Thank you for checking out my newest story! I'm trying something new out with this story, but I hope you all like it! Leave me some feedback on what you think of it! (:
"I'm sorry, ma'am. All flights are cancelled as of right now due to the snowfall."
I wanted to protest, but it wouldn't have done much. Besides, there were already plenty of other angry customers that were doing that. It would be pointless to waste the little amount of energy I had left on arguing about the forces of Mother Nature.
I sighed and nodded. "Can you tell me if any buses are going in the direction of Pennsylvania?"
The employee, whose bored expression had not changed in the slightest the past ten minutes, checked his computer and informed me that the next bus leaving for New York City would be in thirty minutes, and there would be other buses leaving from there to Pennsylvania.
"Mom, I'm tired."
I looked down at my son, Ben, who did indeed look tired. I hated going through travelling delays or other issues with him. All I wanted was for us both to be in Pennsylvania right now.
"I know, sweetie. You'll be able to sleep on the bus. Just hang in there for a little more, alright?"
Ben simply nodded. He was one of the most understanding 7-year-olds I ever knew. Time and time again, he showed me how hard he tried to be grown up. Sometimes I thought he tried to act older than he really was, which worried me. Since it was always just the two of us, I think he thought he had to act older instead of just being a kid.
"Alright, I'll take two tickets for that bus," I told the employee. Once he gave them to me, I took Ben's hand in mine and walked outside, where our faces were hit with an icy wind—something neither of us was used to.
Although I was born and raised in Pennsylvania, I've lived in California for the past twenty years and Ben has been accustomed to the warm, California weather as well. Of course I still hold Pennsylvania close to my heart, but I quickly became sold on California once I went to college at UCLA. Therefore, I only have the opportunity to experience harsh winters during the holidays, when Ben and I visit my family back in Pennsylvania.
"Let's hurry on the bus," I said, wanting to get in a warmer, enclosed space.
I gave the bus driver our luggage and tickets before finding seats on the stuffy vehicle. I wasn't surprised I was able to get tickets at the last minute, considering there were only about five other people on the bus with us. Nonetheless, I was ready to head home. I didn't want to stay in Vermont any longer than we had to. It seemed a million degrees colder than my parents' home in Pennsylvania. Plus, I spent the past three days in Vermont with Ben for a short business trip before the holidays, and I didn't want to extend my stay any longer than that. I was ready to get to Pennsylvania and see my family members, and Ben was ready to be reunited with his grandparents and cousins.
"Can I go to sleep now?" Ben asked me, rubbing his tired eyes.
"Yes, of course," I replied, pulling him into me. His eyes shut within minutes, signaling he was sound asleep. At some point, I ended up dozing off as well, until I felt the bus slow down and make the final stop, according to the bus driver.
Good, we're almost home, I thought.
Except we weren't. Before the bus stopped, I saw a sign that we passed. In big, elegant-looking letters, the sign read, 'Welcome to Westbrook.' According to the sign, we were still in Vermont.
"This can't be the last stop. We're not in New York yet," I said to the driver. He halted to a stop finally, in the middle of an older-looking town. I couldn't see much since it was dark outside, only what was floodlit with lights.
"There's a state of emergency, ma'am," he replied. I glanced behind me, noticing Ben and I were the only ones left on the bus. I also noticed that he was the second one to call me ma'am today. Gosh, I'm not even thirty yet, what was with calling me ma'am?
Pushing that thought aside, I continued to look at the driver in his long mirror. "So? What does that have to do with anything?"
He gave me a flat look. "I'm not permitted to drive passengers while there's a state of emergency. I'm required to take any passengers to the nearest town before dropping off the bus."
I gaped at him for a moment. "Well what am I supposed to do? I paid to get us to New York!"
"Sorry, ma'am. Looks like you'll have to stay the night in this town. I'll go gather your belongings," he said, hopping out of the bus.
"What's wrong, Mom?" Ben asked me, suddenly awake. He looked up at me with his big, brown eyes that reminded me of his father. Fortunately, he inherited only the good traits of his father.
"Nothing, sweetie. We just have to stay a night here in this town because of the snow. Look, doesn't this town look nice?"
"I guess," he replied, not sounding too sure of my attempt to lighten the situation.
Once we were off the bus and given out luggage back, I shot the bus driver one last glare before turning toward the illuminated town. Just as I was debating which direction to head, someone came up behind us.
"Are you lost?" she asked, prompting me to turn around. I couldn't see much since the nearest streetlight was about five feet away and rather dim, but she looked nice enough. Not like a crazy person, or at least not how crazy people are depicted in movies. She seemed to be around my age, or possibly slightly younger.
"Kind of. The bus dropped us off here because of the weather. Can you point me in the direction of the nearest hotel?"
She smiled, making me seem a little more comfortable than I was ten seconds ago. The last thing I needed was a crazy woman threatening the well-being of my son. "Sure, I can do that. Well, there's no hotel around here, but there's one place to stay in Westbrook. The Ashford Inn," she stated. "Come on, it's just up the street." She grabbed one of my suitcases and rolled it behind her, leaving me to easily carry the two bags in one hand and hold Ben's hand in the other.
