Restoring Faith

BY : LadyKae
Category: +G through L > Harvest Moon
Dragon prints: 1580
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters used from the game Harvest Moon: ToT. All characters ,game related material, and lyrics, save for original content is property of their respective owners and no money is being made from this fiction.

A/N: I've been working on this story for years. I mean...Four or five years intermitently. I think I've tried rewriting it at least three different times and I finally have a winner. It's never really revealed what the last names are for any of the characters, so I've come up with my own and I try to fit them to either their personality or their profession. Let me know what ya'll think!

~Kae


 

Chapter 1: Arrival on the Island
Restoring Faith
A Harvest Moon: Tree of Tranquility Fanfiction

 

 

Cold, blue eyes were watching the horizon, waiting for the ship he was expecting to cross into his line of vision. Those same eyes rolled in consternation and he looked down at his watch with a scowl. What was taking so long? He knew Ozzie had said the currents were getting worse to contend with lately, but Pascal wouldn’t have set sail otherwise today. He was fairly sure of that. The captain wanted to keep his ship safe after all.

Gill Tamelin tapped his foot impatiently, all the while brushing his blond locks behind his ears. His tall, lithe frame was starting to tremble a little due to the slightly frigid air blowing off of the ocean. Despite the fact that it was the middle of March; the first day of spring for that matter, the winter chill clung to the normally temperate island like a spector. He didn’t like being held up like this, but there was nothing for it. Thank the goddess that he had already completed the majority of the paperwork he had needed to do and then file before he had needed to come to the docks. Gill was sure that he would probably pull some overtime tonight to be sure it got done. There were only six weeks until the Flower Festival and he was in charge of getting everything set up this year.

Being the deputy mayor had it disadvantages though, not that Gill minded. He was the mayor’s son, making him the most likely choice to one day reprise the role. Not only that, a Tamelin had always been in office since Waffle Island had been founded some seventy some-odd years ago. It was the talk that followed him whenever he was forced to interact with his peers. He had always been a rather serious and driven young man, though his stoicness had only increased in the last couple of years. Don’t even start thinking of that, Gill. He chided himself silently. Most of the other young adults were always talking about him in hushed whispers whenever he passed by. Whether it was out of sympathy or the inane need for gossip, Gill didn’t care. He had a goal, a goal that he had promised her that he would bring to fruition, and nothing was going to stop him from realizing it.

Sure things looked bleak right now, but it only drove him to restore the status quo to what it had been almost sixteen years ago. Gill turned his face to where the Mother Tree had once stood and a slightly wistful look crossed his face, making him look younger than he had felt in the last few years. “ I don’t know what happened, but I promised I was going to revive this place. I’ll find them again…” he whispered into the wind. It wasn’t quite a prayer, but he was sure the Harvest Goddess had heard him nonetheless.

Gill looked back onto the horizon again and he sighed a little in relief. Pascal was on time after all. Good, the sooner he took the newest resident, Koh Riphelps or something like that; he had barely glanced at the letter to be honest, to the inn, the better. Hopefully Koh was a quiet guy for that matter. Gill had no desire to have his ear talked off again, as Luke was wont to do when the carpenter apprentice had been making repairs at town hall the other day.

Thinking of that wood-chopping, ax-loving idiot, where were he and Owen? Gill frowned as he checked the surrounding area, but not seeing them. The two of them were supposed to be unloading Pascal’s boat once it got here.

Soon the boat came alongside the dock and the ship's captain tossed down the mooring lines, which Gill tied with practiced precision. He then caught the other end of the loading plank with a grunt and he lowered it into place against the dock.

“ Step easy now, miss. That’s a girl…” Pascal said encouragingly.

Gill’s brow furrowed a bit and he blanched not too noticeably. He had made a big mistake in thinking their newest rancher was male. Great, hopefully she wouldn’t be as frivolous as Maya or as chatty as Luke. Or as lovely as...he began thinking, only to have the musing abolished a second later. Not that it would have stayed there long if Gill were honest with himself. A young woman with shining golden brown curls began slowly stepping down the plank, her wide, intensely blue eyes watching her every movement carefully. She had a nervous smile on her slightly round face as she tried to keep her balance and Gill felt his mouth go dry. She wasn’t lovely.

The woman cautiously stepping toward him was breathtakingly beautiful.

Then her eyes met his and he felt his heart stop for all of ten beats in his chest, despite the elatedly nervous thundering it was doing at seeing the vision of loveliness before him. Gill swallowed hard, though he praised the Harvest Goddess that he had not lost his indifferent gaze. He had never laid eyes on such a creature as she, a walking work of art. He could feel his heart beating in an even more furious staccato against his ribs the longer he gazed upon her surreal beauty. Was he even going to be able to say anything to her without choking on the words? Would his voice crack in nervousness? Gill was almost certain he was about to seriously about to mortify himself if he spoke.

The plank wobbled a little under her feet, but she kept her gaze locked onto the sure confident gaze before her. She wasn’t entirely comfortable walking along this rickety board, but it was the only way to get to the dock, and she was about half way down now. “ I saw your ranchi…..WHAAAAAA!!!!!” she began, at least until a sudden swell rocked the boat very hard, and she was sent flying towards the dock as she was quickly propelled airborne. Oh dear god, these people are going to think I’m a clutz! she thought despondently. She felt weightless, though the sensation of falling was fast taking precedence.

