Pick A Pic Challenge

Title: The Girl with the Book

Penname: Ryder Jude

Banner: # 87

Rating/ Disclaimer: M/All Twilight character names belong to Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.

All intellectual property, characterizations, plot lines, backgrounds and details belong to Ryder Jude. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without express written authorization. ©2010.

Summary: Fascination with a curious brunette lures Edward into a realm of intrigue. It leads to his journey, a journey to uncover the girl. The girl with the book.

To see all the stories that are a part of this contest please visit: www .fanfiction-challenges. blogspot. Com


Warm, golden sunlight spilled through the coffee shop window, bathing the girl sitting at the table with an angelic glow. Her long dark-brown hair was cast around her, creating a dark halo. It shimmered slightly, a hint of red peaking through the mahogany strands.

I stood at the counter drumming my fingers against the granite top, watching the brunette girl, while I waited for my coffee. Her head was bowed slightly, a curtain of dark hair fell around her shoulders, and hid her face. I couldn't understand why I was so fascinated at this sight, but I was. She was holding a book within her hands, and my I felt my curiosity ensnared. The book looked old, as if she had read the novel over, and over again. The pages were ceased, and worn. The poor thing looked almost as if it would fall apart at any given moment.

My order was called, and I moved away to gather my hot drink. I kept an eye on the girl all the while, refusing to let her out of my sight. I guess I was being a bit obsessive, but I couldn't help it. I felt drawn to her from the moment I entered the store, and found her sitting at my usual table.

I was actually waiting for Emmett, he was supposed to be joining me at our regular haunt. We always stopped off for coffee every Saturday morning, to catch up with each other. Emmett's my older brother, we weren't blood related, but it didn't matter. We were brothers in every sense of the word. He married his wife, Rosalie, a few years back, and had started his own little family. One boy, one girl. Both children were blessed with Rosalie's fair beauty, and Emmett's dimples. I felt my lips twitch at the thought of my little niece, and nephew.

Suddenly, the girl's head broke from the book she held, and she peered at the clock on the wall in front of her. She closed her book, and quickly stood. Turning away from me, she pushed in her chair, at the same time I felt myself moving closer toward her—without my volition—to try to catch a glimpse of her face.

The bell above the door chimed as she hurried to the door, at the same moment Emmett's hulking frame moved through the doorway. He was blocking her path, and I couldn't be more grateful. I only wanted a small peek at the girl, but she was quick and graceless. She stumbled upon her own footing, and fell into Emmett's arms. I had quickened my pace to try to keep her upright, but it was too late. I only hoped that I could make it in time to get a look at her.

I heard her low, quiet voice murmur an apology.

He braced her by the shoulders. He was huge in comparison to her, and she looked fragile next to him. "No, it's okay. Are you alright?" He asked, with a broad smile.

I knew that bastard was holding in his laughter. I also knew he couldn't help himself. She nodded, with a sharp bob of her head. I could tell she was embarrassed from her body language. She quickly moved out of his grasp, and through the threshold of the door.

And, then she was gone. Just like that. Utter disappointment filled me.

I stood beside Emmett, staring at her retreating form through the glass.

"Hey, Edward," He said, oblivious to my entranced state. And, then clapped me on the back, and said, "let's get some coffee."

Sweeping my gaze back to Emmett, I raised my eyebrows at him, and held out the hand which held my coffee. "Em, did you get see the girl that just tripped into you?" I asked, with my gaze outward. I kept my voice cool, unaffected. I was hoping I didn't sound too obvious.

He looked at me like I was defective, and guffawed. "Yeah, man. I saw her. It would have been hard not to." His shoulders shook with his laughter, and although I hated it at that moment, his jovial spirit had always been infectious. I smirked at him.

"Well?" I hinted.

He looked at me with a blank stare.

I arched an eyebrow, and cocked my head toward the door, "Do you remember what she looked like?" I sounded exasperated.

He furrowed his brow, "I don't know. She had brown hair...pale skin."

I rolled my eyes at this, and sighed, nodding my head. I knew this much already.

I turned back toward the table the girl had just abandoned, and asked, "Where's Rosalie?"

"At home with the kids," he answered, and then swiped my coffee.

I cursed under my breath, and grinned.

As we settled into our table, I decided to go against my bear of a brother, and bet against him on the upcoming sports game. But, really I was just angry that he stole my coffee.

Or maybe I was just mad that he was exceptional unobservant today.

"Alright, douche. You're on." He smiled, and the corners of his eyes crinkled.

