Our Last Summer (The Way I Loved You)
Summary: A phone call brings three friends (Edward, Bella, and Alice) back to their summer homes and back into each other's lives. When tragedy strikes the group, lines will be drawn, boundaries crossed, and lives will be turned upside down. Is it really that easy to let go of your friends, or your first love, when every memory you cherish contains them? Warning one of the three main characters WILL die.
There is something to be said about coming home. The complete and utter feeling of comfort and warmth you get from it can't be matched. Just Google the word and you can find millions of hits, quotes littered with symbolism and descriptions of grandiose gestures of peoples love; of what it truly means to that person.
What was it my grandmother had always said? Home is where the heart is?
There were few places or people that I ever felt truly at home with, so few I could count them on one hand. These were my constants, my definition of home. It was a concept I had never really struggled with.
I had always known that I could count on my Uncle Carlisle and his wife Esme as if they were my parents. After all they had raised me. I will never forget the look on Carlisle's face when he came to pick me up at the hospital that day. So haunted by the crash that had claimed my parents, he swept me into his arms and clung to me tightly. He and Esme loved me and raised me as their own, helping to guide me and care for me when I needed them most.
Their daughter Alice had become a huge part of my life as well. While there were only a few years between us, her tiny frame and small stature made her appear much younger than she actually was. Her youthfulness was charming and delightful and also easy to mess with. No matter how much grief I gave her, how much I tormented her, she was always my little pixie. I had come to love her as an older brother loves a sister. I wouldn't have it any other way.
And then there was Bella. It was difficult to describe how the scrawny, combative girl that lived in the beach house next to ours came to have such an integral part in my life. We were just children when we met, so innocent and full of mischief. We had seen each other in passing summers before but never really spent the time getting to know each other. I was under the impression that all girls other than Alice were gross. She thought I was just some stupid, smelly boy she would see in passing. All that changed, though, when she became best friends with Alice. The two were inseparable and the more time I spent with her, with them, the more it just fit. We worked together, the three of us, as a team.
Every summer Alice and I would board the ferry, our faces pale white from the winters trapped indoors. We would pace the deck, snooping around; checking out the other locals on board and hearing the latest gossip. The closer we would get, the more restless we would become. By the time the boat pulled up to the dock Alice was usually waiting by the exit, rocking on her heels. Together we would scan the crowd for our friend, leaving our bags behind as we ran along the sandy beach.
It would take us awhile to spot her, amongst the people mulling about; but we always found her.
Our days were filled with activities; hunting for sea shells, wave surfing, building sandcastles, searching for buried treasure. We were never without something to do, some mischief or havoc to cause, some activity to keep us entertained. At night we would sit by the beach making smores by a fire. The adults would tell us scary stories or talk about their youth. Sometimes we would listen; sometimes we would leave the adults and fire behind combing the beach for starfish, sand dollars, and triton's shells.
It was never really spoken between us, but we all knew what we were really looking for. Carlisle had told us stories on more than one occasion about a rare shell that could be found on our beach. The pink and black swirled shaped shell was said to bring about good luck and good fortune to those who possessed it. Every summer we searched, hoping to be lucky enough. Every summer our collection of shells grew, but none of us ever found the special shell. We never stopped looking.
The summer would pass quickly and end abruptly in tears. Our faces matted with salt, gripping each other tightly, we would whisper promises of contact throughout the year knowing that life would get in the way. Alice and I would board the ferry looking back at the little girl, arms tightly wrapped around her body; holding herself together on the dock. We would wave and cry our sandy hands rubbing our tanned cheeks as the boat pulled away; wistfully thinking of the promise of the next summer.
That had been then; things were so much different now. I worked in Chicago as a general surgeon, spending my time at the hospital helping to heal and save lives. Alice lived in Los Angeles and was currently working on a clothing line for her new company, Mary Alice. She was already the talk of the town and Carlisle and Esme were so proud of her. Bella was currently residing in Seattle with two books under her belt and a third on the way. She had been labeled the author to know; her writing was truly spectacular.
While each of us lived fairly successful lives they had taken us all on different paths and in different directions. It had been a few years since we had all gotten together, taking the winding ferry to our childhood beach homes. It was something I had struggled with, losing my childhood ideal of what home really was; losing the bond we shared a bit more each year.
While Alice and I saw each other, our contact was limited. Work was busy for both of us and that meant little time to fly across the country and hang out. We would see each other on holidays and at family events and I would get brief glimpses of how we used to be; it wasn't the same. My contact with Bella had been even less, limited to phone calls and emails, it felt impersonal and I wondered if I would even recognize the woman she had become if I saw her.
