|Finding a Way in the Darkest Night
Author: grayskies29 PM
This one follows "the Road Home" episode. Its a bit dark and dramatic. Will Neil and Christy find love in each others arms at last?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Angst - Christy H. & Neil M. - Chapters: 31 - Words: 65,275 - Reviews: 67 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 38 - Updated: 12-24-10 - Published: 07-31-09 - id: 5264144
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note: This story was just itching to be written. I took a small break from my other story. This one is a bit more emotional and darker. I will caution you that I do use some rough language in this on, but I don't think its strong enough to use an M rating. I hope you all enjoy it and review it. Don't worry about the other story, its all outlined so I can pick it up right where I left off. This story won't be updated nearly as often. I have to be more inspired to write this one for some reason. It nearly died once, but I couldn't let it go. Thanks to the Muses.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction. I do not own the characters in Christy the novel, tv series or movies. They belong to the Marshall/LeSourd family. I do not seek profit for this story. Its nature is for entertainment only.
Finding a Way in the Darkest Night
The sun glinted off of the tiny diamond in the ring surrounded by a veritable ocean of blue velvet. I wished the blue velvet could swallow me up just like that ring. Why on earth did David have to propose now? Couldn't he see how confused and upset I was? I heard the steady pound of hooves striking the ground in haste. I tore my eyes away from the cold shimmer of the diamond to see Neil astride Charlie. Why had he followed me? Doesn't he have a wife to go home too? I thought sourly. I lowered my gaze waiting for his comments and questions, but none came. I raised my head and leveled my sight to stare Neil directly in his pale eyes. He loves me too! It's written plain as day in his eyes. I felt as if a huge hole had opened at my feet. My heart lurched in my chest as if to drop to the bottom of that hole that had no end. I felt nauseated, knowing that either choice I made right now would end in awful pain for many people not just myself. There had to be another way, something less volatile.
I dropped the ring, box and all to the ground and hastily put distance between the two men. "I have class to teach. Excuse me, please!" I tried to put strength in my voice, but it sounded more like a yelp of pain. How could I ever make such a choice? One man, whom I just realized I loved more than anything in the world, was married. The other just wanted me as a pretty thing on his arm. I suppose on some level David did love me, but not in a lasting way, nothing that could stand the test of time. I kept my tear filled eyes on the ground as I walked toward the schoolhouse. The students had gathered on the steps to see what all of the ruckus was.
"Class please return to your seats." I heard my own voice as if it were a thousand miles away. I tried to smile at them so they wouldn't worry about me.
Rob Allen was standing beside me. He must have some idea of what I was going through. Just last fall he had been unwittingly caught up in a love triangle with Bessie Coburn and John Spenser. Bessie had been harboring secret feelings for him and John was his best friend and Bessie's sweetheart. It had a good outcome. I could only hope that I would be so lucky, but that sick feeling churning at the pit of my stomach didn't bode well for my predicament.
"Would ye like if'n I read the class my latest story Teacher?" He was saying now. He sounded far away as well. I nodded my head in agreement. I couldn't teach right now, but it was far too early to dismiss them yet. Rob and Ruby Mae got the class settled. Rob started his story, but I wasn't listening. I wasn't even thinking I was numb not knowing what to do next.
" I told you to leave her alone, you fool! She's mine. You'll disgrace her, make her into a teahouse trollop like Margaret!" It was David, angrier than I had ever heard him before.
"No you're the fool to think that she is an object for you to own! Can't you see she doesn't love you! How many times did you ask her the same question and didn't get an answer? So you'll keep on asking her the same damned question over and over again until you hear what you want. Did you ever think to ask her what she wants? Have you ever talked to her?" Neil's Scottish burr was getting so thick he was barely intelligible. Emotions ran high in his voice.
Rob was doing his best to talk over the shouting, but it wasn't working. I was shaking. I just wanted to get away. I wanted to go far away from here, where no one could find me. But the voices continued and I could not escape.
"Go back to your whore Neil!" David roared. I heard Charlie whinny, frightened and I knew that Neil had dismounted hastily. I flew to the door in time to see Neil land a punch into David's face, returning the one David had given him a few weeks earlier.
I leapt between them shrieking like a banshee, "Stop it! Enough! Just leave each other alone!" I would have said more but I was cut short by a flying fist. David in his anger sought to bury his fist into Neil but caught the corner of my mouth instead. No one said anything. I tasted blood on my lips. I saw Prince still tied nearby. I went to him, untied the reins and blindly mounted him. I kicked him into a gallop and sailed free of my turmoil. Prince ran on and on under my urgings. I had no idea where I was going and didn't care anymore.
The sun was slipping behind the mountains when I finally stopped. Nothing looked familiar. I had never been any farther than English Mountain. I stopped by a stream to let Prince drink. Poor horse! He was heavily lathered with sweat. How I had made it so far without falling off of him was amazing. He was tired, but unhurt from his hard ride. Now what? Where do I go from here? I sank to the ground beneath a tree. I had to find some shelter or find my way back since it was getting dark. I got up and went to the stream. In the water I could see my reflection dimly. My swollen cut lip was clearly visible. The thoughts swirled throughout my head. I pressed my hand s to my temples and the tears began to flow. God really didn't care did he? Why would He let me love a married man if He truly cared? I cried harder. The hurt was so unbearable. Prince nudged me in sympathy.
Suddenly, my own words to Margaret came back to me. I told her to fight for Neil. She kept running from him and her mother. I knew I couldn't run away. It would solve nothing. I could not let my own heartbreak impede me completely, much as I wanted it to do. I had to go back. I was needed. I was the key to so many of these battered relationships. If I left now with no explanation there would be nothing left. Miss Alice needed me. She was in so much turmoil about Margaret. I couldn't abandon my students either. I prayed for courage.
