The flight to Champs Les Sims was long and tiring, but to Chantia’s relief they managed to get some sleep on the plane. Of course, a plane wasn’t where Chantia wanted to spend her wedding night, but when they reached their destination, Chantia found she didn’t mind as much.
The peaceful little town was still the same it had been when she had visited as a child. It was still the same buildings and the same sleepy peacefulness, but now that she had someone special visiting the town with her, she could see why it got called a place of romance. There was a kind of tangible excitement hanging in the air.
“Champs Les Sims,” Chantia ‘introduced’ the town to Sam, “my father’s hometown. In a way, I guess I could’ve grown up here if my mother hadn’t been so afraid of losing her independence.” She shrugged and turned towards her husband before throwing her arms around his neck with a smile. “But that doesn’t matter; we’re here now. And I’d say it’s time we got properly started on our honeymoon,” she suggested with a slightly wicked smile.
So they did just that. Their days were spent exploring the peaceful little town and visiting the places of interest, where they tried to experience everything the town had to offer, including the nectary where Chantia decided to try her hand at something outside her usual scope of activities, much to Sam’s approval.“Oh, that’s disgusting,” Chantia complained laughingly, scrunching up her nose in disgust as she toed the little round fruit beneath her feet and felt them pop as she applied pressure on them, causing the fruit to squirt juice all over her toes. “That’s really, really disgusting.”
“You wanted to try it out,” Sam reminded his wife as he looked at the spectacle in amusement. “Something to do with ‘experiencing the traditions of Champs Les Sims’,” he teased good-naturedly.
“Only because you bet I wouldn’t actually do it,” Chantia shot back smugly before turning around and getting out of the tub, grimacing slightly at the sticky feeling left behind. “I did, so now I want my prize,” she declared sweetly.
Sam had absolutely no problem with complying with his wife’s wishes, despite the fact that she was sticky with grape juice.
Their nights were spent at the hotel, where, amongst other things, they talked until late in the night under the stars, enjoying the warm summer air and the peaceful chirping of insects, reminiscing about their past together and predicting their future forward.
Of course, once they retreated inside following their conversations beneath the stars, they tended to spend a lot of time doing what newly-wed couples usually did on their honeymoon.All too soon, the last day of their trip arrived, signalling the end of their honeymoon. Chantia was rather sad the trip had come to an end, but she had to admit, the trip ended on the highest note it could.
It started with a simple, but still rather crazy suggestion.
“Let’s go climb that tower,” Sam suggested late in the afternoon. He had noticed the tower standing forlornly on the hill earlier in the day and had considered climbing to the top ever since he saw it. He looked at Chantia, his face lit with boyish enthusiasm. “The view from the top must be amazing.”
“I’m not sure if we’re permitted, though,” Chantia protested nervously. “That tower is on private ground,” she reminded her husband.“Nobody lives there,” Sam pointed out distractedly. “The house beside it has been abandoned for years. Nobody will care if we go there.”
It was a bad idea. It was a terrible idea, but Chantia couldn’t help but want to do it. Sam was right, the view from that high up had to be beautiful. What did it matter that the tower was on private ground? It wasn’t like they were planning on damaging anything, after all.
“Fine,” she caved reluctantly and allowed her grinning husband to enthusiastically lead her there.
Of course, once they arrived and saw the amount of stairs they had to climb to reach the top, Chantia was slightly less enthusiastic, causing her to pout when she noticed Sam was still as enthusiastic as ever.
She was of half a mind to refuse going further, but the boyish look of excitement on Sam’s face caused her to swallow her protests and follow him up, and when they finally reached the top, she had to admit it was absolutely worth it.“Wow,” she breathed in awe at the scene lying stretched out below them. It was breathtaking. The land stretched out below them, seemingly forever. Sunset Valley was a beautiful town, and Chantia had seen a lot of beautiful sunsets in her hometown, but the beauty of the scene before her was just somehow different.
“Beautiful,” she murmured in awe, her eyes drinking up the sight.
