Caroline Reynolds arrived in Newcrest on a crisp, beautiful spring evening. Where did she come from? No one knew. Where was she going? That was also a mystery. Caroline was a mystery, and an aura of unknown surrounded her. Was she magical? Was she a criminal?
Or was she just a mother seeking protection for her and her child?
Caroline’s visit to Newcrest was quickly revealed when she entered a lavishly furnished home, and a familiar face greeted her: her sister Holly Reynolds. “Caro? Caroline? What are you doing here?” asked Holly, embracing her sister. She was wearing her usual light layers; unlike her sister, Holly wasn’t mysterious or unknown in any way. She let Caroline inside and showed her to the living room. “I’m sorry to bug you, but I really needed to speak to you and this wasn’t something I could do over the phone,” explained Caroline as she sat on the couch. Holly sat down next to her. “It’s been ten years, sis,” started Holly, the smile on her face slowly fading. Ten years, thought Caroline.
“I know. I’m sorry it’s been so long, I’ve just been so busy and I assumed you were as well,” justified Caroline, as Holly nodded. “Yeah, busy making myself rich and famous. I did exactly what I came here to do. But what brought you all the way out here to Newcrest?” she replied proudly. Caroline gulped. “Some really bad things have happened in the past few months, and Caitlyn and I are finding ourselves in need of somewhere to stay. Away from our hometown,” she spoke. Holly squinted. “What happened? Is Caitlyn okay? Are you okay?” she asked slowly, becoming suddenly serious. Caroline rubbed her arms uncomfortably. “I can’t get into details right now, Holly. I have money, but I just can’t put my name on anything right now. We need somewhere to stay,” she insisted, as Holly’s face became worried. “Why?”
Caroline grew more and more uncomfortable. “Holly, seriously, I can’t tell you anything right now. I don’t have anyone else to go to. You’re my sister, and I trust you. Can you please help me? Do you have a room or two here that we could use for a little while?” she begged, as Holly blinked. She seemed to be thinking of all sorts of memories and debating internally whether she could help her older sister or not. They had been through a lot – Holly left the family to pursue her dreams of stardom, and Caroline decided to follow her own dreams of getting married and having a family. They were two opposing characters who used to be close, and who lost each other because of time. And they hadn’t said a word to each other in a little over ten years. Caroline gulped, realizing she took a big risk coming to Newcrest.
Holly sighed. “We’re sisters, through thick and thin. Of course I’ll help you, Caro. I do have two guest bedrooms here and you and Caitlyn are more than welcome to use them for as long as you need. When do you plan to arrive? Do you need help with any of your stuff?” she replied, as Caroline felt the weight of the world fall off of her shoulders. She now had a safe haven for her and her daughter to live in, albeit temporarily. Caroline stood up. “I’ll bring Caitlyn here tomorrow. And no, we don’t have much so we don’t need any help. Holly, you have no idea how thankful I am for this,” she answered, and she patted her sister’s arm. Holly appeared to go in for a hug, but Caroline walked away. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” said the latter, disappearing down the hallway. Holly was confused, but quickly called her maid service to come clean the guest bedrooms, wanting them to be perfect for tomorrow.
Caroline waited for her cab outside, discomfort continuing to stroll through her veins. I already hate this town, she thought. But she had no other choice. She knew she should’ve told Holly the truth; she knew her younger sister deserved to be aware of the reason Caroline would be moving in with her; but it wasn’t time just yet. That day will come soon enough. She had already educated Caitlyn not to say a word to her aunt, at least not yet. There was a reason Caroline was forced to leave her town, and she wanted to keep that secret for as long as she possibly could.
As promised, Caroline arrived the next day with her teenage daughter, Caitlyn. Holly was at work, but she had left the door open and left a note on the kitchen counter welcoming her family to her home. “I don’t even remember what aunt Holly looks like,” said Caitlyn, looking around the room. Caroline watched her daughter closely. “You’ll see her soon enough. We’ll be staying with her until I feel that we’re ready to be out on our own, okay?” she responded. Caitlyn nodded. “I hope she doesn’t mind. I hate to intrude,” she declared, opening a door and realizing it was Holly’s bedroom. She immediately closed it, feeling ashamed. Caroline sighed. “She was very accepting of us staying with her. She’s not the type to refuse family members in need,” she explained.
“Are we safe here, mom?” asked Caitlyn suddenly, taking Caroline by surprise. Caroline wasn’t sure how to reply. Caitlyn had just turned sixteen, and she was bright beyond her years; there was probably no use lying to her. “I’m honestly not sure, kid. But as long as we keep a low profile and watch ourselves, I think we’ll be fine. We’re far from home,” she answered truthfully. Caitlyn nodded. “I think this neighborhood seems alright,” she claimed, smiling. Caroline crossed her arms. “Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t make close friends. Don’t get too cozy and don’t let anyone know who you truly are or where you’re from,” instructed Caroline, as Caitlyn somewhat rolled her eyes.
“I know, mom, I know. And if I do make friends, never tell them the truth because they could turn out to be enemies,” she continued, taking her mother’s words from her mouth. Caroline smirked, impressed at her daughter’s wit. “We’ll be fine. Eventually, I’ll explain everything to Holly and she’ll be able to help us, I’m sure. She’s pretty famous, so she’ll know the right people,” she said. “Now, how about you go get unpacked? You’re starting school tomorrow, might as well get some of your stuff in place so you don’t have to worry about it tomorrow,” she suggested, as Caitlyn nodded. She hugged her mom quickly and then disappeared in her new room.
Caroline unpacked her own stuff in her room. She had many picture frames and she placed them throughout the room, in various places to make them visible. She sighed, looking at one in particular: her wedding picture. Her hair was longer, she was wearing a beautiful white dress, and she could still remember the music playing when the picture was taken. It was seventeen years ago; and she was only eighteen at the time. All she ever dreamed of was to have a husband, a daughter, possibly a son, and a happy home; she got it, albeit a little sooner than planned – she was already pregnant with Caitlyn at the wedding – but she cherished every moment she got.
She sat on her bed and admired some other family pictures that she had. One of her mother, one of her sister, and another of her husband in his younger years. She couldn’t help but shed a tear, and she returned to her boxes, trying not to think anymore.
Little did Caroline know, Caitlyn was on the other side of the wall, unpacking her things and also shedding a few tears, looking at her own picture frames of her happy parents, her happy life, her happy years. Nothing would ever be the same again, and she knew she needed to stay positive about everything: she needed to be strong for her mother, and be strong for herself as well.
Why was Caroline crying? Why was Caitlyn crying? It was obvious at this point: Caroline’s husband, Jim, was dead.
And the secret that Caroline was holding inside? The secret that her teenage daughter also knew, and was forced to keep as well? Jim was murdered.
Caroline’s husband Jim was brutally murdered, in cold blood, by a gang of mafia lords because of a bad business deal. All of Caroline’s dreams and everything she worked so hard for was destroyed with her husband’s murder. And Caroline is deathly afraid that her daughter and her aren’t safe. She thinks they’re next.
Because she knows who they are. She saw the mafia who killed her husband, although his or her face was concealed. And now… she is in danger.
“Hey boss, I’ve got news. Look, my sister showed up out of nowhere and… well, I’ve gotta keep a low profile. She doesn’t know. And I don’t think my other bosses know either, and they’re getting suspicious. Lots of suspicion. I’ll keep the current job but no new ones, okay?” whispered Holly, hiding in her bathroom.
So, could it be that Caroline wasn’t the only one with secrets?