Prologue --

A dark mist wreathed in rain and fog loomed over a seemingly deserted trin station. Its panneling old and worn, the cold clung to its very presence, and the ticket window was cracked by missuse of the years. But from it, a dull light shone though, barely illuminating a hand posed and teady, waitng for the next rusty steam engine to empty out its newest passangers.

Dawn was only moments away, judging by the flames of the sky. So accoustmed were the residents of the small down, that the sould of their reliable engine's ear-splitting horn only awoke those on the train, and signaled to the rest that the day was just beginning.

The engine rolled to a stop, steam flowing around it in an abnormal way. "The Challenger" was tatooed proudly onto it, although the white paint was peeling, and age was taking it's toll. The train had so many stories to tell, so many experiences to share.

People hurried out under the paleing sky, disturbing the receeding mist. The engineer jumped out, his overall's worn to holes, on his way to his favorite diner, for his day had just started, many more routes had to be made.

The suns ray's burst out from behind the tall mountains, commanding all to head to its mighty strength. All who lingered on the platform sheilded their eyes, and hurried to find the safety of the small station, so not but one remained.

A young woman stood, eyes wide open, watching the train in wonder as though it would give her the knowledge to strike ahead. Something lay before her, the very way she held herself exubed adventure.

Her blonde curls swayed around her in the slight breese. She clutched her luggage in both arms and turned around, taking in the scene around her. It seemed foreign to her, it was something new, it was something exciting. It was what she needed.

Excitement shone in her eyes as she made her way to the ticked office. She dropped her bags onto the molding floorboards and they groaned under the weight. Dust stirred around her worn boots, but her attention was on the receptionist.

"May I help you, Miss?" The elderly lady asked. She watched the young girl in intrest, it wasn't often some one visited her town.

"Yes," the girl said eagerly, her voice light in anticipation, "My name is Samantha Bryant, I would like to by a ticket to Coldrum."

At this, the receptionist's eyes grew wide with recongnition, and Samantha gave her an odd smile. She watched the woman for a moment, uneasyness settled over her for a moment.

She was given a ticket and with one last smile, picked up her bags and turned back to the train. She walked pointedly up to it and watched it for a moment more. Her look was daring, as though the train would stare at her aswell.

As she stepped up the two rusty steps, and into the car, she didn't notice a man in the shadows, awaiting her arrival. Her composure began to deteriorate once she tucked her suitcases away, now she timidly looked around her, unsure of her surroundings.

Something worried her, what was she going to face in Coldrum?

The adventure seemed to fade before her as she looked out the window, and suddenly ages of grief appeared on her face. She shed no tears but clenched her jaw and got comfortable, it was going to be a long ride.

**

I sighed in relief when I heard the steam engine finally begin to start up. My thoughts had been idle long enough, I needed to prepare myself for what was ahead.

A young, plump girl who looked about my age, came around asking for the tickets. She looked at me in intrest, by now I had realized new-comers weren't very common.

"Hello there," she greeted in an airy voice as she looked at my ticket, "What brings you to Colorado?"

I smiled at her, "I'm Samantha Bryant, I've come to see my family."

She had a shocked expression that I still didn't quite understand, but she was quickly on her way.

I was by no means a movie star, but I seemed to have the fame of one. Everyone knew me as the wife of Joe Becking - the widow of Joe Becking now. Well, everyone except for the people in this small area, they knew me as a Bryant.

And what a title it seemed to be!

But with all the respect, I couldn't help but be resentful as I watched the Colorado landscape go by. I was almost twenty-three, and I had thought myself to be an orphan my whole life, until a letter I had been awating for almost fifteen years of my life had finally came.

I clutched the red fabric of the seats in anger, my parents had died in a car accident when I was only five. I could barely remember them, memories of the orphanage took up most of my childhood.

That bleak day had been one of the worst of my young life, learning that my parents were gone forever, I had no home, and that there was no one to take me in. No relatives on either sides, no friends that could be burdened with me. So I was sent to Red Moutain, an orphanage in my state of Virigina.

At first it all seemed surreal to me, I had but the mind of a child, I couldn't understand why my friends used to cry themselves to sleep at night, or why all the grownups were sympathetic towards me.

But I understood death. What I didn't understand was why no one came to get me, why no one wanted to take me in. I knew I had family, my parents had talked about them often. I also knew that I had a baby brother, but no one would listen to the ramblings of an orphan, espcially that of a five year old. They only told me that my parents were in heaven and to go join the rest of the children.

I eventually had slid into the pattern of living there, I no longer missed my parents everyday, and I had been convinced that my baby brother had never existed. But I still held a small thread of hope that I had family.

