Chapter 2 : Changed

Tuesday 1.15p.m.

She stood by his desk in the study and stared longingly at his personal journals – thick leather bound books which she would never read without his permission, but she knew it contained the anecdotes of his younger days. These journals were the little parts of him which he left behind with her…little tangible parts that she wanted to hold on to dearly.

"Bella, come and have something to eat," Corina's voice wafted through the study door.

Anabella Laurent took one last fleeting glance on the journals before she turned away swiftly, unable to bare the passionate yearning for him to be by her side once again. Anabella strode gracefully out of the study and headed towards the dining room. Her silent steps failed to conceal the blatantly loud anxiousness shrouding her thoughts. She was no longer the same Anabella of three months ago. Her shining burgundy hair was often dampened with sweat, a result of reoccurring nightmares. Those compassionate hazel eyes often reflected pain, worries but just sometimes, a glint of hope. Her once healthy porcelain skin was now dry and too pale. She would sometimes walk with a little slump over her shoulders; a personal sign of dejection and fear. Anabella was once the epitome of beauty. With all due respect to her French blood, Anabella was the model of a Greek Goddess. With the aid of a potion mixed with sadness and anxiety, the Goddess shriveled, shrunk and sank into a plain beauty, but nobody could deny that her presence still brought forth an intense aura of awe.

It remained a great mystery as to how General William failed to notice the appearance of this French belle after his return from the battle of Somme; a battle which indeed took its toll on him.

Spring 1917

Corina had politely requested for her niece to work under the roofs of Aspen Manor. She had informed William that Anabella was a nurse, a very beautiful and well-mannered one too. Corina was not entirely sure if William had heard a word she said. He spoke little of his memories of war and definitely none from the battle of the Somme; the one battle in the pages of World War One which claimed the largest number of lives. He had not flashed Corina a smile as brilliant as the one on the night of his return. He was often dazed and drifted out of his senses while staring emptily into nothingness. Corina worried much about the thoughts plaguing his mind but the more she tried to approach him, he further he distant himself.

He merely nodded when Corina told him that Anabella had arrived and would be nursing his injured leg and arm whilst putting him on a healthy diet which could help quicken the process of his recovery. He barely noticed Anabella changing his bandages. Neither did he fully realize the identity of the kindred soul who was patiently rearranging the positions of his arm in the sling or giving his injured leg a soft massage.

Anabella, on the other hand, took in every inch of the young General. She was not quite sure what to make out of William Warrick. She could not and would not deny that William possessed great looks; he was tall, dark, with wavy black hair and a dimple on his right cheek to further compliment his chiseled features. However, his face wore an expression of weariness and lethargy. He had the most mystifying green eyes Anabella had ever seen but they held deep and dark secrets which Anabella knew contained little mercy or compassion. Anabella could sense his commanding air of presence but often felt awkward at violating the intense silence that enclosed him.

William did not step out of the house or anywhere near the windows unless his intentions were to draw the curtains close. He found it somewhat peaceful to be engulfed in the dark and was upset at nothing more than light, or the outdoors. There were times when Anabella found the courage to initiate a conversation, hoping that he would snap back into reality. Her efforts were often in vain. He usually only nodded and sometimes, gave a low murmur. There were dinners which left much to be questioned, when he stole shy glances at Corina while attempting a meek smile but turned away and shrunk back into his dark, personal abyss almost immediately. Anabella felt much pity for the man who was suffering the ill effects of war but could not help feeling drawn towards him. Corina, on the other hand, was absolutely heartbroken for the young man she loved like her own son.