A Winter’s Tale Ch. 01

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The cab driver wished a happy Thanksgiving when the short raven haired sophomore got out of the car.

“You too,” the girl said already shivering from the strong winds bringing in cold air from the North. Once she had extended the grip on her small suitcase, setting it up so it was easy for her to let it trail behind her, she quickly got inside the terminal building.

Thanksgiving had the airport overflowing with passengers, mostly from the nearby colleges and the many that wanted to get to their loved ones somewhere else, not here.

Inside the building it was warm but loud, a thousand voices echoed through the architectural nightmare from the late eighties. The terminal building had been renovated recently, only a year ago, scaffoldings had lined the walls and pillars like ivy, now everything looked clean and a touch greener.

Waiting in line, Ione Winter checked her phone for messages and saw that her roommate Chelsea had already arrived in Allentown and was waiting for her brother to pick her up at the bus station. She quickly texted back where she was and for Chelsea to have a fun long weekend.

A quarter of an hour later, Ione was listening to an argument between a tired but still smiling woman standing behind a check-in counter for first class and business class passengers and a purple and black haired girl. The argument was still going on when Ione was next in line to check-in when she overheard the reason for the distress of the purple haired girl.

“I have to be on this plane. I spend thirty-five hours getting here and now you’re telling me I won’t be able to see my family because you made a mistake?”

“I understand your anger, miss, but the flight is overbooked. I can only book you onto the next flight which is tonight at seven,” the tall woman wearing a K-T Pacific uniform said using well spaced silences between the important words.

There was something so desperate in the voice of the girl that had Ione on edge and when it was time for her to check in she let the family behind her go first while she made up her mind.

“I may be able to help out,” Ione said. She hadn’t even noticed that she had moved over to the arguing women and placed her ticket on the counter.

Two pair of eyes were on Ione who just smiled. “I am willing to swap my ticket with you,” she said to the purple and black haired girl. Ione noticed that the girl had green eyes and a fair amount of freckles on her nose and under her eyes.

“To Minot?” the girl asked.

“Yes, it’s yours if you want it. I can do that right?” Ione asked the suddenly smiling woman behind the counter.

“Yes, miss, if that is your wish.”

“It is, my family gets together tomorrow instead of this evening. I am not in any hurry.”

The ticket was taken off the counter and deft fingers flew over the keyboard.

“I don’t know what to say,” the girl said, her eyes were moist.

Before Ione could object or react, the purple haired girl embraced her as if she had been holding on for dear life. Almost automatically, Ione hugged back and whispered, “You looked like you could use a break.”

The embrace lasted little longer because of her remark and made Spencer smile, Ione knew this was the right thing to do.

“I’ve exchanged the tickets,” the employee of K-T Pacific said all smiles now. “You, Miss Brennan will now depart in fifty minutes to Minot and you Miss Winter will depart at seven ten tonight. I’ve upgraded your ticket to first class and I’ve added vouchers for the premium lounge and one for lunch. I hope you both have a pleasant trip.”

“Thank you… Wendy,” Ione said after she had read the name tag on the breast of the helpful woman. “I hope you will have a nice Thanksgiving as well.”

When Ione was about to walk off with her new ticket and vouchers in hand she was stopped by the purple haired girl. The hand on Ione’s arm was trembling.

“You don’t have any idea how much this means to me,” Miss Brennan said looking deep into the grey eyes of Ione. “I wish I could do something for you in return.”

“There is no need,” Ione said softly. “Your smile has already been thanks enough.”

For a moment a dark cloud seemed to flash over Miss Brennan’s face but it was gone before Ione could really process it. Time seemed to slow down when she watched how dark pink lips moved closer and then touching hers for an electrifying kiss. The kiss lasted much too short.

“Thanks, miss Winter.”

“You’re welcome, miss Brennan.”

Spencer Brennan walked off the plane feeling tired. She had not slept in more than thirty hours, not since she had left London. Like all her movies so far, days had been added at the end to reshoot scenes or to add others. This time she had been lucky, she had made it back home. Her mind drifted to the cute raven haired girl that had made her day.

And the kiss.

When she remembered the kiss her face lit up like a spotlight and most of her tiredness disappeared.

