Serial Novel Girl in the Woods is a regular Friday feature for 2016.
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Part Seven: Meadow Creek
The day had been too long for the president of Universal Technologies. Olivia Snowhawk had left the capitol early in the morning, traveled all day, only to spend the entire evening in meetings and presentations. It was almost midnight when she arrived home. The day was long, but it was good to be home, away from the politics of The Capitol. It was a relief to be back at her home office, around people who loved what they did and were good at it. The amount of talent she was able to recruit was impressive by anyone’s standards. She was proud of her business.
She lived alone in a big house on the edge of Greenwood, a 30 minute ride from the Universal Technologies headquarters in Meadow Creek. No domestics, family or friends lived full time in the magnificent house with her. She liked it that way.
Throwing her purse on the table, Olivia left her usual trail of her coat, bags, and jewelry. She reached for her earrings. One was gone. Damn it she thought. It had been one of her favorite pairs.
She thumbed through the mail. There was a note from an old boyfriend in Riverbend that made her laugh. “Daisy dumped me in a very public way. I admit I deserved it. She came to my office right in the middle of the weekly directors meeting, called me a cheating dog and slapped my face, then told me she never wanted to see me again. By the end of the business day, everyone, and I mean everyone, in Riverbend knew about it. You were right. I am a first class asshole.”
She finished his letter then picked up a magazine. There was her face, along with Simon and Annie on the cover – the power triangle behind Universal Technologies International. It was a formal portrait of the three. Blonde, brunette and a redhead. She looked pretty enough and Annie beautiful, which was sometimes hard next to Simon’s unearthly good looks. She took a breath and questioned her judgment on appearing at all. She liked being the center of attention, but until recently she’d made a point of keeping her picture out of the public eye.
Making her way to the kitchen Olivia scooped up a large black cat in her arms. He purred and drooled until she had to put him down. “Ink darling, you’re ruining my sweater,” she scolded. In the kitchen she uncorked a bottle of red wine and poked around for something to eat.
From there she went upstairs to her bedroom with Ink at her heels and a glass of wine in one hand and the wine bottle, a newspaper and the magazine under her arm. Dropping her load on the bed, she unstrapped her dagger from her belt and put it on her night stand. She dropped her clothes on a chair. A knee length wool jacket with a moss green on forest green fern pattern, over a lightweight black sweater and black leather pants with low heeled black boots that reached up over her knees She wrapped herself in her favorite robe, a soft cotton and silk blend of blue, embroidered with soft green ferns.
Rummaging back through her coat pocket she found her reading glasses and settled in an overstuffed chair by the window. It had started to rain, but the house was warm and a fire was blazing. Ink curled up in her lap.
Scanning through the local newspaper she was always aware of how she used the press to her full advantage, keeping them happy with information and invitations. She thought of the owner of the Meadow Creek Recorder. That was someone in the local press she’d gotten too close to. He’d romanced her and played with her emotions to get what he wanted.
“Stupid self-serving bastard.” She said aloud, and then downed her glass of wine. It was a good night to indulge in the rare luxury of feeling sorry for herself. She’d thought of revenge on the man but gave it up realizing at her age she’d been a fool to be taken in by his sweet talk and handsome face. She still had years of use out of her professional relationship with him – something she couldn’t afford to loose.
She opened the magazine and read the article about the leaders of Universal Technologies International in full. To no surprise it rang favorable. She’d met with the author, a man named Geo Goodnight, in her Meadow Creek office. She had told him that she’d come to this country because of the opportunities and because she loved the people. He flirted, she flirted back.
She showed Mr. Goodnight the latest and most amazing developments at Universal Technologies. He was thoroughly impressed beyond his wildest imagination. When she gave him a tour of her home he was equally amazed.
She refused to give much personal information, aside from the fact she and Simon had the same birthday and the fact that she usually met him at his house for coffee before work each morning. She refused to show him the upstairs portions of the house, including her bedroom, but kept him amused at the thought of one day seeing it. It would be a cold day in hell before she let him into her private lair.
