ChapterOne:

Fairytales and Coffee Shops

"Charlotte!" Sophie Bennets called through the crowd in the London Airport, "Charlotte Rine!" A tall girl with long, wavy, brown hair and striking eyes turned when she heard her name. She tossed her head to move her hair out of her eyes and onto her shoulders, which were weighted down by both exhaustion and various pieces of luggage.

"Sophie!" A wide smile spread across her tired face as the two girls embraced. Sophie took a bag or two from her friend.

"How was the trip?"

"Long, very long, but worth it to see my best friend in the whole wide world!" Charlotte gave her companion another long hug before jumping up and down for sheer joy, her purse and backpack hitting her sides.

Sophie had moved to England to pursue a literature career and study under some of the best teachers the world had to offer. Living away from home, she missed her family and friends, but many didn't have the money to fly out for a visit; that is, except for Charlotte Rine. Charlotte came from a wealthy family (in fact, the two girls had met because Sophie's mother was the housekeeper for Charlotte's parents), and her parents' gift combined with her own savings gave her just enough for a month-long stay with her close friend during summer break.

"Your hair is so short!" Charlotte exclaimed as they left the airport and continued to Sophie's truck, "It's so cute!" She ran a hand through her friend's auburn hair, much to Sophie's dismay. Unlike her friend, Sophie hated unnecessary physical contact, which had become somewhat of a joke between the girls.

"Yes, it's short; don't touch me." A crooked smile graced her full lips as she swung Charlotte's bags into the bed of her old red truck. "I was gonna keep growing it out, but then I saw a picture of Kiera Knightly with her short hair, and I just couldn't do it."

"Well I love it! It's so… you!" Charlotte paused before adding with a coy smile, "So, you have a beau yet? David Tennant lives here! Have you met him yet? Is he in love with you?"

Sophie was beautiful. Almond shaped brown eyes lit up her ivory face and full lips gave way to a beautiful, unique smile. Her figure was slim, a contrast to Charlotte's curves, but it was feminine and lovely. And even though she was a stunning creature, she had never had a boyfriend worth mentioning. Her standards were high and she refused to settle for just anyone- and she had broken the hearts of several young men as a result.

Charlotte, on the other hand, had had her share of men in her nineteen years of life. Her figure was womanly and her eyes were a startling mixture of blue, grey, and green, which earned her well-received attention from men. She enjoyed beauty and often took her time applying makeup and choosing outfits, much to Sophie's annoyance. Long waves of brown hair cascaded down her shoulders to complete her look, which was flirtatious yet dignified. Charlotte was appealing and, despite her protests, she knew it.

Sophie took a breath before responding, "Yes, Charlotte, he is in love with me. In fact, half of London is." To emphasis her point, she flipped her hair and fluttered her eyelashes dramatically. She climbed in and unlocked door to allow Charlotte to join her.

It was several hours before the girls arrived at Sophie's apartment just outside London's city limits. Charlotte had fallen asleep while Sophie drove, but Sophie wasn't bothered one bit. The most beautiful thing about their friendship was that they could be completely silent and just enjoy each other's company without idle chit-chat. It was a rare quality to find, and both girls relished it.

"Sleeping Beauty," Sophie prodded her dozing friend when they arrived, "Oi, wake up, I'm not carrying all your luggage in by myself." The drowsy girl shifted in her sleep before blinking her eyes open and letting out a groan.

"Five more minutes!" she moaned as she turned in her seat. "It's like, one in the morning back home, and I did just fly for almost forever to get here."

"Oh, suck it up!" Sophie responded with a chuckle, "You can sleep when we get inside, but right now you need to move!" Reluctantly, Charlotte opened the door and crawled out, making sure to lock it behind her.

"Deal."

Sophie's apartment was small but homey. Books and papers littered the hallways and it was obvious that she had neglected doing her dishes for a few days. This was likely because of her preoccupation by a new story. When inspired, Sophie gave little attention to the real world around her and tended to lose herself in the imaginary worlds that she created.

