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~ Chapter 1 ~

Seven Years Later...

Leatha Loveall pushed the tator tots around on her plate as she tried to drown out the noise of the high school cafeteria. It was the last day of school, and the students seemed a bit rowdier than normal. Summer vacation would start tomorrow, but Leatha felt no joy in the matter.

That morning Uncle Silas had informed her that he would have to sell all their prized horses! “No!” she had cried. But, Silas Loveall had interrupted her passionate refusal.

“I have no choice, my dear. The horrid drought of last year took all the savings we had to replenish our corn fields this year.”

“Can't you take out a loan at the bank?”

“No, Leatha. That would only put us further into debt.”

Leatha felt tears coming on as she quickly stood up from the lunchroom table and collected her uneaten tray. She could hear the snickers of her fellow classmates as she made her way through the room and deposited her tray on the dish-washing counter.

She had grown used to the sneers and little snide comments over the years and usually did not let it bother her. Today, it bothered her. Stopping beside a table where half a dozen girls were whispering and giggling, she looked at the leader of the bunch and asked quite calmly. “Did you say something, Hannah?”

Her childhood tormentor looked a bit taken aback, then quickly masked the look. “Why, Leatha Jane, we were just wondering if your Aunt Rachel still makes your clothes?” The girls at the table piped up and laughed heartily.

Leatha knew she was trying to pick a fight with her, but she would not give Hannah the pleasure to humiliate her this time. With a slight smile in place, she retorted. “No, I actually bought this outfit some time back at a garage sale your mother had.”

The girls at the table were still laughing and poking fun at Hannah when Leatha exited the high school lunchroom, totally ignoring the other girl's remark, “You stupid freak!”

Actually, it felt good to finally stand up to her nemesis. That was long overdue. Uncle Silas was right when he said you didn't have to use your fists to win a fight. Leatha frowned at the thought of Uncle Silas, reminded of the dilemma with the horses. Perhaps she could get a job and help out, the thought suddenly dawned on her.

The potential thought stayed with her for the rest of the day and, upon departing her school bus on the last day of school, Leatha couldn't wait to share the idea with her guardians. During supper, when she had brought up the subject of her getting a job, the potential thought was quickly dismissed by Uncle Silas. He had informed her that a Summer job would not come close to supplementing the household income; she was needed on the farm to help him plant the corn. Leatha had known better than to argue with Uncle Silas, as he always won in the end anyway. With a sigh she had excused herself from the table and had gone to saddle her favorite horse, Fillabelle.

For the last hour she had rode aimlessly through the many acres of her uncle's farm and was surprised to find herself quite a distance from the house when she realized where she was. As a young child Uncle Silas would bring her to this special place, she thought fondly, looking around at the familiar meadow and the bubbling creek.

But what always captured her attention was the 'magical waterfall' that flowed down over the 20-foot cliff that stood in grand majesty above the bubbling brook. Uncle Silas had told her on more than one occasion how he and his brother, Leatha's father, swam in the pool of water for hours when they were 'youngsters'.

A melancholy sigh escaped as she looked at the dried-up waterfall before her today. Uncle Silas said the waterfall dried up when she was about three years old, but she didn't remember. This barren cliff that lined the north side of the creek was all that registered in her memories. Yet, the stories of her father always remained in her thoughts, as well as her heart.

A smile formed when she thought of her parents, Zebulon and Mary Jane Loveall. While she was only two years old when they were killed in a horrid automobile accident and her memories of them nonexistent, coming to this place always helped to make her feel close to them.

Looking down at her wristwatch, Leatha was surprised to see how late it had gotten. It would soon be dark, and she knew her guardians would be worried.  Leatha turned Fillabelle around and ordered her into a canter.


“Rachel,” Silas quietly spoke her name, stirring her out of her pleasant reverie. “I have something I need to tell you.”

For the last half-hour they had sat quietly on the front porch swing enjoying the solitude together. Rachel Loveall glanced over at him now and asked, “Is everything alright?”

