Welcome, one and all, to the first ever serious story created by me.

I MUST WARN YOU -- THIS STORY CONTAINS INCEST, STALKING/OBSESSION, BEATING/ABUSE, SEX, AND SELF-MUTILATION.

I must also warn you -- you may not like some of the things you are going to read in this story. The content is intense and very graphic, which is why it is rated "M"! "M" meaning "mature", and NOT FOR CHILDREN. This is also NOT FOR DIA, NINA,AND RAY LOVERS, FOR THEY TAKE ON SOME PRETTY SHITTY ROLES, AS YOU WILL LATER SEE.

There are disturbing things in here, as you have read above in the caps-lock. You will later on see things that might make certain people squeamish, so if it bothers you, then I really don't reccomend reading this. And if you do, then don't flame it because I HAVE WARNED YOU.

Now, I present to you...the full summaries of each characters' story!


THE FULL SUMMARIES

Wendy

The young farmer Wendy had all she wanted: a loving boyfriend, great friends, and an amazing farm. But the lives of everyone around her are tumbling down, and she finds herself caught in the middle, while dealing with problems of her own: a heart torn between two lovers.

Eve

Ray was handsome, sweet, and everything Eve ever wanted in a man. Getting involved with him seemed like a good decision -- before she knew his true self, that is. Eve finds that her loving boyfriend can change into a cruel, heartless man in the blink of an eye, leaving her in a prison of abuse with no control, with her life now run by a man she loves and hates at the same time...and he threatens the life of her unborn child.

Blue

Blue never could find the right girl for him...not that he tried, anyway. The only one he ever wanted was forbidden... But that was understandable, since that special woman was his cousin Ellen. But love comes in the strangest ways and forms, and his love may never be accepted. But desire is a hard thing to control for Blue...

Joe

Joe usually liked seeing people happy. But the happiness of his brother Kurt left him in shadows of despair and jealousy, for Kurt had the one thing he wanted most: Wendy. It grew harder for Joe to ignore the onset of love, and a choice is to be made: is he to spare the happiness of his brother and admit his feelings to Wendy, or let his unsaid love tear him apart? But word does get out, and Joe is shocked to discover that he is being seriously considered by the woman he loves. At the cost of his brother's love, of course...

Kurt

Kurt loved Wendy. But it appalled and shocked him the day he saw her begin to try to decide between Kurt and his brother Joe. Angry at his brother for wanting what was rightfully his, and angry at Wendy for being unsure in such a fateful decision, Kurt's method of venting is having an affair with a neighbor. But affairs can often be taken too seriously, which is the case with Kurt's fling, who turns out to be a deranged woman. Kurt has to find a way out of the mistake he made -- but in doing so, he must risk his own life and the life of a very dangerous young lady.

Jamie

Jamie saw no hope in life anymore, no room for things to get better. She adopts an attitude which leads her down a horrible path of self-destruction, self-mutilation, and suicidal attempts. Due to her declining physical health and dangerous acts towards herself, Jamie is forced to stay in Flowerbud Village's sanatorium, where she finds herself at the mercy of a secretly sick-headed individual. But no one ever believes Jamie, in her opinion -- they just keep believing the lies of a cruel, heartless, and insane girl who attempts to bring about Jamie's death through acts unimaginable and for the craziest of reasons.

That's it for the summaries. You like? Have you read them? Have you read the warnings? Then start reading the actual story! And there is MUCH more to come.



Love and Iniquity

Started on 5/1/06

A story by The Tacochickenwings


You may read on as long as you have read everything at the top of the page.


Chapter 1 -- The Sun Doesen't Shine For Long

'Cause I'm keeping you forever and for always

We will be together all of our day

Wanna wake up every morning to your sweet face

Always

-- "Forever and For Always" by Shania Twain

The sun shone high in a bright blue afternoon sky, luring the residents of the tiny, quaint Flowerbud Village out of their homes and under its rays.

The sun... One of my favorite sights to see, Wendy thought, closing her chocolate brown eyes and raising her face to the warmth. With a new energy, she yet again took up her work of tilling soil.

Wendy was a farmer, and a young one at that, at the tender age of twenty. She was rather petite at 5'2", but was full of energy. Without it, how could she run her own farm? Wendy usually kept her warm brown hair in pigtails, which added to her bright and spunky appearance. Everything was sunny about Wendy, even on the dark, cloudy days that Flowerbud Village had endured for two years. Perhaps it was her endless caring and kindness that had allowed her to be able to see the harvest sprites when they had come to her door, requesting her aid.

The harvest sprites were tiny elf-like creatures, drawn to individuals who were gifted in ways unknown, and were the followers and friends of the village's own resident guardian -- the Harvest Goddess. They had been at her side for years upon years. The Harvest Goddess' life energy was fueled by the generosity, giving, and kindness of the villagers she so loved, even though they couldn't see her. But that never stopped the Goddess and the people of Flowerbud from holding eachother dear. Until a certain point, that is...

As time went by and the modern age loomed above old-fashioned past-times like story-telling and spending days with friends and neighbors instead of in front of the TV, the memory of the Harvest Goddess faded into myth by the coming of the next generation. People became more selfish, more troubled...and this despaired the Goddess. Two years ago, the Harvest Goddess lost hope herself. With one last good-bye to the harvest sprites, she turned into stone. From that day forth, Flowerbud Village took on a gloomy air. So many days were cloudy, and the greed and selfishness that the Harvest Goddess despised grew steadily.

One year after the Goddess had turned to stone was the day Wendy moved into the village. She had come with high hopes from an advertisement dubbed "The Exciting Ranch Plan", which was invented by the mayor of Flowerbud, Theodore, in hopes of bringing more farmers to town. It had been Wendy's dream to start her own ranch, as she had grown up on one. The day after she was settled in her new home, a knocking at the door roused her from her slumber. Upon opening the door, she had found herself faced with three harvest sprites: Billy, Arthur, and Carlos. They were overjoyed that she could see them, for there was only one other who could. They quickly showed her the petrified Harvest Goddess, and told her of the event. They asked Wendy to save the Harvest Goddess by collecting happiness that came in the form of music notes. Only then could the Goddess be saved.