"Thank you so much. We really appreciate this. I'm Evelyn, and this is Ben."
"No problem! This is a very small town, so it's easy to spot people who aren't from around here. Oh, and I'm Ruby."
"Nice to meet you," I said.
"Nice to meet you," Ben repeated, demonstrating how polite he was, even when he was tired.
"You too! So like I said, the Ashford Inn is the only place to stay at, but it's also the best around. We haven't gotten too many out-of-towners to visit lately, so I know you'll practically get the royal treatment there from Lorena," Ruby explained.
Minutes later, we stood in front of a large Victorian styled house, with a huge porch on the front and a decent sized yard covered in snow. Everything about it looked gorgeous with the layer of snow on top, including the sign that labeled the structure as Ashford Inn.
"Let's go inside. It's not too late, so Lorena should still be up and about," Ruby said, leading the way into the inn. She called out for the woman named Lorena, who appeared within seconds from a nearby room. From the moment we stepped inside, I absorbed the charm and uniqueness that the inside of the inn exuberated with.
"Why hello there! I'm Lorena Warner," she said, holding out a hand to shake. I took it and introduced myself.
"Evelyn White," I smiled. Although I was quite tired, it felt nearly impossible to avoid smiling in the presence of this older woman. She carried herself with such radiant energy that I almost forgot how exhausted I was myself.
"And who might this young man be?" Lorena exclaimed, bending down in front of Ben.
"My name is Benjamin White. But you can call me Ben," he said, offering a hand out for Lorena to shake. She laughed as she took his small hand in hers.
"Well, it's very nice to meet you!"
"Evelyn and Ben here need a room. I was sure you could help her out at this lovely establishment," Ruby grinned.
"Of course! That's what the inn is for. How long will you be staying in Westbrook?" Lorena asked.
"Just one night, until we can head home tomorrow," I answered, giving Ben's hand a small squeeze.
"Ah, okay. Well you both looked exhausted, so let me take you to your room."
"Alright, I can pay you—"
"Darling, we can take care of that tomorrow morning. Here, follow me."
I turned to say goodbye to my savior of the night. "Thank you, Ruby."
"Sure thing! Hope you enjoy your night in Westbrook. Bye, Ben! See you around, Lorena," she replied, waving goodbye. Ben waved at her back before we followed Lorena upstairs.
We walked down a hall that was open from the balcony of the stairs running alongside it. Every inch of the place had such a warm, inviting feeling to it. "This is a gorgeous inn, Lorena. Everyone must want to stay here after they've seen it."
"Thank you, Evelyn. Yes, my guests seem to like it here, but I'm afraid there haven't been many guests over the past year or so," Lorena said in a melancholy tone.
"Why?" I asked bluntly without filtering myself. "I'm sorry, it's none of my business," I apologized.
Surprisingly, Lorena didn't seem too offended. Instead, she waved a hand in the air, dismissing my blunt approach. "Oh it's fine, honey. It's no secret in this town that the inn hasn't had much business lately. It's mainly because there just aren't many people passing through Westbrook." Lorena paused, and I glanced over to see her expression was a mixture of disappointment, frustration, and other negative emotions that didn't seem normal for someone like Lorena to be feeling.
Still, Lorena put a smile on her face a second later. "But no worries, it just makes it all the more special when people like you two decide to stay here," she added, grinning over at me and Ben. I offered a small smile and nodded in return.
"Now, this is your room here. Everything should be fully stocked, including the fresh towels in the bathroom. My room is on the first floor if you need anything. If not, breakfast is served between eight and ten, okay?"
"That's perfect, thank you."
"Wonderful! Have a good night then, Evelyn!" Lorena exclaimed.
"You too," I replied. I closed the door after watching her practically skip down the hall toward the stairs. That woman really had a ton of energy, especially for someone her age. I wished I had that much energy, and I guessed I was nearly half her age.
Smiling to Ben, I gestured at one of the queen-sized beds in the room. "Let's get you to bed," I said. Ben didn't put up a fight, and instead took off his puffy jacket and hopped straight into the bed. I tucked him in and kissed his forehead.
"Sweet dreams, love."
"Night, Mom," he whispered, his eyes already shut. I shook my head, wishing I was able to fall asleep as easily as he could.
Walking over to my bed, I checked my phone, forgetting the battery was drained. I put it on my charger, along with my laptop. I meant to call my parents, though I decided I'd just do it in the morning. I got dressed into comfier clothes and got into bed. After a brief thought of how soft the bed was, I thought about getting home tomorrow and seeing my family for the first time in months. My thoughts of my impending trip out of the state of Vermont were the last thoughts I had before drifting off to sleep.
Thanks for reading! This was a rather short introductory chapter, so more characters will be added in the next chapter! Stay tuned!