XXX

Spinning the empty broken brown shell, I thought about the girl with the book. I wondered—for the hundredth time in two days—what she was reading. I felt oddly fascinated by this. I imagined limitless possibilities, and then pondered over why she obviously had re-read the book so many times. I questioned if she truly loved the book so much, or if it was something else entirely. Perhaps it was her mother's, or an heirloom—that had been sorely abused, or in another light, been put to good use. Regardless, I still found myself over-thinking such a trivial thing. The football game roared in the background, and Emmett hollered an expletive. Smirking at Emmett, as my attention was drawn back, I hoped Rosalie wasn't home.

On second thought, maybe I did.

Picking up my beer, I tilted the glass to Emmett, and brought the bottle to my lips, in a silent toast. As I focused on the television, I found that I was winning, so far. He narrowed his eyes at me in warning, and I chuckled. I was enjoying his squirming far too much. He was tense watching the screen, and hot-tempered. But, I would be too, if I were seeing my money deplete in front of my eyes.

Snatching a few more peanuts from the bowl, I shrugged at him. I could be fair, sometimes. I was picking apart a shell, when we heard the front door open. Rosalie came sweeping through the living room, with Emilee at her heels, and Henry storming in behind them.

Emilee was the first to see me, and her blue eyes widened at my appearance.

"Uncle Edward!" Emilee cried, in her sweet little voice. I stood quickly from the couch, and then crouched slightly, as she ran into my open arms. I caught her, and straightened up, spinning her in a little circle. Her girlish giggles emitted into the air, making me laugh along as well.

I finally stopped our twirling, and set her on the ground. Henry was standing next to us, awaiting his turn, with a furrowed brow.

"Henry," I smiled, with warmth.

I dropped to one knee, and pulled him into a tight hug. Henry was the baby, and my little guy.

"Hi Uncle Edward," he said. We moved away from each other, and I mussed his hair.

He squinted his eyes, and his lips formed a little frown. "Aw, Uncle Edward!" He shucked me, and pushed me away half-heartedly.

Rosalie approached behind Henry, and I quickly stood and wrapped my arms around her. Rosalie and I had trouble getting along in the beginning, but we eventually came to appreciate the other. It was water under the bridge, because even if we still couldn't stand each other, we would have still cared about the other's well-being. It was just in our nature.

"Whatcha doin' here, Uncle Edward?" Emilee sang. She was seated on Emmett's lap now, as he absently played with the ends of her hair. His attention was elsewhere...mainly directed at the box across from him.

Rosalie started to move back toward the kitchen.

Henry raised his arms towards me, and I pulled him with me to the couch. I shrugged, "hanging out with your Daddy, Emilee." I answered.

Rosalie snorted, I could hear the grocery bags wrestling as she put away whatever she bought from their trip out.

"More like being idiots, probably." She muttered.

Emmett grumbled under his breath, too low for Emilee to understand.

"Momma says you two get into trowble when you watch skirts games." Emilee said with her eyebrows raised, uncertainly.

I chuckled loudly, "A skirts game?" I questioned.

Rosalie stuck her head around the corner, and glared at us.

Emmett's face was bright red, and he was vibrating with his silent laughter. "That would be a nice game to watch," he commented.

"Yeah, you know when you shout at the t.v., Dad? Momma, says you act like a big oaf. And, that Uncle Edward enkeragez you."

Emmett's eyebrows rose, and then his eyes took on a mischievous glint. He stared at Rosalie on the other side the room, "Well, maybe your Momma needs to watch this skirts game. She'd probably enjoy it, what do you think?" He asked, and then immediately started tickling Emilee.

Rosalie blazed across the space, quickly closing in on Emmett. She slapped the back of his head, and scooped up Emilee from his arms. She sped out of the room, glaring at Emmett over her shoulder until they were out of sight.

"Come on, Henry, let's go play outside." Rosalie called.

Henry looked at me, and I nudged his side. "I'll be around all day, little guy." He brightened, and I helped him off the sofa. He tore off after the two of them.

A curse was muttered to my left, and I found Emmett staring blankly at the set. Reading the final score, I shook with my quiet laughter.

"Emmett!" Rosalie shouted, "I heard that!"

And, then I burst into loud guffaws.

XXX

Bright lights danced behind my closed lids, the morning was cheerful to greet me. But, I had other plans. I groaned, and rolled over, shoving my face into my pillow, and wrapping my arms around it. It was Saturday, with no school and no work, and all I desperately wanted, was to sleep. But, as I continued to lay there I found that sleep evaded me. Turning over onto my back, I dragged my hand down my face, grumbling about shitty blinds, and internal clocks.

An image flickered in the darkness, brown sweeping locks, and then a tattered book. My eyes snapped open, and I gazed out at the peaks of daylight shining through my window. All week, I couldn't force the girl out of my mind. It was like a mystery begging to be solved. But, I knew once my intrigue was met, it would be over. With that thought in my mind, my determination was resolved.