If she had been more confident, less stupid, she would have asked bursa escort bayan for miss Winter’s number. Something that could be called regret nibbled at the memory. After a deep intake of breath, the twenty-three year old movie star went to look for a rental.

“Finally,” Spencer said when she arrived at her parent’s home, a two story house with large garden on the edge of town. Unable to park near the house she looked for a spot down the street, after a few minutes she found one and parked her rental.

The suitcase wasn’t big but heavy. It held a few presents for her parents and her siblings and a spare set of clothes. Her other belongings had been sent to her home in Seattle. Moira, her assistant would take care of that after Moira had spent Thanksgiving with her family in Portland.

Spencer looked at the cars parked along the driveway in front of the house, there were more than she was expecting. She knocked on the door and took a deep breath of chilly November air.

“Spencer?” her mother Karen asked surprised and then her face turned from surprise to love to fear. “I… We weren’t expecting you.”

“I told Ashton I was coming when I left London. I didn’t want to wake you up.”

“She didn’t tell us…” For a moment a flash of pain made Karen appear years older than her forty-nine years.

“Did I do something to tick her off?” Spencer asked as she was led inside the house by her mother. The sounds of many people talking and arguing came down the hall from the living room.

“I hope not,” Karen said unsure. Ahead of her daughter, Karen stepped into the room filled with family and announced, “Look who I found.”

Spencer stepped into the room and only found two friendly faces belonging to her brother Lucas and his wife Teresa. “Hi,” she said trying hard not to swallow.

“Spencer, I thought you said you couldn’t make it,” Ashton said her voice dripping with honeyed malice. “Did your girlfriend run out on you again?”

For a moment the chill in the room could only be measured as fractions of absolute zero. It didn’t last. Her father and then her grandfather got up, their outcries of shame and anger drowning out the two cries of support in the room with ease.

“How dare you come here after I told you that you weren’t welcome anymore,” her father shouted. Almost the same words came from her grandfather while Ashton smiled in the back seeing the devastation on her sister’s face.

“Mum?” Spencer asked her mother who started to cry.

“She’s our daughter!” The shout was so loud that Karen’s voice cracked up.

Chaos was complete when Jason took long strides towards his daughter and started to drag her out of the house.

All Spencer could do was cry out in anguish and pain while the world spun around her. Her father was much stronger and already very drunk.

Suddenly the painful grip was gone and Jason was on the floor with Lucas standing over his father. “Don’t you touch her. If you ever want to see me or your grandchildren, get up and walk away. You and grandpa are too drunk to think.”

Behind Lucas grandpa Denis looked ready to fight but was held back by Karen.

“Spencer, go! I’ll keep him here. I’ll call you,” Lucas said with tears of rage and pain in his eyes. “I love you but you gotta go. This will only get worse.”

“Mum?” Spencer said once more but there was nothing but shame and defeat in her mother’s eyes.

Spencer left the house while her head started to hurt and her wobbly legs could barely keep her up. It was the longest walk in her life, the short distance between the house and the rental. She was defeated. Nothing in her mind seemed to work anymore.

When she got behind the wheel and looked at her hands she knew she shouldn’t be driving. Yet the urge to get away was so strong that she turned the key in the ignition and drove off.

Three hours of driving back to the airport had taken its toll when she dropped off the keys at the rental agency. The woman behind the counter didn’t even look at Spencer being too busy getting out of the office to be with her family. Something Spencer had just lost.

The first plane that would get her to Seattle would leave the following morning at ten. The woman at the ticket agency tried not to show her emotions while she searched for planes that would get Spencer to Seattle. Spencer didn’t care at that point what she looked like. She just wanted to find a quiet spot somewhere and hide.

It was her first time flying first class and Ione was amazed at how much better an experience it was. Giving away her ticket had been the right thing to do. Her family celebrated Thanksgiving on Friday instead of Thursday. It had been a necessity with one parent working as a nurse and another as a police officer, getting both off at the same time on Thanksgiving was just too hard. Getting Friday off however always had worked out.

Ione’s family was big, six brothers and sisters, a fair amount of nieces and an even larger amount of uncles and aunts. Cousins were numbered in the dozens. görükle escort Her brother Paddy would pick her up at eleven from the Airport which would give her plenty of time to have a meal when she got off. Her allergies made eating on planes a rather dangerous thing. She couldn’t eat anything that had milk in it and meat was out of the question for the same reason.