It was when Wendy was being told all this that another human walked onto the scene. She was a fellow farmer, a girl Wendy's age named Jamie. It didn't take long for Wendy to figure out that Jamie could also see the sprites and the Goddess, and she discovered that Jamie had also been asked to help with the rescue of the Harvest Goddess, whom she was very close to. To the dismay of the sprites and Wendy, Jamie had no intention of working with Wendy, and grew angry at her attempt to butt in. From that day on, Jamie made herself Wendy's rival. Jamie always seemed to think that there was such heated competition between herself and the other girl, but Wendy never thought of Jamie as a rival, and worked at her own pace.

The "happiness notes" were hard to come by. Wendy had been working on her farm for over a year, and it flourished surprisingly well, but she had so few notes. She hoped things would get better, but the gloomy atmosphere sure was growing fast, and it just made things harder.

Wendy took a break from her tilling, and stood up straight to wipe the sweat from her brow with the back of her gloved hand. She looked to gaze over at Jamie's farm a distance away. It sure looked rundown... It had been that way for a good few months now. And Wendy hadn't seen Jamie lately. Was Jamie ok, she wondered?

Wendy was thrust from her thoughts when a voice behind her loudly and quickly said, "Did you miss me, love?"

"Eek!"

Wendy turned around quickly and found herself in the arms of her boyfriend Kurt, who laughed at her reaction. Wendy blushed and pushed Kurt away.

"Kurt, I thought you were the quiet type!" she snapped, but a smile and a twinkle in her eye betrayed her scorn.

Kurt smiled one of his smiles that made Wendy's heart melt, the kind he reserved only for her. "Sorry," he replied.

Kurt was an apprentice carpenter down at the woodshop along with his older brother Joe, who was also one of Wendy's best friends. The two brothers were orphans, and were living in the woodshop with their teacher, Woody. Kurt was quite a bit taller than Wendy, with spiked, dark brown hair and serious, light brown eyes. To most, he was very shy, even cold, but never to Wendy, the woman he held so dear. When they had first met, he treated her with his cold, cool attitude, but she warmed the ice, and it didn't take long for a romantic spark to form between them.

"Well, I suppose I can forgive you this time. You're just too cute to stay mad at, y'know?" Wendy said as she wrapped her arms around Kurt's neck and stood on her tip-toes to kiss him.

When they pulled apart, Kurt stood to look around at the farm.

"Great job you're doing here. Are you done for the day?"

"Huh. I'm a farmer. Honestly now, would I really be done at 12 P.M?"

"Sorry, dumb question."

Wendy wiped her brow again and set down the hoe. She grabbed Kurt's hand. "Well, anyhow, I can take a break. It's actually hot out today, so let's go inside for a drink."

Hand in hand, Wendy and Kurt headed for Wendy's small wooden house. As they walked, Wendy looked into Kurt's face. She felt lucky to have someone like Kurt.

Once inside, Wendy had Kurt sit at the kitchen table while she poured glasses of ice water for both of them. She handed Kurt his glass and took a seat across from him.

"Thanks," Kurt murmured, taking a long swig.

They sat in peaceful silence, sipping their waters for a moment or so before Kurt broke the soundless atmosphere.

"So, what were you so deep in thought about when I found you? For a moment there, I thought you were asleep on your feet!" He smiled, looking curious.

Wendy gazed out the window briefly and drew her fingers along the perspiration on the glass of water before she replied, "Oh, just thinkin' about Jamie. Her farm's a mess. She's been real off lately, and even though she doesen't like me, I can't help but worry just a little."

Kurt reached across the table to grasp Wendy's hand.

"Wendy, you're almost too sweet sometimes. Don't worry about Jamie. She'll be fine. Why care about her, anyway? She's about as nice as a rattlesnake."

Wendy sighed and leaned forward to kiss Kurt.

"Let's just drop the subject," she said. "Anyway, how are Woody and Joe doing?"

"Woody's good," Kurt answered with a nod. "But Joe's been a little off lately himself."

"What do you mean?" Wendy frowned.

"I dunno. He hasn't been really focused lately; kinda like his mind's somewhere else. He seems sort of down, too."

Wendy smiled good-naturedly and said to Kurt, "Well, when I stop by to see y'all tomorrow, I'll try to find a way to cheer him up a little."

Kurt grinned mischeviously, stood up, and crossed the table to Wendy where he wrapped his arms around her shoulders from behind her kissed her ears, neck, and cheeks.

"You're a nice, nice girl, Wendy."

Wendy blushed. She didn't want Kurt to stop doing what he was attempting, but she knew that now was not the time for games. She turned her body slightly to face him a little more, gently putting a finger on his lips.

"Stop, Kurt. Eve's coming over in a little while." Wendy grinned apologetically as Kurt groaned with frustration and backed off.

Eve was Wendy's best friend. She was the most beautiful girl in town, and had the eye of every man in it. However, she didn't have a boyfriend -- though she had told Wendy that there was someone who had caught her attention lately... Eve was a waitress at Flowerbud Village's Moonlight Cafe, a place that Wendy often went to after work. It was where the two women had met. They had started talking during Wendy's visits, and it was not long at all before they became inseperable best friends. Eve often visited Wendy, and Wendy often visited Eve.

"Eve. She ruins everything..." Kurt growled, but Wendy could tell he wasn't serious.

Wendy rested her chin on her fist to gaze intently at Kurt with her big, dark brown eyes.

"Hey, you be quiet about Eve! She's my best friend. And besides, did you forget about my farm? I still have work to do, and I don't have time for both my visit with Eve and sex with you. But if you're still interested, I'm free tonight." Wendy grinned.

Kurt brightened a little. "Well, you know I will be." Wendy chuckled at that.

Finishing off the last of his water, he kissed Wendy good-bye and headed for the door.

"I gotta get back to the shop. Break'll probably be over by the time I get back, and I don't want to be late and have Woody pissed at me."