Today would be that day.

Lazily rolling out of bed, I padded my way around my apartment. I was like a man on a mission, my plan formed, and I was ready to execute. The girl was a...distraction.

Finding the object I wanted, I waited patiently, each second punctuated by my even breathing.

"Emmett, hey. Listen, I don't think I'm going to be able to make it coffee today."

"Yeah, I'm buried in paperwork.

"Sure, next week. See you later, Em."

Walking down the slightly damp sidewalk, I enjoyed the crisp cool air. It was autumn, my favorite time of year. I loved the smells, the colors, and the weather. The sound of my footsteps cleared my mind of any other thoughts than what today was about. I was feeling a little guilty about lying to Emmett, but I just needed to end this...well, whatever it was.

One glance, and it would be done.

The sky overhead was a light gray, the clouds threatening rain. Traveling my well worn path, I reached the store, and was enveloped with a toasty warmth. I angled my face upward, and pulled in a deep lungful of the aroma.

Coffee sounded inviting.

I just hoped like hell that she would be here. I needed to see her.

After I ordered, and grabbed my dark liquid, I felt a tug, as if drawn like a magnet. It was a strange sensation, a compelling reaction. My eyes were roaming over the shop, searching for the source. The establishment was a bit busy at the moment, making it difficult to rule anything or anyone out.

My heart tugged harder this time, as I felt someone brush past me.

A warm, soft voice sounded right next to my ear, "Excuse me," the girl said, her dark locks sweeping my right forearm. Goosebumps raised after her soft curls touched my skin, and I knew the magnetic draw was her.

But, it was all in my head.

It had to be. To feel connected to someone without knowing them, or even seeing them.

Chemistry like that wasn't real, not in this way. I scoffed under my breath, and followed the girl with my gaze. Her back was to me, and I noticed she was carrying the same book again. I wasn't close enough to see what the title was, nor was I able to get a read on her.

She wrapped her little hands around the cup, and pivoted away from the line of people. I realized, too late, that she heading for the exit. Hurrying through the room, I edged my way closer. Purpose blazed through me. I refused to let her slip through my fingers again. This ended now.

Jogging to the door, as a stranger held it open for me, I began searching for her chocolate hair. She was walking toward the park across the street, and I jumped on my pursuit of her. I kept watch of the stray hairs trailing behind her as she moved through the little filtered sunlight. I wanted to reach out, and touch the tips of her fly-aways to see if it was as soft as it looked. Honestly, I knew that her hair was mesmerizing to me, for numerous reasons. The first, being that it was beautiful, and fell in a heavy veil around her. Secondly, it was her only feature that I'd seen. The one that I could easily distinguish.

My brow furrowed, the girl kept a tight grip on both her book and coffee, struggling to walk, and balance it all. But, she trudged past the park, and it inflamed my curiosity.

Where was she going?

Also, I noticed that the further distance between us the less of the grip held over me. I still felt drawn, but it was more of a manageable longing. But, I felt so intrusive going after her.

My feelings-and thoughts were waging war against each other, when we broke through a clearing. It was circular, wide, and beautiful. Wildflowers sprang forth, and the wet grassy field was yellow and green. Trees shadowed the edges, creating a canopy to hide. I stood there gawking at the hidden meadow, and wished I has stumbled upon it before.

The wind swept through the grass, swaying the blades. The tree branches shook, and the breeze whistled.

The girl unfolded herself in the center, and angled her face upward for a fraction of a second. Unfortunately, I still couldn't see her face, but I could make out the action.

Silently, I stood among the plants, and gazed at the unique girl reading. After a few minutes, just like last Saturday, she abruptly closed her book, and rose. She took off in a fast pace, leaving the meadow behind without a glance.

Quietly, I caught up to her. As we approached the park, it was teeming with life. Children, and families milled around. The park had been pretty empty when we first came through, and now it was bustling. I wondered how long we were in the forest, it had only seemed like mere minutes.

A dog jumped up on the girl with the book, and knocked her down to the ground. She laughed quietly, and stood, brushing her backside and hands. The owner wrangled the dog away, apologizing to her, when I saw that the book was still laying on the ground. Speeding up, I swooped in and snatched it up.

It was my moment, and our ending.

I breathed in deep, and murmured quietly, "Excuse me," it struck me odd that these were the first words we had both spoken to each other.

Standing behind her, but careful to keep enough distance I felt breathless waiting.

So slowly, it was painful, she turned, the air twirled her locks, and then I was knocked breathless.