She hadn’t been here even a full five minutes and she was already going to have a medical emergency. Great. She closed her eyes in preparation of the oncoming pain, willing herself to go numb if even just for a moment.

Gill reacted instantly, holding his arms open as he backed up a bit to line them both up. He was probably going to get a few bruises out of this, but it was the better alternative than allowing the poor young lady to possibly break something. He jumped up, wrapping his arms quickly around her shoulders and tucking her in as close as he could to his chest to protect her head as they both fell towards the wooden planks. They both hit on the side, and Gill clenched his teeth against the flare of pain that ripped through his ribs. They rolled twice, and Gill couldn’t hold back the cough that sputtered forward as he tried to regulate his breathing. He cracked one eye open, and he felt relief flood him when he realized that while she too had had the wind knocked from her, she was alright.

Her breath left her so fast she was left sputtering, but she was glad to see nothing important hurt. She suddenly felt movement underneath her, forcing her eyes open. Then she locked gazes with the most intense steel blue eyes that she had ever seen. Her breath hitched in her throat and she felt warmth flood her cheeks in realization. She had landed on the young man on the dock. Oh for goodness sake, she was mortified at having embarrassed the both of them.

Gill couldn’t explain the tingle that was radiating through his body because of their contact. Then again, it had been years since he had willingly been this close to a woman. Even though his heart clenched in pain at that thought, Gill could not rid himself of the sensation flowing through him. “ Are you alright, miss?” His voice was smoother than silk, caressing her ear and almost forcing a shudder from her. Already, she couldn’t help but find that voice sexy. It held command, promise, sensuality. Things that she definitely appreciated in a man.

“ Fine!” she squeaked out, only to clear her throat. “ I’m fine, thank you.” She got to her feet as fast as she could, still feeling the embarrassment of what had just happened. “ I’m sorry about that.”

Gill tried to beat down his own reaction that their proximity had caused. His entire body felt as if it were thrumming with energy as she had been pressed tightly against him. “ No need to apologize. I was just glad I caught you in the end. I’m Gill Tamelin, the deputy mayor here in Waffle Town. My father, Hamilton, has been waiting for you to get here, but he asked me to receive you at the docks as he has a guest of import right now.”

“ I’m Kohri Phelps, your newest resident." She replied, extending her hand to shake his. Her cheeks were still tinged pink in mortification from what had happened. He probably thought her the world's biggest, and clumsiest, ditz.

Gill took her hand, accepting the gesture. He then turned her hand slightly so that her knuckles were bared and his lips pressed ever so slightly to them. Her breath hitched just loud enough for him to hear and a slight tinge colored her round face once more. Gill couldn't help but enjoy her reaction. " It's a pleasure, Ms. Kohri." He said, his voice slightly interested at the sight she made. She was going to be their newest rancher? This willowy, sweet little lady? He wasn't all too sure she was going to make the cut. That wasn't his place to decide either though. " If you'll follow me, the mayor is waiting after all." He lifted his arm slightly so that he could escort her and he looked down at her as he waited. She was short compared to him, as he stood at nearly six feet tall. She barely came to the middle of his chest.

Kohri smirked as she began walking. She didn't need an escort here. Soon, she'd be completely on her own, though thankfully she wasn't broke. " Then lead the way." She replied as she began to slowly step towards the end of the dock.

Gill, while stunned at her antics, couldn't help but smile a bit. Kohri Phelps was already proving to be interesting.

 

 

Kohri whispered a muted 'Thank you.' as Gill opened the door to the town hall for her. He then led the way to the right up the stairs and Kohri swallowed hard. She hated meetings like this.

Gill saw his father, Mayor Hamilton, sitting towards the back of the library with a woman in a black suit. " Ms. Muffins, Father, as you can see, she's made it here in one piece."

" Thank you Gill. Take a seat son, you may as well be briefed as well considering you're the deputy mayor." Hamilton said kindly. He then looked to Kohri, his warm brown eyes twinkling almost merrily as the two young adults sat down. " Welcome to Waffle Island, Ms. Phelps. Agent Muffins has been here for the last two days doing background checks on everyone."

Gill's brow quirked a bit. Agent? Background checks? What was going on here?

" Easiest chore of it all, to be honest." Agent Muffins said. " You're going to be able to use your real name here, Kohri. You're completely safe."

" I'll stick to my nickname, thank you." Kohri groused. Like hell would she let anyone learn what her full name was.

" Okay then, Koriander." Agent Muffins shot back with a smirk.

Gill resisted the urge to snort, much less laugh outright, in amusement. No wonder she went by Kohri. " I swear, that will not leave this room." He whispered to her. He could see a small vein throbbing at her temple in her obvious ire, despite his attempts to placate her. " But what would require you to do background checks on everyone?"

Agent Muffins sighed a little heavily as Kohri's head fell. " Kohri was placed in witness protection because she witnessed a double murder. The poor thing has been so scared she'd barely had time to grieve either. So when I saw the ranching brochure, I had a hunch that allowing her to completely drop off the radar would help immensely. It's not like you guys are connected to half of the stuff the main land is. The less there is, the safer she'll be."

