© Copyright 2007
by Elizabeth Delayne
Love That HurtsPart I
Carrie was now a full professor. Dr. Caroline Dean. She looked the part in her smart suit and glasses that Tyler had probably helped her pick out. It was sad, really, that her fashion sense was more like her father’s than that of the modern woman she wanted to be.
She walked in the kitchen door to the east wing, the closest to what would ever be a front door for her home. The formal entrance for the Heritage House was under construction, and would eventually lead through a museum-like space. The house, inside and out, was surrounded with scaffolding. The workmen arrived early in the morning—sometimes before anyone was out of bed.
Still, it was her dream to restore the Greek revival style plantation home and keep it in the family. At least for now ... until its future was secure and the renovation was complete.
There was a story she wanted preserved. She wanted to make sure it was preserved.
And, she thought, there was so much to learn ... so much to get involved in. Like Dani’s passion for the gardens, or Jayce’s gift with a story, it got her blood pumping and her mind running with ideas. She could talk for hours about all the little details.
One day the house would point back to the grand heritage of love and family that she’d read about recently in their ancestor, Annabelle Grace’s journals. One day their Heritage would point to more than the dismal molding, rotting lackluster structure that it had become in the last century. Even their past tied to slavery, tied to destruction and to vile behavior, was important to preserve as well. It was important to study and to detail the memory of even the worst mistake.
They had teams coming during the summer to excavate and recreate the slave quarters. Too many times in history those pieces had been hidden, lost, tossed away as if the meaning held no importance. It was a story that needed to be honored for those that persevered.
And once she knew the memories were preserved, maybe she would move on, move out.
It was a small idea, planted in her heart. She’d changed a little, grown a little, since her marriage a little over two years ago. Being married to Tyler had changed her. Both of them had tendencies to get caught up in their work ... Tyler with business, her with her scholarship. They tried not to let the other get away with it. They challenged each other on their relationship, their faith. He didn’t let her settle and helped her become a little less like her father, who’d been a little ... lost in his dowdy suits and unkept beard.
The marriage had led, she thought, to some interesting arguments ... and discussions. And the house wasn’t as important as it had been.
She’d lost her mother at an early age and her father while dating Tyler. The house had become a moniker.
Maybe she’d healed. She liked to think so.
Carrie looked around the kitchen and smiled. It was more than she’d ever imagined. Tyler had surprised her with it, having it remodeled while they were away in London when she was finishing her degree and working as an assistant professor. The white cabinets gleamed with their frosted glass insets. The knobs and the fixtures were chrome, as were the appliances. It looked like something out of a style magazine, more her sisters hand than her own ... and definitely more than she could have dreamed up for herself.
The mail was dumped on the center island, a reminder that her younger sister was living with them now. Tyler tended to put things in there place, in the same place. Of the two of them, she was a little more ... unobservant. She rolled her eyes as she thought about her wardrobe again.
But compared to Jayce...
Still, his car was parked outside, so she knew he was home. She stepped into the living room just as he started to walk through and she laughed as he tugged her immediately against him and wrapped his arms around her.
“Welcome home, Mrs. Dean.”
Carrie leaned back in his arms and looked at him. His grin was captivating. She’d dated him forever, they’d been friends even longer, and she still couldn’t get used to that look in his eyes that he had right now.
“That’s Dr. Dean.”
“How could I forget with those cute little glasses perched on your nose. How was your day?”
“Pretty good, Mr—“
The moment was interrupted by the noise of coming from the main house and her sister’s jubilant, “Carrie!”
Tyler smiled briefly, his look still tender and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “We’ll finish this up later.”
She grinned, in spite of herself, and turned as her youngest sister flew in from the kitchen. Jayce was smiling, so despite the fact that Carrie had lost another little moment with her husband, she couldn’t help but be thankful.
”In the renovation,” Tyler cut in, “you and Cooper discovered a hidden compartment with the original master pieces of some great southern writer.”
“No–and that would make Carrie happy ... not me,” she turned to her sister and took her hands, practically jumping up and down. “Kyle Edwards. The producer. He sent me a letter, this whole official letter on company stationary and asked me to respond to a few questions. He emailed me back, then called. Not just—but this morning, the first time. I wanted to wait for you to come home.”
“Kyle Edwards?” Carrie murmured and tried to process what her sister had told her. She’d been sent a letter, not recently, but before. “The actor?”
“He’s a producer now. I sent off my script. Of Abigail and Lucas? The civil war story? They saw the pictures. They want to come here and see the house.”
Her script ... Carrie repeated, still turning over the fact that the famous actor/producer had called her sister. Called their house.
“You sold your script?”
There was a brief, painful look of disappointment that burned in her eyes before it was replaced again with excitement.
