Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc., are the property of Stephenie Meyer. The original plot is the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Editing team: Thank you to I.T.P, thalia-csiny, SqueakyZorro, Mary-Alice-Brandon-Cullen, Simaril, and Lacrimosa moon.
Summary: Bella found the field of wildflowers purely by accident when she went riding one day. She did not expect to meet a certain blue-green-eyed man there, nor did she expect to fall in love with him. He broke her heart in that field, but he had also mended it.
Bella walked slowly down the narrow, well-worn path in the middle of a field of wildflowers. It had been her favorite place in the entire world ever since she first discovered it a few years ago. This meadow held countless memories for her, some happy, some sad, but she cherished each and every one of them.
She could still remember the first time she stumbled upon the field by accident. It was also the first time she met the man who would star in her dreams ever since.
Bella's father, Charlie, had remarried after Bella's mother died during childbirth. Renée left Charlie with two young kids — Emmett was three when Bella was born — and he had no idea what to do with them. He did his best for a while, and when Bella was six, he met Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a quiet woman, but she had strength in her seemingly peaceful demeanor. She had three kids of her own — Alice, who was Bella's age, and twin daughters, Lauren and Jessica, who were two years younger than Bella. Like Charlie, Elizabeth had also lost a spouse early in her marriage. Those two seemed to fit.
Bella loved her stepmother, but sometimes the amount of people in the house was just too much for her. That was the case on that fateful day when she first saw her green-eyed stranger in the wildflower field.
It was a sunny afternoon during spring break. Emmett had brought his girlfriend, Rosalie, to meet the family. They had met in college, and this was the first time Emmett had a chance to bring home the girl he kept talking about to meet his parents and siblings. Alice—who had always been a social butterfly—had decided to throw a pool party and invited her boyfriend of six months, Alec Grant. Charlie and Elizabeth had known Mr. and Mrs. Grant for many years, and it was not uncommon for the couples to meet, so when Alec was invited, his parents decided to drop by as well. The small gathering quickly turned into a big outdoor barbeque. Lauren and Jessica invited several of their friends from school — Bella only remembered the names of Mike and Tyler out of the group of seven teenagers that had showed up on their doorstep — and the party was in full swing.
Bella was tired from all the noise. She was always more of the shy type, preferring books to shopping trips — those were Alice's territory—and the large number of people was not her idea of fun. Although they were living on a large ranch just outside of Austin, Texas, she could not find one single corner in the house that day where she could just have a moment of peace. The noise carried all the way to her room with the music and chatter being so loud.
She finally decided to take her horse, Tara, for a ride. Packing a bottle of water, a sandwich, and her sketching supplies, she decided to go north of the ranch, where she knew there was a stream crossing her father's land and thought it would provide some nice scenery to sketch.
She kept Tara to a slow trot, enjoying the light breeze. At first, Bella had kept to the trails, but at some point, her ears caught the sound of running water. She turned toward the small river, and followed it until she reached a clearing near the water. Getting off Tara, Bella tied the reins around a low bench next to the stream, leaving the chestnut-colored mare to nibble on the grass. She walked over to the stream and washed her hands, splashing some of the cool water on her face as well.
Bella was just about to sit on the riverbank when her eyes caught something from between the shrubs on the other side of the stream. As it was not very deep, she easily made her way to the other side and beyond the greenery.
Her breath caught in her throat as she gazed upon the beauty before her. It was a field of wildflowers, all blossoming in the most beautiful natural carpet.
She ended up spending several hours in that field, making dozens of sketches of the different flowers. Just as the wind picked up, Bella felt someone watching her. Her head snapped up and she looked around to find that a man had walked into the field and was now watching her.
"I'm sorry," the man apologized. "I didn't mean to startle you. I just saw your horse tied over by the river and wanted to make sure no one was stranded here and in need of help."