" Amelia, do you honestly believe that?" Kohri's voice was hard, harsh, and full of doubt. Nothing that Gill would have expected to hear from her.

" Yes Kohri, I do. I know you gave up pursuing your degree to come here, but Mayor Hamilton told me that they've had quite a few residents gain their degrees through mail correspondence." Her green eyes twinkled as she looked at Gill as she said this. He was working on two master's degrees and his minor after all. " Maybe once you get settled in, Gill here can help you get started."

Kohri looked over to Gill hopefully. If that was possible, then she'd accept the terms. Thank goodness she had been allowed to bring all of her things with her. Now the only problem was building a house big enough to house it all.

Gill cleared his throat a bit nervously. " Once you're well settled, I'll work with you on it." He promised softly.

Kohri sighed visibly in relief and she nodded. She'd have to work hard no matter what, but at least she had a goal now. She looked up to the mayor with a confident smile across her face. " Okay then. Where do we start?" She asked.

Hamilton returned the smile as he stood up. “ Well, seeing as how it’s your first day here and I still have work to do with Agent Muffins, Gill is going to give you a tour of the town and introduce you to the residents here. And Gill, make sure that Owen and Luke are bringing everything of hers here to the town hall for now.”

“ If they’re at the boat yet.” Gill replied with a drawl.

Kohri smirked herself at his tone. If she didn’t know any better, they weren’t his favorite people. She got to her feet as Gill stood as well, as the two other adults before them still had business to conduct. " Like I said before..." she began with a smile as she looked to her companion for the rest of the day.

Gill chuckled a little at her banter. He could see the two of them forming a friendship of sorts. " I know, lead the way. You're not making it easy for me to be a gentleman, you realize?" He replied as he held the door to the library open for her.

" You mean to tell me they exist?!" Kohri shot back teasingly. The door closed behind them, drowning out the sounds of their conversation, and only then did Agent Muffins and Hamilton both start laughing.

" Oh, those two are going to get along famously! I promise you." Muffins chuckled as she poured herself a fresh cup of tea. Elli, the receptionist downstairs, had been sweet to bring it up for them along with some light snacks. Muffins had to admit it had been awhile since she had tasted anything so good.

" It will be good for him. It'll pull Gill out of his shell. Hopefully enough..." Hamilton trailed off as he shook his head. He would make a stop by the church tonight to make a prayer.



 

Kohri was feeling fairly relaxed. Amelia had all but said this place would be safe, and she honestly felt it. It had been such a long time since she had felt such a calm settle over her. There had been so many attempts on her life as of late, so much that was happening during the trial that she was so scared that someone was going to slip up.

“ Can I ask you something, Ms. Kohri?” Gill said softly. He paused to lean against a tree and he looked out over the horizon. If one looked carefully enough, they could see Toucan Island from here. This used to be one of her favorite spots to just watch the sunset while I read a book...he thought. When was the last time he had actually done this? Had it honestly been five years?

Kohri took up post on the other side of the tree and she smiled at the sight. It was soothing here and there was the most precious looking flower nearby. It wasn’t a normal shade, but a bright, soothing pastel green. It made her think of mint at a first glance. “ What is it, Gill? And call me Kohri by the way. There’s no need for such formalities.” she responded softly. She wanted to just close her eyes and keep listening to the wind here. It was perfectly soothing.

“ Who were the victims in the double murder you witnessed? Agent Muffins said that you’ve barely had time to grieve because of everything going on.” Gill asked gently. He couldn’t deny that his interest was piqued.

The mood that had settled over her was gone. The sweet smelling breeze had stilled, leaving only the sound of her pounding heart in her ears. Tears filled her eyes and she gripped the tree behind her, the bark of it scratching and digging into her unguarded palm. She couldn’t help but tremble, so great was the emotion washing over her. “ My…” she began softly. One tear trickled a path down her cheek to her chin. She could feel the panic that she had felt when it happened, the same fear settling over her again. “ My…” she stuttered this time, visibly choking on the words even as she tried to speak them.

Gill was watching her every reaction and he shook his head. She needed more time to come to grips with things, it seemed. He reached out to settle a hand on her shoulder and her tear filled eyes met his own.

“ My parents.” she finally said. “ I was the only witness to my parents being murdered.” Her head fell in shame. She hadn’t even grieved for them properly since the funeral, Kohri had just been so wrapped up with the murder trial that she had barely given them a passing thought. Now, she needed to go about laying them to rest, properly. Needed to grieve for them properly for that matter.

Gill shook his head consolingly. He had lost his mother, so he definitely knew how she felt. “ If you ever need to talk to anyone about them, even if it seems trivial, you can come to me. Waffle Island is so much more than just a few scant residents, despite the place being a ghost town at this point. We’re family here, even if it’s not by blood. We can always fall back on one another here if we have need for it. Trust me, I’ve needed to more times than I would care to admit.” He had started off looking her in the eyes as he spoke, though his gaze slowly began looking out over the afternoon sea and sky.

“ Just you?” she asked with a smirk, though another tear had marked another trail down her nose this time.

Gill shook his head. “ Kathy, Luke, and I have all lost our mothers, so we know how you feel. The easiest persons to talk to are honestly Anissa and Owen, they have that kind of look about them. Especially Anissa.” he replied with a half smile. “ Speaking of Owen. I’ll take you by On the Hook really quick to introduce you to Ozzie, and that will give me a chance to see if Owen and Luke are unloading the cargo like they’re supposed to be.”