Warm, deep chocolate pools stared back at me, emitting light, exuding a smile within. Her porcelain-skinned, heart-shaped face blushed. Those wide eyes-held long dark lashes that were sweeping her prominent cheekbones, my head spun and locked into her.

She was appallingly beautiful. She bit into her full bottom lip, and seemed nervous and shy.

I felt my heart clench, and the tug sharpened.

Her hand drew lightly over her heart, and then she slowly dropped it. My brow furrowed, because I wondered if she could feel it, too.

Clearing my throat, I felt the nerves. "Your book," I offered with my hand held out. Finally taking a beat to look at the novel, I found that it was Wuthering Heights. I grinned crookedly without thought. Looking up at her from underneath my eyelashes, she timidly reached for the book, and brought her gaze up to mine.

We stood staring at the other for a moment too long, finally she whispered "thank you," and turned. I watched her briskly race away from the park, I felt lost standing there. I knew I couldn't follow her this time.

And, my heart...my heart felt like the cord to its very existence was slowly departing.

Squinting toward the sky, I stared as the dark clouds, wishing that it wasn't the end.

XXX

Pinching the bridge of my nose with my thumb, and forefinger determination blazed through me.

It wasn't the end.

There was no other solution.

The girl was all I thought about now. She captured me without even her acknowledgment. I felt like I had to know her, that it was silly to have ever questioned it. She was vital to my existence, somehow. I refused to give on her. The dream of her.

But, slowly as the days faded away it became disheartening. It was like she was brought into my life for one spectacular moment—like a shooting star—only to never be seen again. And, now I was blinded, and unsatisfied.

I went back to the coffee shop whenever I could, but her appearance was missing. Several times I attempted to find the meadow behind the park, but I always lost my way. All my Saturdays were devoted to finding her. She was my missing puzzle piece.

Because she eluded me, I buried myself in work, and school. My residency was more grueling than ever. The long shifts, and lack of sleep were getting to me. I hardly had time for anything, or anyone else. I carried the tension along with me. It was upsetting to find such a draw, to have it within your grasp, and then watch it scatter to the wind.

It was on a particular Saturday morning when Emmett phoned, I ran a hand through my tousled sunset hair, listening to him on the other end.

"Look, man, we haven't seen you in a while. Hell, I haven't seen you in weeks. We miss you, bro."

"I'm sorry, Em. You know how residency is." I explained weakly.

"Yeah, I know." He sighed.

"Look, why don't you tell Emilee, and Henry that we can hang out soon-"

Emmett interrupted before I could finish, "Why don't you come see us, instead of giving those kids another excuse."

Looking at the clock on my nightstand, I sighed with defeat. Today there would be no search for the girl. "Yeah, okay."

I could hear Emmett's smile through the phone, "Rose, Emilee, Henry, Uncle Edward is coming to see us today!"

I could hear sweet little Emilee's excited squeal, and Henry's triumph shout. Smiling, I said, "Just give me a few minutes, and I'll be over."

Emilee was sitting on my lap, twirling spaghetti noodles on her little plastic fork, marinara covered her face. Henry was in his high-chair as Rose helped feed the little runt. I chuckled at his face, so serious, even with all the red color surrounding his mouth. His brow was furrowed with concentration, and his eyes locked in on me when he heard my laughter.

"Hey! What's so bunny, Uncle Edward?" He said.

My chuckles increased in volume, as everyone around the table started in, too.

But, Henry was having none of that, "Hey! Hey! Don't laugh." He said, trying to sound menacing.

"Sorry, little guy. You're right, it's a serious matter, this spaghetti." I nodded.

"Yep." He nodded back, sucking a noodle into his mouth, and playing with the end.

"Henry, stop that." Rose said, gently padding his hand away.

Henry turned his head toward his mother, and Rose inclined hers towards him. She wasn't backing down, their foreheads were touching, and Henry was making his mean face. Suddenly the two burst into giggles, and Rose quickly unstrapped him from the seat. As she picked him up, and placed him on her hip, she reached her hand out for Emilee. "Come on, bath time." She cooed.

"Yuck!" They shouted in unison. Emmett, and I exchanged a knowing glance, those two were about to become trouble.

Emmett cleared his throat, "Emilee, Henry, don't give your Momma a hard time." He implored.

I helped Emilee down, and she reached out for Rose's hand, and the three of them wandered up the stairs.

"More?" Em asked.

"No thanks, I'm full." I smiled, pushing back from the table.

"Thanks for coming to hang out with us today, we missed your pretty face around here." He joked.

I placed a hand over my heart, "Anytime Emmett, anytime."

Muttering under his breath, Emmett said "Don't promise things you'll break."

Raising my eyebrow at Emmett I spoke, "What did you just say?"

