The temperature was sweltering, the air was thick with humidity, even the trees were drooping low, scraping the hot ground. Amidst it all, the old wooden, creaky house stood tall, unfazed and unaware of the sweat lodged in Landon's shirt.
Landon Fitzpatrick had returned to his ancestral home that he had inherited after the sudden passing of his father. Landon's father had a way of surprising him even in death. He thought he knew every single secret his parent had been keeping, but an inheritance was the last thing on his mind. Landon's father never showed an ounce of affection, and inheriting the old house felt like a bittersweet goodbye.
Landon's car came to a stop in front of the house. He took a deep breath and tried to steel himself for the memories that would come flooding back, memories of a simpler time, and his childhood friend, Camila. Nostalgia tugged at his heartstrings. With a deep breath and a sigh, he got out of the car and headed to the door.
He pushed open the door, and like a wave, the essence of the house hit him. The smell of cedarwood, the sound of the old wooden floorboards creaking under his foot, and the faded blue Victorian-patterned curtains that hadn't been changed in years. Nostalgia has its way of treating one's senses.
"Welcome home, Landon," his father's lawyer, Mr. Gable said as he emerged from the shadows.
"Thanks, Mr. Gable, but it doesn't feel like home," Landon replied.
Mr. Gable produced a folder from his briefcase and handed it over to Landon, "Here are the documents you need to sign, and you are good to go. Do you need any help settling in?"
"No, thank you," Landon replied, ushering Mr. Gable out, anxious to be alone with his thoughts.
He stood in the middle of the living room, not sure where to start. Distracted by his thoughts, Landon walked over to the antique cabinet, and as he was rifling through the stack of old letters and dusty books, he heard the sound of footsteps coming down the wooden stairs.
Camila Alvarez walked into the living room, and at that moment, time stopped for Landon. She was breathtakingly beautiful, with her sun-kissed skin and caramel-colored eyes. Childhood memories came crashing back, hitting him square in the face.
"Camila," he breathed as she enveloped him in a warm hug.
"I missed you, Landon," she whispered into his ear.
They broke apart, and like a wave, the awkwardness hit. After all that time apart, the lack of communication, they were both acutely aware of how much time they had lost.
For a moment, they gazed into each other's eyes, and something shifted. Like the moment before a kiss, but it wasn't the kiss that occurred, but the walls that came crashing down. Not just Camila's, but Landon's too. All the built-up tension was fighting to escape.
For years, Landon had been running his business empire, consumed by his ambition, and Camila was busy running her restaurant, trying to forget about the event that had shattered her soul. But being back in the ancestral home, old memories flooded the minds of the two, forcing them to confront their past and current issues.
They spent the evening reminiscing about old times and exploring the house's nooks and crannies. As they walked around the backyard, they stumbled upon a hidden greenhouse that Camila had been taking care of for years without anyone knowing.
"We should start growing something together," Camila suggested with a smile. "As a way to make the home feel more like your own."
Landon fused with the idea, and so it began. They spent hours in the greenhouse, and the spark was back, that unspoken relationship that could only grow with deep roots.
However, like every love story, there always has to be a downfall.
Over the next few weeks, Landon started veering away from the greenhouse, consumed by his work, placing it as a second option. Meanwhile, Camila started to close off again slowly. It didn't take long for the tension to become suffocating. The love between them grew stronger, but it wasn't enough to save them from their emotional conflict.
In the end, it came down to a heart-wrenching decision, one that tested their commitment to each other, one that could be the ultimate downfall of their relationship.
Camila made one last request of Landon, that caused Landon to make a decision that he would never have to make in his lifetime. It left Camila feeling like she still was left behind, but this time, it was by the only person who had ever been there for her.
The shock that ricocheted through Landon was daunting, but as he started to understand the implications of what he had done, he began to plan something complicated. Something that could still save their relationship, and something that would put his company in good debt.
In the end, whether they were bound by their heritage or their own personal tradition, they were still bound.
Landon couldn't have imagined that inheriting his family's ancestral home would lead to the family secret being exposed, but he found love with Camilla, and that was his biggest surprise.
The twist that would end itself wasn't a surprise to Camilla, but Landon had to take steps to make it happen. With his new realization, he never knew running his business and enjoying his heritage could coexist.