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Authors: Alyssa Rose Ivy

Beckoning Light

BOOK: Beckoning Light
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Beckoning Light

 

 

By Alyssa Rose Ivy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2011 Alyssa Rose Ivy

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written approval of the author.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Grant, without whom there would be no Energo.

 

Acknowledgements

 

This book would not have been possible without the support and enthusiasm of my family. Thanks to Grant for being so supportive and encouraging me every step along the way and to Lillian for just being you. Mom, Dad and Seth, your encouragement was priceless. 

To my beta-readers — Nicole Stephenson and Kristen Lavelle, thank you for your time and energy as well as for giving me the confidence to move forward with the project. Kristen, extra special thanks for designing the gorgeous cover.

Thank you to Lynn O’Dell for the fantastic editing. It was wonderful working with you and I look forward to working with you again in the future. 

 

Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow,)

That bade me pause before that garden-gate,

To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?

No footstep stirred: the hated world all slept,

Save only thee and me. (Oh, Heaven!- oh, God!

How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)

Save only thee and me. I paused - I looked -

And in an instant all things disappeared.

 

- Edgar Allen Poe

 

Chapter One

Charlotte

                                                                     

We were flying over Canada when the panic set in. I felt a mild tightening in my chest as I thought about the plane that was taking me closer to the place so unimaginably full of memories that I couldn’t quite process it. As I sat there, earphones still in my ears even though I had turned my music off hours ago, the one thing keeping me from becoming physically ill was that I wasn’t completely alone. My older brother Kevin was dozing in the seat next to me. 

Looking over at him, I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy. There was something unfair about two siblings being so different. Physically, we shared some traits, dark brown hair and above-average height, but that was where the similarities ended. Kevin moved through life with an almost effortless ease, usually getting exactly what he wanted without even contemplating another outcome. He was social and confident, the opposite of me; I found social situations intimidating and absolutely hated being the center of attention. 

I had been wide-awake for the entire flight. I was tired, but sleep wouldn’t come. We still had another plane to catch once we got to Detroit. We had left Fairbanks early in the morning, and we wouldn’t get to our final destination, Charleston, until late afternoon. It was a long day of traveling, but at least we had one-way tickets.

I kicked at the winter coat stashed on the floor by my feet, relieved that I wouldn’t need it much in South Carolina. I guess I was being louder than I thought because Kevin started to stir.

“How much further?” he asked sleepily, as he stretched out his six-foot-four frame. 

“I’m not sure.” I pointed at the blank screens in front of us where the map was supposed to be.

“Oh, I guess I’ll ask next time I see a flight attendant.” He clearly wasn’t overly concerned by my inability to answer.

“Good idea.”

“So Charlotte, can you believe we’re moving back?” He sounded way too excited for someone who had just woken up.

“No, not really,” I admitted. “But I’m glad that Dad decided to send us back to Charleston instead of making us move to the arctic with him.”

He laughed. “Yeah, I don’t think either of us would have made it very long in Siberia.” I smiled and nodded, but I couldn’t help thinking that Kevin would have been just fine in Siberia; he would be fine anywhere.

We had moved to Alaska almost three years ago on the pretense that my dad could pursue his research, but really he was just ready to get away from Charleston. Although I thought that it was pretty cool that my dad was a geologist, I never really got his affinity for research that required such prolonged periods of time in the cold. Having grown up in the south, I think I was just meant for warm weather. 

“But you’re happy about the move, right?” Kevin asked suddenly.

“I guess.” Knowing how unhappy he would be with my response, I avoided his eyes.

“You guess?” He tugged at my ponytail. As usual, I was wearing my hair up.  I always felt like I looked too much like my mom when I wore it down because we had the same wavy brown hair and blue eyes.

After making a face at Kevin and pulling my hair out of his reach, I decided to give him more of an answer. “I always loved Charleston, but I’m nervous about the new school and facing memories of Mom.”

“The memories are going to still be there no matter where you live,” Kevin said quietly. I shrugged. Even though my mom had died almost five years before, I still had issues with it, which I guess was pretty normal.               

When I didn’t say anything else, Kevin changed the subject. “I’m really excited to see Liam. I can’t believe he never made it out to visit us.”

Liam. Just his name brought back memories of my last night in Charleston. It was my thirteenth birthday, and I had stayed up late packing up the last of my things. Kevin was in the next room with Liam, his best friend and our neighbor. Liam was my first crush, that older boy who just seemed so cool. Everything about him intrigued me, the way his auburn hair was always slightly messy, the way he permanently called me “Little Calloway” instead of Charlotte.  Looking back, it seems surprising that I liked him so much. It wasn’t like he was ever particularly nice to me. To him, I was just Kevin’s pesky little sister who was always in his way.  Back then, our two-year age difference had seemed insurmountable. 

It had been unexpected when Liam had knocked on my door that night. I was sitting on my bed staring out the window when he sat down next to me without saying anything. Then I made the most impulsive action of my life—I kissed him. I felt like I lost control at the moment, as though someone else had propelled me toward him. The second our lips touched, I felt a surge of heat that continued until I was able to pull away. I opened my eyes. He just sat there staring at me with his mouth hanging open. Finally, as though nothing had happened, he got up and left my room without another word. That was it. I left the next morning, and we hadn’t spoken since. 