He shook his head, and pursed his lips. "Nothing, man."

He was clearing the table, and putting leftovers in the fridge when he spoke again. "Hey so, Dad and Mom are coming into town next week. They're staying with us. You know, get in some Grandparent time."

"Oh," This was news to me, I hadn't talked to my parents in a couple of weeks. "Well, cool."

It would be nice to see Carlisle, and Esme, but I wasn't sure if I had the time this coming week.

"Yeah, so I was thinking I have these tickets to this footfall game this week..." He trailed off.

"Oh, look Em," I started, cupping the back of my neck awkwardly, "I would love to go, I just don't know if this is going to be a good week. I mean it's such late notice in all, and-"

Emmett's bitter laughter pulled me up short. Furrowing my brows, I asked "Why are you laughing?"

"Oh, I'm not laughing. I just think it's all bullshit."

I moved a couple of steps closer to the kitchen, leaning my hand on the bar counter. Confusion was written across my face, his words were alluding, which wasn't like Emmett at all. He was assertive, direct, a straight-arrow.

"What, Em? What's bullshit?"

He slammed the door shut, and spun around. He waved a hand in my direction, his curly dark hair shaking with his movements. "You!" He shouted, "This! It's all bullshit."

I froze for half a second, still wondering what he was talking about. I straightened up to my full height.

Emmett turned, his back now facing me, and said "You've were been missing for weeks now, and I don't think it's just about work."

I swallowed, "Then what?"

"What are you doing, Edward?" He paused, waiting for an answer. But, I just stood staring at him. "Are you chasing some girl? That girl from the coffee place with the stupid book?" His voice rising with every question.

I heard Emilee cry above us.

"Are you seriously abandoning your family for some chick you don't even know?" He asked, slamming his fist against a cabinet.

"Emmett," it came out as a warning, "you need to calm down."

He came rushing at me, an inch from my face. "Don't tell me to calm down!"

Gritting my teeth, I dodged out of the confrontational stance, and stood opposite him on the other side of the island in the center of the kitchen.

"Just be honest. You're exhausted, making excuses, and flaking, because you've been searching for this girl."

My gaze held steady with his, challenging him, "Yeah. I have, Em."

It seemed like he crumpled beneath my stare, "Why?" He asked sounded broken.

"Because I have to." I replied, there simply wasn't any other answer.

He scoffed, "You don't even know this girl!"

I just stood staring at him.

He didn't get it.

And, I don't think he ever would. Emmett had serious abandonment issues from his early childhood, and it arose sometimes when he felt that threat. But, he wouldn't understand this, because he would never feel what I felt. He had Rose. Rose came to him, he never had to chase her. Not in this sense.

I shook my head at him.

Walking out of the kitchen, Emmett silently followed behind me. I grabbed my jacket from the coatrack, and grasped the doorknob. But, Emmett stopped me before I opened the door.

"She's a dream, Edward. You're delusional." I turned to stare at him over my shoulder, the jacket gripped between my fingers, as I poured my anger into it.

I ripped open the door, and quietly walked out of their home. Emmett's voice trailing through the threshold, "We're your family, Edward! Don't forget about the people who actually matter!" His voice softening as the door slammed closed.

I gritted my teeth at his last words. Sighing, I shook my head again.

He didn't get it.

XXX

I braced my forehead with the palms of my hands, over the dining room table. A plate of untouched eggs, bacon, and toast sat before me, Carlisle was sitting next to me, with Esme on the opposite side. She was rubbing my arm, and listening to Carlisle.

"Edward, you know how Emmett can be. He didn't mean the things he said." Carlisle's gentle voice was imploring me.

Emmett, and I hadn't spoken for a few days since our last argument. To be honest, it hurt a little bit. But, he crossed a line.

I understood better than most, the effects his issues held over him. But, it was impossible to be cuffed to him, like I couldn't have a life of my mine whatsoever. I couldn't always be at his beck, and call. I loved my brother, he was my best friend. But, I needed to live. I couldn't live for him.

I sighed, "I know, Dad." I mumbled.

Esme rubbed my back, and smiled. Her caramel hair brushed her heart-shaped face, and her wide green eyes were affectionate. She couldn't stand her family not getting along, so this admittance on my part, couldn't have made her any happier. "My boys shouldn't be fighting."

I peered at her, and grinned. I understood.

"We won't, Mom."

Carlisle swept his gaze over me, "Really? You're going to let this go?"

I nodded, and picked up my fork. It was rude not to eat Esme's cooking. As I stabbed the eggs, Carlisle spoke.

"We understand," he said, grabbing Esme's hand across the table. Staring down at their clasped hands, I realized that he was referring to my feelings for the girl. I glanced up at him, and he smiled warmly. Nodding his head, he asked "Who is this girl, Edward?"

