I guess some of you know from my author's notes that my 5 year old daughter is sick and has been for a long time now. Her illness was a major reason for my writing Facing the Enemy because I needed an escape from our endless months of time in the hospital. She is slowly progressing into renal failure and one day will lose her kidneys.
If I didn't have fanfiction to escape into I'm not sure I would have made it this far.
Yeah, now you know, major portions of the story were written during two month long hospital stays thus answering the question, why does she put in so much research...because when all you have to do is watch your four year old coked out on painkillers you'll do anything to pass the time.
So I am asking for a favor. If you have spent years of your time on Facing the Enemy, This Year's Love and the Lady maybe you'll consider giving me five more minutes of your time.
Chase bank has pledged a million dollars to the charity who gets the most votes on facebook. Nephcure, which is the group I belong to, was a runner up in the first round so we won 25,000 dollars for research into curing our kids. Now we want the first prize of a million dollars or at best, the runner up prize of a 100,000 dollars.
I never thought I would love someone as much as I love my daughter. The thought of a life without her rips my heart out. The million dollars would go toward finding a cure for the disease that takes so much away from her quality of life.
I believe that Nephcure will be the people who cure my daughter and the thousands of children like her. Please vote so that my daughter will live.
The link is below and also in my author profile.
www DOT nationalpeeparty DOT org
Below is the first chapter in a story I wrote about 2 years ago, I have since improved it and am now posting it here. For every ten slots nephcure moves up on the leaderboard, I will post another chapter. Instant fanfic gratification so to speak.
Thank you for your time.
It was quiet in the entrance hall of the garishly decorated mansion. So quiet that, at first, it seemed the house was empty. There wasn't a speck of dust and no cobwebs adorned corners like spun fleece, but still the house had a closed up feeling that could only be achieved by being abandoned by the living. Only ghosts lingered, fragile specters that flitted just beyond his line of sight.
Red, blue, and golden yellow tinted sunlight spilled through the stained glass windows at the head of the stairs, illuminating the grand staircase leading to the second story gallery hall. The multi-hued light did nothing to dispel the shadows cast by sadness and neglect. They were shadows not made by a blocking of light but by a lack of life.
The thick crimson carpets swallowed the sound of his footfalls as he walked towards her office door. It was slightly ajar, giving an indication that she might be within. The muffling cocoon like quality of the house swallowed any noise that might have alerted her to his arrival. For once he was glad that her extravagant taste had created a house in which he could approach her undetected.
Gently he nudged the door open till he was able to observe her unseen. She was still too thin, the black dress she wore only made it seem more so, emphasizing the pronounced curve of her ribcage. He wondered if she was still in morning for Bonnie or if she was wearing it for Mrs. Wilkes? It surprised him to find her still attired in mourning black. He would have assumed that she'd be eager to put it aside the instant it was socially permissible.
Bonnie had been dead a year and a half now. After nine months she could have changed to colored frocks and none of the old guard would have been scandalized. Well, at least, no more than they usually were by Scarlett's actions. As for Mrs. Wilkes, technically she was only Scarlett's former sister in law; it would have been completely permissible for her to leave off mourning at three months.
Some stray tendrils of hair were on her forehead and she lifted her hand to brush them back into place. There, on her ring finger was his ring, the wedding band he'd placed on her finger six years. The diamond and emerald engagement ring above it caught a stray beam of sunshine. He had half expected her to discard his rings in favor of other pieces of jewlery. After all that had gone wrong between them it surely couldn't be easy to have a constant reminder of failure on her ring finger.
She was sitting in a pool of sunlight and sohe was able to continue to observe her unseen from the shadowy doorway. Had her skin always been so translucent? She had always been pale, the same shade as new milk, but now her skin had taken on a sickroom pallor that hadn't been present since after her accident. Her raven wing black brows stood out in stark contrast to her white skin and for a time he stood studying her before rapping gently on the door.
He hadn't meant to startle her; he'd knocked because he had assumed that calling her name aloud would surely be more intrusive to the tomb like silence of the enormous house.
The echoing sound of his knock on the door tore a rasping noise, half cry half scream from her throat. She looked up from the small book on her desk, her startled gaze met his own solemnly composed face.