Bella was momentarily stunned by the beautiful stranger. His sun-kissed skin painted him as a Texan, but she was certain that she had never seen him before and assumed he must have either just moved in the area or returned after being away for college. His well-worn Stetson was shading over his eyes, preventing her from telling their color. He was tall, much taller than she was, and his body told her that he was no stranger to physical labor. His shoulders were wide, and his biceps were prominent. She guessed that he must be at least in his early twenties, making him at least four years older than her seventeen years.
"I'm okay," she finally said when she realized that she had been gaping at him for several minutes without speaking. She blushed and looked away, busying herself with gathering her pencils and folding her sketchpad.
"Please, stay," he said, coming closer to her. "There is still plenty of daylight left. You don't have to leave now."
Bella chanced a glance at the stranger and was startled to see that he had kneeled beside her. From the new position, his face was leveled with hers, allowing her to see the striking features despite the Stetson still casting a shadow over them. His eyes were the most unusual shade of blue-green she had ever seen. It was like someone had taken a palette of greens and blues and just splashed them around, throwing a fleck or two of yellow into the mix.
"I really must leave," she murmured, blushing fiercely. "I apologize for trespassing."
"That's okay," he said. He took a step back, seeming to understand that his presence was causing her some degree of distress. "I know the owner. He wouldn't mind as long as you didn't set fire to the place."
Bella hugged her sketchbook to her chest. "Oh."
The man chuckled. It was a hearty sound, a deep rumbling that came from his belly. "I hope that you will come again, Flor Silvestre."
Blushing again, she hid behind her long hair and rushed to her horse. Remembering her manners, she managed to call, "Thank you, goodbye," before leaving, but even that was said without looking at him.
"Until we meet again, Flor."
Bella had not told anyone about the man she had met or the field of wildflowers she had found. Alice was the closest thing she had to a girlfriend, but Bella felt that she wanted to keep the man and the field a secret. However, not speaking about either did not mean that she had forgotten. The man had begun making appearances in her dreams, always speaking in that lyrical husky tone he had used in his parting words.
She had not returned to the stream or the field during the next several days, as her presence on the ranch was needed, but on the last day before she went back to school, she decided to chance another visit.
Once again, she packed a bottle of water, some snacks, and her sketching supplies. She tried to tell herself that she was not going there to see him again, but she knew that that was a lie.
The ride to the stream seemed longer this time, and Bella began fearing that she had imagined the whole thing by the time she finally found the right clearing.
Bella tied Tara in the shade and crossed the stream to the other side. Just like the first time she had seen it, the field of blue, green, orange, and red took her breath away. So taken by the sight she was that she had temporarily forgotten about the man she had hoped to see. She settled in the middle of the meadow and took out her pencils.
She began with individual flowers this time, instead of drawing the landscape. She soon became engrossed in her task, going through several pages of sketches before her attention was pulled away by a shadow cast over the paper.
"What are you drawing today, Flor?" he asked in a casual tone, coming to sit next to her.
He did not sit too close, to avoid making her feel crowded, but she could not escape the effect he had on her even from miles away. She blushed, murmuring, "Just the flowers."
"Do you know the names of the flowers you're drawing?"
"Only the bluebonnets."
"Well, this one that you have here is called morning glory," he said. "The one you were drawing before is called Indian paintbrush."
She chanced a surprised look at him. "How do you know their names?"
He pulled off his hat and ran a hand though the thick mass of curls that frames his face, reaching almost to his chin. She tried to find a name for the color, but just like his eyes, his hair seemed to have invented its own hue. She saw brown and red highlights intermixed between thick strands of almost corn-yellow locks and was distracted by the way one of his curls fell down on his forehead, becoming nearly white in the sunlight.
"I guess I picked that up here and there," he finally said.
She felt hurt that he was avoiding her question, although she had no right to be, and her smile — that had already formed, subconsciously —faded.
"Where did you learn how to paint?"
"I sketch," she corrected, the words coming out a little sharper than she had intended them to. Painting, in her opinion, was something that little kids and crazy modern idiots who knew nothing about art did, and she was neither a child nor an idiot. "I take art classes in school, but it's just a hobby," she added to soften her previous statement.
