Whispering Pines - The Light of Day
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's body was trembling as she clung to the wall of Catherine's bedroom. "You amaze me," she whispered as her lover held her while she felt the passion slipping from her body. Her lover's hand caressed her bottom as she struggled to regain her breath. The Captain had gone into town and Richard was playing in his room. Once the staff retreated for the day they snuck up to Catherine's room and stole a few quiet moments. Catherine didn't waste a single moment as she pressed the smaller woman against the wall and raised the hem of her dress up to her waist.
Anna's heart clutched as she spied the carriage careening up the path. "He's back," she grimly informed her lover. "He's brought a companion."
"Another would be suitor," Catherine groaned with disgust. "Will he never stop trying to marry me off?"
"No," Anna sighed deeply as she watched the carriage approaching followed by the automobile. She adjusted her dress as she turned into her lover's embrace. "We need to hurry down to the kitchen."
"Wait," Catherine halted her lover's movements. "There is something I wish to give you."
"My dear you give me so much," Anna responded with sly look and a smoldering gaze that made Catherine shiver.
"What you do to me," Catherine trembled as she fumbled to retrieve the box she had hidden in her dresser. She studied the contents for a moment before returning her gaze to her lover. She reached out and took Anna's hand. The redhead looked up at her with curiosity as Catherine slipped the bracelet on to her slender wrist. "I bought this the day I was leaving Paris. At the time I had no idea why I did it. Now I know. I was meant to bestow it upon the one who would capture my heart."
Anna smiled as she studied the silver bracelet. She raised Catherine's hand to her lips and kissed it. "Thank you my love," Anna choked up as she spoke and held her lover in a lingering gaze. "It will never leave my wrist. Now we must hurry."
They used the hidden passageway and made their way to the kitchen before The Captain could enter the house. "Why swans?" Anna asked as they set about preparing the evening meal as she listened to the sounds of her husband's footsteps hurrying up to her bedchambers.
"They mate for life," Catherine whispered hotly in her ear as the Captain bellowed from the upstairs.
"Wife!" He demanded as he stormed about.
"Yes, Husband." She greeted him calmly as she stepped out of the kitchen. She was thankful that he expected her to gaze down at the floor. In doing so she could hide the blush that was covering her delicate features as the memories of Catherine's touch kept her balanced.
For Catherine the evening meal was pure torture. Collin Ryan was a pompous blow hard who prattled on and on about himself. His main objective seemed to be to impres her brother. The only thing that she enjoyed about the meal was her nephew's constant eye rolling. It would appear that Richard found Mr. Ryan about as entertaining as she did.
There was one thing she found intriguing about Mr. Ryan, as she couldn't help wondering if her suspicions were true. Still she amused herself by stealing silly smiles with Richard. "Boy!" The Captain boomed just as the meal was coming to an end.
Richard's smile vanished as he stared down at his plate. "He is restless," Anna interjected. Catherine flinched when Horatio glared over at his wife. Much to her surprise and pleasure, Anna didn't flinch from his hostile glare or from the way he curled his hand into a fist.
"I was much the same at that age," Collin added merrily and that is when Catherine realized that at that moment Anna had nothing to fear. Horatio would never strike his wife in front of witnesses. Collin Ryan was seated just high enough in polite society to ruin Horatio's reputation.
"I bet you were a rascal," Catherine threw out in an effort to further irritate her brother. As her older brother glared at her she wondered if Horatio was aware of the way Anna and she played him.
"Perhaps, you could share some of your tales with my sister?" Horatio trumped her. "A walk in the gardens would be nice?"
Anna met her horrified gaze, as Collin seemed to turn pale, his reaction further confirming Catherine's suspicions. "Brother, I do have my chores to tend to," Catherine pointed out in a cocky manner.
"See, she'll make a fine bride," Horatio confidently hissed.
Catherine's lips curled with disgust as Collin pulled out her chair for her. She shivered at the hateful look Anna cast upon the unfortunate man.