His tone of voice alerted her that it was not and when he glanced away from her, sighed, then looked back again, Rachel was not ready for his answer.

“I had a visit from Nichel.”

Silas saw the look of surprise on her face and put his arm around her shoulders tentatively. “You knew one day he would come.” He felt her tighten up, but she remarked in resignation. 

“Yes, but I did not think it would be so soon.”

“Not long before her seventeenth year, a new life she will hold so dear.” he reminded her of Nichel's words. “It's time to introduce Leatha to her true destiny.”

Rachel could only nod her head in agreement. For the last fifteen years she had had the pleasure of taking care of her young charge, making sure she was prepared to not only take on life, but to understand where life was taking her. Now she wondered if she had done all that was expected of her. Rachel felt Silas give her a brief hug, as though he had heard her thoughts, then he stood up.

“I need to go check on the horses.” he told his wife. “John Briggs will be here tomorrow to load them up.”

“You know, I should have realized that it was time for Leatha to leave us when you told me you had to sell the horses. But, Silas, it felt so natural to play the role of parents that it never entered my mind.”

With a wry smile, Silas admitted. “It didn't enter my mind either and I was just as surprised when Nichel paid his visit this morning and told me to sell the horses. But look on the bright side.” Rachel raised her eyebrow questioningly. “We will never forget what we did for this girl.”

As Silas started down the porch stairs, they both heard the clip-clop of the horse's hooves and turned to see Leatha riding up the gravel drive. She waved happily at them as she passed by.

“Guess I'll get an ear-full about the horses again.” was Silas' last comment as he headed towards the barn where Leatha was entering on her favorite black mare.

Silas Loveall had been right in his deductions that Leatha would not let the subject of the horses slide by. However, a compromise had been met and Uncle Silas had promised that she could keep Fillabelle. Not that she didn't love all the horses she took care of faithfully, but Fillabelle was special. Leatha had nursed her to adulthood after the horse's mother had died giving birth to her newborn foal. The connection was great and when Silas finally gave in to her request, she hugged him tightly and thanked him profusely. Leatha did not understand the argument with her normally easy-going uncle, but did not dwell on it. She still had her precious Fillabelle.


A week passed by, and Leatha began to wonder why her uncle was procrastinating when it came to planting the corn. Even she knew if they didn't get the seed planted soon, they would not have a crop worth selling. Leatha frowned thoughtfully, then let the thought slip away when the ringing of the telephone intruded.


“Hi, Leatha! It's Elizabeth Anderson.”

“Hey, Elizabeth. How are you?” she was slightly surprised by the call; none of her classmates called very often.

“Oh, I'm doing great!” was Elizabeth's answered. “Listen, Dale's cousin is here from Kansas City and thought maybe we would go to Lake of the Ozarks for bowling and dinner. Would you like to go with us?”


“My boyfriend, silly!” she told her, then rushed on. “Oh, please don't say no! I think you will like Jimmy. That's Dale's cousin. He's such a nice guy.”

“Uh, I don't think -”


“Come on, Leatha! I thought we were friends!” Leatha could hear the pout in her voice. “If you don't have a good time, I will never ask you to go on a blind date again.”

Leatha sighed beneath her breath. “Ok. Let me talk to Aunt Rachel and I'll get back with you.”

“Oh thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Shaking her head at Elizabeth's dreadful imploring, Leatha hung up the phone and turned to find Aunt Rachel standing in the doorway with a questioning look upon her face. “That was Elizabeth Anderson. She's invited me to go on a double date with her, her boyfriend and his cousin.”

The look that passed over Aunt Rachel's face was not meant to be comical, Leatha was sure, but she couldn't help but giggle at her flabbergasted expression. “Yeah, I was a bit surprised by the invitation too, but maybe it's time that I see what 'dating' is all about.”


“Well,” Aunt Rachel actually cleared her throat. “Yes, I guess you are right. But I don't like the idea of you going off with a strange young man.”


