Waiting to Ignite (Season of Growth)

Everyone wants to be someone.

Part Five

From The Outside.

While there may places like Pacer Hill somewhere in the world, there was nothing else like it in Roy County. A person could walk or drive up to the hill. Many tourists walked up there to see Georgie’s Mansion using the staircase by the Pepper’s Ferry Family Courthouse, finding themselves mesmerized by the vast size of the front porch where the old woman was known for sitting to watch over the town while sipping on her homemade lemonade during a hot Pennsylvania summer. The gardens that surrounded the property were where people usually lost themselves in the peace that overwhelmed them, on a hill that had become its own world, separate from everything else that surrounded it.

Many have said that the hill contains a secret cult, and that Elaina Pacer became the head of the Pacer family by making the greatest blood sacrifice. But, anyone who has ever gotten close to Elaina knows that’s not her. She was a breath of fresh air, with a smile ready for anyone she comes across. She’d carry on a conversation with a total stranger just because they said hi to her. She wore heels everywhere, and if she wasn’t wearing a dress she’d wear skintight jeans that showed off the curves of her thin body. Her bright green eyes told their beholder that she went through some things that weighed on her, but she’d never allow herself a moment of weakness. Outside of Pacer Hill, walking through town, Elaina looked just like the young woman everyone else wanted to be. Far from a cult leader, but she knew how to fool anyone into believing that she was perfect and untouchable.

Rae wasn’t one for walking around town like Elaina. Where Elaina sought her freedom, Rae sought the rush of driving too fast through crowded streets, and racing down two lane roads. For a while, the rumor around town was that Rae murdered her older sister, and that the adults of Pacer Hill worked together to cover it up. Maybe it was her enigmatic smile, or the way she seemed to slip out of large crowds and disappear that made people believe she was capable of such a thing. Rae, who loved a nice pair of leggings and a pair of boots, drew people in with her beauty, but she didn’t smile, and instead had an “I dare you” grin.

Rae and Elaina became the faces of Pacer Hill as they grew out of their late teens into their adulthood. The residents of the small tourist town followed Rae’s love story with Elaina’s twin brother, Eli, like it was a movie. Elaina’s love life was the hottest of topics, especially after everything came to a fiery end between Elaina and Oliver. After that she went through this phase of dating one guy after another, until she landed on Chase Claire. They seemed to be the hottest of messes, though nobody could really tell because it was rare to catch them together. Whenever they were out in public, they smiled as they danced at bars, drank way too much, and caught the eyes of everyone around them.

Elaina loved a good song, and Chase loved to get close to her. The sexual chemistry between them was on fire.

With Rae being pregnant and staying away from everyone, and the curiosity surrounding Elaina’s love life, people were dying to get into their ticketed event for the grand opening of Georgie’s Suites. This was the first time in history of the hill that any of the buildings would be open to the public, and the citizens of Pepper’s Ferry lost their minds at the chance to be in such a private setting with the Pacer and Hart families.

Cassidy Claire received a personal invitation from Elaina Pacer. She had a ticket in her hand for food and drinks, along with a date on her arm for that night’s big event as she arrived wearing the fanciest bright blue dress that she could find in local shops. As a popular podcast host and an avid viewer of the Real Pacer Hill channel, she was hyped for this chance to get an inside scoop on the elite families of Pacer Hill.

She walked inside and a string quartet played on a stage in front of the bar, as all of the guests were led to their seats by handsome gentlemen wearing black dress pants, black suspenders, and black dress shirts. Battery operated tea candles were glowing inside black candle holders, on top of welcoming tables covered in black tablecloths and ice cold glasses of water. Every guest seated was dressed in their fanciest outfits as they all stared eagerly up towards the stage, waiting for the moment that any of the people who called Pacer Hill home stepped out on the stage to greet the crowd.

“It looks beautiful in here,” King whispered into Cassidy’s ear.