"And who would that be?" Catherine questioned as they stepped outside and she noticed the man standing by the motorcar.
"My driver, Branford," Collin gulped as Catherine guided him towards the garden.
"He is very pretty," Catherine smirked.
"Pretty?" Collin squeaked as Catherine turned towards the nervous young man.
"Just as I thought," she gloated as his jaw dropped. "Don't bother denying it, my friend."
He snorted out a soft laugh as he rolled his hazel eyes. "I had a feeling as well," he smirked. "Shall I manufacture the customary excuses?"
"Not just yet," Catherine answered. "Lurk about every now and then. Hopefully that will keep my brother content."
"It would please my father as well," Collin agreed. "He is very eager to do business with your brother. Forgive me for saying I can't say that I really care for your brother."
"Nor do I," Catherine happily retorted as she linked her arm in his. "Now, while we are pretending to hit it off, tell me how you met Branford?"
"It was glorious," he practically squealed like a schoolgirl.
Later that evening as she and Anna sat in her lover's room working on needlepoint, the smaller woman was beside herself. "Where is Brother?" Catherine glibly inquired.
"In his study," Anna curtly responded. "He'll be drunk with in the hour. Hopefully he will pass out."
"I pray that he does," Catherine snorted with discontent. "Something troubling you Sister?"
"Nothing," Anna snapped as she practically stabbed herself while working with her needle. "You and Mr. Ryan seemed cozy."
Catherine smirked at her lover's snarled tone. "Yes," Catherine played along. "He is quite charming, it is no wonder Branford finds him so endearing."
"Branford?" Anna sputtered with surprise.
"Yes, his driver," Catherine merrily conveyed. "Surely you saw the pretty man waiting by the motor car."
"Pretty?" Anna shook her head before a brilliant smile graced her features. "Oh?"
"Yes," Catherine confirmed. "A kindred spirit dear Sister. I hope you won't object to Mr. Ryan calling upon me again?"
"Now that I know he won't be touching you, I have no objections," Anna whispered hotly in the blonde's ear. Catherine shivered as her lover's words caressed her skin.
"And would you like to touch me?" Catherine offered hotly as she clasped the smaller woman's wrist and guided her tiny hand to her lap.
"Yes," Anna panted her eyes burning with need as her hand slipped under Catherine's nightgown. Catherine licked her lips while parting her thighs. She inhaled sharply as she felt Anna's touch greeting her desire. They sat there pretending to work on their sewing as Anna slowly stroked her.
The following afternoon, Catherine would reconfirm their love, by pleasuring the smaller woman in the safe confines of the garden. Later she began to worry that perhaps they were becoming careless, still no one seemed to notice what they were doing.
Stewart, Massachusetts 1935
Richard Stratton watched as his father huffed and puffed once again trying to dig up the garden that had bloomed over night. "She'll never let you have it!" He called out with pride. "My mother will never give you her garden," He laughed as the elderly man tossed the array of flowers about. "Give it to her," He taunted him. "How many times have you dug it up? Plowed it over? Salted the soil? And still she tends to it."
"Silence," The Captain demanded as he barreled over towards his son.
"Or what old man?" Richard taunted him as he stood his ground. Long ago he had stopped fearing his father. Now he only wanted one thing, he wanted to put his mother and beloved aunt to rest. Richard would never forget the smug look on his father's face the day he returned from school and went in search for them. Their rooms were empty and all of their possessions gone. There was nothing left of his mother or Catherine. He would never forget the cold look in his father's eyes as he told him, 'The bitches are gone,' the older man cackled at the stunned young boy. Richard knew in his heart that neither of them would abandon him. He rarely returned to Whispering Pines. The only time he returned to his father's home was to get answers.
"Why are you here?" Horatio sneered. "I heard that you finally claimed your land just beyond the trees."
"Yes," Richard coldly responded. "I want to be near them."
"I heard you married," Horatio hissed in accusation. "Why was I not informed?"
"Why would I tell you anything?" Richard almost laughed at the suggestion. "Why would I invite a murderer to my wedding?"
