I own nothing, I'm just playing around with someone else's stuff. This is not the first thing I've written but it is the first thing I've dared share and I'm scared to death. See you on the other side.


Chapter 1

August 2002

Only one more hour. Could time move any slower? I was overcome with boredom as I flipped through an issue of Backpacker Magazine. I had absolutely no real interest in backpacking of any sort but working at Newton's Sporting Goods meant I had a very limited selection of reading material. It was better than staring at the wall again and besides, the knowledge of how to survive a bear attack might possibly come in handy someday.

I'd been working here for a month and, being summer in Washington, the store was usually pretty busy all day. However, in anticipation of school starting, Mrs. Newton had switched me to the closing shift and I rapidly found out that no one really buys tents and sleeping bags in the evening. I'm sure they do in bigger cities but in the tiny town of Forks, Washington everything all but shut down after dinner on weeknights. The locals aren't in need of camping gear and the out of towners really only stop by on the weekends or in the mornings before heading into the woods.

I didn't understand why they kept the store open till eight when hardly anyone came in after six but I needed the money and it was an easy job so I wasn't going to rock the boat. Instead I fought the boredom and flipped through the various issues of Camping Weekly and Field & Stream as I kicked myself for once again forgetting to bring a book with me. When school started in one week, I could bring in my homework and get it done while I worked. Kill two birds and all that jazz.

School. Ugh. I was not looking forward to starting my senior year at Forks High School. I was the new kid in town, the oddity, bound to be inundated with questions and curious stares. Being the center of attention was not my cup of tea.

I desperately longed to be back in the sweltering summer heat of Phoenix where I'd spent most of my life. My mom had moved us there when I was little, after she'd left my dad. I spent my childhood being shuttled back and forth until I was twelve and finally put my foot down. Dad started using his vacation time to come down and spend a week or two with me in Phoenix instead.

During his visit last summer I noticed mom was tagging along on all our outings which was unusual. Most of the times mom would step back and busy herself with little projects or nights out with friends letting dad and I spend our time together. Then one night I came home from a friend's birthday party to find the two of them sitting far too close to each other. Dad had his arm over mom's shoulder and the two of them were laughing over a couple bottles of beer. They didn't even notice that I'd come home or when I slunk into my room as quickly as I could.

They spent the next few months trying to hide their calls to each other but I wasn't an idiot. Mom was spending lots of time giggling and flirting on the phone and the only numbers on the caller id was dad and telemarketers. Then dad decided to 'surprise' me and came out to spend Thanksgiving with us and they chose to disclose their renewed love for each other to me over turkey.

"Bella, we'd like to share some news with you." My mom started, cautiously. "Your father and I have been talking a lot lately and…" she stalled for a moment and glanced at my dad for reassurance. He looked at her adoringly and nodded his head in support. "Well, we're.."

"Is this where you finally tell me that you're dating again?" I interrupted. "Because you could have saved all this dramatic Thanksgiving family meeting bullshit, I knew months ago."

"You did?" she was astounded. They actually thought they'd been so sneaky. She and dad were giving each other looks of surprise and concern. They were worried about my reaction. I had to stifle a laugh and it ended up coming out more like a snort.

"Honestly you guys! I'm seventeen not seven and you two have been hardly stealthy about this whole thing. I'm old enough to check the caller id and you sure weren't talking to me that much, old man!"

"Hey, who's old?" Dad asked with a laugh. "You really ok with this?"

"I'm fine with it, dad. You two were in love once; it's not that big a stretch to believe you could fall in love again. Maybe you won't screw it up this time."

They both smiled at me and dad put his hand on top of moms, squeezing it lightly. "You always were too smart for your own good Bells."

They started making sappy faces at each other, which I took as my cue to get the hell out of there. I was ok with them falling back in love, but I didn't need to witness just how in love they were.

