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In "Piers Plowman", a poem written somewhere in the 1300's it was mentioned by an unknown author that "patience is a virtue". This poet sorely underestimated the importance of this trait. Patience is one of the most vital attributes we can be blessed with. Unfortunately, not many of us have a lot of it. I have to say that Lauren (leckadams) has the patience of a saint. Lauren (who is getting married tomorrow – CONGRATULATIONS LAUREN!) purchased a one-shot from me over a year ago in the FGB auction, and she's been patiently waiting for me to live up to my end of the bargain. She bought a one-shot, but I've made her a 12-chapter ficlette instead.

I'm doing some major edits and tweaking, but the raw story is completely written. I plan on posting at least once a week.

I AM LOOKING FOR A BETA FOR THIS STORY. If you are interested please let me know! Please overlook any mistakes for the time being. Hopefully, they will be fixed soon.

I wrote this story while on a month break from school. I also have the month of December off and I plan to get to one or more of my WIP's, so watch out for that.

Disclaimer: – The locations, landmarks, and events mentioned are only real in my imagination. The usual; I don't own Twilight or any of the characters.


Chapter 1

From sprawling acreage of dairy farms, apple orchards and cotton plantations, to miles of green forests and swampland, I note that Louisiana is nothing like Illinois. Being born and raised in Chicago I've never experienced life in the country, especially that of the Deep South, where slavery is long gone, but even some of the area's most prominent constituents still hang confederate flags high and proud, resounding proof that their ancestors beliefs have survived for more than a century.

As we venture into the town limit of Bon Terre, I watch through the window as children frolic in the surrounding ponds and lakes, ride their dirt bikes along the two-laned winding roads, and wave staunchly at lonely strangers in back seats of taxicabs.

I wave back, having felt a twinge at just being acknowledged. Living as I have the last year, I'm astonished that these people actually see me, and not just the ghost of a man that I've become.

I'm not a total recluse. I still hang out with Alice and my friends, and I do show up to work every weekday, but it's irrefutable that I have changed in this last year.

My friends have noticed this, but don't comment.

I don't divulge any information about myself any more, and people don't ask.

I've become a fixture in their worlds, but they don't know anything about me now, nor do they care to. I still get invitations, and I participate in their antics, enjoy a drink or two, and might even share a laugh, but the joy never penetrates further than the surface of my hollow being.

My friends have always found me a bit weird. I've never been normal per se. I've always been somewhat subdued and have always felt a bit like an outsider, but even though I forever feel out of my element I always have something to contribute to a conversation. I'm intelligent, witty and funny, but the events in the last couple years have taken its toll on my already shaky confidence and self-esteem, leaving me increasingly submissive and unsociable as time passes.

The driver pulls up an extended driveway and my attention diverts to the large structure planted firmly in the midst of a large expanse of land. The vehicle comes to a halt, and I slowly alight from the back seat.

I pull my bag out of the trunk of the taxi as I survey my surroundings. It looks exactly like the pictures in the pamphlet.

When Alice had told me about the bed and breakfast that one of her sorority sisters owned in Bon Terre, Louisiana, a small town located just off the Mississippi River, and north of Baton Rouge, I thought that she must have been sorely exaggerating the beauty, but this place was absolutely breathtaking.

The Stormy Haven Inn is a huge three-story home nestled in the midst of extravagant flowery gardens, beautiful green plants, and a large clean pond, with a fountain in the middle. The house is just as gorgeous as the landscape. The old red bricks appear historic, and the white shutters framing the windows, traditional.

A large wooden porch surrounds the inn, and a small veranda protrudes from old French doors off the third floor. A few potted plants, two lounging chairs, a small table and a large porch swing are located on the front part of the deck giving it that comfortable, homey feeling, which is a wonderful contrast from the posh lawn that sparkles with class and elegance.

My reluctant feet crunch along the stone walkway up to the residence that I will be spending the next two months in.

When Alice suggested that I needed a break I had no doubts that she was correct, but actually leaving my apartment in Chicago for the entire summer was a daunting thought. It's my only refuge, but I fear I'm about to hit rock bottom, and if this get-away works to repair the tattered remains of what's left of me, than it will be worth leaving the comfort of my only sanctuary to give it a shot.

The pelleting sunrays overhead causes a thick sheen of sweat to break across the back of my neck, and exposed forearms. I had rolled the sleeves of my outer shirt up just as the taxi approached the estate, due to the jittery nervousness at meeting the people I am to spend the season with.

