By Carol Sandford


Chapter 01


Challenge: To put Will and Deanna in a different situation and time frame. I chose Early 20th century, America.



"Oh mom, pleeease let me go, I promise I won't be too late."

I sighed silently as I plunged my hands into the soapy water and retrieved another plate from the soapy depths. I felt myself beginning to waver a little, but heaven help me, I did not want to. So I straightened my shoulders again and studied the picturesque scene that lay before me on the other side of the window. A garden full of love and devotion from my constant nurturing. A garden to be proud of, and I was, exceptionally so.

It had been a tough decision to uplift my daughter from her birth place and bring her all the way over here purely because someone had promised me everlasting sunshine and wealth, if I wanted the opportunity to make something of myself. And I did. I intended to give my precious offspring everything I had never had; A happy home, friends and most importantly, a husband that had a healthy bank balance. And I had been promised that everything I sought, and more, was here, in America.

But not if I let Dee go to that party.

It would be a long time before I forgot that look. Dee and I had been invited to a wedding of the daughter of a well-to-do family that I had made my acquaintances with. Figuring it was a chance to step into 'the right circles', I had practically dragged Dee along, almost kicking and screaming. She outrightly refused to be part of the main hubbub of guests that had filled the church to the gills, insisting that they remained at the back, out of the way, and out of sight.

I wish to God that I had listened to her protests, because if we had not have gone, she would never have seen him.

The wedding had been well under way when I had first felt the first inkling of being watched. Or rather my daughter being watched. I remember my heart soaring with the knowledge that Dee had finally been noticed by one of the wedding guests, preferably one with some class, some decent manners and hopefully a mansion in the country. But when my eyes finally found the only head that was turned towards us, my heart hit the floor.

I don't know how I had missed him really. He towered above most of the people, his broad shoulders made to look even wider by the heavy leather jacket that he wore with careless abandon. It was then that I’d noticed how tatty that leather jacket was, and I felt the bile quickly rise to my throat and I had to swallow quickly to quell the desire to be sick. I wanted to be noticed, but not by throwing up all over the poor soul that stood directly in front of me. I would never have lived it down.

I forced my attentions back to his face. He was handsome enough, in a rugged sort of way. A shave would not have hurt, considering the occasion...considering the formality of the other guests. Top hat and tails and lines of luxurious Cadillacs was the norm, and I knew that if I had stepped outside, I would have found a beat up old pick-up truck, or something as equally worse. I shuddered as I imagined my girl, my darling, precious daughter inside or on the undoubtably smelly contraption, with the shabby creature that stood staring at her, barely 30 feet away from us.

I wanted to show him just how I felt about his unwelcome attentions, purely by the evil look that I was sure I could conjure up. But he had not even glanced at me. In fact, I might as well had not been there because his eyes, and I give him that, he did have nice eyes, were trained on one thing, and one thing only, my daughter.

I silently prayed that Dee hadn't noticed him and I was almost to scared to look at her. I was surprised that she had even stayed, and I don't think she would have if I had released her arm from the vice-like grip that I had on her. I eventually dared a sidewards glance, and almost swayed with the spiralling sensations that shook me to my core as the look that emanated from the man was mirrored in my own daughters eyes.

Feigning sickness, I managed to escape the rest of the wedding celebrations by insisting that Dee took me home. I wasn't surprised when she changed her mind about leaving, her whispered protests creating ripples of interest around us. Of course she wanted to stay, she wanted to meet the owner of those eyes.

Over my dead body!

But living in a small town with an equally small community, I knew it wouldn't be long before the stranger would come to the surface. He clearly knew someone at the wedding. Lord forbid if he was related, it would have been just my luck for Dee to fall in love with the black sheep of the family. The renegade, the trouble-maker. Grief!he might have even been in prison! Maybe that would explain his sudden arrival and his undesirable appearance.

I am just glad that I was with Dee when we saw him again the next day in the gas station. I don't know who was more surprised, him or us. I couldn't get out there fast enough. I left without even filling up, but not quickly enough to avoid the longing looks that passed between my passenger and the solitary man that stood beside a large gas container that he had now ceased to fill as he too stared longingly at I hoped, my rear tail lights.

Dee's silence on the return journey home said it all. I tried making it right, tried to ram home some facts to her.

"He's no good for you honey, he'll bring you nothing but misery, poverty, and he'd probably keep you indoors and constantly pregnant."

I remember screeching to a halt at her answer. "But what if that's what I want, mom?"

I was determined that she would never see him again after that. And that's why I was fighting her all the way today.


"Mom, please, you know how much I've wanted to go to the party. You've got to trust me sometime, I'm not a child anymore, mom."

I succumbed a little more as I turned around and looked into her pretty features. I had always thought she looked like me, but I knew in my heart that she was her daddy's daughter, through and through. The only thing she seemed to inherit was my dark eyes and the uncanny ability to know what I was about to say or do, and right at this minute, Dee knew that I was floundering for an excuse.

"He won't be there you know, mom. He's never been seen in town, and he's never been seen in the stores or bars. I'm sure he's gone, I think he just came for the wedding."

It was the tone of her voice that made me suspicious. How did she know, had she been asking around? Oh Lord, who had she been asking? I knew I had paled when she stepped towards me with concerned eyes.

"I wasn't the only person there, mom and nor was he, and you've got to admit, he did stick out from the crowd. I've heard other people talking about him."

I didn't really want to know, but the compulsion TO know forced the words past my lips.

"What did they say, where did he come from, who is he?"

Dee shrugged enigmatically and turned away, telling me that I was only going to get the partial story, but something was better than nothing, so I let it go and listened intently for the clues between what she was willing to tell me. The rest I would find out myself, my own way.

"He's a nephew of the brides father. He was in the area passing through, so he paid his respects. I think they said his name was Phil..or Bill, or something like that, I'm not sure."

She knew more, a whole lot more, enough to send a shiver of dread up my spine and even though I hated doing it, her evasiveness gave me that final voice of authority to shatter her illusions and hopefully, dreams of the stranger.

"No Dee, you’re not going, and that's the last I want to hear about it.'


The wrong side of the track

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