We came up to spend Christmas with dad here in Forks and he managed to surprise both me and mom by proposing, again, on Christmas Eve. Dad offered to move to Phoenix, knowing mom hated Forks and all the rain, but mom wouldn't hear of it. She claimed she was sick of the heat but I knew that was a lie. Dad was the police chief of Forks and took great pride in his job. Mom was sacrificing her worship of the sun so dad could stay at a job he loved and the two of them were happier than I'd ever seen them. It was reassuring really, proof that second chances really do exist.

After New Years, mom and I went back to Phoenix and planned our move. Mom and dad agreed to let me finish out the school year before the big move giving us plenty of time to sell the house, say good-byes to friends and pack up our things. During those five months, Mom had nearly driven me crazy planning the wedding. Their first had been a courthouse affair right after high school because mom had been knocked up with me at the time and she'd been determined to have everything perfect this time around. By the last day of school, the house was empty, the U-haul was packed and we began the drive up to Washington the very next day.

There was two months of settling in and finalizing details before Mom and dad finally had the big white wedding a week ago and took off on a cruise for their honeymoon leaving me alone for ten whole days. After the planning and running around mom had me do for the wedding I was loving the quiet, well, except for at work where it was too quiet and I had nothing better to do than stare at fishing poles.

I glanced at the clock. Ten minutes. I had only wasted ten minutes with my little trip down recent memory lane. I sighed loudly to myself and walked around the counter, placing the Backpacker magazine back on the rack and grabbing something new to read not bothering to pay attention to the titles since they were basically all the same. I walked back behind the register and resumed my perch on the stool I'd pulled from the back room earlier. I was skimming through an article about hiking boots when the bell over the front door chimed.

"Jesus Fucking Christ!" I shrieked. It had been so quiet that the sudden noise caused me to jump, which sent me flying backwards to the floor with a thump and brought the stool down on top of me. Shit! Way to humiliate yourself and offend the customer at the same time Bella!

I disentangled myself from the stool and jumped to my feet. "Oh my God! I'm so sorry, you scared the shit out of me!" Christ Bella, quit swearing, you are at work! I could feel the flames of embarrassment spread across my face as I dropped it into my hands. I was aware that someone was standing on the other side of the counter but I couldn't bring myself to look at them. "Sorry, I'm so sorry! That was inappropriate. I apologize for my offensive language."

"Are you ok?" a deep male voice asked. "You went down pretty hard. If anyone should apologize it should be me. I didn't mean to frighten you." Oh great! He sounds attractive. Just my luck.

I was fairly certain it would be rude of me to help this customer with my hands covering my face so I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and dropped my hands. I lifted my head slowly until I found the source of the sexy voice. What I found was the most gorgeous guy I'd ever seen. He was tall, appeared to be close to my age, and looked way too good in his perfectly fit t-shirt. My eyes drifted further to a strong jaw line with a perfect face topped with unruly bronze hair. He had piercing deep green eyes and I was struck speechless by the intensity in those eyes. We stood silent, staring at each other for just a few seconds but it felt like hours until I finally mustered up the ability to speak.

"Uh, I'm fine, just a little clumsy. No one ever comes in this late so you surprised me. Is there something I can help you with?" I asked, willing myself to stay calm. I'd humiliated myself enough for one day.

"Yeah I, uh, I came here to get something but I can't quite remember what now" he laughed. "Are you new here? I think I would have noticed you before"

I laughed. "Of course you would have noticed someone who can't even stand up without falling all over herself." My clumsy nature tended to attract a lot of unwanted attention.

"No, not that, they've just never had anyone as beautiful as you working here before," he smiled a perfect, crooked smile and I stopped breathing. Oh good God! I've fallen asleep, I'm the only one working and I'm sleeping. I'm so getting fired. Wake up, Bella!

"My name is Edward Cullen and you are?"

"Um I'm Bella, Bella Swan. I just moved here a few months ago."

"Oh so you're Chief Swan's daughter. I heard about you."

"All good I hope" I said with a shy smile. Am I flirting? Fuck, I really am sleeping. There was no way I'd be flirting with a guy this hot while awake.

