This is where it all begins. The story of the Harper family and their friends in the city of Harpers Falls. Here we meet the patriarch, Richard Harper, his family, and extended family, most notably, Michael Harper; his twin, Michelle Wainwright; Michael's first wife Shelby Whitehead Harper; and their children, most notably, Dylan Harper and Sheila Wainwright, as their adventures begin.
Scene and background Edit
To outsiders (those not from New England), the community of Harpers Falls, Massachusetts is like any New England town. The community is relatively known for it's private boarding school, Harper Academy. Harper Academy was founded by Winthrop Harper, who also founded Harpers Falls and the family business, Harper Industries.
Harpers Falls is located on the falls of the Sciutiate River, a half-hours drive, between Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. As close as it was to Boston, it was considered a part of Boston's South Metro area. Thereby, it was a southern suburb of Boston.
The school is located on what was once the first estate of the Harper family, and the current descendents of the Harpers are still involved in the school and the community to this day.
Richard Harper is the head of the family. He is the current headmaster of the academy, although the job of the headmaster will soon be passed to one of his sons; married to Violet Harper (born Violet Wheeler), who was also from one of the most powerful families in town. This marriage, while started passionately, is now more of a marriage of convenience between the two most powerful families in Harpers Falls, the Harpers and Wheelers.
Violet's family included her mother, Cassandra, who ran Wheeler's, one of the few department stores that wasn't owned by a chain, but was also in fear of closing down, as most people went to shop in nearby Boston. Violet's father, Carl, died when she was a little girl; and she has three older siblings, Jefferson, Joyce and Patricia. Jeff, who is unmarried, lives in New York, Joyce lives in Boston and Patricia lives in Florida with her husband, William Lambert and her four children, Roger, Alicia, Kip and Caitlyn.
Richard and Violet have six children, Michael, the oldest, a member of the Academy's board of trustees; the one slated to become the new school's headmaster and an English teacher, married to Shelby Harper (born Shelby Whitehead, a girl he met while he was a student at Harvard, a girl whom he despised who would rope him into marriage) who worked as a press secretary for the school's communications office, they have three children, Dylan, Aileen and Rosemary; Michael's fraternal twin sister, Michelle Wainwright, an instrumental music teacher at the academy, married to a real estate agent named Joseph Wainwright, and mother of Christopher and Sheila (Dylan, raised by Michael is Sheila's fraternal twin brother, although only the family knew that); fraternal twins Aaron and Jason, both unmarried, and currently continuing education students at Harvard; Erica, also unmarried, a news reporter in Boston. Another daughter, Samantha, was a model currently living in Europe.
Michael's eldest son, Dylan Harper, was kind of the free-spirit of the Harper family. Always having had a bit of free-spiritedness and independence (a trait he shares with his mother, who is not Shelby, in fact Michelle is his real mother, but Michael raised him on Michelle's request), he was castigated by his younger half-sister, Aileen. While Rose admired her brother's independent and free-spirited ways, Aileen had no use for her brother, and has done everything possible to undermine him. In contrast, he is closest to his oldest cousin, Sheila.
Although independent, he has the utmost respect for his grandfather, Richard. To the highly sensitive Dylan, Richard is his sounding board and his rock of support. He also loves his grandmother, Violet. And despite his ways, he looks to his parents for advice. Michael didn't always understand his free-spirited ways, but he knows he means well, and doesn't deliberately set out to hurt others, to him, also, and to his credit, he loves his family and that means the world to him.
Dylan's closest bond was to his "cousin", Sheila. She was as free-spirited and independent as her son, and the two had a bond that was unmistakable. Shelby sometimes tended to smother him, but to Dylan, his mother meant the world to him.
Aileen, meanwhile, has no liking for her older brother, Dylan, and also brazenly bullies her shy sister, Rose. She aims to be the head of Harper Industries. She is also one of the more materialistic people in all of Harpers Falls. Her best friend is Hannah Anderson, one of her fellow debutantes (they came out at the same debutante party at the Harpers Falls Country Club), who also delights in snobbing and bullying those beneath them. Aileen is one of the most popular and most feared students at Harper Academy.
