Welcome to my new fic! It is loosely based off of the song Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter. It will be a little different than traditional fics – the chapters will alternate between 1987 and 2010.
SparklingTwilight – Jersey – thank you for your intense beta job, and Lizzylillyrose thank you for prereading!
All things Twilight belong to Stephanie Meyer and the song Strawberry Wine belongs to Deana Carter. No copyright infringement is intended.
It's sad how usually our first love and our first heartbreak coincide with each other. Young, pure emotions shattered by the realities of life. It's not fair how we scar the emotions of our first romance with the pain of its ending. Our first love is supposed to be a monumental movement, a transition of sorts between the innocence of childhood and the demands of being an adult.
But I wondered, as I made my way back to the place where it all began, what really stuck with us more? Was the heart shaped by the cracks of past broken relationships, or was it formed delicately by those who have showed us love?
Life has a way of moving along without our consent. It doesn't pause, rewind, or fast forward. It has its own schedule, one that we must abide by. Fighting time isn't an option. But I have learned that time and life aren't at battle with each other. Life, fate, destiny are all set in time…and it all works out for us in the end.
Throughout my life, I have chosen to believe that love, in all forms, is a part of our destiny. He was a part of my destiny…even if only in the form of shaping my heart, molding my life as my one and only first love. He would always be my first…the question, however, that has burned in the back of my mind since I was seventeen years old was, would he be my last?
It seemed like an almost immediate difference, crossing over the state line into North Carolina. The sun seemed to glow brighter and the grass grew greener. The seemingly endless stretches of highway gave view to the different country sides of this part of the south. The scene displayed from the view of my rolled down passenger window was in stark contrast to the place where I called home.
The atmosphere in northern Ohio had a continuous gray covering, the sun only making its appearance on special occasions. Not North Carolina, though…this place, I'd had a feeling, could shine with the warmth of the sun forever.
U2's, With or Without You, streamed brokenly through the speakers of my mom's beat up VW bug. Both of our bags were piled high in the back seat, making it impossible to see a lick of gravel outside the rearview mirror.
"How much longer?" I asked my mom, who was busy singing the lyrics of the song playing.
"What's that, dear?" she asked.
"How much longer until we get to Uncle Charlie's?" I asked again.
Renee flimsily checked her watch, almost causing the car to drive off the side of the road in the process. "Another three hours or so. Just lay your head back and relax—we'll be there soon enough."
I sighed, resting my chin in my hand that was propped up on the side of the door. There was no way I could while she was driving. Chances were that if I wasn't conscious of keeping her focused, I would awake in a ditch somewhere, scrapped together with a pile of metal.
"Do you have any big plans set for when you arrive there?" Renee questioned.
"Um," I mumbled. "Not really, Mom."
"You should maybe go into town, find some nice boys to hang out with."
"Go into town? What is this, 1940? Should I wear a cherry printed dress and bright red lipstick?"
"Don't get smart with me, Isabella. I just don't want you to isolate yourself while you're here. It will be a really long three months by yourself in Charlie's old house. You're seventeen, get out of the house and enjoy being young."
I scoffed, taking my eyes off of my mother and placing them back on the green acres of land. "I like isolating myself. Isolation can be a good thing," I mumbled under my breath, for my own benefit, really. Renee was already off in her own little world, our conversation already miles behind her.
Part of me was glad to get out of my hometown of Mayfield, Ohio. The only thing I was leaving behind there was a nice, neat pile of drama. I was happy to put away the whole Bella-Ben-Angela disaster, even if it was only for three months. I reminded myself that I only had one year left of high school before the 'real world' began, and hopefully, by that time, things would have blown over quite smoothly.
My Uncle Charlie was my mom's brother, and thankfully, only sibling. He lived in the confines of Clayton, North Carolina, which consisted of Buck's Stop n' Go, the combined elementary, middle, and high school, and a grand ol' water tower that sat proudly in their sad excuse of a downtown. The rest of the town was dominated by all sorts of farmland, extending its never ending reach.
These hadn't always been my summer plans, but mom had insisted that we do a cross-country road trip with her new boyfriend, Phil. And frankly, the idea of spending three months trapped in the car with my mother had sounded like death on a stick. The nine hour ride it took to get to Clayton was torturous enough.
Renee tossed out the last bud of her cigarette as she rolled up the long gravel driveway leading up to Uncle Charlie's old, white farmhouse. The siding was in dire need of a serious paint job, and the fence up front needed mending. My uncle was a decently young man, only a few years older than my mom, but most of his time was spent with his horses. He never married; instead his life was consumed by his precious animals. They raced professionally, earning him enough money over the years to build up his land. He also took care of breeding them, and occasionally, offered lessons to the fellow townsfolk.