Wendy followed Kurt to the door and wrapped her arms around his waist, nuzzling his chest with her cheek.

"Ok. I'll see you later then?" She turned her face to look into his handsome brown eyes.

Kurt looked down at her. "You know you will."

"And tell Joe and Woody I said 'hi'."

"I will."

And then Kurt was out the door, leaving Wendy with that warm, comforting feeling he always gave her.


I'll keep you my dirty little secret

Don't tell anyone

Or you'll be just another regret

Hope that you can keep it

My dirty little secret

-- "Dirty Little Secret" by The All American Rejects

Blue leaned haughtily against the fence of Blue Sky Ranch's pasture, gazing challengingly at Michael from the Junk Shop.

"Please, Blue...!" Michael carried on in a hoarse, desperate voice. "Ann didn't mean a single thing she said. Please don't leave her... She needs a man, Blue. Can't you just put that little argument behind you...?"

Blue spat in the dirt and eyed Michael coldly with his blue eyes, sizing him up again. He sure had the nerve to come back and plead after last night's event.

"Dammit, you don't listen to one single fucking word I tell you, do you?" growled Blue. "I'm sick of Ann. I should have just cut off the damn relationship a long time ago! She's nothing but a nit-picky, over-critical, immature, obnoxious bitch. And if you ain't gonna listen to anything else I say, then at least remember this: this has been one 'spat' of many, and I'm sick of all this shit. Michael, I'm leaving your daughter for good this time. I don't wanna see her again, got it!"

Embers of anger heated Michael's small eyes, and he grinded his teeth slightly. It seemed very apparent that he was not at all fond of the remarks Blue had made about his daughter. He was out of excuses for Blue to get back together with his daughter -- it dawned on him in a dark light that it really was the official end of his daughter's relationship with the rude farmhand.

"Well, sure looks like you're out of ammunition now, Michael. About time, too." Blue spat in the dirt contemptuously again. "Now scram! You're wastin' my time. And don't be back here again, got that!"

Michael's expression went through stages of anger, despair, and then finally, it went blank. He turned and shuffled away down the road, his shoulders hunched and his head hung. Blue stared hard at him all the while until he was out of sight, just to make sure he wasn't planning on changing his mind about leaving. When he saw that Michael was gone for good, he headed to the barn to continue his work by milking the cows.

Blue had been dating Michael's daughter Ann for about six months. Six months too long, it seemed. Blue couldn't deny that Ann was a good girl at heart, but he easily would admit that she was, as he had told Michael, very overly-critical, not to mention loud. They had nothing in common: Ann was bubbly and chatty to the point of being almost childish at times, while Blue preferred to keep to himself and be alone. As a couple, Blue and Ann had had many fights, but always, until now, they would make up half-heartedly. But now Blue was so sick of her that the very thought of the pretty little red-haired tomboy with the big blue eyes made him gag.

As Blue went to work milking Blue Sky Ranch's cows, he thought about how he couldn't help but feel sorry for Ann. She had a rough nature, and he had been the only man in Flowerbud Village to express even the slightest interest in her, and that still wasn't saying a whole lot. Ann was attractive, but was not good wife material. In fact, she didn't even seem interested in marriage. This seemed to very often trouble her father Michael, who, although he loved his daughter very much, wanted her to become nothing more than a wife, even if he did appreciate her help in his shop. He was the type of man who seemed to think that it was every woman's dream and deepest desire to become a wife, doing nothing more than domestic duties and bearing children for a man. But Ann just wasn't like that, and everyone knew that she was never going to change. Surely even Michael knew that in his heart, despite his refusing to believe it.

"What'd ol' Mike want?" asked a voice behind Blue in a southern twang. Blue turned to see his Uncle Hank standing by him, curiousity glinting through his ever-squinted eyes.

Blue had been living with his Uncle Hank for three years, working as a farmhand on his ranch, Blue Sky Ranch. Hank was pretty kind, but he could really crack the whip, depending on his mood. And he was moody often. In Blue's opinion, he drank too much also.

Hank was a little taller than Blue, with a rather tall head covered in thinning brown hair. His eyebrows were big and bushy, and he also had a big nose and bucked teeth to complete a rather rusticly unattractive look. Hank also had a daughter named Ellen who also worked on the ranch, and thankfully, she looked not a thing like him. In Blue's eyes, Ellen was special to him in a way that he didn't like to think about. So usually, he tried not to.

Blue had always been thankful that whatever appearance genes that Hank had gotten didn't affect him at all, even though his father and Hank were brothers. Blue looked more like his mother, having the same blonde hair and ice blue eyes that she had had, but with the well-muscled build of his father. Blue was an orphan though, as so many of the villagers were, for some odd reason.

"Oh," grumbled Blue bitterly, turning back to the cow he was currently milking, "Michael came by begging for me to get back together with Ann. But I'm sick of her. Can't believe I stayed with her as long as I did."

Hank considered the words and nodded.

"Y'know, I was always wonderin' how ya dealt with all the crap she was dishin' out for six whole months, and how she dealt with all your crap --"

"'Scuse me?" Blue raised a brow.

Hank continued defensively, "Hey, don't get touchy now. You're just as argumentative as she is, and you know it. Anyway, everyone knew that you two weren't ever right for eachother. Fought like y'all were in a war."

Blue grunted and went back to milking the cow. He didn't like talking much, especially about topics such as this. Hank remained silent for a while, simply standing there. The hairs on the back of Blue's neck prickled -- he hated people looking over his shoulder, probably more so than he hated talking.

"Hm, well, I see you've pulled the 'Mr. Antisocial' mask on me again. I'll leave you to yer work, then. Lunch'll be in an hour, so step up the pace, 'kay?" And with that, Hank left the barn.

Blue shook his head and sighed to himself. Most of the days in his life were content enough, but here was one he could label as "bad".


There had been lots of fruitful work done on Blue Sky Ranch, and there was still more to be done. Blue put away his farm tools and headed to the house to eat lunch.