"I'm sorry if I startled you," he apologized quietly.
She rose from her desk and came forward. He met her halfway in the middle of the room. Beside the light from the dormer windows directly behind her desk, someone had opened the drapes covering the French doors leading the terrace to let in the bright October sun. While it did lend some brightness to the dark room, it was not nearly enough to cut the gloom of her office. She stood silhouetted by the light while he was in shadow. The contrast made him smile in spite of his resolve to give nothing away in his dealings with her.
"You did a little," she admitted ruefully, "I've been as jumpy as a cat since I got here."
He looked at the dustcovers draped over the settee and wingback chairs by the fireplace that dominated one side of the room. She wasn't living here, now the lack of life he'd felt when he had entered the house finally made sense. "You aren't living here?"
"No, Ella and I moved out after Wade left for Rocheford Preparatory Academy. Do you know it?" Not waiting for a reply she plunged forward to banish the eerie silence that fell at the lull in their conversation. "It's in Baltimore. It seems like a nice place, it was the school Charlie attended. Wade and Uncle Henry convinced me to let him go." She tried a smile, but it died on her lips. "I didn't want to let him go, but they wouldn't leave it alone. He is thirteen so I suppose it was time to let him have at least some say in his education."
"Wade's in Baltimore, I wish I had known, I was just there in August. It's a fine city, he'll be happy there I'm sure."
She adjusted the cuff of her dress slightly to avoid looking into his eyes. They were so dead when he looked at her. She had seen love, passion, anger, betrayal, sorrow, and fierce hatred in those eyes; but this flat dead stare was new and distinctly unpleasant.
Realizing he was waiting for some sort of banal comment from her she left off fiddling with her sleeve and gesturing toward the fabric draped chairs before the fireplace. Without waiting for a reply, she walked over to them pulling off first one cloth then the other, uncovering the two navy blue chairs. "Why don't we sit?"
He hesitated for a moment before coming to sit across from her. He crossed his legs resting his left ankle on his knee, the gesture was so familiar that it brought tears to her eyes and she wished that her reticule wasn't on the desk. She'd finally begun to carry her own handkerchiefs, without Rhett it had become necessary.
She glanced over to the desk, could she get up and get it without showing visible signs of weakness?
A noise caught her attention and she directed her attention back to him. There in his hand was a handkerchief. His monogram in blood red floss was in the corner just as it had always been. She accepted it with a small smile. "I actually have one in my bag."
He returned her smile with a half smile of his own. "And yet, just as I've always said, never have I known you to have a handkerchief."
"But I do have one," she argued.
"Not on you," he countered.
"No, not on me," she agreed wiping her eyes delicately.
"Does it really bother you to be here in this house?" he asked curiously.
She shrugged. "I haven't been here in months. I remember it being so grand, a house to make people pea green with envy. Then I walk through the front door and there's too much gilt, it's too dim, and sometimes I come around a corner and the mirrors everywhere only make me self conscious and nervous. In the end, I've come to see that you were right."
He'd said so many things about their monstrosity of a house that any one specific that she could be referring to didn't spring to mind. "About what?"
"Do you remember when we were staying at the Grande National while the house was being built?"
"Yes, of course," replied Rhett simply without betraying the stir of emotion he felt when he thought about the time they'd spent at the Grand National. Ella and Wade had stayed with Mammy at Miss Pittypat's and for those weeks in the Grand National he had Scarlett all to himself. Those weeks had been some of the happiest of their stormy marriage.
She had neglected the store and her mills for the first time in their association so that she could focus her complete attention on the house. It made her happy to be able to spend what she liked on it and so he let her. It made him happy to see her so free and unencumbered by worry. When she would return from the house, her eyes glowed with enthusiastic joy. She would fling herself into his arms smothering him with kisses and a seemingly never ending barrage of details about the progress or lack thereof the builders had made over the course of the day.
She had been so overwhelmed by his generosity and the free reign he'd given her in building and furnishing the house that she had showered him with unsolicited affection, so much so that he could have never imagined that one day they would be here, sitting across from one another with silence hanging heavy like thunder clouds.