Townsfolk, I scoffed. What a southern thing to say.
I flung the door open as soon as the car came to a stop, and I breathed in the thick summer air. Wow, it's hot, I thought immediately. I looked around in wonder; it had been years since I'd been to visit my Uncle Charlie, and I was looking forward to spending time with him. His place had been a really big part of my childhood when my dad died.
My head turned at the sound of an old truck turning up the path of the drive. Its muddy tires and dirty blue exterior fit in perfectly to the surroundings, but the music thumping loudly from the vehicle made it clear that it was definitely not my uncle driving. The truck passed us, heading directly out back towards the stables before I could get a glance at the person behind the wheel.
The high pitched call of a whistle made me whip my head around, and I saw Uncle Charlie walking down the front steps of his house over to where I stood.
"There's my favorite girl!" he exclaimed, trotting over in a plaid button down and muddy overalls.
"Uncle Charlie!" I met him halfway and flung my arms around him, breathing in the smell of cotton mixed with grits and manure. It was good to be back, I thought happily. His rough hands grazed my bare back since my tank top was tied in a knot about halfway up my stomach. He eyed me warily after the embrace, and I could already feel the clothing lecture forming in his thick head.
We made our quick hellos and carried my bags in and upstairs to the only bedroom on the second floor. It consisted of a double bed that squeaked like church bells on a Sunday morning, and had a wooden desk with a single lamp placed on top. Obviously, the room hadn't been utilized since I had stayed there last. I blew the dust off of the desk before I placed my bags on top, then turned to open the side window. The hinges groaned in protest as I pried open the sealed outlet, but finally, it opened, even if just a crack, and fresh southern air filled the stuffy space.
A figure caught my eye before I turned away to go back downstairs. Apparently, whoever had been driving the truck from earlier was also helping out Charlie with the horses. His back was facing me, and I took notice of how tall he was, thin too, with broad shoulders and a dirty ball cap that covered his hair. His jeans were dirty and his boots made deep imprints into the soft mud.
"Bella," Renee's voice brought me out of my inspection, and I headed down the stairs in response.
"Come on, give your ma' a hug before I head out." She opened her arms up for me as I walked into the kitchen.
I hugged her back tightly, already missing her and her crazy ways. Renee was still doing her cross-country road trip idea, and she was meeting Phil in Georgia later tonight.
"I'll miss you, Mom," I told her honestly.
"I'll miss you, too, baby. And don't go giving your uncle here any heart attacks, but get out and have some fun, too, okay?"
I smiled before I hugged her again. "Okay."
"Well big brother, my mini-me is all yours, take care of her for me," she relayed, reaching over to hug Uncle Charlie.
"Always, Renee. Go have fun, but come back to us in one piece!"
She laughed and patted his shoulder. "I'll try my best."
She gave me one last kiss and was out the door, the start of the engine humming in the distance.
"So what do you want for dinner, kid? I got baked-beans nuking, 'slaw is in the fridge, and I got some fresh pulled-pork from Ted yesterday."
I smiled timidly and went over the kitchen sink to wash my hands. "That all sounds great, Uncle Charlie. Is it…um…just going to be, uh, us…for dinner tonight?" I asked, mentally referring to the guy I saw working out by the horses.
He looked at me strangely. "Of course it's just us. Who else would be here?" he questioned.
Blush rose up in my cheeks as I dried my hands off with the towel hanging off the oven. "No one, just curious."
"Alrighty, then…I'll get the beer."
I laughed and pulled out some plates as Charlie headed out to the garage. Some things just never changed.
Sleep that night didn't claim me quickly, which isn't what I had hoped for. My new room was impossibly hot, and the night time chill did nothing to ease my distress. Earlier that evening, I had managed to pry the window entirely open, but the only thing that had done for me was allowed the mosquitoes to feast openly on my bare skin as the crickets put on a collaborated musical performance for my unappreciative ears.
Clayton was so unlike Mayfield that it made my usually optimistic heart hurt with the nostalgia of cool bed linens and a mom to say goodnight to. I tried to push the thoughts away, steadying myself in my original decision to come here. The following day would be a fresh start; I could ride my bike down to the Neuse River, stop and buy some paint for the sides of the house, and maybe even ride old Betty, my favorite horse, across the dry fields out back.
When I awoke, I could start a new day, blissfully taking advantage of what southern summers had to offer…
"How did you sleep last night, darlin'?" Charlie asked, all too cheery as I made my way into the kitchen the next morning.
I gave him the stink eye.
"Uh," he stammered. "Maybe we can stop by Buck's and get you a fan to put in your room."
My scowl lessened.
"Okay, then, add that to the list to do today! You drink coffee?"
