Authors: Samantha Horne
“Erm…” Thankfully, Ethan saved me from the situation, by offering Annabelle a race back to the house, and she screamed in delight before taking off, faster than I ever thought a child would be able to run. Ethan followed after her, and I trailed at a more leisurely pace, enjoying the beautiful surroundings, and wondering if I really wanted to leave this place.
“Hey, anyone home?” I shouted as I walked through the front door of my brother’s B&B. A part of me always felt wary that they left their door open for just anyone to walk in, but as my brother reminded me on a daily basis, that was kind of the point of them owning a B&B. I knew as soon as Laura mentioned she needed somewhere to stay, that this place would be perfect. My brother and his soul mate, Jasmine, had worked their assess off to get this place together and it really was amazing. Jasmine often got disheartened when they hardly had anyone wanting to stay for the night, but that was just the way the town was. My brother and I had tried to explain to her that with strangers being like gold dust around here, they wouldn’t get that much business, but it had been her dream. Noah was unable to deny her anything, so they had opened the B&B about six months ago. Seeing the smile on Jasmine’s face the other night, was proof that I had done the right thing taking Laura there. I just hoped that Jasmine didn’t get too attached to her, and persuade her to stay longer. I had been suspicious Laura had not been ready to leave yesterday, but Jasmine assured me she was ‘catching her breath’ and would be better today.
“In here!” I heard Jasmine shout, as I approached the door through to the kitchen.
“Hey!” She smiled as we walked in the door, and I noticed Noah sat at the table reading a newspaper.
“Since when did you get so domesticated? Reading a newspaper in the morning and everything?”
“You’re just jealous.” Noah smiled as I scoffed.
“Nah, thanks man. Won’t see me being tied down any time soon.”
“Really?” Jasmine chimed from where she was leaning against the kitchen counter. “I don’t know, I think I saw a spark between you and our visitor the other day.” She smiled and I knew exactly where she was going with this.
“Forget it, Jasmine. She can’t stay here, you know that.”
“Have you forgotten that she’s human?”
“Of course not! But, Jackson, she actually stood up to you! She didn’t just do whatever you wanted; I mean it’s nice to have a change around here. “
“You don’t know that though, because no-one is ever allowed to come here. I like her.” Jasmine turned back to clean the counter as if her comment was final and that was the end of the conversation. I looked toward Noah for some support, to find him just shrugging his shoulders as if afraid to disagree with her.
I was about to fire back up the argument, when I heard a child’s laughter and looked through the glass doors that lead toward the garden. I watched as my beautiful niece was carried on Ethan’s shoulders through the garden, her laughter having the power to make even a grumpy git like me smile. She really was a blessing to my brother, and the whole family. We probably all spoilt her rotten, but as the only little girl in the family it was pretty much mandatory. As the two of them got closer to the house, I noticed Laura trailing behind quietly observing everything around her. I noticed the curiosity and wonderment in her gaze as she looked at the various flowers in the garden, trying to quell the attraction to her I was feeling. Honestly, I hadn’t been attracted to a woman in so long I worried I was ill, but turns out it just took an annoying human to fire me back up again.
Man, she was beautiful though. Luckily, I was pulled from staring unashamedly at Laura, by the ringing of my phone.
Saved by the bell.
As I approached the house, I couldn’t stop the smile that graced my face when I saw the scene before me. Ethan was holding a giggling Annabelle and swinging her around in the air, whilst Jasmine and Noah stood watching, with their arms around each other and beaming smiles on their faces. My heart sank at the same time as my body tingled when I saw Jackson standing off to the side, talking in to a mobile phone with a serious look on his face.
No change there then
. As I walked up the group, Jasmine smiled and called out to me.
“I hope our little princess hasn’t been too much trouble.”
“Oh no, honestly she’s very sweet. You’ve raised a lovely young girl.” She beamed with pride, and took Annabelle inside, inviting me to go in and bake some cakes with them. I went to follow, when Jackson grabbed my hand, and pulled me over to stand with Noah and Ethan.
“Good morning, Laura.”
“Your car has been fixed and is waiting outside for you. It wasn’t anything major, so it should be fine now. I would recommend buying a newer model, though. It will be safer for you.”
“Ssshh, she might hear you!” I said, smiling at him in jest. “She’s my baby, I’ll never replace her.”
“Do you ever smile?”
“You haven’t given me anything to smile about.”
I sighed, as I realised trying to have a decent conversation with this man was like banging my head against a brick wall. Pretty pointless. Ethan and Noah were watching us with bemused looks on their faces and looked at each other in some kind of silent communication.
“I’m actually thinking of staying here. I was looking for a fresh start where no-one knows my name, and this place is just perfect. I have enough money from inheritance to put a deposit down somewhere, I just need to find the perfect place.” I left the boys all looking at each other, and went to find the girls in the kitchen.
Hours passed and I could not remember the last time I’d had that much fun. Jasmine, Annabelle and I had baked enough cakes to feed the whole of England, and I was covered in flour and chocolate, with my stomach hurting from laughing so much. When Annabelle practically fell asleep in a bowl of cake mix, Jasmine excused herself to put her down for a nap, so I was placing some mix in to a cake tin when Jackson walked through the kitchen door, and stood close behind me. He cleared his throat to announce his presence, and I failed to stop my body’s reaction to him as I felt the attraction to him right down to my toes. It was like my body couldn’t seem to fight the pull he had over me, and I turned around slowly, trying to hide the lust that I’m sure was written all over my face.