"You're very talented."
It was nothing more than an observation, but she still felt her cheeks grow warm again. "Thank you."
Bella felt tense for the next few minutes, her hand shaking as she tried to resume her sketching, but she soon forgot about not being alone.
"You should drink something," he said after about thirty minutes of being quiet.
"Huh?" She lifted her eyes from the paper and looked at him with confusion.
"Did you bring some water with you?" he asked. "You should drink, or you'll get dehydrated."
"Oh! Um, yeah, I have..." She looked around herself for her small bag and, once she found it, took out a bottle of water. "Thank you."
He smiled at her, and she froze halfway through opening the bottle. Never before had a smile affected her in the way his did at that moment. His eyes crinkled slightly, his lips curved, and just a hint of a dimple appeared on the right side of his mouth. She looked up from his pink lips to his blue-green eyes and then back down to his mouth. She couldn't look away.
He brought one hand to gently touch her jaw, and the contact was the softest she had ever felt. Normally, she did not like people—especially strangers—touching her. This man's touch was different. It was almost familiar, as though he had already touched her cheeks, his thumb caressing her bottom lip, a hundred times in the past.
She glanced up into his eyes once again, and her breath caught in her throat. They had become slightly darker, the green taking over the blue.
Bella had imagined how her first kiss would be many times in the past, but when his lips touched hers for the very first time, it was better than anything she could have imagined.
It was hesitant at first, just a soft peck of his lips on hers. She was almost too shocked to respond. When his tongue made a pass over her bottom lip, she inhaled sharply and opened her mouth for him. He took her then, slanting his warm mouth over hers, and holding her close to him with one hand on the back of her head.
She made a protesting sound when he pulled back a little, but he was only giving her a pause to breathe. His mouth returned to hers, and this time she hesitantly touched her tongue over his. She was rewarded with a very quiet moan that encouraged her to do that again.
Bella lost track of time, lost in his kiss as she was.
When he pulled back one final time, he cupped her face with both hands and whispered, "You are absolutely breathtaking, Flor."
She smiled brilliantly, even though her cheeks still colored.
He released her to pick up the water bottle that had fallen to the grass and opened it for her. "Drink."
Bella giggled but obeyed. When she was done drinking, she placed the bottle in her bag and felt him gently pull her to lean into him. The light was changing with the setting sun, and she knew that she would have to leave soon; but for the next few moments, she felt perfectly happy to listen to the steady beating of his heart.
Bella returned to her home with stars in her eyes, her cheeks still turning pink whenever she thought back to that kiss, which she had done almost nonstop ever since they had parted.
She was in such a good mood that even the prospect of going back to school in the morning couldn't spoil the night for her. She was slowly humming to herself as she went through her evening chores and arranged her schoolbag, and when she went to bed, she fell asleep with a smile on her lips.
Over the next couple of days, Alice had grilled her, trying to discover why her sister was walking on cloud nine, but Bella wasn't saying anything. Eventually, thoughts of prom and everything it would entail took precedence over discovering Bella's secret, and Alice decided to leave her alone.
As most of her classes were AP and she had various duties around the ranch, Bella had very little spare time. It was another two weeks before she had a moment to herself. She wanted to go to the field of wildflowers, wanted to see him again, but she had a paper to write for English and a project in Chemistry that took up most of her time.
When she was finally able to sneak out on a Sunday morning, he wasn't there. She waited for him for several hours, unable to concentrate on her sketching or the book that she had brought along with her, but he never came.
She told herself that she was being silly. He had no way of knowing when she would be there, and he probably had things to do just like she did. It didn't help, though. She returned home that night with tears shining in her eyes and her mood sullen.
She found excuses to slip out every weekend since then, hoping to find him there at least once. She wanted to ask him for his name, where he lived, his number, but she never found him there. Eventually, she decided that she was being a fool and stopped going to the field of wildflowers.
