Whispering Pines - Morning Mist
By Mavis Applewater
For disclaimers see Part 1.
A very special thank you goes out to my beta reader Mary.
As always this is for Heather.
A very special thank you goes out to my beta reader Mary.
As always this is for Heather.
Stewart, Massachusetts 1912
Anna was still sitting in the same place staring at a spot on the wall when the birds chirped announcing the new day. She had failed to find sleep or comfort. Anna had been unable or unwilling to move from the spot she was sitting in when the mix of firelight and alcohol clouded her mind and she crossed a line that she never knew existed.
She finally turned her head to look out her window. The morning sky was gray and cold much like her heart. She had been aware that the fire had died out hours ago. Now it was a cold morning and she was forced to face the day and Catherine. She felt numb as she rose from her chair. Her body felt stiff from sitting up all night long as she began her morning cleansing.
She dressed in a simple gray dress and wrapped her hair up in a bun, as was her usual manner. Her movements only existed out of habit as she descended the staircase. She felt a sense of loneliness as she entered the empty kitchen. She pumped the water into the sink and filled the teakettle.
The hair on the back of her neck prickled with anticipation as she felt Catherine entering the room. She was filled with a sense of fear as she lit the stove and settled the teakettle down to boil. Anna never turned to face her sister-in-law as she went about her morning duties. Neither of them spoke nor acknowledged the other as they prepared a simple fare of tea and biscuits.
Anna sat silently at the dinning room table stirring her tea as she stared blankly at the lace tablecloth. She never looked at Catherine and sensed that the blonde never lifted her gaze in her direction either. They cleared away the cold tea and untouched biscuits and went about their daily routine as the servants arrived for the day.
Their day proceeded stagnantly with each avoiding the other, never daring a glance at the other woman. When dusk arrived the servants departed and neither woman attempted to prepare anything for supper. Catherine was nowhere to be seen as Anna stood in the empty kitchen listening to the emptiness that filled the grand manor. She could hear Catherine's uneasy footsteps in the foyer. Anna felt like a coward as she slipped up to her bedchamber using the servant's passage that only she knew existed.
The hidden door led to a narrow stairwell, which led up to hidden panel in her bedroom. It also led to hidden panels in the hall of the second floor near Richard's room and another in the small room Catherine now occupied. Anna had been thrilled when she first discovered the passageway that had obviously been designed so the servants could pass from their quarters to the kitchen or the Lady's bedchamber without using the main stairway. Since the Captain had never intended for outsiders to live in the house, Anna doubted that her husband had known of its existence. She used the hidden passageway on more than one occasion to avoid her husband.
Now she was using it to avoid her husband's sister and the strange stirrings that the tall blonde unwittingly planted in Anna's fragile heart. She washed and dressed in a nightgown and sat, once again, in her chair. Her embroidery lay untouched in her lap as she spent a second evening staring at the walls of her bedchamber.
The following morning was colder and damper as the rain began to fall. The day proved to be a repeat of the day before. Anna grew despondent as dusk grew closer and the servants departed. It was Saturday and they would not be returning until Monday. The rain looked as if it would make the carriage ride into town for Sunday services impossible. She was trapped in the manor with her confusion and Catherine until Monday morning. And now, thanks to the weather, she would be unable to escape into town or her beloved garden.
She pressed the panel next to the pantry and slipped once again up the hidden stairwell to her bedchambers. It was far too early to retire; yet her small body was exhausted. She was standing by her bed pondering her fate when her skin prickled with a sense of excitement and the room filled with delicate scent of lilac. "Good evening Sister." Anna muttered in a weary tone without turning to face the woman.
She felt Catherine nearing her until the taller woman was standing directly behind her. Anna's body trembled as it craved for Catherine to close the distance between them. "In retrospect perhaps I should have offered you rum?" Catherine offered in a halfhearted tone.
"I don't understand." Anna muttered absently as she studied the pattern of the comforter that was covering her bed.
"Well for starters rum is a lot more fun." Catherine quipped in an effort to end the uneasy mood.
"What other secrets do you have tucked away in your room dear Sister?" Anna inquired a small smile finally creasing her lips.
"You wish to know my secrets?" Catherine's voice cracked as she whispered her question and Anna felt the taller woman's hands hovering just above her shoulders.
"I am just discovering my own." Anna tearfully confessed.
"If I had any sense of decency I'd leave Whispering Pines," Catherine said in a hushed tone her breath caressing the nape of Anna's neck. "Leave you and this place, and run from the pain I have inflicted upon you."
"I'd die without you." Anna exclaimed as she spun around and faced her fears and desires.