These two are a troublesome match and gained their power by fear; and also Aileen using the Harper name to get what she wants, which is often. Besides her hatred for her siblings, she also has caused trouble for her cousins, Christopher and Sheila Wainwright. Unlike Dylan, who doesn't hurt anyone, with his free-spirited ways, Aileen has no qualms about hurting people often with the most vicious cruelty.
Rosemary, or Rose, as she is more often called, is the youngest of the Harper children. She isn't as grasping, evil and vindictive as her older sister, or as free-spirited and sensitive as her older brother, whom she worships, she is more middle of the road and agreeable. She tries to be the peacemaker between her warring older siblings, a lot of times siding with Dylan. Rose attends Harper Academy, and is smart and very popular, although she is rather modest. She is a fan of history and her pride and joy is her family tree, which she studies every day. Her tendency to play peacemaker makes her a lot like her Aunt Michelle.
Michelle Harper Wainwright works as an instrumental music teacher at Harper Academy; having played in the Boston Symphony Orchestra when she was younger, hence her love for instrumental and classical music. She is also a peacemaker, much like her niece, Rose, having had to interject herself between fights between her twin brother, Michael and their youngest sister, Erica.
She is married to Joe Wainwright, a real estate agent in Harpers Falls, although he also works in Providence. She has some concerns about her husband, whom she thinks is too close to his secretary, Marie Sanborne. She is a wonderful mother to her two children, Christopher, a student at Harvard, much like his uncles Aaron and Jason; and Sheila, a student at Harper Academy.
Chris, named after a close friend of his father's, was a good natured and smart individual, but also has a relationship with his roommate, Alex Warren. While Joe and Michelle and the entire Harper family know that Chris is gay, this has also made him a target of his snobbish cousin, Aileen Harper, who hates him not just for his sexual orientation, but for just existing.
His good natured and kindhearted sister, Sheila, who was named for one of Michelle's best friends who she worked with when she was in the symphony, is also aware of her brother's sexual preference, knows that it is his life, prefers to live and let live and loves him just the same. She attends Harper Academy and is close to her cousins Dylan (who is really her twin brother) and Rose; which also makes her a target of the evil Aileen.
Aaron and Jason, Michael and Michelle's twin brothers, are 35 and are in school at Harvard. (Michael and Michelle are both 42) and were the second set of twins for Violet. The Wheelers were known for their birthing of twins; the Harper sets were from the same generation.
The two took online courses at first and are now in the continuing adult education program. They also live in Boston, and are rarely, if ever, in Harpers Falls. They share a house that their parents own with their younger sister, Erica, who is 33. She works in the news department at a Boston Television station, and sometimes hosts a public affairs program. Like her twin brothers, she doesn't go to Harpers Falls, except for family occasions.
Their other sister, Samantha, lived in Paris, where she worked as a highly successful fashion model. Her harrowing schedule didn't always allow her to come back to Harpers Falls, and kept in touch with everyone online, whenever she could. When she wasn't modeling, she was taking care of her young daughter, Audra and her son, Shawn.
The clashing wills between this large family comes to a head when word comes to everyone about the death of family matriarch Violet Harper.
At Rise: Edit
One crisp autumn day in Harpers Falls, Violet Harper died in her sleep; Richard fell into sadness, and then called the entire family. Everyone was grief-stricken. Harper Academy was closed for the day. And all the family members converged on Harpers Falls. Jason, Aaron, Erica and Chris, along with his roommate and lover, Alex drove from Boston; Patricia Lambert and her family came up from West Palm Beach; Jeff flew in from New York to meet up with his family; and the others converged on the Harper mansion located on the grounds of Harper Academy. Samantha had been on a photo shoot in Nice, and couldn't attend, but she sent a lovely floral setting. Shawn and Audra hadn't been able to attend either, since they could not be pulled from school.
Dylan looked unusually conservative in a plain suit and tie, and was was grieving his grandmother's death. Rose was trying her hardest to comfort him (as he had taken her death hardest. Despite his independent nature, he was also the most sensitive and kind-hearted person of all). Meanwhile, Aileen and Shelby are arguing.