The Swans took the entire family for a vacation in Italy for the first two weeks of summer, Rosalie and Alec coming along for the ride. Bella was glad for the chance of a change of scenery, hoping to be able to stop thinking about the green-eyed cowboy who had gifted her with her first kiss. She was also excited by the opportunity to see the Sistine Chapel in person.
It was just as amazing as she had thought it would be. The paintings and sculptures in the Vatican captured her attention just as she had hoped, and for two wonderful weeks, Bella fell in love with Rome.
She was sad to leave but found herself missing her wildflower field. She was almost able to forget about the man who had hurt her, but the peacefulness of the place still spoke to her. So on the morning after getting back home, Bella packed her bag with snacks, water, a book, and her sketching supplies and went to the stables.
She first took Tara for a long stroll, allowing the mare to stretch her legs. When sweat made Bella's shirt stick to her back like second skin, she slowed Tara down and steered her down the narrow path that led to the field.
She located it with ease. Dismounting Tara, she told herself that she was not hoping to see him there and that if she did, she'd ignore him. The words did no good to calm her racing heart or to squelch the hope that was rising in her chest with each step she took.
Just before passing through the ferns, Bella closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She reminded herself that she came to the field to have some time on her own, to relax and unwind.
"Welcome back, Flor," his voice greeted her as soon as she entered the field.
She stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes glued to him. He was just as handsome as she remembered. His welcoming smile was just as warm and mesmerizing as she imagined it would be.
Her feet began to move before she had even consciously thought of approaching him.
He unhooked his thumbs from the loops of his jeans and brought his hands before him, palms facing up. His smile grew wider with each step she made.
She felt herself smile in reply. Suddenly, she couldn't move fast enough. She ran the last few steps and threw herself in his arms.
He picked her up with ease, twirling her around several times before putting her back down on her feet. He looked down at her glistening eyes and kissed her.
She smiled against his lips, kissing him back with fervor. She had missed him so much. Being held by him, feeling those large hands pressing her body close to the hardness of his muscles, was the best remedy to her heart.
"How's your summer so far, Flor?"
"It's getting better now," she said, teasing him.
He chuckled. "I aim to please."
"Why do you keep calling me Flor? I have a name, you know." She didn't mind the nickname much, but she was curious.
He shrugged. "I like having a special name for you, one that only I use."
"Will you ever tell me what your name is?"
She thought she could see sadness in his expression before he said, "Maybe one day, when it is time."
"What should I call you then?"
"Anything you like, Flor."
Bella wanted to prompt him further, but he distracted her by kissing her again.
"I can never get enough of your taste," he murmured as he kissed her. "Ever since I kissed you, I can think of nothing else but doing it again."
She shivered at the sound of those words. They had been said in such a heated, husky tone that she felt both excited and apprehensive. She loved his kisses, but she didn't think that she was comfortable with more.
He seemed to know her limits, though, as he gently pulled her to sit on a patch of grass and settled for playing with her hair while she sketched.
She found herself telling him about her vacation, animatedly sketching some of the statues she had seen in Italy. She tried to ask him about his summer, but he seemed to be uncomfortable talking about it. All he would say was that he had been busy with his work and taking care of some family business but that he had missed her very much.
She leaned to kiss him when he whispered those words to her, thrilled to know that he valued her company just as much as she did his.
That summer was the best summer Bella could remember in her life. She found herself smiling almost constantly, and even Alice's insistence that she must come with her for a shopping trip did not dampen her mood.
She knew that her sister was curious about what was going on. She thought that she should have known that Alice wouldn't put up with her keeping a secret for long.
Alice cornered her in the dressing rooms while Bella was trying on a pair of jeans.
"Alice!" Bella hissed. "What are you doing here?"
"Oh, shut it. You ain't got anything I haven't got myself." Alice waved her off. "Now spill!"
"Who is that guy who's been putting a big fat smile on your face for the entire summer?" Alice demanded. "I have been patient, but you're not sharing, and that's not nice! I always tell you about Alec."
