The First Hello © 2015 (Rough Draft Version) By: J.L. Jacobs *Sequel to: "The Final Goodbye"*

Fate has given Sophia Lancaster a second chance. As she wakes up from what seems to be an overly vivid dream, Sophia soon realizes that it was no dream at all, rather, she had been brought back from death's embrace to the very day she is set to marry Dr. Jeremy Thompson.

From the knowledge and perspective she had gained in her former life, she decides to make better decisions and choices that could potentially alter her life, the lives of her loved ones, and history as she once knew it. In this exciting sequel to: "The Final Goodbye," follow Sophia's new journey as she takes the chance in which Fate has bestowed upon her to find out who her soulmate really is and what the consequences of her actions will be.

*Please be sure to read The Final Goodbye first! This is a only a rough draft and may contain grammatical errors. It is formatted just as a hard-copy full-length book should be. I love to hear your feedback, and your votes and shares are greatly appreciated!

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25. Chapter Twenty-Five: Inner Turmoil

Chapter Twenty-Five: Inner Turmoil

 

 

July 7, 1891

I haven't heard so much as a peep from Travis in the last two days now. I know he's still here in town but he's been utterly concealed as far as I can tell. Jeremy said that Travis would be having me go before the judge to clear up the matter of which marriage is legal in the eyes of the law, and whether or not my consent was given so that my Father could sign my marriage license to Jeremy on my behalf. I've given Jeremy assurances that I chose to be with him, based solely from the fact that I have been given a second chance at life, and since my choices in the last life ended with my death, I fear making the same decisions again. What if this time around, it wasn't my death I had to worry about? That would actually be much easier to handle if truth be told; I would much rather die than to see anyone in my life do so. I'm still not sure why I was brought back to begin with. My only logical reasoning is so that Jeremy didn't end up killing himself from the choices I made the first time around when his heartache got to be too much for him to bear. He took his own life and I was so consumed with my own life that I honestly didn't even care about Jeremy's death. I feel awful about that now, of course. So it only makes sense that I am to be with him. That's what my mind is telling me. However, my heart... oh how my heart longs to be with Travis! I feel so complete when I am with him. As if we are soulmates. Not as if, I believe we actually are soulmates. But in this lifetime, I have to make better decisions so that I don't mess things up so badly. I cannot be selfish with my wants and desires. I must make sacrifices to ensure that... well, I am not quite sure but I know I just have to be practical. I must also mention that I keep dreaming of this voice that is much like the one I heard upon the morning of my reawakening. It's telling me that the answers are in the book or something to that effect. I have no idea what that means. That makes no sense to me as I don't do much reading. For all I know, I could just be going crazy. Hearing strange voices isn't exactly something that sane people encounter.

Then there is the matter of my Father that has been weighing so heavily on my mind. He's such a different person. Unhinged. Something is not right with him. Why is it that he's so unlike the warm, caring, and protective Father that I grew to love? When I experienced my reawakening, he seemed like his normal self at first. But it didn't take long before he exposed this new side of him that none of my family members seems to like very much. We all try our very best to avoid him. Of course, he's pretty busy running his bank and campaigning for town Mayor and all. But he expects us to be at his home for all Holiday's and every Sunday for dinner. Sometimes he can be pleasant, as long as no one says anything to anger him. These days though, he's very quick to anger. He has such a dangerous side of him that truly scares me. He's the main reason why I will not go back with Travis. I fear of what my Father is truly capable of. I have seen enough already to know that I wouldn't doubt it for one moment if his threats to harm Travis and his children would come to fruition. No, I must keep them all safe. No matter what the price I have to pay. Life with Jeremy isn't bad. I am pretty blessed all things considered. I just wish there was a way I could reach out to my Father and really have a meaningful discussion with him. He's hurt me, Mother, Rachel, and even Joseph. Heck, he's even hurt Jeremy by forcing him to commits acts he didn't want to do. I would love to see my old Father return back to the way he used to be so that we could all mend our silent rift with him and be a completely unified family once again. 

