Where Roads Converge by Fluffyliz
A homeless boy, hitch-hiking in the snow, a woman on her own, running from an abusive relationship. Is she crazy to stop, or are their paths destined to cross? Can this mismatched pair find succour and salvation together, or will their pasts intrude and drive them apart? AH, rated M
I love this story and hope many of you will come to love it as well. WRC takes place in England, and brings us a 29 yo Bella, and a 19 yo Edward.
They are both escaping from different situations in their lives, when fate makes their paths cross. On one of the coldest nights, during a terrible storm, we find Bella running away from an abusive relationship. During a stop for gas and coffee, she sees a young man, asking for help, for a ride.. their eyes lock for a moment, but he realizes she is scared and doesn’t approach her. Later on she sees him walking on the highway, realizing, that if she doesn’t stop and help him, he will must surely die. After struggling, deciding what to do, she stops, and their story begins.
Despite her pain and underlying tiredness, Bella's interest was immediately piqued, as she watched the boy speak softly to each person, then meekly accept their obvious rejection with a polite nod and a 'thank you' before moving on to the next one. There were slim pickings at this time of night, and he was quickly running out of options. She found herself fascinated by the mini soap opera playing out before her, knowing she needed to move before he got to her, but seemingly incapable of doing anything but wait for the inevitable.
From where she sat, Bella couldn't see his face, but she noted that he was tall and slim—perhaps a little too thin—but with broad shoulders and long, dark hair, streaked with fading blue and magenta, falling to his shoulder blades. He wore tight, rather grubby Levis which adhered to him, emphasising his long, long legs. Paired with the jeans, he wore a black, long-sleeved thermal shirt, and gripped in his left hand was what looked like a short, biker-style, black leather jacket. He had a large duffel bag slung over one shoulder, but, despite the plummeting temperature outside, appeared to possess no cold weather clothing or a proper coat. Finishing off his outfit, he wore a pair of very shabby-looking black Nikes, which looked like they would be as effective at keeping his feet warm and dry as a pair of flip-flops. She hoped he had a car parked outside, but suspected he was actually trawling for a lift.
Bella took in all this just before he finally turned to survey the opportunities on her side of the café. As he did so, her pupils dilated and her nostrils flared in a primal response over which she had absolutely no control.
Despite the slightly greasy, multi-coloured hair, the multiple silver rings piercing one ear from top to bottom, the small, dark-stoned stud in his nose and the oddly contrasting, dark copper stubble which blurred the line of what she instinctively knew was a sharply chiselled jaw, the only thought which sprang immediately to mind was, so beautiful, but so very sad.
She knew that, no matter how long she lived, the face of this striking young man would haunt her dreams, both waking and sleeping. Too thin as he was, there was something positively Byronic about him… a kind of consumptive feverishness in his glittering jade eyes and pale, pale skin which, nevertheless, held two spots of livid colour across his high, sculpted cheekbones.
His wide, limpid eyes swept across her own face, focussing, in stages, on her full, slightly parted lips, on the purple and red swelling across her cheek and nose, and then, finally, on her striking brown eyes. His gaze was intense, and Bella found herself incapable of looking away. As he zeroed in on her injury, his expression morphed into a frown and then, rather shockingly, turned into a look of such complete and utter defeat, that she had to tear her eyes from his face or weep for him. Even as she dropped her gaze, she saw him move, and when she looked back up, he had turned and was walking away towards the exit.
We learn that Bella is a first time author, working on her second book, and a very successful book illustrator, with humble beginnings, she knows what it means to struggle. As the story progresses, we realize that Edward is a sad, haunted young man, fighting his own demons, hiding a very sad story. They are both in need of healing, can they find it in each other?
It's not my problem…
Telling herself she was insane, she again hit the brakes and stopped the car, barely yards from where she would be forced to join the inside lane of the motorway. She looked in the mirror, but he was just standing there, head down, shivering violently, and it occurred to her that she might already be too late. Quickly looking all around her, she put the car in reverse and carefully starting backing up, all the while keeping her eyes glued to her nearside wing mirror, where she could see the young man almost literally frozen to the spot.
