oO Chapter One Oo

Georgia- March, 1861

"I shall not go!" Charlotte Weller screamed throwing her beautiful blue shawl to the ground. Her face got redder by the second, making her disheveled face and black hair even more unattractive. The way she looked was of little matter to her, though. Nothing would make her change her mind. Ever since her mother told her about the engagement, she had her mind set on not going, but it wasn't until that day that she actually dared speak up. Why that was, not even Charlotte could say.

"Why ever not?" her mother asked, in a demanding voice.

All at once, Charlotte's face went though a series of emotions. Her flushed, red face became even more reddened with anger, her brows angled ever so much, making her such a freight to look at, but the anger was only a mask of the emotion that followed. Just like a candle being blown out, Charlotte's temper faded, and instead, her face began to pale resembling snow. I didn't take long for her eyes began to get misty, and a few tears managed to trickle down her cheeks.

Oh, she could not be angry any longer. She wasn't angry with her mother at all. In fact, she wasn't even angry. She was more saddened than anything as she took a glance at the mirror situated right beside her. Her face was rather pretty enough when the occasion called for it, with her deep hazel eyes and soft complexion, now ruined by tearstains. However, her attention was not on the wreck she was or even the beauty that she could be transformed into, but rather her attention was fixed on something that would never change, no matter what she did: her leg.

Even though the skirt of her dress covered it exceeding well, there was no doubt when she walked that she had a limp, and that limp had been there since birth. One leg had always been a good few inches shorter than the other. Often, she called herself crippled even though her mother insisted that she never say such things about herself. Well, who had the power to tell her what she should think and what she should not? Charlotte was well aware of how other women looked at her, how they snickered as she limped by, and how they talked behind her back. All were very good reasons for her to hate her deformity.

In her eyes, she would never be as pretty, as graceful, or as worthy as all the other southern belles that flaunted around her and would still flaunt their beauty right before her at that barbecue. That was the reason she didn't want to go. She knew she would have a terrible time, and it would only make her cry herself to sleep for the fourth time that week.

Oh, if only she was so fortunate enough to be "normal" in her own terms. Then she would certainly have been the woman every man wanted. She didn't necessarily want all the men, though, she simply wanted one, the right one. But honestly, how was she to capture that man's attention with such a deformity? No man would ever think twice about spending time with her, much less give her an offer of marriage. And shouldn't a girl of seventeen in the deep south already have serious beau? At least that was what it seemed, so Charlotte had always accepted that she would never be good enough for any man.

Naturally her parents refused to believe this, and did their best to try and match her up with eligible southern men, all of which ironically, left not because of her leg, but because of her attitude. She never did let them speak much and always acted in most unladylike manners. She would snort, giggle, spill her tea, and other nonsensical things that her parents knew were only devices to drive those men away. Charlotte did not want, nor did she ever think she would need their help. Besides, she wanted to love a man that she met by fate, not through her overly anxious parents.

"Charlotte Marie Weller, you will answer me this instant or you shall be in for a sound beating! Why won't you go? Everyone expects you to attend!"

"Because, they expect me to come, only so that they can ridicule me. Do you honestly think I enjoy being humiliated like that every time I go to any public engagement? Do you wish for my suffering? I've had enough, and so I mean it when I say I will not go!" Charlotte exclaimed still with tears flowing down her face.

"How many times do I have to tell you? I will say it again: No one looks down upon you because of that leg. It's a minor problem that can easily be overlooked. You're simply making the situation more severe that it is. Why with such a pretty dress, face, and new bonnet, I'm sure no one will notice. Honestly, you'll be talked about more behind your back if you don't go."

"I'd rather them talk behind my back than to hear one more giggle escape a woman's mouth at that barbecue. Mother, don't you see? I have had enough!" With that, Charlotte threw down her sun bonnet, all dressed with beautiful blue ribbons to match her shawl.

"Tell me this. Do you want to spend the rest of you life as a spinster?"

