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A Von Wilde Christmas

Chapter 1: Arriving

By J. L. GreenPublished 3 months ago Updated 2 months ago 15 min read
A Von Wilde Christmas
Photo by Jevgeni Fil on Unsplash

It's the second time she's portal-hopped out of campus and she still finds the whole thing fascinating. Within seconds, the cool magically charged air of Stricksharbor is replaced with a chilly winter breeze.

She's now in a large bustling station with stately gray-brick walls and square-paned windows every twenty feet. There's an almost overwhelming orchestra of noise as people move around her, from travelers to ticket-masters and everyone in-between.

Greyson waits for her and takes her hand with a smile, seemingly unaffected by this brand of chaos, and guides her through the crowd. Unlike Stricksharbor where there is a huge variety in species, most of what can be seen here is elven, dwarven, or human in nature. They pass by a tiny gnome in a fancy hat standing on a pedestal, a whistle between his lips as he directs the flow of people.

Even the entryway outside is full for the holidays. Greyson glances over to her, his eyes raking down her body to reassess her outfit; he'd worried that she would be cold when they arrived to his home plane, but she's used to colder temps. She's spent many a days swimming in the rivers on campus or the ocean at home with her sister. She can handle a chill.

She smiles widely at him and does a small twirl, the flowing fabric of her skirt fanning out around her.

"Like what you see?" she asks. His eyes meet hers again; there's a sharpness to his gaze now that makes her cheeks flush. He pulls her in tightly for a kiss.

"Very much," he growls. She snickers.

He shakes himself a bit, eyeing the people moving around them like they aren't even there, and cuts through to the front and down the steps, heading off to the side of the street where a series of carriages sit in wait.

Amongst all of them, a deep maroon one with silver accents and a beautiful calligraphy-painted "VW" on the door catches her eye as it pulls onto the street. A duo of large draft horses stand side-by-side, obediently coming to a stop when told.

They appear well cared for, as their coats glisten a matching ivory white around inky blots of ebony, their hooves are trimmed and neat, and their eyes are alert and clear. Willow won't say it out loud but she's quite pleased to see that they seem relaxed while waiting.

A tall slender man bedecked in a tidy black uniform steps down from his spot beside the coachman, stops in front of Greyson, and dips into a slight bow.

"Welcome back, Master Greyson."

Willow's eyebrows jump. This level of formality is...new. At school he's mostly addressed by his last name. And while she knew that he was rich and that 'Von Wilde' is a well-known name, this still catches her off guard.

The man then turns to her and gives another small bow, saying, "Welcome Miss Willow. I am Beckett. It is a pleasure to meet you."

She hesitates for a moment, but Greyson squeezes her hand and she comes back to her senses.

"Th-Thank you. You too."

Beckett wastes no time in opening the door then going to grab their bags, situating them with expert precision on top of the carriage. Greyson leads Willow to the open door, presenting his hand as a crutch for her to grab as she climbs in. Once he is seated beside her, Beckett closes the door. The carriage dips and rocks only slightly as he climbs back to his place beside the coachman, and with a single utterance of a "kyah" they jostle back onto the street.

Willow settles comfortably beside Greyson, her fingers entwining with his, as the constant rhythmic clacking of hooves on cobblestone plays amidst the ebb and flow of the city's sounds; she peers out the window with wide cerulean eyes.

Her town is barely a quarter of the size of this place, and much more homey. This is a proper city! There are stores with dazzling items displayed in the windows, from clothing to pottery to dinnerware. They pass a bakery with steam rising from the chimney and the smell of cinnamon permeates the carriage.

She takes it all in, much like a puppy in their new home. It's quite exciting to be somewhere new; her mom hadn't really taken her to a lot of places before. Just their village and the orphanage. After all, there’s only so much to explore on an island.

In a surprising twist, it's ten minutes before Greyson leans over to her with a smirk and that familiar gleam in his pale blue eyes. (It's not lost on her that he waited until they'd left the city behind, the road becoming rougher but not uncomfortable as the cobblestones give way to mud-mushed snow. She's sure it's because she'd been attached to the window and he hadn't wanted to spoil her fun.)

His voice is hardly more than a whisper when he says, "It'll be at least half an hour before we arrive. Is there anything you'd like to do to...pass the time?" He punctuates the question by trailing slow kisses down her jaw, her neck, and ending just above the neckline of her sweater.

