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Dedicated to a very special person close to my heart

Chapter ONE

The Move

Peter sat on his windowsill like he usually did when he was at home with his parents, and needed time alone to contemplate on lifes uncertainties. His parents had one of those old style outset windows that allowed for a wide windowsill made of marble under which was a heater and that made it very comfortable especially on a cold winters morning like this. The snow had fallen during the night and created a blanket that looked like something a weaver might have spent hours on. The ripple effect and what seemed like texture fascinated Peters imagination.

The fact that it was winter did not appeal so much to Peter. Many a winter he had spent having to shovel snow and trudge out in the winter darkness with a stubborn dog that his parents had. Getting a job with the education that he had, was not exactly something that was readily found in Sweden. He had therefore looked for a job a little farther away from Sweden and also served as an excuse to go abroad. Papers had been signed and everything was ready, but he had descided it had to one last Christmas at home. His little sister was sad that he was leaving because she knew that she probably would not see him for a long time once he had left home base.
Alena was a mischievous little blond haired brat that loved nothing more than to make Peters life hell, but as they had grown older they had become more and more aligned with each others way of doing things but despite their differences he loved her to death. His parents always shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads when the two of them were in a battle with each other blaming it on sibling love. On the 4th of January he would fly out to his next goal.

His mother called him down from his room on the loft, and he reluctantly made his way down the stairs. He wasn't so hungry since his mother had a way of seeing to it that there was more than enough on the table at each meal. This particular morning he had eaten a big plate of riceporridge with cinnamon and 2 hardboiled eggs and 2 ham sandwiches which left him with a feeling of being slightly overbloated. Every Christmas that he could remember the first thing that he came across at the door was a large pine wreath with pinecones and strung with red silk. In the center of this wreath their was a copper bell. She had made this herself for as long as he could remember. When he opened the door to the kitchen he smelled the smell of fresh ground coffee and it being cooked on the stove. His mother and father had both a firewood stove and an electric stove, but in winter the first of the two was used most. That due to the warm sensation it gave and it also saved on the electricity bill. It was also connected to the water heating system for the radiators in the house. His father used to comment that in that way he killed to birds with one stone. This in conjunction with the smell of coffee, toasted bread, a firn christmas tree and newly baked gingerbread cookies made Peter feel dizzy. It always did. So many smells that were powerful at once, but still so homey and nice.

In the corner his grandfather and grandmother sat on the kitchen sofa and his aunt and uncle with their two kids and then it struck him that it actually was Christmas eve. The christmas music was playing in the background and his mother and sister had made the table with lit candles for Christmas Eve coffee. The relatives would be staying the night since it was nearly -35'C outside. Driving home at night in those temperature was a risky thing at best if the car broke down. Here they had parked them in the large heated barn where they stood and where cozy warm until the next day. It was long ago since that barn had actually had livestock in it. His grandfather was to old to handle the work, and his dad was not interested in the least in livestock. He was a minister of the church and worked 7days a week. Peter would eventually get to feel the workload himself once his initial internship had been completed.

Peters father although being a minister of the faith had long ago accepted his sons reluctance to going to church. It was a bit of a disappointment to him, but he knew that the youth of today had little or no interest in the church. His daughter Alena on the other hand was often with them to church as she sang in the church choir. Normally he would be conducting midnight mass at midnight of christmas eve and christmas day, but since Peter soon would be leaving the family had agreed on it that they would spend as much time as possible with each other. He stretched himself and yawned in such a way that no-one in the room could contain themselves with laughter. His daughter told him he sounded like the morning cereal "Snap,crackle and Pop" which just made the whole thing even more hysterical. His mother had never quite got used to him doing that despite 36years of marriage and it sent cold shivers down her back and gave her goosebumps on her arms. She friend slapped him on his arm and told him not to do that. Everyone laughed and the tension was relieved. Peter thought to himself how very much he would miss all this. It would be something that he would think back on many times as he settled in to his work in Santa Antonio.