"Not good enough or I would have come looking for you sooner." There he goes with that damn, sexy, smile again.

"So Edward Cullen," I asked, trying to sound coy but more likely sounding like a complete idiot, "is this what you do in your spare time? Scare the hell out of, and then flirt with random girls in sporting goods stores?"

"Not exactly. You took me by surprise as well. This may be a little forward but would you like to go get some coffee or something with me?"

Was he serious? "Well, I'd really like to" I gestured to the empty store. "But someone has to man the store."

"Oh, right, of course, I meant when you get off. Maybe I could go pick up the coffee while you finish up here and we could take a walk, get to know each other."

"Is that the part where you lure me to the woods and I'm never seen again?" I laughed, only half joking. I was a little suspicious of a random gorgeous stranger flirting with me. I rarely flirted with anyone and had surely never been hit on by someone I was actually attracted to. The common sense part of my brain was screaming, reminding me that Tend Bundy was handsome and charming as well but the rest of my brain told her to keep her thoughts to herself. I was still sure this was a dream and, damn it, if I was going to get fired for it I might as well enjoy it.

He pulled out his wallet and handed me his driver's license. "Here, this proves I am who I say I am." I peeked at the name on the card but was more interested in the age. He had just turned eighteen, only a few months older than I was. I handed it back as he continued, "My father is Carlisle Cullen, he's the chief of surgery at Forks hospital and he knows your dad. If you're worried, call and let your parents know you're out with me so I have incentive to bring you back in one piece." He winked at me and smiled. "What do you say?"

"Um, sure, why not?" If this was a dream I may as well make it a good one. "I'll be done here around eight fifteen. Want to meet me out front?"

He held his hand out to me and I placed mine in his slowly. He lifted it to his lips and placed a small kiss on the back of my hand. "Until then, Miss Swan." It was all I could do not to pass out.

He turned and walked out, glancing over his shoulder to smile at me one more time before walking out the door. I stood, frozen in shock, for several minutes. What the hell just happened? Did an insanely cute guy my age really just ask me out and kiss my hand? Do guys still kiss hands? Further proof this is a dream.

I finally managed to snap out of my incredulous haze and slapped myself a few times hoping to wake myself up before I got into trouble. When that didn't work and I had to accept that I was really and truly awake, I decided to get as much work done as humanly possible before eight so I could have a few minutes to compose myself and wash my face before the beautiful one returned.

I flitted about the store making sure the displays were arranged and that everything was in its proper place. No one else came in the rest of the night so I was completely done by closing time. The second the clock hit eight I locked the doors, cashed out my register and finished the last of my tasks in record time.

I borrowed the brush that Mrs. Newton kept in her desk to fix my flat, working all day, hair and washed my face in the employee bathroom. I took a minute to stare at myself in the mirror, silently giving myself a little pep talk. I've never had this reaction to a guy before, never even held much interest in dating and I couldn't believe how worked up I was. I was on the verge of a panic attack over some guy I'd spent less than five minutes with and who probably wouldn't even show up. Maybe this was some kind of strange small town idea of a good time, flatter the new girl and then watch her face from afar as she realizes she's been stood up.

By eight-ten, I managed to calm down, make myself fairly presentable and even popped a mint into my mouth in a fit of wishful thinking, hoping that maybe, just maybe, he really would show up. I turned off all the lights, made my way to the front of the store and stepped outside. The sun was just beginning to set and the pinkish-orange hue was peaceful and felt almost magical. I was locking the doors when I felt a funny tingle of electricity course through my body. I turned to find Edward standing right in front of me holding two steaming cups of coffee. I had to stifle the gasp of surprise that threaten to bubble out of me.

"I didn't think to ask what you liked so I played it safe and got both a mocha and a latte, hoping one of them would be acceptable." He held my two choices out in front of him with a small smile. He looked almost as nervous as I felt, which helped to calm my nerves considerably.

"Well, I am a woman so chocolate is always a safe bet."