She giggles when his lips graze a sensitive spot at the junction of her neck, a spot he thoroughly enjoys marking with "love bites", and her hand instinctively jumps to run through his hair. He had it slicked back sophisticatedly prior to getting in the carriage, and she takes pleasure in messing it up.

The carriage jolts as it hits something slick, the coachman letting out a stern but soothing "whoa!" for the horses. Willow's cheeks flush pink; for a moment she completely forgot where they were and that she was going to Greyson's house to meet his family. For the first time.

It wouldn't do for her to show up rumpled and breathless.

She wiggles a little, shying away until he catches on and sits up, his mouth turned into a pout.

"What's wrong, baby?" he asks.

She shakes her head, suddenly aware of the mess of coppery-red waves she hadn't bothered to tame this morning when they fling in front of her eyes. She should have done something to make herself look...more like Greyson. Put-together.

"Nothing's wrong," she says, giving the hand she's still holding a squeeze. "I just want to make sure I look nice when I meet your family."

He chuckles, tilting her chin up so their lips can meet. She eagerly returns the kiss, still amazed by the warmth that erupts through her at the contact. Five months together and she's just as giddy now as she was on day one.

When they part, he seems disappointed (she can see it in the minor down-turned pull of his lips) but it's soon replaced with a warm reassuring smile.

"Don't worry about that. You are beautiful and they are going to love you." He sits up straight and she thanks her lucky stars that he isn't feeling playful, because it doesn't take much to convince her to join in the fun. He respects the magnitude of this meeting. (He respects when she says no.) "Oh, I should tell you that it'll probably only be Emilia today."

"Oh? Where are the others?"

"Mother won't arrive home until the day before the Christmas Eve Ball. She's usually busy up until then but she carves out some time for us." There is no hint of bitterness in his voice when speaking about his mother's usual absence. It's just how things are. "And, according to Emi, Olivia will be home tomorrow. She's going to spend today with her friends before all the Von Wilde festivities begin."