Kohri wiped her tears away, and she took Gill’s offered hanky to clean her face with. “ I’ll take care of cleaning it.” she said softly, grateful for his kindness. “ She’s right, though. Amelia, I mean. I have barely been able to think of anything besides staying alive since they died, so I’ve barely had the time to mourn them the way they deserve.” She looked out over the sea again, though she smiled this time. Her mother had always spoken of having her ashes scattered to the wind. Her father had loved the sea as well. “ Once I’m finally settled, would you be able to help me with something?”

“ We’ll talk about it then.” Gill replied. “ Now, buck up, because we’ve got a lot of people to meet, and giving them such a sour look is not going to make the best first impression.” He gave her a supportive smile. He hadn’t realized that they had that much in common. He held his arm out to her once more, fully expecting for her to turn him down once again with a funny retort.

Kohri giggled a little at the joke and she looked down at his arm for a moment. “ Okay then. Let’s go.” she said, looping her arm with his.

 

 

The two went back to the docks and Gill let out an audible sigh of relief at the sight that met them. Owen and Luke were in the midst of unloading everything from the cargo hold.

" Hey Gill!" One of the two grunted in greeting. He was tall, though not as tall as Gill or the redhead on the other side of what Kohri recognized as one of her bookshelves. He had long blue-blackish hair that was tied back and kept in place with a bandana. His smile was genuine and disarming, but Kohri could tell that this was a man who would go to great lengths for those around him.

" Luke. Glad to see you and Owen made it after all." Gill replied with a drawl.

" We woulda' been here sooner if someone had kept his hands outta the beehive!" The one who could only be Owen groused as they set the heavy wooden shelf down.

Luke's golden eyes went wide as he saw Kohri next to Gill and he gave a slight wolf whistle. He laughed when she immediately rolled her eyes upon hearing it. " So Gilly, who's the babe with ya today?" He asked as he leaned against the piece of furniture. Luke's head flew forward a bit as Owen cuffed him upside the back of his head, but he smiled unrepentantly. " Just 'cause you're stuck on one chick doesn't mean I am, mi amigo."

Kohri chuckled and she saw Gill pinch the bridge of his nose a bit. " Gentlemen, Kohri Phelps. Waffle Island's newest resident and rancher." He said tightly. Gill hated it when Luke called him that. " Kohri, this is Luke Ashemore, one of the apprentice carpenters. And Owen Steele, the blacksmith's apprentice."

Owen shook his head at Kohri a bit. " Make sure you keep Dr. Jin on call. She's gonna wither right quick." Owen said sagely. " She's a bit on the scrawny side to be swingin' around a hoe, much less an ax or a hammer."

Kohri's cheeks colored in embarrassment. Just who the hell did this guy think he was?! " For your information, Owen was it?" She paused as she reached into one of the boxes that had already been set down and Kohri's hoe gleamed in the afternoon sun. It was stainless steel, almost silver in color with as well as it was maintained, and she twirled it in her hands expertly before thunking the head hard against the wood of the dock. " No need to worry about me. I've been doing stuff like this since I started college. I've only dropped a lot of weight due to recent happenings, but I get the feeling I'm going to be putting it back on soon enough. Call me scrawny again, I'll catch ya upside the head with this."  Her voice was nothing short of serious despite the smile on her face as she gave her warning.

Both Owen and Luke started laughing uproariously. They both liked her spunk, it made them think of Kathy to be honest. This gal was gonna get along with everyone here just fine, Owen was sure of that much. " Looks like we got a good one here, Luke." Owen said with a broad grin. " You'll fit in quite nicely here, Kohri. It was a pleasure to meet ya."

" What he said." Luke added with a cheesy grin. He began moving back to the ship and Owen followed him. " So where is all this stuff going to, Gill?"

" It's going over to the town hall for now until Kohri has somewhere to put it...It might have to wait until she's had a couple of expansions by the look of things." Gill replied. His blue eyes held a little bit of mirth as Kohri flushed a little in embarrassment. Most of the crates looked as if they held books and his eyes dilated a little as he took in some of the titles that he could see. They didn’t have those books in the library. Oh yeah, Gill was definitely going to get along well with her.

" Before we leave them to it Gill, there is one thing I need to get from the hold before we get going again." Kohri said seriously. Her tone wasn't brooking for any opposition on his part and Owen even looked a bit shocked at her terseness.

" If you tell us what it is, Kohri, we can make sure it gets to the inn for you. If it's fragile, I'll take care of it myself." Owen offered.

Kohri looked skeptical but after a moment she nodded. " There is one box that I put in the hold that is not just precious to me, but extremely fragile. I'll show you which one it is." She said. " Just for the love of everything that's good and green here, don't let anything happen to that box, Owen. I'm putting a serious amount of trust in you despite having just met you."

Owen nodded solemnly. He could see just from the look on her face that this box was the most important thing out of all her possessions. " I understand Kohri. Why don't you show me which box it is and I'll take it to the inn as soon as Luke and I get everything else over to the town hall."

