Chapter One

Larissa winced as she saw how he smiled at her. It just wasn't fair. What gave her the right to be loved by him like she was? Beautiful Sandicia flicked her golden hair and laughed at Davandrice. He laughed with her and Larissa scowled. They left the dancing and wandered off towards the main area where the feast was taking place.
Larissa sat brooding next to her mother and watched the dancing. She wished she could be dancing right now. Held tight in the arms of Davandrice and him looking at her the way he looked at Sandicia. But she was so ugly. Copper hair and pale skin that always had a dose of freckles. Her blue dress was beautiful but when she had put it on it had just accentuated the fact that she had no chest to speak of. If only she could have breasts like her friend Jenna.
Jenna was also dancing. She twirled in the arms of her fiancé. Her chestnut hair flew out behind her and she laughed gaily as he lifted her high and spun her around before placing her back down. They looked comical really. Taylor with his fire red hair and too tall, lean body and Jenna's full breasted, voluptuous body, even if it was a bit plump. She wasn't stunning like Sandicia but she was pretty and her happiness in her new found love made her even more so. She positively glowed.

Taylor led Jenna off the dance floor over towards her friend Larissa. "She looks so sad" he commented. "You know how she feels about Davandrice" scolded Jenna softly. "Seeing him with Sandicia always makes her feel down. She feels so unworthy. I am sure that right now, by the look on her face that she is once again complaining about the unfairness of her beautiful hair and skin. I cannot understand why she feels so ugly. You do not think she is ugly do you?" "Of course not Jenna, but she does not look like you either". He tweaked her nose playfully and walked off towards his friends Fairrew and Marshmead leaving Jenna to complete the distance between herself and Larissa.

Davandrice contemplated those around him as he listened to Sandicia talk to her friends. He couldn't remember what her friends names were though. The little girls were whirling in dance around the may pole. The boys running around and throwing themselves on one another. He saw his mother talking to Taylor's mother with Fairrew's mother. Taylor himself was talking with Fairrew and Marshmead. Jenna was not with them as she usually was. He then spied her over with Larissa and her mother. Larissa saw him looking at her and turned away quickly. He wandered what was wrong with her. Taylor walked over to Jenna again and they spun back into the dancing naturally. Larissa turned her head slightly and looked at him out of the corner of her eye. She slipped her eyes away when she realised he was still looking.
Davandrice turned to Sandicia and lightly touched her on the arm. She jumped and turned to him. "Do you mind if I go dance with a few other people?" he asked. "No go" replied Sandicia offhandedly before turning back to her friends to resume her conversation. Davandrice slipped away quietly and made his way over to Larissa in a roundabout way. When he asked her mother if he had permission to dance with her daughter Davandrice saw Larissa's eyes light up in a way he had never seen anyone's light up before. They positively sparkled and shot a brilliant blue light out of them.

Larissa wandered where Davandrice had gone. He had been standing next to Sandicia only moments before. She could have sworn that he had been looking in her direction. If he had been he would have been laughing inside. However, she knew that he was probably just looking at something else in her general direction. She heard a voice next to her. A male voice. "Madam, may I have your permission to dance with your daughter?" Larissa knew that voice and turned slowly to her Davandrice smiling at her. She let out a small gasp and beamed back at him. "Yes young man, you may. Treat her properly you hear!" Larissa's mother replied. "Yes Ma'am" said Davandrice taking Larissa by the hand and not giving another thought to her proper mother.

"Taylor look!" exclaimed Jenna "Davandrice in dancing with Larissa. Look how happy she looks. She's radiant" "So I see" replied Taylor dryly "must you worry constantly over her?" "I do not worry constantly about her" "You do so. You are more interested in her lack of a love life than you are in us". "Taylor how can you say such a thing! I am marrying you!" They had stopped dancing by now and were staring each other down in the middle of the dancing arena. Larissa looked on pensively as she had overheard them. "I am only telling you the truth Jenna. Think of all the things we have been denying each other lately. Your mind is all around the actual wedding rather than me. And when you're not thinking about that you are thinking about that stupid chit of a friend of yours". "How could you say such a thing Taylor? How could you! I love you and you know it! She is my friend, what do you expect me to do. Friends are for life Taylor. Men are just used for reproduction. No one needs a man, but everyone needs a friend". Jenna turned on her heel and stormed off towards the river leaving Taylor standing stupidly in the middle of the dancing arena staring pathetically after her.

Larissa looked apologetically at Davandrice and he nodded. She turned quickly and hurried after Jenna before she did something stupid.