"Ah, the mocha it is." He smirked as he handed me one of the warm cups.

"So, local boy, where to?" I asked as I took a long sip of my coffee.

"Well, I thought we could just wander down the road a little bit and get to know each other. I find you very intriguing, new girl."

"I fear that I am not as interesting as you may believe. In fact I'm quite boring. I think you are the more intriguing one. I mean, who walks into a store and then leaves without even looking at anything?" I questioned.

"Oh, new girl, I was indeed looking at something," he replied, giving me a sideways glance.

"Is that so? See anything you were interested in?"

"As a matter of fact I did" he leaned into me and whispered into my ear. "I'm just praying it's as available."

The feel of his breath on my ear sent a feeling through me like nothing I'd ever experienced. My breath caught in my chest and I momentarily forgot how to walk, tripping over my own feet and sending my drink flying. I inwardly cursed my clumsy nature and braced myself for my date with the sidewalk.

Except the impact never came. Instead of cold concrete I felt strong arms wrap around my waist, steadying me. I regained my balance but he didn't let go, he actually pulled me closer. We stood there for a minute or so, tangled in each other before he pulled away.

"I'm sorry! That was inappropriate" he muttered.

"Yeah, you should have let my clumsy ass hit the pavement."

"No, not catching you, I meant the other part. That was really too forward, I mean, we just met. I apologize if I made you uncomfortable. I wasn't even thinking about it and…"

His nervous, rambling apology was actually quite adorable but I couldn't let him keep berating himself. "Edward, stop."

"But…" I placed my index finger over his lips and shushed him before he could start up again.

"But, nothing!" I kept my finger over his lips, partially to keep him quiet but mostly I just liked touching him. "You saved me from falling on my ass, again, and complete mortification, again. Now, drop it so we can continue our walk"

"Ok, I'm sorry for…"

"Shush! No apologizing for apologizing! I mean it. Now walk!"

He laughed and started walking again. "You're a little bossy aren't you?"

"Not usually. Maybe you just bring out the worst in me."

He bent over and picked up my mangled and empty coffee cup and tossed it into a nearby garbage can along with his own. "So this interrupting thing you do, is that my fault too or are you like that all the time."

I thought he was serious for a second until he stifled a laugh. "Oh that's totally your fault. If I hadn't interrupted you'd probably still be groveling over something stupid."

"Fair enough. So, Bella Swan, where did you live before coming to this fine city?"

"Phoenix" I replied as we turned a corner. I spotted a small park just down the street and my inner child took over. "Oooh swings!" Without thinking I grabbed his hand and pulled on it. "Come on local boy, let's go to the park."

He nodded his agreement and we headed down the street but neither of us made a move to pull our hand away from the other. As we got closer he shifted his hand in mine so our fingers interlocked. He gave me a cautious sideways glance and gently squeezed my hand as if asking if this was ok with me. I reassuringly squeezed it back and he smiled at me as we reached the entrance of the park. My brain was in overdrive. Was I really flirting and holding the hand of a hot guy I'd just met? I suddenly didn't know who I was anymore because Bella Swan from Phoenix would have never even smiled at this guy let alone grab his hand.

I let him lead me over to the swing set and reluctantly let go of his hand so I could sit down as he took a seat in the other swing. We lazily glided back and forth, not really putting any effort into the act as he asked me about Phoenix, my parents, and other getting-to know-you topics. I asked him about life here and the same general questions he'd asked me. I found out he had a younger sister named Alice, who he could only describe as a tiny, fourteen year old pain in the ass. We talked about his dad being a doctor, and he mentioned that his mom was a stay at home mom but spent most of her free time restoring antique furniture and redecorating or something like that.

We fell into such easy conversation that I didn't notice that the sun had completely set and it had become full dark. That common sense side of my brain said thought this whole scenario was insane. I was sitting in the dark, alone, with a guy who was, by all rights, a perfect stranger. I was sure that if I checked the time I would find that it was getting to be very late. However, the rest of my brain once again told the common sense side to 'shut the fuck up' and just enjoy the moment. Common sense retreated to her corner, muttering things like 'stupid', 'dangerous' and something about becoming a statistic.

