Rating: T

Summary: Edward meets Bella in the most unexpected places, a blood drive. How fitting, when love starts to bloom and flow through their veins. Edward can't help but fall in love with Bella, despite the fact she is hiding something very big from him. Will their love be enough to make it through the dusk and the end of summer? AH, slightly OCC

Title: Between Dusk and the End of Summer

Song Used: Blood Bank by Bon Iver

Lyric Used: "That secret that you know but don't know how to tell. It fucks with your honor and it teases your head. But you know that its good girl cause its running you with red."


The memory of the day I met her is one of the few I let myself hold on to. She was so vibrant and full of life even though it was a lie. What's the point of letting someone in, if you only have to let them go?

God, she was beautiful. Not like the plastic pageant queen pretty. Some people would probably say she was plain, nothing special. For me, it was her eyes. I used to have this rock collection when I was a boy. It was my prized possession. Sure, I had a ton of baseball cards and matchbox cars. I also had a stash of those ridiculous pogs. I don't even know what the point of that game was. You're supposed to stack them up just to try to knock them down again, no sense. Her eyes were like my favorite rock. Tiger's Eye. All deep brown and obsidian, with swirls of honey. I had to laugh now, thinking about how nervous I was when I met her.

Apprehensive as I approached the long fold-up table in the gymnasium, I bent over to sign my name on the list and couldn't stop my hand from shaking.

"First time?" the sweet voice asked.

I looked up and wiped a few beads of sweat from my brow. "Yeah..."

"Well, then, in that case I'll have to take extra special care of you," she said with a warm smile. She took the clipboard from me and put some sort of note next to my name. "Just take a seat and I'll be with you soon."

I nodded and made my way to the row of chairs, taking a seat. I ran my hands through my hair.

I'm doing this because it's the right thing to do. I could help so many people. I haven't exactly been the best person lately. All that garbage Esme has been rambling off about Karma and paying it forward is starting to rub off. I swear there was something funky in the Kool-aid at the couples' retreat Carlisle and her went on last month. I've been thinking that I should probably do something to start contributing to society because currently, all I did was smoke pot, played my video games and occasionally picked up my guitar. I got by in school by not doing too much, because let's face it, I'm pretty smart. I leaned my head back against the chair and let it dangle a little bit. I closed my eyes and exhaled pretty loudly. When I opened them, I became consumed with the beauty standing over me. Long hair and petite shoulders. She was in a delicate yellow sundress with blueish purple flowers. She had a very petite frame and the thin straps were falling off her shoulders. Just skin covering bones. And for the first time, I noticed her arms covered in bruises that matched the pretty flowers on her dress.

"Edward Cullen?"

I blinked a few times, trying to reconcile the soft voice and beautiful face with the harsh sight of her body. I wanted to say something. I wanted to ask. My mouth was suddenly dry. I stood up silently and followed her to the donation area. She showed me to the bed and motioned for me to lie down. An older woman in her early forties spun around on the rolling stool. She had auburn hair and the very same eyes I couldn't get out of my mind. Her hot pink scrubs were covered with tiny Betty Boops, all posing seductively. The beautiful girl that broke my heart with one look, handed her my paperwork.

"Another stray?" the woman asked.

She smiled and I noticed her two front teeth were slightly larger than the rest. Perfectly white and so endearing.

"Well, it's his first time," she responded. "And I didn't want him to chicken out, so I brought him to you myself." She gave me a wink and I felt the corner of my mouth twitch. How could someone so obviously physically broken be so goddamn happy? "Besides, I wanted to bring him to the best. And you are the best, Mom," she said flippantly as she walked away, swaying her hips with every step. I tried really hard not to look because her mother was right in front of me.

"That girl is really something," the woman said. "Sometimes, I don't even know what to do with her." She smiled at me, taking a good look at my face. She tilted her head to the side and then her lips formed a tight smile. "My name's Reene. I figured since you're letting me suck your blood, we should probably be on a first name basis."

She set all of her supplies down on the table and went to quick work on my arm. First she put a blue cuff around my bicep. Then, she tied a rubber tourniquet tightly just below. I winced as the thin hairs of my arm twisted and pulled. She took an alcohol swab and wiped my arm with it. Then, she sterilized the area with iodine. She opened a plastic package and took out one of the largest needles I have ever seen. I swallowed the painful lump that had just formed in my throat.

"Is it necessary to use a needle that large?" I asked, my eyes widening as my voice reached a higher octave than normal.