"Hello?" Once inside, Blue looked around, only to find himself alone. Scratching his head, he wandered into the kitchen, rather puzzled. "Anyone here?" No answer. Blue shrugged and got himself a seat at the rustic wooden kitchen table, wondering where exactly everyone was.

"Oh, Blue! I'm sorry I'm late... I'll get the food right away," assured Blue's cousin Ellen as she scampered into the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron.

Blue looked at her briefly, but had to look away again. His heart thumped... He never could figure out the full meaning of his odd feelings for Ellen, but it made him uncomfortable. He couldn't even look at her for very long without his face and ears turning red, his heart pounding.

Blue always thought that Ellen was very pretty. She was average height, average weight, with short, boyishly cut brown hair that looked surprisingly cute on her. She had big, bright brown eyes that always reflected her pleasant nature. Other men in the village seemed to think of her appearance as unassuming, and that she was just an ordinary but hard-working girl with no particular thrills or quirks. In Blue's mind, she was all that a woman needed to be and more, and wasn't frilled up in dresses, ridiculous beauty, and heavy makeup. She was real. A farm girl who did well at everything she did with a heart of gold...

"I's ok..." Blue kept his head low and shadowed to try to hide any blush that was possible to catch. He listened to Ellen's footsteps leaving the room, and the tension in his muscles eased.

You idiot. She's your cousin! Stop thinking like a pervert. What the hell is the matter with you! Blue thought angrily. He didn't know the details of his feelings for Ellen, but he knew they were romantic notions. This was an uneasy realization for the young farmhand. After all, Ellen was his cousin...a cousin very close in relation, not distant at all. Maybe the feelings wouldn't be such a problem to him if they weren't so damn strong. Ellen was always in his thoughts, even when he had looked upon the face of Ann. Blue would toss and turn in bed at night, wondering why he felt in such ways about a close relative, why he dreamed of her, why he thought of her...and still, the answers never came. But across the questions in his mind was the word "SIN" written boldly under his eyelids in big, red letters, popping up whenever he thought of such iniquitous things.

"I made stew." Blue's neck, face, and ears felt hot as Ellen's arm reach over his shoulder to set a bowl of her delicious cooking down in front of him.

"I hope you like it," she said, and Blue could feel her warm, kind smile, even though he wouldn't dare lay eyes on her.

"T-thanks..." he murmured.

Blue caught a glimpse of her face as she sat down across from him.

"You're welcome!" Another beautiful smile. Blue tried to smile back, but it probably came out more as a tightening of the lips. Quickly, he looked back down at his food and started eating.

"Daddy should be here soon..." Ellen sighed. "He went down to Duke's house to grab a drink. I wish he wouldn't drink so much..."

Blue glanced back at Ellen briefly to give her a sympathetic look. She caught it and smiled.

"You may be quiet, Blue, but I know how sweet you are on the inside. I just wish you'd talk to me more."

Can't you see how much I want to do that? Blue thought. But I can't. I need to stay away from you, or who knows what might happen.


The tide is high but I'm holding on

I'm gonna be your number one

I'm not the kind of girl

Who gives up just like that

Oh, no

-- "Tide is High" by Atomic Kitten

It took great finesse for that little hooked worm to sail through the air as it did, landing in and rippling the waters of Sunny Lake, right on its target. Eve watched Ray, Ray watched his hook, line, and sinker.

Eve guessed that it was rather obvious that she did not follow Ray on his trips to Sunny Lake to watch him fish. To her, he was the show. Tall, muscular, handsome, with blue eyes like the sky and hair the brown of fertile soil, pulled back in a short ponytail. Ray was a pro-fisherman, and was one of the newest residents of Flowerbud Village. His arrival was rather bewildering to the villagers, as Ray was something of a celebrity. He even had his own fishing show. The vast majority of the villagers had never seen a single celebrity.

From the moment she saw him, Eve knew that she had to have Ray. He was so sweet, so respectful, and not to mention one of the handsomest men she had ever laid eyes upon. Many men had come to court Eve. After all, she was the most beautiful girl in the village, despite being too modest to admit it. Eve was curvaceous, with wavy blonde hair and beautifully slanted pink eyes. Men yearned for Eve everywhere she went, whether it be the city, here in the country, anywhere. The line of desiring men was also matched with a large list of angry, jealous women. Eve did not give herself away to any man that came by out of the blue, but this quenched no jealousies. It made making friends a lot harder for Eve, for in such a cruel, modern society, nearly everyone judged, in the city especially. When she had moved to Flowerbud, Eve finally made many friends, her best friend being a farmer named Wendy.

Men were not the biggest priority in Eve's life. When she had been young and foolish, she had, in truth, had her heart broken many times. With age she had wisened, and now made well-calculated decisions. For the first time in years, there was a man Eve knew she would do anything to have: Ray.

On almost every nice day, Ray would make his trips to Sunny Lake to fish. Eve would drop by there as often as she could, trying to seem casual. She would make excuses such as taking a walk, or sometimes she'd bring Ray a lunch. Her intentions were easily read though, even she knew it. But Ray didn't seem to mind. On the contrary, he soaked it up like a thirsty plant, throwing Eve handsome smiles and shy glances in return.

Oftentimes, they held conversation during Ray's fishing trips. Ray seemed a little shy around her at first, but quickly warmed up to her. Eve had a very accomodating nature, after all. She had to, being a waitress. Eve's hopes of having Ray return her feelings were high. He would blush, he would watch her, she would watch him... In her heart, Eve felt it was a flower about to bloom.

At the present moment, the sun rose to the hottest, highest point of the day. Suddenly, the bait on Ray's fishing pole dunked under, and he began to reel in with an expert quickness. Eve held her breath and leaned forward to watch what would happen. Out from the lake sprung Ray's catch -- a mere tiny fish. Ray stared at it for a moment in surprise, then smiled, chuckled to himself, and tossed it back in.

"For a little thing, he sure put up a good fight."

Eve cracked a smile. "I'd say so, too."

Ray sighed, gently laid his fishing pole on the grass, and went to join Eve on the rock she had sat upon to observe.

