I have a lot more of this written but I thought I'd see what people think of the first chapter before I post any more. I'm an English writer and this is set in England so some spelling and terminology might be off to American readers but I hope you enjoy it anyway. Reviews are nice to give generously. Vicx
Kate Matthews rested her head against the aeroplane window with a sigh. Her breath fogged the glass, blurring her view. She knew they were probably flying over Greenland by now. For the first time in over an hour she caught glimces of something other than sea through the gaps in the clouds. She shivered and pulled the sleeves of her sweater down over her hands, resting them on the closed book in her lap. She'd given up on reading a half hour ago and settled for staring out the window instead. At least this way she didn't even have to pretend she was focusing. Truth be told focusing was the last thing she could possibly do right now. She was dreading the next few weeks. Absolutely dreading them.
She felt subtle movement beside her and glanced across, tensing. The guy sitting beside her had been asleep since takeoff in Orlando; he hadn't even stirred during the pick up at JFK or the strong turbulence over eastern Canada. To her relief he was still sleeping. She was so not in the mood to make small talk with an overweight guy in a suit. Definitely not her idea of a good time. Not that any of this was.
Kate was on her way home for the holidays and her brother James' wedding. It wasn't as if she didn't want to see James get married, they were still the best of friends, even now Kate was living in Florida on a hockey scholarship, they emailed a few times a week and Kate really was happy for him. He'd been with Abby for four years, since Kate was 15, back then she remembered being very jealous of Abby, because for the first time every Kate wasn't the most important thing in James' life, her big brother was her idol. She was the only girl she knew who'd much rather have been at the rink watching her brother play ice hockey than out in town flirting with boys at 15.
If only James' had stayed her main priority she wouldn't be dreading this visit so much, in fact she might have come home once or twice in the 18 months since she'd left, she might not have missed Christmas, her mother might not call her once a week just to make sure she was still alive. Mary Matthews was taking Kate's long absence personally Kate knew but even that hadn't been enough to make her board a plane. She had vowed when she left that she wouldn't go back. She couldn't see him. Not after the last time. But how could she miss James' wedding?
He'd known what he was asking of her when he phoned (and she'd known it was serious because he rarely did that at long distance rates) but she couldn't have said no. Abby wanted her as a bridesmaid; the wedding was on January 19th, 4 years since Abby and James' first date. That meant that Kate was now on a plane, doing what she had sworn she never would, going home for Christmas for 2 months. 2 months. She was going to help plan the wedding and be there for her brother. Her best friend. Even if it killed her.
Carsington in Yorkshire had been Kate's home since she was born, her family had lived in the same old stone farm house since before James had come along even and growing up, the farm had been the most wonderful place on earth. She still missed it, getting up every morning at 5, helping her father out before heading down to the ice rink at 6.30, either to train herself or to watch James and then off to school. Life had been simple and easy and fun until Mark had come along and everything had gone to hell.
Mark Greenbrooke moved to town just after Kate had turned 16, he and James were soon firm friends and it hadn't taken long before Kate fell head over heels for him. He was everything she'd ever wanted, tall, built, an ice hockey fanatic with a personality just like her brother's. He was funny and handsome and he loved her.
Kate remembered their three years together far too well. Mark had been her first love, her first…everything so the evening after she told him about her possible scholarship she had been devastated to find him in bed with Kerri Harris, the girlfriend of her friend Danny.
Kate hated to admit that she should probably be thankful for the whole episode, she had pretty much made up her mind that she was going to turn down the chance to go to college in Florida, to train with some of the world's best coaches for two years before moving up to Canada to get in some coaching experience. If she hadn't found Mark wrapped around Kerri, both of them flushed and apologetic she might never have taken the chance to get out of Carsington. She still remembered the awful night before she left, the things her and Mark had shouted at each other, the thought of having to see him was part of what had kept her away for so long.
James had told her he'd never forgive Mark for what he'd done to her but Kate had known it wouldn't last, Carsington was a small town and for two boys who it seemed would be there for the rest of their lives, two boys who got on so well, not speaking wasn't really even an option. Kate had told him it was okay, that she and Mark's break up had nothing to do with his and Mark's friendship but that didn't mean she was looking forward to watching Mark be her brother's best man.
