Jasper found himself walking through the garden; it has always been peaceful in this place. It was the place where one let go of the stresses that approached them, such as a quarrel with one's spouse. That was one thing his parents never done, argued. His father ordered, his mother obeyed. A relationship he never wanted with Alice.
Jasper and Alice had fought before, there were times in their sixty-four years together were they disagreed, butted heads, expressed their opinions, and in the mist of it all words were exchanged that was far from what they meant. Jasper has been in the doghouse, and Alice has been on a burner. Yet, none of their fights have ever been about something so personal and dear to him. Never has she been so persistent.
How dare Alice make presumptions about people she never knew, it was so unlike her. Even those she can see the future, she still gave new people a chance. This person she was accusing of murder, his own sister was far from a new person. She was his memory; she didn't have a right to violate it with such a horrendous deed. Where did she get this idea that Latvina murdered Julia? After he clearly said the girl ran out on him.
Jasper then thought of Latvina, she was far from perfect but he loved her and she surely adored him. Jasper started to remember his sweet, older sister. The way she tried to protect him, and the way she spoke her mind. She lived without a care of what society thought of her, but still conducted herself as a lady. Jasper even remembered when a group of men were giving Jasper a rough time for being so skinny, and not tough. She went to one, an older man, close to their father's age, and was considering her for a wife. She had said,
'Why Mr. Royal, you look mighty pale, are you coming down with something?' Latvina said with a sleek smile.
Mr. Royal responded, 'Why, Miss Latvina, your concern for my health is dear to my heart, nice of you to notice. However, I can assure you I am healthy as a horse.'
'From what I hear, your horse is rather sickly from working too hard. Your slaves may have noticed, being too weak from their own work. I do imagine sitting in the office drinking scotch all day can take its toll. Perhaps, you can enlighten my brother how you toughen up through the hard work of your slaves, the children you hired in your factories up North, many can't even speak English from what I hear, not that it is your concern, along with your Daddy's money. I see all those factors had made you a tough old bull."
It was at that, Latvina would excuse herself. That was the Latvina he liked to remember. Not the one who always corralled with his mother, or even his last memory of her. Perhaps it was from watching Sapphire being barter off to their father made Latvina vow not to have the same fate.
Jasper remembered his walk through the garden one last time before he had to leave. How was it such a joyful place became a place of sadness, where an innocent girl lost her life. The smoke still burned with the stench of human remains even after three days of Suzan's death.
Jasper never thought he would care so much for his mistress's younger sister, but something about knowing she won't live on made him feel like he wasn't going to live on. He walked over to the scene, where he could see her bones, and pieces of fabric from her favorite silk dress fluttered everywhere. He then remembered another detail, something he overlooked that sparked another memory. He saw a jade bead in the pile. It was then Jasper closed his eyes, he saw his bedroom window remembering the last time he felt the pleasurable warmth of a human woman. .
"I really enjoyed these past few nights with you," Julia said with a light smile, as her head lied against his abs, and her long black hair strung out across his chest. His fingers clutched around her bare ribs flowing down past her waist and then back up, feeling the ends of her hair tickle his chin.
"I'm glad," Jasper said, turning over, letting her fall to the side of the bed to face him directly. Julia was his first love, the first girl he kissed, the first girl he danced with, and the first girl he made love too. When the solders asked, Julia was a mistress. It was such a shame that she let those memories go to waste. Jasper remembered the worry of her face, and her not letting him go as he slid his hand up her back.
"Oh, I really don't want you to go," Julia said, sadden as he kissed her neck.
"It's my duty," Jasper reminded, still putting his lips against her warm flesh. "After the war is over, I'm sure I will have enough to live out my life. I will be master of the estate, and make you part of this household."
"I'm sure your family would love that," Julia said with a little unsure smile, as if she was hiding something.
"I got you something," Jasper said, turning to the other side of her. He then reached into his drawer beside the bed where he kept the ink and pulled out a small box, he opened it and took out a jade bracelet, tying it around her wrest.
"What's this for?" Julia asked surprised. Nothing ever so expensive has ever embraced her skin before, besides Jasper.
"It's for you to keep," Jasper said. "By wearing it, it shows the world that you're mine. You are my friend, and my lover, my lady."
"I'm yours," Julia agreed.
"Is this were it happened?" Jasper asked coming across the burnt pile with Latvina and Benjamin following him.
