Disclaimer: I own nothing. Alfred Noyes owns The Highwayman. Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight, not me. :) I'm just having some fun with her characters.
Quotes at the beginning of the chapters are from Alfred Noyes' poem, The Highwayman. This story is not inspired by The Highwayman, the quotes are mainly intended to set a mood or tone.
HUGE authors note at the end with FAQs and Sources. :D
I'll come to thee by moonlight
The burning in his lungs was soon eclipsed by a burning that traveled throughout his body, igniting bone, muscle, then flesh from the inside out.
The sound in his ears, no longer a gentle roaring; it had become a blazing thunder.
He writhed, he clawed, he screamed.
In desperation, he searched, for any drop of water to quench the flames.
But there was none. Nothing to give relief to the inferno that raged.
Take it away. Please, God, take it away.
He cried out, arching his back, trying to scratch at his flesh to let it out. But something held him, paralyzed.
His smoky and scorched thoughts fumbled for meaning.
Hell. This must be Hell.
A defeated cry poured from his mouth. He had thought he'd wake up to… her. But this…
His focus incinerated as white hot flames licked at his already-singed body.
If he could even dip one small finger into a single drop of water, perhaps he could find some measure of relief. His groaning was in vain.
He heard the weeping. But whether it came from someone else or from his own conflagrated body, he couldn't discern.
In the distance he heard her calling his name, tormenting him in his despair all the more.
It had to end soon. There couldn't be much left. How could he be so engulfed yet not destroyed?
And still it raged. Blazed and blackened. Till he was delirious with not a coherent thought.
All he perceived was pain, weeping, and the fire that would not die.
CD ~ CD ~ CD
He had no idea how much time had passed when lucidity began to creep back into his thoughts.
The inferno still burned but somehow it seemed less.
Slowly, bit by bit, his extremities cooled, like sea mist moving inland.
A whimper escaped his raw lips and he felt a soft hand smooth his hair from his forehead.
"I'm so sorry," her broken voice wept. "So, so sorry."
He could not move as the flames subsided. Till they blazed their last destructive path and were done, finally extinguished.
He remained still, afraid to move, lest the flames erupt again. After a few moments, a ragged sigh shook his body and he began to focus on the air around him.
He noticed every small waft of air and every smell.
Evergreen and dirt. Moisture and salt.
"I didn't know what else to do," she whispered. "I couldn't let you go."
His eyes opened to see the face of his beloved, hovering over him, concern etching her features.
"Bella," he said, his voice surprisingly clear and strong.
Light reflected off her face and he was in awe of her. She had only come to him by cloak of night since her death and he drank her in. She was the same, yet impossibly more beautiful with curious golden eyes.
CD ~ CD ~ CD
Over the next months and years Bella taught him all about the new life they had.
He had had much to learn. And learn he did. Every nuance of movement, every skill of the hunt. She gladly taught and he eagerly grew.
She shared with sadness how she'd looked for him, despite the storm that raged, that night on the bluffs. How she'd slipped on the slick mud and tumbled to the rocks below. How she'd been ushered into this new life. The kind man and his loving family.
She recounted the overwhelming grief at having to give up her only love, the fruitless weeping and despair that ruled her early existence, and the creeping temptation to simply check in on him, changing to the forbidden encounters they'd shared.
They mourned their previous lives, the people they loved, and the children and grandchildren they'd never have. It was a constant ache in their spirit.
But the undercurrent of their love and union gave them a deep and unshakable contentment.
They loved and laughed. All barriers dropped. Life, death, humanity itself. They lit a fire and were bound one to the other in every possible way.
Nothing gave them greater joy than the push and pull of the tide, the beckoning and response of lover to beloved.
As they lay wrapped in each other, their shudders and sighs of completion, echoing their hearts' absolute joy, they smiled, they kissed, they partook.
"Thank you for coming for me, Bella."
Her answering smile was brilliant.
Their lives inseparable. Their love unstoppable. Their passion unquenchable.
Their lives bonded in life, now fired and fused in death.
Thank you so much to everyone that read, reviewed, and recc'd this story! I am so grateful to you! I'd love to hear what you think here at the end of the story. Your reviews really do make my day!
THANK YOU so much to my prereaders and beta!
Bratty-vamp, without your enthusiasm for my idea, I might never have continued on this little story. Thank you for idea bouncing, for hand holding, and for all your help in prereading! And thank you for being such a good friend. :D
LJ, I so appreciate your thorough and critical eye. You are so giving of your time and expertise and I just want to thank you for betaing Cape Disappointment even when you had such a FULL schedule! Thank you also for being a sounding board and helping me to sort out my ideas!