--- Sophia A. Thompson

#

   The following morning the doorknocker sounded. Jeremy had already left for the clinic to see his patients and make house calls for the day. Sophia was in the drawing room doing some cleaning as little Joshua lay asleep in his cradle. She set down the feather duster and headed to the door, trying to tidy up her dress along the way. Even though it was still early, the day was sunny, overly warm, and there was a fine sheen of sweat that covered her body even though all the windows were opened. She opened the door to peer up into the eyes of a man who was the very last person she ever thought to see. "Mr. Hartley? My, what brings you here to my residence at such an early hour?" she asked without wasting any time on pleasantries. He was standing there alone and gave her a polite smile, "Actually, I am here to see you. Might I come in? I'd like to have a talk with you if you don't mind." She looked out to the road to make sure Travis was nowhere in sight, then smiled and opened the door wider. "Forgive my rudeness. Yes, please come in." she said cautiously. After he entered the foyer, she closed the door. "Can I offer you some sweet tea or lemonade?" she asked as she showed him into the drawing room. He took off his hat and set it down next to him on the settee that he sat down on. "That would be nice. Yes, I shall have a glass of the tea." he responded. Just as she turned around to head towards the kitchen, she caught him looking over at the baby through her peripheral vision. For some reason it had bothered her a little. She made quick work of pouring two glasses of tea and carried them on a small tray back to the drawing room. She set down the tray on the rectangle shaped table that sat in the middle of the two settee's and handed Mr. Hartley one of the glasses. "Thank you for your kindness Mrs. Ewing." he said as she took the other glass and sat on the opposite settee across from him, not missing the fact that he had just referred to her as Mrs. Ewing. Hearing that term unsettled her nerves greatly. 

"Mr. Hartley," she said briskly, "I am actually Mrs. Thompson now." He sipped his tea and set the glass down on the table. "Actually, that is why I am here. As you know, my client Mr. Ewing is here in town. There's a few of us who made this trip down here together in order to clear up some legal matters. Ever since you were forcibly removed from the Ewing Ranch, along with your Mother, I have been working quite tirelessly on figuring out the legalities of everything that had happened by conducting a thorough investigation. It took many months but in the eyes of the law, you are wedded to Mr. Ewing. This has been verified by several judges that I made inquires with, both in Dallas and here in Wellington and this county proper. As such, you are also considered my client and I am here to protect your rights. But in order to do so, I need you to cooperate on the matter so we can get it settled once and for all." Sophia stood up quite abruptly and began to nervously pace the room. It began to feel even more dreadfully warmer in there and she fanned herself with her hands as she did so. "Are you quite alright Mrs. Ewing?" Mr. Hartley asked out of concern. She shook her head and continued her pacing. "I am afraid you are wasting your time here Mr. Hartley. I cannot acknowledge the legalities of my marriage to Travis because I had already been married to Jeremy Thompson. Granted, I wasn't been aware of that when I went down to Dallas. I only learned later on that my Father had signed a marriage license on my behalf, and that was after I had signed a betrothal agreement. You see, I was already married when I went down to Dallas. I had no business getting married to Travis even if I wasn't fully aware of the circumstances here at the time. You can just forget this whole sordid mess and go back to Dallas. I am sorry you've all wasted so much time on this matter." It was so hot in there! She began to feel slightly dizzy and had to sit down once more. It was hard to meet his gaze, but she forced herself to do so anyhow. Mr. Hartley was an unusually perceptive man with a keen eye which made him very good at doing his job, and his instincts told him that there was something she wasn't telling him. She seemed quite agitated and looked almost as if she were... afraid. He could see the fear in her eyes. Yes, it was most certainly fear. But why? "May I call you Sophia?" he asked. She nodded her head yes in answer to his question. "Sophia," he said in a soothing voice, "I am here to help you. What are you afraid of? Have you been threatened in some way?" She began tapping her foot nervously on the Persian rug. It took her a few moments to respond as her throat became suddenly parched. She took a big sip of her tea and set the glass back down on the table, trying to buy herself just enough time to compose herself better. The last thing she wanted to do was dissolve into a fit of tears in front of this man. Then he would surely know that something was amiss. 

