Authors: Rachel Hanna
Love In The Falls
Sam & Camden
(New Beginnings Series)
By Rachel Hanna
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2012 Rachel Hanna
Camden Lane was used to these situations. She was very adept at getting herself out of tight jams in the form of intimate conversations. When her best friend continued to probe and prod about her relationship with the devilishly rich and handsome Preston Donnelly, Camden had every intention of lying through her teeth.
Sitting at the restaurant having lunch with her best friend, Natalie, Camden should have felt comfortable. After all, she and Natalie had been “besties” since freshman year at Emory University. Now, all of these years later, she couldn’t believe that she found herself at a loss for words.
“Cam? Are you listening to me?” Natalie asked waving her hand in front of Camden’s face.
“What? Sure. Of course, I am listening to you,” she replied pushing her long, dark brown hair behind her right ear. That was a nervous habit that she had tried hard to break, and Natalie knew it was a sure sign that she was flustered.
“Then answer me, girl. You know I can read you like a book, so spill it,” Natalie said taking a sip of her Coke through a straw.
“I just don’t think your line of questioning is relevant, Nat,” Camden said smirking as she took a bite of her sandwich to fill her mouth and avoid questioning.
“Maybe you should have been an attorney instead of a doctor,” Natalie said smiling as she rolled her eyes.
“Okay, I am going to ask you one more time. Are you sure that you want to marry Preston?”
Camden’s mind began to wander again. Was she sure? She had better be since her wedding was in three short months. Preston had proposed on Christmas Eve, and now here she was in late September looking straight down the barrel of a December wedding date.
Natalie knew her well, and she had seen signs of what Camden was sure were just wedding jitters.
That’s normal, right?
She had procrastinated about picking out a wedding dress, was befuddled when it came to choosing a location for the ceremony and was downright indecisive when it came to a honeymoon spot.
Preston was a nice guy and very wealthy in his own right. Camden had come from a privileged background too, but nothing like Preston. His family had been lighting up the Atlanta social scene for almost thirty years. His grandfather was one of the most notable politicians and businessmen of his era.
His father was a world renowned neurosurgeon, and Preston had followed in his footsteps by becoming a doctor too. Camden’s parents had mingled with the Donnelly’s for years at the country club, and they were more than delighted when Camden finally gave in to Preston’s continued advances for a date.
At first, she hadn’t been all that enthralled by him. He was good looking; tall, dark and handsome like many women dream of meeting. But, much to her parents’ dismay, Camden had always been more attracted to rugged guys who liked to get their hands dirty.
In high school, she adored making her parents squirm by dating boys that weren’t from their social scene. Her parents were all about “status”, and it drove her batty sometimes.
Once, in tenth grade, she brought home a boy who was thinking of going to community college. She thought her father might just have a heart attack right there on the spot. It made her giddy inside to provoke her parents. She’d often thought that she might need to deal with some of that in therapy one day.
“Camden? Good Lord, are you having some kind of ADD problem today?” Natalie said snapping her fingers in front of Camden’s face.
“Oh, sorry. I was just thinking…”
“See? That’s why I am worried about you. I love you like a sister, Cam, and I don’t want to see you get married to some man that you don’t really love just to appease your parents,” Natalie said with a serious look of concern on her face.
“I wouldn’t do that, Nat. I love Preston,” Camden replied without looking up from her plate. She fiddled with the crust on her bread before she dropped her sandwich, finally making eye contact with Natalie.
“I hope you are telling me the truth, Cam. I really do. You deserve to live your life and be happy.”
“I know. And I will,” Camden said reaching out to pat Natalie’s hand. Natalie was the best friend she’d ever had, and she could always read her moods and uncover her secret fears.
“Okay, enough of that seriousness. I want you to do me a favor tomorrow…” Natalie said grinning. Camden knew that grin. It was usually an indicator of Natalie wanting to talk Camden into something that she would not normally want to do. It was the same grin that got her to bungee jump the day after graduation, and it was the same grin that convinced her to get that little butterfly tattoo on her shoulder that sent her mother over the edge.
“What?” Camden said with a tone of trepidation.
“I want you to hike up to the falls with me…”
“You know I don’t hike, Nat,” Camden said shaking her head.