I nodded my head and forced my feet to bring me over to the coffee pot, my exhaustion feeling like a twenty pound weight dragging behind me. Sadly, the sweet aroma and caffeine magic didn't do its wonders on my tired body, and by two o'clock, I was still beat.
I changed into my cutoff jean shorts and tied my bathing suit top around my chest. I grabbed a blanket off my bed, placed my sunglasses securely on my face, and picked up my book before making my way outside. I figured I might as well take advantage of a sunny day.
I laid my belongings down right beside the old oak tree in the yard close to the stables. I could hear the horses from my position, and I used them to fill the drowning silence of the vast open land. I had full intentions of reading, having propped myself up against the tree, but when I jumped suddenly from the noise of a car, I realized I must have dozed off. My eyes caught a glimpse of that same blue truck from the day before leaving the premises. I groaned internally…that meant that the same guy I saw working with the horses from my bedroom window had to have seen me laying out. I was too close to the stables to miss. I was sure I looked just peachy, too, half naked and drooling in my sleep. Lovely.
"Bella, dinner's about ready!" Charlie called from the back porch. I motioned my hand to him in acknowledgement and gathered myself.
Dinner was quiet and much the same as the night before. Uncle Charlie cooked up another southern specialty—which would take some getting used to, by the way—and we both ate in the living room, watching whatever baseball game was on TV.
"So are you planning on going to the fair tonight?"
"Fair?" I looked over at him stretched out in his armchair comfortably.
"Yeah, the Johnston County Fair. They have it every year about this time."
"Uh, I wasn't planning on it." Fair? I was still trying to wrap my head around the word. People still went to those?
"You should go. It will make your mother happy if you get out of the house a bit."
"Out of the house? Uncle Charlie, I have been here just over 24 hours and you're kicking me out already?" I laughed.
"I'm not kicking you out, baby, I just want you to go out…meet friends. You're a young girl, enjoy your summer."
I sighed heavily. "Yeah, sure, I'll go. Where is it at?"
"Right up 42, down from Cleveland School Road."
"Uhhh, right. Got it," I lied. I smiled to make Charlie happy, and when I found myself lost on an old dirt road, riding my bike around like an idiot later that night, my smile might have faded just a tad.
I cursed the high trees, the damn bugs, and the deer that pounced around like jolly folk. My legs were tired from pumping the pedals across the gravel roads, and all I really wanted to do was head home.
I all about cried when I finally spotted the blessed Ferris Wheel and its rapidly blinking lights. Once I arrived, I chained my bike to the bike rack and bought a ticket before walking inside to the…extravaganza. I had never been to a fair; the loud music, smell of fried food, and death traps disguised as rides took me by surprise. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement, and I was pretty sure that the entire town's population was packed into this small space.
I really had no idea what I was doing. I just walked around aimlessly, trying to avoid collisions with the mass of people swarming about. But really, it was impossible not to be enamored with the enthusiasm that was radiating from the partakers.
I must have looked like something else, trudging along by myself, wide-eyed and confused. I laughed at the ridiculousness that was myself. My eyes traveled from attraction to attraction, glowing from the all the bright lights.
My eyes eventually landed on a group of people, seemingly around my age, standing up next to the "Twist-n-Cry." I, without intention, made eye contact with one of the boys in the group. When he saw me, he smiled, and a glimmer of recognition passed across his face while I awkwardly looked down, an automatic reaction.
"Hey," he called out, leaving his group of friends and jogging over to where I stood. "You new here, or something?"
I laughed, blushing and looking down at my muddy Converses. "Or something."
When I looked up to meet his gaze, his eyes were sparkling and a crystal white smile graced his lips.
"I'm Edward Masen." He reached his tan, calloused hand out for mine, and I returned the gesture, placing my small, delicate one inside of his. His hand engulfed mine, almost consumed it with its size and strength. My compose had quickly become shaky, at best.
"You want to walk around, ride something, eat a fried snickers, maybe?" he relayed smoothly, chuckling. "I could even try to win you a giant panda, you know, so it can be your friend here in this new town."
His laugh was contagious. "So am I to rely on inanimate objects to be my only friends while I'm here?"
He paused for a second as he began to walk, ushering me to join him. "I'm sure maybe I can find a human friend for you, too. That's if you want me to, of course."
"How would this said human friend compare to my panda?"
His blue eyes matched the brightness of the southern sky at mid day, blazing with intensity while remaining pure and unmarked. "I think you're the only one who can make that decision."
"Who am I going to compare him to?"
Edward laughed again and shoved his hands into the pockets of his light blue torn jeans. "I suppose…you can use me…to compare him to. I can be a pretty good friend."
I smiled and nodded. "Yeah, I guess I can agree to that."
I do not have a regular update schedule, but chapter 2 shouldn't be far off. Thanks!