"Yes," Latvina said, with her eyes head cast down, refusing to face him. "This is where father found the remains along with Suzan's dress. The girl couldn't be found anywhere, so it was assumed it were the remains." Jasper saw the note too.
Jasper felt hopeless. He took a deep breath, he barely saw Suzan, but for some reason thinking her dead, with no future just depressed him. It was as if he had no future. Jasper observed the burnt pile; he could see tidbits of the girl's skeletal remains.
"I can barely even recognize her." Jasper said to himself as he looked away. He remembered Latvina turn away, for a short second he thought she grinned a bit, as if she was proud of an achievement.
"Suzan is presumed dead," Latvina said as Jasper surveyed the sight again. It was then, Jasper thought he saw the jade bead, given to Julia the last night he saw her.
"Was this before or after that slut ran off!" Jasper yelled in anger.
"After," Benjamin answered, and smiled. Latvina stepped back, fearful of him. "Julia was defiantly cheating on you before Suzan's death. I know for a fact another man had her in your very room the same night of the fire. Suzan was out here in the garden, while another man was crawling all over her, and tasting her sweet flesh."
"Come on, Jasper, it does no good to dwell here." Latvina said quickly, leading her younger half-brother away. Benjamin sat a rose beside the burnt pile before he followed them. He and Harriett made sure Jasper wasn't alone with Latvina; just as they made sure she wasn't alone with her father.
Jasper went back to his room, thinking of his childhood friend, the emotion of Julia's betrayal, and Suzan's death had created mixed feelings. He remembered that last night, then thinking of her running away with another man after she promised to wait for him, after he promise to marry her. She chose not to and gave up a lifetime of friendship.
"Whore!" Jasper screamed as he felt an ice-choking thrill coming to him. "After all she done for you, you leave right after her death! After all that happened between us, you turn your back on me! How could you let your sister get killed! Your filthy bitch!" Jasper said, going to break the vase on his fireplace mantle only to find out it was missing. Jasper then left the room in that anger; not knowing it would be more than a century and a half before he would come back.
Jasper glanced up, and notice figures surrounding him like a shield. He stood in their presence as they became clearer; the figures began to resemble the loving faces surrounding him. Jasper saw his father, the brave man that suffered so much after his death. The man who gave him the strength he had, who wrote in every letter that every war ends eventually, that wisdom kept him through his immortal years.
"Dad?" Jasper asked as the ghost nodded, and became whole the way Jasper remembered him. He looked ahead, and saw a woman with beautiful blonde hair in a bun, with her fair face of rosy cheeks and violet blue eyes that smiled at him somewhat. She always spoke her mind, and would give him encouragement. She may have been inconsiderate to his mother, but never to him. He was upset that her life was a mystery, Latvina stood there with her beauty at the age of twenty-five, and still refusing to settle.
"Latvina." She smiled warmly to him. He then looked at the corner of his eye, and notice a third figure come from the wind. Her petite figure formed, with her black hair in a fashioned style.
"Suzan," Jasper said with a sense of solstice.
"I didn't want to leave you," Jasper said shaking as he stared into the face of his beloved father and sister. "I must ask, what brings you here?"
"We never left," Hayden explained. "A father never leaves his son, he never abandons him. I watched over you during your dark years, when you suffered we suffered with you. Look at my face my son, notice the marks surrounding them. When you hurt, I hurt; I took those scars for you. The years you were lost in, I showed you and kept the hope that thewar would end. Every soldier leaves with a destination son, after the war you didn't know what was next, I traveled where you traveled so that you had the hope that one day you will find where you are supposed to be."
It was at that point, Suzan nodded, in agreeing that he was meant to be somewhere.
"I was at the café, I was sitting right beside her, waiting" Suzan continued. "Alice was right, she had been waiting a long time for you, I was waiting with her. I was there on your wedding day, a light shone on her, and a white bird flew by. That was me, giving a blessing for your marriage to prosper. There were many times you had worried about her, Jasper, she has more protection then you think. I will never let any harm come to my Alice."
"I knew the Cullens before you found them," Latvina spoke. "They are good people; they didn't know they were waiting for you. I waited with them, knowing I would see my brother again. Every danger, every joy you had we have been there for you."
"What happened with you?" Jasper asked as his eyes went to Latvina.
