As always, all characters belong to our lovely Mrs Meyer; I am just borrowing them. Also, I want to thank my Beta, Adri, for a good job working on my errors to make this story good reading for others to enjoy.
After reading my reviews, I've decided to try and revamp this story a bit so it doesn't seem so repetitive in the beginning.
Will let you know when it is ready, thanks for reading!
This last year has been a real life-changing experience for me. I, Edward Anthony Masen, turned the big 2-0 this year. I lost my mother to heart disease and my cousin, who is just like a brother to me, went missing. I dropped out of college to pursue the question of his whereabouts. He was my last living relative. Emmett and I had grown up together after his parents had been in a car accident. He came to live with me and my mother when he was only six years old. My father had left my mother when I was just a baby and I found out later he died not five years later from a drug overdose. My mother and Emmett were all I had in the world, and now I hoped the only one I had left was still alive.
This wasn't the first time someone had gone missing to never be found, so I started my research in the library with books and old newspaper clippings. Emmett had been attending a Gamma Phi Beta sorority party. It was a bonfire across the street from an old Japanese garden. In the old days they had called it the "Cursed Garden." Many men had disappeared from there; never to be seen again. As the years went by and technology advanced, they tried to put in cameras, but strangely they never worked when a man went missing. Sometimes the goddess statues would go missing as well. The authorities weren't sure what was going on. Were thieves stealing the statues? Did the men happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time? They were considered dead and the cases were closed. I was able to get a good friend of mine, Garrett, to give me more insight into the case after Emmett went missing. He had gotten a job in the police department after graduating a year ahead of me. He and Emmett had been best friends in college, and I tagged along. He couldn't give me all the details, he just pushed me in the right direction.
In the library, I learned of at least six men who had gone missing. The records were hard to come by and sometimes there were very few leads and only ones from the last two hundred years. Only men that had a name for themselves even showed up in the newspapers. One of the first known to go missing was Major Jasper Whitlock in 1863 along with the goddess statue of Alicia. His battalion was staying across the street from the garden while awaiting orders. The article only said he'd taken a walk one night and never returned. His men were murdered the next day by enemy forces, with the few survivors claiming they might have won if he'd been there with them.
The next man to go missing was a big wig train owner tycoon named Tyler Crowley in 1876. He was investigating the railway being laid just on the other side of the hill from the garden. In this report he also went missing, and fire is suspected because the only thing found was a pile of ashes and burned grass near the sight.
Then came a well-known doctor by the name of Carlisle Cullen. The park was having a picnic across from the garden celebrating the signing of Armistice Day. It ran well into the night and by morning people realized he was missing. A search was started, but he was never found. That same day, a gardener by the name William stated the Goddess Esmeralda statue was missing as well.
In 1933 a wealthy man named Royce King lost his son Royce King II. He was also never found. His father was said to be the wealthiest man in town owning multiple businesses and the town bank. In another article on that day, the same gardener said to have come forward and said what looked like a fight might have broken out at the garden. One of the statues was tipped over and there was, once again, ashes on the ground and the nearby area.
The fifth man to go missing is one I knew of as a child in 1990. I was very young though and did not think much of it at the time. Michael Newton was a friend of my mother and father. My mother remembered him. I just know he went missing one night but I had no idea it had to do with the garden as well. Cameras had been put into the garden and when authorities looked over the footage it was just black and white. Nothing to give away what might have happened. Again a goddess statue went missing - this time the Goddess Jessica.
Finally last year in 2006, my cousin-brother Emmett went missing, and the Goddess Rosalie disappeared as well. I didn't want to believe in magic, but something bigger was going on here. These men going missing either along with statues or leaving only ashes behind. There had to be something I was missing. Today I was going in myself. The garden was only opened from 10am-4pm. I did my research and found out the old gardener, William, was given ownership after Newton had gone missing. The authorities were cracking down on the owner Mr. Aro Volturi. He had had enough of the missing men. He pointed out the garden was always closed when they went in and twice that it had happened, he had even been out of the country. He could have had nothing to do with the place and what happened. Not wanting to bring a bad reputation to his name he gave it to his gardener and washed his hands of the place.
I grabbed my backpack with my notes and provisions. I did not know if I would return after today and made out a will leaving everything I had to Garrett. He was the only person left if I didn't make it back. He had warned me to keep out of it. It was police business and he was on the case. He wanted me to give him the chance to find Emmett himself. He promised he would do everything in his power to find him, but I couldn't give him that promise. I needed to do this myself. Emmett was practically my brother and I knew in my heart I would be the one to find him.
Not wanting to take my car, I called a taxi. I was planning on finding a hiding spot while checking out the garden so I could stay overnight. I couldn't have my car in the parking lot if someone decided to come looking.