I'd obviously overdressed for the occasion. The eighty-five degree day differed dramatically to the cool sixty degrees I've been accustomed to the last few weeks in my hometown. My jeans feel tighter than normal, and the t-shirt/button up combo I'm wearing are choking.

My slow footsteps carry me a few feet from the porch as a woman steps outside the front-screened door.

"Hey there! You must be Edward." The cheery voice says. The day is bright, and with my sunglasses packed, I'm forced to raise a hand to my brow to shield the sun, so I can view the shadowed figure looming overhead.

From Alice's description this must be Rosalie. To say she's beautiful is an understatement. With her long blonde hair, sky blue eyes, a perfect rack, thin waist, and long toned legs, she's a bombshell for certain.

And yet she does nothing for me.

I sigh, but quickly resolve to maintain the promise that I made not to let my problems follow me here. I'm definitely not looking for a relationship or fling anyway, and from what I understand, Rosalie is newly married and in love.

In love? Whatever that means.

"Yes I am. You must be Rosalie." I answer. She skips down the three wooden steps, and I put my luggage down in just enough time for her to launch herself into my arms. It isn't the welcome I'd been expecting, and I let out a surprised laugh at her attack.

"Just as I suspected." She says suspiciously, pulling away. Before she can expand on her strange comment a clearing of a throat stalls her words.

"Mrs. Rose McCarty, what the hell are you doin'? You're gonna scare the poor guy off before he steps his foot in the door." Rosalie turns to a mammoth of a man on the porch. He has his hands on his hips in a stance like he's angry, but his lips twitch and his eyes are filled with mirth…and warmth.

"But Emmett…he smells like the city. C'mere n' smell for yourself."

I know by his name that this goliath of a man is Rosalie's husband of a little over a year.

"Sorry Edward. My wife misses the city, and we don't get back to Chicago often enough for her liking."

Rosalie huffs, clutching my hand. She brushes passed Emmett, poking him in the side with a sharp, red fingernail as she does. "Don't listen to this oaf. Come on in and I'll show you to your room. Once you get settled maybe we can have a chat. You can tell me how your sis is doin', and what's been goin' on in that big ol' city of yours."

We enter the foyer and I'm amazed at the décor. It's charming, comfortable…yet elegant. It matches the exterior of the home perfectly. Cherry wood floors flow throughout the entire first level. Plush rugs, and thick drapes, match the furniture in rich burgundy's and browns.

"Wow. This place…it's fantastic." I say more to myself, rather than the owner.

"Don't look so surprised Edward, this is what I went to school for." She chides playfully.

Both her and Alice went to school for design. While Alice went to school for clothing design, Rosalie tapped into interior design, and I can see that her talents have not been exaggerated.

"I'm sorry." I say sheepishly. "It's just so…wonderful."

She blushes, but drags me forward. My eyes continue to study each detail put into each room throughout the residence. "C'mon Edward. Let's rid you of your belongings so you can check the place out proper."

We climb a wide cherry staircase up to the next level where there are three doors off to the right, and two doors off to the left. I look up to see another level, and Rosalie follows my eyes.

"The third floor is mine and Emmett's home. We don't have a kitchen up there, but we do have a living area, dining area and, of course, the bedroom and bath. I'll show you sometime if you'd like, but it's a lot simpler than what you'll see down here."

We take a left, toward the side with two doors. "I put you on this side by yourself…for the time bein'. I've only booked the room next to you for three weeks out of the summer. The three rooms on the other side are taken pretty much all summer long by visitors that will be comin' and goin', but they won't be much of a bother to you."

She opens the door to my room. "I gave you the biggest room since you'll be stayin' with us the longest, and well, you're Alice's kin, of course."

"How long have you been here?" I ask. According to Alice, Rosalie was born and raised in Baton Rouge, but decided to study at Northwestern. Alice hadn't told me that Rosalie was so…rustic, not that I mind. It's kind of refreshing actually, and it pulls a rare smile from me.

I've been told that Rosalie graduated at the top of her class, with honors. She had also been a part of several study groups, and tutored a couple of her sisters in the sorority house. I have no doubt that she is very intelligent, and I hope my question isn't misunderstood.

Rosalie catches on fast, winking at me. "Oh Edward, watch out. These locals get to you but fast. I've been here six long years, fresh out of college, but from what you can probably see I might as well have been born here in Bon Terre.

That's why I'm so happy you're here. Maybe you can teach me to be citified again." Her voice is filled with humor and mischief. I've only known her for no more than ten minutes, but it's apparent that she loves her home, and has a great deal of pride in what she's accomplished here.