“No, ah ... not my script. He read it. At least, I think he did, but he said civil war stories are hard to sell. That they make one every couple of years, usually from a best seller ... or something like that. He said maybe I would have luck with a novel or with television. But they saw the pictures of the house I sent with the script. He wants to come see if he can use it in a movie.”
“Our house?” Carrie asked as she glanced at Tyler. “This house? The ... Heritage?”
“Of course—you should have faith in this place, you know,” Jayce squeezed her sister’s hands and forced her into a little jig until Carrie was breathless. Jayce was still bouncing. “I have to call Dani. Convince her and Cooper to come back to the house for dinner tonight. I don’t want to tell her over the phone. It was murder not telling Cooper this afternoon.”
She spun, still a whirlwind of energy, and left the way she came.
Carrie looked blankly at Tyler. He reached out and ran his fingertips over her jaw line.
“Does he know this is a dilapidated fire hazard in need of being torn down?”
“You’re living in this dilapidated fire hazard, you know.”
Tyler laughed. “No, I’m living with you. Hey–“ he lifted her chin with his finger when she didn’t smile. “What’s wrong?”
“She didn’t tell us she sent off that script.”
“No,” Tyler pulled Carrie into his arms and wrapped them tight around her. “She probably didn’t want you to try to talk her out of it.”
“Why would I have talked her out of it?”
“Because of what you’re thinking right now,” he rested his chin on the top of her head and drew in a deep breath. “That you didn’t want her to be disappointed. You didn’t want her hurt.”
“Did you see the look in her eyes?”
“It was hurting her. She’s not turning to us, Tyler.”
“Maybe not as much as we want. But she’s still living upstairs. She didn’t leave the house this afternoon, not even on an innocent errand. She helped Cooper out in the stairwell this afternoon. As long as she’s here, she’s telling us she needs us.”
* * *
Upstairs, Jayce hung up the phone and grinned.
The house and all its heritage was growing on Dani. She’d changed in the last two years. Meeting Cooper and marriage had wrapped itself around her so that her sister was happier then she’d ever been. Cooper, the large and handsome contractor, with all his rough edges and green eyes, was perfect for Dani.
As was Tyler, the poster child of a businessman, perfect for Carrie. He kept her grounded ... and, Jayce thought, present. Carrie wasn’t quite as lost in facts and figures and the past as she had once been.
Their weddings had been simple, both in their churches. Dani had held her reception out at the house as she’d finished up the gardens and Cooper had finished with the rehab on the family quarters. It had been beautiful, though not quite as dramatic as Annabelle Grace’s wedding to Elijah would have been had he lived. Jayce had planned their wedding as a child.
It was the rest of the house that was an eyesore. They’d received a few grants though the partnership with the local university. People were here daily, taking wallpaper samples, scraping down the paint to find the original colors and wood grains, carpet samples and floor stencils. They read through the papers in the library to find documentation. So far they had discovered the architect and where numerous pieces had been imported from Europe, who the artists were and where items originated.
Of course, for the most part, Jayce tried to tune it out. It was hard, as she worked with Cooper during the day and the discussion at the dinner table usually brought Tyler up on all Carrie, Dani and Cooper had learned. With four of the five of them knee deep in details, it was just part of their routine to catch each other up. It didn’t matter to her what color the walls were, but what might have happened within the walls.
One of her great grandmother’s brothers had disappeared. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if his body was found when they removed one of the faux walls?
She’d imagined several horrid deaths for him over her life time.
Even if the local story was that he’d skipped town on tax evasion at ninety-two.
Jayce stood and caught her own image in the antique mirror. She had dark brown hair that had grown long, so that it spilled in waves over her shoulders when she wore it down. She’d been told she looked the most like her mother. She didn’t remember.
She was still tired, she thought, still a little hollowed eyed and thin. The last six months had been a struggle, one day at a time on the good days, one minute at a time on the bad.
And there were still, at times, more bad then good.
She held out a hand and pressed it palm to palm with her image in the mirror. The girl who stared back at her was a stranger. Somewhat tired, insecure, more than a little wary of the world. Still, she was okay, she thought. She was going to meetings, she was home. Today she would worry only about today ... tomorrow was another story.
“I am an alcoholic,” she reminded the image that stared back at her. She, like her grandfather, and his father before him.
She turned from the image and left the room. As she walked through the drafty hallway, she could only appreciate her family even more. It had only taken a single phone call.
Her sisters had rallied. It didn’t matter—or not in the end—that she’d lied to them for most of her teenage years. Not about everything, but about little things .... about important things.
Like how sad she’d been . . . how lost she’d felt.
Where she’d gone and what she’d been doing after her father passed away.
She’d even lied to Tyler.
“I am an alcoholic.”
God, help me.
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