"Thank you, keep the change." I told the taxi driver after dropping me off at the garden. I walked up to the gate and bought an $8 ticket of admission. I was handed a pamphlet and told to enjoy. I could tell right away that the gardener took good care of the place after Aro give it away. I guess being able to do what you want with the place would make it better. There were tropical trees lining the walkways along with multiple flowers and creaks with water running through. Even the sound it made was quite soothing with its own music. I always did like to hear the sound of the waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park when we would go every few years.
Moving along I came to a bridge and stopped to look at the Koi fish in the pond. So many color variations in each one. I was once told some go for thousands of dollars. There were exotic stones along the pond to give it even more color, and a grove of cherry trees off to the side. According to the pamphlet, the large building in the middle used to house room for weddings, but now it is used to show the powers of earth, air, fire, and water in four towering pillars with the eight remaining goddess statues. The pamphlet also said there used to be as many as fifty goddesses at one time, but over the years, thieves had stolen them.
I walked around the room looking at the pillars and the remaining goddess statues. The first I came to was Goddess Katherine. Like the others, the statue is dressed in Greek clothing draped over her feminine body, her hair piled high in a bun with a few tendrils hanging down. I move to the next one, Goddess Tia. Also in Greek clothing, but showing off one breast with her hand holding the side open as if willing to give her body away. I kept moving around the room to each goddess and checking each one out: Goddess Didyme, Goddess Jane, Goddess Angelica, Goddess Isabella, and Goddess Irina. In the middle of the building, a square doorframe with symbols of a language long past.
According to the pamphlet, the legend states Medusa, who renamed herself Victoria, was one of three sisters. She was mortal while her sisters were not. She was said to have been so beautiful that her sisters' husbands could not help but sleep with her and was then cursed by her sisters and made an abomination so ugly that anyone who looked upon her face would turn to stone. She would forever be made to live in solitude for her crimes against her sisters.
I went back to the statue of Goddess Isabella. I couldn't help but admire her again. She was the only statue that had her hair cascading down rather than pinned up. She was also not in some pose as if to exploit herself, standing straight and tall holding a book in her hand. It was as if she was wanting to be on her own and natural, not a made-up pin-up doll like the other goddesses. If there was a woman out there I would have admired more, it would have been someone like her.
She was beautiful to look upon and I even daydreamed myself being with someone like her one day. I wished there wasn't a gate between us so I could touch her stone skin. "If only you were real, I would lay myself at your feet and beg you to take me with you forever." I said to the statue.
I looked around the room and there was nowhere to hide here, so I kept moving along. As the day moved into afternoon, I noticed a few other people looking around as well. After taking my time to enjoy the park and get a good fill for where things were, I made my way to the edge of the park near the cherry trees. There was a shed nearby that I guessed housed the water system for the trees and landscape and tools for cleaning. I hid myself behind it and had some lunch. The park would be closing in a couple hours and I wanted to be hidden away from people that would be making their way to the front to leave through the gates. As the hours passed and the garden closed, it became quiet. I knew that the only two people that would be walking around the garden would be old man William and his son Jacob. I knew the only place I would need to look would be the temple. I wasn't able to get close to the door with the gates looped around it. I had to find my brother. He was the only thing I had left that meant anything to me.
When darkness finally hit, I made my way through the cherry trees with the few lights along the paths. The lanterns were nice and bright and able to make the garden into something magical in the night. I heard a few voices nearby and saw the old man and his son talking and walking checking the trees and flowers along the way with a water can. I made sure I stayed out of sight of them till they moved along. I walked along and was almost to the temple when I heard voices. I moved out of the way of the walkway and stayed quiet looking through the trees.
"Come son, the ladies are waiting to come out." Old man William said to his son. I moved out of my spot to watch the front of the temple where the doors had been locked since closing. What I saw next, almost made me give myself away. Only a slight gasp left me. William unlocked the door and the eight goddesses walked out. Some giddy to come out and play, others dancing around as if there was music already playing. The last one, Goddess Isabella that I had been admiring during the day, walked up to William. He handed her a different book which she took.
"Thank you, William. You have been good to us all these years. It is time to join the realm. As you have done, Jacob will have a place here when the time comes. Sarah has waited long enough to be reunited with you." Isabella said to him. She then whispered something to him and kissed his cheek. A bright light illuminated the temple, I guess from the door inside with the symbols. As William goes inside, another comes out.
"Jacob I would like you to meet your other half. This is Goddess Rena. She loves to sing. She will give you a son who will grow up in your image and take over one day in the garden." She smiled at him softly.
"I know you once hoped I would be the one for you, but alias that is not to be. Mine has finally come. I just hope he is still here to seek out. Go enjoy getting to know one another." She told him.
Jacob took the hand of Goddess Rena and they moved to sit next to a bench by the pond. Goddess Isabella started walking my direction and I moved myself back into the trees as she passed. She is even more beautiful in her human form. I looked back to make sure the coast was clear and followed behind her. She walked to the cherry trees and took a seat under them on the grass near a lantern for light. She started to read her book William gave her. I walked my way around behind her, and was startled when she spoke.
