Prolog

In 1787 Richard Ward died after marrying off two of his three orphaned nieces, Mrs. Norris and Lady Bertram, his son David remained in Huntingdon as a lawyer. The social cast system in England and the endless war of Europe was reason enough for his son Jack to take a chance on the new Republic. He moved to Georgia in 1820 and became a wealthy tradesmen, his son Alexander married the only daughter of a plantation owner. Shortly after the election of 1860 he sold his father-in-law's land and freed the slaves on the plantation; the family moved out west to wait out the Civil War. His son Victor married the daughter of a Hotel mogul and after the war the family returned to Georgia. The family struggled to reinvent themselves during reconstruction and when the Industrial Revolution took place they invested in the railroad, oil and steel. The next Ward heir proved capable of pulling out of markets just before the bubble burst and put enough of the family's wealth into gold in the summer of 1928. They survived the Grate Depression in tacked and World War II would clame all but the youngest son. Edmund was seventeen years old the day the war ended and the family mantel fell on his shoulders. For the sake of his Mother's feelings he became a lawyer and married the daughter of one of the partners. They had three daughters Elizabeth, Michaela and Aurora. All of the girls were prep-school educated and attended finishing school before being presented at The Christmas Cotillion in Savannah, Georgia. Michaela was the first to marry and she chose Thomas Bertram.

In the winter of 1815 Sir Thomas Bertram died, his son Tom inherited the title and estate, he did not marry until 1821 and had five sons. The Gold Rush drew his youngest son George to California in 1849, he was twenty-one. On arriving he quickly realized that he would not become rich mining for gold, he planted a vegetable garden and sold food to the people. Over the next nine years he bought land for farming, built a redwood cabin and married an Italian woman. By 1860 George had started planting grape vines for wine, by the year of his death his son Peter inherited a thriving vineyard. In 1898 the vineyard was attacked by a terrible fungus, but survived. Paul the heir learned from this and diversified the family's money; land developments, investment banking and the import/export trade. His son Mark had the task of guiding the family through Prohibition, The Grate Depression and World War II. His son Maxwell jumped on the supermarket bandwagon and opened stores from the west coast to the mid west. At last the family were millionaires, but were still considered to be new money.

To give the family the appearance of permanents he bought the oldest house in the state of Colorado, Charlotte's Castle a Regency stile mansion located in the unincorporated community of Mansfield Ranch, Douglas County, Colorado. Charlotte's Castle is one of the most architecturally unique structures in the state; offering 25,000 square feet and containing 14 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, 5 fireplaces, a drawing room, a ballroom, a dining room, a library, a billiard room (that also served as a theater) a butler's pantry and kitchen, and a private park. He also bought all the surrounding lands as well and started residential construction. The first families moved into their new homes in October 1982.

Six years earlier, his son Thomas married an old money triple-legacy sorority girl from Georgia Michaela Ward. They had four children; Tom, Edmund, Maria and Julia. So as not to give the residences the impression that he was trying to create a squireship he moved into one of the houses his company was selling to upper middle class families. Each house was two stories with a finished basement including a master sweet, six bed rooms and three bathrooms. A kitchen so large no house wife could clean it alone and several other first floor rooms. He chose to open Charlotte's Castle to public viewing twice a week and allowed it to be rented for social gatherings.

Elizabeth Ward married Mr. Norris, a church Deacon. They moved into a two story house in the growing suburb of Mansfield Ranch. And in total defiance of her family's wishes Aurora Ward married William Price an officer in the marines.

In 1800 Thomas Price was born in Portsmouth, England; when he was twelve he join the Roil Navy and became a Midshipmen just in time for the War of 1812. During the Battle of New Orleans he fell into the water and was presumed dead. He lived and instead of returning to his home land and his parents house, he chose to remain in America. He moved to New York, became a detective , took a wife from among the Irish immigrants and had children. His youngest son was twenty when the Civil war broke out. He joined the Union Navy and survived the war, afterwards Matt Price join the police department in New York. His son Andrew never saw war, but spent his life as a police officer in Boston. However, his sons would not be so lucky. Of his five sons who were sent to fight in what was then called "The Grate War" only one would return, broken but alive. When "The War in Europe" started Victor was disappointed that he had his sons first. Of the three boys who were sent again only one returned, and that was more than some. John married his sweetheart and moved to her parents farm in New Kent, Virginia. He became a detective for the Richmond Police Department and when his in-laws died he became a full time farmer. He and his wife had two daughters and two sons. The eldest girl died at sixteen in a drowning accident, the second girl disappeared in the hippy revolution of the 1970s. The eldest son went to California to find her but didn't, soon he found work, took a wife and settled down. The youngest son William joined the Marines. While stationed in Georgia he married a true southern belle, Aurora Ward. They proceeded to have a child every two years, earning them the nickname "The Baby Factory" by their friends. After serving in Desert Storm William Price departed the Marines with a Honorable Discharge and join the New Orleans police department.

