Three sisters lived in a wooden house in the country. They worked on the farm raising cattle, pigs, and sheep day and night. Annabelle, the youngest, got the easiest and the more fun jobs like giving milk from a bottle to the baby cows and pigs while Ava and Amy did the dirtiest like cleaning after the cows and washing the pigs. Annabelle was also the prettiest, her brunette hair reached her middle back, and she had pale green eyes and a tanned skin. Unlike their sister, Ava and Amy were pale white with the usual blonde hair; they had the usual brown eyes making them as plain as the other girls in the land.

Their mother had died before Amy was three years of age and Bella was one. She had left each girl a crystal necklace which held a ruby. Amy and Ava had destroyed their necklaces because they disliked their mother but Annabelle kept it around her delicate neck day and night.

One warm spring day Annabelle woke up to the sound of her alarm. The sun was barely out yet. She hid under the covers once more and hit the snooze button. Suddenly, the door of her green bedroom burst open.

"Wake up, scab!" her older sister, Ava, yelled.

Annabelle threw the covers over her left side and said, "I'm up, and next time, please knock or something."

"And next time, please knock," Ava mocked and closed the door. Annabelle, also known as Bella, walked towards her bedroom closet. She picked a blue shirt, her favorite pairs of jeans and a brown cardigan. She walked towards the kitchen where her stepmother was making eggs.

"Oops," she said. "I forgot you were still living here." She gave Bella an awful glance.

Bella stared back into her ordinary brown eyes and said, "Don't worry; I'd probably not have eaten it." The evil stepmother threw the pan with eggs to the floor and grabbed Bella's hair.

"Don't you ever talk to me like that again!" she commanded. Bella nodded once and the stepmother let go. "Now stop wearing that hideous necklace," the stepmother said. Bella brought her hand to her neck and touched the cold ruby. Bella couldn't bare it any longer; she stepped out of her house and ran. She ran as fast as her legs could get her. The sound of grass under her feet was comforting to her. She knew she was getting away, far, far, away.

Soon, she was too tired to continue. She threw her weak body in the ground and cried. She cried harder than ever. Her eyes almost lost their color. She was too sad, her head ached and she soon fell asleep, right there, in the middle of the meadow.

The afternoon turned warm. The sun shone upon the deserted meadow. Suddenly, a car was heard in the distance. Bella woke up, her face was dirty and her cardigan was full of mud. She was too tired to sit up but she heard footsteps approaching. The footsteps stopped. Bella could feel a man looking at her. She could almost feel his breath.

"Are you okay?" he asked. His deep voice was calming. Bella managed to sit and the man, more of a teenager, extended his hand. She took it hesitantly and stood on her feet.

"Who are you?" Bella asked. Bella noticed that the boy was handsome. He looked about her age. He had piercing gray eyes and copper-colored hair. His expression was calm and he was about three inches taller than her.

He smiled and said, "My name's Brad, I was just going to the market when I thought I saw a dead body. You were mumbling so I figured you were alive. What's your name?"

Bella, stunned by his handsomeness could barely find the words to reply, "Annabelle. Bella for short," she managed to say.

They shook hands and he said, "Want me to take you home?" Bella's eyes opened. She didn't want to go home but where else could she go?

"Um….yes." They mounted the beat up car and Brad turned on the radio, not too loud though.

"Sorry for the car, it was my grandfather's until my brother inherited it. Now he has his own Mustang and he didn't want to be seen near this thing," he chuckled. Bella's face grew warm. Apparently Brad noticed and he smiled, revealing white teeth.

"What?" Bella said, knowing that her cheeks had turned red. She covered them with her hands and he chuckled again.

"Where do you live?" he asked. Bella debated with herself on where she would go. She decided to go and visit her aunt who lived not far away.

"17th Wall Street," she said giving directions to where he should go. Annabelle still looked at him profoundly. She was so concentrated on him that she forgot she was cold until she found herself shivering.

"Wow, you are freezing," he exclaimed touching her hand. Bella's heart jumped and she turned red again. Brad didn't notice this time, he was busy turning on the heater. Thank God, she thought. He handed Bella his college jacket.

"Thanks," was all Bella managed to say.

The ride was fairly quiet. Brad talked through most of the conversations. He asked what Bella was doing in the middle of the day at the meadow. She barely said a mere word or too.