She nodded and looked at me sympathetically. "Yes, we need a larger needle so we don't damage the red blood cells. If it was a tiny needle and the cells ruptured trying to pass through a small hole, the blood would be useless."

"I understand."

"Sometimes, if you close your eyes and think about something else, it helps." She offered me a reassuring smile and patted my shoulder.

I squeezed my eyes shut and took deep breaths.

"So, that girl... She's your daughter?"

"Yes, that was my Bella." My eyes were still closed but I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was filled with nothing but pride for her.

"The name is fitting for her. It's funny, I thought I would have remembered someone that beautiful roaming around campus."

"Oh she doesn't go here. She's home-schooled."

I chuckled and said, "That would explain why I haven't seen her before."

"Mmhhhmm," she responded, sounding irritated. I felt her take the needle out of my arm. She was packaging everything up when I opened my eyes.

She stood before me like the heavenly creature she was, saving me from what could have been one of the most awkward moments I had ever encountered. In my state of light-headedness, I had shown interest in her daughter. I'm pretty sure I called her beautiful. Her mother was probably just over protective, hence the home-schooling and aversion to boys showing any interest.

"How's my favorite patient?" she asked, her smile beaming rays of warmth to my heart.

"A little dizzy," I said, trying to sit up.

"Here, let me help." She gave me her hand and her skin was so soft but she was ice cold. I tried not to stare at the bony fingers and bright blue veins poking out. I tried to look away, only to find my line of sight reaching her battered arms. She noticed I was looking and she quickly looked away. "I brought you some orange juice and cookies." She handed them to me without making eye contact.

"Thank you," I replied, hoping the tension would break. "You must donate blood a lot. You know the drill, and I'm guessing I'll be bearing the same battle scars you have." She just shook her head and smiled.

I suppose all the signs were there from that very first moment. She was so fragile and frail. The color of her skin was only a few shades away from death. At the time, I thought she resembled a beautiful china-doll, untainted by the harsh sun and reality. The home-schooling, I came to find out, was just another way to facilitate the lies and secrets she was hiding. None of that mattered to me then. I ignored it all, just desperate to know this amazing girl.

"Do you wanna get out of here?" I asked.

"I can't," she said looking at her feet.

"Oh right." I nervously ran a hand through my hair. "You have to finish with the blood drive."

"Yes, but..."

"How about I just grab your number and we can make plans for another time."

"Edward, I don't think that..."

"Look," I said, interrupting her and flashing her my smile. "You were so good to me today. I'd like to take you out to dinner or something... You know, to repay you for your kindness?" The truth was I just wanted to be with her. I felt like I would go anywhere with her if she asked me to. I just wanted to be away from the memories of needles and blood bags. The abusive florescent lights were doing a job on our eyes and I wanted to see her beauty in a natural environment, not some sterile gymnasium acting as a temporary blood bank.

Looking up at me through her lashes, she smiled, "Okay, Edward." I grinned back at her, the fact that she remembered my name built up my confidence. "How about I take your number and then I'll call you."

I wrote down my number for her on an old receipt I had in my coat pocket. I handed it to her and as our fingertips grazed one another, I felt a warmth radiate from my chest. We both looked at each other with wide eyes. Despite the connection I instantly felt, I couldn't help the sinking feeling that my beautiful Bella would never call me.

It was kind of funny when you think about it. Except for the fact that there was nothing funny about the irony that has become my life. Who knew Bella was way more comfortable with sterile environments than just the odd blood donation? Who would believe that I would be more than willing to be stabbed a million times over with the needles that scared me beyond belief, only if it would save her. I would do anything to bring her back if I could. I would even let her play with my damn radio in the car. Anything... Just come back.

"And what do I owe this pleasure?" she asked as she bunched a group of daises together and put them in a canister. She walked past me and moved onto the next batch. Snapdragons. They were the most beautiful combination of red and bronze. I smiled at the beauty of the flower, but I also felt sad. This girl should have a daisy in her hair and her skin should have the same glow as the snapdragons she was fiddling with. She shouldn't be locked up inside all day, no human interaction besides her tutor. Her only escape was a part time job at a florists. I watched her play with the bud of the snapdragons in between her fingertips. She made it move like a mouth and I laughed.

"You never called." I was more hurt than mad. I'm wasn't afraid of rejection. I never really dated much and certainly no long term girlfriend. I wasn't even sure that's what I wanted with her. I just wanted a chance.