When the pilot announced that the plane was descending, Ione got excited. She hadn’t seen her family together in two years. Thanksgiving last year had been spend at her ex-girlfriend’s house. In retrospect, this had been a stupid thing to do. Lori broke up with her between Christmas and New Year’s because she had fallen in love with a tall blonde who worked in the same office building. Lori had just walked out after the announcement that they were done and Ione hadn’t seen her since.

It had been a long year, spending the summer at a summer camp for blind and deaf children. Her brother Sean had been born deaf and she had learned to sign before she could even speak. Sean being the youngest of her siblings, three years older than Ione, had been her friend and brother while the older siblings were more like fathers and mothers being much older.

Sean had asked her to help out which she had done without a second thought. It had been one the best summers of her short life.

The plane touched down and Ione looked out of the small window and saw it was snowing. She hoped it wouldn’t be getting worse as she really wanted to get home as soon as possible so she could have at least some sleep before her nieces and nephews would wake her up with their sweet adorations.

Ione walked into the main hall of Minot Airport and saw that it was almost deserted. Gazing at the clock she calculated that it would still be another hour before Paddy would arrive.

A small shop served salads and bread. Being the only customer she was quickly served.

Ione ate a small salad and a bun with strawberry jam while she strolled the airport, occasionally sipping from her orange juice. She had never seen the airport this quiet, hardly a sound was heard except for the insistent beeping from the small carts cleaning the floors.

“I couldn’t be,” Ione said to herself when she rounded a corner that took her inside a first class lounge. It had looked completely empty until she heard a sound. On one of the lounge chairs a girl with purple and black hair was curled up with her back to the door.

Ione was about to discretely leave the room when she noticed the rhythmic shakes of shoulders and when she listened more carefully there were sobs.

With her mind made up, Ione walked over to the crying girl and sat down next to her. “Hi again,” Ione said with as much compassion she could muster.

“What?” the crying girl said and turned to face the raven haired Ione. When it dawned on Spencer that this was the same girl who had given up her ticket she couldn’t stop herself. She howled and then buried herself into the surprised girl.

“Oh my,” Ione said as she felt how the devastated girl clutched at her as if she was the last straw. Ione put her arms around the heaving girl and spoke soft words of comfort. For a long time they were locked in an embrace while Ione tried not to think of the terror this girl had been through. It brought memories back of a terrible night in her dorm room almost a year ago.

It had been Chelsea who had found her on her bed looking at the bottle of sleeping pills. She remembered how she had clutched at her roommate when she threw the pills away and embraced her fiercely, calling her stupid, telling her she loved her, telling her she had to forget Lori.

Feeling that it was about time to find her brother Ione gently pushed the girl away. “You shouldn’t be alone,” Ione whispered and looked around and saw only one suitcase. “Get up, you’re coming with me.”

“I can’t,” Spencer said between sobs.

“Anyone waiting for you?” Ione checked.

A short shake was all Spencer could manage.

“Any other reason why you shouldn’t come with me?”

When there was still no answer, Ione sat the girl down and started to collect all her items and placed both suitcases on a baggage cart. She added her hand bag and that of her mystery girl on top of the other luggage. Sheer tiredness marred the otherwise beautiful face of the tear struck girl. She didn’t struggle when Ione pulled her up from the chair and held her close.

“I refuse to leave you here,” Ione said determined. “Whatever happened, you should know that there are still people, like me, that care.”

Spencer wanted to call out and tell that she was going to be fine, that she could take care of herself but the raven haired girl made her feel safe. Staying alone on the airport wasn’t something she was looking forward to, actually, it scared the hell out of her. There had been dark thoughts in her head that scared her even more.

It wasn’t hard to push the cart while holding Miss Brennan close. Half way down the hall Ione decided it was bursa escort bayan about time to introduce. “I am Ione Winter.”

“Spencer Brennan,” Spencer said while giving Ione her last name made her feel sick, it wasn’t her name any longer.

“Nice to meet you, Spencer. My brother’s picking me up in his monster truck so don’t be alarmed if he starts to cheer when he sees me, we haven’t seen each other in almost two years.”

“Ok,” Spencer said unsure where this was going. She had hoped to be alone with this girl who was so easy to hold on to.