"It sure is hot out," Ray remarked, wiping the sweat from his sunburnt face. "Jeez, I'm surprised you're not more burned than I am. You have such fair skin."

"It's rather shady here. After all, I'm not the one out there with the pole catching 'big' fish." Eve giggled.

Ray smiled, and looked into her eyes in a meaningful, complex way.

"You have a very pretty laugh, Eve." The simplicity of his statement seemed to hold a deeper meaning, its secret locked in Ray's blue eyes. Eve couldn't quite interpret it, so all she could do was blush and smile. But whatever it was, it must have been a good sign.

There was a peaceful silence then, the calm of it only added to be the chirps of birds and the rustle of wind in leaves. But Eve fought a battle with herself in her mind. Now was the perfect time to ask Ray something that she had so desired for the longest time. The urge to ask grew and grew inside of her like a pressured volacano, until finally, it just came out.

"Ray..."

"Yes?"

Eve was surprised by her own shyness. She was never usually shy, but this time was an exception. Avoiding Ray's attentive gaze, Eve leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees, and picked at a blade of grass.

"Tomorrow night, do you think you'd like to take a walk on the beach? With me?" There. She had said it.

Eve turned her eyes back to Ray to see his reaction, and her heart lept when she saw that handsome smile she so loved.

"That would be really nice. I was going to ask you something similar any moment anyway, so thanks for sparing me the question." He grinned sheepishly.


"Wendy, Wendy, Wendy!" Eve raced through the fields of her best friend's farm with little regard to what she stepped on. At last, she spotted the petite brunette harvesting crops a good distance away, and sped toward her.

"WENDY!"

"GAH!" Wendy had finally realized that Eve had come. After the initial surprise of her friend's sudden appearance, Wendy spun to face her.

"Eve! Good lord, you and Kurt just can't stop scaring me, can you? Come on a little gentler, ok?"

"Sorry...!"

"Man, what's with you? You're always the calm one. I think this is the first time I've ever actually seen you ecstatic... What the hell happened?"

Quickly and with little breath, Eve relayed all that had happened with her and Ray that day. Wendy's smile grew as the story went on.

"Well," said Wendy with a twinkle in her eye, "What did I tell you? I knew he'd say yes. He obviously dug you. Though, what guy doesen't dig you, Eve? You're lucky." She chuckled and shook her head, bending down to pick a ripe tomato.

"It's not like I asked for that," Eve replied quietly.

Wendy wiped her dirty hands on her pants. "Nevermind that now. Let's just be happy! You finally got Ray...a lucky catch, that one. He's pretty nice."

"Oh, he is!" gushed Eve. She felt as though her heart was swelling, fit to burst at the mere thought of him.

Wendy studied her best friend's face. She said, "Wow, I didn't realize how crazy you were for this guy... It's good to see that you've finally found a man who means so much to you. I hope everything works out well."

"Oh, me too... But enough about me. How are things with Kurt?"

Wendy and Eve made their way to the shade of Wendy's prized apple tree. Wendy wouldn't answer Eve's question...she simply replied with a mischevious grin.

Eve smirked and asked, "Now Wendy, what is with that look on your face?"

"I was just thinking of how I promised to see him tonight..." Wendy replied innocently.

Eve laughed. "Oh, now I don't want to hear any more! Your private life is none of my business!"

"Fine then. Heh, I won't tell you how it goes."

"What time are you going to see him tonight, anyway?"

Wendy leaned back, thinking.

"S'pose I'll go at about 6 P.M... Gives me enough time to visit Woody and Joe, too. And Kurt said that Joe's been a little down lately," she said.

"Oh, really? Well, give him my best wishes," Eve replied.

"I will. And I give YOU my best wishes, Eve. Good luck tomorrow with Ray, ok?"

"Ok." Eve smiled and looked at a little yellow flower growing near the apple tree. It was small, and had just bloomed, but was beautiful anyway.

Kind of like me and Ray, she thought with a warm heart.


Jealousy, turning saints into the sea

Swimming through sick lullabies

Choking on your alibies

But it's just the price I pay

Destiny is calling me

Open up my eager eyes

'Cause I'm Mr. Brightside

-- "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. The deafeningly loud sound of hammer to wood was enough to get on anyone's nerves. But Joe was too deep in his thoughts to pay any mind to the sound of his work...not to mention the actual work itself.

"OW!" Painful reality overcame him as he accidentally brought the hammer down on his thumb.

"Joe, what is it?" Woody, Joe's teacher, heard the cry of pain from another room and quickly ran in.

"Nothin'..." Joe answered, forcing a smile. "Just a little careless. I'll be ok."

Woody lost sympathy, however.

"Joe! This is the fourth accident from carelessness you've had this week! And your work has been crud whether you're injured or not. Honestly, what has gotten into you! I'm getting sick of this! Do you understand the importance of what you and Kurt do, Joe? You're woodworkers! House builders! There's no room for imperfection in this business!"

Joe shut the lecture from his brain, made it so he was deaf to the angry words. He wasn't in the mood for lectures. Though, on the other hand, he wasn't in the mood for much of anything as of late.

The source of his unhappiness came from just two people: his brother Kurt and Kurt's girlfriend, Wendy. It seemed to Joe that he always wanted things he couldn't have. As a child, he had wanted a bike, but couldn't have it due to financial problems. As a teenager, he wanted a car, but couldn't have that for the same reason. Wanting...he had been wanting and wishing his whole life. Then he wanted his parents...but he couldn't have them, either -- they were dead. And now he wanted Wendy...his brother's first and only love.

Joe had always had a creeping suspicion that he had feelings for Wendy, but only now did the full extent of those feelings occur to him. She was funny, cute, sweet -- everything he wanted in a girl. But she had eyes only for Joe's little brother Kurt. The only thing Joe was to her was a very, very good friend...

