Hearts of Sacrifice

Hearts of Sacrifice

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Details

Status: In Progress

Genre: Romance

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him. Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie. Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Summary

Bad boy Hunter Cartwright always has been the black sheep in his loving but prosperous family. He's overshadowed by his big brother Billy who everyone loves and looks up to. When tragedy strikes, it is a wound that cuts deep and one that separates Hunter from everyone who loves him.

Eight years after his abrupt departure, Hunter makes his return home to Oregon. Much has changed including the girl he grew up with Sophie. She's always been around as his sister Michelle's best friend and his friend too once upon a time. Sophie dates his younger brother Evan now. The fiercely competitive Evan is none too thrilled with his return just like Sophie.

Can Hunter make amends to his family and regain all he's lost including the friendship of the one girl Sophie who means more to him than he ever realized?

Chapter1 (v.1) - July 2004

Author Chapter Note

Terrible news is relayed to the Cartwright family... “Honor and vigilance are what our nation’s armed forces represent. An act of valor…their willingness to answer our country’s call is a constant reminder of duty, honor, and sacrifice.” --Unknown

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: August 03, 2017

Reads: 700

Comments: 7

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: August 03, 2017

A A A

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CHAPTER ONE - July 2004

 

“They killed Billy,” the patriarch of the Cartwright clan Dave said in a monotone. 

His family surrounded him with looks of anxious expectation.  Dave leaned against the stone mantel of the fireplace that felt cool and smooth to his touch.  He marveled that it probably had not changed much in the front parlor of their spacious ranch house. 

Unlike its mortal inhabitants, the place stood the home of the Cartwright family for the better part of a century.  How many times had their proud family stood around the same fireplace expressing urgent news of ill or goodwill?  Dave could not name them.  He only wished the news he shared were of the good sort to bring joy.  Not the sorrow Dave felt seizing him. 

His heart shattered within him like delicate blown glass falling to the floor.  His first-born.  His eldest son.  Gone from him like so many more sons and daughters in their country’s war on terror since the Towers fell. 

To say the words from his own lips felt a strange thing.  A lie formed upon them surely.  Any moment Dave expected his son to barge his way in declaring all a jest.  In truth, Billy would be alive and well.  There must have been some mistake.  Never should any parent live to see the day their progeny had passed from the world before they did. 

Dave tried his best to steady the pronounced tremble of his hand as his chest tightened around his heart.  If ever there were a time he thirsted for a drink, it was now!  Blinking focus on the loved ones around him staring with shock, he swung his attention to them and not his own despair crashing around him.  He needed to be strong for not only himself but also his family who desperately needed him. 

Well over 24 years passed since he married his lovely bride ten years his younger, and so was the last drink he ever took.  Dave was proud of that.  At the moment though, he never felt more tempted to be lost at the bottom of a bottle in all his life.  He squeezed his shaking hand into a fist.

“What?” his wife Flo gasped as all the strength left her short legs.  His nephew and adopted son, Evan and his daughter Michelle caught her fast by each arm.  They led the lithe woman toward her favorite high back chair.  She went willingly but trembled all over without her dazed gaze wavering from her husband. 

His son Hunter worried Dave, though.  The boy showed no emotion at all in his silence staring him dead in the eye.  His blank attention soon fell to their newest arrival to the parlor being Sophie Vanderpool.  The young black woman was near the same age of his daughter Michelle and had come to visit as she usually did at the same time every day that blazing hot summer.  The girls had been inseparable like sisters from the moment they met just as Dave had been inseparable from Sophie’s father Marc the moment they met fighting side by side in Vietnam. 

Sophie entered the room shrugging on her yellow windbreaker in preparation to leave for home to her parent’s summer house on the property next door no doubt.  The hour was late and the evening turned cool with the weather forecaster calling for rain tonight.  Sophie paused a moment with the sling of her purse across her chest.  The smile she wore quickly dissipated at the glum reception viewed.

“With another from his squad,” Dave pushed on, “Billy died in a roadside bomb as they went through a zone of heavy insurgents somewhere in Iraq.”

