tagRomanceFalling Down the Rabbit Hole

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole


Betsy was so nervous. She had rarely left her small town and, when she did, it was only to go over to the next small town. She was happy living in the same place she had been born 24 years ago, knowing all her neighbors and having them know her. It was extremely difficult for her to accept her uncle's offer of an internship in his company. Not that it wasn't a great offer. It was kind and generous and very possibly the best experience she could acquire. It was just that all her friends were living within the city limits of Sanctuary, and she didn't know how she could spend an entire summer without them.

The togetherness thing hadn't been planned. She just had the same gang since childhood. They had spent 12 years in school together and then gone on, en masse, to the local University. A few, including Betsy, had continued with their education, attaining Master's degrees in various fields. The most important thing was that the group was still pretty much intact. They did everything together. Birthdays, anniversaries, housewarmings, celebrations of new relationships or new jobs. Betsy loved these people. Now, her Uncle Giles was offering the internship of a lifetime. All she had to do was pack up her life and go off to Denver for three months. Three long months. It was inconceivable to her that she could spend that much time without her family, which was how she felt about her friends. It also seemed impossible to exist alone in a city as large and sprawling as Denver.

Amy, her best friend, encouraged her to go. She knew how hard Betsy had worked at University, first to get her degree and then her Master's in Business Administration. Betsy needed to see business on the corporate level, use all her education and feel the thrill of mixing with high profile money-makers and putting together important deals. So, while Betsy was reluctant, Amy was constantly pushing. She even promised to come visit mid-summer.

Amy said, "How can you not go? How can you not see what happens? Take the road less travelled, Betsy, take the chance! There is a life waiting for you away from Sanctuary." Betsy reluctantly agreed to go.

So, she called her uncle while she still had the courage and committed to the summer job. Then, feeling as if she were being punished, she packed her bags and arranged to vacate her happy life for an entire summer.

Even the plane trip was new to her. Flying over the countryside, she was in awe of the view. The other passengers were so blase, so jaded, most never even looked out the tiny windows. But Betsy was thrilled. She felt that her entry onto the plane was her entry into Wonderland. Nothing would be the same again, and, as she looked out at the landscape, she wondered if that wasn't a good thing.

As she left the plane, she was pushed along by the throngs of people. Again, she worried. How would she ever find her way through the airport? To her uncle's house? Suddenly, to her right, she saw her name. BETSY QUINN was printed in bright red paint on a sign. It was held upright by a gentleman in a dark suit. When she stopped in front of him, he smiled and asked if she was Betsy. She nodded, amazed.

"I am James Douglas. Your uncle sent me to pick you up and drive you to the house. Let me have your claim tickets." Betsy gave him all the paperwork she was clutching tightly in her fist and followed his tailored back through the crowd, which separated easily for him. Loading his arms with her luggage, he turned and smiled at her. "Just follow me, Miss, and we will get out of here soon."

Betsy followed behind him, feeling shielded from the masses and very safe. He led her outside and to a lovely silver Mercedes. Opening the trunk, he carefully placed her luggage inside, then turned to open the back door for her. He closed it gently and went to the other side, entering the driver's seat.

"Relax and enjoy the view," he told her, as he skillfully drove away through the honking traffic. Betsy did relax, thinking how very efficient Mr. Douglas seemed to be. He was absolutely a godsend right now. Betsy decided to rest her eyes for just a minute, opening them to find herself at her uncle's home. Mr. Douglas opened the car door for her and assisted her toward the front door. The door flew open as she approached and Renee, her favorite cousin, raced out, hugging her tightly. They were six years apart in age, but enjoyed each other very much. They emailed and chatted nearly every day.

Renee, who had no monetary restrictions, would call Betsy at least once a week, to ask advice or just share her life. When she was younger, Renee had even spent summers in Sanctuary, happily playing the part of Betsy's younger sister. Now Betsy felt more comfortable. Chatting happily, Renee led her into the house. House! It was a mansion! Huge and beautifully furnished, it nonetheless had the air of warmth and comfort about it. Her Uncle Giles and Aunt Fiona were waiting in the family room, having some sherry. They both hugged and kissed Betsy, welcoming her to their home. They had arranged for her to live in the guest house out by the pool, offering her easy access to family but some privacy as well. "Doug will carry your bags back there for you, my dear, you just relax after that long trip," her uncle said.

Although she spent part of each year with her mom's younger brother and his family, this was the first time Betsy had ever seen him in his own element. He had an air of authority about him. Her Aunt Fiona seem self-assured and confident, the mistress of the house. They offered her sherry, and poured a small glass for her. Sitting in the comfortable great room, Betsy was finally glad that she had decided to come.