“Amazing,” she agreed, as she looked around at all of the pictures of Georgie Pacer hung in bright black frames against a spectacularly white wall.

She looked over her head to see a beautiful black chandelier hanging above her, complete with figures of red butterflies, and found herself enchanted by the piece of art. She gazed at it until all of the lights dimmed around them, just as the music quieted from the bar area.

“Hello, everyone.” Elaina smiled from the center of the stage, where she wore a bright red dress with black high heels to match her accessories of black diamond earrings, a black diamond bracelet, and a black diamond necklace. “The struggles of getting you all here tonight, I can’t explain. The dream of sharing Pacer Hill with the rest of the town was something that started with Georgie, my grandmother and an amazing woman that I will love for the rest of my life. There is nobody like her, but I always try to be like her. Sometimes, when I don’t know what to do in a situation, my mom has to slow me down and remind me to listen to my heart, because that is where they all are. All of the people that I have loved and lost along the way. Georgie, Darren Pacer, Jenna Hart…” She smiled as the pictures of the people she named flashed on a screen behind her and people quietly clapped for them as their faces appeared. “This includes people that I have lost who aren’t dead, but have left me feeling like they’re a million miles away, whether it is my fault or their own. We all have those scars, right? Scars of people we love who left us for one reason or another. In my case some of them are actual scars, because I didn’t know how to deal with that pain. I would love to tell you that my inspiration for this place came from something beautiful, but it was born out of a struggle.”

“How does she struggle?” Rae smiled as people clapped for her when she joined Elaina on the stage, sharing a small spotlight with her. “How would the Princess of Pacer Hill, the girl who has always had everything, struggle? She struggled with not knowing who she was because everyone had already predetermined a role for her. She struggled with knowing what love and life meant to her. She struggled with the idea of being who she is and not getting to be anyone she wanted to be, a gift that so many people in this room were born with as their own. Elaina and I are different. Not better, not worse. Our stories are just different, and together, we wanted to build something that was different from anywhere else that you would go. Our hearts are in these walls.”

Elaina wrapped her arm around Rae and kissed her cheek. “We hope you feel the love that we have for each other, as well. Rae and I were meant to be sisters. I know it. Something got mixed up along the way, and we became best friends instead. Best friends who conquered the world together. Best friends who brought this to life to invite the world inside our little corner of the world. I have heard from so many people that Pacer Hill is a place that people are dying to be.”

“Whether it’s the big houses, the cars, or the beautiful people.” Rae laughed at herself. “People are fascinated. My guess is because it’s a world you don’t know. A lifestyle that most only dream of…A lifestyle that can be yours whenever you feel the urge to wander up here and take a seat at our bar.”

“We’ve had our soft openings, our pressure tests, and we’ve made our introductions.”

“We have hired a crew of stunning people who you will find standing all around you tonight, each one of them trained to make your wildest dreams come true.” Rae winked at a middle aged woman sitting at a table in the center of the room. “Our menu is prepared by my father, who has studied under chefs in five different countries to master his art. You will be eating the food that Elaina and I grew up on when you are here.” Rae smiled as she pointed out her father. “That man is a dick, but he makes a killer duck.”

“A bar, a restaurant, a cool little hang out area in what still remains as Georgie’s library, and a variety of different rooms to stay in and get away for the night. For you, my loves, we have created our idea of a fairytale, that stretches all the way out onto the back patio. Walks through Stella’s Gardens and thunderstorms out on the front porch.”

“For now…” Rae reached her hand out for Eli as he joined her on the stage. “Those of you who are brave enough are asked to join us for a dance before dinner.”

Cassidy watched as a tall man with tattoos visible on his neck and his forearms joined Elaina on the stage, instead of her own brother, Chase.

As “In the Name of Love” played, Cassidy looked around for Chase in confusion. The confusion faded as she watched the way that Elaina seemed to fit with this new man, and as she walked closer to the stage, she knew why. 

She was dancing with Thaden Lake.