Kate had no idea how she was going to react when she saw Mark again. As far as she could tell, she had moved on, it wasn't as if she'd been sitting around pining for him for the last 18 months, in fact over the last few she'd found herself growing increasingly attached to Chase Lawson, a beautiful Law major on the swimming team, so close that she'd managed to talk him into flying over after Christmas to be her date for the wedding.
Things between them hadn't gotten overly serious but they had reached the girlfriend/boyfriend stage of things and she'd met his family. Chase was all the things Mark wasn't: lean, interested, intelligent and planning ahead. Chase had a future; he wanted more for himself than coaching the Cubs at Carsington ice rink for the rest of his life. Chase was what she wanted, a life more exciting than anyone she knew at home. She wanted more than Carsington.
Kate was pulled from her thoughts as the Captain announced they would be landing soon. She put away her book, pulled her seat upright and tucked her tray table up. She kept her head down as an air steward roused the man beside her for landing.
After touch down Kate found her luggage on the carousel and ducked into the nearby toilets. Luckily she found it empty. Bracing her hands on the sides of one of the sinks she looked at herself in the mirror. Her skin was a deep tan, her naturally blond hair streaked almost white by the sun, deep blue eyes, slightly more cynical than usual but they definitely hadn't lost their sparkle.
Taking a deep breath she visibly pulled herself together, smoothing her hair and applying a fresh coat of gloss. From what she'd been told it was just James picking her up, something she was grateful for, Kate had four younger siblings and she didn't think she could deal with her whole family yet, some time with James would probably make her feel a lot better.
Reaching in her bag she pulled out her scarf, an early Christmas gift from Chase because even a southern boy like himself knew that winter in Yorkshire was a far cry from winter in his home town of San Diego.
By the time she made her way through to the arrivals lounge she was actually looking forward to seeing her brother and the hour long drive home from Manchester airport where she was. She heard him before she saw him.
"Kate!" he was coming in her direction with the biggest grin in the world, gathering her up in his strong arms and twirling her round. Kate wound her arms around James' neck and held on just a second longer after he put her back on the ground, "God I've missed you," James said, letting her go and pressing a firm kiss to her forehead, "I think you mighta grown Katie," he teased ruffling her hair. James had always been the only one who could get away with calling her that, although Mark had always tried it.
"You haven't changed a bit Jay," Kate told him with a grin and he hadn't. Still the best looking guy she knew, with a guy grin and twinkle in his eye. Still a good six inches taller than her own 5 feet 8, still the most reassuring thing in the world, her very own security blanket.
James shrugged, "Why mess with perfection eh?" he joked, taking her bags and leading her out the door, "How's school going?"
Kate knew that by school he meant hockey so she told him, "Really well. Since I made varsity it's been a lot harder going, I mean we don't win every match anymore and my knee still isn't quite right since that game against UCLA but coach seems happy with me and all my other classes are fine. I'm really enjoying law." She didn't think she should tell him why just yet.
By this time she was seated in James' Land Rover while he closed the boot and climbed in beside her. He paused for a second before starting up the car, "Are you happy Katie?" he asked her, "Because, none of us know and I keep telling Mum that if something was wrong you'd ring but…so I guess that's all I really need to know, are you happy?" he rubbed a hand over his face, like he hadn't really wanted to ask but had known he couldn't get away with not asking.
Kate thought about it. Florida was great, hockey was great, Chase was great and her friends Chelsea and Lauren were more supportive than any of the girls she'd met in England. Yes, she decided, she actually was happy,
She nodded, "Yes, I am. I love it out there Jay. I have real friends for the first time in forever. I train harder than I ever have, I have to push myself so hard, it fantastic. I've got a new job in the campus coffee shop where Chase's band plays, and Chase is really really cool."
James nodded and grinned at her again, "So you gonna tell me about my new wedding guest or am I gonna have to interrogate him myself when he arrives?"
Kate knew he was teasing but she still remembered the earful Mark had gotten off James for daring to date his little sister and knew there was no way Chase was going to escape unscathed.
She started to tell James about him as they pulled out of the car park and didn't stop for most of the way home.