Kohri nodded. This was a huge acquiesce for her to give to a total stranger. However Gill's words from earlier had stuck with her. Owen was a trustworthy man according to the deputy mayor. She followed Owen below deck and she sighed in relief to see the box had not been moved yet. She opened the top to double check the contents and again her shoulders slumped in relief. " Thank goodness." She whispered. Things had gotten a bit rough on the ride here, but they were okay. That was all that mattered.

" What's in the box if you don't mind me askin'?" Owen asked as he looked over her shoulder. His tone held nothing genuine curiosity. Kohri moved away a little and Owen felt a lump in his throat when he saw what at first glance were two covered vases in the box. They're not vases...they're urns. He thought as his chest grew tight. Owen now understood why Kohri had wanted to take care of it herself at first. There were also two pictures that Kohri pulled out and he watched a tear slide down her cheek. The picture on the left was a woman with the same color hair as Kohri's  and she was laughing in the picture. The picture on the right was a man with shocking red hair and the same blue eyes Kohri had. His hand gently clapped her on the shoulder and Owen tried to cast off the tightness in his chest. She's got her dad's smile, but she looks just like her mom. Owen thought with a sad smile. " I'll make sure that they're taken care of, I promise." He said softly as Kohri put the pictures back. He swallowed a little hard, trying to remove the lump from his throat that had taken up a seemingly permanent residence there. How long ago had she lost them? Recently? Owen knew that if he were in her shoes and had just recently lost his parents, he would not be as strong as she was right now. He’d probably still be holed up in his room at Ramsey’s place if it were him in this position. " For what it’s worth, I'm sorry for your loss. Just by looking at them, I can tell they were wonderful people."

Kohri nodded as she set the box near the stairs. " Thank you Owen. And you're right, they were wonderful. Whatever room I'm staying at in the inn, make sure the box is there please."

" I will. Just let Luke and I handle the rest of it from here." Owen assured her. He watched as she closed the lid reverently and she kissed the tips of her fingers, only to press them to the top of the box. It made Owen miss his parents all the more. He resolved to write them a letter tonight to make sure they were doing well. Maybe he’d go visit once the currents were a little safer to manage.

The two went back above deck and Luke bid Kohri and Gill goodbye. Try as he might, Owen could not shake the tightness in his chest. Kohri's pain had been all but palpable to him.

" You alright buddy?" Luke asked him, his normally carefree tone full of seriousness and worry.

" I'm fine Luke. Tell you what, the sooner we get this done, the sooner we can go grab a couple of drinks on me, sound good?" Owen replied with a smile.

" Aw yeah! Let's do this!" Luke answered enthusiastically.

 

 

Gill and Kohri were talking animatedly as he began leading her to the inn. Gill had taken her all around town, which had taken a while, but the chat they were having was worth the leisurely pace Kohri had set. She was majoring in biochemistry! Finally someone who he could talk to about science! He was in the works of getting his own masters degree in agricultural science himself, on top of one in business management and a minor in political science. They were currently debating on whether or not a soil needed to be heavy in alkalines to yield a good crop..

“ And I’m telling you that such a ph level can yield a damn good crop!” Kohri retorted hotly just as they reached the door to the inn. No sooner had the words left her mouth, the door to the establishment opened and an older woman looked between the two. Kohri turned as red as a beet, much to Gill’s amusement, and she sheepishly looked at her shoes. “ I really need to rein that in a bit…” she muttered.

“ Is everything okay, Gill?” she asked. Her red hair looked almost pink with all the highlights of silver through it and Gill nodded in response. She was worried that the two had been fighting.

“ Everything’s fine, Yolanda. Our newest resident and I were just having a rather...Lively debate.” Gill paused as if trying to find the right word and Kohri’s blush deepened if that were at all possible. “ And Kohri, quite frankly, I haven’t had the pleasure of such an exchange in a long time, much less have I ever been roared at like that before now. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. The last of the residents that I will be introducing to you this evening are the proprietors of the inn here in Waffle Town. In fact, this is the head chef here, Yolanda. Yolanda, this is our newest resident and soon to be rancher, Kohri Phelps.” He leaned in a bit closer to Kohri. “ Try the fish meuniere. Yolanda’s is the best you’ll ever have.” he whispered to her while the old woman was talking to someone else inside.

Kohri smirked a little at the claim. " We'll see." She said, and she looked inside. Whatever she had going on the stove inside smelled amazing, Kohri couldn't lie. It almost reminded her of her grandmother's cooking. " Well, Yolanda, I'm ready for a good meal and a bed. I wasn't expecting to be so tired after today."

Gill smirked a bit himself. "  Good night, Kohri." He said with a slight chuckle. Yolanda was already starting in on her mothering with Kohri.

" Good night Gill!" Kohri replied quickly as she was all but shoved towards a table so she could dine with her hosts.

 

 

Floating. She felt as if she were floating. Lights from different parts of the spectrum were refracting all around her and Kohri looked around in wonder. She saw three little pinpoints in the distance, coming toward her at a great speed. She brought her arms up to protect herself in case of an impact, but she needn't have worried. As soon as the three points of light diverged on the same spot, Kohri had to shield her eyes from the blinding white light that erupted from the collision.

Kohri was left speechless however as the light died away, leaving the most beautiful woman she had ever seen standing before her.