"Why are you here?" The Captain repeated.
"I'm here for what I always come here for," Richard dryly explained. "Where are they?" The Captain snorted seemingly amused by the question. "Let me put them to rest," Richard demanded as his father walked away. "What happened to my mother?"
The Captain halted his movement and snickered before turning to his son. The cold dark eyes made Richard flinch. "Your Mother was a whore," The Captain gloated with an evil smile.
For the first time in his life Richard Stratton gave into the anger and hatred he felt for this man. He crossed the distance between them before he realized what was happening and struck the man down. It wasn't hard to knock the elderly man off of his feet. Richard felt ashamed for giving into the violence his father had taught him.
His father laughed as Richard turned his back and walked back to his car and drove away. The Captain's laughter was still ringing in his ears when he returned to his own home that was just beyond the trees of Whispering Pines.
"Oh Richard," Vera, his wife, sighed heavily as he entered the foyer. "I can always tell when you've been to see him."
"I hit him," Richard confessed in a miserable tone. "I finally sank to his level," He choked out as he felt his wife's arms encircling his waist.
"You are not him," She corrected him as she stood behind him comforting him.
Richard clasped his hands over Vera's and allowed his eyes to flutter shut. "I can still remember that last day I had with them." He sadly began as he eased into Vera's tender embrace. "We had a picnic by the ocean and then walked around town. Then Aunt Catherine treated us to a trip to the photography studio at the far end of town. They gave me the picture of the three of us together. I took it with me when I went back to school. Mother said that if I kept it with me then she and Catherine would always be watching over me. He didn't even let me say goodbye to either of them that morning. When I came home for Christmas they were gone. All of their belongings were missing. I later learned he burned their beds and clothing. Then he sold off the rest of their possessions."
"How could someone as kind and gentle as you, my dear husband, come from that cold hearted, forgive my language, bastard?" Vera asked in wonderment as she leaned into her husband's back.
"Everything good in me came from them," Richard said with tenderness. "They were the only two people who showed me what love was; until I met you of course."
"Happiest day of my life," Vera sighed happily. "He will never tell you what you want to know," She cautioned Richard not for the first time. "He may be mean and old, but he isn't a fool. The sheriff has never stopped watching him. He knows he'll go to prison if anyone ever discovers the truth."
"I have to find them and put them to rest," Richard vowed in a weary tone.
Danvers, Massachusetts 2003
Shawn's head was ready to explode when the wake up call had come. She didn't need the call since she had sat up all night crying and staring at the empty bed across from her own. She felt numb as she showered and dressed. When she met the crew down at the van she noticed that Faith looked even worse than she did. She felt a pang of guilt stabbing at her until a certain little production assistant slid up next to the miserable brunette.
Shawn sneered as she climbed into the opposite side of the van. She looked back at Faith who had put her sunglasses on and leaned her head against the window.
Althea was beside herself as she tried to wrap up the shoot. Faith was the only member of the talent that had to look good, and frankly the tall brunette looked like something the cat had drug in. It didn't help that whenever she and Shawn were called upon to film together they were out and out hostile to one another.
"Ten minutes," Althea finally called out frustrated by what was going on. "Someone do something about Charles' hang over," She shouted as Faith winced. "Dr. Williams a moment of your time," She hissed as she linked her arm in Shawn's and drug her out back to the gardens.
Shawn took a moment to inhale the sweet fragrance of flowers mixed with the ocean breeze. "She was right," she sighed as she recalled the promise she had made to take time out and enjoy the gardens. Shawn rested on a bench as Althea paced nervously.
"I have a busy schedule this year," Althea began in a cold tone. "These shows are hot right now and so are you. With any luck we can wrap up Salem, Edinburgh, Fall River and New York and have every thing packaged before the fall conferences."
"Should be a good year for Sunny Hill Productions," Shawn noted absently as she continued to drink in her surroundings.
"The only question is who will be going with me?" Althea directed harshly to the young psychic.