I searched my pockets for a handkerchief to wipe Prince down with so we could go on. I still didn't know where we were, but I would try to find my way back. There probably was a search party looking for me now. I mounted Prince and turned him to head in the direction from which we came.
"Don't worry, we'll take it slow." I patted the horse's shoulder reassuringly. We started back into the darkening woods at a walk.
As the last rays of the autumn sun sifted through the twining limbs, I saw a slight figure ahead of us.
"Hello?" I called out cautiously. The figure turned to face me. It was a wizened old man with a nice silk hat on his head covering a crown of downy white hair. I got a little closer and saw that this old weathered man had incredibly youthful looking green eyes. I had never seen quite that shade of green before.
"Hello, Miss. You seem to be lost." He didn't sound like a typical mountain man. He smiled at me.
"Yes. I'm trying to get back to Cutter Gap. Am I headed in the right direction?" I hoped that he knew the right way and wasn't lost himself.
"Well Miss, I think your horse knows the way. After all he brought you here, not you. You were just along for the ride. He's a creature of God, and He will guide you both home safely. You are on the right path and your heart knows it. Your heart will find a way, even in the darkest night when no light is found and hope seems lost." He smiled at me again. Somehow this stranger knew my reason for being here. He wasn't just talking about the physical me being lost, but the spiritual and emotional me that was losing its footing in my heartbreak. His words were comforting like a quilt and wrapped around my broken heart.
"Thank you sir." I was at a loss for words.
"It's no trouble at all, Miss. Trust and you will get home. Keep faith with you always." With that he tipped his hat and continued on his way.
I gave Prince the bit and he moved ahead at his own pace. I turned to look for the old man, but couldn't see him anymore. It was almost as if he disappeared in thin air. Puzzled, I let Prince lead the way home.
Twilight had turned to night and a bright moon shone down through the screen of falling leaves. Prince had found a path and was following it surely. It was getting very chilly and we both had been out for hours. We had to get back. I wasn't exactly thrilled to go back to the mission house but I had to trust that my heart would know what to do and say.
A few yards ahead of me, out of my sight, a twig snapped. Prince and I were both startled.
"Hello? Who's there?" My voice was trembling with fear. I hoped that I hadn't run into a batch of out of state moonshiners. I would be in trouble then. My breath caught in my throat as the noises moved toward me. A horse and rider trotted into the patch of moonlight in front of me. It was Neil!
"Thank God you're alright!" He swung off of Charlie's back, rushed to me and pulled me out of the saddle into his arms. I was too surprised and frightened to protest.
"I started looking for you shortly after you ran off. I had thought you needed time alone, away from us all. But I couldn't help think that you…" His face was pressed into my hair. I could feel him draw in a shuddering breath. I knew he must be in tears. I let him continue, he need some relief from his tormented soul too. He could do that safely with me.
"I couldn't help thinking that I would find you with your neck broken. I don't think I could live if you had died. I couldn't go through that again. I couldn't lose love again." He was trembling with emotion. I had done to him what Margaret had twice done. I ran away from him.
"I wasn't running from you. I was running away from the situation. I couldn't stand to see you and David fighting over me. You see there wasn't a choice to be made at all. My heart already told me I loved you not David, but you're married so I can't choose you. I can't be with you and I know it hurts but that is the way it has to be for now. You still have a marriage to sort out. I told Margaret that you were worth fighting for. I believe that, but I won't interfere. If she chooses to stay with you, so be it." Resolve filled my voice and I hoped that Neil understood what I was saying.
Neil lifted his head and stepped back from me our arms still encircling each other. His eyes were red and raw. He looked into my eyes. His eyes reflected my own guilt, fear and doubt.
"She's afraid of being alone and so am I. When you came here to Cutter Gap and I got to know you, I felt alive again. Like a tree dormant in winter that almost magically buds leaves in spring, that's what you've done to me. I wasn't alone anymore, not with you here. Someone I could trust, share a candid discussion, someone who believed in me, an equal, a partner. I never had those with Margaret. I knew that when I saw you ride away from the cabin. I couldn't let you ride away and tell David yes, just to spite me. It would be me and Margaret all over again." His hand went up to touch my cut lip. "I'm sorry I fought with David and you got hurt. You are right I need to sort out my marriage and some other issues first."
Tenderly, I stood on tiptoe and pressed a soft kiss on Neil's cheek. "I'm sorry I scared you. Our hearts will find a way through this. You just have to have faith." I turned from him and went back to Prince.
"We shouldn't be seen together. Are there others looking for me?"
"Yes. Jeb and John Spenser, Rob and Bob Allen, Dan Scott, Tom McHone; they are split up looking for you. David sent them, but he wouldn't go looking for you. He's in shock at striking you."
" I don't want to be caught with you again in the moonlight, especially now." I remembered full well the lie that Bessie Coburn had spread and the stir it caused. It could not be repeated. I had to find one of the search parties on my own and Neil had to continue on without me.
"If you travel to the left a bit farther and follow the creek, it's Blackberry Creek, you should come across Rob or Bob. I'll head out to the west and loop around like I had originally planned." Neil turned to Charlie and gave me a reassuring nod and left.
I hated to see him go, but I followed his directions and soon came across Bob Allen. I was silent on the way back to the mission house. I had no idea what would happen next. I couldn't undo what had been done, but if I kept faith like the green-eyed stranger had said perhaps things would turn out right. Right now everything was wrapped in so thick of a fog I couldn't see a way out, only feel it.