her grandparents. Her mother's parents coddled, loved her, and tried to spoil her as well, but she wasn't the type of child to ask for things.
Every year on her visit her parents would take her to the local fair. It was always one of the highlights of her trip. Her nana and gramps thought she enjoyed the games and food, but truth of the matter was she just took pleasure in watching the two of them act like youngsters, sneaking kisses and cuddling as they walked when they thought she wasn't looking.
The trip to the fair had almost not happened the year that she was eight. For almost a month the fall season had descended more rapidly than usual and her grandparents had been scared by the threat of a storm due to the fact that the skies had been overcast for days but, her gramps had seen the disappointment in her bright green eyes, despite the fact that she did not complain, and they had made the trip in spite of the overcast day.
The lack of sunshine had not spoiled their fun, at least not at first. She and her nana watched and cheered as her grandfather won a game where he had to throw a baseball at some stacked up milk jugs. The three of them had shared some roasted peanuts and she had had a hotdog. And, of course, nana and gramps where smooching when they thought she wasn't looking.
Eventually the weather broke into their fun and it became apparent that a storm was about to let loose as the wind began whipping at the ladies' skirts and the gentlemen's ties. They were racing back to her gramps' buggy when a gust of wind blew her hat off and sent it tumbling behind her. She ran after it without thinking. After all, it was a brand new hat that her papa had bought her.
She darted between families, couples, and booths as the wind continued to roll the hat away. It seemed like it was never going to stop when its bright red ribbon got caught on a tent peg and she finally caught up to it.
Giggling she picked it up and straightened out the ribbons as she whispered under her breath, "Silly hat." The smile of triumph that had formed on her lips when she had caught up with the hat quickly faded away as she looked around and realized she didn't know where she was and nana and gramps were nowhere in sight.
The storm was getting worse and the tents she was standing between began to shake with the force of the wind as rain started to drizzle down on her. She felt her heart hammering in her chest as her eyes widened in panic. Turning every which way she took in the scene around her and realized that the fair grounds were empty. All the revelers had escaped, trying to make it home and the workers were in their tents, avoiding the rain that was about to pour from the skies.
She started to run then, trying to remember where she had last seen nana and gramps or just trying to remember where he had left his buggy and horses, but being eight, she hadn't really paid attention when she had run off or when they had arrived at the fair to know where either place was.
As she ran the rain began to pour down, mingling with the tears that were now spilling down her cheeks. Her pretty copper locks, done up in braids, and her new red dress were soaked through in no time, but she didn't care. She had to find them!
As she ran her breath was coming out in ragged sobs as she looked every which way, but there was no nana and gramps and there was no one to help her. She was so intent on looking around that she tripped and fell, tripping over her own feet right into a mud puddle, her hands and knees now scraped and bleeding, but she didn't seem to notice and got up and started running again.
She could barely see anything between the tears and the rain that was being blown in her face by the wind so she didn't notice that she had run straight into someone's arms until a set of hard, ice cold arms were around her, holding her and hugging her.
The strong arms lifted her up and moved quickly through the rain, taking her into a nearby warm, dry tent that was empty with the exception of a bunch of crates. Even though she didn't know who it was, she clung to the man carrying her, burying her face, hot with tears, against his cold neck.
Eventually her rescuer spoke, his voice sounding like that of an angel. "Are you all right, little one? Did you get lost?"
Sniffling, she finally lifted her head and she was sure she was looking at the face of Jesus or an angel. Who else would be so beautiful? She could only stare at his perfect features, blonde hair, and eyes the color of butterscotch candy.
Then he asked in his beautiful voice, "Did you hurt yourself?"
She could only nod and sniffle again as he set her carefully down on a crate and leaned over to examine her skinned knees and scratched palms. With a smile he looked to her. "Oh, it's not too bad is it? I'm sure you've gotten worse falling down running from little boys."
He smiled a glorious smile at her and she smiled shyly back, forgetting the fact that she was lost and with a stranger. Truth was her parents and grandparents never worried much about Lizzy's exposure to strangers. Since she had been a child she had had the uncanny ability to read people. Her nana said she saw straight into people's souls and knew if they were good or bad, and this man was good. She knew that.
Kneeling in front of her, he removed a handkerchief from the breast pocket of his jacket and started to dab at the scraps on her knees. Smiling up at her he winked.
"Don't worry. I'm a doctor."
She finally spoke, her voice trembling from the adrenaline running through her veins. "D…doctor?"
He nodded and started to clean off her palms carefully. "Yes, Dr. Cullen, but you can call me Carlisle."