Hott4j, you are my sister and my friend. Thank you for your excitement and your help with this story! Your encouragement lifted my spirits and gave me confidence. Thank you!
When was this story set?
The proposal, Edward's near drowning, and Bella's disappearance all happen in 1914. Edward and Bella are 19 at this point. Of course, the earlier chapters are at different points in their childhood. In the first chapter they are meant to be 6-8 years old. In the second chapter they are meant to be 10-12 years old. To me the exact date and age is unimportant because it is about the feelings the circumstances evoke and I want readers to be able to fill in the blanks on some of the finer details so it is more general.
Where did I get the idea for my plot?
Growing up, I was the daughter of a United States Coast Guard officer. So I always lived on the beach (the Washington coast for much of it) and I was around lighthouses a lot. Chapter 2 is kind of a snapshot of my childhood, I guess you can say: running through the woods, playing on the beach, poking around in tide pools, wielding kelp whips, and yes, even chasing each other with crabs. We even had one of those green glass Japanese fishing floats in our house. Perhaps because of all this, lighthouses are very near and dear to my heart. They're just a part of my psyche, I guess. They're very iconic and there are so many tragic and haunting stories associated with them.
So I decided to write a story about one and immediately I had the mood and tone of the story. The Highwayman just popped into my head - the tragic love and the pacing of the poem were what struck me, I think. So I started researching lighthouses, specifically those on the Washington coast because it's what I know. Cape Disappointment was perfect. It's beautiful, and where it is situated - at the mouth of the Columbia River - is known as the Graveyard of the Pacific where almost 2,000 vessels and about 700 lives have been lost over the past 300 years.
"This area is regarded as one of the most treacherous river bars in the world. Because of the large number of shipwrecks near the river entrance it is often called "The Graveyard of the Pacific." During winter storms, wind-driven ocean swells often reach a height of 20-30 feet at the entrance of the bar. With the combination of strong outgoing tides and large incoming swells, large surf conditions can exist in and around the bar entrance." - www. uscg . mil / d13 / gruasAstoria / units / capedisappointment . asp
The name was even cool!
The time period was decided on because I wanted it to happen before lighthouses were electrified (Cape Disappointment was electrified in 1937) and before the USCG took them over (1939) and eventually automated them (Cape Disappointment was automated in 1973). But I didn't want it to be so long ago that it was pioneer living conditions. And I didn't want it to happen during the time that the United States was involved in either of the World Wars.
Why couldn't Edward go with Bella?
Bella did not appear to Edward until 2 and a half years after her disappearance because she was getting her blood lust under a bit of control during this time. She didn't want to interfere in his life but she just had to check on him. When she saw the non-life he was living she couldn't help but reach out to him, hesitantly at first. It's not until she comes to grips with the fact that he refuses to move on with his life and she can't live without him that she decides to continue their relationship. But she also didn't want to tell Edward what she was, so she decided to let him believe what he would about her. She had been out hunting when Edward goes out to rescue the endangered man. She comes back just in time to see he's in danger and changes him when his death is inevitable. She hadn't wanted to change him until she was faced with losing him for good, which is why he couldn't go with her before.
I did lots of research on the history, operation, responsibility and upkeep of lighthouses, specifically Cape Disappointment, the history of the fishing industry on the Washington coast and Columbia River, the city of Ilwaco, period fashion, Lighthouse Keeper uniforms, bicycles of the period, and more.
Here are some of the sources I used in my research. I quoted nothing and used nothing in specific but these all shaped the way I constructed the story.
The United States Lighthouse Society - www . uslhs . org / resources_
From this site I was able to access articles from The Keeper's Log journals, including articles on the governance of U.S. lighthouses, the uniforms worn by keepers, the Cape Disappointment Light Station, detailed information on the lenses and fuel used, as well as the grueling upkeep of lighthouses and the basic duties of keepers.
City of Ilwaco - www . ilwacowashington . com /
Here I read about the history of the town and some information on the fishing industry there.
Other websites that were of use -
The Free Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History - www . historylink . org /
Pacific County Historical Society and Museum - www . pacificcohistory . org /
Oregon State Parks: Graveyard of the Pacific - www . oregonstateparks . org / images / pdf / graveyar_
The Mother of All Maritime Links - www . boat-links . com / boatlink . html
Shipwrecks: Graveyard of the Pacific - funbeach . com / local-attractions / shipwrecks /
Other Sources of Inspiration -
I did image searches on Edwardian and La Belle Epoque fashion, the history of bicycles, fishing boats, etc.