'Your son called my daughter a chit!" exclaimed Larissa's mother to Taylor's mother. "A chit! How dare he! What kind of child have you raised to have him calling people names just to get his own way?" 'Me! Me raise my child in the wrong way! I am not the one with the spinster daughter who moons over other women's men because she cannot get one of her own. Davandrice is a lovely boy but he is taken. My son had a right to do what he did. Jenna has not been paying an overt amount of attention to him lately. I admit he could have chosen a better occasion to do it, but he had every right. Do not tell me how to raise my children when you have not done a very good job yourself you rude woman. Tell Larissa to set her sights elsewhere, perhaps that rude little Marshmead boy. You would get on famously".

Larissa found Jenna sobbing, seated on a willow tree's trunk down next to the slowly flowing river. She sat down next to her and Jenna jumped, quickly wiping her eyes. "He loves you, you know" said Larissa. "I know" replied Jenna. "He just angered me. The way he was talking about you upset me dreadfully. I thought he liked my friends". "I love the way you stand up for me, but if it is gong to hurt your relationship don't do it. I know you care". "I know that you know, but friends are for life Larissa. Boys come and go. You forget that sometimes".

"She'll come back" said Fairrew. "She always came back to me". "You didn't love her you idiot!" retorted Taylor. He was agitated and scared. He did not know where Jenna had gone and Fairrew was giving him advice about something he knew nothing about. Jenna may have cared for him very much but he had never returned those feelings and didn't know what it felt like to love her. He wished more than anything he knew where she had gone. He wanted to go and apologise. Let her know that he had never meant it and that he was just jealous of her friendships. She loved and paid more attention to her friends than she did him and he wished that she would explain why.

It was getting very dark. Jenna could see the moonlight glinting off the deep river. She had not left her position under the willow tree. It was a place where she went when she needed to be alone. Taylor and her had been here a few times together. However she did not think that he would think that she would be here. If he really loved her the way he professed to then he would remember the time that she told him of her secret place. He would come and find her. He had to. She was so afraid of loosing him.

William walked along the side of the river. He was in deep thought. He had observed during the festivities of the day. He had seen the way Larissa looked at Davandrice and then the way he had danced with her. He had seen Jenna and Taylor fight and then Taylor and Larissa's mothers fighting. He had seen the way Jenna had flown after her confrontation. He even heard Jenna and Larissa talking in hushed tones under the willow tree. This was his chance to corner Jenna and make her his own. It had been his dream for as long as he could remember. Looking at her with her head in her hands staring out across the river. He could see the pain in her eyes. This was his last chance. He knew that. Jenna loved Taylor so much that if they ever made up from their fight they would be married before he could blink. He would never have her. He had to have her.

Taylor sat with his head in his hands listening to his friends animated conversation around him. It reminded him of another such occasion. Jenna had been there. Sitting across from him with his friends. They were all drunk except for Taylor and Jenna. She had slid around the table and sat on his lap. He wanted to be alone with her not in this noisy, full tavern. "Where do you go to be alone?" "I shouldn't tell you that. After all, if you came I wouldn't be alone." "Please tell me. It will be our little secret." "Only if you don't tell" she whispered. He nodded his head in response, seeing only her beautiful eyes sparkling in joy. "The river" her voice melted into his ear. "Under the old willow tree." Before he could respond his drunken friends dragged him away into the cold night. He watched her staring after him. Her eyes weren't full of joy any more. Taylor bolted upright getting a quizzical look from Fairrew and Marshmead before bolting out the door.

"How are you feeling?" whispered William into Jenna's ear. She jumped and let out a small cry before whipping around in fright. Her eyes wide. When she saw William she calmed down. The look in her eyes changing from fear to confusion. "I'm fine William" she replied. "But what are you doing here?" "I was worried about you. You looked so upset earlier. I have seen you come down here alone before and thought you might be here." "Thankyou William. But really I'm fine." "I have to admit I'm glad I'm not in your shoes." "Why is that?" "What that Taylor does to you. He thinks of nothing but himself. You could do so much better." "With who William? No-one would want me. No-one likes a woman who has troubles in her relationships. I was lucky to get Taylor." "Don't be silly Jenna. There are lots of men out there who think you are wonderful and would kill for you to say two words to them a day." "Oh William, name one." "Me" "What! William be serious!" "I am being serious Jenna. I have watched you for so long. Watched you go from one man to another thinking that you are not good enough. I never had the courage to tell you. To ask if you could perhaps think of me the way I think of you. Then you got engaged to Taylor. It broke my heart, but you were so happy. I would never do anything to hurt you. There was no way you would ever look at me the way you looked at him. I had no chance. Until now."

Taylor saw Jenna walking along the side of the river. She was coming toward him. He slowed down. She was walking with someone. It was a man. Taylor didn't recognise him. Then he looked closer. He did know who it was! It was William! One of his best friends. He wondered why Jenna was with him. He then lent down and kissed her. Jenna stiffened but did not move away and returned the kiss, finally becoming resigned to it. That bastard! Taylor wanted to scream. Instead he turned on his heal and stormed off toward the town.