There was some mention in the article of her appearance during the interview; every detail of what she wore down to her jewelry and shoes was mentioned. Of course there was great detail, maybe too much, about her hair, a dramatic new style for the so-called queen of fashion. A normal style, she thought, brushing a strand out of her face.
There were flattering images of her and flattering words. She was now entrenched as both a business and cultural icon in her new country. It was good to be respected for who she was now, not who she was suppose to be, not for who she was born to be.
The reporter had also asked her about her past. She told him little aside from the fact that she had grown up during the war, being shuttled from safe house to safe house. She mentioned that she and Alaric Shadowford had been childhood friends and that her twin brother Justin Snowhawk was most certain to be the next president of the Crystal Mountain Republic. Of course no interview would be complete without mention of her father, a war hero, and the eccentric and brilliant mind behind Universal Technologies. The reporter pressed for more details but she gave none. Like all expatiates from the Crystal Mountains she rarely spoke of home. It was a closed country and the plan was to keep it that way.
Twelve years ago today she decided to leave the Crystal Mountains forever. It had nothing to do with business or the war or family. She stared out into the dark window, into the rain. Her thoughts went back twelve years to the place she had escaped.
She had gone to meet a friend on an isolated hilltop to view the stars. Her friend wasn’t there. Instead her worst nightmare was waiting for her, escaped from the self imposed exile where he had been gone years earlier for raping and torturing her. He was there with a group of his followers, waiting for her.
She tried to protect herself but her own powerful magic failed her. She was beaten until she couldn’t stand. She thought they were going to kill her. Then it happened. Something she could have never imagined.
Alone with her captor, his beautiful face was close to hers, she looked in his hazel eyes that were almost reflection of her own. As he bent over her, his hair made a curtain around her face. He caressed her battered body, then lightly kissed her eyes and her lips as he whispered that he loved her and would never leave her. He gently undressed her and healed her injuries with his magic. “You are mine,” he whispered as he took her. She tried to fight back but he blocked her magic with his own and overpowered her with his physical strength.
Next he filled the room with yellow light and enchanted her with four spells binding them together forever with his obsession and love.
It seemed so simple and final the way he explained it to her. They would start a new empire together. They would live with passion and power. She would be his alone. Their children would be heirs to a new world.
A vision entered her mind. She was on the shores of a foreign lake, far away where a warm breeze kissed her skin. A tower stood in the distance, lights shone from the windows of a near by cottage, a beautiful palace was behind her. The dark haired stranger held her close to him, under the starlight on the shores of a distant lake and vowed his love to her.
“ I vow to you, here and now, that I will always love you. You are my heart and my soul. I will never love another. Nothing will ever come between us. I will always be here for you, now and forever. Nothing will make me leave you Olivia, not even death itself”.
The vision faded and she was back in the cold. She looked into the eyes of her captor and said, “I vow to hate you with all my heart and soul. I vow to hate you now and forever.” She hung on the edge of consciousness, trying to stay awake, starting at the man who had just enchanted her. Every cell in her body ached. Every emotion ran raw.
He saw her vision of the other man. Too stunned to respond he sat in silence wondering who would dare break his enchantments. But it was true. The unknown stranger, the imposter, was out there waiting for her.
He kissed her tenderly. “He can’t have you.”
“You can’t do anything him or me.” She whispered.
Something inside him snapped. In a rage plunged his knife deep into her chest. “You can die if you think any other man will have you.” Leaving the knife in her chest, he left her to die, alone in the dark.
She heard his friend, someone she’d once known well say “Don’t leave her here. We can bring her with us.” Then her hearing failed and her mind went into a dark cold blackness.
As she lay close to death, feeling the heat drain from her body, she thought of her friends far away. If she lived, she would join them in their country and leave the Crystal Mountains forever.
Six weeks later, still recovering from her injuries, Simon was waiting for her at the border of her new country.
