Hello, peeps! I've had this o/s on the back burner for months now...actually it's probably close to a year. I heard That Summer by Garth Brooks and instantly thought of writing this. But I was a coward because of the pairing. Now, I ask that you keep an open mind and remember this is ME (if you've read what I've wrote before you know what I mean) And if you haven't read anything by me this is what it means: I fuck around with other couples. Yes, I'm the perv who made Bella screw Carlisle...who has Alice wanting to jump her best friend Emmett (and that will be finished eventually!). I live to explore different pairings! So, I beg you, keep an open mind and just go with it. You'll find it's a very sweet shot about two people who find...something when they least expect it.

That Summer - Garth Brooks

I went to work for her that summer

A teenage kid so far from home

She was a lonely widow woman

Hell-bent to make it on her own

We were a thousand miles from nowhere

Wheat fields as far as I could see

Both needing something from each other

Not knowing yet what that might be.

'Til she came to me one evening

Hot cup of coffee and a smile

In a dress that I was certain

She hadn't worn in quite a while

There was a difference in her laughter

There was a softness in her eyes

And on the air there was a hunger

Even a boy could recognize.

She had a need to feel the thunder

To chase the lightning from the sky

To watch a storm with all its wonder

Raging in her lover's eyes

She had to ride the heat of passion

Like a comet burning bright

Rushing headlong in the wind

Out where only dreams have been

Burning both ends of the night.

That summer wind was all around me

Nothing between us but the night

When I told her that I'd never

She softly whispered that's alright

And then I watched her hands of leather

Turn to velvet in a touch

There's never been another summer

When I have ever learned so much.

we had a need to feel the thunder

To chase the lightning from the sky

To watch a storm with all its wonder

Raging in each other's eyes

We had to ride the heat of passion

Like a comet burning bright

Rushing headlong in the wind

Out where only dreams have been

Burning both ends of the night.

I often think about that summer

The sweat, the moonlight, and the lace

And I have rarely held another

When I haven't seen her face

And every time I pass a wheat field

And watch it dancing with the wind

Although I know it isn't real

I just can't help but feel

Her hungry arms again

She had a need to feel the thunder

To chase the lightning from the sky

To watch a storm with all its wonder

Raging in her lover's eyes

She had to ride the heat of passion

Like a comet burning bright

Rushing headlong in the wind

Out where only dreams have been

Burning both ends of the night.

Rushing headlong in the wind

Now where only dreams have been

Burnin' both ends of the night

He turned his older beat up Silverado into the long driveway, gripping the wheel tighter as the old style ranch house came into view. He slowly pulled up in front of the house and cut the engine, taking in the view before him.

The paint on the house was chipped in places; a shutter crooked here, the railing around the porch broken there. The only thing that looked like it had been kept up was the lawn.

He twisted around in his seat to look out the rear window and saw the old barn wasn't in much better shape on the outside than the house was.

He sighed and turned back, resting his head against the seat and closing his eyes. He didn't want to be here, but what choice did he have? Money was running low at his folks place now that his father had fallen ill and couldn't work. He needed to help his parents out some how and the owner of this place needed help. It was only for the summer, and he was going to be paid more than any minimum wage job he would find. He could tough it out if it meant giving his parents a little peace of mind when it came to finances.

He opened his eyes and stared at the house for a few moments longer, before climbing out of his truck. With a heavy sigh he walked up the pathway to the house, carefully stepping up the creaky stairs to the wrap around porch. He took a moment to take in his surroundings, noticing for the first time just how far out in the middle of nowhere he really was. Nothing but wide open space, pastures untouched by sky scrappers he'd find in the big city. It was peaceful.

He knocked loudly on the door, shuffling his feet while he waited. He knew almost nothing about the woman he'd be working for. The only information he had was she was a widow who'd been struggling to keep up with everything on her own and needed some help fixing the place up. From what he could see, she was going to need more than just some help.

He was just about to knock again when he heard the lock click and the door swung open to reveal his new employer.

His mouth went dry the instant he set eyes on her, his heart rate increasing with each breath he struggled to take. He stared into her hazel eyes, mouth slightly open as if to say something but unsure what it was.

This couldn't be the widow. This woman was too young, too beautiful, to shoulder the pain the loss of a spouse would leave. With her rich auburn hair floating around her face in thick waves just passed her shoulders, lips full and plump and a smile that would melt any heart, she didn't look a day over thirty. But as he continued to stare at her he saw it was her eyes that gave away her sorrow. Her smile was welcoming, but it didn't reach her eyes. They didn't sparkle like they should, there was no life left in them. Her eyes were sad…and dead.

"Hello." She smiled at him, but it looked out of place next to the windows of her lost soul. "You must be my new hired hand."

He nodded, swallowing over the lump in his throat at the sound of her voice.

"I'm Esme. Esme Cullen," she introduced.

"Edward Mason," he croaked. He cleared his throat and smiled sheepishly. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Cullen."

Her smiled wilted a bit, but she quickly caught herself and blinked away what looked like unshed tears at the title.

"Please, call me Esme," she instructed, stepping aside. "Come in, Edward."

He tried to ignore the way his stomach flipped at the way she said his name, and how alive it made other parts of his body suddenly come. Now would not be a good time to be sporting wood, he decided.

He stepped in the house, surprised to see the inside was in far better shape than the outside. From what he could see, it looked almost new.