The woman before her was dressed in a garb of ages past, flowing silks and fine filigree, golden bracelets and a belt draped over her hips. Her hair and eyes were the same shade of green, a shade Kohri had never seen before but it made her feel at ease in this woman's presence. The most notable feature the woman before her had was a pair of delicate wings from extending from her back.

Her mouth opened as her hands gesticulated, but no sound came and tears filled the woman's baleful green eyes. Her head fell in shame and Kohri felt her heart break for the poor dear.

" I'll help you..." Kohri said. She didn't need to hear her to know she needed help.

The woman's eyes widened in surprise and she gave Kohri a tearful smile as she nodded. She held up a hand with three fingers on it and she slowly began fading from sight.

" Wait! What do you mean by that?" Kohri called out to her, but it was too late. The woman was gone and suddenly Kohri began falling.

 

 

Kohri bolted up in her borrowed bed and she looked around wildly. That dream had much too sensate for comfort. Had it honestly just been a dream? Who was that woman? Kohri kicked her feet over the side of the bed and she held her head in her hands for a moment.

She couldn't shake the feeling that something much bigger was at work here, bigger than she could probably handle right now.

Korhi shook her head to clear her thoughts. She couldn't dwell on that dream right now, not on an empty stomach. Besides, the young woman knew she had to get herself in order before she could even attempt to do anything else.

Getting dressed, Kohri grabbed her favorite green hoodie and a pair of dirt brown capris from her backpack. Amelia had warned her that she would be spending some time at one of the farms until they were able to get her settled into a home, so Kohri had made sure to pack accordingly.

Kohri couldn't stop the small smile that crossed her face at the thought of Gill. He was handsome alright, and they both had a love of science and literature. She was already a bit smitten in all honesty, but Kohri had no desire get herself caught up in any romantic entanglements right now. There was too much work to be done, so friends only was the rule.

Lacing up her boots, Kohri picked up the box holding her parents ashes and she smiled a little ruefully. They had always been so supportive of her passion for agriculture, despite the fact that they were a wealthy family and Kohri wanted nothing more than to plant, test soils and crops, experiment with said soils and then test them all over again. Then again, her mother had always told Kohri she had the greenest thumb she had ever seen. Their family home had been riddled with planters of every size with any kind of foliage that Kohri could get her hands on. It would probably be that way again soon enough, she mused with a chuckle.

Nonetheless, Kohri knew that her parents would be proud of her now. She was going to do something she loved, even if it took time to get settled. Well, as the saying goes, all good things to those who wait. In this case, it will definitely be worth it. She thought with a sad smile. She walked from the room downstairs and Kohri smiled when she saw Jake, the owner of the Sundae Inn.

" Good morning, Kohri. I trust you slept well." He said brightly. He was in the midst of setting the table and his wife, Colleen, came from their bedroom tying her apron. " Good morning darling."

Colleen smiled as she leaned in to kiss her husband. " Good morning honey." She replied sweetly. Kohri had come to learn that Colleen, Yolanda, and Maya were all as sweet as sugar when she had dined with them last night.

Kohri smiled sadly at the little display between the couple. Her parents had been just as affectionate as those two. She could only pray to have a marriage that wonderful. " Good morning Jake, Colleen. And yes, I slept well...For the most part at least." She admitted as she set the box down behind her as she took her seat and she took a whiff. Gill had been right that Yolanda's cooking was amazing.

Jake and Colleen looked over to her with concern. " For the most part?" Colleen echoed worriedly.

" Yeah, just a weird dream before I woke up is all. It just felt so real..." Kohri's voice trailed a little as she gazed off, her mind completely elsewhere now. " That beautiful woman with long hair..." Her voice was barely a whisper, but Jake and Colleen looked between one another.

There was something else at work here.

" Why thank you for the compliment dear." Yolanda said loudly, shocking Kohri back into the present.

The poor girl almost jumped out of her seat she had tuned everything out, and Kohri gave Yolanda a cheesy grin. “ Well…” she began sheepishly. Yolanda had missed the entire conversation after all while she had been making breakfast.

" Now mother, she could have easily been talking about Colleen." Jake laughed a bit, eliciting a small chuckle from Kohri and a girlish titter from his wife.

" Oh honey!" Colleen squeaked, her cheeks rosy due to the compliment. She laughed a bit as she helped start serving everything on the table and she looked over to Kohri. “ Just don’t worry about that dream from last night, dear. I’m sure that’s all it was. Now, the mayor stopped by last night just after you went to bed and he said he’d be here around nine or ten to take you up to Souffle Farm. Craig and Ruth run the place and they’re where we get the majority of our produce from…”

Kohri nodded blandly, even as her thoughts began turning back to the woman she had seen in her dreams. What did she mean by three? Three hours? Weeks, days, months, years? Three what? Kohri scowled a little as she ate her breakfast, all the while barely listening to Jake and Colleen tell her more about the farm. Kohri knew her way around a farming plot, though she made a note that she would need her tools if she were going to be working with the farmers. A quick trip up to the town hall was in order to get her gear. Once she had finished breakfast, she took her dishes into the kitchen and washed them herself, much to Yolanda’s chagrin.

“ You’re a guest here.” the old woman argued.

“ Doesn’t matter to me.” Kohri countered with a wide grin. “ It’s not like it took all that long either, Ms. Yolanda. Besides, you’ll have your customers to worry about soon enough.” Kohri finished drying the plate and glass that she had used and she set them on the counter. “ Not only that, it gave me something to do while I’m waiting for the mayor at least.”