"So, you have finally decided to come out and show yourself. Now that you know I am real, are you going to lay down at my feet and promise yourself to me forever?" She asked.
I gasped. "You heard me?" I can't help but ask. I feel like I am in shock. This cannot be real, yet I'm speaking to her as if she is another human being I just met in a park.
"Yes, I heard you. I have been waiting a very long time for you to come. You should know that your brother is being well taken care of. He is very happy where he is now with his other half, Rosalie."
"Thank you." It was the only thing I could think to say. I had made all these plans to find out where Emmett was so I could get him back. Now I had no thoughts in my mind other than Isabella. I hadn't thought of Emmett until she brought him up.
"Where is he?" I asked her.
"He is in the other realm, in the remaining part of the garden only few mortals ever see. It reaches across hundreds of acres of land where those who are no longer cursed live in immortality." She answered my question, but there was so much more to ask.
"How and why did you get cursed?" I asked.
"I am sure you have heard of Medusa?" I nodded my head. Of course, I have watched the old "Clash of the Titans" from 1981. Perseus destined to marry Princess Andromeda goes on a mission to win her hand. Medusa being one of the challenges he must pass.
"Medusa, or as we know her, Victoria, was so beautiful. Every man wanted her, even her sisters' husbands. Cursed by her sisters, she turned everyone who looked upon her to stone. What the legend does not tell you, is that only the men stayed stone. The women were only stone during the day. During the night they were free to seek out their mates. If the mate was true, they would be allowed to enter the other realm and live forever. If the mate were false, they became but ashes in the wind." She explained.
I was perplexed at how much of this myth was real. "I thought it was myth? How would you know that it is real?"
"Most myths come from legends from pasts unknown. A simple kiss seals the fate of the mate. They must decide for themselves if it is worth their life for a chance at true love."
I thought to myself that even as a statue she was beautiful to me. I didn't know at the time that she was real, yet I wished for someone just like her. I knew before she even finished that I would try for her.
"I would kiss you, but it is not only I that must decide. I ask you if you would wish to take me as your mate." I asked her.
"I have been waiting thousands of years for you. I could feel that you were different. In the beginning, I hoped for my mate. I have kissed hundreds of men that fell to ashes at my feet. I cried tears of pain for each one of them hoping the next would be the right one. I have watched as many of my sisters have moved on to the other realm to live out their lives happily with their mates. I fear the pain I would go through if you were not my one. However, I have to say there is something in my heart that tells me you are who I have been waiting for. So yes, I would ask you to kiss me and please tell me your name." She said.
"My name is Edward, and as promised, I now kneel at your feet and ask you to take me with you to live forever by your side." I took her hand and kissed it, working my way up her arm. I continued up, kissing to her shoulder and then neck, then moved to her cheek, forehead, eyes, nose and finally I looked into her eyes. I could feel it in my heart and see it in her eyes that we both believed that this was our other half. If I should die today, so be it. At least I could live with this one last kiss to go into heaven. I leaned in to kiss her.
"WAIT! EDWARD DON'T DO IT!" I turned around to look into the eyes of Garrett. I could see he was scared for me; he had his gun out. He knew more than he had let on about what had been going on here at this garden, but I was okay with knowing my fate. I gave him a smile.
"I am okay Garrett. Life isn't worth living without one's true love to live it with." I turned around and smiled at Isabella and kissed her. Even with my eyes closed I could sense the bright light that illuminated from Isabella and into me. Her lips were soft and moist, and the kiss was slow and was building as much as the light I could see even behind my closed eyes. The feeling was like a lightning bolt striking straight through my heart and moving along my body. When I opened my eyes, I could see the shine reflected back at me. Her eyes, once a rich brown, had turned golden, and I could see the love and hope that we both wished for was real. I now understood how the men that did not disappear would have turned to ash. I took her hand and we both stood. I turned around to look at Garrett as he dropped his gun and his mouth fell open.
"This is goodbye Garrett. Don't worry for me or my brother; we are both happy now. I was mistaken when I thought this place was cursed. It is not a curse, but a matter of fate. I have found my other half; I only wish you to find the same happiness I have." I said before we started to walk on the path to pass him.
"Garrett is it? Maybe you would wish to speak with me for awhile and I can absolve you of any guilt you may have over your friend." Goddess Katherine said to him.
I smiled to myself. Maybe it wouldn't be goodbye after all for Garrett and myself. We had always felt like brothers and maybe that is what we would be in this next life. Isabella and I made our way to the temple, where the door to the other realm would lead. I took a breath and relaxed while I held my Isabella's hand. This was just the next chapter into a new life for me with my beautiful goddess at my side.
To those with any Greek mythology background, I hope I have not made any hurt feelings with my changing of the Medusa legend as it was just to work for my story. I hope you all enjoyed. Any that have read my other stories, I am working on another long story, so it is taking me longer to post then I thought. I do hate unfinished stories so I am afraid you will have to wait for it to be finished for posting. Enjoy!