"Don't judge a book by its cover, Edward," she said softly beside him. He looked down at her, embarrassed his face was so easy to read. "I'm afraid I've tarnished my husband's memory by letting our home fall to shambles on the outside," she said sadly.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean-"

She held up her hand and smiled. "It's fine. Really. Besides, that's why you're here. To make it all better."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Esme," she corrected.

"Esme." Her name came out almost a whisper on his lips. She watched him and Edward was surprised to see a faint blush darken her porcelain skin.

"Why don't you have a seat in the living room and I'll get some refreshments," she suggested, breaking eye contact.

He nodded and walked in the direction she pointed while she hurried off the other way. As he looked around the room, his eyes immediately fell on the wedding photo that sat on the mantel above the fire place. He moved closer, eying the fair haired man who had his eyes locked on his young bride, an adoring smile on his face. It was clear to anyone just how much love had been between the two of them.

Esme, looking more like a child bride, looked up at her husband with so much love and devotion it hurt just to look at the picture knowing the loss she suffered.

"That's my Carlisle," she said quietly from behind him.

Edward turned and saw a single tear escape the corner of her eye and roll slowly down her cheek.

"I'm sorry," he said simply, unsure of what else to say, knowing there really were no words that could make her pain better.

She set the tray she held down on the coffee table and walked towards him, picking up the frame and smiling down at it.

"I was just a child," she recalled softly, "barely eighteen. But I knew, right from the start, he was the only one for me. I would have married him the day I met him if it were possible," she laughed.

Edward smiled, watching as her eyes lit up and danced with the memories that were playing inside her mind.

"We would have been married twelve years this summer," she whispered, speaking more to the picture than to him. "Twelve years and I only had him for five."

"What happened? To your husband, I mean." She looked up at him, pain replacing the light that had just been there and he hated himself for making her look heartbroken once again.

"Carlisle was quite a bit older than me," she revealed as she placed the picture back on the mantel, gently tracing the corner with her finger. "Fifteen years older to be exact. He was well on his way to being a brilliant doctor when I met him, and he just got greater as time passed.

"He was on his way home from the late shift when he came upon an accident. I remember that night. It was raining so hard you could barely see your hand in front of your face," she murmured. "He stopped to help the couple, but as he stepped out of his car….another driver lost control and struck him."

She brushed passed him, avoiding his eyes as she did. He glanced once more at the picture before turning to face her. She was seated on the sofa and motioned for him to join her.

"I'm sorry," he repeated. "I shouldn't have asked."

She smiled gently at him. "It's only natural to be curious." He opened his mouth to speak and she shook her head. "I've said enough. Why don't we discuss what I need you to do around here?"

"Alright."

"You've seen for yourself that it does need a lot of TLC. The shingles need to be replaced, the shutters straightened." She smiled faintly. "The porch needs work and the house could use a fresh coat of paint. I'd also like to put up a fence surrounding the front yard. I'm not so concerned with the barn or other buildings right now, my focus is the house. I only have the one horse now anyway, so it's not like I'm running a farm." She looked around the room. "I just want to restore it to how it used to be."

"I feel I should warn you I'm no carpenter. I've helped my dad with his business off and on since I was fourteen, but I'm no professional."

She tilted her head to the side. "How old are you, Edward?"

He hesitated before answering, wondering if he should perhaps lie. Would she see him as only a child if he told the truth? But how could he lie to someone who had welcomed him in her home and had already been through so much already.

"Eighteen," he finally answered.

"Well, I wasn't looking for a professional when I posted my ad. I wanted a student who needed the finical help over the summer. If you find there's something you really don't think you can handle, let me know and we'll go from there."

"Okay."

She stood. "I'll show you where you'll be staying."

He followed her, curious when she led him to the back of the house and through the kitchen to the side door. When he stepped out in the back yard he saw the little cottage off to the side of the house.

"The guest house," she explained. "When we bought the place it was going to be my studio, but…" She shrugged, letting the sentence trail off.

"Studio?"

"I used to paint."

He watched as she unlocked the door and followed her inside. It wasn't very large, but definitely comfortable enough for one. He stood facing a kitchenette and a small furnished living room area, complete with TV, phone and a computer.

"The bathroom and bedroom are just in the back, and you do have internet service if you like." He looked at her questionably, wondering why she would have all that set up out here if no one used it. "My niece sometimes visits and she likes to have her privacy," she explained. "The fridge is stalked, but you're more than welcome to join me for meals. In fact," she added before he could protest, "I insist you let me make you dinner every night at the least."

"Oh, you don't have to go to all that trouble."

"I do eat, you know, Edward, so it's no trouble." She grinned at him. "You can either join me in the main house or I'll just bring it by here. Those are your only two choices."

He couldn't help himself and smiled, nodding his agreement. Their eyes met and once again pink filled her cheeks. What was she thinking to make her blush every time she looked at him? The action made her look even younger, almost innocent the way she lowered her lashes and broke eye contact. He had to fight the urge to reach out and trace the colour, eager to feel if her skin was just as soft as it looked.

What the hell was wrong with him? This woman was standing here obviously still mourning her husband who she lost so long ago, trusting him in her home and all he could think about was placing his hands on her body.

His eyes descended down her lean frame at that thought. She wasn't very tall; he'd guess maybe five foot six to his six foot stance. She was curvy in all the right places; slim but not too small that a man would be afraid to break her if things got a little heated. Her hips begged to be touched, slightly wider than a girl's his age, but much more enticing than anyone he'd ever been with.