No sooner had the words left her mouth, the door to the inn cracked open a bit. Mayor Hamilton poked his head in and he smiled brightly when he saw that Kohri was ready to go. “ Good morning everyone. Ms. Phelps, if you’ll follow me please? I don’t mean to rush you, but I do have business to finish up this morning. I promised Gill and Elli that I would be only gone an hour.”

“ It’s fine, Mayor Hamilton.” Kohri replied kindly. Before she left, she turned to the people who had been kind enough to house her last night. “ Jake, Colleen, Yolanda. Thank you all for your kindness and hospitality. It really did wonders to help ease my fears of coming here.”

Colleen smiled. “ You’re more than welcome, Kohri. Please feel free to come on by if you have the chance. The goddess knows how busy you’re going to be once you get settled.” she chuckled.

Kohri nodded in agreement and she followed the mayor out of the door with a parting wave to the people inside. They followed the road up past a hill and Kohri smiled at the sight once they crested the top. Only a few houses were scattered here and there, but there was plenty of room for more. The grass was lush and green and a tall oak stood proud near the lake dominating the center of the field.

“ This is the Maple Lake District. I fully intend for it to be a housing area…” Hamilton began as the two began walking through the residential area, and he continued to tell her more about his aspirations for making the island thrive again.

Soon they began climbing another hill and Kohri smiled as the soothing scent of flowers met her nose. Lavender! She missed that smell so much, as it had been a favorite of her mother’s, and herself. Kohri looked down to the box in her arm and she smiled again. Confidence that she was making the right choice surged through her as her smile widened when she saw Owen down the path to the right. She waved to him and he responded in kind, though the two quickly lost sight of one another as they went their separate ways.

“ Just go on in, and introduce yourself. Craig and Ruth are expecting you.” Hamilton said with a smile. “ Either Gill or myself will be by in about three days or so to take you over to the Caramel River area. That’s the only area of the island left for ranching at this point.”

Kohri nodded, though her brow had furrowed. Was that what that woman had meant? Shrugging it off, Kohri poked her head inside the shop. There were racks of vegetables against the wall and Kohri couldn’t help but lick her lips. She loved fresh produce, the crunch of a freshly picked vegetable, or the sweetness of a newly harvested fruit. Oh, she couldn’t wait to get her hands on some strawberries either. But first and foremost, she had to introduce herself to the couple near the counter.



 

Gill was completely absorbed in his work. Worse than that, he was stuck. The Flower Festival was to be held on May first, and he wasn’t entirely sure they were going to have enough flowers by that point. Ruth could only do so much after all, even if Anissa were to help her. His brow furrowed a little as he reached for his coffee and he growled a bit under his breath when he realized it was empty. Just another thing to put him in a bad mood it seemed. Gill had to have coffee while he was working lately, considering he had been coming in early and leaving late for the last three weeks. Plus there was the situation revolving around Kohri. So far, only he and his father were aware that she was in witness protection.

“ Out of coffee again, Gill?” Elli chuckled teasingly. “ Give me your cup, I’ll go make a fresh one for you.” She walked over and she looked over the papers in front of him. He was certainly trying to make sure the festival went off without a hitch this year. It hadn’t been that smooth last year, or the year before, hence why Gill was in charge this year. The mayor just had too much on his plate right now.

Gill smiled at the receptionist as he handed her the cup and saucer. “ Thank you, El. Did you make any creme horns by chance today?” he asked hopefully. Elli made some of the best sweets here on the island. Then again, she was learning from Yolanda as well. It only made sense that they were that good.

“ Not today, Gill, I’m sorry. I do have a fresh chocolate cake sitting in the break room however. Would you like a slice?” she replied.

Gill shook his head. “ Not right now at least. Maybe after lunch.” His brow creased again as he looked over the report in front of him. They needed at least a hundred more bushels of flowers, but there wasn’t enough time or help for Ruth to get it done. The phone rang over on his father’s desk and Gill glowered at it. He hated being interrupted like this, but his father was out and about right now. It rang again and with a discontented sigh, Gill stood to answer it. “ Waffle Town City Hall, Gill speaking. How may I help you?”

“ Gill, it’s Ruth.” the florist said brightly. She sounded as if she were in a really, really good mood that morning. That was definitely a change from how stressed and overworked she had been for the last week in an attempt to get as many flowers ready as she could. “ I just wanted to let you know that I’m sure that we’re going to be able to grow enough blooms in time for the festival.”

Gill’s eyes went wide. “ How is that possible? You said Craig was too busy with his crops to take any time to help.” he asked her.

“ Have you met the new resident yet? She’s helping both Craig and I with our plants while she’s staying here. She already offered to stay long enough to help me get everything in order for the festival as well…” Ruth began excitedly. It had been a while since something this providential had happened to the island. Things had been going nowhere but downhill since the Mother Tree had died. “ Between her, Anissa, and I, we’re going to have more than enough blossoms in time.”