I didn't have to wait long to find out.
I knew the minute I had gotten the call that something was wrong, something had changed.
Alice sounded desperate, beseeching, as she begged me to leave work behind and meet her and Bella at our old summer homes. I was hesitant to leave, to lose the niche I had carved out for myself at the hospital. Alice was nothing if not persistent and she wouldn't take no for an answer. I think if I would have listened more carefully, been more in tune with her, I would have realized then how important it truly was.
Getting the time off work was easier than I thought it would be. There was a fresh new round of residents eager to dig in and learn the intricacies of surgery. I was nervous about leaving my dedicated patients behind, especially in such newly trained hands, but I knew the other doctors would have my back. For the first time in quite awhile I had the summer free; no obligations, no schooling, no work.
I should have felt relaxed.
My mind played over the last time I had been to the beach, the images tugging at my mind and heartstrings.
There was a reason the past was left in the past.
Each image flickered in my mind and set my heart on fire. I was fine with forgetting, fine with pretending that last summer hadn't happened; fine with living in denial.
"I can't pretend there isn't something."
I flicked the screen of my ipod touch, changing the song and distracting myself for a moment. The flight attendant walked past me, her eyes lingering on me. Her attention was pointless really; if she only knew how ruined I really was.
I closed my eyes listening to the steady pounding of the drums and the subtle harmony of the violin. It was surprisingly distracting and I found myself getting lost in the rhythm of the music. It was a nice change of pace to lose myself in something other than work.
I stood on the dock, bag slung over my shoulder, as I waited for the stupid boat to arrive. The crowd seemed to be filled with families, excited children running up and down the aisles of dock. It seemed so familiar and yet at the same time completely foreign.
Had I ever really been that young? That innocent? That full of exuberance?
I knew there was a time that I had. I had been just like those kids full of energy and life, barely able to stand waiting for the boat let alone the ride over. That was before I grew up, before things changed, before I knew.
I boarded the boat, a creature of habit as I made my way towards the lookout railing. Dropping my bag next to me I looked out over the vast expanse of blue-green water. I breathed in the salty air, letting it fill my lungs and settle there.
It reminded me of my childhood, of family, happiness, and of love.
"I can't pretend there isn't something," she whispered her voice anguished as she looked up at him, eyes filled with tears.
"I know," he had responded brushing her tangled hair away from her face. "I know."
He leaned down then, lips pressing first against each of her cheeks before meeting her lips. A spark shot through his body, setting his soul on fire and his hands reached up tangling in her hair; pulling her closer. She let out a soft moan, her breath cascading over his face. He opened his mouth, meeting hers more firmly. Their tongues touched, tangled, mingled together.
She had tears running down her cheeks, streaking the pink that stained them. After a moment he pulled away, his breathing heavy and his eyes lidded.
"We leave tomorrow."
She simply nodded, turning away from him, her eyes scanning the soft waves that were crashing on the shore.
"It's better this way."
Her shoulders sagged, a small sigh escaping her lips, her eyes still focused on the coast. She nodded. He moved closer, ready to pull her into his arms, to comfort her in some way. Before he could she made her way down the steps of the porch, eyes never looking back. She angled her face away from him and towards the moon above them as she made her way down the beach; the last image of her before he left.
Had he always loved her?
I stepped off the ferry bypassing the scant booth advertising the wonders of La Push Beach and scanned the crowd for the familiar faces, seeing a blur of people. I wondered if I would have to search for them along the expanse of beach like we had used to do as children. The thought seemed daunting.
A part of me hoped to see some semblance of the kids they once were; that I once was. The trip was getting into my head, messing with my thoughts, my heart. I found them moments later, the crowd parting around the two standing figures.
They stood side by side, hands entwined, a fierce determination present upon both of their faces. I scanned each of them, feeling the gravity of the situation. Something had definitely changed.
I dropped my duffle bag and bound the final few steps wrapping my arms around each of them and pulling them to me tightly. The feeling of comfort, of home, spread through me and I realized how much I had truly missed them, missed this. It took me a moment to notice that neither had moved; neither was responding to the hug. I pulled back, my eyes questioning, as I looked between the two of them.
Taking a deep breath, Alice ran her hand through her spiky black hair, her eyes looking worn and tired.
"I think we need to talk," she spoke her voice breaking slightly.
I never could have imagined how it would all end.
Well there it is... the first chapter! I am getting pretty excited about this story and I can seriously see myself falling in love with it! I'm not quite sure what my updating schedule will be yet, so I guess we will play it by ear.