He looked back up at her face, his eyes falling on her lips. Those lips…they were made to be kissed until both parties were driven crazy with desire. And her eyes… Their gazes locked again and shame filled him. Her eyes were something else. Her eyes revealed everything she had been through.

"Well, I'll leave you to get settled in," she said, breaking the silence, still looking at him. "After you can make a list of what you think you'll need and you can go into town and pick it up."

"Yes, ma'am," he answered thickly.

She forced a smile and quickly turned to leave, only turning back to him once she had reached the safety of the door.

"It's Esme, Edward," she reminded him again. "Just Esme."

After hauling his duffle back into the cottage and unpacking what little he had brought, he browsed the outside of the house making notes of what supplies he would need. He found a ladder in the storage shed and scurried his way onto the roof, checking the condition of the shingles. He'd done some roofing with his father last year so knew the basic in and outs of what to do. The roof was definitely going to take the longest and honestly, he wasn't looking forward to the work that would have to be done.

He climbed back down the ladder and made his way to the front of the house, knocking on the front door. Esme appeared moments later, a confused looked on her face.

"Edward, you don't have to knock," she told him as soon as she opened the door. "Feel free to come and go as you please."

"Um…I just wanted to let you know I made a list of things I think I'll need." He held up the paper. "Is there any particular place you want me to get this stuff?"

"I have an account set up at the hardware store. I'm sure you'll find everything you need there."

"Sure. Okay." He took a step back, nearly falling off the top step. "So, I'll just go pick it up then," he stammered, embarrassed at his actions.

"Edward," she called, stepping out onto the porch. "Would you like to join me for lunch first?"

"No." He cursed himself at the rejected look that crossed her face. "I mean, I would, but I'd like to get this stuff so I can get started as soon as possible."

"Of course. I'm holding you to dinner though." She smiled.

He returned the smile and nodded, quickly hurrying away before he did something stupid. Like telling her she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever laid eyes on and would give anything to know what her mouth tasted like.

The nearest hardware store was twenty minutes away, giving him plenty of time to argue with himself why it was wrong to lust after this grieving woman. What was it about her that captured his interest so quickly? The fact that she was not only beautiful but older as well? Or maybe it was the need to play her protector and chase away the sadness that had wrapped itself around her for all these years.

But she was his employer and he needed the money more than he needed a tryst with her. Not that he would have made a move under difference circumstances anyway. He wasn't as confident with the opposite sex as some of his friends believed him to be.

He quickly located the store, not a hard task in a town so small, and told the cashier what he needed for lumber and shingles. He picked out paint and the other necessities he needed as his order was loaded into the bed of his pickup, charging it all to Esme's account.

"Are you sure she didn't say there was a limit?" he asked the woman when the grand total was revealed to him. He didn't want to charge something that she couldn't afford, no matter how much the work needed to be done.

The woman snorted at the question. "Esme Cullen? Trust me, babe, money isn't one of her worries."

He raised an eyebrow at the comment. "What do you mean?"

"What do you think I mean?" She rolled her eyes. "Her husband left her more money than she knows what to do with. In fact, from what I've heard, she hasn't done anything with it. The only time people see her now is when she grocery shops, even that she just recently started doing herself. She used to have someone come in to town for her and buy whatever she needed so she didn't have to leave that house of hers." The woman nodded as if answering her own unspoken question. "Went mad as a hatter that one when the doctor died. Shame too, being so young and all when it happened. Wasted her best years locked away from the world when she could have been out having the time of her life. Besides the girl who shopped for her, you are the only person to be at that place in years."

"I thought she had a niece."

"Yeah, I guess. Maybe that's the chick that ran around for her." She shrugged again, bored with the topic.

Edward grabbed his bags and loaded them into the truck, driving faster than necessary to get back to the house. For reasons he couldn't explain, he didn't like knowing Esme had shut herself off from the world. It was clear people like that woman thought she was off her rocker.

When he reached the house he wanted nothing more than to go inside and check on her. But how would that make him look? What could he say? That while he was in town he heard that she was so depressed that she never went out in the light of day and he wanted to make sure she hadn't slit her wrists while he was gone?

He shook his head, slamming the truck door in frustration. It was like she had cast some kind of spell on him. He unloaded the truck, trying to keep his mind off the temptress that hid behind the peeling walls of her fortress.

He decided he'd start on the roof and work his way down. No point in fixing things up on the ground if he was going to be throwing shit this way and that and possibly ruining the work he would do.

After backing the truck up to the house, he climbed up onto the roof again and started at the top, pulling off the ridge shingles first, making sure to remove or pound in the old nails. The hot summer sun beat down on him as he tore off the peak, sweat dripping from his forehead and down his face. He paused a moment to pull off his wife beater and wipe his brow with the sweaty material, noticing that he almost had the top finished. He glanced at his watch and groaned silently. This was definitely going to take longer than he hoped.

"Edward?" Esme's voice floated up to him, making him pause mid hammer. "Edward, I have some lemonade for you if you'd like. You've got to be dying of thirst by now."

He licked his parched lips, just realizing now how right she was. He laid the hammer down and stood, carefully making his way to the ladder and down. He found her seated on the steps, two glasses of lemonade beside her. It occurred to him a little too late that he should have put his shirt back on while in her presence. He hoped she wouldn't be offended by his lack of clothing.