Keeping eye-contact, I answered, "I don't know,"

He nodded thoughtfully, "But, you want to." He determined.

"Yes." My voice was clear, honest.

Carlisle looked over to Esme again, and squeezed her hand, as she gazed back lovingly. "Like, I said, we get it."

A little chuckle escaped me, and I smiled. I felt a little lighter at his admission.

Esme stood, picked up her plate, and as she pushed in her chair she said, "Well, we better get a move on if you boys want to make it to the game on time."

The cheering fans were roaring for their teams, wearing their pride colors, as a cool breeze whipped through the stands. Emmett was on the other side of Carlisle, as we stood on the bleachers. I would have taken a moment to speak with him, smooth things over, but it just didn't seem like the right opportunity.

Our team was behind, and although we were lagging, the supportive crowd never wavered. I was confident, too. We would win, we just had to play a little catch-up first. As our team broke for half-time, I thought about approaching my brother, but found that we had little quiet or time. We walked down to the food stands, grabbing our choices, and of course beer.

A game wasn't a game without beer.

As we wandered back to the bleachers we found our spots, and sat talking about the kids, Esme, and Rose.

The half-time show was ending, and we jumped back up to watch the game. The screens behind us, scanned the crazy devoted fans. We chuckled, and hollered. And, the music started up, our own little anthem. I felt the ground shake, as everyone thrust out their arms with their pom-poms, screaming for their teams.

I watched as our team made head-way, scoring a touch-down—causing us to tie with the opponents—as our quarter-back led them. The quarter-back was incredible, like our own superhero. Emmett let out his booming voice, filled with mirth and laughter. He hooped, and glanced over at me. We smiled, and I felt like even though we hadn't talked yet, things were alright again.

So fast, my head spun they scored another after the kick was declared valid. Time was flying, and we were in the fourth quarter, two touch-downs ahead, fourteen points.

Towards the end of the game, the players started getting nasty. It was obvious that they were becoming sore-sports on the other side, they were provoking our players, causing fights, and getting our members thrown out. But, it didn't matter at that point. They were acting classless, because the game was ours. As the clock ticked down, the other team became worse. Emmett, and myself were shouting expletives left, and right. Finally, at the last remaining seconds, they finally declared defeat.

The teams met, and shook hands. And, the mass of bodies roared with triumph. Suddenly, the quarter-back came tearing out of the field, racing to the stands, and greeting his fans. He ran around, hyping up the crowds on a couple of sides. As he moved over to ours, I felt a tug at my heart.

Smiling, I touched my chest. I remembered the feeling well, and I hadn't felt it since...

Snapping my head around, I started searching through the groups of people. I felt it growing in strength, and I was quickly becoming desperate.

I couldn't see the girl, and wondered if perhaps I was mistaken. Maybe it was a fluke, or maybe something was wrong with me.

Frantically, I edged to my tip-tops and tried seeking around the tops of people's heads. I felt my heart clench, and dropped to my feet. Bowing my head, I tried to stop the panicky feeling arising within me.

"Carlisle," A man's voice shouted, "is that you?"

I glanced over at the brown-curly-haired man, it was Chief Swan. I remembered the man fondly. A good man.

"Hi Charlie, it's good to see you." Carlisle said moving toward Charlie. They clapped each other on the back, and that's when I noticed a brunette trailing behind him.

Wide, brown eyes gazed at me, apprehension appearing in the depths. I swallowed thickly, seeing her here before me, I remained frozen. I had been seeking her for weeks on end, ending up with nothing, and yet here she was. She was within my reach, and I was rooted to my spot. Scared that this was a dream, and I would wake up any moment.

I could vaguely hear Charlie, and Carlisle having a conversation in the background.

Charlie, nudged the girl, and I noticed as she moved forward, the book was clutched in her hand. Charlie wrapped his arm over her, and I took in her black hoodie, and jeans. I smiled, she was beautiful in anything.

"Bella, you remember Carlisle, don't you?" He smiled.

She nodded, and reached her hand out to Carlisle's outstretched one. "Hello Bella, pleasure to see you again. I hope you've been staying out of the hospital." He chuckled.

"Yes," she smiled, "I've been lucky lately." She snickered.

I noticed Emmett staring between us, out of the corner of my eye, and I knew he knew.

"Good, I'm glad to hear that."

"Charlie, you remember my boys?" He asked. Then gestured between us. "Emmett, and Edward." He finished.

"Of course, I do. I heard you got hitched to Rosalie a few years ago, that's great. Any kids now?" He asked, as Bella and I started at each other. I drifted out, lost in her chocolate gaze.