I had thought about that kiss a lot over the three years in Alaska. The long, almost endless winter nights were the perfect backdrop to analyze the kiss and to regret having done it. For the first few months, every time Kevin talked to Liam, I prepared for Kevin to come in and start yelling or making fun of me for it, but he never did. Luckily, Liam never told him. Maybe he was too embarrassed to admit that a thirteen-year-old had kissed him that way. Thoughts of that last night in Charleston fueled my panic. What would it be like to see Liam again?

“You know Liam is on the basketball team now, right?” Kevin asked, pulling me out of my thoughts. I was mortified that I had even been thinking about that kiss in front of Kevin and hoped it didn’t show on my face.

“Yeah, Monty told me.” My uncle Monty, the high school basketball coach, had been living in our house while we were away. He had also mentioned that Liam still visited a lot, even though Kevin was gone. As I tried to imagine how awkward our meeting would be, I was grateful that I hadn’t had months to obsess over it; my dad had only told us about the move a few weeks ago.

“I heard that he’s actually pretty good.” Once Kevin got on the topic of basketball, it was hard to get him to stop. He was really excited to play on Uncle Monty’s team. His only condition for moving mid-season was that he got to start. Monty had no problem with that; Kevin was an incredible player.

Thankfully, Kevin stayed awake for the remainder of the flight and for the entire second one. Even though he talked about basketball the whole time, it was a lot better than staring out the window. We were discussing the early games of the college basketball season when our flight landed.

Monty had visited us in Alaska several times each year, so he didn’t look too different when I saw him waiting at baggage claim. Clearly in need of a shave, he had that ruggedly handsome look usually reserved for movie stars. At thirty-four, he still held on to a certain boyish charm that made him look years younger. When Monty saw me, he ran right over, picked me up, and swung me around. If anyone else had done that, I would have lectured them about my being too old for it, but it was different with Monty. It was a ritual that had started when I was a toddler and had never seemed to wear off. “Hi, Charlotte. How was the trip?” he asked.

“Bearable, but it’s good to finally be here.” I smiled as we walked over to meet Kevin at the baggage carousel.

“Hey, Kevin, are you excited about playing for the Tar Heels next year?”  Even though Monty had never pressured Kevin to play college ball, it was obvious he was thrilled that Kevin had signed with North Carolina.

“Yeah, I guess you heard I officially signed last week. It looks like I’m following in your footsteps… but I won’t be warming the bench.” Kevin laughed.

If Monty felt snubbed by the remark, he didn’t show it. He responded by grabbing Kevin’s hand and pulling him into a bear hug. “Good to have you kids back home.”

***

I looked out the window of the back seat of Monty’s truck as we drove away from the airport. Kevin had called shotgun as soon as the truck was within sight, and I got into the backseat without complaint. Monty had laughed as the two of us went on and on about the hot weather. “It’s only seventy degrees,” he reminded us.

“You do realize how cold November is in northern Alaska, right?” Kevin asked.

“Yeah, yeah,” Monty said playfully. I could tell that it was funny for Monty to see how much three years in Alaska had changed us.

  As I watched the palmettos and beautiful oaks with dangling moss pass outside my window, I felt more excited about being home every minute. Twenty minutes later, we pulled into the long drive on the side of the house. It didn’t look like much had changed but, then again, very little had changed in the more than two centuries the house had been in my father’s family. I stood outside staring up at the house, feeling a sense of homecoming I hadn’t quite expected.  In some ways, the house had been as much a part of my childhood as the people. The endless rooms and countless small hideaways coupled with my wild imagination had made every day an adventure. I always thought that growing up in an old house somehow connected me to the past, especially since so many generations of my family had lived there. 

I waited as Monty and Kevin pulled our bags out of the car and toted them inside. I followed them in and was hit with a wave of disappointment. Though I knew that my mother wouldn’t be waiting for me within those walls, part of me had hoped I would feel her presence in some small way, as if returning to the house would somehow quell the empty feeling that I could never quite shake. I snapped myself out of it as Monty started to talk.

“Kev, you’re in your old room but, Charlotte, there was some water damage in yours, so I put you up on the third floor,” Monty told us as he dropped the last of our bags in the foyer. I wasn’t surprised. When you lived in a house that’s been around for over two hundred years, there was always something that needed to be fixed.

“Great,” I said with some feeling, as I realized that I would have my own bathroom.  

Monty grabbed the larger of my two bags while I carried the smaller bag and followed him. Kevin was already in his room when we passed it on the way up to the third floor. Monty stopped at the first door on the right. “I thought this one would work well. You have views of the yard and the harbor from the windows and porch.”

I walked in and examined the room. I was glad to see that the bed was already made; I suddenly felt exhausted. On top of the bedspread were the boxes of clothing I had ordered in anticipation of my need for clothes more appropriate for a southern climate. I looked out the window and took in the view of the garden, the manicured rows of bushes, the brick paths, and my favorite spot, the fountain at the rear of the yard.

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