Never go off with strangers, she had learned at a very early age. “I know Elizabeth and Dale, so I am sure everything will be alright.”

“I just don't know.”

Leatha smiled fondly at her aunt and spoke. “I tell you what, if I do not have a nice time and they won't bring me back home, then I will call Uncle Silas to come and get me.”

“Yes, I suppose. Just make sure you don't forget to take your cell phone with you.”

Promising to not forget to take her cell phone along on the date, Leatha excitedly called Elizabeth back. Rachel heard the excitement in her voice and sighed. How was she going to explain this to Silas?

To say that Uncle Silas was not at all pleased with the news of her upcoming date would have been understatement. Usually, Silas Loveall was the easy-going mediator, but he was very vocal when he told her going out with a stranger was not a good idea.

It took her a little longer to convince her uncle that she would be fine and made the same promise to him to call if she needed them for any reason. Leatha was a bit amused by their reaction but marked it down to nervous parents allowing their young teenage daughter to go on her first date. Had she known that was the furthest thought in their minds, she may have questioned their reasons.

Instead, she sprung up to her bedroom and started going through her closet. What does one wear on their first date? Two hours later, Leatha came downstairs dressed in light blue capri pants and a simple blue and white flowered print blouse. Her white hair was pulled back in a ponytail that went halfway down her back. Aunt Rachel noticed right away that she had applied a little more rouge to her cheeks than normal and was wearing lipstick and eye shadow as well. It was not often that she saw her dressed-up in such a way and looked at Silas, who was staring at his niece like he had never saw her before.

“I think you need to go wash that stuff off your face.” he said with a touch of sternness.

Leatha chuckled and said, “And look like a ghost? I don't want to scare Jimmy off before I have a chance to say hello.”


“That's the boy's name.” Aunt Rachel chimed in, answering Silas. “You look fine, dear. Just remember what we have told you.”

Promising for the hundredth time to call if she needed them, Leatha soon left with Elizabeth, Dale and Jimmy and headed out for her date.

Uncle Silas was glad that the young adults had the decency to come inside and meet the 'old folks', but was not at all happy when Leatha's young date looked at her and asked if she was feeling alright. Assuring her date she was fine, the young man named Jimmy remarked with concern, “Well, you seem to look very pale.” If his cousin had not hit him on the shoulder in a chiding gesture, Silas may have spoke up. But, Leatha had not given him the chance to.

“Oh, no! Elizabeth did not tell you that I am an albino?” she had laughed it off. “White hair, pink eyes? I hope that doesn't turn you off?” Silas flinched at her comeback remark.

“Oh, no, no. Please forgive me.” Jimmy had awkwardly replied. No one but Rachel Loveall noticed the look of distrust Silas wore on his face. Rachel rushed the kids out of the house and told them what time Leatha's curfew was and instructed them to drive safely.

Now four hours had passed since the teenagers left for their double date and Silas had looked out the window just as many times in the last hour. Rachel was not sure what to say to calm his fears, for she herself had those same fears. But, she also kept telling herself that Leatha was a very resourceful girl and would call them if she needed them. She was sure of that. As the cuckoo clock struck ten o'clock, Silas walked to the window and looked out again.

“She's on her way home.” a voice spoke up and both turned to find Nichel walking through the dining room. He joined them in the living room and motioned for Silas to sit down. “In two days I will be back.” he went on, looking at Silas. “I'll need you to bring her to me at that time.”

“Are you sure?” Rachel quickly injected. “Can't we wait another week to be sure?”

“Aww, Rachel.” Nichel said soothingly as he sat down next to her on the sofa and took one of her hands into his. “You know her destiny is mapped out and we cannot interfere with fate.”

“Well, I don't like it!” she pouted. “What if she's not ready?”

“She's ready.” Silas spoke up and Rachel felt as if she was being ganged up on. “We have to let her go.”

“I know.” Rachel noticeably calmed down. “Could we possibly go with her?”

