January 30, 2013

(Alternate Storyline) When the Autumn Leaves Blush - Part V

As dictated by Faranza Syns

This time, it's apparently because I owe someone a longer chapter.

When The Autumn Leaves Blush
Faranza Syns

Chapter 4

Ten years later

Sean paused as he tried to take in the vision before his eyes. He was tongue-tied for about a moment, then he gaped widely.

Sophia beamed at the reaction she was receiving.

Putting on a stern face that looked fiercely wild on him, Sean approached her. "Who are you, you impostor? My friend isn't this pretty. You'd better give her back or she'd rain hell on us for making her waste precious wedding-planning time."

"Very funny," Sophia ran her hands down her the side of the cream-coloured dress of light, airy chiffon. "Do you think it's too much for an engagement party?"

"Are you kidding me? It's smashing! The other Dorwood's will eat their million-dollar slippers to look like you," Sean grinned. Then he leaned forward with a wink. "Thank god Cole's not here yet. He'd have had epileptic seizures looking at how beautiful you are."

Sophia gave him a droll look. "I thought military school would've made your tongue a lot more stilted, but somehow, it just got a lot more charming."

"Why? Are you falling for me?"

"Nonsense. Cole is ten times more charming."

Sean laughed at that, thinking of Cole being charming in a courtroom. His nickname was Ball-Grinder. Just him staring at you could make you sweat through seven layers of clothing.

"So," Sophia said as she walked into the changing room once again to remove the dress. "Why aren't you working today?"

"I called in sick."

Sophia pushed aside the curtain enough for her to peek out. "Tosh. You're a freelance artist-cum-interior designer-cum-carpenter. You don't call in sick."

He raised his hands. "Caught me. Actually, I've to go see one of my ... benefactors. He wants to commission something, I suppose. Dorothy says it's worth big money so I should just go along with what the big boss says."

"Well, she's right. You're living like some homeless person."

"I have an apartment."

"That is practically just a closet," she continued for him. "You sleep on a couch and eat takeout," Sophia stepped out and passed the dress to the attendant, smiling at her in thanks. "You work at your studio twenty-four-seven and come up with brilliant designs, art and occasionally revolutionary furniture à la mode. This, naturally, would bring in a lot of money. But I don't see any evidence of that money anywhere. Pray tell, where has it all gone?"

"I gave it away. It's really good for the soul to donate."

Sophia glared at him. "Well, save some for your fiscally needy self."

"I do have money in the bank."


He grinned again, showing off deep dimples on his clean-shaven cheeks. "I'm not telling you anything about my money. You'd kill me off and somehow forge a will with some other corrupt people and get it all, building a mansion over my grave."

"Like I actually need your money, Sean. And that sounds so melodramatic - even Danny wouldn't use that cheesy a..." Sophia's spoken thought trailed away and she stared at the turquoise dress in her hands. Slowly, she lowered the dress, a look of dejection coming over her beautiful, somewhat patrician features. Sean looked up from where he sat, hands clasped before him, elbows on thighs. "I haven't talked about her in months," Sophia said without looking at him. "It's been so long... and I wonder if she's dead."

Sean merely nodded, not taking any of it in. He had remained neutral about the whole affair since when he found out Danielle had gone missing. He had stayed faithfully by Sophia's side through his letters, being the brother and the shoulder she needed to unload her woes upon, patted her hand at the occasional trips down to Harlow's Bayou and nodded in understanding. But never once had he truly cared what happened to Danielle. To him, she was just what she was - a stranger.

"Uncle Ryan didn't care at first, you know." Sophia said, smiling sadly. "He was the one who stopped my dad from getting into the car and looking for Danielle. He was so certain that Danny was just being dramatic. Then, we couldn't even find her."

Sean noted a different tone in her voice. It sounded a bit ... off. His eyes narrowed as he studied her face, but relaxed when it still had the same look of sorrow she had whenever she spoke of her estranged-and-missing cousin.

"If she's missing - and can't be found - I guess she doesn't want to see you guys. It happens," he brushed it off and stood up. "Anyways, I've gotta go. Dorothy's gonna murder me if I'm late."

"Oh, make sure to remind Cole that we have dinner with my parents tonight."

"Is Watson okay with that?"

Sophia chuckled. "Most of the time, Papa wants to kill him. But then again, it's because he thought he'd somehow brainwashed me enough so that I'd stay away from males for another ten years more."