"I fell in love after you left," Latvina explained. "He was a Union solider, trying to get home after Lee surrendered. Everyone hated the Yankees. One evening, I was walking back, and dropped my boxes. He helped me pick them up, he wouldn't be transported unless his leg was fixed. I treated him as a nurse. It was over a period of weeks, I knew this man was the one I wanted to marry. I said I wouldn't marry unless for love, he was my love. I'll show you what happened during my day last here."
Jasper was back at his house, it was like being in a memory. He saw the artiste with the old fashion garden along with the dirt roads. He saw a small black carriage pull up, two people got out, one was his sister, much older begin twenty-four, the other was a handsome man with a clean shaven face and bright blond hair coming out taller than her. He came out first, and helped her out; she smiled joyfully at him as he led Latvina to the house.
"Do you want me to wait outside?" The male asked as Jasper picked up on his Eastern New York state accent.
"No, of course not," Latvina said firmly. "You are with me, and will always remain with me." She held his hand bravely, and knocked on the door with him by her side. It was then the door open a crack and Sylvia slowly open the door with her small tress walking hunch backwards with her abdomen forward and arms around it tightly.
"Latvina, my, my, this is a surprise." She came out nervously with her hands cradling her round abdomen, as the child kicked. "Come on in."
"Who is that?" Hayden demanded.
"It's your daughter," Sylvia answered shocked.
"That's impossible, she died," The Coronal's voice hissed, turning his back on her.
"Daddy, please speak with me," Latvina walked right in with her husband following behind her. She started to walk right to him as the old soldier took a step forward feeling his own child's presence. The man turned his head, not even giving a direction towards his daughter.
"You can't keep ignoring me," she said, walking a head and coming in front of him.
"I'll go and inform Benjamin that you're here, he's leaving to see that doctor in Paris next month," Sylvia said walking up stairs. As she climbed up the steps, she stopped to press her ear as if it ached and continued on her way. It was Latvina, her husband and her father alone.
"You disappoint me," Latvina cried to her father. "You can't get over it, can you? If I recall, didn't Mama's parents disapprove of you?"
"That was different," Hayden finally turned to face her. "They didn't want your mother going to Texas because of the reputation at that time. They did blame me when she got into that terrible crash injuring her only child's leg."
"First I am dead, now I never even exist. Disowned by the dead," Latvian said with a huff, fighting to hold back the tears. "Father, throughout these years I have cared for you, and I was patient with you, and I loved you in every waya daughter should."
"By marrying the man who killed your brother?" Hayden shouted. "How does that bring respect?"
"The war is over; we lost enough people to this north and south conflict," Latvina said. "I will not lose my heart. He didn't kill Jasper; your pride is why we lost him."
"And by marring him, you caused me to lose more. You are disrespecting the memory of your brother, and all those who went before you. You are a disgrace to the Whitlock family by taking the name of a Yankee."
"How?" Latvina turned back. "What makes him so different from us? Because he grew up in another part of the country? What makes us Southerners so special in the first place? We all come from someplace else. Why should his ancestors boat landing in New York, and mine buying land in Georgia prevent us from getting married? Dad, we just lost a war over this senseless ordeal!"
"Are you saying my son's sacrifice was a waste?" The Cornel asked, glaring at her.
"This whole argument is a waste. So many men, like my brother, have died so blindly thinking we are different from them. There are sisters up North morning for their brothers, just as sisters down here are morning for their brothers. Yankee fathers are in the same pain you are in," Latvina said with her voice becoming chocked. "Enough is enough, Lee surrendered, and there is nothing anyone can do about it but heal."
"He is not a part of my family, and if you chose to stay married to him, then you will no longer be my daughter," The Cornel said firmly.
"Daddy, you lost enough family to this southern pride of yours.I wouldn't be able to hold my head up if I lost five family members due to being so proud," Latvina pointed out.
"What are you saying?" The Cornel grabbed Latvina by the arm.
"I am talking about Mama's carriage, you knew the ones made by Mexicans were far better suited for Texan roads, but no, you had to your purchase done by an American, who hadn't built wagons for these roads. If you would have thought of safety instead of who the money was going to, Mama would be with us! I like how you are taking Benjamin to get his leg fixed in Paris. You are well aware that the only surgeon trained in cauterization and had safely removed a women's bosom successfully lives in Boston. But he's a Yankee, so Sapphire was better off rotting away here. Jasper wanting more than anything to make you proud went off to fight because you filled his head with such…"
"Latvina." Her husband placed his hand on her shoulder. "We have a train."
"I hope you live well father," Latvina said and left.