She looked apologetic and I felt the pain dissipate from me. She gave me a soft smile and I knew she had wanted to call, but someone or something stopped her.

"I know," she said as she brushed past me and put the flowers into their rightful place. "How did you find me?"

I took my sunglasses off and scrubbed my face with my hands. I looked up at her ready to defend my stalker tendencies, but the look on her face put me in my place. Our eyes met and I couldn't breathe. She smiled at me, showing all her teeth. Little lines formed at the corners of her eyes. She held my eyes and shook her head.

"Well, see..." I tried to think of something to say that wouldn't get me arrested.

I wasn't sure what I was thinking when I went into Carlisle's personnel file. I knew her mother worked at the hospital as a nurse, and Carlisle being chief resident made it all too easy. Besides, it wasn't the first time I committed a crime. A misdemeanor, but the rebel persona followed me. She giggled and it reminded me of the gentle tinkling of wind chimes.

"I was warned about you, you know," she said, looking straight through me.

I felt like she was trying to cut through the bullshit, but that was just it. I wasn't giving her my normal act and if she was anyone else, I would have either insisted on a date or left her in my dust. I wasn't bothered by what they thought about me, though. A bad boy that plays it cool, spoiled little rich brat, the kid that acted out for attention. Whatever dates I had in the past usually led to some making out and heavy petting. If they were willing, by the second or third date, we had sex. No one was memorable enough for an encore performance. This thing I had going on with Bella was different. For starters, I couldn't get her out of my mind. After our first meeting at the blood drive, she was all I thought about. I hadn't even smoked in a week. My subconscious must have realized she was too good for that shit, so I just stopped it all together. Lately, I had also held more than two word conversations with my family. Things had changed because of her, and all I needed was to be near her.

"Is that why you didn't call?" I watched her as she held a delicate pink peony in her hands. It had fallen off its stem and she was cradling it like a precious baby. She wouldn't look at me and I felt like she was hiding something. I watched her in complete silence. I wondered if her parents kept her locked up, away from the world like Rapunzel. Something inside me told me that she wanted more. With those eyes and that smile, the world was hers and I wanted to give it to her.

"What is it that you want, Edward?"

"Go out with me? Please," I begged. Up until this point, begging was beneath me, but I would have done anything for her.

She placed the flower on the counter and started to walk away from me. I felt completely defeated. She was walking towards the backroom, and I panicked. I wanted to run after her, force her to let me take her out on a date. I couldn't. It would either scare her away and make all those thoughts of me being a stalker and a troubled youth concrete, or I had to let her leave. I put my sunglasses back on and started to make my way to the door. Just as the bell sounded from me opening it, I heard her call my name.

"Edward?" I stopped, unable to turn around and face more humiliation. I wanted to will her to say yes. If only Jedi mind tricks were real. "I get out of work in an hour. Do you want to pick me up and give me a ride home?"

I looked back at her and my stomach did a somersault. "Of course. I'll see you in an hour."

The thing about time is that it moves so slowly, too slowly when you don't want it to. And then, when all you need is time... it slips through your fingers a lot faster than you could ever imagine.

I waited outside, leaning against my shiny silver Volvo with a cocky grin on my face. It was only the beginning but I knew I would end up getting the girl, my girl.

Her back was to me as she was locking up. I licked my lips as I admired her backside. I was still a guy, regardless of my intentions with her.

"Hey," I crooned.

She spun around, surprised and lost her balance. Her oversized bag fell off her shoulder, its contents spilling on the sidewalk.

"Shit," she said as she bent down, scrambling to pick everything up.

"Here, let me help." I walked over to her and knelt by her side.

"I've got it," she said angrily.

She haphazardly threw her wallet and some other miscellaneous items into the bag. I reached for the several pill vials that had started to roll into the street. There were at least six of them. I didn't want to be nosy, so I tried not to look at the names. I couldn't even pronounce half of them, so it didn't really matter. One that I did notice was for a very strong pain killer. I was ashamed for even knowing what it was, but up until now I wasn't exactly an upstanding citizen. I may have sold a few pills I took from Carlisle's stash for some extra cash. A deep nagging feeling told me it wasn't normal for a teenage girl to be taking all these pills. I suddenly felt sick when I realized that she may be taking those pain pills for the bruises. After the sick feeling passed, I felt enraged. If someone was bruising my beautiful girl, they were going to pay.

I opened the passenger side door and watched her get in. Before I even pulled out into the street, she was messing with the radio.