Just the way he looked her in the eye like there was nobody else in the room would’ve been enough to capture any woman’s attention, but he moved with her, like they danced the same dance, just waiting on one another, their whole lives. She dropped her hips down and he grabbed hold of her, pulling her closer to him each time.

Cassidy was sure that she couldn’t have been the only one to notice the way their lips just barely touched at the end of the song.

“Okay.” Rae laughed, throwing Elaina a side-eye as she took hold of the microphone. “Now that we’ve had our fun, the music is going to keep playing, the drinks are going to start pouring, and the food will be served. Thank you all for coming out to the grand opening, and what we hope to be an amazing journey here at Georgie’s Suites.”

“What?” Elaina asked Rae after she slapped her in the behind and gave her a dirty look, as Cassidy walked up onto the stage. 

“What was that?” Rae shouted at her. “Is Chase not working the bar tonight?”

“Chase is obviously working the bar tonight,” Elaina answered her. “We’re just going through a thing.”

“Is it still the problem with his ex?” Cassidy asked.

“Oh my god, Cass!” Elaina pulled her into a tight hug, before looking her in her eyes. “It’s many things. And for everyone’s information, Thaden is my best friend. Everyone always accuses us of having something going on because we are so close. In fact, Chase is the first to throw those accusations, but you know what? There is nothing between us. Nothing. How could there be when I live here and Thaden lives in Arizona? And, why do I have to explain myself all of the time? Rae, you know that if Chase and I were committed I wouldn’t have pulled Thaden up here to dance. You know me.”

“Sometimes,” Rae answered. “Sometimes I know you, and other times you are just full of surprises.”

“Do we have to do this right now?” Elaina asked her.

“Uh-oh. I’m sensing trouble in paradise,” Cassidy sang as she stood between the pair of ladies. “Whatever is going on between you and Chase doesn’t matter. I am proud of you. You did something amazing, Elaina, and I can’t wait to see where you two ladies take off to from here. Thank you for inviting me.”

“You will always be invited.” Elaina smiled at Cass as she played with her necklace.

Cassidy went back to her seat, watching Elaina as she walked through the crowd, shaking hands and giving hugs with that stunning smile on her face. 

“I’m going to go to the bar,” she told King. “Do you want anything?”

“Just a beer.” He smiled at her, squeezing her hand. “You know what I like.”

As Cassidy made it up to the bar she took a seat a few stools away from Elaina where she could just overhear her conversation with Chase through the buzz in the room.

“You’re going to get up here and dance with him like that as if you didn’t just tell me you would try to make things work with me, Elaina?”

“I don’t know, Chase. Are you going to keep telling me that those pills I found in my car aren’t yours? The one fucking promise you made me was to not keep going to pick shit up for your mom. Not only did you break that promise, but you did it with my vehicle while you were supposed to be running to the grocery store for me.”

“Hey. You don’t get to fucking run me. Being with me doesn’t mean that you get to tell me what I can do.”

“Both ways.” Elaina slammed her hand down on the counter as she glared at him. “If I can’t respectfully tell you that what you’re doing with your mom is wrong, then you don’t get to control how I behave with my best friend who was here before you and will still be here after you. If I can’t get you to stop going at it with your ex over a dog, then you don’t get to worry about me trying to protect my ex’s new girlfriend, and a very sweet friend of my own, from his bullshit.”

“You…You are going to get yourself killed,” he hissed at her.

“Mmm.” Elaina smiled at him. “Because meeting drug dealers at one in the morning is so safe, isn’t it, babe?”

“What are we doing?” Chase asked as he gave her a serious look. “Honestly, can you make our relationship make sense to me? Because we’re either fighting or fucking, Elaina, and I’m not enjoying it anymore.”

She let out a hysterical laugh that made people turn their heads in her direction. “Oh, I’m having the time of my life. Because, I’m on the other side, Chase. You need me for everything. I don’t need anyone for anything.”

“That has to be really lonely.”