Both Silas and Nichel gave her a chiding glance, then began making plans for Leatha's upcoming journey. Rachel tried not to think of what laid ahead for her young charge. Knowing that she would be protected was only little consolation for her. She had always been there for her and now she had to cut the apron strings and send her out on her own. Rachel could only pray that Leatha remembered all the things she and Silas had taught her over the years.

When the headlights of a vehicle was seen coming down the gravel driveway, Rachel gave a sigh of relief and quickly looked over at Silas, who was now standing alone by the front door. She had no idea when Nichel had left, nor at this particular time did she care.

“Everything will go as planned, my dear.” Silas told her with a smile as he came over and sat down next to her on the sofa. “Now put a smile on your face or Leatha will know something is wrong with you.”

Of course, Silas was right and she had not spent the last fifteen years preparing this special girl for her mission in life to upset the plans with her own selfish agenda. She knew her own mission was almost over and Leatha's was just beginning, but it didn't help the heartache that was bursting inside her body.

The next half-hour seemed to go by in a blur for Rachel as Leatha recounted her evening with her date and how much fun she had, but she hid her emotions well. Evidently she made all the right gestures and asked all the right questions of her young niece about her date, because Leatha still had a smile on her face when she left the living room and went upstairs to her bedroom.

Leatha was still giddy with excitement the next morning when she joined her aunt and uncle for breakfast. The topic of conversation revolved around her date with Jimmy and, before they were finished with the hash browns and eggs, Leatha asked them hopefully. “Jimmy will be back in two weeks and has asked me out again. Can I please go?”

“Of course, you can.” Uncle Silas spoke up before his wife could say anything. “I thought he turned out to be a fine young man.”

“Oh, thank you, Uncle Silas!”

Rachel looked at Silas with that questioningly raised eyebrow after Leatha left the kitchen and headed out the back door with, “I'll be back later! Going to give Fillabelle a good run this morning.”

Silas shrugged his shoulders and reminded her that Leatha would not be here in two weeks. He immediately felt remorse when he saw the tears well up in Rachel's eyes.

“I'm sorry. I -”

“No, don't apologize. I'll get through this.”

“You always do.”

The rest of the day flew by for Rachel. She had gone about her house duties like any other normal day. Leatha had no clue that something was amiss and that her life was soon to change drastically. Her thoughts were trained on her upcoming date with Jimmy.

The white-haired teen had been sitting outside on the swing for the last hour, her thoughts rampant with excitement, and did not notice when the sun went down and dusk to dawn light came on. However, she quickly focused on her surroundings when she thought she heard the clap of a horse's hoof on the gravel drive. Leatha looked down the driveway but did not see anything in the faded light of dusk. 

She decided to walk down to the barn and check on Fillabelle before going into the house. When she was just a few yards from the barn, she thought she heard the clip-clop hooves behind her and swiftly turned around. Nothing. Leatha was beginning to think that Fillabelle was loose, and she could not see her black horse in the dark of night. Quickening her stride, she entered the barn and turned the light on. Determined to get a bridle to lead her horse back to the barn, Leatha surprisingly stopped when she saw that Fillabelle was in her stall.

After giving her horse a cube of sugar and stroking her black silky mane for a few moments, Leatha switched the light off and left the barn. She chided herself all the way back to the house for letting her imagination run away with her. Just as she had convinced herself it was probably a raccoon or possum scurrying around in the gravel, she heard the phantom noise again. She came to a stop, but did not turn around. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes for a second, then swiftly turned around to see what appeared to be a ghostly apparition of a man on a horse. She stood before the ghostly man in shock, many seconds slowly passed, then as she opened her mouth to scream, the ghostly vision disappeared.

She was not able to see what the man looked like as he had his cowboy hat slung low on his forehead, obstructing his face. Leatha had never encountered anything like this in her life and was hesitant to bring it to her uncle and aunt's attention for fear of them laughing at her. She remained standing there for a few more minutes, wondering if she had imagined what she had just saw and came to the conclusion she was not crazy! She had seen that ghostly figure of a man on his horse. Now, only one question remained. Why?