She had dinner with her family and then Renee was anxious to take her to her new home. They went out the back way and walked along fragrant, softly lit garden paths. It was a lovely evening. The sky was just turning purples and pinks, long white cottony streaks of clouds still visible in the dusk. Both girls stopped and watched as the sky darkened and the huge orange sun settled behind the trees. Betsy couldn't believe that this morning she had been in Sanctuary and now she was watching the sun set in Wonderland. Renee went ahead, crossing the large veranda, and opened the carved oak door, standing back to allow Betsy to enter the guest house. Her breath caught.

It was so lovely. The living room had been furnished with fabric-covered sofas, huge and overstuffed, pillows spilling over them. A fireplace was the centerpiece, with wood stacked and ready to light. The windows all around the room were uncovered, looking out at the garden, the pool and even some mountains. The kitchen was perfect, equipped with everything she could possibly need. Cheery flowery curtains hung in the window there. Renee guided her to the bedroom. Betsy just stopped in the doorway, her eyes darting everywhere. There was a high four-poster bed, with a step stool to help her onto the mattress. Everywhere she looked, she saw perfection. It was a beautiful room, thoughtfully prepared to welcome her.

Her luggage was open on the racks, ready for unpacking. On the night stand, a phone and a vase of tiny white roses rested. Renee was excitedly showing her around. There was a large oak armoire, housing every variety of electronic equipment made. This door led to a closet larger than her bedroom back home. This door led to the bath. Betsy heard herself sigh. It was so inviting. A huge sunken tub was surrounded by glass, again no draperies blocked the view of the flower gardens directly outside. The gardens were lit with magical fairy lights, the colors all vibrant. There was a long counter, with every beauty supply she could possibly think of or need. Across the room, a clear glass shower was installed, huge by the looks of it, roomy enough for two or more. Maybe it was jet lag, maybe the altitude, but Betsy had the rabbit hole feeling again.

Renee climbed onto the bed and chatted happily while Betsy unpacked. The drawers were papered with lovely floral tissue, scented with vanilla. Betsy placed her belongings in their proper place, and hung her dresses and shirts in the enormous closet. She left out one pair of silky pajamas, her favorite, thinking she might need the comfort of familiarity tonight. She went to run a bath, adding bath salts from a crystal jar, while listening as Renee's voice started to drift off. She was tempted to ask her to stay, but then thought a grown up starting a new life should be able to stay alone.

Betsy gently shook Renee awake and sent her back up to the main house. She locked the door and again admired her lovely new home. When she became aware of the running water, she moved quickly into the bathroom. Dropping her wrinkled clothes in a heap, she lit some candles and happily slipped into the warm, fragrant water. It was only then that she noticed the skylight over the tub, and relaxed as the sky went from dusky purple to black and then saw the stars appear, filling the sky with sparkles.

She couldn't remember if she dreamed. She climbed onto the bed, with the incredibly soft sheets and thick comforter, and fell asleep almost instantly. When she awoke, the room was full of light and looked even prettier. Betsy luxuriated in the huge bed, stretching and smiling as she started her first day in Denver. She had the rest of the week to get comfortable, her internship did not start until Monday. Today she was going shopping with Renee to buy some business clothes and see the sights. Her heart started pounding as she thought of her day ahead, and she quickly left the bed and got dressed.

She walked around her new home, seeing so many things she had missed the night before. Amazingly, she discovered she was starving. In the kitchen, she found the fridge and pantry fully stocked. Again, she silently thanked her uncle for being so good to her. She toasted a bagel, lavishing it with fresh packed cream cheese and poured a glass of delicious, pulpy orange juice. She sat down at the table, after finding paper and pencil, and began a list of the clothing she thought she needed. Before she finished the list, she heard the chimes of the doorbell. Renee was ready to go shopping. Betsy grabbed her purse and list and followed Renee out the door and along a garden path. At the end of the path stood Mr. Douglas, dressed a little less formally today.

He opened the door for the ladies, assisting them into the back of the silver car, carefully closing the door after them. As he walked around the front of the car, stopping to polish a tiny spot, Betsy had time to really look at him. She guessed he was about 35. He was tall, with light brown hair, neatly groomed. He had a full moustache that looked incredibly soft. Without his sunglasses, she could see that he had very pretty eyes, brown with thick lashes. His hands, as he puttered with the car, seemed very strong and capable. Suddenly, he stopped polishing and looked into the car, right at Betsy, as if he knew she was taking inventory. She was unable to look away, and found her gaze caught in his, while a blush worked its way up her cheeks. Then, he smiled. Not the professional smile of before, but a heart-tugging, sensuous, captivating smile that touched her soul.

To Be Continued...

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