She raised her drink to him. “That’s why we have alcohol, isn’t it? Drink enough and nothing bothers you.”

“There it is. Your problem, the problem you’re afraid to face.”

“I’m not afraid to face it. I just don’t have to. Look around. Whether I have six drinks tonight, or a dozen, I still have everything. I have everything, with or without you. Get in line or just get the fuck out of my life.”

“I love you.” He gave her a serious look. “I told you I loved you and I meant it.”

“People always say they love me. They would be crazy if they didn’t. What I learned is to not fall for it until they prove it. You haven’t proved it. You just proved to me that you’re great at leaving and coming back to me when it suits you.”

“Fuck.” Chase threw a wet rag down on the counter and laced his fingers behind his head as he watched Elaina walk away.

Bartenders scurried around him to provide drinks for customers, as he stood still as a statue, with Cassidy watching him.

“What do you want?” he asked his sister, as he looked at her and came out of his trance.

“A can of that seltzer and whatever you have on tap. I also want to know why you’ve lost your damn mind and managed to fuck things up with that woman. If all she wants is for you to cut contact with Ashton and to stop helping Mom, you should have ob o it.”

“If I don’t help Mom, she will try to do it herself and walk right into a death trap.“

“You’re not saving her!” Cassidy exclaimed with a look of disbelief on her face. “Listen, Mom got to where she is all by herself. And honestly, I will take care of Ashton for you if that’s what you want. But, if you love this girl, you need to listen to her.”

“I cannot love somebody who doesn’t want me to love her.” Chase nodded towards the dining room where Elaina had Thaden Lake locked in an embrace. “I’m afraid she’s taken and she doesn’t even know it. I am trying to phase things out with her without losing my job. It’s a cake walk. I will be able to afford the life I want if I keep working here, so I can’t piss off the chick who owns the place. That’s all I want. I also want to not be made out as the bad guy, because there is more to this story. I am trying to keep Elaina from ruining herself.”

Cassidy gave him a serious look. “If she’s on a path to self-destruction, you can’t save her, either. I just can’t believe that a twenty-one year old girl who has done all of this is as bad off as you claim.”

“She only sleeps when she drinks.” Chase gave his sister a wide-eyed nod. “If she doesn’t drink she stays up all night wandering around her house. She eats, but just enough. She breaks down over nothing. She thought that this place would fix everything. She thought that this place would get her mom off of her back and give her room to breathe, but she’s deeper than ever and that girl is drowning. Everyone close to her is just too blind to see it because she puts on a good show, but you can’t hide the truth from somebody who sleeps in the same bed as you. You can’t have the man who sees you naked convinced that the perfectly straight lines on your thighs are from a cat that you don’t even fucking own. She is not okay. I am telling you right now that if she doesn’t figure something out quickly, you are watching the horrific ending of one of the most promising women that Pepper’s Ferry has ever seen, and it’s all because Elaina is fighting a war against herself.”

“It sounds like you’re telling me the story of two messed up people who could have a beautiful life together, if they’d just figure out how to love themselves so that they could love each other. And that is a tragedy, brother.”


Nicole Pacer grew up on Pacer Hill, but she never felt like she belonged until she grew close to Elaina. Besides the Hart family, who adopted her after her father was convicted of murdering her mother and had enough decency to sign away his parental rights, Elaina was the first one to really embrace her, and make her feel like Pacer Hill was her home.

Even after marrying Emmet Pacer, the oldest of the Pacer siblings from the hill, and having her daughter, there were moments when Nicole felt she was living somebody else’s life. That feeling seemed to completely dissolve when Elaina entered a room, though. Elaina’s confidence and strength rubbed off on her whenever they were around each other, and Nicole felt like she could kick down a door if the moment called for it.

The morning of the baby shower, Elaina entered Georgie’s with Thaden by her side. They both had coffees in their hands as she laughed at something he said and pushed the man sideways.

“Hey you two,” Amy said, smiling at the sight of them together.