"See, that's the reason we never got it on together. You dad brainwashed me too."

She laughed and sent him on his way. Sean smiled at the sound of her laughter. Since Danielle's disappearance, that sound presented itself very rarely.

Sean shook his head in disapproval as he walked to his meeting. Selfish person that she was, she never gave a thought to what damage she could do to Sophia's tender feelings. To feel that her own cousin did not trust her enough was something Sophia had found extremely hard to swallow. Sean's perception of Danielle, though he had vowed to remain untouched, sunk lower.

He added another strike against Danielle's morality.


"A little to right. That's nice, pumpkin."

Haley beamed up at the beautiful lady currently bent beside her. "I like drawing," she said haltingly, testing the sound of the words on her tongue.

The lady nodded and smiled. "How about another sun, Haley? It looks awfully nice, don't you think?"

"There's no such thing as two suns, silly!" a boy sitting across Haley exclaimed righteously.

Haley did not like the tone he took with the pretty lady. "Yes, there is!" she shouted in pure, mindless defense of the lady who watched on. She was a nice, kind person who had given her sweets and toys. Haley loved the lady. To show her loyalty, Haly spread her short, but no less threatening arms in front of the lady, leaning to the side to more efficiently cover the lady from harm. The five year-old gave the boy a defiant look.

"No!" he shouted back. "There's only one Sun, dumm-dumm!"

"No!" Haley responded. There's one that comes out at night, too! That one's not as strong as the one that comes out in the morning! Haley could feel the words on her tongue, but she didn't want to sound stupid, because every time she opened her mouth, people laughed. And she didn't like it.

"Thomas," the lady intoned. "Remember what I told you yesterday?"

Thomas looked like he swallowed some sour candy. "Sorry," he mumbled.

Haley nodded, accepting her victory without question. Somehow, since the lady was around, people laughed at her less. And Tommy became a bit nicer. He didn't laugh at her like he used to.

Haley loved the lady, no matter what people said.


"Miss O'Connor?"

Danielle rose from Haley's side and faced the orphanage's manager. "Yes?"

"We can't thank you enough for your donations. It has helped us beyond what we expected."

"It's alright," Danielle halted the manager, smiling. "I did my research here, so it was only right that I gave away half of my commission to this orphanage. Drop-Down Haven was a hit."

"It was," the manager agreed. "And many potential parents have come over to look at the children lately, and it's really been much, much better since you helped out - "

"It's okay," Danielle reassured. "I like doing this."

The manager nodded, then, hesitating she looked at Danielle. "Ms. O'Connor, if I may ask you a very personal question?"

"I'll try and answer as best as I can," Danielle said truthfully.

"Were you once an orphan?"

Danielle paused. Then, she nodded. "Yeah. I suppose you could say that."

"Your parents died?"

"Not really. They just abandoned me."

"That happens a lot."

"Yes, it does, doesn't it?" Danielle watched Haley as she lorded over Tommy who looked uncomfortable at one moment, yet affectionate at another.

Haley reminded Danielle of Sophia. To distract herself, she looked at her watch. "Oh, I have to go. I have a meeting with one of my stronger supporters. He says he has something that could benefit the orphanage more."

"Oh, you shouldn't - you don't have to -"

"These children deserve a better chance. I'll do anything I can to help them. Trust me," Danielle winked. The manager gave a helpless smile, then nodded. Danielle returned it, and waved goodbye to her kids. They waved back with an exuberance that could only be afforded by the untainted.

It was one thing Danielle will never be.


Weary of waiting so long, Sean took out his small notepad and pen, and began scribbling on it in hopes of being struck by inspiration. Lately, he'd felt more, and more restless, like there was something he was supposed to know, yet he did not.


Faranza's Notes: OMAIGOD. I never knew I had this. Puhahahaha. This was the version that was written before I went away to National Service and so it has a waaaaay different feel. Man, trawling my old drafts really gives me a lot of old forgotten things to re-post. Haha. This is an alternate storyline. If you like it, tell me and I might just dump the Military School storyline.

Nah. Just kidding. But I CAN work on both at the same time.

Kay, being a bit too ambitious again. Either ways, a shoutout to Tikay who made this possible. Hehe. I bet she's steaming now. "Farhana, sikitnya you tulis!" Alas, I am lazy. It's just the way I am.