She missed the soft look of introspection that passed over his swarthy face. "I can remember telling you that I thought our house the most beautiful and most elegantly furnished house I'd ever seen, but you said it was a nightmare."
She smiled at him; there was no anger present, just a touch of sadness in her brilliant green eyes. "You told me if it made me happy then I was welcome to it but just when I thought you were being agreeable, you laughed and said 'a stranger without being told a word about us would know our house was built with ill-gotten gains'."
He didn't return her fragile smile and it soon left her face to be replaced by a pensive waiting look.
He had been cruel to her. Spending the last year away from her had given him time. Time to reflect on their marriage and the years before. They had been friends before they were married. He had made her laugh and she had been comfortable with him. When he'd call on her at the store, though he was sure she was unaware of it, her eyes would sparkle and a soft tint would color her cheeks. Before they had been married there were many, many times when she had been glad to see him. But as their marriage fell into declension and they begun to avoid being in one another's company, the sparkle that had showed him that somewhere inside she did care faded to be replaced by a wary cautious gaze.
"Was I always so cruel to you?"
She shook her head emphatically, "No, not always. There were times when I think we were very happy."
"Yes, there were. I'm glad that we both see that there were happy moments." He cleared his throat.
"Rhett?" Scarlett leaned forward in her chair, "Rhett, what is it? You sent me a telegram to tell me that you were coming to Atlanta. I haven't heard from you in nearly six months, why don't you just tell me?"
He swallowed slightly. The lump in his throat wouldn't go away and so he forced himself to speak. "What I am about to say, I've given it a great deal of thought. There isn't an easy way to say this…"
Her hand went to the base of her throat. Her heart was beating faster and she leaned toward him waiting for his next words. He'd had time to think and he had realized he loved her and wanted her love in return. She knew that if she only gave him time he'd…
"I've met someone Scarlett. I'd like you to grant me a divorce so that I can ask Sally to be my wife."
She blinked rapidly trying to process what he'd said. Met someone? Sally? Frantically her mind tried to make sense of what he'd just said. Rhett had met someone else and the thing he wanted from her wasn't her love but her signature of a sheaf of legal papers.
"You want to marry another woman? You, who repeatedly told me that you weren't a marrying man? This doesn't make any sense, who could you have met in Charleston that you'd want to marry after only knowing them a year?"
His voice was gentle as he began to tell her about Sally Brewton, the woman he was determined to marry.
"I've known Sally for over forty years. We were children together and I suspect that if I hadn't been cast out I might have married her years ago."
If he had thought she was pale when he'd first arrived now she was the same shade of white as the dust clothes covering the furniture.
"When you went to Charleston with Bonnie, did you see her then?"
The question she wanted to ask hung in the air between them. Had he been rekindling an old love while she was waiting him, longing for him to return so that she could tell him they were expecting another child.
"Sally's husband passed away just before I left to bring Bonnie back to Atlanta. We wrote to one another and then when I returned o Charleston last year we further renewed our acquaintance. Over the past year it's come to feel as though we've never been apart."
"But I'm your wife," she said plaintively. Her eyes bored into his and he reached out and took her hands in his. They were so cold that for a moment he chaffed them gently in his own large rough hands.
"That's a situation I hope to remedy. You told me last year that you love me. Scarlett, if you really do love me I'm asking you to let me go."
She yanked her hands from his and stumbled from her chair.
"Scarlett?" he rose as well. "Scarlett, I wanted to ask you in person rather than having my lawyer speak to your lawyer. I once loved you but now that love has turned to fondness, and only that. I can only be kind if you let me and I do want to be kind. I'll give you a settlement and this house. Ask me for anything and if it's in my power to do it I will."
She only stared at him as though she were in the midst of her old nightmares. This was so unreal. She had harbored the hope that time away from her would heal some of the hurt and anger that he bore her. But instead of healing and returning to her, he'd healed and turned to another woman. A woman he wanted to marry.
"No," she whispered hoarsely.
"Scarlett, I honestly don't need you to agree to divorce me. I can try on my own to secure a divorce, but that might take years. You're still a young woman, and now that Ashley Wilkes is free…"
She slapped him across the cheek before she could stop herself.