Enchanting Winter

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Summary

Willow Winter was the most typical of modern day teen until her mother passed away unexpectedly before her seventeenth birthday and she is sent for by her fraternal grandparents whom she has never met. Willow finds herself thrust into a world full of magic, impossible scenarios and creatures she once thought were a figment of her imagination.

Genre:
Fantasy / Poetry
Author:
Jessica Morel
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
18
Rating:
4.8 12 reviews
Age Rating:
18+

CHAPTER ONE

“Willow!”

Willow spins on her heels to find her childhood best friend, Clare Tomkins barrelling towards her.

“Slow down Clare.” Willow can’t help but laugh at the tall lanky brunette running down the street. Clare stops just in the knick of time only to wrap her arms around Willow, effectively tackling her.

“I just heard! I’m so sorry!” Clare pulls away from Willow who shrugs noncommittal.

“It is what it is.” Willow says softly.

“But first your mum and now-”

“Clare.” Willow cuts her friend off like she has every day for the last two weeks, every time her mother was brought into conversation.

“Willow, you need to talk about it. It is not healthy bottling all your emotions up. They are bound to explode out of you. After all, the accident-”

“Is something I don’t want to talk about.” Willow says through gritted teeth with her fists clenched.

“Fine.” Clare holds her hands up in surrender. “But, were you going to tell me you were leaving? Why did I have to hear about it from my brother?”

“I saw Charlie this morning at the market. I had just received the letter and we...talked.”

Willow had known Clare and Charlie since she started kindergarten and the two rambunctious twins ran over to her offering to share their blocks. Over the years the girls had stuck together and Charlie, who had only become more attractive as the years went on joined the ‘popular’ crowd.

“Not you too.” Clare rolls her eyes. “I swear every girl in San Francisco is taken by his charms, do you not remember in third grade when he threw up all over your favourite teddy?”

Willow cringes at the memory.

“To this day I still can’t look at peanut butter and jelly the same way.”

“So when do you leave?”

“Tomorrow.” Willow says looking down at her feet.

“So soon?”

“Apparently it is quite a trip and they want me there to start school. I don’t have much of a choice. They are the only family I have left.”

“You don’t even know them.”

“I have to respect my mother’s wishes. She listed them as my guardians.”

“Maybe I could talk to my parents. You basically live at our place anyway.”

“I’m going to miss you.” Willow interrupts her best friend’s babble by pulling her in for a hug.

“But maybe we could-”

“Clare shut up and hug me.” Willow laughs. “Let’s just have fun today and you can even help me pack.”

“But-”

“Clare.”

“Fine.” Clare whines with an eye roll.

...

There is a knock at the door early on Wednesday morning and Willow groans as she pulls herself from her comfortable bed. She laughs as she sees Clare steal Willow’s abandoned blankets and steps over an unconscious Charlie who is sleeping on the floor. The knocking continues and Willow sighs as she opens the door wearing nothing more than a midriff baring t-shirt and panties.

“What?” She snaps.

On the other side of the door is a boy who looks a few years older than Willow. He has short blonde hair and is wearing a formal looking three piece suit. His eyes widen at the sight of Willow’s clothing and he is quick to avert his gaze.

“Can I help you?” Willow says in a bored tone rest one hand on her hip and the other on the door frame.

“Uh.” The boy looks back at her again and Willow stifles a laugh at the blush that is covering his cheeks. “Wouldn’t you like to dress in proper attire first?” He asks and Willow rolls her eyes.

“You are are the one knocking on my door. Now either tell me what you want or I’ll slam the door in your face.”

“I uh...” He trails off as his eyes rest on Willow’s unsupported chest.

“Ok bye.” Willow takes a step back ready to slam the door but he extends his hand.

“No please m’lady. My name is Jonathan Clark. I was sent by your grandparents to escort you to Winter Grove.”

“Escort me? Have they not heard of hiring a car?”

“You cannot reach Winter Grove by car m’lady. In fact the journey will take a few days from here.”

“Right, well I need coffee.” Willow turns her back on Jonathan who stands awkwardly on the the precipice of the house. “What are you waiting for?” Willow looks over her shoulder with a scowl.

“I uh...” Jonathan once again averts his gaze from Willow’s behind.