She looked up when she heard him approach and he swear he saw her eyes grow wide at the sight of him before she turned away, focusing on the glasses. He bit back the grin that wanted to spread across his face. Maybe he wasn't the only one that was feeling whatever the hell was going on between them.

"I should have offered you something earlier," she mumbled, handing him a glass without really looking at him. "I'm sorry. I got caught up in something."

"It's fine." He took the drink from her, his fingers brushing hers in the exchange. Heat that had nothing to do with the sun shot through his hand and up his arm at the slight touch.

He watched her posture stiffen and she pulled her hand away from the glass quickly, stuffing them between her thighs as if they were cold and in need of warming.

Awkward silence fell around them as he sipped his lemonade and she stared at her knees. If she felt what he had it obviously spooked her enough to feel uncomfortable around him suddenly. He frowned at the thought. The last thing he wanted was to make her feel self-conscious or guilty over nothing.

"How are things coming along up there?" she suddenly asked, speaking so softly into her lap that he barely heard her.

He shrugged. "Fine. I probably won't finish taking off the first layer until tomorrow and then start what has to be done with the new shingles. Shouldn't take too long though to finish."

She looked at him then. "That fast?"

"Not much to it really if you know what you're doing." He grinned, trying to lighten her changed mood. "I thought the roof would take the longest, but now I'm starting to think building your new fence will."

"Did you get all the materials you'll need?"

He frowned again. "Yeah, about that. Was there a limit to how much you wanted to spend? The cashier said…" He paused, not sure how to word what the woman really told him.

"The cashier said what?" Her eyes narrowed at him, waiting for him to finish.

He shrugged again, trying to play it off as nothing. "Just that money wasn't one of your worries." He shifted his eyes away from hers, looking out at all the wide open space that was laid before him.

"You can't always believe small town gossip, Edward," she chastened gently after a moment of silence.

He looked at her again, afraid he'd done something wrong by spending the amount he did without checking in with her first. "I'm sorry. I should have asked how much you wanted to spend-"

"I'm not talking about that." She met his eyes once more and shook her head before looking away. "I'm talking about whatever else was said that you don't want to tell me."

He opened his mouth to deny what she implied, but instead said, "I never said I believed it." She looked at him sadly and he added, "And not much was really said."

She nodded and stood, grabbing her still full glass from beside her. "I should check on dinner. I hope pot roast is alright?"

He wanted to say something, to make her feel comfortable around him again. When she took his glass he impulsively grabbed her wrist. Her eyes grew wide as she looked from his big hand wrapped around her tiny arm to his face. He loosened his grip, not wanting to scare her, but needing to keep her in place and have her attention.

"I don't believe what they do, Esme," he said softly. He watched as tears suddenly glistened her eyes and he wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around her in comfort. "I don't know if you were or are depressed, but if you are or have been then I think you have every damn right to be considering what happened to your husband. I don't think that makes you crazy. That makes you human. And anyone who thinks other wise has either never suffered a loss such as yours, or is ill-bred.

"Everyone deals with death in their own way and no one should be judged how they do it. I think Carlisle was a very special man to have someone like you love him like you obviously still do."

He dropped her wrist then, just as the tears started to roll down her face. She stared at him, biting her bottom lip as it trembled. And then she fled inside the house, slamming the door behind her and leaving him standing there alone.

Days turned into weeks and soon the end of summer was approaching. Edward went from one task to another during the day and at night his mind strayed to the woman who had taken up permanent residence in his mind.

Ever since the night on the porch when she left him standing vulnerable outside her door, she had gone to great lengths to only interact with him when necessary. She still made him dinner every night, leaving it in the cottage for him before he was done that day's work, never asking him to join her in the main house again. When they saw each other during the day, which was very rarely, she would politely say hi, giving him a small shy smile before disappearing back into the house or off to do whatever errand she was running.

As innocent as his words had been he'd crossed a line and was afraid he would never be able to make things right.

And time was running out. In fact, he was sure it had already run out. He had finished the fence that afternoon and had nothing left to do for her. He'd gone to the house that evening asking if there was anything else she needed for him to do and she assured him there wasn't, that he had done more than she had ever imagined. With a promise that she'd bring his dinner around that evening, along with his payment, she closed the door in his face.

He went back to the cottage and packed his belongings, tossing around the idea of leaving right after she paid him so he wouldn't have to spend another night in a place that he couldn't help but feel he wasn't wanted.

When he answered her soft knock on the door that night he expected to find her standing there with the covered dish she usually brought and a cheque. Instead, she held a grocery bag and a flat covered object. But the only thing he saw was her warm smile. A smile that finally lit up her eyes.

"Good evening, Edward," she greeted, her smile widening.

The air threatened to whoosh out of him with that beam. His eyes slowly traveled over her body and he felt the reaction he had to her well below the waist. She was dressed in a cornflower blue sundress; buttons teased him fitting between the valley of her breasts down to the waist of the dress, the skirt flaring out around her amazing legs. She was barefoot and he couldn't help but smile at that.

She was the picture of innocence dressed like she was…only there was something not innocent at all about her tonight. He noticed her makeup was darker, or maybe she was just wearing makeup for the first time since he met her. Her hair flared out around her face, strands of it dancing in the gentle night breeze.

And her eyes…her damn eyes again. They were what kept drawing him to her face. Those eyes that were sparkling at him right now.