Bella would have said something along the lines of, "that's none of your business," but she could see that Alice was truly hurt. Ever since their parents had married, Alice had been Bella's closest friend, despite the differences in their personalities.
Bella was the first one Alice told when Alec had asked her on a date, and the one to giggle at her when Alice returned with stars in her eyes after he had kissed her for the first time. Bella was the one Alice confided in.
"I'm sorry, Alice." Bella pulled the jeans on and went to hug her sister. "I promise to tell you, but please don't tell anyone."
"Can I tell Alec?" Alice pouted.
The pout was irresistible on its own, but Bella also knew that it would be pointless for her to ask Alice not to tell Alec. Those two were so close that he'd get it out of her without even trying. Alec was as much Alice's best friend as she was, and Bella knew it.
"Well, remember when Emmett brought Rosalie on spring break?"
"And you sneaked out as soon as you could?" Alice teased. "Sure do."
Bella rolled her eyes. "Well, I found a field of wildflowers..."
Bella told her everything then, including the kissing, which had Alice squealing so loud that one of the salesladies approached them to see if everything was okay.
"You are a bad influence, Mary Alice Brandon Swan!"
"I learned from the best, Isabella Marie Swan." Alice stuck her tongue out.
"Very mature, Alice." Bella was trying to be stern but couldn't help laughing. "Now get out of here, I need to try on the rest of the clothes in the pile you shoved at me."
Alice rolled her eyes, mumbling something unintelligible under her breath, but left Bella alone in the stall.
By the time they were finished with the clothes and the school supplies, both girls were hungry, so they decided to sit in a café for lunch rather than driving the hour back to the ranch.
"So, how are you going to find out what his name is?" Alice asked after they had given their orders to the waitress.
"I don't think I'm going to snoop," Bella said. "I kind of like calling him my green-eyed cowboy."
"I could never do that. I'm too curious." Alice shrugged.
"You've always lacked patience," Bella teased.
Alice threw her napkin at her. "Have not!"
"Missed me." Bella giggled. "Now, want to tell me why you've been eyeing the Victoria's Secret window for the better part of this morning?" Alice blushed, and Bella looked at her with wide eyes. "You didn't!"
"No, not yet," Alice mumbled.
"I'm thinking about it?"
Bella gave an Alice-like squeal that had her sister laughing at her.
"I never thought I'd hear you squeal, Bella."
"Oh, shush. Now, spill!" Bella demanded, using Alice's words against her.
"Fine." Alice lowered her tone and leaned closer to Bella. "You know that night when Alec and I went on a double date with his brother, Peter, and his girlfriend, Charlotte?"
Bella nodded. "Last week."
"Well, Peter and Char decided that they were going to a party instead, and that left the house to just Alec and me."
"Ooh!" Bella's eyes widened. "Did you...? I mean, how far...?"
They were interrupted by the arrival of the salads and drinks, but as soon as the waitress was out of earshot, Alice replied. "We didn't go all the way, but I did get my shirt off, and Alec just loved that purple lacy bra that I got for my last birthday."
Bella knew which one Alice was talking about because she was the one who gave Alice the VS gift card for her birthday, as well as being the one who was promptly dragged to the mall the very next day to help her pick out the set.
"So you want to get a few more sets to make sure that the next time he gets a glimpse..."
"Well, he might be getting more than a glimpse the next time we have the house to ourselves."
Bella tried not to squeal, placing both hands on her mouth, but she was still bouncing in her seat.
"If this is how I look like when I'm excited, I can't imagine how people aren't running away from me."
It was Bella's turn to throw a napkin at Alice. "Shut up! I can't believe you're actually going to do it."
"Well, we've been together for almost a year now. I'm ready." Alice had a brilliant smile on her lips. "I love him, and I want us to take the next step."
"You are so lucky, Alice." Bella sighed.
"I'm about to get lucky," Alice teased, making Bella laugh. "So will you come with me to Victoria's Secret after lunch?"
"Sure, why not?"
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Next chapter will be up tomorrow.