He had actually not thought about how far this move of his would change his life. As a lighthouse keeper and groundskeeper it would be a solitary life and that he already knew but what lay in wait for him would be his dream come true, even if it was a very dramatic start to it. The following morning he woke up to a whining and cold sound that sent shivers along his spine. It wasn't of fear or anxiety, but of cold. He had not experienced such a cold morning in his life before, so he quickly got dressed and went down into the kitchen and to his surprise no-one was there. Not even the woodburning stove was lit which would explain the cold. He went down into the basement and started the diesel generator and burner. Looking around he noticed that some of the christmas gifts had not even been taken up, which he thought odd, but he had other matters on his mind. Upon returning to the kitchen he saw an envelope on the table with his name on it. Now certain that nothing bad had happened he opened it and read that his uncle had had a heart attack during the night and they didn't wake him up because they thought he needed his rest. Sighing at the insight he got on his winter gear and took the car to the country general hospital where he met up with all the others from the night before. Worrying that his uncle had died or something like that he asked about how it was. They answered that he was going to be alright but he had to stay the remainder of Peters time at home, in hospital. This for Peter was really a bad omen. He despondently looked at his winter shoes as the snow on them melted into puddles around them and he asked himself how this would affect his plans. Would he dare leave Sweden with his parents being so old as they were and now his uncle who was not even in his mid fifties had had a heartattack. He told the family he was going home again to see to the house and see to it that it would not freeze, but his mother decided that she and him both would go back. The minute they stepped in through the door at home he realized he set the temprature to high and that it was very warm indoors. His mother smiled at him and patted him on the shoulder and said that at least they wouldn't have to go to the barn to take a sauna.

The smell of the flowers and the christmas tree was overwhelming. It was like walking into a nature shop or indoor garden. Any girl would be happy that the perfume here still smelt so fresh. He helped his mother collect the dishes and other things that had been left standing and put them into the dishwasher and leftovers that still could be cooled in the fridge. They started discussing life essentials that he would need to survive as a single man in another country on the other side of the globe. She was quite sure anyway that he would not need a lot of winter clothing, but most certainly some woolen sweaters and thick woolen socks and a pair of decent boots that were extra insolated. Peter hugged his mother and told her that he actually believed that there were shops where he was going and that seafairing equipment was standardly available considering the relative closeness to the sea where he was about to start working. She just nodded a sad and wary nodd. She knew full well that she would be lucky to see her son in the next 3 to 5 years and that felt harsh.

Julia was busy packing her belongings. She was going to move to her beloved Charles, or at least that is what she had planned to do. Life would take an irritating and harsh twist on her, but that was not what she would know anything about right now. All she knew is that she had a long journey ahead of her and that it would be life changing. As the girl she was, it was an exciting time. Family expectations were at an all time high and it didn't diminish due to the fact that it was christmas. She was a dark haired beauty with the darkest almond brown eyes one could imagine. Although not the tallest of girls she gave an air of confidence around her that radiated far and wide. She had a smallish friendship group but was happy with that as long as they didn't do anything that would hurt others. She was from the thundering and quickly expanding city of Sao Paolo in Brazil and despite humble beginnings was somewhat satisfied with life. Charles on the other hand was a burlesk sea farer and was not of the poor kind. He lived in Saint Antonio when he was not out to sea. He gave an appearance of a solid man financially and he had been talking to Julia over the internet for quite some time and peeking her interest in a way that other men hadn't in her life before. That appealed to her. When he finally made up his mind that they should meet, she took it upon herself that that would immeadiately lead to a happy marriage.

Being as young as she was she wasn't aware of the sailors life, behind the scenes and this would eventually lead to disaster for her overnight. As she sat on the train from her home towards the airport, she went through all the paperwork that might be necessary. Visas, and permits and passports and how much money she had saved together, and a little more her mother had slipped under the table so her very angry father would not see it. Even her grandparents had helped her to get enough money together to make the trip. She thought it would be a one way trip for her, and it nearly became that. She had loaned her aunts wedding gown. A beautiful sleek creation with studs and glittery stones sown into the dress, which then had been carefully packed into a small suitcase that contained it and some jewelry and shoes. She knew full well when she left, that her parents and her relatives could not come when and if the wedding took place. After hours of wait she finally got the boarding call and with light steps made her way to the airplane. Her mother had been hard on her and giving her last minute advice and those words were filling her head so she didn't look where she was going and almost crashed into a cabin attendant, who with a nimble sidestep quietly showed Julia the way to her place. A smile later she sat down at the window seat and looked out the window at the wing. That is when it struck her that she had never flown before in her life.