"Go to your room, get what you want, and get out." The Cornel said strictly. Latvina left, knowing no more words could be said to the man.
She went back her old room, with her husband by her side. She was going to gather a few of her things, and leave, never to return to this house again. Ever since the night of that murder, she was longing to leave the trapped walls of the Whitlock Plantation. Never again, she was going to let the rules of the invisible social ladder run her life, and poison her mind as it did for the women in her family.
"Anything here that needs to be wrapped extra carefully?" Her husband asked.
"Let me think," Latvina said as she open her bible, and pulled out a letter her maternal grandmother wrote to her after she found out that her father was remarrying. Grandmother Clayworths was far from unhappy when she found out her dead daughter's widower was remarrying a girl twelve years younger than Neisseria. The words in it, where words that stole a second mother from Latvina...
'How dare he! Your father think my daughter can be replaced by some Alabaman that hadn't even grown in her corset! Why, your mother must be spitting fire from heaven at that news! This girl was not much older than ten when you were born! Take some pride granddaughter, and honor your mama by not accepting this child. Be proud!
Be proud! Latvina first heard these words when she was a toddler, back in Georgia, she never met her father but she was told crib stories of far off places called Texas. She listen to the fairytales of the Alamo, and her father being a great hero in going after the Caddos, the Comanche, Lipans, and the Karanka or whatever tribes of Indianans he was chasing out.
Be proud! Her grandfather spoke in such high honor of his son, freeing Texas from the Mexicans, and making it their nation. They spoke of the Alamo as if it was in the same honor of the crucifixion.
Be proud! Her mother said as they packed up, saying good bye to uncles, aunts, grandmothers heading away from their home to join her father.
Be proud! A son to take the family name, is what her mother would say when Benjamin was born. This pride caused him to fall and the self-claimed birth right criminalized her brother. Benjamin was someone else, a person without any concept of human life. Someone she didn't want to be related to.
Be a lady! Her mother would say, she shouldn't be socializing with other girls on the plantation. They were property, she was the mistress. Ladies don't mess around with the farm equipment. Now, Latvina asked what made it right to own a soul.
Be a lady! Ivy, Nancy's sold mother, would say as she did her hair, pulling the strands from her scalp as part of a morning ritual. She was to take pride in her new life her father fought, be proud to have a little brother.
Latvina shook her head, remembering when she was a child, she wanted to go with her mother to the store. Latvina was told to stay behind and work on her lessons, using the same carriage they traveled form George with, it wasn't built for Texas roads, but the only carriage makers were Mexicans. She still remembered watching her mother, wanting to show Benjamin off to Huston one last time.
Be proud, honor your mother! That was what her family said to her, take care of your brother, his leg will heal soon, take some pride and be responsible for him. Benjamin grew up being babied because of that leg and getting everything he wanted. In trying to comfort him, they gave him no morals or respect of a human being.
She remembered meeting Mr. Clifton, from Alabama acting like her and her brother were a charity case and his daughter was a donation to their plight. She still remembered the conversation when the man gave his daughter in marriage without her consent, like she was a product. Latvina swore that she wouldn't let her father do that to her.
Take pride! That's what her mother's family told her in the letters from Georgia, she went through years hating Sapphire in thinking that was how to honor her mother. In truth, all Latvina lost was another mother, or older sister considering the age difference. Her grandmothers both lived their life with her pride, a waste. Latvina lost two mothers to the Whitlock Pride. She remembered when she first saw her, she hated her. Sapphire didn't know the first thing about children, that's because she was too young to be taken on such responsibility she didn't want.
Be proud! Another boy to the Whitlock family! Your father has found a blessing! For years Jasper was favored above Benjamin. Benjamin went mad, in wanting to be more powerful than Jasper, taking an innocent girls life.
Be proud son, go out and fight them Yankees. What is so proud about a bunch of men shooting each other? She thought of her brothers. Benjamin was a complete different person before the war, the bitterness of sibling rivalry had destroyed her brother. She lost two brothers to the war. She thought back before the war, how she would go to ball being dazzled by suitors, many now dead. She thought of her girlfriends, all widows now.
Latvina went to her husband. She was no widow, she was proud to have someone to love her. She was proud to have the courage to do what her grandmothers, mother, and step-mother didn't do. She married for love and lived the life she wanted. That was what Jasper died for, and that was how she was going to live.
"There is nothing here that I want, I don't want any part of it." Latvina said leaving her room, never to return to it again.