Gill sighed in relief. “ Thank the goddess…” he whispered. “ Thank you for letting me know Ruth. That saved us a lot of time and money considering we won’t have to order from the mainland and Pascal already said that he’s going to be making less trips out right now. The currents are too strong around the island. Oh, and please tell Kohri I’ll be there around twelve thirty or one o’clock tomorrow so that I can take her by the Caramel River area to see which plot she wants to settle down on.”

“ Sure thing Gill. We’ll see you tomorrow then.” Ruth replied chipperly.

Gill hung the phone up and he couldn’t help but smile as he looked over the paperwork again. Something had changed with Kohri’s arrival two days ago, something good. The festival had suffered for the last two or three years because Ruth had been unable to provide enough flora, though she still had a business to run after all. It wasn’t her fault that everything had been going wrong. Gill looked over at the phone again and he shook his head a little in disbelief.

“ Everything okay, Gill? I heard the phone ring.” Elli asked as she came back from the break room. She had his coffee in one hand and a cup of tea for herself in the other.

“ Everything’s fine, El. That was Ruth calling to let me know that everything’s going to be in order. She’s going to be able to get enough flowers grown in time for the festival.” Gill replied as he took his drink from her. “ Thank you again, by the way.”

“ You’re welcome. And that’s wonderful news!” Elli exclaimed as she set her teacup down. “ How is she going to pull it off? Anissa’s been running the shop because Ruth and Craig are both busy with their own crop.”

“ My father set it up for Kohri to stay at Souffle Farm until we can get her house built. It completely slipped my mind to be honest.” he whispered as he sat back and he closed his eyes in relief.

Elli smiled. “ Well, I’ll go get the appropriate forms ready then. When is your dad taking her by the plots?” she asked him.

Gill sat up straight once more as he rearranged the papers on his desk. Now there was only the matter of advertising the festival and making sure that Yolanda could get enough food made. Between her, Elli, and Colleen, Gill was sure they would be fine. “ I’ll be taking her by tomorrow afternoon. Father’s heading over to Toucan Island in the morning to see if Sue and Samson can help with some of the catering. I also think he’s eyeing some of Sue’s prized hibiscus plants.” Gill laughed a little here, and he shook his head. “ Sue won’t part with them, so I hope he doesn’t get his hopes too high.”

Elli looked a bit concerned as she turned back to Gill. “ Are you sure you’re going to be okay? I mean…” she began until Gill held up his hand to stop her.

“ It’s been five years, Elli. I’ll be fine.” he replied, though the happiness he had felt was quickly leaving. Try as he might, Gill still hurt the more he thought of what happened, the more the thought of her. “ Besides, she might not choose that plot in the long run. There are three others that are just as good for her needs.”

Elli shook her head a little as Gill tried to reassure her. She knew him well enough to see that despite the mask of indifference he had put on for everyone else that Gill was hurting inside. “ Gill…” Elli began.

“ I’ll be fine, El. Really. Sometimes you have to face your past rather than keep running from it. I’ve been avoiding it this long, I was bound to have to go back there sometime.” he interrupted.

Elli sighed heavily as she shook her head again. “ What time?” she asked.

“ Around lunch.”

She smirked a little. “ I’ll pack a picnic lunch for the two of you then.” she said with finality. If Gill was going to be this stubborn, then she was going to play hardball as well.



 

Kohri wiped her brow as she filled yet another basket of flowers for Ruth. She was only half way through the first field and Kohri looked over the horizon at the sea of color that still awaited her. Ruth had begun planting early this year, but she hadn’t been expecting this good a yield from her plants. At least she now had an extra hand.

“ Kohri!” came Ruth’s shout from near the house. “ Gill’s here!”

Kohri’s brow furrowed. Had she lost track of time that quickly? She took a glance skyward and she began cussing a bit under her breath. She had lost track of time alright. It was almost one thirty in the afternoon. How long had she left him waiting? Kohri plucked the large basket up and she slung it over her shoulder as she began making her trek inside. Damn! She didn’t even have a chance to shower! If only there were someplace where she could go swimming for a moment or two. The temperature had shot up over the last three days, something she was not used to in the city. Maybe it was because the island was further south than where she had been living.

“ He only just got here a few minutes ago himself.” Ruth said softly as Kohri handed her the basket. “ He came in fully ready to apologize to you for his own tardiness.” Ruth laughed softly as she recalled the look on Gill's face. “ He was thrown for a loop when he realized you weren’t waiting inside.”

Kohri laughed as well. “ At least he wasn’t waiting long then. I was worried he got here an hour ago. You told me yesterday he’d be here between twelve thirty and one.” Kohri replied as she walked into the house. “ Hey Gill! Sorry about the wait.”

“ Good afternoon Kohri.” came the reply. “ It was no trouble really. I fell behind a bit myself this morning, hence my own late arrival.” Gill looked over to Ruth. “ I don’t know how long this will take Ruth. Are you sure you’ll be alright for today?”

“ Kohri got quite a bit done this morning. Anissa and I can probably get some more done now that Craig can keep an eye on the shop.” Ruth replied.

Gill nodded and he looked over to Kohri who was smiling from ear to ear. “ You ready?”

“ Yep!” Kohri chirped happily as she followed Gill out of the door. “ I’ll be back later, Ruth!”

Ruth smiled as the door closed and she sighed a little. Kohri had gotten more work done than she thought. If they kept this pace up, Ruth would be drowning in the blooms until the end of summer she was sure.



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