Redheaded, freckle faced Billie Mattis had only one real love in her life, William C. Hawke III. She was five when she had met him and he was nine. As she got older, she knew that his father, W.C. Hawke II and his wife, were somehow involved in commercial real estate and they brought William to visit them at their horse ranch on varying weekends. Their dads spent their time talking about investments and future projects, things that would help her family’s ranching business and ensure her and her sister’s future. Both their moms spent their time discussing the arts and cooking.
From their first weekend together, Billie, her sister Sandy and William occupied their time boating and fishing on their small lakes, and horseback riding. All under the watchful eye of the ranch foreman, of course, their friendship grew. But Billie’s playful and fiery personality and temperament, preferring to wrestle, or sword fight with sticks or handmade wooden swords, or to race their horses through the wooded sections of the expansive ranch, brought her and William closer.
Then the incomprehensible news of the accident came and Billie’s life was torn apart. She was five when she met him and he was nine; she was ten when she lost him…
As much as a five year old could, Billie had fallen in love with William the first moment she saw him, and had focused every ounce of her attention on him when he was there. But her natural playfulness kept her from calling William by his name, always using a number of almost derogatory nicknames, such as “four-eyes” or her favorite, “double vision,” teasing him for wearing glasses. Him being short for his age had not helped when she thought of nicknames to tease him with.
When she was seven, late in the summer just before school was to start, Billie had broken her leg while they were riding and William had held her on his lap against her squirming while Sandy rode back to the main house for help. After that, she had begun using a different nickname, feeling somewhat glad he had persisted so she would not do further damage to her broken leg.
During those years, Billie’s life was as bright as the sun, effervescent, animated, full of expectations and anticipation, with mostly everything wrapped up in waiting for William’s next visit.
She met him when she was five and he was nine, and lost him when she was ten.
The unbelievable news that he and his parents had died in a car wreck robbed her of everything she held meaningful in her life. It tore at her very soul. Her fantasies of growing up with William and whatever else might come, had suddenly turned morbid and dark. Her interests in school and her other friends had evaporated and her depression had continued for many years, with one brief exception.
When she was twelve, Billie’s mother took her, her sister and a school friend into Chesterfield to a Renaissance Fair and a treat afterwards. They had stopped at a restaurant run by a friend of her mothers and a tall, lean sixteen year old boy that worked there, gave her a tour of the restaurant and challenged her to do better in school, explaining a good education was the only way to get ahead in the world.
Then seventeen years later, with a masters degree in business under her arm and a job with a well-known architectural design firm, Billie had moved back to Chesterfield.
But from that moment on, her life would never be the same again.
Billie’s story is captured in the three parts of the Keeper and His Tiger series, Unexpected Complications (I), Deadly Undercurrents (II), and The Trap (III). It is a story I think you will enjoy.
I hope you will try them and see for yourself.