Muffled voices sputtered and flooded into the farthest reaches of her mind as she raced through the thickets of brush beneath the trees. A ferocious low growl enveloped the space around her body pushing her to run even faster. Her name was shouted in warning moments before she tripped over a fallen log and slammed hard into the forest floor. The crystal clear image of a breath-taking beauty with shoulder-length black hair stopped her head from spinning.

Before she could tear her eyes away from the captivating woman, a ravenous growl resounded in her ears. Glowing red eyes stared her in the face as the animal moved closer to where she lay on the ground. The command from the woman fell on deaf ears failing to stop the vicious attack. Pouncing with swift speed, the animal pinned her to the ground knocking the air from her lungs.

The blaring buzz of her alarm drew Selina from her dream just as razor sharp teeth tore into the flesh of her neck. A cold sweat covered her brow as she sat up in bed. Wiping a hand across her forehead, her eyes fell to the rumpled mass of sheet and blanket at the end of her bed. She flipped the switch turning off the buzzer and dropped her chin to her chest. The pounding of her heart and the shallowness of her breathing cued her to the intensity of the dream.

Selina pushed herself to the edge of the bed and dangled her feet over to the floor. Allowing her head to drop forward, she closed her eyes and gently rubbed the back of her neck. It was not the first instance she had seen the angelically perfect woman with black hair. Often times, when reoccurring dreams plagued her sleep, the presence of a person meant she was about the meet them and they would change her life profoundly. What her appearance meant, Selina could only imagine.


"A new school?" Stepping from the car, he took in the deepest breath of the crisp air his lungs could manage. Blowing it out loudly, he raised an eyebrow to the man getting out of the driver's seat. "Are you sure Maine was a good choice, Alden?"

"Of course, Sebastian." He skirted around the vehicle to pat the man hard on the shoulder. "I have been here for two semesters and the first half of this one already." The wind rippled through his shaggy hair as he looked up at the tall stone buildings with a smile. "You will love New England."

"Whatever." Glaring at the man, Sebastian was not in any way enthused about this new endeavor.

"At least there is a lot of cloud-cover." A petite woman stepped out of the backseat tossing her shoulder-length hair into the breeze.

"Way to side with him." He sent an aggravated glare in her direction.

"Alden was right, Sebastian." Drawing in a breath of chilled air, she allowed a smile to curl at her lips. Autumn had always been her favorite season. "We could use the vacation."

"I hardly consider going back to college again a vacation, Gwendolyn." Sarcasm accompanied his deep scowl.

"Oh, complain a little, will you?" Her words were clipped and quick as she tried to force a frown.

The playful heated words being exchanged between the couple faded into nothing as Alden caught sight of a passing woman. Long chocolate brown curls tumbled down her back and covered her shoulders. A strange pulling in his chest as he watched her brought wonder and intrigue. A foreign feeling of warmth sparked in his core as she drew nearer. In all his years, never before had he seen a woman so fair and pleasing to his eyes.

"She is beautiful." Alden's voice flowed softly as he caught her gaze.

"Of course she is beautiful, you do not know her." A light punch came from the raven-haired beauty beside him.

"So, because I do not know her, she is more beautiful to me?" He flashed a half-smile at his sister as she gazed at the beauty walking across the lawn.

"Yes, strangers are always beautiful." Rolling his eyes, Sebastian crossed his arms over his chest and let out a deeply irritated sigh.

"I have seen her before, in my dreams." Gwendolyn tilted her head slightly to better examine the young woman walking alone. Their eyes met and a look of recognition and wonder swept over the stranger's face. "I guess she has seen me, too." The woman flipped her hair in front of her eyes to break the hold, but she glanced back once again. "She is not afraid."

"She should be." Scoffing at his wife, Sebastian leaned back against the car.

"Yes, she should." The dreamy tone almost came as a surprise to both of the men standing beside her.

Selina could not help but wonder why she had caught the attention of anyone, let alone a man who so much resembled a runway model. Normally being stared at by strangers like she was a science experiment did not faze her. Today, she found the attention to be almost flattering, causing a jump in her heart. His look promised tenderness and caring, understanding and loyalty. She diverted her gaze as she passed closely to the trio near the black car.

Picking up her pace as his eyes followed her, she held her gaze on her shoes. The heat from the intensity of his eyes fluttered her heart and brought a light flush to her cheeks. Relief was in view as she quickly hopped up the cement steps into McGowan Hall. As the glass doors slipped closed behind her, she felt suddenly chilled and alone. The entryway was nearly empty as she continued up the stairs to the third floor. Her heart pounded rapidly, more from the haunting eyes than the activity of running up the stairs, as Selina walked down the hallway to her classroom.

The horseshoe of chairs and tables stretched across the dark brown paneled walls allowing every seat easy sight of the dusty blackboard. Moving across the back of the room, she was careful not to make eye contact with anyone else already seated. Slipping into the last seat in the row just inside the door, she removed her notebook and a novel from her bag. The taped spine cracked softly as she opened the pages to her bookmark.