"Like I've said to you before, you're wasting your time here. There is nothing to settle. I am married to Jeremy Thompson and that's that! Now, I do not mean to be rude Mr. Hartley but I really must ask you to leave now. I have plans in a little while and I do need to tidy myself up before I go. I thank you for your time but really, please, let this matter rest and get you and your client on the next train heading south if you know what's good for you." she cried out in a hushed whisper that was just loud enough for him to hear. It had become hard for her to talk with an emotional lump in her throat. She stood back up and waited for him to do the same so that she could show him out the door. He grabbed his hat and stood up, following her lead. She opened the door for him and he gave her one last look before walking outside. "Sophia, I am sorry but I cannot let this matter drop. In the eyes of the law, you are married to Travis and he will not leave here until he clears this matter up. I know there is something you are afraid to tell me. I will figure it out. In the meantime, I am here to help you should you decide to cooperate. With that being said, Travis has already requested a hearing before a judge." He took a folded envelope out of the inner pocket of his suit jacket and handed it to her. "I bid you a good day Mr. Hartley." she said tersely as she closed the door. With the envelope still in hand, she leaned her back against the cool wooden surface of the door and slid down until she was sitting on the wooden floor below. In a matter of seconds, a flood of tears came pouring down her face as she let out a wail of despair. What in hells fire was she to do now? Travis obviously had no care for the safety of him and his children! Why was that man so damned stubborn? Her body shook as heavy sobs took over. She silently cursed at Fate for putting her in this position to begin with and wished again that she had never been brought back! 

#

    Later that afternoon, she had gone over to Rachel's house after she finished her cleaning and tidied herself up. She desperately needed someone to talk to. To confide in! After giving Rachel an open and honest rundown of her thoughts, feelings, and the situation that was developing with Travis and his lawyer, Rachel could see how anguished Sophia was. It genuinely hurt her to see the pain in Sophia's eyes. "Sophia, you are so hell bent on protecting Travis and the children. Perhaps you should just trust in him and do what makes you happy. I know that your heart lies with him. Why are you fighting so hard against being with him, especially when Jeremy gave you his blessing to be with Travis? I must admit, that had to have been quite hard for Jeremy to do, but he obviously loves you so much that he only wants your happiness. I greatly admire him for that! This all could be a blessing in disguise sister. I don't understand why you are torturing yourself so." Rachel said compassionately. "Oh Rachel, don't you think that I want to throw caution to the wind and do what my heart wants? Don't you think that I don't miss my life with Travis and the children? I would love to throw caution to the wind and all but I was given a second chance at life for a reason! I cannot do what my heart wants. I have to do what is logical this time. I cannot let any harm come to them! I just cannot! If anything happened to any of them it would kill me on the inside and I couldn't live with that! Father is capable of anything. We all have learned that lesson first hand. I also cannot live with the fact that in my past life, Jeremy had been so miserable that he took his own life! Either way you look at it, someone gets hurt if I chose to be with Travis. Possibly, all of them! I cannot risk it! Their lives are too important to me, even if I have to make sacrifices to ensure they are all safe. Ugh! Why can I not just have some peace of mind for once! Honestly, I feel as if I were better off dead in my past life! None of this makes sense to me... why I was brought back. Then I keep hearing this voice in my dreams telling me that the answers are in the book or something like that. I don't understand what that could possibly mean! I feel like I am slowly going insane sometimes!" Sophia cried out feeling utterly defeated. 