“Well, it’s not really a hike, per se. I mean there is an asphalt pathway all the way up the mountain to the waterfalls. It’s like a hike for city people,” Natalie said laughing.
“Why do you want to do this?”
“Because in a few months, you will be this married lady who doesn’t have much time for little ol’ me anymore. I want something to remember,” Natalie said.
“I’m not dying, Nat!” Camden giggled as she slapped Natalie’s arm lightly.
“I know. I know. I just want a day with me and you and nature and girl talk…”
“Alright. I will hike up to the falls with you, but only this once. If it were summer time, I would not dare take a hike in the Georgia mountains, but since the bugs are probably gone and the snakes are heading underground, I will do it. Once.”
“Yay! This is going to be so much fun. I will pick you up at your condo at 8 AM so we can grab breakfast and start heading up the path no later than 9:30,” Natalie said in her normal planner mode.
Camden had no idea how a simple little hike was about to change her whole life.
“Hello, my dear,” Preston said as he kissed Camden on the top of the head. She was sitting at her computer, messing around on Facebook, when he came home from his rounds at the hospital.
“Hi. How was your day?” she asked barely looking up from her screen. She had just reconnected with a sorority sister from her college days and was perusing the woman’s pictures. She had a family, kids and a house with a real white picket fence. Camden felt a strange, and unexpected, pang of jealousy in the pit of her stomach.
“Oh, it was crazy today. Had a guy with a terrible case of pneumonia. We can’t find an antibiotic to treat this strain. Then, this lady comes in with chest pain and her husband was complaining about…” Preston continued talking, but Camden could no longer hear him. She had learned to stare at him square in the eye, but zone out to some other place. Tropical islands were her favorite destination.
It wasn’t that she didn’t care about Preston’s day. It was just that every day sounded the same. She had also graduated with her medical degree, but had taken a year off to plan what kind of medicine she really wanted to go into.
When she told her parents that she might work in the inner city or even in Appalachia, they had thrown a fit. They could not imagine why she would want to leave the lap of luxury to go into such squalor. They never said so out loud, but Camden knew that the thought of their only daughter working with “poor” people was distasteful to them.
“Cam? Are you listening to me?” Preston snapped her back into reality when he touched her shoulder.
“Oh, yeah… sorry. I was just thinking about Natalie,” she said trying to cover for her lack of interest in the current conversation.
“What about her?” Preston asked rolling his eyes a bit. Natalie and Preston were like oil and water. They just never mixed well at all. Natalie was a free spirit who wanted only the best for Camden. Preston was tightly wound and not the life of the party at all.
“She wants me to take a hike with her tomorrow… up to the falls,” Camden said knowing full well that Preston would think the idea was a joke.
“Up in the north Georgia mountains. It’s one of Nat’s favorite places on Earth. She has talked about it for years, and I agreed to go this one time.”
“So you will be gone all day tomorrow? Cam, you knew I had tomorrow off. I thought you were going to stay home with me so that we can start planning the charity benefit for the hospital…” Preston was on the board of a charity, and he had been trying to get Camden involved for months.
She had nothing against charity work, but she kind of resented the force that her fiance was putting on her to be a part of this charity. He wanted her to plan the whole thing as if she was his personal event planner. To her, charity work was about volunteering and getting your hands dirty. To him, it was about fancy cocktail parties and the best caviar.
“Preston, honey, you can hire any event planner in town. They would all be happy to take care of the logistics of this event for you. You don’t need me for that,” Camden said turning back to her computer.
“I guess I will have to do that now. You realize that you won’t be able to spend so much time with Natalie once we are married, right? I mean, I will expect you to be my wife, Camden,” he said with a bit more of a sneer on his face than she would have liked.
“And just what do you mean by that, Preston?”
“Well, you know that I plan to move up the ranks at the hospital, and I am thinking about politics down the line a bit. I will need you on my arm at these events, darling.”
“Of course,” she said softly as she continued looking at the computer. With that, he went into the other room to change clothes. It was times like these that Camden started to second guess her choice of marriage to Preston. But, she had no valid reason to leave as she knew it would turn her family and her world upside down. For now, she was engaged to Preston Donnelly, and that was that.