She stopped just in front of him and leaned over to push the passenger door open, shivering as the icy air immediately slithered inside the car and chased the warmth away. Turning to look through the back window, she saw him, finally, lift his head and gaze at the car, seemingly bemused to see it there in front of him. Shaking her head, Bella climbed out of the car, and ran round the back. She couldn't help being taken aback by just how cold it was, and wondered how he had survived out here for the last half an hour or more since he'd left the café.
"Just get in the damned car before we both freeze to death… and before I change my bloody mind!" she yelled.
She is heading to a cottage, left to her by her grandmother, a place her ex-boyfriend Jake, knows nothing about and realizes she can’t just drop him off anywhere during this awful storm, and she takes the risk, and brings him with her. They are snowed in, and little by little they get closer, an attraction begins to emerge, that both are fighting.. she feels too old for him.. he feels not good enough.. how long will they be able to resist?
Suddenly mindless of the cold, Bella threw back the duvet, and shot out of bed, not even bothering with her robe or slippers.
She yanked open her door and flew down the hallway, stopping abruptly in front of Edward's door and knocking a rapid tattoo on the wood.
"Edward… Edward… are you okay? Edward?"
"Please nooooo... pleeeaasse."
A loud sob burst out of him and Bella couldn't wait any longer. Twisting the doorknob, she threw the door open and strode quickly over to the bed, where Edward was twisted up in his duvet, tossing and turning violently as his hands flailed about him, as if trying to fight off an invisible assailant.
Without really knowing what she was doing, Bella acted on instinct alone. Grabbing his two hands in hers, she held them to her chest as she bent over the bed and called out to him.
"Edward, hey, it's okay, shhhh, it's all okay, you're safe…"
His hands stopped trying to pull away from her and she let go of one of them in order to free up her own hand. As she did, she felt his grip on her other hand tighten. Climbing up on the bed to sit beside him, she reached up and ran her fingers through his hair. It wasn't that clean, feeling a little greasy, but she was surprised at how soft it was, nevertheless. She repeated the soothing gesture, and was pleased to see that he was beginning to calm.
"Shhh, beautiful boy, it's fine, you're safe… shhh, sleep now, everything's going to be okay…" She continued to stroke his hair and coo softly to him until he stopped jerking and crying out, and she could tell by his breathing that he had fallen into a dreamless sleep.
It was at this point that she realised how cold she was, despite having left the heating on. She started to get up, pulling gently to extricate her hand from his, but, even in sleep, she felt him tense and hold on tighter. She stopped pulling for a moment, waiting until she felt his fingers relax, and then finally managed to get her hand free.
She stood beside the bed for a moment, rubbing her hands up and down her arms to warm herself as she looked down on his thin, gaunt face. She had drawn the curtains earlier, but he had obviously opened them again before getting into bed, and now she could clearly see his striking features in the silvery light cast by the nearly full moon, it's glow accentuated by the reflection from the bright, white snow.
Not for the first time, she had to shake herself to rid her mind of the sly thoughts which tried to insinuate themselves into her consciousness—thoughts she had no business giving house-room to.
Edward was a homeless itinerant, probably barely out of his teens, and she had left a bad relationship only hours earlier. Whatever pull she felt towards him was surely borne out of sympathy for his plight, nothing more.
"Pull yourself to pieces, you foolish woman," she whispered irritably to the silent room, then turned away from the bed and hurried back to her own room.
As she slid back into bed she didn't notice the snow starting to fall again, huge flakes swirling around in the escalating breeze and beginning to adhere to her curtained window.
I can’t wait to read, how FluffyLiz, brings these two together, overcoming all the obstacles that will sure be in their way. Give it a try and fall in love with it!
– xx, Monica
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