Rachel drew her older sister in so that Sophia could cry upon her shoulder. She honestly did not know what she could say or do at this point to help her. This whole sordid mess came down to the actions of one person: their Father. Louis Lancaster, and his threats, were the sole blame for all of Sophia's heartache. If he hadn't intervened and forced Sophia's marriage to Jeremy upon her, and also threatened the lives of Travis and his children, then Sophia could be at peace. Be happy. Like she deserved to be. In that moment, Rachel truly felt a burning hatred for their father. If he hadn't gone crazy, then none of this would be an issue right now! Sophia sat there and cried her heart out for a short while until baby Joshua began to fuss. Sophia finally lifted her head off of Rachel's shoulder knowing that Joshua would be needing a feeding and his nappy changed. Her nose was so stuffed up from her sobbing, and was reddened along with her now puffy eyes. As she got up from the settee to pick up the baby, Rachel went to fetch a handkerchief. By the time she had returned to the room, Joshua was already suckling greedily from Sophia's breast. Rachel handed her the handkerchief and sat back down. Sophia wiped the moisture off her face and then began to blow the contents of her stuffed up nose into the cloth. It was all very unladylike, so thank goodness she was at Rachel's and not anywhere else! She looked over at Rachel and noticed that her satin dress had been stained from the moisture of Sophia's tears, and in that moment, she couldn't help but giggle a little as she said, "Oh what a fine mess I made of that lovely dress of yours!" Rachel looked down to where Sophia was looking and noticed her dress had been, indeed, quite mussed up. She, too, let out a giggle. "I am not bothered over such a trivial matter. Dresses can be easily replaced. The only thing that truly worries me is you sister." Rachel said quietly. After a short pause Sophia replied solemnly, "Me too Rachel. Me too."

#

     After her visit with Rachel, Sophia decided to head into town to make a quick stop at Bowlby & Halls to treat herself to an icee. She hadn't had one in ages, and with it being so hot and humid that day, an icee sounded downright perfect! After she walked inside the stuffy general store, she saw that she wasn't the only person who wanted that ice cold refreshing treat. There was a line of at least eight people. The inside of the store was cramped and crowded, even with the front and back doors wide open. She went to the back of the line and waved to an acquaintance who lived in town who was looking at some cobs of corn in a barrel that were on special. If Sophia hadn't had Joshua with her, she would have taken advantage of doing some shopping. Jeremy had talked about hiring a housekeeper who could cook and run errands for them, but for right now, Sophia was quite content with running the household herself. It took about twenty minutes before she was able to order an icee, and she had decided upon a lemon flavored one. She exchanged some brief pleasantries with Mr. Bowlby, then paid for her icee and headed back out of the store. Just as she left the doorway and turned to the right, she bumped into someone and almost lost her grip on both the baby and her icee! As she looked up, she saw it was none other than Angelique Milton who stood before her, and the look in that young woman's cold eyes was quite short of welcoming. Goodness, with everything that had gone on over the last year, Sophia had almost forgotten about that woman! 

"Well if it isn't Sophia Thompson." Angelique said snidely. Sophia gritted her teeth and tried to move around her, but Angelique stepped backwards to prevent Sophia's attempt at retreating from the situation. "I've no business with you Angelique Milton so please allow me to pass." Sophia said with her eyes a blaze. Oh how she truly detested this woman! In her past life and in this one, Angelique had been rotten to the very core of her being. "This must be Jeremy's spawn. I've heard you had given birth to his son. You know, if it hadn't been for you, I would have been Mrs. Thompson and bore him a child by now!" Angelique said maliciously. Sophia rolled her eyes. This woman was insane thinking that! Jeremy detested Angelique as much as she did! The nerve of that woman to think that she ever had a shot in hell at being married to Jeremy! Once again, Sophia tried to step past the woman but Angelique quickly blocked her way. "You ruined my life!" Angelique said bitterly. Sophia's temper began to rise as Joshua fussed, and her icee was beginning to drip all over her hand! "I didn't ruin your life Angelique. You did that all on your own by lying about being with his child and trying to trap him into marriage. Now kindly step aside. I have no further desires to speak with you." Sophia bit back. "Is there a problem here ladies?" Mr. Johnson said as he came out of the store and had seen the tension. Like many of the townspeople, he was well aware of the bad blood between the two women and he did not like Miss Milton one bit. There had been plenty of occasions over the years when she had acted poorly towards someone in town and had also acted like a spoiled little brat. Angelique looked over at him to reply which gave Sophia the opportunity to give the man a small smile of appreciation as she hurried away from her nemesis and towards her waiting carriage. The driver held her icee so she could climb up into the seat and get the baby situated, then he handed the frozen treat back to her so he could climb up onto the driver's perch. Sophia looked out of the open window on her right to see Angelique's look of hatred geared towards her person. She sighed and shook her head as the carriage began pulling away. That was just another reason why this day had been dreadful thus far! She honestly could not wait for it to be over with already. 