Olivia Starfire Snowhawk was now alone in her house in Meadow Creek. The only sounds were the beating of the rain on the windows and Ink’s soft purring. It was twelve years ago that day that she had almost died at the hand of a mad man. Twelve long years of exile and fear. Before she left her old home she’d told her father that she’d be fine, but she had lied. She would never be fine.
She lit a blue light in the small blue lamp by her bed. The blue lamp helped keep away the nightmares and the phantom that visited her at night. She glanced out the window and attempted to clear her mind.
Her twin brother Justin would be there in 3 weeks. She couldn’t wait. It had been hard living so far away from him. She’d finally meet Logan. She laughed thinking of what fun that might be. The man was a notorious flirt and so was she. She was also going to meet Prince Alexander for the first time, and no doubt Kitti’s idiot of a daughter as well. How was it that so many powerful and smart men like Alexander were such fools when it came to women? Anger rose in her as she thought about Kitti coming into her office the day before, demanding she sell her Lockford Mill. With any luck Candi would dump Alexander just like 3 other real princesses before her.
She could have been at Prince Alexander’s that night, making a scene in an eye popping dress and dazzling charm, but she wasn’t up to celebrating anything with Kitti’s daughter or Prince Alexander. “The poor bastard doesn’t know what he’s getting into.” She thought.
She’d stopped asking Simon why he didn’t do anything to stop it. There was nothing anyone could do about it. Alexander was a romantic but wasn’t the type to easily fall in love, at least not anymore from what she’d heard. From Ellie’s reports he wasn’t in love with Candi but resigned to the fact that he’d have to eventually marry her. He had told Ellie that maybe one day he’d wake up to find himself content with Princess Candi. With any luck he’d find himself in love with someone else before the wedding.
Looking out the window she noticed a light in the woods. Her closest neighbors, Annie Hawthorne and Simon Oliver were still in The Capitol. Simon and Ellie had stayed to attend the party at Prince Alexander’s house. Annie was being the good daughter at yet another dysfunctional Hawthorn family gathering. She mentally checked the locks on her doors and windows. Under her breath she muttered a spell. She grabbed her dagger.
It was almost midnight. From the front library window she could see two men in dark clothing coming towards the house. They wouldn’t get in. When locked up the house was a fortress with unbreakable glass windows and impenetrable locks and security. They’d have to have her genetic code to get inside. Still, the house could be burned or vandalized.
She ran to call the sheriff, her friend Sean Crow, but the door of the library door slammed shut. She could hear them now at the front door, trying to get at the lock. They checked the outside of the house and attempted to break the windows. Without luck they tried to break the impenetrable windows again. She frantically tried to open the library door. She worked the knob, she tried spells. The door was shut solid.
The dark room lit up with a soft glowing light. She turned from the window and there he was, the wizard himself, the one who enchanted her, with his hands on his hips, smiling.
The sounds from outside stopped. The only noise was of her own heartbeat.
“Who are they? Are they yours?” she asked.
“They’re spies from Allegory or maybe the Lavender Forest. They’ve been taken care of.”
“Did you kill them?”
“You could have. Why didn’t you. Oh right. You don’t do that sort of thing anymore. No, but they’ll wish they were dead. Don’t worry about it.”
She looked at the wizard in front of her not taking her eyes off of him. She tried a spell to get him to go away but her magic failed her.
“Happy Anniversary darling. I brought you a little gift.” He put a magnificent necklace of diamonds and emeralds around her neck. He put his arms around her and kissed her in a slow lingering kiss.
“I hate you.” She whispered at him, her voice full of venom.
The necklace vanished, he pulled her robe open and traced his finger over the R shaped scar on her right shoulder, then cupped her breast in his hand. “I came here for a night of passion with the woman I love.” He leaned over and kissed her neck. She backed away. He grabbed her wrists.
“Come back to me.”
“Never.” She said.
“You’ve put a knife right through my heart. You know you shouldn’t do that.”
She said nothing then took a breath and braced herself for the punishment that was to come.