"Don't," Catherine cautioned her as Anna looked up at the weary looking woman. "You don't know what you are saying."
"No, I don't know what I am saying," Anna confessed as she felt her heart pounding against her chest. "I have no understanding of anything anymore."
"Leave it at that," Catherine instructed her as the blonde's eyes filled with tears. "It would be for the best."
"No!" Anna wailed in protest. "I would perish without you. I shan't let you leave here or me. I'm sorry for this, I don't know what I was doing and I promise it shan't happen again."
"Dear Sister you fail to understand," Catherine corrected her in a sorrowful tone as her eyes drifted shut and she shook her head. "I want it to happen again. I wanted it to happen. Yet, you are a good woman who is married to my brother. I shall not make your burden heavier than it already is. I will go."
"No." Anna whimpered pleadingly as she clenched her hands tightly until they felt numb.
They stood there as their breathing became heavier. Anna drank in each curve of Catherine's body as the rain began to fall harder against the windowpane. Catherine's eyes drifted open. "It is cold," She finally muttered absently as if nothing had transpired between them. "I shall light a fire." Anna stood there feeling helpless as she watched her sister-in-law moving away from her and tending to the kindling and sparking a fire in the fireplace. Anna's body trembled as she missed the warmth of Catherine standing close to her.
Catherine looked over her shoulder and cast a small smile at the confused woman who was still standing in the same spot her emerald eyes never wavering from the blonde's body. Catherine stood slowly and brushed the soot from her hands just as the fire began to burn brightly. Anna felt warmth spreading through her and she knew in her heart it was not from the flames of the fire.
Their gaze met as Catherine slowly moved across the room until she was standing before the confused redhead. Anna could barely breathe as she took a shy step back until her legs brushed against the large canopy bed. The room was filled with a nervous tension as Catherine took a small step closer to the small woman.
Anna could hear her heart beating wildly. The sound was filling her mind as her palms began to sweat. She reached up and cupped Catherine's face. The tall blonde captured Anna's hand with her own. "Sister?" Catherine whispered nervously.
"Do not call me that," Anna choked out, her heart beating rapidly as each word passed her lips. "For what I feel for you is anything but sisterly." The smaller woman said in a breathy tone as she pulled Catherine's face closer to her own.
Catherine's breath burned as it caressed Anna's face. The smaller woman felt her stomach clench as her eyes drifted shut and she guided Catherine closer to her until their lips met in a soft inviting kiss. Anna's heart swelled as she allowed her lips to linger against Catherine's. Anna had never really been kissed until that moment and she was certain that she was about to melt in the blonde's embrace.
Anna clutched the blonde tighter as their lips moved against one another. She gave into the feel of Catherine's mouth exploring her own as she parted her lips and felt Catherine's tongue tracing her bottom lip. Anna felt her lower body humming as her nipples hardened. She moaned as she felt Catherine lowering her down onto the bed.
Anna gave herself over to Catherine's touch as the blonde deepened the kiss. Anna eagerly returned the blonde's kiss with fervor. Catherine's hands roamed the smaller woman's body as she began to remove Anna's cumbersome clothing. Anna's body tingled as she felt Catherine caressing her body. Anna's body was pulsating with desire as Catherine lovingly began to kiss her neck.
Anna was surprised when her body arched in response as Catherine's mouth feasted upon her neck. Anna filled her small hands with the material of Catherine's dress. "Please," she gasped with need. "I need more," she cried out as she felt the blonde's tongue worshipping the swell of her now exposed breasts. Anna couldn't quell the violent tremor that over took her body.
"Do you want me to stop?" Catherine tenderly whispered against her skin.
"No," Anna moaned as she undid the ribbon that was holding Catherine's long beautiful hair in place. She needed to feel the blonde silk tresses on her skin.
Anna ran her fingers through Catherine's long blonde hair. She could feel the fire inside of her growing as the blonde's hair tickled her naked skin. Never before had she exposed her body in such a manner and yet she felt completely at ease as she lay before Catherine. Her only regret was not being able to see the treasures that surely lay beneath the taller woman's clothing. "I need to see you," Anna pleaded.
Catherine lifted her body and stood before her. She slowly removed her clothing as Anna watched her every movement with a lustful gaze. Anna took a hard swallow as the last of Catherine's clothing fell to the floor. Her eyes drank in every inch of her lover's body.
Catherine lowered herself into Anna's arms. Anna moaned deeply as she felt her body melting into Catherine's. Anna ran her hands down Catherine's long body as the blonde began to kiss her way down the redhead's neck. With each kiss, Anna's body burned with a needy desire. She cried out as she felt Catherine's tongue circling her nipple.
