A/N: hey readers. I toyed around with this idea for NaNoWriMo, but I ended up revising it completely for this site. Take a look and tell me what you think! Constructive criticism is welcome as always, but please no flames! Thanks so much.

The Italian Side of Things

Prologue. What Ties us Together

"Bella, slow down!" he ran to catch up to me. I sprinted still faster, ahead of my three best friends.

"Come ON guys," I called over my shoulder. "You're slowpokes!"

"Are not! Bee," he panted, reaching his small arm out as though he could grab me. He couldn't—I was too far ahead and too fast to catch. "Wait up!"

"You'll have to catch me first!" I called, turning around and backpedaling while managing to stick my tongue out at them. Cecilia and Luke gave up and collapsed from exhaustion onto the ground laughing, but he kept running, challenging me silently. I consented with that look in my eyes and he put on his last burst of energy. I kept my pace, but he was creeping up on me, faster and faster.

We came to a hill that, as I was only 3' 8'', seemed like a mountain. I worked my way up it, trying to keep my pace, but failing as I felt my legs burning. I didn't care.

He had reached his peek and I was at my slowest. He tackled me and we rolled down the hill together, laughing so hard I thought that my sides were going to implode.

Our momentum had ceased and we came to a halt at the bottom of the hill, our bodies sprawled out at odd angles.

"You're commin' to my birthday party, right Jake?" I asked him after I regained a regular breathing pattern. He shot me a strange look.

"Duh! What kinda question is that? 'Course I'm commin' to your birthday party!" He shoved me playfully. It was important that he came.

"Good. 'Cus I only turn six once," I reasoned, "and you better be there to see it happen."

"I'll come. I won't miss it," he assured me. He reached a hand up and tosseled his brown hair.

"Jake?" I asked, still looking up at the sky.

"Yeah?" he, like me, kept his eyes glued to the clouds that swirled in front of us.

"You're my best friend," I told him.

"You're my best friend too, Bella." He said to me. He reached out and held my hand. "Forever."

I tore my eyes away from the blue sky. "You promise?" I asked him.

"I promise," he said.


"Alright, alright," I grumbled. "I get it, school, yeah, that thing…5 more minutes…" I pried open one eyelid, reached out and pressed the OFF button on my alarm clock. With the same hand I rubbed my eyes and turned over, burying my head in the pillow.

"Forever…I promise…"

Ten years ago I believed him. Now, we were sixteen and I knew that he forgot the promise he once made when we rolled down that hill outside his house.

It seemed so big back then. Now when I walk by it on my way to school with Cecilia, it's barely bigger than a molehill.

Still half asleep, I clenched my hand and felt…nothing. Did I expect his to bet here like when we were about six years old? No, not really. Because it hasn't been there for ten years. It would be unfamiliar to feel his hand in mine again. Like the best friends we were.

A lot can change in ten years, I mused underneath the shelter of my pillow. I didn't think that he could.

At least, not as much as he did.