The romantic feelings announced themselves gradually over time, but Joe ignored many of the signs. Then one day, Wendy invited him to go fishing, Joe's favorite past time. He had rarely had such a one-on-one moment with the farmer before, and made himself uneasy at the fact that she was all he could look at. And he had had her full attention, with no Kurt being around to distract her. It was scary how good that made him felt... 'No', he had told himself, 'That's wrong. She's your brother's. Stop thinking weird'. But that night, she had haunted his dreams, tainted his thoughts...and she had every day since that day.

It depressed Joe when the reality of his feelings for Wendy hit him. He adored her, and he loved his brother. He wanted them both to be happy, but now he was unhappy. Of all the pretty girls in the village, why Wendy? And why did he feel like he couldn't just let her go and give up hope?

At last, Woody finished his lecture with a 'humph' and left the room to continue whatever task he had been doing previously. Joe sighed and gazed wearily at the hammer he held in his hand, then at his swelling thumb. He had been so tired lately, so numb because of that that he hardly felt the physical pain of his wounds.

"Joe?" It was Kurt. He had just come into the room from the doorway from which Woody left. Joe figured he had overheard.

Kurt looked at his older brother with concern and said, "Joe, you're so out of it. Umm...well, you know I'm not much of a talker, but care to tell me just what's been going on with you lately?"

It almost hurt to look at the source of his desire's affection, but Joe forced another smile and turned to face Kurt.

Damn...he's handsome in so many ways I can never be. No wonder Wendy likes him.

Joe felt that his appearance couldn't compare to Kurt's. Kurt was of good height with a slim waist, brown hair, brown eyes, and a handsomely sculpted face. Joe was a bit shorter, but with more muscle than Kurt. His eyes were brown too, but they didn't have the beautiful shape of Kurt's eyes. Joe also had brown hair, which he kept most of under a blue bandana with white stars for the majority of the day. Joe and Kurt were a little similar in appearance, but Joe always knew that Kurt outshined him in looks. At least Joe was friendly to everyone, and had many more friends than Kurt. Kurt had always been shy.

Joe set down his hammer. He knew that he couldn't work anymore...just couldn't.

"Thanks, Kurt. I really appreciate you caring an' all, but I need to work this out alone, ok?"

Kurt sighed. "Ok. But don't keep it all in forever, alright?"

Joe swallowed. If only he couldn't keep it in... His insides felt so twisted over the problem.

"I won't, bro," he lied.

There came a knock at the door. Joe looked at Kurt, and figured it was for him, judging by the prompt way he opened it. And since Kurt didn't have many friends, and few that came by the house, that left only one option of who could be at the door. Joe felt the need to resume his work again at the thought, and hastily picked up his hammer again and tried to lose himself in his work, which was impossible at the moment.

"Oh, Kurt! Didja miss me?" Joe glanced up briefly to see Wendy wrap her arms around his brother's neck. They kissed, and an all-too-familiar aching pain seized Joe's heart.

"I was waiting all day," Kurt replied. Joe could hear the happiness in his younger brother's voice...no one but Wendy ever made him that happy. Then Wendy and Kurt took to whispering to eachother. They sounded serious, but Joe didn't want to know what all the fuss was about, and tried to focus on his work.

"Joe...you've been real quiet." Joe felt a hand rub his shoulder gently, consolingly. It sent a shiver up his spine, for he knew it was Wendy.

"Oh...I'm sorry. Just been really busy working, ya know?" Joe said with a tight grin, forcing himself to look into Wendy's brown eyes, pools of worry. Kurt went and stood next to her, giving Joe a similar look.

"Kurt says you've been down lately. If you ever wanna talk, you know where to find me," said Wendy, offering him a smile.

Couldn't linger in her gaze...he had to look away.

"Yeah...yeah, thanks, Wendy. I will..." he murmured, focusing on his work.

Woody reentered the room.

"Well, if it isn't Wendy? How you doin', kiddo?" he greeted warmly. Seeing as Wendy was around so often, she and Woody got to know eachother quite well. Now it was at the point where Wendy was like a daughter to the old carpenter.

"Hey! How have things been, Woody?" Wendy replied cheerfully.

"Ah, they've been pretty good. How's the farm been?"

"Great! It's really working out well for me."

"Good, good. Now let me guess -- you came by to see Kurt, right?"

Joe heard Wendy giggle. Kurt remained silent...even though he couldn't see him, Joe was certain his brother was blushing.

"Well, I told Kurt he could come over to my place later. Is that ok?" Wendy asked.

Joe swallowed a lump in his throat, and his stomach clenched. He knew what was very liable to happen... But did Woody? Curious, Joe looked up at his teacher. He did seem a little wary, but it looked like he was doubting the thing Joe was thinking.

Joe knew what went on with Kurt and Wendy. He knew they slept together, for Kurt had told him, and made him promise not to tell Woody. Joe had kept good to his word, but he certainly didn't agree with pre-marital sex.

Woody sighed. "Yeah, it's fine... Don't be out too late, ok? I know I can trust you two kids."

Surely Kurt and Wendy had to feel guilty over that last statement, Joe thought. And they didn't ever come back early... Woody always went to bed too early himself to know that.

"We'll be fine. See ya Woody...Joe," said Wendy, opening the door.

"Yeah, bye guys," Kurt said, and off he and Wendy went.

Joe sighed and slammed down his hammer, frustrated. It was killing him to keep all his emotions in. But who could he turn to? Not his brother...and not Wendy. And would Woody really understand? Joe didn't think so. Joe was very popular in the village, and yet...he just felt so alone.

Joe realized then that Woody was still in the room.

"Joe, what has you so worked up lately? I've never seen you like this."

Joe looked into his teacher's dark eyes. They were narrowed, as if he were looking at a stranger.

"I'm not quite ready to talk about it. But hey, I'll be fine," replied Joe, pulling on another smile.

That's me, he thought, Always faking a smile so people don't know that I'm not ok at all.


That may be all I need

In darkness, she is all I see

Come and rest your bones with me

Driving slow on Sunday morning

And I never want to leave

-- "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5

"You have a safe walk home now, ok?" Wendy giggled, kissing Kurt and rubbing his shoulders as she walked him to the door.