The Ward family was so angry with Aurora's choice of husband her parents and sisters disowned her at once. The silence between them lasted for fourteen years until in the summer of 1994 Mrs. Price reached out to her family for help. She had seven children and was preparing for a second set of twins. Her parents sent money and her sisters sent baby gifts. In January of 1996 Mr. and Mrs. Price suddenly died leaving their children behind. The ten orphans were separated and placed with family. The new born Ariel was sent to live with her Mother's parents in Savannah. The twenty-three month old twins Tommy and Charley were taken to their Father's brother and his wife in San Francisco. Five year old Artemis and three year old Sam were sent to live with their Father's parents in New Kent, Virginia. Seven year old Athena was given to her God-Mother and Father in Hawaii. The eleven year old twins John and Richard were given over to Mrs. Norris; thirteen year old William and nine year old Aurora were sent to live with Michaela Bertram.

When the price children arrived at Denver International Airport the family was surprised to discover that Aurora was in a wheelchair. At the age of three she had been diagnosed with severe Juvenile rheumatoid Arthritis; an autoimmune condition that made her joints swell painfully making it difficult for her to walk, among other things. The medicine to control the illness were almost as bad as the disease itself. For a long set of weeks Aurora could almost play with the other children. And for others she would be confined to bed in too much pain to eat. But for the most part she fell somewhere in between the two extremes.

The first six months was allowed for grieving and over the summer vacation the seven eldest children were reunited at their grandparent's New Kent farm. When the school year began Mrs. Norris decided to send her wards to military school and be done with them. It was expensive, but worth every penny. The Bertram children attended the finest prep-school in Denver, but the Price siblings would not. William had barely finished eighth grade and for good reason; the school administration wanted to make him repeat that grade, but the high school basketball coach argued for him to be advanced to ninth grade. The coach had seen him playing basketball and wanted the talented youth on his team and as soon as possible. Aurora on the other hand had no such advocate, she had missed too many days of school and had to repeat the fourth grade. The four eldest children had a strong bond with each other. William and Aurora were the first born son and daughter, they had embraced their responsibilities with alacrity teaching, nursing and playing with the younger children. John and Richard were like minded opposites working in tandem with their brother and sister. The Christmas, Easter and summer vacations were the only times the children were reunited, either at the New Kent farm or the Savannah mansion.

Mr. and Mrs. Bertram were named William and Aurora Price's legal guardians, but they did not adopt them. And under Colorado law this meant that the family was still subject to the Department of Children and Family services. Terry Lee the nanny, realized that Aurora was on five prescriptions. She did some research, only to learn that two of the medicines were for treating Aurora's Juvenile Arthritis; the other three were to treat the side effects. In researching Juvenile Arthritis Terry learned that with any autoimmune condition the immune system was compromised. That fact introduced another set of problems. Terry did not like this and believed that Aurora would fair better with a new doctor. She found one in Englewood and talked Mrs. Bertram to take Aurora to Dr. Brown. That doctor put Aurora on a single medicine, a shot to be taken once a week. Mrs. Bertram did not want to give the shot to Aurora, therefore the job was left to Terry Lee. She had all the skills of a nurse without the formal training. Under her care Aurora became stronger, in six months Aurora was using a walker. After three more months she was walking with a cane. The Colorado air was so good in the summer she did not even need her cane that much, only for going up and down stairs.

In 1995 Thomas Bertram Junior graduated from high school, Tom had to graduate from college, that was not a subject up for conversation; he had a choice in which school he attended, his Father's family went to Stanford University, while his Mother's family went to Georgetown University. He went to California to get his father off his back and played football to satisfy himself. In 1997 Maria Bertram was crowned Miss Teen USA. She had been participating in beauty competitions starting at the age of five, being pushed more by her Aunt than her Mother. In 1998 Edmund Bertram graduated from prep-school with high honors before going on to Georgetown; he was the only member of the Bertram family who treated his young cousins with sincere care and attention. On April 20, 1999 the world changed. William Price was a member of the distinguish class of 2000 and promptly joined the navy.