Leatha was glad she put on a good front when she told her guardians she was going to take a shower and head to bed soon. There was no way she could sit in the living room with them and act like nothing had just happened. She needed to be alone and muse upon this in private. As the troubled albino girl entered her bedroom, she went straight to the window and looked down towards the driveway where she had seen her ghost.

Leatha had no idea how long she watched out the window before common sense returned and she headed to the bathroom to take her shower. Jimmy was forgotten.



Nicholas Weyrich came fully awake from his dream and found that he was drenched in sweat. The dream had seemed so real, he thought, as he threw the thin  sheet off his naked body and sat on the side of the bed. The woman had seemed so real too. And what a strange looking woman she was. She had a classic kind of beauty about her with her small round face and petite body, but she wore men's trousers and some kind of white undergarment covering her perky breasts.

The color of her skin was so fair and she did not seem at all embarrassed that she stood before him half-dressed. Her hair was white as snow and her eyes seemed to burn like fire as she stared at him.

Then he remembered the darkness that surrounded them and wondered how he could have noticed so much about her? Especially when his dream had only lasted for a brief moment in time.

Nick lay back down and stared at the ceiling, his thoughts running unrestrained with wild visions of a white-haired, red-eyed woman. He was still staring at the ceiling an hour later when the sun made its appearance in the sky.

He glanced out his hotel window as the day dawned and knew it was time for him to leave this place. Nick had been in Green Meadow, near Fort Pueblo in Colorado Territory, for the past seven years and gave up panning for gold within the first month of being here.

The stories he had heard all those years ago did not really prepare him for how these men were obsessed with gaining a rich status. The fights, the greed, the impatience... the list went on and on.

Instead, Nick had bought the Green Meadow Hotel with the inheritance his mother had left him, much to the dismay of many townsfolk. He knew the people of Green Meadow was surprised when a young, nineteen year old boy had bought the hotel from Lucy Gardner; but, the widow Gardner had faith in him and basically backed off the troublesome residents of the town who were giving Nick such a hard time. Seven years later, he was well respected in Green Meadow.

Nick had not planned to put down roots in this land where the Ute Indians held these mountains sacred and did not like the intrusion of the white man in them. That was another reason he gave up panning for gold.

The Indians seemed to leave the settlers alone as long as they were near the fort, but did not take kindly to them tracing about their sacred mountains. Many men went to pan for gold and never returned.

Nick was sure the Utes were responsible, but had kept that inclined thought to himself. As long as the hotelier was allowed to run his wayside inn without the fear of Indian raids, he was satisfied.

Besides, the Utes were busy fighting with the Arapaho and Comanche most of time, therefore leaving the white settlers alone. Rumors had it that the Ute tribe was even warring among themselves.

He had saved enough money over the years to open a new hotel somewhere more tolerable of the settlers, like California. With that thought in mind, and the white haired woman forgotten, Nick got dressed, left his room and patiently waited for his nine o'clock meeting with Nathan Lawson, his prospective buyer.



The man sitting in the corner of the front parlor smiled mysteriously when he saw Nick meet with Nathan Lawson in the foyer of the hotel, then watched as the two men disappeared through another door behind the front desk. He noted the mousy little man, the hotelier hired to register guests, was staring at him inquiringly from his position behind the lobby desk.

The stranger in the lobby knew he would have to report this piece of information to his boss, knowing such a powerful man would be interested to hear about these turn of events.


The day the Lovealls had been dreading arrived and breakfast was somewhat of a quiet affair that morning. However, Leatha did not notice as the ghostly stranger from the night before filled her dreams throughout her sleeping period. It was so frustrating to wake up and still not know what he looked like. Then she scolded herself for fantasizing about him. “This is ridiculous!” she thought. Thinking about a figment of her imagination was becoming very obsessive and she had much better things to do.

“Leatha?” Aunt Rachel intruded into her thoughts. “Could you possibly run into town this morning and pick up a few things from the store?”   