Immersing herself deep into the words typed across the pages, she tried to keep calm as more students progressively filed into the room. Selina reminded herself not to be nervous about her first Literary Analysis class because Professor Holland had come highly recommended from several classmates and the department secretary. Relief had been an easy obtainment when she saw the reading list on the first day in September: David Copperfield, Mrs. Dalloway, and Great Expectations.

She already owned and had read each of them several times over the years which made the assignments very easy for her. And she hoped they would continue to be. Signing herself up for an 'easy A' course had been a stern recommendation from her academic advisor when her GPA slipped below the minimum required 2.0. One semester was all Selina had to pull herself out of an academic hole. She could only hope the rest of her classes would start going as well as she had planned, which was definitely not what they had been.

Action unfolded as she flipped through the musty pages, forgetting the room around her and fading away from the droning of Professor Holland. Delving deeper into the novel, Selina pushed hesitation and negative thoughts from her mind. The newly opened space was quickly filled with the elaborate characters and plot of Mrs. Dalloway. A sudden loud bang caused her to jump back to reality to hear the dismissing words of the professor.

As the students filed from the lecture hall, Selina once again caught a glimpse of the brilliant blue eyes she had seen walking into the building. How she passed the entire class, and the semester thus far, without having noticed him she could not guess. Something in his eyes frightened and soothed her at the same time, but she could not figure out what it was. She watched him pause in the doorway tossing his shaggy hair out of his eyes to look back at her before stepping into the hallway.


Class time had flown as he lost himself in thoughts of the brown-haired beauty. Her presence in the room increased the growing warmth inside his chest each time his eyes came to rest on her face. The haunting image of her eyes refused to leave him no matter how hard he tried to push her away.

Afternoon and evening had slipped away just as fast while Alden remained lost in his own mind. Walking through the forest surrounding their home, he paced beside his sister and her husband. Their ritualed nighttime runs had always been calming to him, except for tonight. The twinkling stars he often counted mocked him with extra bright light tinted green.

"She is human, Alden." His eyes remained fixed on the path ahead, jaw clenched tightly. "Walking trouble for all of us."

"It is true she may turn out to be trouble, but she may also be your saving grace." Gwendolyn's eyes glowed with hope as they paused in a clearing. She turned her gaze to him with confidence. "There is a reason she walked past without fear." Brushing her hair over her shoulder, she laid a hand on his shoulder. "Maybe there is more here than we can see."

"What if she becomes frightened and reveals us?" Sebastian paced around the clearing.

"It would be unfortunate, but we could take care of it." Removing the comforting hand from Alden's shoulder, she lowered her tone.

"And, what if she—"

"How will you know if you do not speak to her?" She cut off the unnecessary question with gently raised brows and a smile.

"Have you seen something significant, sister?" A smile twitched at Alden's lips.

"That, dear brother, you will have to discover on your own." She patted his arm and turned toward home.

"Must you always be so cryptic?" All he really wanted was a clear answer where his future was concerned.

"It is part of my charm." She shrugged her shoulders gently and moved off into the shadows closely followed by Sebastian.

They returned quickly to their home, and Alden immediately tucked himself away in his bedroom. He had lain for a while on his bed filling the silence with snippets of Mozart and Brahms. Attempts to play his violin had been futile bringing him to leave the instrument lying on his bed. Music was a fluent language to him, but his thoughts refused to stay focused on anything other than the woman.

He had counted the clouds as they rolled by and dispersed with the sunset the night before, and he counted each star in the sky that had reminded him of her. Alden sat on a chair before his window staring out at the sky again trying hard not to think of the enchanting emerald eyes which had haunted him since he first became entranced by their power. When he returned home the evening after seeing her for the first time, he assumed she was just a passing image in his life. But the fact he could no longer recall how many times he had thought of her proved otherwise.

"The clouds will come before we have to leave." Sebastian paused in the doorway of the room when he caught sight of Alden staring blankly out the window. A frown tugged down the corners of his lips when he recalled the reason for the distance. "Drop the puppy gaze, and let the human go." Forceful words grumbled from his throat passing his gritted teeth. "She will bring you nothing but trouble." The woman had been causing a breakdown in the normal patterns Alden had kept, and Sebastian was not happy. "And, nothing less for the rest of us as well."

"Do not listen to him, Alden." A soft melodious voice brushed aside the scolding of his brother-in-law as a gentle hand touched his shoulder. "There had to have been a reason you would notice her." Gwendolyn offered her mysterious smile signaling she knew something she would not reveal. "Especially if you have been in her presence unknown until now."

The couple exchanged glances as Alden remained fixated on the dark shadows of the woods. A quiet signal from her sent Sebastian from the room with a stern press in his lips. Waiting a few moments longer, she almost spoke but caught herself. Her brother had never been so distraught and intrigued at the same time before in his life. A flicker of a smile teased her lips as she turned from the room and crossed the hallway to her own.

Staring deep into the hidden recesses of the trees, Alden had not even realized he was now alone in his room with his thoughts. A subtle glimmer of green danced across the horizon just before a soft orange sunbeam announced its presence in the morning. The green color in the clouds was just one more reminder of the dazzling woman he had invading his every thought. His sister's words skipped through his head for an instant before he pushed them away. He did not believe in fate, and he was certainly not going to start now.