"You can sleep in my bed for now. I'll pull out the cot later," Sophie said as she dragged Charlotte's large suitcase through the door while her friend stumbled her way into the bedroom.

"How do you live like this?" Charlotte cried out tragically. "There is paper everywhere!"

"Yes, and don't touch it!" Sophie shouted after her, "I know exactly where everything is! If you move one, then a book about a thief and a tower becomes a story about a magician and a tower, and it just wouldn't make any sense at all!" Charlotte let out an amused chuckle and crashed into the bed.

"Don't forget to have me show you my new set of pictures. I've done so much since I last saw you, girl." She and Sophie had so much catching up to do, and a month wasn't going to be long enough for the girls to share their new ideas and dreams. One thing was certain though; they were going to have the most memorable month ever.

A week passed, and both girls were starting to feel an overwhelming need to create. Sophie was well on her way to becoming a writer, and Charlotte had dabbled in the fine arts since she was a child. They often occupied their time together by creating stories and characters, and had just started to weave a delightful story about a fairy and a dragon who fell in love. Unfortunately, they continued to stumble into dead ends.

"I think the fairy should be engaged to someone else," Sophie said as she sat in midst of a particularly disorganized pile of papers and drawings, "or something to add some drama."

"Why not the dragon? I feel like our fairy wouldn't allow herself to be engaged to someone she didn't love, you know? She's so strong-headed," Charlotte responded from her spot on the couch while she doodled away in her sketchbook.

"But isn't she a princess? It would make sense for her to be engaged."

"Okay, Jasmine in Aladdin was a princess who refused to get engaged; why can't she be like that?"

The girls continued to banter for several minutes before they gave up and decided to stare at the ceiling instead. Both let out a sigh before Sophie shot up with an idea. "We need inspiration!" she said before scrambling about the mess to find her laptop,"And I know just the place!" Intrigued, her friend sat up and watched with interest as Sophie typed into the internet bar. "There is this place that some of my classmates have been talking about. It's called Hollow Hill National Park, and it's supposed to be where all these mystical creatures live. Maybe a few days there and our creative juices will get flowing, and we'll be able to get something done!" To show her approval, Charlotte got up and did a silly jig about the room. It wasn't long before the girls had their bags packed and loaded into the truck. Soon, they were well on their way to the Hollow Hill Inn for a weekend of adventure and exploring.

The town surrounding the National Park was quaint and bustling with excitement as people scurried from shop to shop. The buildings were almost exclusively made from red brick, and had obviously seen better years. Charlotte wrinkled her nose at how run-down the town looked and assumed that is was cheesy tourist trap, though she said nothing. Sophie was grinning in her seat as she watched the town's occupants; she could almost taste the story that was already forming in her head.

"Look! A coffee shop!" Charlotte called over the blaring radio as they passed through the busy streets. "We should stop in and get something to drink; I'm like, dying over here!"

"We should wait until after we get to the hotel, I don't wan…"

"It looks like they have Coke products, which means they probably have Dr. Pepper." Without further hesitation, Sophie pulled over into the small dirt parking lot just outside the coffee shop. A large sign read, "The Nook" in proud, white letters and the neon sign blinked brightly to show it was open. A small bell signaled the girls' entrance as they walked through the door and began to look around.

The shop wasn't very wide, but it stretched twice its width back. Bright colors lined the walls and covered the chairs. Tee shirts hung in the windows with sayings such as, "I went to Hollow Hill and Lived," and, "Team Goblin." Charlotte found them rather hilarious and made a mental note to buy one before their trip was over. An old television mounted on the wall played the news for the day while several people moved about to get their drinks and chat with friends. Sophie stood in line for the cashier, and within a few minutes she was slurping soda in a large cup.

"Ready to head ou—Charlotte?" She looked to her left and right, only to find that her best friend was nowhere to be seen.

"Sophie! Over here!" Sophie rounded the counter to a small reading section in the front of the shop where fluffy chairs and shag carpet awaited. Charlotte was sitting with three young men who looked not much older than the girls.

Sophie was furious.