"Aren't you going to say good bye to your brother?" Benjamin said, catching her in the hall.
"Yes," She said, a little nervously. "I was planning on it." She hugged him for show, but she felt bitterness and unease in the pit of her stomach.
"Come on, at least see the baby's room." Sylvia said as she lead her down the hall to Jasper's old room.
"You're putting the child in Jasper's room?" Latvina questioned, turning to Benjamin.
"Yes," Benjamin answered.
"Jasper's room," Latvina croaked. "You're putting your first born in the same room you…"
"It's the closest to the nanny's room," Benjamin interrupted.
"Yes, if she will come," Sylvia shook her head. "Between you and me, I can't help but feel a bit uncomfortable in this room. There is a feeling in it that makes me quiver."
"What do you mean?" Latvina's husband asked.
"It just feels…uncomfortable. Ever since I first moved in here, every time I walk even near Jasper's room, I feel these painful cramps, the baby won't even kick in this room," Sylvia expressed.
"Most likely just your mind acting up, my sweet." Benjamin shrugged, leading Sylvia away.
"Anyway, you have mail," Sylvia said as she looked towards Latvia. "Frankly, I feel more comfortable if the baby were to be in another room. Perhaps your grandmother's old room. But I must say, the new maid better step up, she doesn't do a good job when it comes to cleaning this room. It's always cleaned so hastily."
"Soon, all these rooms will be filled with children." Benjamin said changing the subject. "Sweetheart, don't you have something you want to give to Latvina?"
"Yes, you got a letter," Sylvia said. "From a Gloria Brandon."
"Thank you," Latvina took it shocked. She never heard that name before. She opened it, and glanced at the letter. Her face showed a sign of worry, as she quickly folded it in the envelop and put it in her pouch. "I'll read it later. We have a train to catch."
"Write to me sister," Benjamin said as he hugged her.
"I will," Latvina said shook her head, she never did. "Come on husband, we got a train to take to Biloxi, and I would like to stop and look around." That was the last time she spoke to any members of the Whitlock family.
"It was nice meeting you, Captain Hale. Be sure to write when you reach Rochester." Sylvia said as Latvina disappeared with her husband. Hayden shunned, he made no good-byes to his daughter. Latvina Hale, the name made him wants to spit that she replaces Whitlock with such a disgusted Yankee name of Hale.
"Hale?" Jasper asked staring at the ghost of Latvina. "Rosalie."
"My great-granddaughter." Latvina responded.
"Alice said she had a great-grandmother named Gloria." Jasper started as Suzan's eyes beamed up. "I wrote to Latvina, I was in Biloxi."
"Tell him your story," Hayden said. "Let him see the connection. Jasper, when you see this view, pay attention, you now recognize Latvina's features. The coven you now live with isn't random. You wanted to find your family. You never had a new family. You reunited with old members, those who disappeared, and decadents of though wrongfully disowned."
"Let me show you how your grandmother's attempt to keep my sister and I out of this family failed."
Jasper had a vision, he remembered being in that strange place, which recognized it but seldom went to it, if never. It was part of the Whitlock Plantation, he came across a dirt path with windowless wood cabins line up with one another. He could hear a banjo playing, along with a group of women gossiping with one another from one cabin, a man praying, another cabin he could smell tobacco along with two men talking with one another, in another he could hear an African drum pounding a beat of morning. In another, a baby crying and his mother singing. It was then, Jasper recognize a slaved owned by his father called Moses who was in charge of keeping the night watch. He was supposed to ring his bell when he saw runaways, intruders, Yankees, and smoke. Moses sat at his bell as smoke came through the air. In an instant, he started ringing the bell.
"Fire, fire, there is a fire on the land." The slaves rushed out, and started fleeing to where they saw smoke. Jasper felt himself following them, and then out of the corner of his eye he saw Nancy, their housemaid and Latvina's trusted friend hiding between the cabins making no rush to well. They made it to the well only to find their equipment gone. They looked towards Daniel for help, he was the chuffer, butler, and second in charge of the plantation.
They were the only family that had the name Whitlock. The others had the name carried in from the former owners. Hayden gave Daniel the Whitlock name. Hayden brought Daniel when he first moved to Texas, and helped him build the plantation. He was the only one who knew how to read, and made sure the others were withheld from that knowledge. It was this that gave Daniel his power in the plantation.