“Hurry up and come in.” She snaps at him and Jonathan is quick to enter shutting the door behind him following Willow into the kitchen.

“Thank you m’lady.”

“Stop calling me that. My name is Willow.”

“I know m’lady.” Jonathan says and Willow scoffs.

“Will!” Charlie’s voice reverberates through the house and Jonathan tenses standing almost soldier like.

“In here.” Willow calls back and Charlie bounds into the kitchen and pulls Willow into a hug before ruffling her hair.

“Morning gorgeous.”

“Morning. Coffee?”

“Absolutely.” Charlie looks over at a stoic Jonathan. “What’s with the guy in the suit?” He asks not so quietly.

“Charlie Tomkins, meet Jonathan Clark. Jonathan is here to take me to Winter Grove.”

“Nice to meet you bro.” Charlie sticks out a fist for Jonathan to bump and Jonathan stares awkwardly at Charlie’s fist before wrapping his hand around it and shaking it.

“Do you want coffee Jonathan?” Willow asks as she sets a cup down in front of Charlie who eagerly takes a sip.

“No thank you m’lady.”

Coffee flies from Charlie’s mouth as he laughs at Jonathan’s comment.

M’lady? Have you met Willow? She ain’t no lady.”

“Please tell me there is coffee?” Clare enters the room sleepily rubbing her eyes.

“Here.” Willow is quick to hand over a cup. The four stand in silence in the kitchen before Jonathan clears his throat.

Clare jumps at the sound having not even noticed him before. Willow quickly introduces them and Clare mouthes not so subtly how ‘hot’ she thinks he is. Willow takes a moment to appraise him letting her eyes fully take in his appearance. Although he looks like someone who just walked out of a Jane Austin novel she can’t deny there is something about him.

“We really must begin our journey Lady Willow.” Jonathan says ignoring the looks he gets when he uses the title.

“Where exactly is Winter Grove?” Clare asks and Jonathan turns towards her.

“I suppose the easiest way for you to understand is to say it is near London.”

“London? But you said it would take a few days. London is like an eight hour flight.” Willow argues.

“Your grandparents have organised an alternate mode of transport m’lady. I must ask that you bring your trunk down immediately.”

“Trunk?”

“Your belongings.”

“Oh right. I’ll be one second.”

“And you will need appropriate attire for the journey as well.” Jonathan states and it is Willow’s turn to blush as she feels Jonathan and Charlie’s gaze on her ass.

Thirty minutes pass before Willow is coming down the stairs dressed in ripped jeans, black crop and brown leather jacket with a duffle bag, backpack and her guitar.

“This is everything for now but the whole house...” Willow looks around suddenly feeling the loss of her mother greatly.

“Your grandparents will make sure you receive all of your earthly belongings.” Jonathan says with an understanding smile. “Allow me to take your luggage.” Jonathan carries Willow’s things out of the front door and there are tears brimming in her eyes as she turns to her friends.

“I’m going to miss you guys.”

“We will call all the time. And email and there is always Facebook.” Clare babbles trying to make the most of a bad situation. “And if you hate it just say the word and we will come and rescue you, won’t we Charlie?”

“Of course.” Charlie kisses Willow’s forehead and she turns away trying to hide her profusely red cheeks. Willow walks the twins out of her house and they hug her again before hopping in Charlie’s truck and heading in the direction of their house.

“Lady Willow?” Jonathan appears behind Willow and she sighs.

She turns to face him and his eyes brows crease when he fully takes in her appearance.

“What?”

“I beg your pardon m’lady but are you sure that is appropriate attire for our trip?”

“You’re asking me? You look like you stepped out of Pride and Prejudice.”

“My outfit displeases you?”

“You look like you are going to a Halloween party but you do you I guess.” Willow shrugs and Jonathan shakes his head in confusion before looking back at her.

“Shall we start our journey?” Jonathan asks and as if from nowhere a bus turns and drives down Willow’s street. It pulls up right at the end of her driveway and she stares at it with her eyes wide.

“Since when do buses-”

“Step quickly m’lady we wouldn’t want to miss it.”

Willow steps onto the bus with Jonathan following closely behind her.

“Tickets?” The driver asks and Willow furrows her brow.

