author: ae
email: besslaurence@flash.net
rating: G
category: general/romance
written: September 1999 -- no promises about the story itself, folks! four years is a long time and the stories don't even look so wonderful now. lol
summary: Freddie Vaughn comes to visit his old college chum, only this time with his wife and son, the latter whom is not well received by one of Plumfield's residents.
disclaimer: I own none of the characters presented save a few who are of my own creation, although the actual story itself is also of my own 'creativity.' And in the case that you should decide to sue for some reason, I'm certain you'd probably be paying far more for the process itself than what you would receive in return as I don't have much to offer. :) But the Spanish books are always up for grabs...
author's comments: For you, Liz! :) Sorry about that broken link..

Catching Attention
PART ONE

Glancing one more time in the mirror, Bess placed her hat on her head and reached for the coat sitting in the rocking chair beside her. Feeling pleased wit her appearance, she buttoned her coat and trotted down the stairs and through the front door. Mother and Father should be getting here any second…She mused silently. But seconds passed and they didn't get there.

Shivering, Bess hugged herself tightly, trying to warm herself up a little. It was so cold outside for only being the beginning of November. "Mother and Father will be here in shortly." She mumbled, trying to forget that she was cold.

"Bess, are they here yet?"

Bess turned to see her aunt stepping out onto the porch and walked up stand beside her. "No." A frown settled over her face.

"Don't worry, they'll be here in due time." Jo patted her shoulder.

"Are you sure you don't want to come inside and wait? It's much warmer there." She tried to convince the obviously cold Bess to come inside and wait.

"N-No, I b-better stay and wait out here. Since they're running late, it'll take less time if I'm waiting out here." Bess reasoned, hoping her aunt would leave it at that.

"Well, all right. Just make sure and let me know before you leave. I don't want to see you've gone, and then find out you were picked up by some bandits that were passing through and not your parents." Jo laughed, and Bess smiled.

"Yes, my Mother would very likely have a heart-attack." She replied, still laughing.

"Have a good time, Bess. And don't forget we want to meet these people!" After squeezing Bess's arm, she walked back inside leaving her niece alone again.

All right Mother and Father, where are you? She tapped her foot anxiously and stared out down the dirt road that led to Plumfield. Not a carriage was in sight.

"Whatcha doin', tryin' to freeze yourself to death?"

Bess jumped, startled at hearing someone beside her. "Dan, will you ever learn not to sneak up on people? It's most ungentlemanly." She put on her 'proper' tone knowing how it bugged him.

He scowled, making her smile. "Please don't go lecturin' me again. I've had enough of it during school from Franz to last me two lifetimes." Dan rolled his eyes.

"You are impossible, Dan." Bess stepped over to the railing, and rested her gloved hands on it.

"You're gonna freeze out here, I hope you know." Dan smirked.

"I thought you were saying just the other day how you hoped the ground would reach up and swallow you, just so you cold get away from me. Now you're telling me I'll freeze if I stay out here." She challenged him, raising her left brow.

He cleared his throat, and looked everywhere but at her. "I ah…Well, if ya freeze, you can't fall off the bridge and drown in the rive come summer." Dan replied, giving her a look of triumph that looked almost as if he was saying, "can you do any better than that?"

"Very funny, Dan." Bess rolled her eyes, and smirked. "Oh look, Mother and Father are here." She smiled, suddenly growing excited. "Dan, would you please tell Aunt Jo, when you go back inside, that my parents came and picked me up? I would, but we're rather pinched for time. And she asked me to please let her know when I left, so she wouldn't think I was kidnapped by runaway bandits." Bess gave him her best smiled and tipped her head to the side.

"Bandits? Why didn't I think of that before? I'd PAY somebody to come and take you away." He slapped his forehead, pretending to scold himself. "Well, I'm sure you wouldn't be gone long if you were to be kidnapped by them. Five minutes with you, and they'd be paying us to take you back." He smirked teasingly.

Bess stuck her tongue at him.

"Yeah, I'll tell her." Dan finally answered.

"Thank you, Dan!" She waved and hurried down to the waiting carriage.

"Hi, Mr. Laurie." Dan called to the man stepping out to assist his daughter in.

"Hello, Dan." Laurie called back. "Thanks for keeping Bess company while she was waiting for us." He thanked Dan.

"No problem. See ya later." Dan tipped his head and watched as the carriage pulled out.

"Bandits…" He stuck his hands in his pockets and tipped his head again, smiling. "Naw, it would never happen…"

~*~

"Calm down, Laurie. You're pacing won't help anything. You'll only wear yourself out." Amy chastised him gently, placing a gloved hand on his arm.

Laurie smiled sheepishly, and gazed down along the tracks.

"Don't worry Father. They'll be here anytime. After all, we did arrive ten minutes early." Bess said, noticing him gaze down the tracks with a perplexed look.

"I know, I guess I'm just a little-"

"Nervous?" Amy finished for him.

Laurie nodded. "Yes, I haven't seen Freddie Vaughn since…" He let the sentence go unfinished. The last time he'd seen Freddie Vaughn was when he met up with Amy around the time of Beth's death. At that time, Freddie and Amy were as good as engaged.

"When Father?" Bess hugged herself tightly.

"I-ahh, back when your Mother traveled to Europe for the first time." He left out the part about Amy and Freddie's 'almost' relationship.

"Oh look! Here comes the train." Amy announced. Everyone took a few steps back and watched as the train pulled to a stop in front of them. Passengers stepped, searching for their baggage at every door.

"Which car are they coming from?" Bess asked, standing up on her tiptoes to get a better look.

"I think it was car thr…" Laurie stopped mid-sentence, for the second time in the last twenty minutes.

Amy and Bess let their gaze follow to where Laurie's was. A tall, well-dressed man in a gray suit stepped down, then turned to offer his hand to someone.

"Freddie?" Laurie voiced his thoughts. Swallowing, he quickly walked down to where Freddie Vaughn and now a woman were standing. "Freddie, is that you?" Laurie asked, somewhat in disbelief.

"Why, Theodore." The man turned, his lips curving into something a little less than smile.

Bess raised her brow. Theodore? She wrinkled her brow in slight confusion. Both men shook hands, then started introductions.

"This is my wife, Victoria. Victoria, this is Amy and Theodore Laurence."

Amy smiled politely, and reached to shake hands daintily with Victoria Vaughn. She was definitely beautiful. Petite with cerulean blue eyes and dark, (almost black) silky hair that was pulled back and curled in the most fashionable way.

"And this must be Elizabeth!" Victoria said suddenly, noticing Bess.

Bess shook from her from her reverie at the sound of Victoria's voice. ELIZABETH? She didn't mind the name, but nobody had called her that for as long as she could remember.

Composing herself, Bess smiled politely and shook hands, too. "So nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Vaughn." She tipped her head slightly in their directions.

"You like so much like your mother, Elizabeth." Victoria gave her a beautiful smile while still looking at her.

"Thank you, Mrs. Vaughn." Bess curtsied quickly. I can't wait to get home…At least I'll be able to return to Plumfield tomorrow, and then Mother and Father can entertain them for the rest of the week. They're making me nervous.

"Shall we call the carriage?" Laurie inquired, reaching for some of the bags.

"Oh," Victoria and Freddie both looked a little embarrassed.

"Is something wrong?" Amy asked, sounding concerned.

"N-no, I-we just forgot…" Freddie and Victoria smiled hesitantly at them.

Bess frowned at the odd behavior. What was wrong with these people?

Freddie cleared his throat and glanced anxiously at his wife. Someone looked out, just as Bess looked up. "I…Um...er...this is our son, Daemon Vaughn."