Her eyes lose a little bit of their light, and she looks concerned. She reaches for my arm and squeezes gently, her voice becoming a low murmur, "now, don't go on worryin' Edward. Alice hasn't told me anything that you wouldn't want just anyone knowin', but she says you ain't had much cause to be happy lately. You're far away from home, so I just want you to know that if you ever need anyone to talk to that I'll be here for you."

I open my mouth to say something, but nothing comes to mind since I have no idea how to respond. It surprises me that Alice even relayed that much to Rosalie.

Alice and I used to be close. She was the person that I would always confide in. She was a great listener, and always helped me to work through my issues, but this last year I've successfully pushed everyone away, including my only sister.

Mutually, we've reduced the time we spend together to once or twice a month, rather than weekly. We don't carry any hard feelings for not wanting to see each other as much, and when we do get together we manage to have a good time, but it's clear that we both hesitate to talk about anything of real importance, electing to keep our visits light and fun instead.

Thankfully, Emmett chooses that opportunity to barge into the room with my bags, setting them by the door. He stands awkwardly in the doorframe for a moment, before his smile grows and he extends his hand. "It's nice to meet ya, Edward. You must know by now that I'm Emmett, Rosalie's husband." He has a hearty handshake, and his smile is real.

"So, Rosie says you're gonna be writin' a book while you're here." He inquires, with genuine interest.

I chuckle, feeling my face heat up from all the attention I'm suddenly getting.

"Hopefully…I've had a couple of ideas, but I've always had a lot of other things going on. I figure that this is as good a chance as any."

"Is it gonna be a suspense? Mystery? There just aren't enough good mysteries out there." Emmett surmises thoughtfully.

I massage the back of my neck, pondering his question. "I'm not sure yet. I've got a couple of ideas. Some suspense? Drama maybe?"

"Cool." Emmett responds, and the room grows quiet.

Rosalie seems to sense the sudden awkwardness and interrupts. "Well, we can talk more at mealtime. You get settled in. Supper will be ready in a couple of hours, so feel free to roam the property, or head downstairs. There's a game room down there, and that's where you'll find the laundry area.

We have two couples here already, but they won't be eatin' with us since they've decided to take the dinner cruise down on the dock. We're not expectin' the other couple until late tonight, so if you're joinin' us, it'll just be the four of us."

"Four?" I question.

"Oh yeah, my brother Jasper lives in the cabin on the east edge of the property. Most times he eats dinner at the house, and since I'm cookin' his favorite meatloaf I'm guessin' tonight won't be an exception."

"Sounds good. Thank you."

"Let me know if you be needin' anything." She says as they exit.

As the door closes I'm flooded with relief. I enjoyed meeting them, but I've just been so used to being alone lately that I've come to find comfort in solitude. I look out the large window in my room to see what kind of view I have. I'm facing the back of the house and I'm surprised at the disparity between the two sides of the property.

The front yard is such a large open space, clean with vivid colors. The landscape in the back of the house is almost primitive. The sun doesn't touch the forest's floor, as thick heaving trees shade the small area. The ground is littered with rocks, twigs, and branches, and after several feet literally drops directly into some sort of wetland. The murky marsh is long and wide disappearing in the midst of concentrated swampland.

There's a small boardwalk that doesn't look too sturdy with an equally dilapidated motorboat parked beside it. I'm not sure how the boat could cut through the water since the liquid looks muddied and impenetrable.

Even during the daylight hours, the backyard seems obscure, and enigmatic. The unkempt appearance makes it appealing in a mysterious way. It has an aura surrounding it, like it's a place where secrets are made and kept.

I can only imagine how it would feel in the dark of night.

As I'm turning away from the window, I scarcely notice a small building through the trees, off in the distance and realize that must be Rosalie's brothers place.

Without another thought I grab my bags and start to unpack my meager belongings.

The spacious bedroom is tastefully done in navy blue, accented by a soft beige. The room is equipped with a large closet, and a good-sized bathroom. The furniture, like most of the other pieces in her house are magnificent, but what I find most impressive is the desk that I'll be working at for the next couple of months.

I run my finger over the intricate pattern carved into the edge. The detail is exquisite. I plug my laptop in since I used it on the plane and in the cab, and then decide a hot shower is needed to loosen my weary muscles.

Towel drying my hair, I walk back into the bedroom, and look around, not believing that I'm actually here. I sit on the edge of the bed, contemplating my new adventure. For lack of anything better to do for the moment, I bounce on the mattress slightly to see if the box spring squeaks.

Not that it'll matter; my bed hasn't made those types of noises in over a year…way before the divorce.

I can't believe I'm single again.