“Oh I-”

“I’ll take care of it m’lady. Please find a seat.”

Willow does as she is asked and looks back to see Jonathan handing over some funny looking coins to the driver.

“What currency is that?” Willow asks when Jonathan sits next to her. “Pounds?”

“You needn’t worry yourself m’lady.” Jonathan says with a small smile. Willow looks around the bus noticing that it is virtually empty except for three other passengers. Two older women both in elegant looking dresses who keep looking down their noses at Willow and then towards the very back of the bus a man dressed very similarly to Jonathan except with a top hat tipped covering half of his face.

“Where does this bus take us? You said Winter Grove is near London. Shouldn’t we be going to an airport?”

“Please m’lady, why don’t you rest. The journey is long and you will need your strength once we arrive.”

Jonathan gently brushes Willow’s hand with his own and she finds herself very agreeable and she settles back into her seat and lets sleep consume her.

Willow dreams of her mother while she was still alive. The two were close and would spend their weekends, laughing and joking as they cooked or shopped. Willow never knew her father, apparently he died when Willow was only a baby. She has seen one photo of him and her mother always spoke of the great love she had for him but how his parents did not approve of her.

Will they approve of me?

The question flies around her dreams just like it has been since she received their letter.

Pictures of Charlie and Clare fill her thoughts and Willow is unsure whether they are fantasies or memories. A gentle rocking wakes her and Willow’s eyes open slowly, adjusting to the light.

“I’m sorry m’lady but this is our stop.” Jonathan’s voice fills her ears and she nods sitting up sleepily.

“Are we here?”

“No Lady Willow. We will travel by carriage the rest of the way.”

“Carriage?”

“Come now m’lady.”

Willow gasps as she catches sight of the scenery out the window. She is most definitely not in San Francisco anymore. She looks around checking once again that she is still on the bus.

How long did I sleep for? And how did a bus get us across continents?

Jonathan collect her luggage and Willow follows him off the bus.

Watch your step Miss Winter.

“What did you say?” Willow asks and Jonathan turns to face her.

“I beg your pardon m’lady I didn’t say a word.”

“But-”

“We really must make haste.” Jonathan takes Willow’s hand to help her over the threshold of the bus and it is then Willow notices the horse drawn carriage waiting for them. As Jonathan packs her luggage into the coach Willow looks back at the bus. The man at the back of the bus tips his top hat towards her and as though he is standing right next to her Willow hears him speak although his mouth doesn’t move.

Until we meet again Miss Winter.

Willow shakes her head certain she must be hearing things, she shuts her eyes for a few moments and when she looks back the bus is gone.

I’m going insane. Willow thinks to herself.

Maybe this is what grief does. Maybe I should listened to Clare.

Jonathan once again offers Willow his hand to help her into the carriage and she rests back on the plush leather seating inside.

“How long was I asleep for?” Willow asks and Jonathan looks over at her with a small smile.

“Almost twenty-four hours m’lady.”

“Twenty-four- what? I have never slept that long in my life.”

“Travelling can be taxing.”

“I’ll say.” Willow pinches the bridge of her nose feeling a headache forming. “Tell me something.” Willow says in a desperate attempt to think of something other than her migraine.

“What would you like to know?”

“Which school will I be attending?”

“The same school your father did. It is a prestigious academy.”

“Will you be attending with me?”

“Good gracious no m’lady. I finished my study three years ago now I work for Winter Grove Estate.”

“You work for Winter Grove?”

“Yes m’lady.”

“What exactly do you do?”

“I have many roles but my title is footman.”

“Footman?”

“Yes m’lady.”

“Am I entering a Jane Austin novel? It sounds like something out of the 1800’s.”

“It is a little different to where you are from I am sure.”

“Will you explain it to me?”

“It isn’t my place m’lady.”

“But-”

“Mr Clark, we are arriving.” A male voice outside the carriage calls and Jonathan smiles.

“We have made excellent time your grandparents shall be very pleased.” Jonathan pulls back one of the carriage curtains revealing an expansive countryside estate.

The is a large mansion in the distance as well as several other extravagant looking houses. There is an orchard on the horizon, a hedge maze and even what looks like a stable. Willow gasps at the sight looking out on it all in awe.

“Lady Willow, welcome to Winter Grove.”

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