When Hayden sent for his wife, Consents, and their daughter Latvina, he kept track of the plantation affairs, and later help Consent's maids and Latvina's nurses were accommodated. His wife, Ivy, delivered Benjamin, and was Narcissi's friend until her death. She tended to the Hayden's children until her death. She also prepared for the wedding of his parents and calmed his mother on her first night here, and made sure she didn't flee when his father called for her.
Ivy helped Sapphire into her wedding dress, despite the fear. She also calmed Sapphire before the wedding night, and become comfortable afterwards. Ivy made sure Sapphire knew her place and didn't let her socialize with the servants like she did on her father's plantation. She helped Sapphire through her pregnancy and delivery. She also secretly assigned a wet nurse, when in reality she was keeping the secret of Sapphire taking care of her own child. Ivy knew the teenager had no one else. She comforted Sapphire with the news of her mother's death.
Unfortunately, when Harriett moved in, she found out about Sapphire's un-lady like behavior and Ivy allowing the maids under her to turn the other way when Sapphire took care of her son. Harriett had Ivy sold and had her personal slave, Ester take her place.
Ester reported everything that went on in the household to Harriett, and watched Sapphire's every move just as she done with Cornelia. She reported what happened when Latvina and Nancy played school together when Latvina came home. Latvina got a lashing from Hayden that night, and watched as Sapphire did nothing. Later, Harriett said it was Sapphire who turned Latvina in, she never forgave her.
Sapphire was however, able to find friendship in other ways. When Hayden hired Lydia to do laundry for her. She seek her out, Hayden knew of this, and approved. Sapphire was after all the Plantation Mistress, not Harriett. After Sapphire gave birth to Jasper, she got away with everything. The only person Harriett really had control over was Benjamin.
Jasper watched as Nancy remained hidden until she spotted her father. In an instant Nancy raced out, grabbed him by the arm and forced him to their cabin. They were in a dusted room with a wooden wall, surrounding the area and a brick fire place where herbs and spices hung. He saw a large wooden ball of rotting vegetables and on one side was two rabbits hanging by the feet and on the other side was a rocking chair with a basket of yarn, a sign of status in a slave cabin. Jasper noticed the itchy osnaburg clothing hung above them and behind it was two mattresses with curtains separating father and daughter.
"Girl, what are ya' doin', can't ya' see the plantation on fire? Master Whitlock will have my head if we ain't there." Daniel yelled.
"That doesn't matter, its supposed to be on fire." Nancy said, pushing her father inside.
"What ya' talkin' about?" Danial questioned.
"Latvina freed us, less than an hour ago," Nancy said as she rushed to pack her things
"Are ya' crazy girl? What right she have ta free us?" Daniel snapped.
"She gave me her dowry money," Nancy said taking the money out of waist band of the skirt. "So we would have a good start."
"That money ain't hers to give." Denial spat.
"She arranged for us to go to Haiti, in exchange for one thing,' Nancy stressed, anxious to leave.
Daniel sighed, he knew Latvina worked for the Underground Railroad, she was an abolitionist who thought that her and his daughter should be on their own. She refused her suitors because her strong morals wouldn't allow her to be a slave owner's wife. She also refused to allow her father to barter off like she was his property, like Mistress Sapphire's father did. Latvina had gain on her own. "That's nice, dear, but it ain't her place to free us."
"Wait," Nancy said. "I was given orders to help someone."
"What does the girl want form us?" Daniel asked.
"Wait," Nancy said, blocking the door. "Just wait."
Jasper went outside to the village. The slaves remained, running back and forth between the well and the shed. A shadow appeared from the mist, two figures covered in cloaks and large dresses. Jasper watched as the shadows ducked behind the cabins when a slave ran back, and the two continued keeping anonymity. Jasper watched as they approached, and saw her pale face, with golden curls and violate eyes. She walked fast and quick with a girl behind her. Jasper eyes were in awe staring at the smoke of the shed, and the girl that stood by Latvina's side.
Both of them had dresses covered in dirt, and shrub. The girl stood there with her diminutive body blending into the cabin, shadows. She was running with sweat down her face. Jasper took a closer look and notice tears were in her eyes. She was in grief, but she was alive.
"Be quiet," Latvina ordered, as she forced her to the cabin and knocked. Nancy peeked the door opened and let the two in.