Everyone smiled at the sight of them together.

“Hey Mama Amy,” Thaden said, giving her a wave. “Sorry we are late. It’s my fault. I made her go eat breakfast with me.”

Elaina looked over her shoulder towards the first floor manager’s office, and looked back to her mom. “So, what are we doing?” she asked.

“Just getting the place decorated for Rae and Eli. We can get finished up here and have a break before we have to come back for the party.”

Elaina nodded, walking through the room as she said, “We need to organize all of these tables into a half circle so that everyone can see Rae open her gifts. The gift table should be up on the stage because it’s going to look better for pictures. I have a ‘Welcome Baby Elias’ sign being delivered any time now that we can hang up on the stage. And, I am going to get the sound system cued up with some fun songs, too. Thay, can you start folding up all of the black table cloths? The aqua colored ones in the back room can go out instead. Sylvie and her team should be here any second to start helping. I’ll be in my office for a second.”

“Hey, babe.” Nicole caught Elaina on the grand staircase as she walked up to the offices. 

“Mmm.” Elaina nodded up the steps as she continued walking.

“What’s wrong?” Nicole asked, once they finally made it into her office suite.

“Chase. We were drinking up at the Merlin House and we got into it last night. Ashton called his phone and I flipped out on him. Now, he’s not here to set up the bar for the guys coming to the diaper party, and I know that if he intended to mend things with me, he would be here. He would show up. He should just show up. I want him to show up, because he always does. He always shows up and if he doesn’t it just means that I really fucked up my first chance at loving somebody since Oliver.”

“If you were meant to be with him, it wouldn’t be so easy to fuck up.” Nicole sat down on the couch in Elaina’s office and stretched out her legs. “Your brother and I used to have huge fights. I would get so mad at him for turning down sex. Pissed at a level I can’t explain. It would just put me in the mood to slam doors, cupboards, everything. One time I messed up and I broke this picture frame that had a picture of him fishing with your dad when he was a little boy. He got so mad he opened his mouth and the words wouldn’t come out. I didn’t get it. It’s not like I ripped up the picture, you know. He calmed himself down and told me that the picture frame had sat on your dad’s desk at his work for twenty years, and I broke it in a fit I couldn’t explain to him. I felt so bad that I broke down and cried. I asked him not to leave me. If there is any reason to walk out on a newer relationship, that’s a great reason. One of the best. You have a woman who can’t control herself when she gets turned down…And she breaks something that’s so meaningful. I can’t say I would’ve stayed if the tables were turned, but he did. He did, and look at where we are now. These days I’m the one turning him down, and he has yet to throw a fit, although it would be rightfully earned.”

“Is there a point to this story other than some weird flex that you used to be super horny for my older brother?”

Nicole let out a snort as she clapped her hands together. “The point is that the right person loves you for your good and for your bad. If Chase can’t figure out how to love the worst bits of you, then he has no entitlement to the best of you.”

“There is no best of me, Nick. Not right now.” Elaina’s expression became overwhelmed with frustration. “I am having a difficult season. I don’t know if it’s brought out by the alcohol or the fact that I can’t sleep, but I am not okay and Chase is getting a horrible version of me that I don’t even recognize. I can put on the face when I am here. I can make myself show up for family dinners and smile for pictures. I put in all of the work because I am waiting for the moment when I feel good enough. I am fucking broken, for no reason. Other than, I guess, the fucking gardener being out bringing up memories that I don’t want.”

“The gardener?” Nicole asked. “Are you talking about my father?”

“Damn it,” Elaina whispered. “So, I have to explain something that almost nobody knows. Your dad raped me when I was young. It’s why he lost his job here. I told my mom and she covered the whole thing up, and god I have worked so hard to keep that from you that it feels like a million pounds was just lifted off of my shoulders.” She let out a sigh of relief, as she focused on her fingernails. 

“Laney,” Nicole whispered with a look of horror on her face.