“Will you be staying here until you find a home then?”
“Hopefully, if it’s okay with Noah and Jasmine.”
“They are so excited to have someone new arrive in town, I really don’t think they’ll mind. Plus, I think it will make Annabelle very happy.”
“She’s a special girl.”
“She is. She finds it difficult to make friends.”
“Really? But she’s so lively! I was exhausted after just ten minutes of talking to her earlier, she’s got such a great personality.”
“She is a very enthusiastic young girl, but there aren’t many children around here unfortunately.”
“That’s a shame.”
He walked closer to me, and I held my breath as a shiver wracked my body when I gazed upon his frame. He really was beautiful, and exuded a raw power and strength that I couldn’t even describe. I should have been put off by the fact he seemed serious and brooding most of the time, but I couldn’t seem to help myself. I imagined the things he could do with that raw power and I mentally chastised myself for panting like a dog in front of him.
He reached a hand out, as if to touch my face, when Ethan walked in hollering about the cakes and the moment was ruined. I had no idea what was about to happen, but I felt disappointed that I didn’t get to find out. Jackson shook his head as if mentally arguing with himself, and I couldn’t help but smile at how rattled I seemed to have him.
Perhaps the serious, brooding guy isn’t quite so stoic and emotionless after all
“Oh my god, these cakes are fucking amazing.” Groaned Ethan, and I looked over to see him sat at the table, shoving an entire cake down his mouth with his face covered in icing
. Well, I guess these perfect men need to have some negative points. Wouldn’t be fair otherwise.
“Okay, that’s disgusting,’ Jackson complained as he watched his brother with disapproval on his face. I smiled at the playful banter between the two of them and felt a sudden longing for siblings of my own. It had never really bothered me not having any family, but just watching this group of people interact with each other had made me realise how much I had actually missed. Shaking myself out of my little reverie, I noticed Jackson watching me with a pensive look on his face. He seemed to forcefully halt his own inner musings, and began to speak again.
“If you’re hanging around for a while it might be worth knowing where everything is located. It’s pretty much just woods around here and it’s very easy to get lost. We do have a main street with some shops and banks a bit deeper in to the town, but some people find the route quite difficult. I can take you there now if you like, so you know the way when you want to drive there yourself?”
Okay, so grumpy guy seems to have had some kind of personality transplant.
I do believe he just offered to help me, and with no negative comments at all. Oh wait, he’s still talking.
“I just want to show you to save myself a headache in the long run. If you get lost in the woods, it will be me who has to come and find you and I really don’t have time to be dealing with insignificant things like that.” And there it was
. I knew the nice comment was too good to be true
By the time we finally arrived in the main part of town, my head was pounding after the intense concentration the ride over required. Jackson wasn’t lying when he said that most of the locality was just trees, and the winding roads through the woods all looked the same, with no markings or signposts to help you along the way. I couldn’t even tell you how to get back out of this strange town, though I’d only just driven here yesterday. It was extremely confusing and my poor head was taking the strain of how hard I was trying to remember the route to the shops. I’m pretty sure I would need Jackson to show me a few more times before I would be able to find the place myself. I’d love to complain about having to spend more time with the miserable git, but if I was being completely honest with myself, I found myself actually wanting to spend more time with him. Of course, it did help that he was easy on the eye. When all you can see for miles are trees, it does make a difference, believe me.
The never-ending roads soon widened, until there were a few houses on either side of the road. All detached with a good amount of space between them, they were beautiful houses large enough to accommodate a growing family, and were so picturesque that I just wanted to stop and photograph them. There didn’t seem to be any one around, but then it was the middle of the day, so I presumed everyone was at work. As we headed further in to town, the number of houses grew until some roads looked like average streets anywhere in the world with big houses, and perfect manicured gardens. We ended up arriving in a large built up area, still surrounded by trees but bustling with people, with office buildings, shops and banks dotted along the intersecting roads, branching out from this main track. Jackson pulled up on the side of the road outside the supermarket, and as we got out of the car, I noticed most people throwing suspicious glances our way, and hurrying along as if trying to hide something. I wasn’t sure if it was Jackson they were hiding from, or me.
Jackson walked around the front of the car to stand by my side, and gave a proud look as he watched the hustle and bustle of the town centre, even allowing a small smile to grace his lips before hiding it quickly. I saw it though, and I filed it away for when I could use it to annoy him the most.
“This is the centre of Wolves’ Creek, and it’s where you’ll find everything you need.”
I laughed out loud, as what he said registered in my brain. “Wolves’ Creek? Now I definitely feel like I’m in some crappy horror film. Your pub is called ‘The Howl’, I notice a theme.”
Jackson gave me an odd look, and a scowl crossed his face before he hid it quickly and started walking down the high street. Presuming he wanted me to follow him, I rushed to catch up.
“No offense intended, of course.” I told him, before settling in to walk alongside him, struggling to keep up with his fast pace.
“Of course not,” he said, before stopping outside of the bank.
“Everything you need is pretty much here. We’ve got the bank, the supermarket, and some clothes stores, plus a couple of restaurants. If you need a GP there’s a small clinic, but just one doctor and no hospital.”
“Just the one doctor?”
“We’re only a small town.”
“Surely it would be beneficial to have a hospital with more staff. What is something major happened, like an earthquake?”
“You don’t know! We have snow in summer now, it could happen.” Okay, I was talking crap, but one GP to look after everyone?