OH MY GOSH!!! I'm sooooooo sorry for not updating at all since the spring!! I know how the little fan base has been dwindling as my inspiration goes with it, and I haven't touched anything in forever. I know that I warned that I might be gone a little while, but I definitely didn't prepare anyone for this. I really hope you haven't all completely left, and that you'll wait until my writing mind has gotten back on track. I've only written a few pages for a short collection of encounters I call "Boy And Girl", which only came out because of my own actions and emotions. I'm so sorry!!

Hopefully I'll be able to get back into the writing mode soon so that I can give you all a big Christmas present. But for now, I can only hope you'll be slightly satisfied with this.

I am giving you a part of my new chapter, which is OK, but the part I'm working on right now is turning out like sh!t, so I'd love your support and hope you like what I have so far.

Preview of Chapter 12:

My feet made a soft thud as I hit the ground, and luckily I hadn't hurt myself, except for a small scrape on my arm left by the generous wall. My trunk hadn't popped open, which was good, and the soft black fabric that covered it didn't seem to have been damaged either.

A few drops of dew that had already settled this early in the morning landed on my feet, making a few spots wet and cold. They made my shoes slightly wet, too, and I could feel the liquid beneath my feet as I walked.

The moon cast a slight glow over everything as I drug my trunk on the side of the path, wandering the opposite direction of the duke's estates. The grass looked dark green as I walked, instead of black, as the grass in the shadows seemed to be. The sacred flowers in the grass seemed to have a glow about them, too, and the trees shined at the very tip. But other than that, the natural light made everything seem so sinister. Houses that I passed by were lit only by the moon and stars, making most of it look dark, yet some portion of it somehow light, as if still reminding you that it was there, watching you. Even certain bushes on the side of the path didn't seem to be there until I ran into them, suppressing a scream as they brushed my side. And then, sometimes I would think that I would hear a sound in the trees, as if someone was there, waiting for something to happen, though all I could see was darkness, suffocating me. It made me feel like one of those hopeless girls in fairytales and books that my mother would read me when I was little. Except one little thing was different for me here – there was no shining knight in armor to save me. I was all alone.

As this thought came over me, I started to think about my decision to run away. Truthfully, it hadn't been too well thought out – I just figured that I was going to run away from all my problems and…what? Face even bigger ones? That would be all I was doing. I had walked away from my life, where even though there were problems, there were good spots in my life, to nothing. Out here, I had no shelter, a little bit of money, a trunk full of sentimental belongings, and a huge world to find myself in. Compared to all of that, going back to Miss Tanya's seemed like the best thing in the world to do. But someone had to have noticed that I was gone already, and if I came back, there would be huge punishment to pay – both mentally and physically. I had to keep going on.

When it seemed like I had walked for hours and the sun was breaking over the horizon, I pulled an old cloak out of the trunk I had been dragging behind me and walked toward the edge of the trees to find a comfortable spot of soft dirt. Nothing looked or felt too promising, of course, but after finding the best spot I could, I curled myself up against the trunk of a tree and spread the cloak over me. My eyelids immediately started to droop and within a minute, I was asleep.

X X X X X X X

Someone was coughing; a loud, wheezing cough. It sounded horrible to me, and I wanted to make sure whoever was coughing was okay, and right as I was about to do so, my ribs started to ache and my throat felt like it had been scratched at by the claws of a dragon. I was the one coughing. My eyelids blinked open to find an older woman watching me worriedly and then her face lifted slightly into an expression of relief.

"Oh, thank the Lord. Dear, we were afraid you would be deathly ill with all of the coughing you did while you were asleep. You were fidgeting too and you seemed to be trying to get out of something. Are you okay? How do you feel? Do you hurt? Do you think you might have come down with something?"

I ignored all of her questions and instead tried to sit up, but my head started to pound and the room was out of focus. The woman pushed me back down and I turned my head to look at my surroundings.

"Where am I?" I croaked out.

"Oh, you poor thing, I'm sorry. I didn't introduce myself. My name is Anna, and my husband there is Noah." She gestured toward a tall, gangly man in a corner of the room. He was stirring something over the fire in a way that was a tiny bit old-fashioned and I looked at him curiously.

"Soup," he answered my un-asked question in a deep voice that seemed to come from the pits of the earth. I liked it, though. It was comforting somehow. I leaned back and smiled a small smile before looking back at Anna, who had gone to stand by her husband near the fire. She was a kind-looking woman. She wasn't tall by any means, but she wasn't short either. Her gray-brown hair had streaks of faded red in it and it was pulled into a long braid that winded down to about halfway down her waist. She was skinny too – the only stature that she had in common with Noah. He looked well-mannered as well, but there was some kind of seriousness in his expression that made him look more reserved than incredibly kind. His face was long and thin, just like the rest of his features, and a short bunch of dark hairs sat atop his head. They looked perfect together, and I smiled at the image.

A few minutes later, the soup was ready, and we all sat at the table and ate in quiet silence before I asked them how I had come to be in their home.

"Noah was going into the shop to open for the day and heard a faint whine, or perhaps it was a cry of some sort, so he went to investigate and found you, mumbling, curled under a tree with just a flimsy cloak over your small body, so he brought you back here to make sure nothing happened to you. You've been asleep for the past few hours, so we had our son Aaron watch the shop, along with our young daughter Rebeka so that she wouldn't wake you." Anna looked at me with a small smile after she had explained everything and I gave a smile of appreciation back. Noah had only been nodding and making small noises of agreement between bites and I gathered that he wasn't one for talking.

After I finished with my soup, I walked over to the basin and started to wash my bowl and spoon, as well as a few of the other dirty dishes at the bottom until I heard Anna call, "Bella, you don't need to do that, dear. You're our guest."

My fingers stopped in their position and I was frozen for a moment before I slowly turned my head to look at Anna. "How do you know my name?"