Charlie grabbed my hand, shaking it, breaking my trance with Bella. "I heard your becoming a doctor now, Edward." I nodded, glancing back over at Bella.

He raised his eyebrows, and whistled. "Following Carlisle's footsteps, good man." He released his grip.

"Yeah, I couldn't resist." I said, refusing to look away from his daughter.

"Welp, we better head on home." Charlie stated, and I felt like a deer in headlights. Worried, that I'd never get another chance, but at a loss to know what to do.

The tug loosened its hold, as we parted ways, and I stood gazing after her, feeling like I was losing sand that I once held between the palms of my hands at the beach once.

Emmett nudged me, and I realized I had been watching Bella so intently, that I missed Emmett coming up to me.

I looked at him questioningly, and he simply said "Go get her," he shoved my back, "Go on." He grinned, and I grinned back crookedly.

I felt Carlisle's gaze on us, but I couldn't be bothered to stop and answer those questions. I stormed through the crowd, pushing people out of the way. Peering over heads, and glancing between bodies. I was searching for her brunette locks, the book, and Charlie's brown, curly head.

It was slow moving, but I blazed through. However, as I reached the lobby of food stands, there were too many people. I couldn't make out anything hardly, too many colors blurring together. I felt my shoulders slump in defeat, because she was gone.

Emmett, and Carlisle were still huddled together where I last left them. As I approached they looked at me with curious stares.

"She's gone." I raised my voice over the loud noises.

Emmett's sincere gaze sought mine, "Sorry, man."

I shrugged, and kicked the pebble at my shoe.

XXX

Standing on the brown welcome mat, I wondered if I was crossing a line. I mean, I knew where Chief Swan lived, it wasn't like I had to hunt down that information. But, I wasn't here for Charlie, I was here for his daughter. His daughter, that I didn't know anything about. Other than her name was Bella, revealed to me, by him. And that she liked coffee, and she always carried around her abused beloved book, Wuthering Heights.

Steeling myself, I took in a deep breath, and knocked. There was no going back, the time was now.

I heard footsteps moving towards the door, and then it thrust open. A petite girl with black, short hair appeared before me.

Her wide, dark brown eyes creased looking at me, at my silence.

"Ah, hi." I muttered eloquently.

"Hi," she said cautiously.

"Sorry, is um, Charlie's daughter home?" I asked.

"I'm his daughter." She said in her small bell-chime voice.

"Oh right, sorry. I meant your sister, Bella." I clarified, feeling foolish for phrasing it that way.

"I don't have a sister named Bella." She was resolute.

I glanced nervously back at the address, second-guessing myself. Feeling confident with the correct address, I peered at the girl through my lashes.

"This is Charlie Swan's house, right?"

"Yes."

Okay, I didn't really understand what was going on here. He introduced Bella as his daughter at the game yesterday.

"I'm confused." I said, with a furrowed brow, and squinted eyes.

"What are you confused about?" She asked, with raised eyebrows.

I ran a hand through my hair, nervously, "I thought...I thought this was where Bella lived, you know, his daughter, so your sister?" I pieced together.

"No, no Bella here. I'm his only daughter, and like I said, I have no sister."

I stood there, gawking at the girl. She returned my gaze evenly.

"What's your name?" I asked, curious.

"Alice."

"Nice to meet you, Alice. I...I...I'm sorry, I thought someone else lived here." I finally said. I felt so confused, lost, and hopeless.

"That's alright." She said with sincerity.

I turned like I about to leave, then froze. I pondered over everything, not concluding with anything.

"Mister, are you okay?" Alice asked.

I opened my mouth to answer, but no sound came out. Snapping my mouth closed, I bit my lip. Turning my head toward my car, I responded.

"I'll be fine." I tried to smile reassuringly, but it seemed more like a grimace.

As I backed away, Alice stood staring at me with worried eyes. When I was enclosed in the my volvo, she finally closed the door. I hunched over the steering-wheel, and realized she was a dream. A dream, fading.

I had to go somewhere, though. One last time.

Letting go of a dream is like swallowing a bitter pill. Reality is so sad to return to, but a honesty I had to face.

Trudging through the forest behind the park I searched for a couple of hours, pushing tree-branches out of the way, sweat becoming a light sheen over my forehead.

Finally, finally I reached the circular clearing. The sun poured in the center, bathing the meadow in a golden glow. It reminded me of the coffee shop, of the dream I once believed. Of the girl with the book.

Moving to the middle, I sat crossed-legged, closing my eyes. I listened to the birds chirping overhead, and let the contrast of the warmth from the sun, and cool fall crispy breeze wash over me.

My heart tugged, it was very strong.

"I love this place." Her voice sounded behind me.