Anna's body arched as she felt Catherine capturing her nipple in her mouth. As Catherine teased her breast, the redhead's thigh slipped between the blonde's legs. Anna's heart was beating rapidly as she felt her lover's desire painting her skin. Anna's hands drifted down Catherine's body until she was clasping her lover's hips, gently guiding their bodies to grind against welcoming thighs.
Anna was amazed at how her body simply took control and how truly wonderful it felt to touch and be touched by Catherine. Anna's need raged through her as Catherine worshipped her breasts with her mouth and rocked gently against her body.
Anna felt her body trembling as Catherine kissed her way down her trembling form. Anna was trembling as she felt Catherine's warm breath caressing the inside of her thighs. She had no concept of what her lover's intentions were; yet she was willing to give anything to this woman. She whimpered as she felt Catherine parting her.
Anna cried out as she felt Catherine's tongue dipping inside of her passion. Her body arched as she pressed herself against her lover's touch. She was mesmerized as she looked down her naked body and watched her lover feasting upon her. Anna's world spun out of control as she felt the blonde's fingers teasing her nub and her tongue slipping inside of her.
Anna gave herself over to her lover's touch as her mind and body screamed in a need to touch the blonde who was pleasuring her. Anna felt Catherine's hands holding her body steady as she thrust urgently against her lover. She clutched at the bedding as she cried out. Her heart exploded as she fell into an abyss and collapsed against her lover.
Anna was unable to focus, as she felt completed for the first time in her life. Her thirst had been quenched and yet the fire was still blazing inside of her. Anna didn't allow her body to still as she pulled her lover up in her arms and wrapped her body around Catherine. Anna had no idea of how or what she should be doing; she simply allowed her body and heart to guide her as she pulled Catherine in for a lingering kiss. Her body ignited, as she tasted herself on Catherine's warm inviting lips. Their hands caressed and pleasured one another until they collapsed in a loving embrace.
Anna felt at peace as she rested her head on her lover's chest. She ran her hands along Catherine's body. She listened to the sound of Catherine's heart beating in a steady rhythm. "I thought the first time I held my son in my arms I finally found a reason to be happy," Anna murmured against Catherine's skin as the blonde caressed her back. "Yet tonight you have shown me another form of bliss."
Anna felt a sudden wave of panic when Catherine remained silent. She jerked her head up and found herself locked in the blonde's smoky gaze. "I love you Anna." Catherine choked out in a fearful tone.
"And I love you Catherine." Anna responded in a need to calm her lover's fears. The smile her lover cast down upon her made Anna's heart leap. Anna snuggled up against Catherine's body and they held one another as they drifted off to sleep.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2003
'I can't believe this.' Shawn shouted as Faith stared back at her. 'You said you had an errand to run. How did a simple errand turn into I'm leaving the country for an indefinite period of time?'
'It's just a job Shawn,' Faith tried to argue. 'I need to be doing something besides following you around.'
'A job in the middle of a war zone,' Shawn shouted. 'Something you said you were tired of.'
'I said that when I had other options,' Faith countered. 'I'm a reporter who specializes in debunking haunted houses. I can't do that anymore. Not since Whispering Pines. I wasn't expecting this offer, but I won't be foolish enough to pass on it.'
'Fine,' Shawn spat back not really listening to what Faith was trying to tell her. 'Go then; it isn't like we are living together or anything.' Faith reached out for her and Shawn jerked away. Shawn felt the taller woman's pain for just a moment and then the scene changed.
Faith was standing aboard an aircraft carrier talking with a gorgeous woman in a navel uniform. 'Trust me lieutenant I understand what you are offering perfectly,' Faith addressed the woman in a dry tone. 'As I said before I have someone waiting for me back home.' Shawn could feel the rush of sadness Faith was trying to hide and again the scene changed.
Now Faith was dressed in a khaki vest standing by a tank and looking at a crumpled newspaper photo with Shawn's picture. A sudden blast jerked the brunette out of her thoughts. 'That was close,' she commented as she stuffed the picture back into one of the pockets of her vest. 'Get the camera ready.'
'No,' Faith said into the small video telephone. 'I'll pass on Iraq. I need to go home.'
The image shifted once again blurring into several as the words became jumbled, 'This is Faith Charles reporting live from,' the reporter addressed the camera then the image blurred and Faith was gripping the receiver of a payphone. 'Althea I know you know where she is,' Faith pleaded. 'I just want to talk to her,' the sounds of city traffic drowned out the reporter's voice. 'Fine I'll do it!' Faith barked. 'Now please tell me where Shawn is?'