"I thought maybe we could make dinner together," she suggested, lifting the grocery bag.

"Cook? Together?" he stammered, his eyes drawn to the lift of her shoulder when she raised the bag.

Her smile wilted some as she lowered the bag back to her side. "Or not. I can-"

"No!" he cried, reaching out to snatch the bag from her before she could change her mind and run off again. "I'd like to cook dinner with you."

Her smile returned as she walked into the cottage, heading straight for the kitchen. Edward followed her, unable to keep his eyes from watching the sway of her hips as she sauntered in front of him. She turned around unexpectedly and he blushed at being caught starting at her behind.

"Can you put this somewhere where it's out of the way?" she asked, smiling knowingly at him.

He placed the grocery bag on the counter and took the covered item from her. Now that it was in his hands he realized it felt like a picture frame.

"What is it?" he asked, wanting to lift the cover and peek.

"Something for later." He looked at her and this time it was her turn to blush. "Much later," she added.

As he found a place for it out of the way, she started unpacking groceries.

"I hope you like lasagne," she called to him. "I bought garlic bread too and wine." She suddenly stopped unpacking and looked up at him as he returned to the kitchen. "I forgot."

"Forgot?"

"That you're only eighteen."

"Yeah. Everyone already thinks you're crazy, you wouldn't want intoxicating a minor to be added to that list," he teased. He regretted it as soon as the words left his mouth and was about to apologize when she threw her head back and laughed.

And his world stopped.

He had never heard her laugh before, and he wasn't sure there were any words to describe just how beautiful the sound was. Or how stunning she was when she did it. The walls she had built around herself were down and he caught a glimpse at what eighteen year old Esme must have been like when her world was full of life with her husband by her side.

She wasn't only breath taking, but amazing and strong and he…

He was sure in that moment he fell in love with Esme Cullen.

The entire time they made dinner together he couldn't keep his eyes off her. From the way that she cut up vegetables for a salad to the way her throat moved as she swallowed her wine he was captivated by her.

They shared stories about themselves over dinner, both laughing at the others embarrassment at one time or another. After they ate they moved to the couch to be more comfortable to talk and she revealed that at the time of Carlisle's death she had been pregnant and hadn't had the chance to tell him yet. Her doctor told her the miscarriage wasn't anything she had done, but she still blamed herself.

He held her hand as she told her story, unable to even imagine the kind of pain she had been in. To lose her husband was bad enough, but to then lose the one living piece she would have had of him was heartbreaking.

"I've never told anyone about the baby before," she confessed, looking up at him from beneath her lashes.

"Why me?"

She lifted her head so she was looking at him fully. "I don't know what it is, but I feel like you've been a part of my life for years. I feel like I can trust you without even knowing you." She laughed nervously. "Maybe I am crazy."

"I guess that makes me crazy as well," he muttered.

His heart began to pound in his chest as he watched her. She licked her lips and tucked her hair behind her ear looking timid as her eyes dropped down to his lips and then back up to his eyes. Practically holding his breath as he picked up on her cue, he slowly leaned forward until his lips were inches from hers, waiting for her to tell him to stop before he proceeded. When she remained silent he moved in the rest of the way until his lips met her soft ones.

The kiss was gentle, merely lips pressed against lips at first. Until she opened her mouth and welcomed him in. He slid his tongue along her bottom lip, tasting her before dipping into her mouth and brushing against her tongue.

Her soft moan encouraged him to cup her face, holding her still as instinct took over and he did what he'd been dying to do since the first day she opened her door. Her hands were suddenly on his chest, grasping his shirt in her fists as he explored her mouth. When she pulled him closer to her, he broke the kiss and rested his forehead against hers.

"If I don't stop now, I'm not sure I'll be able to," he whispered.

"Who's asking you to stop?" she asked, sounding breathless.

"I feel like I'm taking advantage of you."

She laughed. "Isn't that how I'm supposed to feel?"

He brushed the hair from her face, softly tracing the skin along her jaw line. "Do you?"

She pressed her lips together, shaking her head. "No. I know better than anyone age isn't anything more than a number."

"I don't want you to do anything you'll regret, Esme."

"If I don't do this I'll regret it." She took his hands in hers and kissed his palm on each hand, murmuring into his skin, "I've grieved for so long, Edward. I'll always love Carlisle, but I'm tired of feeling sad. I want to live again." She leaned into him, kissing his neck up to his ear. "Make me feel alive again, Edward," she whispered.

Not needing to be asked twice, he brought his lips back to hers and gently pushed until she was lying on her back beneath him. Her warms wrapped around his neck, pulling him closer as if she wanted to feel every inch of him pressed against her body.

He moved his hand to her bent knee and slowly slid it up her thigh, her dress pooling around her hips as he did. When his fingers brushed the lacy panties she wore her hips bucked and she moaned into his mouth.

He slipped a finger inside the material, brushing her wet lips underneath. Slowly, as if to tease her, he ran his finger up and down her folds, close to where he knew she wanted him to be but not giving it to her yet.

"Take them off," she begged, thrusting her hips against his hand. "Please, take them off."

He pulled his hand away from her and buried his face in her neck, inhaling her scent.

"Esme, I've never…I've never done this before," he confessed.

She stilled beneath him and he silently groaned for telling her.

"Do you want to?" she asked.

"Yes!" He chuckled at how eager he sounded. "I just don't want to disappoint you."