Sophie’s light brown eyes widened with her sudden intake of breath.  Her hand slapped to her mouth in disbelief at what she just heard.  It couldn’t be true.  It just couldn’t! 

“Are they sure?” Michelle asked with the squeezed of her powder blue eyes shut from the tears that streamed from them.  Once her mother was situated, the girl ventured toward her father with a frown.  She tossed her dark golden hair from her eyes.

Dave nodded slowly.  He wished the news relayed a different story.  However, when told, he was the only one present to partake the knowledge from the Army representative, and so it rested on his shoulders alone to relay it to the rest of the family. 

“Yes, princess.”

“But how…” Michelle began but could not finish while she brought her trembling hand to her crumbling face.

“They’re sure though I wish to God they weren’t.”  Dave watched his wife grip Evan’s hand and he hers.  The blood drained from both their faces in their shock.  He said gently, “Billy died immediately in the blast when his Humvee rolled over the roadside bomb while engaging the enemy in a firefight.”

“No!  Can’t be true.  Can’t be!”  Michelle ran to her father’s waiting arms.  She burst into tears at his chest.  He stroked her dark golden head softly tucked under his chin and closed his eyes.  He breathed deeply.  Dave closed his pale green eyes as he rubbed her back to soothe her.

Evan ran his free hand nervously through his unruly curly hair.  He let his tears flow unable to help it in the sadness that gripped him.  Flo stood to hug the shaking young man.  He clung to her grateful for her loving arms, and soon she cried her own heart-wrenching tears into his shoulder. 

Hunter, on the other hand, turned and strolled out of the parlor in his self-possessed way.  No emotion showed on his face still.  He brushed passed Sophie who still stood at the entryway of the parlor stunned at the hearing of this latest news.  Hunter said nothing to her or anyone when he opened the front door and closed it softly after him.

Frowning with the start of tears in her eyes, Sophie watched the Cartwrights console each other in their grief.  She then blinked to Hunter’s retreating back.  Through the glass on the front door, Sophie viewed him heading in the direction of the stable. 

“Billy’s dead,” Dave said with such pain cutting through his voice making it quiver.

Tears spilled to her cheeks at Uncle Dave’s words that slammed home to the heart of her.  No, not him!  It just couldn’t be true, could it?  Billy, the oldest and sweetest of the Cartwrights, had been stolen from them by the war to liberate the Iraqi people from acts of terror by their dictator leader Saddam Hussein.  Billy, the same older brother of the Cartwright family, she had a crush on ever since she could remember and when she and Michelle became the best of friends.  Just gone. 

The friendship extended beyond just the girls though.  The Vanderpools and Cartwrights had known and done business with each other for years.  Sophie’s father, in fact, served as the Cartwright family attorney in all matters involving the law.  The Vanderpools only came to the area as a result of Dave’s insistence due to his close relationship with her dad Marcus during the Vietnam War where the two men served together as brothers in arms.

“Billy’s gone,” Dave whispered with such agony.  His eyes remained closed. 

Sophie shook her head and then looked back at the door Hunter retreated through.  Without her knowledge, her legs led her out of the grand house to the fresh air that tasted of a coming storm.  She felt better to take a few lung fills but not by much.  Her heart still ached at the known loss suffered.  William Cartwright, lovingly known as Billy, had been killed by the enemies of America.  Furthermore, instead of taking solace with his family, Hunter left them and showed no emotion one way or the other about it. 

Sophie realized this to be untrue.  No one loved Billy more than Hunter.  The two brothers were glued to the hip when growing up despite the 6-year age difference.  More than a few times Sophie recalled Hunter’s confession that Billy had been his truest friend.  To lose him so tragically then must have hurt him more than anyone. 

While one would think that he would take solace with the rest of the family, Hunter always had been wired differently.  He stood apart from them just as his grief apparently had.  Sophie needed to find him and make sure that he was all right.


© Copyright 2017 Amy F. Turner. All rights reserved.

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