She looked at the other passangers boarding the airplane and was astounded by the variations that she saw. Some spoke in languages that sounded so wierd that she almost couldn't contain her laughter. She put her hand over her mouth and looked down. She was wearing a pair of darkblue jeans, a studded T-shirt with and orchid motif and she had 2 side braided her hair and tied them off with a silky knot at the end. She hoped Charles would be impressed. Several hours later she stepped off the plane and stood with her bag in her hand and looked around. He had promised he would meet her at the airport, but he was nowhere to be seen. Instead a man comes up to her and asks her if she is Julia, and when she answers she is, he takes a steady grip on her wrist that scared her and another on the suitcase that she had and guided her through a line of people and out on the airport tarmac. There stood a silver, blue and white helicopter that she was ordered to get on and it whisked her quickly to where he was. Sure enough he would meet her at the airport. Just not at the main airport she had expected. On getting out she saw a man that looked in his mid 60's with a very weather worn face come towards her. He introduced himself as Charles and she saw straight away that she had been duped by a false age and face on the internet. He had presented himself as at least 20 to 25 years younger and now she stood before the truth. She decided to make the best of it, since she didn't have the money to get back home straight away. When they arrived at his mansion she realized that even that was a lie. It was a shanty house of larger proportions and both the exterior and the interior left much to be desired. That night as she sat sobbing on the bed he walked in on her in his shorts and burdusely he pushed her over and started at tearing her clothes off. She screamed but to no avail after recieving a solid strike over her face she succumbed to his demands. She was a virgin and when he made his way into the holy ground he hurt her so much that she bled for days.

She could not do anything. She called her mother in tears and she sat their lost, knowing full well that this would end badly. The following week he was going to marry her, and this scared her more than anything she had ever experienced in her life. Here she was forced to marry the man that she thought she loved, a now brutal total stranger that wanted to shut her in. He had earlier that morning made his way to his tailor in the town in which now Peter had moved to. Julia and Peter had not met, but at that very moment their fate was sealed. She was forced to get into her wedding dress and things by a huge hog like woman and then ushered to the helicopter. She realized she had to do something to protect her dignity and snuck in her passport and money into the glittery black hand bag she was given by her mother and then got into the helicopter.

As the helicopter made its way across the sea along the cliffs she realized that the door had been left open. A hot and moist wind blew her hair all over the place and she got so mad that she undid the buckle of her seat and grabbed a hold of her bag, and decided it was now of never. A storm had been brewing all day and the waves had started to tower themselves towards the beach in front of the cliffs. She saw a small boat tied to a bouey in the water and in the next moment she decided to end it all and threw herself headlong out of the helicopter to her death. What she didn't realize was that her saviour sat at his windows in his work place and saw this white floundering girl throw herself out of the helicopter.

Peter sprang into action. He had to save her but he knew that at that speed and where she would land she most likely would not survive. In an instant he was making his way down the scaler ladder along the cliff face towards the beach. He now had to make the choice. Save her first and then save the boat he used for a little deeper sea missions. He made his choice and ran towards her position even with water at times reaching half way up to his knees. The girl was unconscious when he finally got to her. He grabbed a hold of her and wrapped the dress as best he could up and over her so she would be easier to carry back. He looked a little closer at her as he carried her along the beach. A prettier face than this latino face he had never seen. A hair was finding its way into her eyes and shifting his weight he managed to get his left hand free long enough to wisk that lock to the side. He smiled at how pretty she was, laying there in his arms and looking so utterly helpless. She sighed startling him, but she did not regain her consciousness. Now he was worried. The storm had whipped up the sea so much that the strip of sand that he had left to walk on had diminished dramatically.

He started running, thinking it was lucky that she didn't weigh so much, and somehow he found the strength to increase his speed despite the wet and soft sand that gave way at every step. He had about 600meters left before reaching the base of the stairs and he would have to keep up this higher pace to get to safety for the both of them. He now wished he had remembered to grab the phone that he had left on recharge at the doorway table. Julia stirred and moaned and he told her over the wind to keep calm but he was not sure that she heard him. He was quickly going through options in his mind. He thought about that he hoped the fireplace was still crackling and radiating heat so he could lay her down on the floor near it and warm her up while he called the ambulance. By this time he had reached the stairway up the side of the cliff and the waves had reached them. It was also time for the rising tide. After having reached half way up he had to take a break and sat himself down with her in his lap, holding her head gently in the curvature of his arm and he took himself time to check for broken bones so that this mad dash to the stairs hadn't caused any permanent damage to her. After about 5 minutes he started makin his way up the stairs once again and soon reached the safety of the house where he gently put her on the fur mat in front of the fireplace. He fetched a blankett and tucked her in and put a shallow pillow under her head. It was then he noticed that she had a wedding dress on her, and she somehow was still clutching the black handbag with white nuckles. He shook his head, impressed that this was actually possible after what she had been through.