“Our family is a bit loud but they love as hard as they talk. And they listen, they don’t judge and they will make sure you’ll be safe. Got that?”

Spencer nodded into Ione’s shoulder. She believed every word.


Paddy waving and jumping in front of the large revolving doors that led out of the building. He was wearing his overall and looked like he hadn’t had a shower in weeks. His scruffy red beard seemed to come loose at the ends as if it had been glued to his face by an absentminded makeup artist.

“Paddy, can you help out?” Ione said before he could start his bull rush.

“What’s up sis?” Paddy suddenly concerned.

“This is Spencer and she needs our help.”

Paddy looked at the girl in Ione’s arm who he had pegged for his sister’s new girlfriend.

“Sure,” Paddy said as he scooped the luggage from the cart into his arms and nodded towards his truck he had parked a little ways off.

Paddy opened the door and helped Spencer into the truck.

Ione gave Paddy a long hug and a few kisses when.

“Who is she?” Paddy asked

“She’s someone I met earlier. I think something really bad happened to her. Really bad.”

Paddy nodded. “Got it sis.”

Once they were on the road and driving in the snow filled air of Thanksgiving night.

“Are you asleep?” Ione asked after a while and felt Spencer snuggle closer under the blanket. It had been Paddy’s suggestion to use the blanket.

“She’s asleep,” Paddy said slowly. “Tell me what happened.”

Spencer quickly explained the chance meeting and how she had seen the thing she had gone through almost a year ago. In Ione’s case her saviour had been her roommate.

“You’re crazy but a good kind of crazy. She could be an axe murderer.”

“Or she could have been attacked,” Ione said as she lifted up the blanket to show Paddy the bruises on Spencer’s arm she had noticed when putting the blanket over them.

“Or that,” Paddy said in a growl. One thing that could set off all males in the Winter family was violence against women. “Better tell mum about her before you arrive.”

Ione nodded and took out her phone and called her mother.

“Hi mum.”

“Hi honey, you’re on your way?”

“I am, Paddy’s with me. The flight was great.”

“What time will you be here?”

Ione repeated the question to Paddy.

“In about two hours with this weather,” Paddy said worried.

“Two hours, weather’s getting worse,” Ione relayed.

“I’ve got your bed ready. Your dad’s late as well. He’s still at the hospital. I’m starting my shift in twenty minutes so I won’t see you until the morning,” Kathleen Winter explained to her daughter.

“Mum, I am bringing a guest. Her name’s Spencer and…”

“I knew you would get over that girl!” Kathleen shouted into the telephone. “I can’t wait to meet her.”


“Hold on honey, gotta go, a 10-56. I’ll tell your sister to move Hailey. Love you.”

Before Ione could speak the connection was already lost.

“That went well,” Ione said looking at the white display of her phone. “Now mum thinks I have a new girlfriend and by now the whole family will want to meet her.”

“Such is life,” Paddy chuckled. “I’ll see if I can call Lucy.”

“Just forget about it. I’ll deal with it tomorrow. Too tired and I really don’t want you to call Lucy, it’ll wake up the kids.”

“Just wanted to help out,” Paddy grinned.

The two caught up with their lives. Ione learned her two nieces had started dating, Teagan and Tara were the ultimate twins, hard to keep apart and more alike than clones. Perry, a bright little eleven year old had won a spelling bee and William, Perry’s older brother was taking piano lessons.

When her oldest sister was mentioned by Paddy Ione could only giggle. Regan had moved to London with her Earl, a rising star in the corporate world while her husband John, a doctor, ran the Oncology department at St. Claudia’s Children’s hospital just outside of London.

“Why the giggle?” Paddy asked.

“Sorry about that, I talked to her day before yesterday; it was such a great talk. I can’t wait to see her.”

“She told you too then. I thought she didn’t want more children after the troubles with Rose,” Paddy said slightly worried.

“Yeah, I think it wasn’t really planned. John’s a bit of a nerd but an athlete in bed.”

“Don’t want to know,” Paddy laughed.

Suddenly Ione turned slightly red and shivered. Spencer had moved a little leaving her head on her breast and a hand in her lap pressing against her inner thigh. She was glad it was dark inside the cabin and that Paddy was concentrating on the road. She tried to gently push the hand away but it returned each time.

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