Charlotte had a knack for flirting with strangers and would often disappear because some doe-eyed boy caught her attention. "This is my friend, guys! Sophie, they were just telling me about some of the local legends!" She turned her attention back to a very handsome man with gentle brown eyes and styled hair. He wore a casual button up shirt and jeans, but still looked refined and proud. The other two men blended into the background by comparison.

"Oh, hullo, Sophie!" He stood up and shook her hand. "I'm Bentley, and these are my friends Marvin and Nick. We were just telling Lottie about some of the folklore surrounding the area- if you're interested, we would love to take you to some of the more mysterious spots around town." Before Sophie could object, Charlotte shot up from her seat and agreed,

"Oh, that's perfect! Thank you! We were gonna go get settled in for the night; would we be able to meet up tomorrow sometime?" She gave a sweet smile while ignoring the scathing looks from Sophie. She already knew that hey were going to have a long talk on the way to the hotel.

"Yeah, sounds like that would work. We don't want two lovely ladies out after dark, after all. Some nasty creature may come snatch you up!" He laughed as Sophie pulled her friend towards the door.

"Okay, so, one o'clock here tomorrow!" Charlotte called. Bentley responded with a thumbs up just before the door slammed shut.

"What was that, Charlotte Rose Rine?" Sophie began when they driving down the road. "Those guys could be creeps or perverts and you're just setting yourself up for them to murder you!"

"And what were you planning on doing tomorrow, Sophie Jade Bennets?" Charlotte's tone dripped of annoyance rather than anger. "You said we were going to be talking to the locals and looking around the forest, well, that's exactly what we'll be doing with Bentley and those guys! You just assume that every guy is a scumbag! Come on, trust me on this one! They seem really sweet!" Sophie drove in silence for a moment before letting out a deep sigh.

"Fine, but I swear if I get any bad feelings about these guys, I am beating you up." The pair pulled into the parking lot of Hollow Hill Inn and had returned to their joking ways as they checked into their room.

"I need to see both of your IDs, young ladies," the small woman behind the counter smiled. "Company policy." The girls, although confused why they both needed to present their IDs, obliged. "Oh, good! Well, here's the key to your room. It's straight down the hall," she paused before adding with a coy smile, "and it's got a great view of the forest."

"Oh, thank you," Charlotte said as she took the key. Sophie pursed her lips as they walked away, she was thoroughly confused by the woman's reaction and was making a mental note to create a character based off the old woman. When she was finally pulled from her reveries she saw that they were in their room already.

The hotel room was small and smelled like damp carpet. Charlotte wrinkled her nose again as she took in the floral comforters and peeling wall paper. However, she couldn't deny that the view from the window was astonishingly beautiful. The forest was inky from the setting sun and was casting long shadows across the open field behind the hotel. Sophie came to join her friend in front of the window and began spouting off all her different ideas as to how they could work the forest into their story.

"...and they can lean in to kiss each other!" She was smiling as she continued to watch the sun dip behind the tall trees. "Never mind, that was kinda silly. I'm sure we'll come up with something though."

"Maybe in the morning, I'm exhausted! That jet lag still has me!" Charlotte was picking through her bags to find her nightgown before heading into the small bathroom to change. Sophie, seeing how tired her friend was, decided to call it an early night. They would have plenty of time for adventures the following day. Suddenly, a strange feeling caused her to shiver. She turned around and scanned the shadows under the trees but saw nothing out of the ordinary. Charlotte, now in a grey nightgown, joined her friend at the window and looked around. "What are we looking for?" Sophie looked as though she was about to jump out of her own skin.

"You scared me!" she declared as she moved from the windows view. "I just thought it felt like I was being watched or something. Man, I think I'm more tired than I thought, I'm going to bed." She was curled up under the blankets within a moments, hiding her face beneath the covers. Charlotte watched her friend with concern before shuddering as well. She turned to the window before closing the dusty curtains and climbing into the bed.

Little did they know that they were being watched from the shadows that loomed under the ancient trees, and that hiding under the covers wasn't going to save them.

Author's Notes: Well, hello, Everyone! I'm back with a new story! Hopefully, this one is much more entertaining for you guys to read, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!