Chapter 1: Over the Horizon

The waves crashed against the ship. The gusts made Alice's hair billow in the breeze. The day was mild, with a little bit of sun peaking out through the clouds - a very apt day.

It had been six months since Alice has returned to her own world from Underland. She had felt in her heart that she needed to resolve things before she considered leaving her world forever. She wanted to make sure that Hamish was okay in her refusal of marriage (although she had suspected he was just as relieved as her). Only his pride and ego could be possibly hurt, which of course did not signify as hurt at all.

Alice pondered that she had never made such a right decision - an adult decision, ironically - by leaving him in that gazebo and then chasing a white rabbit down a rabbit hole. There was also her sister, who she knew she needed to reveal her husband's infidelity. It was painful, but the right thing to do. Also, she wanted to make sure her mother was happy and wanted for nothing.

However, it was her father's legacy and business she had wanted to come back for most of all. Her father, one of the very best of men, had been a little bit crazy, it was true. He had also been brilliant and unfailingly kind. She found that she immensely enjoyed working with Hamish's father to expand trade into China. She broadened the company's horizons, using her intelligence, pluck, and "muchness" to help find new trade routes to the east, far along the glistening, unfathomable ocean.

She dreamed she could almost be anything: an inventive constable, a childlike chocolatier, a pirate lass seeking her freedom...

"Oh, show me that horizon!" said Alice softly, closing her eyes and leaning forward to let the gusts kiss her cheeks.

Alice peered off into the horizon. Had she made the right decision? What if this wasn't the way back to Underland, like she guessed? What if it had all been a dream? What if...

Alice glanced over, at the blue butterfly that had fluttered over to her and given her a wink. She let out the breath she didn't' know she was holding and gave him a relieved smile.

"Hello, Absalom."

To be continued...