'What I'm asking is that you return to Whispering Pines,' the smaller brunette pleaded as Faith felt a sudden rush of panic and a small sense of hope. 'Maybe I should go back?' She wondered before deciding against it. 'Not a chance in hell.'
Shawn's eyes flew open as the images continued to become garbled. She could see Faith with soldiers and staring at a crumpled picture of Shawn, and then a confusing array of images that slowly slipped away. Shawn looked around in confusion until she realized that she was lying in Faith's arms.
She slowly removed herself from Faith's embrace and slipped out of bed. "Sometimes being a psychic sucks," Shawn grumbled as she tried to understand what she had seen as she slept in Faith's arms. "She couldn't just dream about sex like she always does." She muttered in a bitter tone before she shook her head once again and decided that it no longer mattered and stumbled into the bathroom.
Once Shawn had showered and dressed she quietly slipped from the hotel room and made her way to the coffee shop, knowing that Faith would be craving caffeine when she woke up. Shawn bought two large cups of coffee and a bag of donuts and headed back towards her room.
She was pleased when Faith emerged from the bathroom dressed in appropriate attire. "Here," She offered as she thrust the large cup of coffee in the reporter's hand. She felt a jolt as their fingers brushed and then a disturbing image filled her mind. "You jerk." She shouted.
"What?" Faith asked in confusion.
"You weren't even going to tell me," Shawn fumed as she shoved the bag of donuts into the brunette's body. "Why did you answer the telephone?" She babbled on as Faith grimaced while Shawn rushed over to the telephone and began to dial the familiar number.
"It rang and woke me up," Faith tried to explain. "I just answered it out of reflex. I was half a sleep. Trust me talking to your new girlfriend wasn't my idea of a fun way to wake up. You know she isn't very pleasant."
"I wonder why," Shawn groaned as she listened to the phone ringing. "She must have been thrilled when she called my hotel room this morning and another woman answered."
Shawn was about to go off on a tirade when Deb's voice greeted. "Hi Honey you called?" Shawn offered in an innocent tone.
"Shawn, what is going on?" Deb asked in concern. "I called you first thing this morning and a woman answered the phone and said you had just stepped out."
"One of my colleagues crashed here last night," Shawn offered in an effort to placate her lover. Shawn reasoned that it wasn't really a lie and yet she felt a pang of guilt stabbing at her as she listened to Deb wishing her a good morning. "I miss you too." Shawn lied.
"I'm going to be sick," Faith, grunted.
Shawn hurled a pillow at the brunette as she tried to listen to Deb. "Ouch!" Faith shouted as the pillow struck her in the head. Faith raised the pillow in an effort to throw it back at Shawn. The smaller woman flashed an icy glare, which halted the reporter's movements. Faith lowered the pillow before focusing her attention on the donuts.
Shawn continued to chat with Deb as Faith rummaged through the bag. "What no chocolate frosted?" Faith barked loudly.
"Deb, sweetie, can you hold for just a moment?" Shawn said in a sweet tone before she covered the receiver. "Stop it!" She yelled at Faith. "Check the bottom of the bag and stop pouting. I need to finish this call and then I have a shoot to finish. Just eat something, drink your coffee, and if you behave, you can go with me. But I don't want to hear one peep out of you until I hang up. Understood?"
"Fine Miss Bossy," Faith conceded with a pout. "Hey are those my socks?"
Shawn looked down at her feet and realized that Faith was right. "Damn it," Shawn grumbled as she returned to the call and removed her shoes and socks. She tossed the socks in question at the reporter once again smacking her in the head. Faith cast an incredulous look at her as Shawn wrapped up her telephone call.
"We really need to clean out our wardrobe," Shawn muttered as she dug out a clean pair of socks. "Seems like our stuff got mixed together."
"We spent almost every waking moment together," Faith reasoned as she sipped her coffee. "Most of my stuff is in storage back in Massachusetts."
"Why? Are you thinking of going back?" Shawn asked as she put on a fresh pair of socks.
"To Massachusetts?" Faith asked.
"Whispering Pines?" Shawn corrected her.
"I'm not," Faith disagreed. "I did meet the owner and told her no. Wait did you sneak a peek inside my head while I was sleeping?"
"It was an accident," Shawn quickly defended herself. "And yes you are thinking about it."
"Well it doesn't matter," Faith shrugged. "I've already accepted another assignment. Althea talked me into being the lead on her next project. It was the only way I could get her to tell me where you were."
"Hammond Castle?" Shawn stammered as she stared at her ex-lover.
"Yeah, how did you," Faith began. Her words drifted off as bright smile formed on her lips. "You're on the team? This is great."
"No it isn't." Shawn weakly protested.
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