#

Jeremy was late coming home later that evening. Very late. He had missed supper and she was already in bed about to fall asleep when she heard his footsteps coming into the darkened room. Sophia kept her eyes closed and pretended to be asleep when he climbed into the bed next to her. Normally he liked to make love to her before going to sleep but she was not in the mood for his advances tonight. The visit with Mr. Hartley from earlier, the conversation she had with Rachel, and her confrontation with Angelique had her thinking about Travis all day and her life here in Wellington, Ohio. Pretending to be happy was harder than it seemed. Today especially. Now she was just in a really rotten mood. Then there was the contents of the envelope that Mr. Hartley had given to her that morning. She never bothered to open it until just a little bit ago after she had put Joshua to sleep. Even then, she had hesitated in opening the envelope. However, her curiosity got the best of her and she finally opened the blasted thing. After reading the papers inside, she quickly wished she had ignored it. It had been a court summons for her to appear before a judge in three days time. Ugh. Could anything else possibly go wrong today? Jeremy rolled over so that he was now facing her and she got a big whiff of his whiskey scented breath. What in hells fire was going on? Jeremy had sworn he'd given up drinking! Even stranger, he didn't kiss her goodnight, nor try to touch her in any way. Perhaps he had been to inebriated to do so, for which Sophia felt a modicum of relief as that feeling washed over her. But his breath smelled something bad so she rolled over so that her back now faced him. Within minutes, he was snoring quite loudly. Yes sirree, apparently things could get worse for her that day!

#

January 10, 1891

Yesterday morning while Jeremy and me were breaking our fast, I told him about the envelope I had been given by Mr. Hartley. I left out any details about the conversation I had with the lawyer and I am thankful that I did because Jeremy took the news of the court summons pretty badly. I had this strange sense, though, that he had already known about it. He was acting very strangely towards me as well. When he had come down to the kitchen to break his fast, he never came over to give me a kiss like he usually did. Instead, he sat directly down at the table and started sipping his coffee while reading the Wellington Gazette. I told him 'good morning' as I placed his food down in front of him, and he barely looked up at me as he said a quick 'thank you'. I had waited until he was almost finished eating before I broached the subject of my court summons to him. After, he seemed a tad bit crestfallen but quickly covered up his feelings by getting up from the table to put his dishes in the sink. By the time he came back to sit down at the table, he seemed angry with me as if I had done something wrong to him. "Perhaps this is all for the best" he had told me. I remember my mouth dropping open in shock. "What's for the best?" I asked him. "This whole thing. Travis being in town. Him wanting you back. I think he might just be doing me a favor. I find that I am not really suited for this whole 'marriage and children' way of life after all." he said to me. Then he got up from the table and left for work without so much as another word said to me. Later last night, after I had settled the baby down and was in bed myself, Jeremy came home and crept into bed just like the nights before smelling of whiskey. No kiss goodnight. Not one word said. I don't know what to think of his odd behavior; one day he was fine and seemingly so in love with me and the next he was acting as if being married to me was a bore and we were strangers or something. I tried to talk to him this morning during breakfast, but he was very un-receptive about discussing the matter. Again, he ate his food and left the house without so much as a goodbye. He hasn't even held nor seen the baby in days now. It is now evening time and Jeremy did not come home for supper again tonight. That's three nights in a row. I now cannot help but wonder if Travis has said something to Jeremy, or perhaps threatened him in some way? If so, then there shall be hell to pay because that is not what I ever wanted him to do! I was very clear with Travis when we last spoke that I choose, of my own free will, to be with Jeremy. I vow to figure out what in hells fire is going on here lately but that will be somewhat difficult because tomorrow morning is my court appearance. I have no idea what to expect. I am honestly scared and wish Jeremy would talk to me. Mother has agreed to watch Joshua and Jocelyn while I go to the courthouse with Rachel who will be my support system since Jeremy is acting so strangely now. Mother said that Father had also received a summons as well and that he had been livid over it, taking his temper out on her. So, she gladly offered to sit with the babies at my house just to avoid having to be home with Father before he had to leave for the courthouse. I best get myself off to bed now. Who knows what tomorrow shall bring.