He had arrived in Saint Antonio just a week before and had been met by his employer. That whole week had been paperwork and a shorter introduction course into what his job entailed. He had then been driven out to the town he now was living in and to the house above the cliffs some 4km out. Here he had unpacked and finally made the call home to his mother and his sister. His father was out on an assignments so he couldn't get in contact with him at the time. However, the relief he heard in his mothers voice reassured Peter that all was well and he could get about the business of working. During the first hours he had made 3 trips out to the lighthouse that in these modern times was controlled via computer from the house he was in. He was also responsible to take the boat out throught the surf and patrol along the cliffs to keep a lookout for people that may have got into trouble. This boat he had to use had a powerful diesel inboard and when the door behind him was closed he was in what looked like a capsule. It also could withstand heavy seas that struck over it. He realized that it would take some serious getting used to as to how the navigation of the surf was to be done. The first 3 weeks he would have a trainer with him and instructor. This even about the running of the lighthouse electrics and lights. A code book was at his disposal and a ships radio so he could contact ships outside the cliffs or call for help of other ships incase of a disaster scenario.

The pilot of the helicopter had contacted the boss and told him that the girl had jumped out of the helicopter. His only response had been that it had been good ridance without so much as any emotion. He would later find out that that would be his biggest mistake. At the same time Julia started to stir as she lay on the floor and when she opened her eyes feeling sore all over, the first thing she saw was white walls, leather furniture and satin curtains. She felt the heat from the fire reaching in and warming her. She tried to turn her head but something resisted. She however managed to turn her head enough to see that her head rested against a warm leg. She then caught sight of Peter and his deep blue eyes and his smile. For the first time she spoke and asked him if she was dead and in heaven. He laughed and shook his head and told her that she was at the lighthouse keepers station and that he had seen her jump from the helicopter but that she had to keep still and that is why he had locked her head between her legs to protect her neck in case something had been broken. She answered him that she understood and secretly she felt so safe like she hadn't for a long time. That is when the tears came. Peter took her hand gently in his and said that she would be alright and that the ambulance soon would be there to fetch her. She asked him to follow her to hospital because she was afraid and she had no papers or medical insurance. Peter promised he would. Not long after that having been said they heard the siren of the ambulance and also the Police.

While the medical crew where sitting next to Julia and looking her over and adding a drop needle to her, the police took Peters statement. He told them that he had seen a silver and blue helicopter flying along the cliffs northward and that suddenly Julia had thrown herself out and how he had run down to save her. He did not know anything more about her and that she had a black handbag with her. The police asked if she was in a satisfactory state and asked her who she was. She took the handbag and showed them her passport and the papers that she had been smart enough to tie into a plastic bag to keep safe if they should end up in the water. That prompted the police to ask if this was something she had planned but she fell silent. She was then driven to the hospital with Peter accompanying her. He had contacted his boss and they had sent out a replacement keeper for the rest of the night, but Peter would have to be back in the morning to take over after midday. Julia clutched his hand hard as they made their way towards the hospital. Once they arrived at the ER Peter had to step aside but at the same time he had to tell the doctors and nurses what had happened. He tried to fill them in as best as he could. The difficulty was not knowing anything about Julia or where she was from or whom they were to contact.

..-M-.. Julia woke up dozy and wondering where she was. She had not quite been aware of the transport to hospital, but saw Peter half sleeping on a chair by her bedside. She looked at him through the corner of her eyes to begin with so as not to attract his attention too much. She remembered his face from the evening before as he sat and kept her company beside the fireplace. As he nodded off she took a better look at him. His viking face with nose and firm well trained body that could be hinted at through his t-shirt. She wondered if he had been sitting there all night keeping a perfect stranger company. Her thoughts went to her family and how she would be able to get a message out to them about what had happened. Peter stirred and sat abruptly up and caught her eye. He smiled at her and asked her how she was feeling. A deep tingling sensation rippled through her body when she saw his blue eyes. She answered him that she was feeling okay and that at that moment she would like to know where she was. He explained to her that he had seen her bail out of the helicopter, how he had fished her out of the sea and carried her for nearly a kilometer and that she now was at the hospital in the town not far from where she had tried to end it all. She bowed her head in a slight sign of disgrace at having put him out like that and apologized. Peter laughed a little and took her hand in his and assured her that it was not anything that he thought of as a problem and that it was a normal thing that anyone would do had they been in his place. She shook her head and said that not anyone would do that. She was also about to tell him the reason for what happened when in to the room a sturdy nurse walked in with a smile on her face that could drown out the sun. Peter turned away because he hardly could keep himself from laughing when this reminded him of his freakish cousin. Julia noticed this reaction and caught herself just in time from asking if there was something funny about herself. Hearing the nurses voice just made things worse. It was like something taken out of an anime show and in some way this made Julia feel comfortable and relaxed. This episode would be remembered for a long time in their lives.

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