"And you're all covered in dirt," he had said. Bella just looked at herself. She was a pure mess.

"How old are you?" he asked with a heart-racing smile. Bella stared wide-eyed at him.

"Sixteen," she said. Her voice was shaking with cold.

"Good," he replied smiling.

"How old are you?" she asked him back.

He smiled once again and said, "Seventeen,"

Not much later, the car arrived at Bella's aunt's home. Bella opened the door once the car stopped and Brad did the same.

"Here," she said handing him the jacket.

"Oh, you keep it." He shook his head.

"It's okay," she insisted and he took the jacket in his hands. She walked towards the door and knocked. He turned to leave and they said their goodbyes. About half a minute later, a woman of about forty opened the door. She stared at Bella for a few seconds but then she smiled.

"Bella, dear, how are you doing?" she asked.

"Sorry I came so…unexpected. My stepmother was awful. Can I stay here?"

"Sure you can, never thought your father would marry that witch," she responded and begged Bella in. "I'll make a bed right now," she smiled. Bella smiled back and reached to touch her neck, where the necklace of her mother was supposed to be resting.

She gasped, it was not there! She searched between the folds of her dress but she didn't find it. Her aunt noted Bella's desperation.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"My necklace, I can't find it."

"The one your mother gave you?"

"That's the one. It must've fallen; I'll never get it back!" Bella was now in tears. Her aunt hugged her and held her tight. Bella felt as if part of her was taken away. The only thread that held her and her mother together was now long gone. It was like a shattered crystal had dug deep into the center of her heart. She was desperate for breath, the room, cozy and warm, was now turning black. She could no longer see and then her body hit the floor, she fainted.

"Bella, wake up," said her aunt. She opened her eyes slowly while her aunt washed her face with a damp cloth. "Oh thank goodness!" she shrieked when she saw her niece awake.

"My necklace," Bella said.

"Yes, we'll go find it now, dear, if you want to." Bella struggled to sit and when she did so, the room spun once again. "Not so quick," her aunt suggested. Bella nodded and tried again.

"Let's go," Bella said as she stood up. Her aunt grabbed her hand and helped her up. She grabbed both their coats and went out.

It was cold and breezy. The cold made them shiver. They put on their coats and walked to the car. As soon as they sat down in the leather seats, Bella's aunt turned on the heater and they set off.

"Where do we go?" her aunt asked. Bella suggested they visit the place where she had fallen asleep and Brad had found her. Her aunt didn't know the whole story and she asked to hear it while they arrived.

The ride felt like it was fifteen minutes long. Bella was almost sure that the necklace was in the area where they stopped.

"Here," she said. The car stopped and Bella jumped out. She searched the meadow for five, then ten minutes and there was nothing. She mounted the car and rode a bit further. She repeated what she had done, this time, being more careful.

She almost lost hope. The necklace was nowhere to be found. She sobbed and got inside the car again.

"No luck?" her aunt asked. Bella just nodded. She didn't have anything to say. Her aunt put the car on drive and they set off towards the house. The ride was awfully quiet. Bella's aunt felt uncomfortable about that but Bella was just too heartbroken to think about it.

When they arrived, Bella saw Brad's familiar car in the driveway.

"Who's that?" asked her aunt.

"Brad, remember?" her aunt smiled and nodded. Once the car stopped, Bella waved to Brad and got out.

"Hey," he said. Bella's heart raced with the sound of his voice.

"Hey, what's up?"

"I think you lost this," he opened his right hand. It revealed the precious necklace Bella had missed so much. Her heart leaped with joy. She felt a smile spread wide across her face. Brad handed it to her smiling and she thanked him and hugged him.

"Thanks, really," she said. "Where did you find it?"

"It was right next to you, I forgot to give it to you after I left you here." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek, something she wouldn't have ever done if she wasn't so happy.

After that, Brad and Bella went inside the house and talked while her aunt made dinner. They talked about everything and found out they had very much in common. They decided they would arrange going to the local bowling alley soon. They soon became very good friends.

As for Bella's stepmom and her stepsisters, Bella decided that she would go back to her wooden house and pack up. She would now live with her aunt, her mother's sister. She was happy of the minor change; she wouldn't have to transfer schools or anything else. She loved staying with her aunt. She lived there until ten years later when she got engaged and then married to Brad.


A/N: Thanks to my reviewers:


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