“Sure, as long as Uncle Silas doesn't ride with me!” she laughingly joked. Uncle Silas was not a big fan of 'riding in a car with a teenager'.

Rachel smiled knowingly. “He knows you can drive very well. He just likes to tease you.”

“Tease? Me?” Uncle Silas joined the conversation when he entered the kitchen. “Ok, so you can drive. Just goes to show how grown up you have become.”

“That she has. Now, here is a list of things I need from the store.” Rachel told her, handing her a slip of paper and some cash.

“Store? Why is she going to the store?” Silas' humor left as he looked at Rachel with inquiring eyes, reminding her silently that was not part of the plan.

“Because,” she said rather sternly. “I need these items for supper tonight.”

Leatha, thinking that Uncle Silas was worrying about her solo drive into town, reassured him, “I promise to drive slow and pay attention at all times.”

“Of course, you will. Now run along so you can get back in plenty of time to help me.”

With a smile on her face, Leatha left the house. As soon as the door closed behind her, Silas asked what was going on. Rachel informed him that Nichel called and asked her to send Leatha away for a little while so that he could talk to them privately.

“Now, why would Nichel do that?”

It was Nichel who answered as he entered the kitchen. “Change of plans. The time frame has been breached.”

“How did that happen?” Silas and Rachel asked at the same time.

It was not very often that Nichel expressed concern, but the look he gave them spoke volumes. “Marlor.”

“Marlor!” Rachel extorted anxiously. “Oh, Silas, tell him we can't go through with this. We can't jeopardize Leatha's safety.”

Nichel held up his hand when Silas opened his mouth to speak, then the man said, “You have to have faith that she can handle this. Marlor is crafty, yes, but not infallible. Besides, we already have the upper hand.”

“What do you mean?” Silas demanded to know.

“She will arrive earlier than expected and hopefully will be far away before Marlor realizes it.”

The Loveall's looked at one another with matching frowns, then looked at Nichel. “He can still track her, you know.” Rachel said.

“Not if she travels through the waterways.”

“Oh! That will never -”

“Rachel,” Nichel interrupted her. “that is the only way and we are running out of time. She will be fine, I know she will.”

Rachel was still wringing her hands when Nichel left on that final word. Silas shared her misgivings, but also knew they had to trust Nichel. He had never let them down in the past.

An hour passed before Leatha returned from Oakhurst with the groceries. Leatha put the food staples away, then called out for Aunt Rachel. No answer. She went upstairs, continuing to call out, but still no answer.

She wondered where her aunt and uncle were as the house seemed to be abandoned. She went outside, but silence still greeted her. How odd! she thought, as she sat down on the porch swing.

A sudden thought occurred, and worry instantly took control. Did something bad happen while she was gone? What if Uncle Silas had gotten hurt or Aunt Rachel became sick?

Leatha jumped from the swing and ran into the house. Her hand was shaky as she quickly dialed her aunt's cell phone.

When her aunt answered on the second ring, the young white-haired woman gave an audible sigh of relief. Aunt Rachel assured her that all was well, but something incredible had happened.


“Well, you'll just have to come out here and see for yourself, dear.” Rachel laughed, “Such a pleasant surprise must be seen, not told.”

Leatha smiled in amusement after Aunt Rachel had told her that she and her uncle were located at the “magical waterfall”. She had a gut feeling that they were trying to lure her out to her favorite place for a special surprise?

Leatha would turn seventeen tomorrow and she bet everything on this farm that they were going to surprise her with an early celebration!

An idea began to form and she quickly sprinted upstairs to her bedroom for her pink and black backpack. Aunt Rachel had thrown her surprise parties for as long as she could remember, and always forgot something. One year she even forgot the birthday candles for her cake!

Leatha laughed aloud at that thought and merrily started putting items in her backpack as she went through the house collecting various objects. She had no idea what Aunt Rachel forgot this year, but she would make sure it was covered. For good measure she threw her cell phone into the bag, then zipped it up.