"I will..." Kurt promised, grinning as he kissed the young farmer in return.

"And remember -- quiet as a mouse when you get back home!" Wendy warned, but her elated mood made the cautionary words seem more like a joke.

"Don't worry, love." And with that, Wendy slowly shut the door behind Kurt.

The carpenter's apprentice made his way across the bridge that signaled the end of his girlfriend's property and silently continued along. Overhead, the dark, heavy velvet sky of midnight loomed.

Kurt felt as though his heart was swollen. Wendy always made him feel that way... Everything she did did that to him -- the way she smiled at him, touched him, kissed him...it didn't take love making for her to be constantly in his thoughts. Every day, Kurt grew more and more certain that he loved her. He had to feel sorry for Woody, as both of his apprentices were distracted now. One from love, the other from dark secrets unknown.

At last, Kurt opened the door of his house and, as quietly as he could, slipped inside. The door shut with a soft "click" behind him. The room was dark. The coast seemed to be clear, so Kurt began to head for his bedroom.

"I knew it," said a wistful voice. Kurt jumped and looked quickly to the source: Joe.

"Joe...it's only you..." Kurt sighed, relieved. He squinted at his older brother through the darkness. He seemed...sad?

"Kurt, you left here at 6 P.M... A little late, don't you think?"

Kurt felt hot with embarassment. He knew Joe's assumption would be correct. And he did not want to discuss it.

Joe went on, "I don't agree with what you're doing, Kurt. It's risky. Lots of people can get hurt." They seemed like the words of an older brother, and yet, there was something in Joe's tone of voice that lead Kurt to believe he was speaking on a selfish behalf... Or perhaps it was his imagination? Or could it be a brother's intuition?

"Joe, we're protected... What's the big deal? It's just sex. Please don't butt into this... Wendy and I don't act rashly."

"People can still get hurt. Please, Kurt..." Joe trailed off.

"What were you gonna say?" Kurt asked.

"I...I..." Joe stuttered, then faltered. He simply sat where he was in silence, staring at his feet, before suddenly getting up and leaving the room. Kurt was baffled.

"Joe...?" he called softly. No answer.

Kurt was worried about his brother... Never had he seen him so down, not since their parents died. He was hiding something, but it seemed he was afraid to let Kurt know what it was. That was alarming, as Kurt and Joe never hid anything from eachother.

Kurt decided against following Joe, however. He really got the sense that his older sibling only desired solitude for the time being, so Kurt went on to his bedroom, shut the door, and lay wearily down on the bed.

For a while Kurt lamented over Joe. But it was midnight, and he was sleepy, so thoughts of his beloved won out, and he fell asleep with her beauty imprinted in his mind.


Kurt awoke at about 10 A.M, feeling refreshed. The sun shone bright through his window, reminding him of Wendy... But it seemed that everything did.

So this must be what it's like to be in love...

Kurt crawled out of bed to wash up, realizing that he had slept in his clothes. It occurred to him that he was a lot more distracted nowadays, but it mattered not to him. He had never felt so happy.

When he was freshened up, Kurt went down to the wood shop, feeling as though he were floating.

"Kurt!" scolded Woody from the bottom of the stairs, "You slept in too late! If I weren't so busy, you'd have gotten one hell of a rude awakening."

"Sorry," Kurt replied, not offended or annoyed in the least.

"Well, aren't you in good spirits today..."

"Hm." Kurt tried to hide his smile as he shrugged and went to work.

Joe was already busy constructing a wooden chair. It didn't look all that great, in Kurt's opinion... Nothing of Joe's came out right lately.

"Good morning, Joe..." Kurt said, wondering if the previous night's events would be acknowledged. Joe did not greet Kurt in reply, which was answer enough. Kurt couldn't keep from wondering and worrying about Joe's secret. Joe had never been cold and absent-minded...until now.

"Joe...please, say something so I know you don't hate me, something so I know you're ok. What is so bad that you can tell no one?"

"I wish I could tell you. But I don't want you to hate me for it."

Such a deep statement, so full of shadows... Meanwhile, Kurt's happiness and worry clashed. He was in love, but his brother was miserable for reasons that sounded dangerous if admitted. Kurt was so concerned that he wanted to question further, but it was obvious by the way Joe pounded his hammer and gazed at his work with vacant eyes that interrogation would do little for anyone.

Woody's apprentices worked in silence for a good while until Woody entered and assigned Kurt the task of delivering a tool box to Spring Farm. Without even a last glance at Joe, Kurt accepted the job and lugged the brand new tool box to the crop farm, which was the closest building to the workshop.

The day was sunny and warm, and Kurt let its cheer send his worries away as he approached Spring Farm.

"Hi Kurt!" giggled a voice. Kurt looked to see Nina, one of the owners of Spring Farm, out watering crops.

The young carptenter's apprentice pulled on his usual shy, cold demeanor, the one he reserved for nearly everyone but Woody, Joe, and Wendy.

"Hey," he grumbled in reply. He didn't know why, but he couldn't help getting shy around people he didn't know too well. Things were even more awkward than they would be around someone else, as it was no secret that Nina had eyes for Kurt.

Nina was about his age, and was the daughter of the farm's main owner, a cheerful woman named Liz. Nina was about 5'4", with pink curly hair and big, bright green eyes. In a lot of ways, she reminded Kurt of Wendy.

"So," Nina said, making her way to Kurt, "How have things been? Been workin' hard?"

Kurt steadily gazed into her green eyes and swallowed. She made him nervous... He didn't have feelings for her, and was just made uncomfortable by the fact that she came on to him rather strong. Strong in Kurt's mind, anyway.

"Yeah... Er...you?" Kurt replied, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

"It's been good."

There was a moment of deathly silence.

"I'm gonna, uh...go deliver this tool box to your mom now..."

Nina smiled pleasantly and nodded. "Ok. We appreciate it. It's nice having carpenters and woodworkers so nearby, ya know?"

Kurt grunted and made for the house. He was certain he could feel Nina's eyes on him the whole time. Once inside, Kurt gave the tool box to Liz and accepted the payment.