#

     The courthouse wasn't all that big. Sophia was now seated on a long wooden bench with Rachel sitting next to her on the left. As Sophia looked around the stuffy room, she had noticed that Travis, Mr. Hartley, her Father, his attorney, Jeremy, and some other unknown people were all in the room as well. She felt perspiration droplets beading up against her hairline and her heart raced for what was to come. Rachel held Sophia's hand and gave it a gentle squeeze. Jeremy refused to look her way. He was seated only two benches in front of her on the other side of the main aisle. He looked composed but very stern. She could tell just by the stiff way he was sitting and from the look on his face. He was really upset. Louis had sat himself down next to Jeremy and leaned in to exchange words with his son-in-law. He, too, hadn't bothered to look over at her. Her heart pounded and had an uncomfortable ache in it at the same time. Travis, however, could barely keep his eyes off of her and it made her feel even more unsettled. Rachel, taking notice of that, leaned in to whisper, "My, he sure has some balls of steel that one." Sophia knew she was referring to Travis and the way he was staring at her. "Or he's just as dumb as a rock." Sophia retorted. Obviously Travis felt no shame for what he was doing. The cad even winked at her with a sly smile! She wanted nothing more in that moment than to get up and run over to him just so she could smack that grin off of his face! The nerve of him! Rachel could sense her sister's shift in mood and gave her hand another brief squeeze. "Just act as if he is not in the room." Rachel said blithely. Sophia grumbled. It was impossible to do that when he was sitting so close by. Rachel's suggestion was obviously easier said than done. 

The room was stuffy and Sophia was growing more and more anxious as the minutes ticked by. What was taking so long? Why wasn't this hearing starting yet? "I'm not feeling so well." Sophia confessed to Rachel. "I can only imagine. This isn't even my hearing and I feel like I am about to vomit up my breakfast." Rachel whispered back. Why wouldn't Jeremy have sat with her? Why was he not even sparing her so much as a glance? Did he not care for her anymore? Something had changed him and it worried her. Did anyone not care what she felt or wanted? Women were just considered property and it wasn't fair! It didn't matter what she wanted. It didn't matter how she felt. The men in her life all did what they wanted to do with little concern for her needs and wants. Ugh! It was going to drive her insane! Then she wondered to herself if she should have went over to sit by Jeremy. Perhaps he was giving her the initiative to do so on her own? Perhaps that was a test of sorts to see if she really loved him? Now her Father was sitting there and she would not move. There wasn't enough money on the planet to make her sit by her Father right now. She knew he was livid about this whole hearing as it was. The last thing she needed right now was his vicious words aimed her way. Her rambling thoughts were disrupted as a door at the front of the room opened up and the judge appeared. He was a very short man, most likely right around her own height, with balding gray hair and a very, very ample girth. He wore spectacles with really thick lenses in them that made his eyes appear quite large. If this wasn't such a serious situation right now, his appearance may have just made Sophia giggle. He stood behind the overly large rectangle table that was up on a raised floor. In a surprisingly deep voice, the judge hit the gavel down towards a circular stone and said, "All rise!"

#

(This concludes chapter twenty-five. Please be sure to vote and comment!)

     

 

 

 

 

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