Without saying a word, she pushed on his shoulders until he was sitting up and then she stood, taking his hand as she did. Silently she led him to the bedroom, stopping by the bed to stand on her tip toes to kiss him before seating him on the mattress.

She straddled his lap and grabbed the hem of his shirt, lifting it over his head. As her finger tips drifted over his chest and down his stomach, she looked him in the eye and said, "You could never disappoint me, Edward. You really have no idea how much you have helped me."

He wanted to ask her what she meant, but her lips were pressed to his in the next second, her hands now running through his hair as the kiss intensified.

He dropped his hands from her shoulders to the tops of her thighs, pushing her dress up as he explored her skin. He grew bolder as her body reacted to him; the way she pressed herself down into his lap told him more than any words could. She wanted this. She wanted him. And he'd be a fucking idiot to say no.

He continued to map her body, sliding over her stomach and up towards her breasts. She pulled away from his mouth just long enough so he could pull the dress over her head, flinging it behind her. He stared at her, watching as her quickened breathing lifted her soft mounds up and down in front of her and lowering his eyes to the lacy blue panties she wore.

He dragged his hands down her arms, barely touching her skin and making her shiver. Her nipples hardened beneath his gaze from his touch, silently begging for the attention they needed. He traced one peak with his finger tip, drawing a moan out from her as she arched towards him. Taking the hint, he replaced his finger with his mouth, swirling his tongue around her nipple as he gently grazed it with his teeth. The action made her cry out this time and he brought his other hand into play, rolling her left nipple between his fingers.

The smell of her arousal filled the room, and he couldn't help but smile against her skin knowing he was the reason she was so wet. His cock throbbed against the restraint of his jeans, reminding him he wasn't the only one that was affected by their actions. Not that he needed the reminder. But he did need some relief, even if it was just feeling their naked skin pressed against each other for now.

Guiding his hands behind her back, her lifted her slightly and flipped them around so she was pressed into the mattress and he was hovering over her. Her legs automatically opened around his hips as she thrust up to meet him, grinding them together.

"Take off your pants, Edward," she whispered. "I want to feel you."

The seconds it took him to rid himself of his pants and boxers was too long, and his body ached to be near her again. Naked now, he climbed back onto the bed and pulled her to him. He throbbed between her legs, pressing against her covered mound as his tongue teased her earlobe.

Slipping one hand between their bodies, he slid underneath the waistband of her panties, his middle finger gliding through her folds.

"You're so wet," he groaned into her neck.

"Please," she whimpered. "Please, I need…" Her sentence trailed off as she wiggled her hips against his hand, causing his finger tip to enter her. "Yes, more!'

Slowly he dipped the entire length of his digit into her hot heat, making them both moan. Just as slowly he withdrew his finger, only to plunge two back inside her this time.

"Jesus…" She was so tight around just two of his fingers he could only imagine how she was going to feel wrapped around his length.

And that's when the sobering thought entered his mind.

"Fuck," he cursed, instantly sorry he'd used such crude language in front of her, especially at this time. "Esme, we can't do this."

"What?" She looked up at him, surprised by his words. "Why?"

"I don't have what we need." She gave him a blank stare and he sighed. "I don't have any protection."

"Oh." She bit her lip and suddenly looked uncomfortable. "That's not an issue. I mean, I'm assuming since you've never…done this before that you're clean-"

"I am." She nodded. "But I don't want to risk-"

"You won't." She swallowed and blinked back tears. "I can't have children, Edward. The miscarriage…. Well, it left damage," she told him quietly.

He looked at her, watching as the pleasure that had just mere seconds been on her face slowly started to fade, replaced by the pain she wore all the time. She shifted her eyes away, afraid she'd said too much to make this enjoyable for him.

"Esme?" Hesitantly, she glanced at him. "I think you're beautiful. Every part of you, not just the outside. Your body, mind and soul are stunning." And then he kissed her, needing to bring back the joy she had been feeling.

"Show me," she rasped against his lips. "Show me."

He slid her panties down her legs, moving back up between them as she wrapped her arms around his neck. The head of his cock brushed her wet opening and suddenly he was nervous. This wasn't just some teenage girl he could screw in the backseat of his truck and casually date until they grew bored of each other. This was a real woman who'd seen so much, who'd been through more loss and pain than anyone deserved. She was giving a part of herself to him that she had only given to the man she loved.

To him, that meant more than if the backseat romp was giving him her virginity. He knew so many girls who had sex just to say they did it. Who wanted to be a means to an end? Esme was different. This was different. She was letting herself feel something after so many years of being closed off and she chose him to heal her. It wasn't a means to an end of her grieving. It was the beginning of her life again.

And he was giving it to her.

As if sensing his hesitation, she placed both her hands on his face and made him look at her. She didn't say a word, but her eyes, as always, told him more than he needed to know.

He shifted his hips, entering her aching center an inch at a time. He watched her face as she closed her eyes, biting her lip at being filled once again after so long. Slowly, he pulled out to the tip and thrust back in.

"Oh!"

He closed his own eyes, afraid that if he watched her face it would be over all too soon. She was so hot, so god damn tight around him. He wanted to go faster and harder, to know how good it would feel to pound into her sweet little body, but he couldn't. Animalistic sex he was sure he could have any time, but this…this was about her. Until she told him to move at a different pace he was going to be gentle.

Suddenly she wrapped her legs around his waist, causing him to sink deeper inside her.