For a second the room was silent. Charlotte sniffed and lifted her palm to wipe away a few tears. "No," she answered as she shook her head. "You know I don't."

"Then, you do what you must. If you stay home, you will stay home again and again, and you'll never get out there to socialize and meet a nice young man who will love you and will make you an offer. Now, if you want the rest of your life to go down the drain, and spend your last days alone in and empty house with no food, no money, no friends, than yes, by all means stay home and enjoy your solitude. Carefully think about why you're doing, before you make your decision though."

Charlotte found no good answer to her mother's statement, for she realized her mother was right. God, why, did she always have to be right? Of course, there was the small detail that her mother had failed to mention. She already knew everyone in town. Her mother had made sure of that for the past seventeen years of her life. The only way she would ever meet a nice young man, would be if he recently moved to town, or if they moved to a different city. Charlotte already knew full well that not a single man aroused any interest in her.

"But mother," Charlotte replied, "I already know every guy in town."

That's when her mother gave a very sly grin. "Not everyone."

Charlotte looked at her in confusion. "What do you mean?"

"I hear from a good source that there is a new man that has bought old Mr. Hanson's plantation. The man has a son, two and twenty, that I'm sure you will find very attractive and kind. I met him myself the other day, and he shall be at the barbecue. His name is Ethan Gregory."

Charlotte had no verbal answer for that, though she had quite a lot to say in thought. She had heard her mother say a man was "attractive and kind", but every time, he ended up falling short of all her expectations. It never occurred to her, that maybe her expectations were a little too high for anyone to meet. However, Charlotte's steam had worn off and she knew very well that if she refused to go now, her mother would unleash her own fiery temper she knew her to have. It was one thing Charlotte certainly inherited from her mother.

With a sigh, Charlotte finally nodded. "Fine, I'll go."

Her mother gave a relieved smile. "Good. Now, pick up your bonnet and shawl, put it on, and I'll sent up Mary to fix your hair once more. We haven't much time now before you have to leave. Now hurry."

Charlotte did everything but hurry. Instead she took her precious time walking up to the shawl that laid beside the vanity, carefully whisked it around her shoulders. Her mother watched her every move, and it was quite evident that she was getting impatient. Her hands were not on her hips, her feet on the verge of tapping the wooden floor. Charlotte expected to hear the tap any moment, but when it didn't come, she turned around to head over and pick up her bonnet. With that in her hand, her mother was apparently satisfied and headed downstairs.

It only took a few minutes before Mary, their black servant, came up. "Now miss, what have you done with your hair? I already fixed it up once. Now it's an absolute wreck!" Marcy exclaimed shaking her head.

"I did nothing." Charlotte replied simply, not caring really how she looked now. She was sure to make a great impression on this new gentleman.

Mary said nothing else, but simply fetched the brush and ran it through Charlotte's raven black hair. Once it was all fixed, she took the bonnet from Charlotte and placed in on top of her head.

"There," Mary declared, "Now you're ready for that barbecue"

Had it not been that her mother thought it improper, she would have hugged Mary. Honestly, she was the only person who really understood how she felt. Mary never chastised her about her negativity, but instead, tried to ignore that and pushed her attention toward her more lovely features or characteristics. Of course, she was never fully successful, but it always made things much better to know she had someone who understood and cared.

"Thank you," Charlotte replied with a smile.

"Charlotte, come on!" her mother yelled.

"I'm coming!" Charlotte yelled back.

With a long sigh, Charlotte made her way out the door, unsure of what she might encounter.

A/N: sooo….yeah, I'm sure everyone is like, you shouldn't post another story when you are barely able to post in one…well, I just suddenly had this…burst of inspiration, and I just HAD to write. It was such a cool idea that I could not ignore. I really hope you like it. Also, I wrote out summaries for the chapters in "Wings of Eagles" and I actually discovered I don't have that much to write. I have up to chapter sixteen finished and I believe that I can complete it by the end of this summer, so I was like…why not give in to my muse and start this story? I do hope you enjoy it. Oh, and another note, the chapters will be longer than this, I assure you.