Willow can understand wanting to spend time with friends during a break. This will be her first holiday away from home, away from Momma and Stormy, and while she's nervous, there's a flutter of excitement in her belly. Greyson got to see her house for fall break, now she's ready to see his.

~~~~~~

'Maybe I'm not ready,' she thinks, her eyes widening as they approach the outskirts of the estate. The wrought-iron fence surrounding the property is at least eight feet tall with thin spacing between each bar, but not so close that she can't see the hulking building in the distance. There is the familiar insignia of a swooping calligraphy “VW” that cracks in half as the gates open in welcome.

"Gods Greyson, that is your house?" she asks as the pale gray building comes into view.

It's as big as the dorms at Stricksharbor!

There’re at least three stories, two towers, a circular room made entirely of glass, and floor-to-ceiling windows that her Momma could only dream of having. Snow clings to ledges, enhancing the small features meant to make the house look better, and the snow capped roof twinkles as if covered in many tiny diamonds.

"That?" Greyson asks. "No. That's the servant’s quarters." Quick as a whip, she turns to look at him with eyebrows raised and jaw dropped. But the corner of his lips are curled up, and she rolls her eyes.

"Har-har."

He leans over and plants a quick kiss to her temple then nods his head. "That is Von Wilde Manor. It's been in the family for generations and, yes, it is my house."

Again, she shouldn't be surprised, but she is. If this is where he grew up, she can only imagine what he must have thought of her house; all one and a half bedrooms and single bathroom of it.

Though with a house as grand as Von Wilde Manor...it must get lonely. When she's lying in her bed at home, she can hear her Momma singing in the kitchen, or see her lounging in the sitting area by the fireplace. Not to say that the lack of privacy in her home is always a good thing, but being able to have someone close by is nice.

This place certainly won't have a lack of privacy.

As the carriage approaches the inner section of the property, all the decorative foliage coated with a thin layer of snow comes into view, glittering as brilliantly as the rooftop. Spruce trees tower high above them and parallel to each other, lining the cobblestone path. The Nature Mage in her stirs with excitement at all the greenery. She is struck by an intense desire to see the place when the snow melts; she can imagine it would be a stunning sea of vibrant green.

"This is beautiful, Greyson. It doesn't usually snow where I live."

He chuckles. "It's beautiful until it's in your socks, then you're just miserable."

While he has a point, she's too wonderstruck to mind.

There's a large awning that appears newer than the rest of the manor. The stones are fresh and a darker gray than those that sit in the sunlight. The roofing stretches out over the carriages path, blocking the snow from piling on the front steps.

A small handful of people are waiting, each in the uniform of the manor, and when the carriage stops, they flock to grab the bags and situate the carriage.

Though the footman has his hand out after opening the door, Greyson pops out first to steady Willow with his own hand as she steps onto the cobblestone.

"Oh I can grab my bag," she says to the young lady passing by. The maid pauses, her eyes flicking to Greyson's, then she shakes her head with a grin.

"It's not a problem, Miss Willow. I'll take it up to your room."

"O-Okay." Yes, this will certainly be different. She lowers her voice so as to not insult them and asks, "Are they all going to call me 'Miss' Willow? I don't know if I like that."

Greyson chuckles, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and tucking her to his side.

"They will unless you say they don't need to, and even then, they'll probably still do it out of habit. They will be tending to your needs, tidying your room, helping you get dressed if needed, and...really anything you need they can probably handle."

She shakes her head, her eyes wide. Momma didn't raise her to stand by if she could lend a hand, so watching them work without interference is difficult.

"That's odd. I already feel like a burden by having them take my bag," she says.

"Darling, this is what they are paid to do. As long as you show them the same kindness you show everyone, they'll be happy to help." He grips her shoulder and gives her a reassuring squeeze. "You are not a burden. Least of all to them."

"Okay," she whispers, a smile curling her lips.

"Are you ready?"

Deep breaths. "I am."

The ornate double-doors open on their approach and Willow gasps.

The front room has a tall ceiling with a wide-mouthed staircase right in the center. A circular crystal chandelier hangs in the middle of the open space, the bottom layer of glittering crystals ending where a first-floor ceiling would have. Several stunning paintings of landscapes, from a lake to rolling hills, adorn the creme-colored walls and matching dark-wooden paneling that reaches up to her midriff.

Everything is neat and tidy and sparklingly clean. Including the five people waiting for them at the bottom of the staircase; two maids based on their uniforms, another woman in a pencil skirt and crimson blouse, and a tall man with a toddler on his hip.

The woman comes forward first with a dazzling smile on red-painted lips. Her dark chestnut hair matches Greyson’s, and her features are his, except with a touch of femininity softening what is sharp and angular on him.

"Welcome home GJ," she says, pulling him into a quick embrace then placing chaste air-kisses to each of his cheeks. This beauty then turns to Willow and extends a hand, her fingernails perfectly manicured. "You must be Willow. I'm Emilia, Greyson's sister. It's a pleasure to meet you."

"Thank you, it's a pleasure to meet you as well."

Emilia motions to the man and toddler. "This is my husband Thran, and our son Jasper."

Thran is a handsome man to be sure, and the point to the tips of his ears and sharp features hint at an elven lineage. Unlike Emilia, who is dark on dark, he has a lovely singed-wheat coloring to his hair and icy blue eyes. Little Jasper looks roughly a year old, sitting steadily on his perch with owl-wide brown eyes like his mother and hair like his father.

"It's nice to meet you. He is absolutely adorable," Willow gushes. She waves brightly at the toddler and chuckles as he excitedly wiggles on his father's hip.

"He's gotten so much bigger since I saw him last," Greyson adds.

He hesitates, his shoulders locked in anticipation as Thran steps closer. Jasper does not reach for him and he relaxes, offering a finger for the toddler to grip instead. Jasper immediately tries to put said finger into his mostly toothless mouth.

"Thank you," Emilia laughs. She gently pries her brother free and takes the boy into her arms. "He has indeed. They grow so much in the first year." She then meets Willow's eyes and motions to the two maids beside her. "This is Agnes, she is our head maid."

Agnes bows her head. She is older, possibly Momma's age, and what little can be seen of her hair from beneath the bonnet-cap is a graying brown.

Emilia points to the second woman; this one is much younger than Agnes and is stunningly beautiful with a fringe of golden blonde hair, observant hazel eyes, and a crooked grin. A spattering of freckles dusts her face.

"This is Emily, she will be taking care of you for the duration of your stay."

Willow does a double-take and opens her mouth to protest, but Greyson is already aware of her intentions and goes to grip her hand gently.

"Thank you, Emi. If you'll excuse us, I'd like to show Willow to her room so we can change out of these uniforms."

"Of course." While her face gives nothing away, there is a distinct glint in Emilia's eyes that makes Willow blush. "Lunch will be served in about an hour, so don’t be too long."

Greyson nods, his own Von Wilde heir mask set, and turns them to the staircase. Willow waves goodbye to the group as they ascend the steps.