"Are you asking me if I can play nice with others?" Shawn fumed, as she understood just why Althea needed to talk with her.
"Normally I'd be directing this question to Miss Charles," Althea blew out. "I had gotten used to the banter and teasing the two of you shared before you teamed up. Heck it made for some entertaining moments on film and off. Frankly what I am seeing today has me more than a little concerned. And more than a little surprised since I would have sworn on my last Emmy that the two of you were about to get back together. What happened?"
"If you need to drop me from the projects I understand," Shawn offered not really wanting to reveal the events of the previous evening.
"Shawn we can't drop you," Althea explained in a softer tone. "You must know how much you are in demand at the moment. If I have to make a change it won't be you."
"Wait," Shawn shouted as she jumped to her feet. "You can't fire Faith."
"I won't fire her," Althea promised. "But if you can't work with her then I'll have to reassign her."
"Right," Shawn grumbled. "Everyone knows that you head up the good shoots. She'll end up looking for aliens at a self serve gas station in Roswell. I can work with her. I swear."
"I'm asking as your friend not your boss; Shawn what happened last night?" Althea asked in bewilderment. "You and Faith looked very cozy last night," Althea added in a sly tone.
"Deb happened," Shawn grumbled as she plopped back down onto the bench. "Damn good thing I felt her coming or she would have gotten quite an eye full."
"You're still with Deb?" Althea whined in disgust as she sat down next to Shawn. "Girl, just when are you going to smarten up? She doesn't respect you. And what you have with her doesn't hold a candle to the sparks flying off of you and tall, dark and moody."
"I know, and I sent Deb packing last night," Shawn miserably explained. "One day too late. By the time I caught up with Faith she was otherwise engaged. Can't blame her. How many times can you hear, I have a girlfriend before you hit the bricks?"
"Okay now I'm confused," Althea mumbled. "You know for a psychic sometimes you are completely clueless," Shawn stared at her friend as her voice trailed off.
Shawn shivered as she looked up and spied a familiar brunette approaching them. "Ms. St. James what brings you here?" Shawn inquired cautiously. There was something about this woman that bothered her. She knew what was causing her mistrust. Delia St. James wasn't being completely honest with her. She just couldn't get a reading on the woman and it drove her nuts.
"I got a very confusing telephone call late last evening," Delia began to explain as she twirled a large manila envelope between her fingers. "It was from Ms. Charles, and she sounded, well she sounded drunk. She said she wanted to talk to me about Whispering Pines. I was visiting my family and promised to stop by for a chat."
"I'll get her," Althea volunteered and quickly went back inside the castle.
"I'm surprised to see you here Dr. Williams," Delia stammered slightly seemingly in search of something to talk about. "When I met Ms. Charles I got the impression that the two of you weren't getting along."
"Now there's an understatement," Shawn laughed as the woman shyly took a seat next to her. "It's your work!" Shawn suddenly blurted out with surprise. "That is what you've been hiding. I don't understand you are very good at what you do, and your work is important."
"That is really annoying," Delia looked over at her with a dumbfounded expression. "Yes what I do is important. I build buildings that not only look good but also will continue to stand no matter what. But it is how I developed my technology that bothers me. My grandfather said that we must learn from the past and he was right."
"Yes he was," Shawn agreed as she suddenly felt the source of the young woman's anguish. "You learn from tragedy. You feel like you have earned your success by other's dying instead of remembering that you are helping prevent more lives being lost."
"Well now you're starting to sound like my mother," Delia quipped as she twirled the envelope.
"So the call from Faith must have made you happy?" Shawn pried. "Come to give us another sales pitch?"
"In a manner of speaking," Delia smiled as she handed Shawn the envelope just as Faith approached them.
Shawn's mind spun as she saw a flash; then she heard voices laughing. "You keep it Richard that way we will always be there to watch over you," Anna's voice echoed. Another flash illuminated. There was a shimmer of light catching something that was making the flash reflect. The sound of a man grumbling and a small boy giggling echoed. "Dr. Williams?" A voice called to her as her hands trembled and the envelope slipped from her fingers. Shawn ignored the voice as she buried her face in her hands and began to rock back and forth.