"Does she know?" Nancy whispered as soon as Suzanne came in. Latvina nodded. Suzan stood there with her round white face and the miracle almond shape of her eyes, along with tiny thin cheeks, and small chin with graceful thin lips. Jasper noticed a connection to the beauty of Suzan with another beauty in his life. They came to the cabin, Suzanne didn't show fear, she just stood there shocked as she walked into the cabin, taking a seat to rest. Suzanne's eyes remained frozen as Latvina and Nancy proceeded with packing their things and explaining to Daniel what happened, trying to get him to go. Jasper didn't hear the details, it was a blur to Suzanna's ears.
"Father, we have no choice, its ether we run or stay here. Who knows who Harriett would target next to cover Benjamin's crime. I saw the body." Nancy finally spoke, with that Daniel grabbed some food in the cabin and they left following. He needed to keep his daughter's safety in mind.
"Follow this," Latvina said to Nancy handing her a quilt that showed the patterns of a hidden path through a forest and they left. "If you are stopped, Suzan will be your mistress. You know how to read, I wrote the names of the people and their addresses on a paper under it. Burn the paper once you reach harbor." Latvina then hugged Nancy one more time. She then grabbed Suzan's hand and the three raced out. Latvina watched them disappear in a quick dash. She then went back to the main house.
"You made it," Jasper said as Suzan nodded. "I made it. Look into my eyes, Jasper, observe my face, you will see the face of someone you love. I ask you to remember me, remember how strange I'd seem. How I had a strange sense of things. I always knew what was going to be for dinner, I would fix your tea the way you wanted it, adding the sugar and lemon before you asked. Dress for the right weather without looking at the window. I would get so offensive when others notice, when they smile saying, 'My, Suzanna, you always know what is going to happen next.'
"After that night, I was force to recognize that part about me. When Latvina, a girl who had passed me off, and was cruel to me. A girl who hated me there because I caught her sneaking out at night, and knew she was stealing clothes. When she clutched me in the garden, and kept me hidden, I knew to trust your sister. After we left, we raced to the harbor and bordered a ship that took us to New Orleans.
"We separated there, Nancy and Daniel went to Haiti, and became very successful. I knew my place was in a different direction. I was able to see where I belonged, and what was mine. I got employment on a steam ship heading up North on the Mississippi. I got off at Biloxi, and stayed. Then I had a vision telling me were to go, and I found them. The Brandon family, a moral family that took me in, I waited for their son, Allen to return form war.
"He was injured; he lost his hand in the war. He didn't think any girl could love him, the war and prison caused him to suffer greatly. He wasn't even sure he wanted to go home, but he figured his parents needed to see him. They were out when he returned home, it was just me alone. When my Allen first saw me, he was shocked by my beauty.I had his favorite meal prepared. He didn't even ask where his parents were, he was curious that I said I had been waiting for him. He was raised as aproper southern gentlemen and apologized for being he kissed me and we were wedded two weeks later.
"I started my own dress shop, and had a family. I was the happiest women in all of Mississippi, if not the world. I had two sons, my older he blessed me with a granddaughter. Mary Alice, the name 'Alice' was in honor of my dear husband. So that's what Allen called her, 'his little Alice' that's what he would say. I loved her with all my heart and soul, completely endlessly. She was like me in every way, and today she makes me proud, fearfully proud. You know of who I speakof. When I say, I was with you at the café, I was with her. When I say, I was at your wedding in spirit. Look at my features, you know who I speak of."
"Alice," Jasper said, shocked but now seeing the similarity. The figure nodded.
"Remember your last visit here, when we both thought she had died and you were betrayed?" Hayden asked. "I want you to remember my son, we were both tricked."
It was the early hours of the morning. The window was open with a gentle breeze allowing the sweet scent of the wild flowers to flow into the room. Jasper lied awake, dreading having to leave tomorrow. It was the last night he would spend as a human at the Whitlock Plantation. Jasper felt Julia's naked body against him. He still remembered her body clearly. He was after all the first man to taste her flesh. She was his first as well, but he didn't let her know that. He remembered considering Julia his mistress since she stayed with her family, and most men of his rank had one. Now, he remembered, that's what she was to him.
Julia was asleep, soundly next to him. Jasper turned over and kissed her neck, she woke up. He was going to be gone tomorrow. Julia feeling the sweat down her hair. She felt his lips against her body and the gentleness of his hands. She knew, she was nothing but safe in his bed. He was the only one that could be with her this way. How could this feeling of living with one's flesh be anything but woman? How alive she felt when he sank into her, with the satin against her back, and the fever that spiked inside her as she opened up to him, with nothing but love itself.
