All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Southern Angels (Part 1.2)
When I rode in to town the next morning, I found Katherine standing outside the hotel as she talked to the Salvatore brothers. One of them said something that made her laugh. Suddenly my knuckles were sore. That was when I realized I had clenched my fist around the rein. Stefan and Damon talking to Katherine sparked an angry fire in me, and I knew how fast a simple campfire could become a wildfire and destroy everything in its path. I swallowed back the irritation and put on a calm face.
“Whitlock,” Stefan greeted me as I rode up to the hotel.
“Good afternoon,” I said as I descended my horse.
Katherine smiled at me as I walked over to her.
“You already know each other?” she asked.
I nodded. “We met yesterday.”
“Maybe it was an act of fate,” Katherine suggested. “We all met each other yesterday. Strange, isn’t it?”
“Very,” Damon agreed.
“Well,” Katherine said, “let’s not stand here wasting the day away, gentlemen. Show me your hometown.”
“Right this way,” I said, offering my arm.
I could see jealousy flash in the Salvatore’s features when she put her gloved hand on my elbow. A hardness in Damon’s eyes lingered for a minute.
“It’s beautiful down here,” Katherine observed. “I like hot weather. And sun.”
“We have plenty of both,” Damon said. “How long are you staying in Houston, Ms. Pierce?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” she said. “As long as I feel like it. I don’t have anyone waiting for me anywhere. Might as well make the most of it.”
“You mean your family won’t worry if you stay long?” Stefan said. Was that an edge of excitement I heard? “And they let you stay here unescorted?”
Katherine shook her head. “They don’t worry much. They’re as free as I am. And then there’s Emily, my handmaid, who is like a sister to me. As for your second question, Mr. Salvatore, I’m not unescorted. I have three lovely escorts with me right now.”
I smiled at that. We walked through town, talking and pointing out special places to Katherine. I could still feel the jealousy rolling off the two of them like steam.
“Did you know Jasper is going to enlist?” Stefan said.
“Oh, really?” Katherine said, looking at me.
“Yes,” Damon said before I could. “He’s coming to draft with me today.”
“Are you already an officer, Damon?” Katherine asked.
“An officer?” Damon laughed. “Ma’am I’m merely a fighting soldier. Nothing more, possibly less.”
“I’m sure you could quickly rise up the ranks,” Katherine said.
“Thank you,” Damon said, nodding politely. His eyes flushed with pride.
Jonathan cam running down the road. His face was red and he was out of breath from running. His faced was etched with worry.
“Jasper,” he said when he ran up to us panting. “You have to come. Quickly. It’s your father.”
I paced the parlor of Dr. Wilson’s house anxiously. I was too nervous to sit. My father had been working in the barn when he dropped a pail of water and slipped. The horse he was leading out had panicked and accidentally stepped on his leg. He had been unconscious ever since.
Mama was paler than I’d ever seen her before. She stared blankly into the empty fireplace. I hadn’t seen Father yet, but she had. Mama was never this quiet--unless it was extremely bad.
Jonathan sat in the chair next to her. He kept glancing up at me when he thought I wasn’t looking, like I might explode like gunpowder.
“What?” I snapped when I caught him.
“Are you okay?” he asked tentatively.
“Perfect,” I said sarcastically. “My father might be crippled, my mama’s scared to death, and we might lose our farm now. Everything’s just perfect!”
And then there was the fact that I left Katherine to the Salvatore brothers. I was not too happy about leaving suddenly without a proper good-bye, but what could I do? I was not going to tell this to Jonathan, though.
“Is that all you think about?” Jonathan said, standing up. “Your damn farm?”
I looked away from him at the other wall.
“Answer me!” he yelled.
I remained silent. I stared at the doors, willing Dr. Wilson to come back with good news. Good God, please let my father be alive…
“Jasper Whitlock!” Jonathan yelled again. “I’m your friend and I deserve an answer! Don’t you care about anything else?”
“Stop,” Mama said weakly. She sounded like she was on the verge of tears. “Please. I’ve never seen you fight like this before. Please stop.”
I walked back around and knelt next to Mama’s chair, taking her hand. She looked at me with clear blue eyes, shimmering with moisture threatening to flow to her cheeks. She was genuinely scared. Not just for her husband, I realized but for me too.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Things are just…”
“Tense,” Jonathan completed. “Tenser than a taught rope.”
Dr. Wilson walked in. We stood up and faced him. Mama’s hand trembled in mine. I bit my lower lip, fearing the worst.
“Mrs. Whitlock,” Dr. Wilson said, removing his wire-rimmed glasses. “Jasper. Henry will be fine. He has to stay off his leg for a few weeks, but he’ll live.”
“Oh dear God,” Mama sobbed.
Mama and I hugged hard. The three of us had always been tight knit. If one seam of a scarf comes loose, the rest of it unravels. Even when you patch it, it’s still not the same scarf, right? Our family was the same way.
“I can’t leave now,” I told her. “I won’t.”
“Jasper you have to,” she pleaded. “My friend has a son who wants to work. We can hire him, and whatever he does not do I can do until your father is better.”
“We need the money,” I muttered. It was the same thing that kept being repeated. By now we just said it a flat monotone. But we knew it was true. There was no way around it.