AILEEN: So what if Grandmother's dead?! We have no call to be at the funeral!
SHELBY: Of course, we do, Aileen. She is a big name in the town!
AILEEN: Mother, how can you say that a family funeral is more important than seeing Brad Pitt on the big screen! And the best part is he will be there in person!
SHELBY: Aileen, you know we would allow you to go to a movie on other days, but this is your grandmother's funeral, we should all be there! Your grandmother was a major name in the community
AILEEN (rolling her eyes in disgust): Yeah yeah yeah! Don't remind me! All the while, dear brother Dylan, that loser, will be crying like mad! Such an airhead he is! All the talk about family! Give me a break! Same with Rose and dear cousins Christopher and Sheila! Why bother?!
MICHAEL: Aileen, your plans with Hannah will have to wait! You will attend your grandmother's funeral! That is final!
AILEEN: Oh, all right! .
All the while, while the pastor was saying the service, she glared at her whole family.
AILEEN (to herself): None of these losers mean anything to me! Look at my loony brother and sister, sobbing as if she meant anything, and my stupid cousins as well! I swear, I wish I could get out of this place and go meet Hannah! Hmmmmmm, maybe I still can.
(She turns to her mother)
SHELBY: What is it, dear?
AILEEN: I need to go to the restroom.
SHELBY: All right.
(Aileen leaves the sanctuary, and she runs outside, and gets her phone out. She calls Hannah.)
AILEEN: Yeah, I got out of that funeral real easily! Yeah, they won't know what is going on, are you ready to go?
HANNAH: I'll meet you at the church road, and we can go into Boston.
Two minutes later, the two met up at the corner of Wellesley and Scituate, and they took off giggling.
Scene two Edit
While Aileen and Hannah were heading to Boston (so nobody could trace them in Harpers Falls), Dylan spoke the eulogy for his grandmother. As he tried to keep from breaking down, he spoke about his grandmother's business sense; but at the end, he broke down, and stumbled into his mother's arms.
Shelby held Dylan as he sobbed. Michael, who wasn't usually affectionate, put his arms around Dylan as he cried. Michael and Shelby knew that, in spite of Dylan's independence, he thought highly of his family. Rosemary comforted Dylan, as did Chris and Sheila. Michael wondered what was taking Aileen so long, but thought nothing of it.
Later on, the family had a huge meal at Richard's home. Dylan was quiet, which was unusual for the normally gregarious young man. Rose took her brother's hand and squeezed it, knowing that she understood. Sheila was regaling the family with a memory of her and her grandmother when they went shopping in Boston when she was nine. The family thought it cute that Sheila had tried to protect her grandmother from a bus; however, the bus had stopped. Sheila laughed and so did the others. Even Dylan gave his cousin a smile at the happy memory. She gave him a wink and showed him the heart sign.
Meanwhile, everyone wondered where Aileen was. Since she had never returned from the bathroom at the church, everyone was wondering if she had sneaked off for that movie she wanted to see with Hannah. They called the Anderson house, and they hadn't seen either one of them.
Jason and Aaron had hunted all over town for her, and couldn't find them. Chris and Alex were somewhere talking; Richard was calling the state police hunting for Aileen. A few minutes later, Aileen sauntered in, her face full of undisguised glee.
Dylan looked shocked, everyone was quiet, even Sheila looked frozen in fear as she saw her MIA cousin as she came into her grandfather's house.
AILEEN: Well, don't stop talking on my account! I just wanted you drips to know I got what I wanted anyway.
She began her tirade by ripping into her brother and sister, calling them a couple of losers, which set off Dylan to crying again. Aileen then slapped Sheila (she quickly recovered and sensing Dylan's pain, ran to him and comforted him); and then blabbed the secret about Chris and Alex.
AILEEN (loudly gleeful): If it were up to me, those two fruits are probably kissing somewhere!
Chris and Alex were ashamed. Michelle, Chris's mother, glared at Aileen,
MICHELLE We already knew that he was gay, Aileen, How dare you expose it for all to see?