My eyes fluttered open, but knowing that it wasn't real. I dropped my head, staring at the green blades of grass beneath me.

"I'm sorry for Alice, she...does that."

"What?" I asked, turning over my shoulder to gaze at her. Bella stood at the edge of the meadow, her hair blowing in the wind, and sunlight enveloped her. Her pretty blue dress swaying.

I couldn't believe my eyes, or ears.

She was...real.

I wanted her to be real, so badly.

"It's complicated to explain." She said, moving toward me.

"She has issues."

I smirked, it sounded familiar.

I smiled, with my eyebrows furrowed. "But, why would she do that?" I asked. "Tell me you don't exist, when I knew you did."

She grinned, and looked away thoughtfully for a moment, "It's not my story to tell, but she knows about you. And it scared her."

"Why?" I questioned.

"Because, I told her about you. The boy who followed me to this meadow." She smiled mischievously.

My mouth gapped open, "Y-you knew?" I sputtered out, appalled.

She nodded, moving closer still.

"I feel it," she said, placing a hand over her heart.

She bit her lip, and sat down opposite me, crossed-legged. "Do you?" She asked.

"Yes," I breathed. But, suddenly everything was confusing, and she was making everything worse.

"Tell me, why." I demanded. "Why did Alice lie? If you knew I followed, and felt the way I felt why did you avoid me?"

She paused, and glanced down, tearing a blade out of the ground. She twirled it between her fingers, and then glanced up through her lashes. "Alice, isn't really my sister. I mean, she is, but not. She's not my biological sister. My parents," she paused, "adopted her when she was four. It's her story to tell, but she's not come unscratched out of her situation. She very protective, but unfortunately she has these abandon issues. It's affected her deeply, and she knows about you. And, I think she was scared of you, of the potential..." she trailed off, shy. She dropped her gaze again.

I understood all too well, what those kind of issues brought forth. It was strange to share this in common with her. This burden.

"Edward," she breathed, "I was scared, too. That's why I avoided you, and I can't said that I'm completely over that. But, I can't deny what you cause me to feel."

She took a deep breath. Suddenly she was speaking again, but she wasn't looking at me, she was looking through me.

"My mother died when Alice was eight, I was ten. Charlie was a wreck, and couldn't really pull it together enough to take on the mother role we needed, so I did. I lost my childhood at ten, and I've never regretted that decision, but it hasn't been easy either.

"I'm the responsible one, the one looking out for the them. And, suddenly you were clouding everything, and it scared me. You left me unfocused, and I don't know if I really have room for that in my life."

"Is that why you were always rushing off? To them?" I pieced together.

"Yes, to them. I love to get away sometimes, to really breathe. But, I have to come back down to reality."

"Bella, I'm reality, too." I breathed.

She gasped quietly, and nodded. "I know,"

"And, that's why I finally chased you." She was glancing between my eyes, and lips. And I decided to take the decision from her, I leaned forward, bracing myself with my hands on either side of her thighs. Grinning, I asked "Bella, would it be alright if I kissed you?"

She didn't even respond verbally, just rushed in, as if she was waiting her whole life for this kiss. Our lips met, sweet, and breathless. It was quickly deepening, and it seemed that both of us, wanted this.

I pulled back, bringing her with me, sitting her in my lap. Her warm breath was invading my mouth, and the tip of my tongue traced the edge of her bottom lip. Sweeping in, I explored her, tasted her.

It was better than any dream, because this was real.

She moaned, and it made my head spin. I gripped her hips, pushing up into her on instinct, and then freezing when I realized what I'd done.

But she wanted it, as much as I did. Because she broke our kiss, long enough to lean against my forehead, and place my hands back, rocking her hips.

She was staring into my eyes, her warm, big brown orbs shinning. I groaned, and it resounded in my ears. "Edward," she whispered.

Her breath rushing out, "I remembered you from childhood," this was news to me, I didn't realize we had ever met. She was obviously a few years younger than me. She ran her fingers through my disheveled hair. She smiled against my lips, "your sunset hair. You were playing baseball with Emmett, and he knocked me down rushing into home-plate." Her voice rose in pitch, her hips rocking quicker, faster, reaching her peak.

"Ah, and you helped me up. Grinned your crooked smile, and apologized, saying he was pretty big, didn't realize.

"I fell for you, then." She whispered, and jerked. I knew she met her rise, and as she was falling from hers I met mine, whispering her name over and over.

She continued to run her fingers through my locks, and frowned. "You don't know me," she said, somber.

I nodded, hesitantly. "But, I want to know you. I want to know the girl with the book," I whispered.

"I want to know you, too." Her chocolate eyes melting, as she smiled.