"What did you do to her?" A voice demanded as Shawn felt comforting hands on her shoulder and face.
"Nothing I swear," She heard Delia St. James protesting with a hint of fear.
Shawn blinked open her eyes and found Faith kneeling in front of her. It was the reporter's hands that were offering her comfort. She could see the fear in Faith's eyes as she caressed Shawn's face. "I'm fine," Shawn weakly offered.
"That was a bad one," Faith's voice trembled as her fingers drifted up to Shawn's furrowed brow.
"No just strong," Shawn explained as she tried to stop the world from spinning.
"Hmm those ones usually leave you with one hell of a headache," Faith comforted her as she picked up the envelope.
"No kidding," Shawn said as she tried to smile in an effort to ease Faith's fears. "Consider it payback for making you drink too much last night."
"Why are you here?" Faith demanded from the still startled Delia.
"You called me," Delia squeaked out.
"I did?" Faith mumbled as she furrowed her brow as she opened the envelope. "Wow they look a lot better when you can't see through them," Shawn peered down at the old photograph of two women seated with a small dark haired boy gleefully nestled between them. "So, again, I have to ask what happened here Ms. St. James?"
"Faith you're scaring her," Shawn cautioned her ex-lover as she continued to study the photograph.
"I am not," Faith protested as Delia nodded her head up and down. "Sorry," She mumbled quickly with a frown. "So the little boy would be your grandfather?"
"Yes," Delia quickly responded as she backed slightly away from Faith. "That is the only picture ever taken of Anna, and the only one with the three of them together."
"No," Shawn mumbled as she slipped the large photograph from Faith's grasp. Her fingers tingled slightly as they brushed against her former lover's. "They had to take the picture three times. Something kept reflecting the flash; something metal; something to Richard's right," She continued as she studied the photo. "Holy shit," She stammered as her eyes widened.
"Such language," Faith chastised her with a playful smile as Shawn handed her the photo and pointed to Anna's wrist. Faith's eyes bugged out as she spotted the object Shawn was pointing to. Shawn drew back the sleeve of her jacket and held up the bracelet she always wore so they could look at the both of them. "How?"
"That is what I haven't been telling you Dr. Williams," Delia softly explained. "I noticed it immediately the first time we met. "I thought maybe that was why they let you stay in the house. The Captain either burned or sold off their possessions. I have to ask where you got that bracelet."
"It was a gift," Shawn explained with a slight blush as Faith continued to stare at the photograph. "I didn't receive it until after my stay at Whispering Pines. This is just a coincidence Ms. St. James," Faith's head jerked up with surprise. "As earthy crunchy as you think I am I do know that coincidences do happen."
"But," Faith began to protest as Shawn chuckled.
"I have to ask, do you know where the bracelet came from?" Delia persisted. "Perhaps another psychic could get something from it and I can finally find out what happened."
"A small antiques shop in Boston on Charles Street," Faith explained as she clasped Shawn's wrist and began to trace the bracelet with her long fingers. "The owner said it had been lost in the shuffle and sat in storage for years. He only found it a few weeks before I bought it. He didn't know the history since it was probably purchased by one of the previous owners. He was certain that it was French probably crafted around the turn of the century. The last one," She quickly amended.
"I asked my mother about it," Delia continued in a hopeful tone. "She said that her father told her that his mother never took it off since it was a gift from Catherine."
"We don't know that it was Anna's," Shawn interjected as she caught the pleading looks coming from both women.
"I was drawn to it," Faith whispered as she continued to caress Shawn's wrist.
"You were drawn to the symbolism of it," Shawn corrected her finding it strange that she was the voice of reason in this conversation. "Milo saw that."
"Perhaps Milo should take another look?" Faith suggested as her caresses grew bolder.
"Are you sure the two of you don't get along?" Delia asked in confusion.