I'd become so wrapped up in my internal debate that I didn't notice when Edward stopped swinging, or even when he stood up from his swing and walked towards mine. He put his hand on the chain of my swing, over my right hand and steadied it until I came to a completely stop. I looked up at him as he stepped in front of me, placing his other hand over my left in the same fashion. My heart stopped as I realized this gorgeous creature was just inches away from me.

We were locking in that position for a minute or two, just staring at each other before he finally spoke. "I just want to try one thing. Please tell me if I'm completely out of line."

I stopped breathing and found that I couldn't speak so I nodded my agreement. My heart began pounding as he dipped his head closer to mine, agonizingly slow as if he was waiting for me to protest. When I didn't, he'd move a little closer until finally his lips were just a fraction away from my own.

"Is this ok?" he whispered. I nodded again, quite certain that I was on the verge of a massive heart attack based on the now deafening beat of my heart. "Tell me" he whispered again. "Tell me this is ok with you, Bella. I need to hear it."

I tried to form the words but my brain just couldn't manage the task. He pulled away, just a tiny bit, and I began screaming at myself. You silly, stupid girl! Do something or you'll miss your chance. Now, NOW! In an instant I crossed the miniscule distance between us and then my lips were on his. It was clear that my action was enough confirmation for him as he deepened the kiss, moved one hand to the back of my neck, and pulled me closer to him.

It quickly became apparent that this position was not ideal for making out. Edward broke from the kiss and pulled me to my feet. Immediately, his perfect plump lips were back on mine and his hands snaked around my back, crushing me to him. I slid one of my hands around his back while the other buried itself in his unruly bronze locks.

I have no idea how long we stood there, wrapped up in each other before a passer-by hollered some suggestive comments about us and we reluctantly pulled away laughing. Edward glanced at his watch and let out a barely audible "Shit!" He reached out and took my hand, leading me away from the park.

"It's getting really late, I should get you back to your car so you can get home." He sounded unhappy and I was thrilled that he seemed as hesitant to end this night as I was.

"I'll see you again right?" I dared to ask.

"Are you kidding? Here, let me see your phone." He held out his hand and I fished my cell out of my pocket and handed it to him. I watched him store his number into my contacts and then heard his own phone ring from his pocket. "Now I have yours as well," he said, handing me back my phone.

We walked back to the store, hand in hand, quietly. I was deep in thought, afraid that I would wake up momentarily to find myself still at work, passed out on my little stool, drooling on the countertop. Surely, tonight's entire series of events had been concocted by a wickedly bored and overactive imagination. Meeting, flirting and subsequently making out with cute boys I'd just met was just not something I did. Ever.

We reached the parking lot and I led Edward to where my old truck was parked. Dad had bought it off an old friend for me shortly after Mom and I decided to move here. He laughed when he realized that the big red beast actually belonged to me.

"I should have known this thing was yours."

"Hey, it works and it was free, for me at least." I scowled at him.

"No, it's probably perfect for you, given your obvious penchant for accidents. That thing could take on a tank." He smirked and stepped closer as I unlocked the door. I turned to say goodbye and found him directly in front of me. He placed his hand on the truck on either side of me, trapping me. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him to me until I was sandwiched between his warmth and the cool of the truck.

"Well this was definitely not the evening I had planned for myself earlier." he chuckled, running his fingers through my hair. "But I think it ended up being much, much better."

"Ditto," was all I could manage to squeak out but it was an improvement over my previous bout of speechlessness.

His hand slid a lock of hair behind my ear as he leaned closer. "Can I keep you, new girl?" he whispered into my ear.

"Please do, local boy."


A/N: If you're still with me, a thousand thanks. We've sort of jumped in head first but my story is not about meeting that great love, it's about everything that comes after.