~~~~~~

Though she hasn't seen much of the inside, Willow is certain that the opulence witnessed so far is matching in every part of the manor. The Von Wilde's are a long-standing influential family; it makes sense that this place would be a beacon of their wealth and social status.

Greyson guides her slowly, letting her soak in every detail she desires. The drapes are open on each window and the corridors are flooded with natural light. The spaces are large and vast but beautifully decorated.

After looking around, she has only one quibble, and it's the lack of color. Most everything is cast in dark and noble shades, with the most vibrant thing being the sunny backdrops of the large portraits. Lots of them, lining both sides of the hall with a door placed between every second one. But unlike in the foyer, these portraits are of people. The plaques underneath read the year and all the members on display.

It's the history of the Von Wilde families; from patriarchs with their kin, to their children and families. There seems to be a pattern where a few portraits are placed in a golden frame while the rest are mahogany.

She taps the corner of one. "Why are some of these different?"

"The reigning Head of the Von Wilde family gets a golden frame. My ancestors wanted every Von Wilde to have a portrait for remembrance but felt that there needed to be a distinction."

"I see."

The second most recent one at the end was framed in gold and she paused for more than a few minutes to take this one in.

Lady Eleanor Von Wilde sat astutely on a short-back chair, her legs crossed delicately at the ankles. She's posed perfectly and is the spitting image of her eldest two children. Emilia stands just to her right with one hand on the arm of the chair, and Greyson to her left. He looks younger than he does now, his cheeks rounded just a touch with baby-fat.

Standing beside him is the odd duck of the family: Olivia.

She bears a wide toothy smile, sunny blonde hair curled in soft ringlets to her waist, and eyes a distinct shade of green. While her features are similar to her mother and siblings, there’s something unique about her.

"Wow. I didn't realize Olivia looked so different from the rest of you," Willow breathed.

"Yeah, Mother says she takes more after our father."

A shake of Willow's head sends red waves of hair bouncing; it's the same shade as her own Momma's but much less curly.

"It’s funny how that works," she says.

"Yeah." Greyson pauses and casts her a sidelong look. "After meeting your mom, I can say that I don’t think you take too much after your father."

She knows where this is going, but she still says, "That’s because I don’t have one."

"Baby…you have to have a dad."

She grunts in frustration. "We’ve talked about this before, Grey. I was a gift from the stork. There’s a book about it and everything."

She continues down the hall but at the lack of a second set of steps, she turns to see Greyson giving her that look; the one where his head tilts sideways, searching to see if she’s joking or not.

After a long stretch of silence, he asks, "You’re serious?" She nods. He snorts. "You’re going to have to show it to me because I've never heard of that before."

"I will when we go to my house. You’ll see."

"Okay."

Her friends can laugh all they want, but she doesn’t have a father. Momma has said so every time she’s asked. Why would she lie about it? And magic is a very real thing, so who's to say a stork didn't drop her off? Either way, there's no need to fuss over it.

She continues down the hall, now realizing that the portrait of Greyson’s little family is missing their own father. Though he is aware that he has one. He just…never talks about him.

The last portrait is of Emilia with her husband and a tiny bundle wrapped in a light blue blanket tucked into the crook of her arm.

"This is the last of the pictures?" she asks. Greyson nods and places a hand to the small of her back, guiding her directly across the hall to a door.

"And this is your room."

Young AdultRomanceFictionFantasy

About the Creator

J. L. Green

I've been writing for fun since I was a preteen and haven’t stopped since. I tend to favor the darker/angsty/thriller type of themes. Here’s to hoping readers enjoy my work, and those that don't find something they do.

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    J. L. GreenWritten by J. L. Green

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