"What do you think you're doing?" I looked at her shocked but I couldn't be mad. She had the cutest look on her face. She looked at me with the wide eyes as her bottom lip started to quiver. "Bella, I'm sorry. It's just..." She gave me a wicked smirk. What a little tease!

"Well, I had to see if your music tastes were satisfactory."

"And?"

"You pass." She smiled at me. The flustered girl on the street was gone. She was back to being the girl I met at the blood drive; ferocious and flirty. Something about her made me uneasy, but in a good way. She threw me off my game and I couldn't bring myself to care if I wasn't playing in the major league anymore.

"I didn't know driving you home involved any tests."

"It shouldn't have," she muttered under her breath.

"Hmm?" I couldn't quite make out what she said. Something about this girl had me hanging on her every word.

"So, how exactly did you find out where I worked?"

"How about you go out with me and I'll tell you?" I wagged my brows at her.

"What if I don't care enough to find out?" She smacked her lips together as she applied her chapstick. I never noticed how dry her lips were. It didn't matter, I still wanted to kiss her. Nothing mattered and everything mattered when it came to her.

"So there's no chance you'll change your mind?"

As we got closer to her house, my time was running out. The very thing I loved about her pushed me away. All I wanted was a glimpse inside that pretty little head of hers. Just one look, to see why she kept me at an arms length. It wasn't me, I knew as much. But it was something.

"What difference would it make if there was?"

I glared at her. "Is there a reason you answer all of my questions with more questions?"

"Is there a reason why you keep asking them?" Her mouth twisted into a smile. I was getting to her and it made me ecstatic. A little more and she would break the tough girl act.

It seemed like the closer we got, the more standoffish she became. I looked at her as she spoke, captivated by her eyes. Even if she was on the defensive, the look on her face told me differently. Beneath the shield she tried to throw my way, her gaze was warm and beautiful. I found truth in her eyes. They were a spinning whirlwind of dark and playfulness, just like her.

"Because I'm persistent. I don't give up when I want something."

"I can see that," she said. Her tone was light and it gave me hope.

"I don't know why you insist on writing me off. Bella, I like you. I know you feel something too. You wouldn't be in this car if you didn't."

"I like you too, Edward. But nothing good is going to come of this. Do you understand? I can't be with you like that. I don't..."

"I won't hurt you," I reassured her.

"That's not what I'm afraid of..."

"Please? Whatever it is... I don't care. Just let me be your exception," I pleaded as I parked the car in front of her house.

She got out of the car and slung her bag over her shoulder. "Okay, the only exception." She smiled brighter than the summer sun. "Pick me up tomorrow at eleven. I have somewhere I want to take you."

I gave her a shit eating grin. I could barely form a sentence so I just nodded. I stared at her as she walked up to her house. I saw her mother standing in the doorway as she opened the door. It was kind of far, but I was close enough to see that Renee did not look happy. Her mother's happiness was the last thing on my mind that day.

The next day would bring us so much more than we could ever have imagined. That day in the grass, between dusk and the end of summer, love bloomed and death crept ever so slowly into our lives.

I drove down her street and past her house. It was a little before eleven in the morning and I had time to kill. I don't know why I was so nervous. It's not even really a date. Is it? Part of me was scared because it seemed like I had already lost her. She barely gave me anything to hold onto. Her words, her stand off sighs and distant eyes, all warnings. Reckless as ever, I didn't take heed. On my third pass, I decided to pull into her driveway. Her mother's car wasn't there so I figured it would be okay. I stepped out of my car and wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans, running them up and down my thighs. With each step closer to her house, my heart's steady rhythm faltered. I took four steps of her stoop in one long stride. Just as I placed my hand on her door to knock, it swung open. My eyes were met with deep brown ones. Gold flecks, glittering in the sun and a flicker of sass in the corners.

"I guess I can really add stalker to my list," she said with a smirk.

"Whh... huh?" I looked up at her and ran a hand through my hair.

"You drove past my house three times. What were you afraid of? Being early is usually a good thing."

"Honestly?" I asked. "You..."

She paused and stared at me for a minute. Her eyes searching for more of an explanation, as if I was the one hiding something.

"That makes two of us," she spoke ever so softly. She didn't intend on me hearing it, but I did and it made me wonder.

"So where are we going today?" I asked, taking in her appearance. She looked like she was ready to hike up Mount Rainier. Thick wool socks bunched at her ankles over her tight faded jeans. I looked down to see a pair of scuffed up work boots with hot pink laces and I smiled. This girl's unconventional beauty and mysterious attitude melted the exterior of my bad boy tendencies. She stepped out of the doorway and shut the door, locking it behind her.