AILEEN: I was only protecting the family,
DYLAN: No, the only one you were trying to protect was yourself! Whose business is it anyway?! Certainly not yours! Chris can sleep with whomever he wants to, whether you like it or not! You can't be playing protector of the family and heap scorn on it as you always do!
RICHARD: If you must know, Aileen, Chris had talked to me and his parents some weeks ago about who he was, and I already knew it! So did everyone else, Chris had talked with his uncles and his Aunt Erica some weeks after he talked to me, so we ALL knew that he was gay! Sorry to rain on your parade, Aileen, but we all knew it before you did!
Aileen's face drained of color. This wasn't the way her plan was supposed to work!
MICHAEL: "I'll deal with you later, Aileen.
DYLAN: I wanted to apologize for my sister's snide words and her lack of good tact.
CHRIS: Thanks, Dyl, I didn't want this to come out the way it did, especially after Grandmother's funeral.
DYLAN: Don't worry, buddy, Aileen shouldn't have done what she did, and she will pay for her disrespect. May I say that you two make a great couple?"
(Chris smiles, so does Alex)
ALEX: Thanks, Dylan, I never thought that your family would like us.
DYLAN (grinning): Aileen notwithstanding, we're a pretty good bunch.
With Dylan's help, Chris and Alex joined into the family, where Chris's mother and father, as well as the rest of the family made Alex feel welcome. The only one who didn't approve was Aileen, who sulked in the corner. Her triumph had been tarnished, how was she to know that her stupid cousin had talked to everyone else before she spilled the beans. Instead of him being rejected, as she had hoped to be, she saw him and Alex being welcomed and accepted.
Later on, back at Michael's house, he and his family lived in one of the guest houses on the large Harper estate, he and Shelby sat down with Aileen, and they were not happy with her. Dylan had offered to drive Chris and Alex back to Harvard, and Rose and Sheila went with them. Aaron, Jason and Erica had gone back to Boston earlier in the afternoon, after Aileen's rant; and Patricia and Jeff were staying overnight at the mansion to help Richard with the rest of Violet's belongings. William had thought of taking the children to the Boston Common for the day. Dylan and Sheila later joined their cousins for the trip to Boston Common. This allowed Dylan to spend time with his favorite cousin, Roger. The two boys had been close since they were children. Making sure they were safe were Sheila, Alicia and Caitlyn.
There had always been talk around the family that Sheila and Dylan's bond was similar to the bond that their parents, Michael and Michelle had as twins. Dylan and Sheila had been born on the same day and they had connected from the moment they were born. Shelby and Michelle had fed their children at the same time, and they had their naps together, and often played together. They were best friends and close cousins. However, little did anyone (except those within the family) know that Dylan and Sheila WERE twins!
SHELBY: What you did was disrespectful and vicious, you made fun of your brother, humiliated your cousin and showed no respect for your grandmother, and you have to be punished for this!
AILEEN: If Dylan had done this, you wouldn't have done anything!
MICHAEL: Don't drag Dylan into this, Dylan may be free-spirited, but he also holds family close. He knows that he means a lot to this family, although at times he can be off in the clouds, but he is still a part of this family, and he wouldn't have humiliated Chris the way that you did!
AILEEN: Oh, please, Father, Dylan is nothing but a stupid little bleeding heart!
SHELBY: Stop it, Aileen! I won't tolerate your savaging your brother.
MICHAEL: That does it, Aileen! You're grounded until further notice!
AILEEN: That trick won't work on me, Father, I am eighteen years old, and a woman!
MICHAEL: You live in this house, you live under my rules! Fine, I can't ground you, but I can cut off your credit cards!
AILEEN: Don't do that! I'm sorry I humiliated Chris, and everyone else.
SHELBY: She apologized, Mike, That should be the end of it."
MICHAEL: All right, Aileen, you can go.
(Aileen smiled, and walked off to her room. Her smile full of evil)
AILEEN: You made a fool out of me once, Father, she thought, but I will win, just you wait.