Davandrice was sitting with Sandicia. She was laughing with her friends. He could see Larissa sitting in the corner with Alice, Julie and Helena. She looked happier than she had in day's. He wondered if that was his doing. He watched as she carefully looked over to his direction. When she saw him looking at her she smiled. He had never noticed before but it was a beautiful smile. She was beautiful. Not excessively so as Sandicia sometimes. But quietly beautiful on both the outside and the inside. He loved to spend time with her she was one of his best friends and one of his most favourite people. She wasn't shallow and stupid inside like some of the other girls but rather interesting and bright. She was different to everyone else, but not in a bad way. Somewhat more entrancing.

Marnin watched Helena. The fluidity of her motions. Her beautiful, supple skin was being caressed by the moonlight as she tilted her head & laughed. Marnin was a bard. His stories & poems would often light up a lustreless evening. Many of these poems & stories centred around Helena. She filled his dreams. Both those of the day & the night. He had been trying for years to let her know. Through the subtle imagery of his verse.
"Marnin, Marnin, Marnin" the chant began slowly & eventually built up pace & volume. He had to oblige, but tonight it would be something short & less subtle. He could not hold it in much longer. The sight of her sent his heart a flutter. He needed to have her or know that there was not a chance on Earth that he could ever have her.
The crowd fell silent as he stood. It always did. He stood in silent contemplation for a moment looking into her brilliant blue eyes before beginning the most important performance of his life. The one that could very well break his fragile heart. As he spoke, his words melodic & fluid from years of practice, he watched her face change. It was the somewhat more elaborate version of the way they had met. It could not be mistaken & only she would know, they often talked of it. He had never forgotten it. She had been ever so annoyed at him. He had loved her from that moment.

She flew around the corner, her hair streaming behind her. She was late as per usual. She was meant to have met Wilks down at the river a half hour ago. It was because her house was so much further away from the others of the village she needed another ten minutes compared to everyone else. She hoped Wilks would still be there. He was very impatient. Thinking that he was the pinnacle of the universe did not give him much time to think of other people. She could see the willow tree in the distance & a figure standing beneath it. Thank goodness Wilks was still there. As she got closer the figure disappeared behind the tree. No matter, he must have seen her & went to start his sketches. "Wilks!" She called as she swung around the tree only to be met full in the face with a solid object & was flung to the ground with an almighty force. "I am awfully sorry" She heard a voice say. It was not Wilks voice. Helena looked up in confusion only to be met by the soft gaze of a well built man, with dark brown hair & the deepest brown eyes she had ever seen. She drove her eyes away immediately when she saw that her painting materials had been flung around her. "No! My paints!" exclaimed Helena scrambling on the ground for them. "Here, let me help you" Said the man. "No! Don't touch them. I can do it myself." When she had cleaned up the mess she was panting with frustration. She sat down & stared out at the softly flowing river trying to gain her composure. She must not let Wilks see her like this. What would he think of her? "Are you all right?" asked the man sitting down next to her. "Fine thankyou" replied Helena looking around her hoping to every God in Heaven that Wilks would come.

She was glad he was gone. She had not known what to do. Her immediate reaction had been to kiss him back. Reflexes of course. When she had realised what she was doing she had puled away violently. William had, had no right to do it. He was meant to be best friends with Taylor. She looked up & in the distance she saw a figure walking away. It looked familiar. With a jolt she realised who it was. Oh God Taylor! If he had seen! "Oh shit!" she exclaimed. She usually did not swear but this time Jenna was really worried. She turned and looked at William still sprawled on the ground, picked up her skirts and ran as fast as her legs would carry her after Taylor. She hoped it would be all right. That he still loved her.

Ken wondered where Jenna had got to. He had seen her on the dance floor with Taylor about an hour ago. For that matter, where was Taylor? Eska was talking & he was not listening to her. It was not very often that that happened. She was one of his best friends. He had been in love with her for years but recently the effect had worn off a little as his crush on Jenna had redeveloped a little & Rita had come into his life full force. He lived quite a simple life. He taught at the village school with Jenna, engrossed in one book or another. Rita would come around occasionally & talk philosophy. His other best friends Marnin & Taylor would go drinking with him most weekends & Marnin only when he was in the village & not off lording his fiction in other parts of the land. His friendship with Jenna had lost some of its substance when she had started going out with Taylor & even more when they had become engaged. Recently however, a bit of the spark had come back into their relationship & he realised that what he had liked about her all those years was back again & he had broken it off with Eska. Jenna's relationship with Taylor however had continued to flourish.