"Oh my-" He ground his teeth together at the string of profanity that wanted to burst out of him at the change in position.

"You feel so good," she murmured. "I forgot…forgot how good this could feel."

He rotated his hips, hitting her in just the right spot if her throwing back her head and crying his name meant anything.

"More. Faster," she panted.

He placed his hands on either side of her head and increased the speed of his thrusting.

"Esme," he groaned, loving the way her body clung to his. He lowered his head, sucking a nipple into his mouth as his finger found her clit.

"Oh, god!" she screamed, bucking against him. "Don't stop. Please, don't stop!"

He rubbed her little button in slow circles at first, steadily increasing as his thrusting got faster. He felt a tightening in his balls that told him he wouldn't last much longer and he only hoped he could bring Esme to release before he found his.

He moved his mouth from her breast to her ear. "I won't stop if you come for me."

Her nails dug into his back and he couldn't stop himself now from moving harder and faster inside her now. Their bodies rocked together and he felt her tighten around him.

"Edward!" she cried as her muscles clamped around him.

The feeling of her orgasm around his cock was all he needed to send him over the edge. He groaned into her neck, thrusting a couple of more times before burying himself as deep as he could be and filling her.

As their breathing slowed to normal and he rolled over onto his side, spooning her to him he knew that summer had changed everything.

He woke alone in the early hours of the morning. Her side of bed was cold, telling him she had departed hours ago.

He got up and pulled on his jeans, hoping she was just in the other room. His heart sank when he discovered the cottage was empty. His eyes fell on the couch where the wrapped package laid, a folded piece of paper on top of it. Snatching it up he read:

My Dearest, Edward,

There is a war going on within myself as I write this. A part of me feels as if I should wake you to say goodbye; the other part fears if I do I won't want to see you go.

There are no words to describe what you've given me, Edward. This - whatever this is that happened between us - wasn't my intention when I hired you for the summer. My purpose wasn't to find someone and seduce them at the end of their leave. This surprised me as much as it did you. You surprised me, Edward.

In way, you remind me so much of my Carlisle. When I allow myself to think of him, and I have often these past few weeks, I imagine he would have been a lot like you at your age. And what a young age it is! And yet, you're like an old soul. It's hard for me to think of you as just eighteen and too young and naïve to know what the world holds for you, when I know at the same age I found my entire world.

I feel like I died right along side my husband seven years ago. I stopped feeling…even when I lost our baby I didn't feel the way I should have felt. It hurt of course; it pained me that I lost the last connection I had to Carlisle. But the pain I felt for my unborn child was overshadowed by the loss of his father. I don't think I've properly grieved for my son…or daughter. I always think of the baby as a boy. I've spent all this time missing my soul mate everything else has been forgotten. I've spent so much time feeling dead, I forgot how to live.

And then I open my door and find this beautiful, bronzed haired, green eyed young man standing on my porch. Hired help for the summer that turned out to give me so much more than a new roof and fence. I know it seems like I've avoided you since that first night and that wasn't my intention. Honestly, Edward, how you made me feel in that moment when you validated how I felt and said it was okay to deal with it however I wanted, scared me. I realized in that moment I wasn't dealing with it. I was letting it control my life…I was confirming what everyone said about me by hiding and letting the pain become who I was.

I'm not the broken Esme you met, Edward. But I lost her so long ago and couldn't find her again. No, not couldn't. Wouldn't find her again. After that first night when I left you outside, I cried. I cried so much my eyes were red and swollen and it hurt just to open them. I cried for Carlisle. I cried for our baby. I cried for the lost life we could have had together. And I cried for the girl that was left alone and forgotten.

And then do you know what I did? I painted, Edward. I painted a beautiful portrait of Carlisle and I, with a little blue bundle wrapped safely in my arms. And then I burned it. Yes, I burned it. I'll never have that, Edward. I'll never have the happy family with my husband that I dreamed of since a little girl. I'll never grow old with my soul mate, watching our grandchildren play in the dirt while we sit in rockers on the porch, grey haired and happy because we still had each other.

And I'm finally okay with that. I can't change what happened, and I can't hold onto it forever. And the only way I could move on was by letting go of the past and what I pictured for my future. So, I burned the portrait and instead painted something else. Something I could see, and touch, and feel. Something real.

And by painting it, I wanted it.

I don't want you to feel like you did something wrong. And I hope you don't feel like I did something wrong. I'll forever cherish the few hours we spent together, Edward. In those few hours you made me feel alive and I want more of that. I want to live again. You brought me back to life.

I hope you go on to have the life I painted, Edward. And I hope it doesn't end up a pile of ash. It's impossible to show you how grateful I am that you came into my life for the summer, but know that I will never forget you. You're in my heart forever, Edward.

Always,

Esme

His eyes rested on the wrapped package and slowly he reached out and pulled the paper away. There, beneath the layers of protective paper, was he and Esme. Not that anyone else would know who it was by looking at the picture, but he knew. The drawn silhouette of the man and woman was drawn so the faces weren't recognizable, their body's wrapped around each other in a lovers embrace, but he was positive that when she drew this she drew it of them in mind.

His chest tightened as he picked up the picture. This was Esme whole. And while he healed her heart, he feared he'd broken his own.

Ten years later he found himself driving down the same dirt road, entering the same long driveway, stopping in front of the same white house. He smiled when he saw nothing had changed.