"Depends on what day you ask," Shawn teased as she felt a surge of warmth. Her mind spun as she caught the image of a bartender bringing one drink after another, then a flash to the toothy, young girl snuggling up beside Faith's body. The image faded as she heard the words, 'Why not?' echoing. She snatched her hand away as Faith looked up at her with confusion.
"I'll have a colleague look at the bracelet Ms. St. James, and I will get back to you," She uttered harshly as she stood almost knocking Faith over as she moved around her. She heard Faith's frustrated grumble as she marched back towards the castle.
She was fuming by the time she met up with Althea. "A meeting with Delia St. James?" Althea gushed. "Should I be getting some contracts ready?"
"No," Shawn flatly refused even as she felt that all roads were leading her back to Whispering Pines.
"Oh crap," Althea grunted. "Am I making staff changes to the up-coming schedule instead?"
"No," Shawn protested. She was angry at Faith and herself, but she couldn't let her former lover's career suffer because of it. "I told you I would play nice, and I will."
She was about to walk away when she felt Althea's hand on her arm. "Shawn this is really none of my business," Althea began softly. "I don't know what you think happened last night, but Faith slept on the sofa in my suite. She showed up in the wee hours really drunk looking for a place to crash. I asked her what happened. All she said was bite me before she passed out." Shawn was dumbfounded as she tried to understand just what had happened last night.
Danvers, Massachusetts 2003
Faith was in a miserable mood that night as she slipped her card into the key slot. She really didn't want to go back to the hotel room she was sharing with Shawn. Yet she really didn't have a choice. She needed a shower, clean clothing, and most of all, sleep. She felt sick knowing she could open the door and find Deb waiting inside.
She blew out a sigh of relief when she discovered only Shawn waiting in the room. Her relief was very short lived as she caught the glare her former lover was casting at her as she closed the door. "Where did you sleep last night?" Shawn demanded.
Faith felt a flush of anger surge through her body. "What do you care?" She spat out as she tossed her card and wallet onto her nightstand. She had enough of the games and was far too exhausted to deal with her ex-lover's tirade. All she wanted was a long, hot shower and sleep.
"I care," Shawn spat out bitterly as she folded her arms across her chest.
"I'm far too tired to deal with this," Faith hissed as she kicked off her shoes and shrugged out of her jacket. "I'm not asking you how your birthday celebration went with your girlfriend, am I?"
"I dumped her," Shawn growled. "Then I went looking for you only to find you leaving the hotel bar with some youngster."
"Great," Faith grumbled in defeat. "Not that it is any of your business, but nothing happened. I kissed her that is all. It wasn't right. I called St. James whining about wanting to know more about Whispering Pines. Then I crashed in Althea's room." She felt defeated as she began to tug her shirt out of her pants. "When are you going to believe me? When am I going to stop paying for one mistake? Tell me Shawn, just when are you going to understand that it is you that I want?"
Faith's head was pounding, her body ached, and her heart was broken. To top off her miserable day she had just exposed her heart to be hurt once again. "Mmmf," Came the muffled sound as Shawn knocked her down onto her bed and captured her lips. She was far too stunned to react at first. Once her mind caught up with her body she eagerly returned Shawn's kiss. Her hands were gliding along the smaller woman's back as the kiss grew deeper.
She became lost in Shawn's touch. Faith's hands drifted down to Shawn's firm round bottom. She squeezed her cheeks through her jeans. She slipped her hand between Shawn's thighs. "We can't," Shawn gasped as she pulled away from Faith's touch.
Faith looked up at the woman straddling her body. "Huh?" She choked out completely baffled by the situation. She hissed when the knock on the door followed.
"It's Milo," Shawn sheepishly explained. "I called him to come to a look at the bracelet."
"I hate my life," Faith whimpered as Shawn climbed off of her body. Faith's body cooled instantly missing the feel of Shawn's body pressed against her own. "I'm going to take a shower." She grumbled as she climbed off of the bed and grabbed some clothing. As she entered the bathroom she couldn't shake the nagging fear that the lip lock she had just shared with Shawn hadn't changed anything.
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