"A special place I haven't been to in a while," she said flatly. She pulled the cuffs of her sleeves over her hands and put her thumbs through makeshift holes, deep purple frayed threads hanging from the edges.

"I feel under dressed," I said, looking at my t-shirt and worn out chucks.

"You're fine." She walked over to the passenger side of my car and got in. I shook my head, following her lead and hopped in. I turned the car on and looked over to her for directions. "You're gonna drive up the interstate for a little bit. I'm not sure of the exit, but I'll know it when I see it."

I nodded in response and we drove for five minutes in complete silence. Her head was pressed against the glass as she looked out the window. I wanted inside her head so badly. Each time I looked over to her I wanted to say something, except I didn't have the balls to just ask.

She turned to me and I noticed how tired she looked. Dark circles had formed under her eyes, and I wondered what kept her up late at night. A selfish part of me wished it was me.

"If you're not feeling up to this today..." I was giving her a way out, even though my disappointment would kill me.

"I'm okay." She forced a smile. I put the radio on, trying to kill the awkward conversation and deafening silence. When I looked back at her I noticed a bright red trickle of blood coming from her nose.

"Oh, Bella, shit!" She looked startled.

"What?"

"You're bleeding..."

She brought two fingers under her nose to feel. "Oh, God." She began frantically looking through her backpack sitting on her lap. "Fuck!"

"It's okay." I carefully lifted my ass off of the seat, while still steering the car, and reached into my back pocket. I handed her a handkerchief with the letters E.A.C delicately embroidered on the corner. I knew it was old fashioned but my mother said I should always be prepared.

And here I thought being prepared meant having a condom with me at all times. Guess Mom was right. I silently laughed to myself.

She took it from me and gently wiped her nose, holding it there.

"I'm sorry." She looked defeated and ashamed. It was just a nose bleed and there was no reason for her to feel like that.

"Don't worry about it. You're still beautiful." She pulled the handkerchief away and balled it up in her hand. The bleeding had stopped and I brushed her cheek with my fingertips.

"Stop!" she yelled suddenly. "This is it." A look of excitement crossed her face. It made my heart swell to see her finally smile.

I took a left off the exit ramp and followed her directions. It didn't look like much, just a back road. I pulled off onto the dirt shoulder and parked off to the side. We both got out of the car and I made my way over to her.

"So this is it?"

She shook her head. "Not yet, we have a bit of a walk ahead of us."

"Cool." Cool? Real smooth, Edward.

She reached for my hand and grabbed my fingers, holding them to guide me. The walk wasn't exceptionally hard, just long. Bella's hands were freezing and she had to keep stopping to catch her breath. It struck me as odd, considering she was bundled up like a Sherpa with her sweater and scarf.

We were in the middle of summer and the sun was reaching at its highest, but she was still cold. The terrain was fairly smooth so her constant shortness of breath was concerning. She just shrugged me off, telling me she was fine. Who was I to argue?

We were standing in front of a wall of overbearing fur trees. They towered over us, warding us off. I wasn't sure why she would take me to this place. It was dark and it felt like death. I could see the slightest sliver of light peaking through the barren branches. Hope. She let go of my fingers and pushed some dead shrubbery away, leading me down a path.

What stood before me took my breath away. The lush green grass was spread out like a carpet. Trees along the perimeter were covered in moss, in life. The smell of sweet lilacs filled my nostrils. Bushes upon bushes were all around us. Light, almost white purples surrounded us. We ventured further to the heart of the land and little white flowers were sprinkled all throughout, like stars in the sky. The place we decided to sit had an overabundance of tiny deep blue flowers.

Bella took a plaid blanket out of her backpack and placed it on the ground. She sat down with one leg bent on the ground, placing her weight on her other knee positioned in front of her. She wrapped her arms around her leg and rested her chin on her knee. She looked like her own version of The Thinker sculpture.

So deep in thought, my words broke her from her daze.

"What are you thinking about?"

"You... this place... I'm gonna miss it," she said softly.

I was taken back a bit. She was thinking about me? I felt the heat rushing to my cheeks. I relished in the feeling. This girl was a pro if she could make me blush. I quickly recovered.

"You don't get to come here anymore?"

"No..." Her eyes were thoughtful and held pain all at the same time.