He knew he shouldn't be here, but he was tired of staying away. A decade had come and gone and still he thought of her. He couldn't pass a wheat field without thinking of that summer. He swore at times he could feel her arms wrapped around him again.

He'd moved on of course, had woman come and go from his life. But he always saw her face, always felt her lips, always touched her skin. She haunted him day and night and he knew he would always end up back here where it all began.

Slowly, he got out of his cab, scanning the yard looking for any signs of life. He knocked on the door but no one answered. Prepared to sit around and wait for her to show up, he wondered around back to the cottage and stopped in his tracks when he saw her.

She was hunched over the garden, weeding the flowers. Her hair was longer, darker and she looked smaller than he remembered. She paid him no attention, as if she hadn't heard his truck pull up or him knocking out front. He stepped up behind her and gradually reached out to touch her shoulder.

"Esme."

She jumped, startled at his touch and turned to face him. Wide eyes stared at him. Eyes that didn't belong to his Esme.

The young woman pulled the ear buds from her ears and narrowed her eyes at him.

"Can I help you?"

"I'm sorry. I thought you were someone else," he tried to explain, the disappointment he felt about not finding Esme filling his chest.

"And who did you think you were going to find in my yard?" Her voice had a teasing ring to it as she smirked at him.

"Your yard?" She nodded. "Oh." He looked from her to the yard, his eyes landing on the cottage and he couldn't help but smile. "I was looking for someone who used to live here."

She looked up at him from her kneeled position on the ground and titled her head to the side. "How do you know Esme?"

He whipped his head back to look at her, surprised by her words. "How do you know Esme?"

The woman rolled her eyes. "I live in the house she once lived in. I think I'm bound to know her."

"Oh."

"She hasn't lived here in years, though."

"How long?"

"About seven years." She shrugged. "My folks moved here when I was fifteen and my mom and her became good friends. When she decided to pack up and move she didn't want to sell the place, but she also didn't want to leave it empty." She grinned at him. "I had just turned eighteen and was attending the community college and wanted a bit of freedom from my parents; her house was it."

"Does she still own it?"

The girl nodded. "Comes back every once in awhile and stays in the cottage." She nodded towards the small building.

"Where is she now?"

She narrowed her eyes once more. "You still haven't told me how you know her."

"I worked for her one summer," he answered, shifting his eyes away. "I was in the area and just…wanted to stop by and see how she was," he added softly.

Something in the girl's eyes softened as she watched him. "I see." She sighed and stood up. "Well, unless you're planning a trip down under any time soon, I'm afraid you won't see her."

He looked back at her, confused. "Down under?"

"Australia."

"That's where she is?"

"This year at least." She grinned at him. "She's become somewhat of a gypsy. I have her contact information if you'd like, though."

"Sure." He smiled at the young woman. "That would be great."

She started walking to the side door when she turned and grinned at him again. "By the way, I'm Bella."

Her smile was contagious as he found himself grinning back at her. "Edward."

He followed her to the door with every intention of getting Esme's address and leaving, but the second his foot hit the stair he paused to look out over the open fields like he did so many years ago.

Everything looked the same, everything smelled the same, but everything was different. This was no longer the house he came to that was in need of fixing as an eighteen year old. The walls of the house no longer caged Esme's tortured soul. She had broken free and was living. Just like she wanted.

What right did he have to disturb the life she made for herself? What would come out of contacting her now? Of purposely going out of his way to find her just to make himself feel better over an old memory. His thoughts had been consumed by Esme Cullen since the first day they met ten years ago. The memory of their time together had taken over his life…just like the memory of her husband had taken over hers.

Was he just like Esme? Had he been unable to fully live his life up to this point because he was stuck in the past?

Esme had burned the future she wanted because she knew it was something she could no longer have. She was brave enough to let go and realize there was something more out there for her than being a lonely widow. Not only had she realized it, but if Bella's words meant anything she had gone out and found it.

Maybe he had it wrong. Maybe the picture she painted for him wasn't of the two of them. Maybe it was what she wanted for both of them. Maybe the faces weren't shaded out to hide the identity of them and what they did, but because it was both of them, only not with each other. She saw herself with her other half, just like she hoped he would see himself with his. It wasn't meant to be hope for a future together, but hope for the future.

He understood now it was her thank you for giving her the hope that there would be a future.

"Edward?" He turned to find Bella standing on the porch waiting for him to follow her inside. "You're welcome to come in while I find the address for you."

He sighed and shook his head. "You know, on second thought, I think it's best you don't give me her contact information."

"Oh." She looked at him, puzzled. "Why?"

"It's just better this way. I just wanted to make sure she was happy." He looked up at Bella and asked, "She's happy, right?"

She smiled softly at him. "Very."

He nodded and looked back at his truck. "Okay." Glancing back at her he said, "I can go then. Thank you for your time, Bella."

He turned to leave when she called out to him.

"You can still come in if you want." He looked back at her and she blushed. "I mean, at least stay for something to drink before you head back out. I just made an apple pie that's cooling." She rolled her eyes. "I know, very cliché."

He laughed. "Pie's good. I'd like that."

As he followed her into the house, it was the first time in a long time his thoughts weren't filled with memories of that summer.

A/n: Edward and Esme...I know! Has it been written before? I've never read a fic about these two, so if you have and you have one to share tell me! And as for telling me things, hit the review button and let me know what you think. Be gentle...or not. I sometimes like it rough ;)