When I was seven, I had received a letter that proved I wasn't alone.

It was a letter from my grandmother,

"Samantha,

Hello Honey, I hope you're not angry at us for not coming to get you and that you're being a good girl. Your Mommy would have wanted that, I will write again, maybe you can come and visit us.

-Grandma Bryant"

It had been so short, but it have given a lonely seven year-old hope. Every night I had read it before I went to sleep, it sat in my jeans pocket even now.

I waited and waited for the next letter, but not another had come during my stay at Red Moutain. It had come right after my husband's death, at a time when I was in no mood to search out long lost relatives.

Joe had been everything I had ever dreamed of. He was a handsome man in his thirties, with sandy blone hair, and a dashing build. He was also the son of wealthy business tycoons who had passed the trade down. He had owned everything imaginable, business, cars, houses, needless to say, he was always in the spotlight.

It still boggeled my mind to think he had been interested me. Me! A homely orphan just out of college. But the match had been perfect it seemed, and our engagement was annouced at the opening of a his new resturant, Bryant.

The annoucement had caused an uproar through all of America. Everyone wanted to know, who was this Samantha Bryant?

That was when it had started, my name was in newpapers, in magazines, on the news. Everywhere I went with Joe, the cameras followed. It was quite an abrupt awakening from the quite life I had lived.

But we had been happy, and when Joe was happy, everyone was.

The year after I had married him had been the happiest of my life. I coped with the fact that he would be gone quite a lot, but he made sure that I accompanied him whenever possible. There hadn't been many problems with our life, and I was convinced that we would always be together.

Joe's death had been violent, it came from getting involved with the wrong people. He had talked about them days before his death. He had told me to leave New York as quickly as possible if anything were to happen to him.

I didn't believe it at the time, but now it made sense. Work had been keeping him away more often in the last few months, and I wasn't allowed to come with him on these jobs. There were phone calls too, from people I didn't know. My naivety prevented me from putting two and two together. Never in a million years would I have guessed Joe was involved with those kinds of people.

I think that was why Joe loved me, I was so accepting, ready to be loved. I never asked him about things I thought would damper our relationship, I was happy thinking our life was perfect.

And it was, at least until the murder.

After his death, things began to pile up and by the day of his funeral, threats had arrived at my door. Joe had known this would happen, and there was a summer house in my homestate of Virgina that I moved to.

The country went crazy when the eleven o'clock news around America annouced his death. I must of gotten thousands of sympathy letters, cards, flowers. But nothing could heal the loss I felt then.

And with a heavy heart I attended his funeral, and then moved back to Virgina.

Everyone thought I was simply grief-stricken and scared. How innocent they thought me, to be given the burden of all his companies, debts, and money. He had left me absolutely everything. His family was bitter to me, friends tried to con me out of money, everyone thought they knew how easy my life would be until I myself died.

But they had no idea what I had seen.

By absolutely no means had I watched my husband murdered. No, I had viewed his death in a more disturbing way. Hours before I knew of his death, an uneasy knot had been forming in my stomach. My mind was anticipating something, but what I didn't know.

I had been standing in heavy rain, waiting for a bus, when it happened. My umbrella had fell out of my hand as the moment took over my body. I think I collapsed onto the ground as I felt something stab through my heart. In a split second, the sensation was over, and I opened my tear- filled eyes and gazed around for a moment. I picked up my umbrella, though, and I looked to my apartment eight-stories up. Something had happened to Joe, this I knew.

I put my head in my hands, listening to the calming sound of the train as I remembered the sight once again.

I could still see his body strewn across the hallway that lead to our apartment, I could feel his body against mine when I had held him, calling the police with my free hand. He had been so dear to me, and I felt a part of me ripped out, a void that could never been filled again.

The police had had a very good guess as to who had done it, but that was all. They weren't even sure how long he had been there, I was left to discover that myself.

I let out a sob from where I sat, not wanting to relive that dream again. I looked down to my wedding ring that I had neglected to take off. I missed Joe so much.

That was why I was on this train, I needed to get away from it all, from the tabloids, from the memories, I wanted to start over.

I had received the letter a month after Joe's death. How my grandmother had found me, I did not know, but in it, she pleaded that I come to Coldrum, and I had no choice but to accept.

Even though I had yearned for that letter, I had already set myself against this woman. Why hadn't she taken me up after my parents death? She obviously knew of me, she had sent me a letter when I was seven. Why had she waited fifteen years to make contact with me again?

I told myself I wasn't going to help this woman, but in the back of my mind the seven year old orphan wanted to embrace her with love that had been bottled up for almost two decades.