I couldn't bring myself to ask her any more. She would talk to me when she was ready. She opened her mouth to say something, as she looked up to the sky she closed it.

"I wasn't going to ask anything..."

"I know." She smiled in a big way, like I gave her the best gift in the world by not asking questions. I really wanted to know why she was so closed off... What she was hiding. I finally realized, whatever it was, that I could wait for it. "I don't have time for it anymore. I used to come here a lot. To think... To relax... Just to get away from everything."

"What were you running away from? Did someone hurt you?" I looked her up and down. Her arms were covered by the baggy sweater, but I was sure the bruises were still there.

She just shook her head. "It's not what you think."

"You can tell me. I won't tell anyone."

"Can we talk about something else?" She inched closer to me. "I want to try something."

"Okay..." Her fingers reached out to my hair and I backed away. "Hey, no one touches my hair."

She laughed and continued to move closer until her fingers made their way into my hair. As much as I didn't want to admit it, it felt nice. She gently combed my hair with her nails. I closed my eyes and moaned a little. When I opened my eyes, she was just centimeters away from my mouth. She pulled me in and kissed me. It was soft, gentle, and completely unexpected. I kissed her back, she was exploring my mouth with her tongue. I heard a whimper escape her lips as she pulled away, but not before biting my lip. It was one of the sexiest kisses I had ever had.

"That was..." I tried to find the right word but nothing seemed worthy.

She pulled back and sucked her own bottom lip in between her teeth. I wanted that to be mine, again. She started to smile, showing all her teeth. She looked at me and I felt better... About us, about me. She was fixing things inside me that I didn't even know were broken.

"I'm sorry," she started to apologize.

"Don't," I interrupted. "I liked it." I brought my finger to her full bottom lip and stroked gently.

We kissed for a while, tender, soft. My hands found their way up her back and I held her loosely.

If I knew what was to come, I would have never held her like that. I would have pulled her close to me and never let go.

The smell of the lilacs and her own strawberry honeysuckle smell made me dizzy with want. I needed to go slow with her. When I pulled away, she was out of breath and flushed. It was beautiful.

Man, I wish I had a camera to capture this.

I sat down with my legs open so she had a spot to lie back in. She gently lowered herself to me and made herself comfortable. I pressed my nose against her head and inhaled. I wanted to stay like this forever. I was completely still, just listening to her breathing. A bubble formed inside of my chest and I couldn't hold it in any longer. I brought my lips close to her ear.

"That secret you know," I started to whisper. "That you don't know how to tell..."

She turned into me and looked pained. "Please..."

"Hear me out... It fucks with your honor and teases your head. But you know that it's good girl 'cause it's running you with red. It's in your blood, your soul... It's part of who you are and I'm not going to run away. I'm here no matter what."

I felt her breathing pick up. She was about to freak out, I could tell. I hoped I didn't fuck it up. She was just starting to open up to me. She moved herself away from me and stretched out on her back. I took my place by her side and her brown eyes held my own. Silence and wonder. She turned her head, starring up at sun. I watched her as she pointed out different clouds.

Seeing her like this... God she was beautiful, innocent and perfect.

I didn't know this then, but I do now. After knowing and loving my Bella, she always had this way of making you laugh through the tears.

"That one looks like an elephant," she said and pointed.

"I think it looks more like a bong."

She laughed at me. "You're crazy."

"Hey, I could have said it looked like a cock and balls..."

She rolled over to face me and punched me in my arm.

"I think the mosquitoes are out."

"You're a jerk," she said, smiling the whole time.

"I just wanted to see you smile."

"I do that a lot when I'm around you."

We lay with our heads touching, staring at each other. I wanted to tell her I love her. I knew that would have been far too much for her to handle, so I bit my tongue. It didn't stop the swell in my heart from forming though. I smiled back at her.

"I love seeing you smile," I told her. I love you. I hoped it conveyed everything I wanted it to.

Her smile started to fade. "You know we can't stay here forever." Her words seemed to speak more about the future than our time in the meadow, but I shrugged it off. She was cryptic like that.

"I know," I said, stroking her cheek. "I just like being alone here with you."

"You shouldn't say that. You're never alone. I know how you are... A loner, never letting anyone in. It's not good. You need to rely on people sometime." She stood up and started to walk back to the car.

It was her warning. Telling me she wouldn't be here forever and that when she was gone, I would need people. She never understood that she was the only person I needed, the only person I was willing to let in.

I won't be alone for long, love.