Twenty-six years old and divorced. I not only lost my wife, I lost my best friend.

Bella and I had met in college. We were both going to the University of Illinois to become teachers. She studied to be an English teacher, while my goal was to become a Music teacher. Throughout our freshman year we found ourselves in many of the same classes. We became close friends, and I would have been more than happy to leave it that way, but Bella wanted more. I didn't want to lose her as a friend, but I had a terrible dating history. All my past girlfriends had eventually cheated on me, and unfortunately Bella had turned out to be no exception.

I've never been a sexual person. I don't yearn for sex like other guys do. I just enjoy the companionship. When I started having sex at seventeen I felt forced into it, and because of that I didn't perform well. I guess I've never really gotten over that, and have always felt inadequate with every girl I've been with since then. So, when I was required to perform as a husband, it always left me and Bella anxious and unsatisfied.

Bella and I were only married just over two years before she gave up on me, and fulfilled her desires with some guy she met on-line, on a 'Single's' website of all places. Alistair proposed to her before he found out she was still married to – and living with - me.

Apparently he decided to forgive her for her deceit since they're tying the knot next month. Thank God I won't be in town for that event, since it takes place only a few short blocks from my apartment.

Sighing heavily, I punch my fist into the mattress.

I don't want to dwell on the circumstances that brought me here. I don't want to be the brooding singleton of the group. I don't want to live out the rest of my life being miserable and alone.

I want to find peace and joy. I want to heal.

I don't want to be broken anymore.

I came here to redefine myself. When the new school year begins I want to return to Chicago a new man, with a new attitude…with hopes, dreams and confidence. I don't want to live with fear of rejection, or ruled by my incompetence. Eventually I'd learn to take risks, maybe leading me down a path willing to try to find love again.

There has to be someone out there for me - someone who will love me for the way that I am, and forgive my lacking sexual prowess.

I can only hope.

XXXXX

Armed with a bottled-water and my camera I head out the front door to check out the property. I had sent Alice a text earlier to let her know I'd arrived, but I wanted to email her some photographs tonight.

The heat is stifling, but I take pictures of the streaming fountain, the elaborate gardens, and the inn itself. I've begun to notice that before I snap each photo my eyes involuntarily flash toward the back of the house.

Eerily, I feel like it beckons me…calling me into its intimidating pit, and for some absurd reason I'm fighting it. I recognize it as some sort of preservation mechanism, but I have no idea why it's happening. It's ridiculous. There are no external signs of being in danger, but as it continues to lure me there is no denying that I recoil even further into the safety of the freshly cut grass, and primped gardens of the front lawn.

"For christsakes, what is wrong with me?" I mutter under my breath.

Fighting instinct, I stride purposefully toward the sweeping darkness. I don't stop moving until I'm surrounded by the dense trees. I realize as I back up, leaning against a massive oak, with an ancient trunk wider than two of me, that I am panting helplessly for air. I'm exhausted for no other reason than pure adrenaline, and the fight-or-flight response that course through me in staggering measures.

In contrast to the front lawn, there is a coolness…a dampness that seeps into your bones, and a deathly quiet that can't be found on the opposite side of the house. As I catch my breath, I rub down my arms attempting to rid myself of the gooseflesh that has sprouted there. It's not that this place is scary, it's just so…feral, so untamed, so…

"…not me." I mutter, glumly.

And it's definitely not what I'm used to. The shadows and wispy squall send a shiver up my spine, and my nerves win out, as I run back to the inn.

The dinner bell rings just as I make my way up the deck steps. I realize that I haven't taken any pictures, so I turn, lifting the camera to my eyes, pausing as I peer through the lens, searching every angle to capture the perfect photo.

I pull the camera down and gaze, unfocused into the billowing terrain.

The revelation comes as no surprise. No picture I could take can do this justice, so I just let the shadows be, but as I walk back into the inn I'm determined somehow to use this newfound scene in my book.

I'll describe it in great detail, and as Emmett requested, it will be a story of mystery.

The aroma of Rosalie's meatloaf permeates the entire residence making my mouth water. Excitedly, I race back up to my room to put away my camera, wash up, and exchange my sweat-soaked t-shirt for a crisp button-up.

On my first day here I've found excitement, intrigue and a purpose.

The plot for my story is already brewing and I feel giddy as I wonder how much more this little town can aid my efforts in healing my heart and soul.

Walking into the dining area, filled with masculine conversation I realize I cannot wait to find out.


I'm very interested to know what you think of this first chapter. Does it sound like this little town might have just a bit more for Edward? Please drop me a line or two.