Chapter 2

I was hot, thirsty and tired as I trudged up the stairs at the train station, my small body pressed between the other travellers that had alighted from the train.

I felt the excitement start to beat in my chest, as I took in the sights. If the train station was this fascinating, I couldn’t wait to see what the city had to offer.

I was determined to make it here no matter what it took, make my family proud of me. That was my goal.


I fought back the nausea and fear and let a little bit of the excitement through, as I watched women dressed in their fancy designer jeans carrying bags that probably cost more than I’d ever make in my life milling about on the platform.

That was a bit of an exaggeration, but maybe not too far off the mark. It was a task keeping my mouth from hanging open, and this was just the train station. I can’t imagine what the world outside looked like.

I’d been waiting ten minutes and starting to get a little nervous when there was no sign of aunt Marion. I was starting to attract attention as well and that more than anything else fed my anxiety.

You see I’m sure I stuck out like a sore thumb around here. People wouldn’t need the three ratty bags at my feet to peg me as an outsider; I looked like what I am, at least in my own mind I did anyway.

I had bright blue eyes, my best feature if you asked me, wild reddish blonde hair that curled and spiraled all over my head and down the middle of my back.

My skin was spotless because mama always made her own creams on the farm from all natural products, and they kept our skin and hair healthy. Better I think, than a lot of the store bought stuff my friends paid loads of money for.

My body was okay I guess, I didn’t have much boobs to speak of, they weren’t tiny nubs but they weren’t full like some of the other girls had been either.

My legs were too long, and I hardly had any hips to speak of. Of course it could be my height that was drawing all the eyes. At five ten, I’m considered tall for a girl, as if I don’t have enough to feel self conscious about, what with my crazy hair and my outdated second hand clothes.

With my head down I was able to avoid most of the stares which seemed to come mostly from men, but after a while I had to pick it up, how else was I going to see aunt Marion?

I glanced up at the digital clock over the schedule prompter and felt my palms begin to sweat. What if there had been a mix-up and I wasn’t expected until later, or even tomorrow?

It would be just like me to have botched things up like that. I pulled the ticket stub from my pocket to recheck it and make sure.

After I’d started well on the road to panic, I finally saw someone holding up a cardboard with my name on it.

Odd; aunt Marion must’ve asked someone to pick me up, because the person holding my name was most definitely male and not just any male. I stood like a statue and I’m sure my mouth was hanging open as well, as I took in his male beauty.

He was simply gorgeous; dark hair that curled around his ears and piercing green eyes that even from this distance looked captivating.

I’d read that word in one of my books long ago, now I knew what it truly meant as it took a lot of effort for me to drag my eyes away from his.

I made my way over to him a bit hesitantly at first; maybe there was some mistake.

“Are you waiting for me?”

He pulled the sign down in front of him and looked me over. There wasn’t a speck of interest in his eyes, and no wonder. I must look a sight after days on a train with a few bathroom wash-ups as my only grooming. “Are you Gabriella?”

“Yes sir.” I looked down at the ground feeling more inadequate than I’ve ever felt before in my life. His voice was like a dream; I bet he had some kind of training to sound like that.

“I’m Cal, Marion asked me to pick you up, something came up last minute and she couldn’t make it.”

“Oh, sorry to be such a bother.” I’m sure he had better things to be doing with his time than running to the train station to pick up a little nobody like me.

“It’s no trouble; is that all you’ve got?” he pointed his chin down at the threadbare bags at my feet.

“Yes sir.” My face heated up and I felt very gauche in front of this obviously sophisticated man who had to be the most beautiful human being on the planet.

“The name’s Cal sweetheart.” He grabbed my bags and turned to walk off and it took me a few seconds to get my tail moving.

***

CALLAN

This was going to be trouble; I could see it plain as day, poor kid. Marion was expecting a little hayseed hick as she’d been bitching and moaning to me about for the last couple of weeks. “If you feel that way then why did you agree to have the girl come here?” I’d finally broken down and asked, not that I really gave a fuck.

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