Not since my father's passing, and the subsequent the fight I had with my mother, had I returned to little seaside town that had been my childhood home, and I wondered if I had made the right decision. It had been too painful to consider returning before that day. There had been no reason, until that day, to return, but there I was stepping off the bus, fresh from Boston, with just an oversized duffle bag and the reason was my brother had finally convinced someone, after ten years together, to spend the rest of their life with him.
So it was time for me, the youngest of the Witter Sisters to swallow my pride and face my mother and the many other demons of my past that had kept me away so long. I took a long laboured breath, savouring that long forgotten sea breeze and with my duffle in tow, I took my first step forward in the direction of the cab that would take me to the Potter BnB.
It was as if time had stopped since 2001 when I flew the coop, taking that job in Boston and leaving the the love of my life behind. Well at least that's what it seemed in that quiet little place on the edge of what was once thought of as the 'wrong side' of the creek. Wooden pinwheels spun rapidly, fuelled by the soft breeze. I could hear a wooden chime sounding feintly on the porch above the steps.
As I climbed those steps, I was greeted by a tall, scowling teenage boy with coal black hair, mocha coloured skin and round, round garnet coloured eyes. "Oh, hey!" The scowl was gone, replaced by a broad welcoming smile. "Here let me help you with that."
Instantly I liked the boy who was taking the duffle from my shoulder, but I was also surprised by how he had grown up, since I had seen him last. "Thanks… Alexander, isn't it?"
"Call me Alex," he said. "And you would be Gretchen?" I nodded, surprised this kid, who was a mere toddler before I left Capeside, would remember who I was. "Uncle Pacey said you would be staying with us."
"Speaking of my brother, is he around? Or your aunt Joey?" I asked.
Alex shook his head. "My aunt is over at the Icehouse in town and my uncle is with uncle Dougie. Wedding stuff."
"Of course!" I exclaimed. "And how is the new Sheriff Witter?" I hadn't seen either of my brothers in years and the mention of my brother still made me shudder. Naturally, he had followed in dad's footsteps and rose through the ranks on the force. Just as expected he also had taken Mom's side during our fight. I had hoped raising a little girl with Jack McPhee would mellow him, but he remained as righteous as ever.
Alex shrugged, "Eh! He's the Sheriff Dougie." We both laughed. "Your room is this way." He started towards a solid oak door, fumbling for the key.
"Wait! Don't I have check in first? Where's your Mom?" A shadow crossed his face, making me wonder if I should be worried about Joey's sister, Bessie.
He forced the smile back on his face. "You're family. Your stay is on us," he said a little too quick. I couldn't help hearing a little waver in his voice. "I'll leave you to settle in."
"Sure," I said, but he had set my duffle down and was already out of sight, leaving me alone with my confusion. I unzipped my duffle and pulled the blue dress, I had brought to wear to the wedding, out rolling it out flat, before I hung it on one of the hangers in the closet. Next I set my toiletry pack on the dresser. It was then I heard Alex outside, his voice seemingly recovered from the mere mention of his mother, as welcomed another guest. I wondered how busy and who else I would be sharing the Potter's one bathroom with that weekend?
"Another familiar voice cut into my thoughts and I froze." It was a voice I had not heard in many years, not since we went our separate ways. It shouldn't have been a surprise he had came back to Capeside for the wedding, but hearing his footsteps getting louder in the hall, had my heart thumping loud in my chest and my feet glued, paralysed, to the floor.
Now a big shot Hollywood director, Dawson Leery could've stayed anywhere in Capeside, at one of the fancy hotel chains in town or at the Leery House, so I wondered why he'd chosen the humble Potter BnB as his temporary residence that weekend.
"Gretchen Witter!" Dawson exclaimed, stopping in the doorway to poke his head into my room. Alex must've mentioned I was here, I thought, ruining any chance of laying low that weekend.
"Dawson!" I replied.
He smiled, stepping in to to give me a hug. "How long's it been?" His arms felt surprisingly comforting and warm, even after all the time that had passed. I could feel myself momentarily relaxing into hug.
"Too long," I answered.
He pulled back from the hug to meet my eyes. "Wow! I must say you look as beautiful ever."
I blushed, thanking him quickly, not sure how to take this compliment, but before I could stop myself I returned the sentiment, taking in the muscles visible under his sports jacket. We stood in silence, staring at each other, like a pair of awkward teenagers, both if us searching our minds for something to say.
"Boy this place doesn't change much, does it!" He finally exclaimed.
"I guess not," I agreed. "Um…"
"So…" Dawson sighed as his eyes darted towards the door. "I better go settle in."
"Sure." I watched Dawson leave, part relieved, and the other part wanting him to turn around look at me like he used to and really see me the way he did in the wide eyed Dawson Leery way. Of course he didn't, and for the second time that day, I wondered if I had made the right decision, coming back to Capeside.