We went up to see Father. Lying in the bed Dr. Wilson used for examinations, he did not look as bad as I thought he would. I expected him to be pale and weak looking. Instead he had no less color than when I left today. He said that he felt as lively as ever. Both were a relief to Mama and me--I could see her eyes relax.
Supper that night was a quiet occasion, Father not being there with his deep, full laugh and inquiries about our days. He was staying at the Wilson’s to recover. The only sound was forks and knives scratching the plates. Honestly, I thought I would never hear a worse sound in the entire world.
“Who were you going to hire?” I asked, silence finally getting to me.
“Amy Lindon’s boy, Jed,” Mama said, not looking at me.
That was all she said. We put the dishes away and went to bed, not speaking at all.
The next morning I rode in to town again. I was only thinking about two things: finding Damon Salvatore and enlisting. The first would definitely lead to the second. If Jonathan said anything to me to try to discourage me, I would personally gun fight him at high noon--on Sunday. Eventually I found Damon walking down the road.
“Damon!” I called, stopping him.
“Good morning,” he said politely as I jumped down from my horse. “How is your father?”
“Living,” I said. “Dr. Wilson said he is going to be fine. But I need you to enlist me.”
“Of course,” he said. “Come on. I’ll take you to the office.”
We walked in silence to the draft center. It was a small, modest building with only a front desk and waiting area. I followed Damon in and he smiled at the man sitting at the front desk.
“Morning, Matt,” Damon said.
Matt looked up. “Damon Salvatore! Nice to see you here again. Looks like you’ve survived your first deployment.”
“Nice to be back,” Damon said as he shook Matt’s hand firmly. “I’ve brought a recruit. Matt, this is Jasper Whitlock. Jasper, this is Matt McCain. He wants to enlist.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” I said,
“Same to you,” Matt said. “How old are you, son?”
“Twenty,” I lied. I knew I was tall and muscular enough to get away with it.
“Well, not much to do at this point,” Matt said. “Just need to fill out the papers and send them back. Then we’ll give you a training date.”
“Training date?” I asked, hating how incompetent I sounded.
“A day where you go with about a dozen recruits and they test your combat skills,” Damon explained. “It’s nothing big. If you can fight with your hands, they take you. If you can fight with a gun, they take you.”
“Confederate army is generally taking anyone these days,” Matt said. “We’re trying to get as many men to fight as possible.”
“More should,” I said, taking the papers Matt handed to me across the counter. “The plantation owners and people like that.”
“It’s not that easy to convince a rich man to get out on the field and engage in battle,” Matt said. “Most send hired workers or their own sons.”
“It’s terrible,” Damon added. “I’ve seen so many young men die in the place of an employer. You have family as a motive though, right Jasper?”
I nodded. “It’s going to be hard leaving, with Father unable to work. My mama’s going to hire her friend’s son, so we won’t be completely at loss.”
“Just remember,” Matt warned, “not everyone will come home to a hero’s welcome. Some might not even come home at all.”
The next three weeks were tedious. I had to wait for my training date, show Jed what to do and exactly how to do it, and find ways to avoid Jonathan. Katherine kept me occupied, though. Very occupied.
She and I were talking a sunset-lit stroll around town one night. I was telling her about my plans in the army. She listened intently to every word I said.
“That’s very brave of you, you know” she commented. “I know you’ll come back. You’re strong, loyal…everything a soldier needs.”
“Thank you,” I said.
We had come back to the hotel. This is the dreaded farewell point. I held on to her hand for a minute before finally letting it go.
“Jasper,” she said. “Why don’t you walk me in tonight? I want to keep talking.”
“Alright,” I said.
We walked through the swinging doors into the lobby. Katherine led me up the stairs and in to her room.
“It’s been such a long day,” she said as she sat in a chair near the window.
I sat next to her. She looked as beautiful as always, with her chestnut locks curling down in front of her shoulder. She wore a simple black dress with white lace trim. Katherine looked best in simple things; her beauty did not need embellishments.
“I need to tell you something,” she said.
“What is it?” I asked.
She turned the full force of her beautiful brown eyes on me. “Damon Salvatore. He’s falling in love with me. So is Stefan. Neither of them know about the other. But I wanted you to know about both of them, because I don’t care for either of them. The only one I care for, Jasper, is you.”
“Either Salvatore would be better for you,” I said, looking away. “They have money, a good future. What can I give you that they can’t?”
“Your love,” she replied earnestly. “They cannot give me the feeling I have when I am with you. You are so much gentler than them, so much more kind. I feel so empowered when you’re here. I feel strong enough to do this.”
She stood up and lifted my face with her gloved index finger. Her face had never revealed so much innocence or so much care. I put a hand on her waist. She bent down and kissed me lightly. I stood up so the angle would not be as awkward. Before I knew what has happening, she backed me up on to the bed. She broke the kiss and unbuttoned my jacket, removing it and tossing it on the floor. Then I pulled her face back down and kissed her again.
“Wait,” I said, abruptly realizing what was happening. “Stop. Katherine, I’m sorry. We can’t do this. This is sin.”
“Jasper,” Katherine whispered, “you need to realize something. I am sin.”
She pushed me back and the bed. That was when my slow, common night became a fast blur of nothing but Katherine Pierce.