“I know. I’m sorry. I am so sorry. As if the man hasn’t done enough, now you have to hear this? I get it. I get it if you want to walk out of here and never talk to me again. But, I also know that I love you with my whole heart, Nick. I love you, Thaden, and Robby so fucking much…But, I can’t keep this as my dirty little secret anymore. It’s eating me alive.”

“He’s a monster.” Nicole stared at Elaina with a blank look on her face. “My father is just a fucking monster. He should be dead. He should’ve been the one that died. He is so fucking sick…And he scared us all into silence so that we would never say anything. Do you know how much power you have to have to silence three little girls? Who knows how many others there are.”

“What do you mean three little girls?”

“He did it to me. I told my mother and that’s the reason I was staying at my friend’s house the night that he killed her. She was going to confront him. And Jenna? Goodness, he fucked her up so bad that she actually blocked it all out, until she didn’t. Until she couldn’t. He started writing her letters and it came flooding right back to her. It’s all in her diary. Rae read it to me that night I found her destroying her room at the Merlin House. It is the reason Jenna is dead. She is another one of his victims, except she’ll never get to see any justice.”

“This is overwhelming,” Elaina whispered, her hand shaking as she took a sip of her coffee and tears slid down her cheeks. “I don’t know if I should be pissed off, heartbroken, or relieved that I don’t have to be alone in this.”

“You were never alone,” Nicole promised. “You are never alone, Elaina Pacer.”

“Mmm.” Elaina forced a smile at her. “I think that’s part of the problem. I am never alone but there is hardly ever a person who really wants to hear what I say. I’m too loud. I take up too much space. It’s so much easier to push me back into a corner and pretend like I never said what I said. I’ve told my mom a million times I need her to back off of me, and every time I say it, she just goes into this gushing fit about how proud she is of me, and how I can do whatever I want. What happens when I really do what I want, Nick?”

“What do you want?”

“Mmm.” Elaina smiled at her. “Even I am too terrified to say that out loud, because if I don’t get it, I’ll be crushed.”

“So, if you could do something right now to get you closer to what you want, what would you do, Elaina?”

She smiled at Nicole. “Rebuild my backbone that people have spent years breaking down. It starts there. That’s why I’m spending thousands of dollars in therapy every month. If only I could stop undoing it with the alcohol, right? I am my own worst nightmare.”

“So, get out of your way, babe. Get out of your way and tell him you love him. You don’t know how to love anyone else because it has always been him, and we both know that’s the truth.”

“Fuck!” Elaina exclaimed with a growl in her gravelly voice.

“Nothing worth doing is easy.”

“Stop with your inspirational quotes on posters hanging on school walls. They never did a thing for anyone.”

Nicole laughed as Elaina paced across the room.

“I need to get the playlist done for the shower.”

“Okay,” Nicole agreed with a nod. “Do you want me to send Thaden up here?”

Elaina laughed at her, before a scowl formed on her pretty face. “Please don’t turn into another person telling me what I should be doing. You’ve never done that to me, and I already have enough of that in my life.”

“Except, I’m telling you what you want. You just won’t admit it.” Nicole walked out and closed the door behind her before heading back downstairs.

She stopped at the bottom to see Chase hard at work behind the bar, getting everything set up for the party that evening. She looked at Thaden, watching him flirt with a member of Sylvie’s team. She sunk down into the staircase, because she knew she was looking at a fire waiting to ignite.

Written by Ava McClure

The RPH Fiction is a series of posts giving you a deep dive into what will become one grand story. Posts are made once a week, sometimes more often, but never less.

Click here to support RPH!

A huge thank you to anyone who is following along. Every one of you are a stepping stone to accomplishing my goal. Email me at alwaysbemygirl2021@gmail.com with any of your thoughts.


1 Comment

  1. This is an emotional installment. Nicole’s father did a lot of evil. I hope Elaina gets her life in order and quits sabotaging herself with alcohol. Good read!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s