The Vesper Incident

Part One of The Castlewood Saga | A Work in Progress coming soon!!!

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
Proverbs 14:12


The Vesper Incident

| Part One of The Castlewood Saga | A Novel by Tabitha Harris |


Chapter One | Christmas at Rivendell |

Friday, December 19, 1997
4:30 am
7 Camelot Avenue
Castlewood PA

Adam rolled over in the darkness and stared at his alarm clock through bleary eyes. Christmas vacation was for sleeping in but his mom had insisted on booking the flight for 6:30 am. He slapped at the alarm clock but missed and tumbled off the bed, hitting the carpet with a loud thud. A curse word slipped past his lips in a whisper and he winced. Better not let Mom or Dad hear me say that during the trip. College was rubbing off on him and not for the better but he didn’t let it get out of hand and had everything under control.

Thankfully he had been too tired, or too lazy, to un-pack for the last few days since he returned home so most of his clothes were ready to go. Not all of them were clean but hey, that’s what cologne was for. He dragged himself up from the floor and switched on his side-table lamp. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he yawned cavernously. It was about a three hour flight to Colorado from Pennsylvania so he’d have plenty of time to sleep on the plane. He didn’t need much. Once they arrived at Rivendell, his aunt and uncle’s mountain home, he’d crash by the enormous fireplace. All he’d accomplished since coming home from college was rival bears in hibernation with the amount of time he spent sleeping. It was his sophomore year of college but Adam already felt like a senior. Constant state of exhaustion. That was his life.

He jerked as someone banged on his bedroom door. His mom’s voice filtered through the wood, muffled but still obscenely loud for this time of morning. “Throw something on, Adam James, and let’s go! Make sure whatever you throw on is clean!”

“Goodness, Mom!” Adam yelled back, his dark eyebrows dipping low in frustration. “You don’t have to shout, this isn’t the military.”

“Don’t ‘goodness Mom’ me!” Mrs. Lawson thumped on the door again for good measure. “Hurry up!” She moved on down the hallway and Adam heard her give his siblings a similar morning greeting. Even though he was thrilled to spend several weeks at his aunt and uncle’s getaway palace, he wasn’t looking forward to having his parents on his back all the time, especially his mom. He knew she meant well but she still smothered him and he found himself dreading vacations since they meant he returned to her clutches.

Sighing, he pulled a sweatshirt over his head and shuffled around his room, looking for shoes. Mom wouldn’t like that he was presenting himself in public in sweatpants and a sweatshirt but she’d just have to deal with it. He wasn’t getting all dressed up just to fly from PA to Colorado and then drive straight to Rivendell. Anyway, it was easier to just wear what he slept in.

As he finally found a pair of sneakers, another knock sounded on his bedroom door, this time softer. “Adam? Can I come in?”

A small smile creased the young man’s face. It was his sister, Holly. His favourite sister. Well, his only sister but that was beside the point. He didn’t miss her that much when he was away at college but when he came home for vacations, he discovered that they got along much better than they had before he graduated. He guessed it was the whole “absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder” thing.

He bent and tugged on one sneaker. “Door’s unlocked, Hol. Watch the suitcase on the floor.”

Holly stepped into the room, grimacing at the dim lighting. “Aww Adam, turn on a light switch, yeah?” She felt around on the wall, looking for the switch with her fingers.

Adam laughed through his yawn. “I like the dark. Plus it’s too early to be alive and moving so this helps me feel like I’m still blissfully sleeping.” He yanked on his other shoe and moved over to his suitcase. “Wow, Hol. You’re already dressed. I’m surprised.”

“Why?” Holly wrinkled her brow in confusion, staring at her brother with her head tilted to one side.

Adam chuckled as he stuffed clothes back into the open suitcase. Some things never changed. His sister had a tendency to take everything literally, thus rendering her impervious to sarcasm. It used to irritate him when they were growing up but now he just found it amusing. “It was a joke, Holly. I’m not actually surprised ‘cause you’re always on time and ready whenever we need to go somewhere.”

The light dawned and Holly’s eyes cleared. “Ohhhh sarcasm. I get it now. Don’t do that to me! You know I don’t get stuff like that.”

“That’s why I do it.” Adam reached out a hand and tickled one of her bare feet. “It’s funny.”

Holly kicked at him and stepped away. “Stop it. I came in here to ask you something important and now you made me forget.” She paused for a moment and then snapped her fingers. “Oh yeah, there it is. I’m gonna ask Mom and Dad if I can get a puppy and I need you to back me up. At Rivendell. Since they’ll already be in a good mood ‘cause it’s Christmas, I figured this was the best time to ask them.”

Adam zipped his suitcase and sat on it. “What? Holly, you’re gonna be graduating and going off to college in a few months. Why do you want a dog now?”

“Who said I’m going away to college?”

Raising an eyebrow, Adam stared at his eighteen-year-old sister like she lost her mind. “Are you kidding? You don’t wanna get out of this little town and see the world? Hol, there is so much more out there than Castlewood, so much more.”

Holly shrugged. “I like Castlewood. What’s wrong with it?”

“Nothing, I guess. It’s just so…boring.” Adam was finding it difficult to explain just what exactly was lacking in their homey little town. He just didn’t feel alive here like he did at college. Staying in Castlewood and attending a nearby university was never an option in his mind. He was getting out if it killed him and paying the few extra thousand for his room and board was worth it. He didn’t hate the town, he just thought their relationship was over. It’d been a nice place to grow up but he was moving on now.

Holly waved a hand in dismissal. “Whatever. Can you help me? We all know you’re Mom and Dad’s favourite so they’ll listen to you. I want prove to them that I’m adult now and I’m responsible to take care of something other than myself.”

“Really.” A smirk hovered around Adam’s lips. “So you’re asking me for help in order to prove that you’re an adult.”

“Yeah, yeah I am.” Holly widened her eyes and nodded vigorously at him. “It’s called being a big brother.”

Her brother groaned and put his head in his hands. “Holly, Holly, Holly, irony is wasted on you completely. Okay, so if you really were an adult, you wouldn’t need my help; you’d be able to do it on your own.”

“I’m not stupid, Adam. I know that. I’m trying to prove that I can handle being an adult and I need you to back me up. Collaboration. That’s what adults do.”

Adam laughed. “Big words don’t faze me, Hol.” He lifted himself to his feet and looked over his room, satisfied that he wasn’t forgetting anything. “Okay okay, I’ll back you up. C’mon before Mom does her drill sergeant thing again.” He gripped his suitcase in one hand and his skis in the other and followed his sister into the hallway.