"Thanks for your business," he grumbled. It was something Woody had always preached at him and Joe to say.

"No, thank you. You keep up the good work, ok?" said Liz.

Kurt nodded and slipped out of the house and away from Spring Farm. Luckily, there was no other run-in with Nina. From there, Kurt took a moment to give Woody the money, and eagerly headed for Wendy's farm. It had seemed like an eternity since he last saw her, even though it had only been a few hours. But Kurt wanted to be with Wendy more than anyone else.


There wasn't an answer when he knocked on her door, but Kurt doubted there would be anyway. He went around back to the field and spotted Wendy, toiling away with her work. His heart thumped, and his anxieties were washed away at the mere sight of her.

"Wendy!"

"Hm?" Wendy stood straight and turned to look at Kurt. Her face lit up, and she ran toward him, embracing him.

"Kurt!" she laughed. "I was hoping you'd come by!"

Kurt pressed his face in her soft brown hair and closed his eyes.

"I missed you. It sounds corny, but I really, really missed you," he said softly.

Wendy pulled back and smiled up at him. She said, "It's not corny. I felt the exact same way."

To Kurt, that was a big part of true love: missing the other person even in the shortest of times.


It's gonna take a long time to love

It's gonna take a lot to hold on

It's gonna be a long way to happy, yeah

Left in the pieces that you broke me into

Torn apart but now I've got to

Keep on rollin' like a stone

'Cause it's gonna be a long, long way

-- "Long Way to Happy" by Pink

The blue sky, the bright sun...it didn't mean a single damn thing. Not to Jamie, anyway. Yet nothing could put a dent in the invisible wall she had around herself, the one that had been thickening and thickening for months now. She had made herself her own prisoner, her own burden. But life just didn't seem worth living when you hated yourself and everyone around you.

Things had been terrible for months now. Jamie's ranch was crumbling, as though some higher force was purposely destroying what she had worked so hard to built. And maybe it was intentional, the cruel deed of something or someone above, begging for her misery. If that were the case, then it had certainly worked. All that pride was gone. And the damage could not be repaired, not when you were stark broke.

The ranch's condition had grown worse and worse, and naturally along with it, so did Jamie's money problems. And did people really give a damn? Jamie sure didn't think so. No one had ever given a damn. No one but the Harvest Goddess, anyway. And that was another thing robbed from the life Jamie now hated: her only friend. Her only friend, lost to the conceit and greed of humans...she hated them so. And if that left her with no one to reach out to, which it did, than so be it. Jamie wanted nothing to do with the wretches of Flowerbud Village anyway.

The Harvest Goddess had been in a petrified state for nearly three years. Loneliness was a feeling that Jamie doubted she even had until it set in, worsening every day without the Goddess. Jamie tried to help her, but of course, with her luck, Notes didn't come. She had only a single one, a single note as a reminder of what she hadn't accomplished, wasn't blessed with. And that just made her feel guilty... Guilty over the fact that she couldn't repay the only one who ever gave her anything.

Another day dawned. Jamie awoke to the sun coming through her window, and wondered what time it was. A look at the clock notified her that it was already 12:30 P.M. And yet, she didn't feel rested. Just ill.

Grudgingly, slowly, Jamie washed and dressed, and stopped to gaze at herself in the mirror. She hardly acknowledged how sickly and thin she had grown...she was so used to being that way by that time that she hardly noticed it now. Jamie had short purple hair that went a bit below her chin, but it didn't have any shine to it anymore. Once vibrant blue, catty eyes looked dull and unfeeling. Jamie knew she looked very much in bad shape, and was secretly glad that she didn't socialize enough for many people to see and notice. She had always been a private person, but more so lately. Leaving the bathroom, Jamie vaguely wondered how much work she would have to do. Definately a lot, that was for sure. She had woken up so late, felt feverish, and knew it would take a while.

I'm getting what I deserve though, she told herself in her mind, Things aren't going to get better because of something I did, so I deserve to suffer.

Blearily, she left the house, and was left to face her ruined work. Everything seemed dry and dead, and the animals weren't so healthy anymore. Jamie often wondered how it could happen without intervention of a higher power, seeing as her rival Wendy's farm was in top condition, healthy. But Wendy was healthy and strong too. Jamie knew that she was too, at one time, but no longer -- her health was dangerously depleting due to her own actions. She struck out against herself, refused to take care of her body. She starved herself for days on end, and when she did eat, it was barely anything. That had been going on for a while now, ever since she became depressed. Jamie always forced herself to work too hard in a desperate attempt to save her ranch, and everything lead to a dangerously significant amount of weight loss, and her getting sick all the time. Jamie kept telling herself that there was nothing wrong with any of it, letting her guilt and sadness make her think that it was yet another thing she deserved. She couldn't save the Harvest Goddess or her ranch. She no longer had any money for herself or anything else. There was nearly nothing she could afford, and even the cheapest of items was too expensive. And she didn't have the hope and heart to help the Goddess. The only things she had large quantities of were guilt, frustration, and hate. Jamie often wondered if those were the only things she had all along.

The young rancher was only vaguely aware that she had done any work at all. She was so tired and sick-feeling that particular day that it surprised her a bit to find herself in her toolshed. Her mind felt fuzzy, and her skin tingled uncomfortably. She felt so cold and clammy that she had to sit down where she was.

Dammit...get used to it! she thought. Everyone gets the chills, so stop being so fucking lazy...

Jamie forced herself to her feet and set to work. But a fever was a hard thing to ignore, naturally. Something in the back of her mind told her she was hungry, but Jamie ignored it, as she so often did.

The inside of the barn made Jamie's sadness worsen. The animals...they seemed about as healthy as she was. Money was a thing of conceit to Jamie, but a nessecity. It could do miracles if used properly, and one of those miracles could have been helping her animals, if she even had the money to help them with.

"Pathetic..." Jamie murmured to herself, shaking her head as she did what little she could for the poor creatures. "I'm just too damn pathetic..."