Julia knew getting a man to love was easy. She was honest to him. He was the only one to see her nude. She admired the strength of him, feeling his limbs against hers with his blood-shot eyes staring down at her. He was every bit male, making her woman. She only feared tomorrow living without him, and not hearing his voice calling for him. Jasper remembered making love as a human, with the heart hammering and the pulse pounding. The heat as his fingers curled her hips. The sweat that went down her neck and the oil on his fingers after she brushed her hair.
The next morning, Julia was still in Jasper's room, she was quietly getting dress. "Thank you, for coming last night." Jasper said as he watched her pull the cotton chemise over her shoulder.
"It's your last night, of course I came," She said as she sat at the edge of the bed to tie the gardeners to the stockings she pulled over her smooth legs. Julia was wise in bringing in a change of clothes with her. Jasper watched as she pulledthe white drawers over her hips then tightened the corset against her breast.
Jasper was still in his bed were he lit a pipe, enjoying the morning sun stream in the windows. It was early, and Nancy wouldn't be in his room with clothes for a while, and she would keep quiet if she caught them. Julia pulled a long white shirt over her arms and button it down.
Julia then pulled a hoop skirt over her waist hiding the silhouette of her body. She tied the waist band around herself and put the pins in place. Julia learned to do the pins herself before coming here, the Whitlock women always had a slave to tend to them. She finally covered herself with a dark blue dress, which she planned to send Jasper off while wearing.
"You look beautiful," Jasper commented
"Thank you." Julia smiled towards him.
"I got something for you," Jasper said as he pulled a box out of the drawer and approached her.
"Oh, my, you didn't have to get me anything." Julia blushed nervously.
"You're the mistress of an officer now," Jasper corrected. "I can't have my special lady running around undecorated. People will think the Whitlocks are paupers."
Julia took the box, and opened it to find a pearl necklace with a pink ribbon. Julia was stunned by the luxurious item, she was speechless. Without a word, Jasper draped it around her neck. Julia felt the smoothness of the pearls press her throat.
Julia turned back to him. "You know, I think your worth more than any pearl."
"Well, if you wear it, I'll come back to you."
"Promise," Jasper answered. They kissed one last time. Julia then left to tend to her sister, she walked out of Jasper's room with her hair down, and wearing no shoes. As Julia was walking, she notice one of the maids dusting, it was the maid that belong to Mrs. Harriet Whitlock.
"Ester," Julia greeted politely, as she made her way back to her sister's room.
"Julia," Easter snipped, noticing a string of pearls wrapped around the white trash neck, as she walked out of Master Jasper's room in the early hours.
The other houses address the two as Miss Julia and Miss Suzanna. Ester did no such thing, she knew that seeing them as equal to the members of the Whitlock family would be a disgrace. One was simply Mistress Sapphire's pet, and the other was Master Jasper's plaything. Seeing her walk out in the early morning was proof and something Harriett would like to know for sure. Later Harriett asked her to mention what she witnessed to Benjamin.
"I suppose it was for the best," Harriett said, coming up next to Latvina after Jasper ran off. He tried to imagine that poor girl's face as the flames involved around her, and couldn't take it anymore.
"Didn't anyone here her scream?" Jasper asked the two women. "She was only sixteen."
"She didn't put up a scream," Latvina said coldly. "Jasper, it was an accident it happens. None of us could prevent Suzanne's death." She said quickly trying to pull Jasper from the pile. As Latvia pulled her younger brother away, Jasper noticed at the corner of his eye stood a string of pearls, the same he gave Julia. He shook his head, remembering who it belonged too. Latvina stood there watching Jasper stalk off, Harriett came to her side. She felt something slip into her palm.
"Your reward," She whispered. Latvina glanced down and saw Sapphire's jade heart.
Jasper then thought of the girl, the one who visited just a few rooms down. Or, was she a visitor? The scentless being with no heartbeat. The girl who seemed to be in the hall, her presence but a shadow for she had no shadow. The girl that covered the side of her face so she wouldn't be recognized by him.
Jasper remembered the sound of her voice. It was the same sweet Texan accent, it seemed familiar to him. He knew that girl, and the cold stigma that followed behind her. He knew that face, those eyes, and every part of her once upon a time.
Alice was speaking the truth. In an instant, Jasper raced back to the house.