“Yeah,” Sam agreed slightly breathless, but his eyes weren’t fixed on the same scene as Chantia. Chantia turned around, curious to see what had Sam so fascinated and felt her breath leave in a whoosh at the sight.
Sunset Valley and its sunsets had nothing on this.Chantia stared at the sunset in awe, unable to form a coherent thought. She turned to Sam with a warm smile and pulled him closer, laying her head contently on his chest.
“You were right,” she murmured contently. “This was absolutely worth it.” His answering smile was like a light, filling her up with warmth and love, and when it was finally time to return home, she left with a content and peaceful heart.
Life continued around them as they settled into the easy routine of a married couple. When Chantia had bought the house, she honestly hadn’t thought about living there herself, but the ghosts insisted and didn’t stop bothering them until Chantia consented.
Chantia had to admit though: living with ghosts was interesting.Chantia cocked her head, staring bemusedly at the gem display floating in the air in front of her. She loved the ghosts, she really did, but sometimes she just couldn’t understand them.
“What on earth are you doing, Frederick?” Chantia questioned the floating display bemusedly.
The gem display stopped floating at Chantia’s question, but the teen ghost did not reveal himself. Chantia could feel the sense of embarrassment coming from the ghost hidden inside the display so instead of teasing him further, she laughed and left the ghost to continue his haunting.Despite the occasional object haunting, Chantia had to admit she didn’t mind living with the ghosts, and neither did Sam. At first he had been hesitant, especially since Charlotte had acted a bit defensive toward him, but he soon got used to the ghosts. He actually became rather close to Angelica and it soon became a rather normal sight for Chantia to come home after work in the early morning hours and find her husband engrossed in conversation with the motherly ghost.
In the end, the conversations between them had a brilliant result, as it allowed Sam to complete the first step of his dream. Angelica had told him many tales of the things she had witnessed over her existence, and had given him the permission to retell the stories in written form. It wasn’t long after their first conversation that Sam submitted his draft to a publishing company and got the go-ahead. His first book wasn’t a massive success, but it did its job in getting Sam’s name out into the appropriate circles.
However, as life was wont to do, the easy routine their life had settled into was soon disrupted."Chantia? Are you alright?" Sam asked in concern after Chantia fled the room for the third time. Chantia had tried to ignore the sense of nausea as much as she could, but it didn't seem to help much.
"I feel horrible," she complained miserably. It wasn't just the nausea that was bothering her. In addition to the nausea, she was constantly tired and extremely irritable because of it. She had originally credited her tiredness to the late hours of her job, but she was starting to have her doubts.
"You should go to a doctor," Sam suggested worriedly. Chantia grumbled slightly, not in the mood to sit in an appointment room for an entire morning, but she agreed nonetheless, even if her agreement was a bit half-hearted.
The answer given by the doctor was somewhat unexpected, but if Chantia was honest, it wasn't really that much of a surprise. Still, it was a big enough surprise. Their lives were going to change rather drastically in a couple of months."I saw the doctor today," Chantia announced nonchalantly that evening. For a change she was not working that night, so she had some time to just relax with her husband.
"And? What did he say?" Sam asked with a hint of apprehension in his voice. Chantia touched his face softly, trying to break the news as smoothly as possible.
"It seems we're going to have a new addition to the family," Chantia announced warmly, a tender smile playing on her face. She was definitely apprehensive over the upcoming change in their daily routine, bit she had to admit that she had started to look forward to it once she had gotten used to the idea.For a moment Sam’s face was blank while he tried to process the announcement, before his face lit up with understanding and he glanced down at Chantia’s stomach for confirmation.
Chantia nodded excitedly, her smile broad on her face. “Yes,” she confirmed, “we’re going to be parents.”
Sam stared uncomprehendingly at her for several seconds before he pulled her into a far tighter hug than she had anticipated, clearly just as excited as she was.From then on Sam did everything he could to make sure they were prepared for the new arrival. He painted the walls of the nursery, read endless books on pregnancy and often accompanied Chantia on shopping trips to buy the essentials for their baby.