There was a slight chance that Jimmy would ring and she was not going to miss his call! she thought as she left the house and headed for the barn, backpack clutched in her right hand.

Leatha was not surprised to find Fillabelle already saddled and waiting for her in the stall. Uncle Silas was not at all forgetful! She slipped the straps of the backpack over her shoulders and connected the clasp at her waist. After securing the backpack, Leatha mounted Fillabelle and guided her out of the barn.


Silas glanced at his watch for the tenth time in last twenty minutes. Standing beside him was Nichel, who informed both Silas and Rachel that their charge was on her way. Rachel winced at the information and once more began to wring her hands in worry.

Silas and Rachel had arrived shortly before Nichel. Their wait was almost nonexistent when the mission leader materialized to inform them everything was going as planned on his end.

He had then spoken a few commanding words, pointing his finger at the dried up waterfall, and as Rachel caught her breath, the water started crashing over the cliff above them. Leatha's magical waterfall had come to life and the three of them went to the top of the cliff to watch from that hidden viewpoint.

Traveling through the waterways was extremely dangerous, Rachel thought, then mustered all her strength in order to keep her faith intact. Nichel was not exactly sure where the white-haired girl would end up, but had called in reinforcements to stand guard on the other side as a precaution.

Rachel frowned when this thought occurred. Nichel, while he was officially in charge of this mission, was still hiding something and she was determined to find out.

“Nichel,” Rachel broke the silence. “you have not mentioned how you plan to coax Leatha into the water if you will not allow Silas or myself to talk her into taking a dip in the pool?”

Nichel answered her question matter-of-factly. “Her horse will be given the order to throw her into the pool.”



Even Silas gave Nichel a questioning look when his “wife” spoke up with aghast surprise.


“It must be quick and unexpected. Can't think of any other way to do it.” Nichel shrugged it off, then straightened his posture when he saw Leatha entering the meadow on Fillabelle.


Rachel gasped again; Silas held his breath; Nichel smiled. The mission of the Guardian Protectors was about to enter the second stage of Leatha Loveall's destined journey. Silas and Rachel would soon be removed from this assignment and a new Guardian would take over the job of leading and protecting the chosen one.


Leatha had enjoyed the carefree ride on Fillabelle and felt so elated today. She had only once thought about her ghostly specter during the cantering, cross-country trek. She had also wondered about her upcoming date with Jimmy, but it had only been a fleeting thought. Her mind had basically registered the excitement of the ride and the “surprise” that awaited her.

She could not contain the awed gasp that escaped from her when she entered the meadow from the copse of woods she had just passed through and she spied the waterfall before her. Leatha quickly reined her horse in. Fillabelle obeyed her command and stopped in the middle of the meadow about 500 feet away from the fall. She inhaled deeply and took in the beauty of her magical waterfall, completely forgetting about ghosts, dates, her guardians and surprises.

The water was cascading down the side of the cliff like liquid silver and the blue pool below it glistened in the sunlight invitingly. Leatha sat mesmerized and was unprepared when Fillabelle suddenly took off and broke into a run. As the waterfall grew ever so closer with each galloping stride, Leatha tried to rein in her out of control horse. Unsuccessfully reaching her charging mare, the young white-haired girl held on for dear life and prayed the crazed horse would stop. If not, she would have to jump!

The next few minutes happened so fast that everyone present gasped in surprise. While Leatha had not noticed the three people standing atop the cliff where the water rushed over the fall, she did note at the last minute that she was unable to extract herself from the saddle and jump. She prepared for the worse, like crashing into a solid cliff wall and dying.

When Leatha closed her eyes, she felt the sudden skidding stop of her crazed horse and glided gracefully over the mare's head as she was thrown from the saddle and landed in the beautiful blue pool of water.

Her eyes had opened when she had been thrown and welcomed the sparkling creek that was coming up to meet her. Her last thought before entering the water was, “Thank God for hitting the water instead of the cliff”.

Then the blue pool at the “magical waterfall” swallowed her up.

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