“I was seven when my parents died,” he admitted quietly to Chantia during one of the shopping trips, instantly gaining her full attention. After all, it wasn’t often that he volunteered information on his past. “It was an accident – a dog ran in front of the car and my dad lost control when he tried to avoid the dog. Not long after that I was put in foster care, down in Bridgeport.” He fell silent after that, but Chantia could see he was deep in thought.Chantia squeezed his hand, wordlessly reminding him that he was in the now and not the past. He shook his head, trying to compose himself before he turned back to Chantia with a slight smile on his face.
“I want to be the father to our child I never got the chance to have myself,” he declared earnestly. “I don’t remember my parents that well, but I do remember thinking the world of my dad.” He smiled and laid a gentle hand on Chantia’s swollen belly. “I hope this child will be able to think the same of me.”“I’m sure he or she will,” Chantia promised with a warm smile, happy that Sam had finally started to open up a bit to her regarding his past. She still wanted to know more, especially after the hints Ethan had dropped at her wedding, but she was still willing to wait until Sam told her out of free will. There wasn’t a lot of progress, but Chantia considered every piece of information she got a bonus.
But it seemed life itself wasn’t willing to wait.“What the hell is she doing here?” Sam’s words were soft, nearly inaudible, but Chantia managed to hear them nonetheless. She half-turned, trying to see who Sam was talking about, but before she could get more than a glimpse of the woman in question, Sam placed a hand on her back and steered her into the opposite direction.
“Let’s go home,” he suggested nonchalantly in a soft murmur, but he wasn’t fooling Chantia at all. She was hyper-aware of the tension in his body.
“Sam?” she enquired confusedly, but he didn’t answer her, waiting until they were home before he even attempted to relax. The moment they reached their home Sam swept Chantia into his arms and held her tightly, obviously rattled.“Sam?” Chantia tried to enquire again, confused and unsettled by his behaviour, and half-worried that he wouldn’t tell her what the problem was. His answer, when it came, was just as cryptic and un-answering as usual when something about his past was involved.
“If you ever see that woman approach you,” he warned her, “please, just walk away. Please,” he begged, his tight hold around her shoulders emphasising his point.
“What’s going on, Sam? Who is she?” Chantia asked confusedly, desperately trying to make sense of the situation.“Her name is Valeri,” Sam replied after several seconds of silence. “She’s one of the worst people you could ever meet. She’s a psychopath, and she takes a lot of joy out of watching people suffer, and doing whatever she can to make sure they suffer as much as possible,” he explained tersely. Chantia’s eyes widened in shock at his confession, realising he was deadly serious.
“Why on earth do you know someone like that?” she questioned frantically, warning bells ringing in her head. Normal people didn’t associate with psychopaths. Why did Sam know this woman?
“We grew up together,” Sam admitted. “I told you, remember? I got placed in foster care after my parents died. I met Valeri during the time I lived there.”“Oh.” Chantia released a sigh of relief, glad it wasn’t something more sinister, but even so, she was unsettled that Sam was acquainted with someone like that. After all, didn’t psychopaths usually start with people they knew personally? If Sam knew this ‘Valeri’ good enough that he instantly noticed her presence, didn’t that mean that she knew him just as well? Didn’t that mean that she would target him? “She won’t try to do anything to you, will she?”
Sam looked down, shaking his head almost imperceptibly. “I don’t know,” he admitted. “If she’s anything like she used to be, then she won’t attempt anything directly.” He looked Chantia directly in the eye, trying to get the seriousness of the situation across. “Please,” he repeated again, “please, promise me you’ll stay as far away from her as possible.”Chantia nodded almost imperceptibly. She had absolutely no desire to come close to that woman, especially if she was as dangerous as Sam said she was.
“I promise,” she promised earnestly. “I’ll stay away from her as far as I possibly can.”
And a little bit more of Sam’s past is revealed. :) It’s just a little, I know, but the rest will be revealed later once Valeri’s role becomes a bit more active. And Valeri…yeah, she’s going to be an interesting character to write, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. :)