Welcome to Brook Haven Ranch! We are a 18+ premium role playing community set in Trader's Bend, Montana. Our concept is the culmination of twenty years of plotting and planning. We feature a rich, developed program in which many troubled characters thrive. Our community is one of the best on jcink and we look forward to you becoming a part of it!
Healing Horses & Troubled Teens since 1995
Not every teenager has the benefit of growing up in a loving, happy home. Some are victims of abuse, neglect, a system that shuffles them from foster home to foster home. Brook Haven Ranch was established in 1995 as a refuge for abused and neglected horses -- and teenagers who needed a second chance in life and the opportunity to become something more than society expects of them.
Rachel came to Brook Haven on a referral from her brother. She served eighteen months in juvenile detention and upon her release, her parents relinquished their parental rights to her entirely. Her life looks like one bad decision that influenced the everything, but the truth is that she's made a lot of mistakes, from having a baby at the age of twelve to holding up a liquor store when she was barely fifteen. At the end of the day, what she wanted the most was her parents' attention, and they were never capable of giving her that.
The ranch only knows part of the truth about Rachel; That she was arrested for holding up a liquor store, that she was difficult in juvy, that she was prone to fights with other inmates, that she was difficult to control (or just plain "difficult"). Her parents and the authorities never revealed the truth of her pregnancy or the child she was forced to give up for adoption, the circumstances of her family or the fact that her parents didn't treat her very well.
She's come to Brook Haven Ranch with no hope or expectations of something good coming of her experience with juvenile detention. Her natural reaction is to buck the system and to fight back, but Rachel is exhausted by her experiences and all she wants is a better life for herself.
A tried and true "horse girl," this is exactly the right place for Rachel, who has missed being around horses while she was in juvy. Their presence has surprised her, and they've given her an outlet for a lot of what's going on inside of her (because despite it all, she's less angry and more hurt than most people seem to realize).
Full Name: Rachel Vanderbilt
Nickname/Alias: Rae (used by friends and close family only)
Date of Birth: July 22nd, 2001
Current Age: 16
User Group: Tenderfoot
Eye Color: Brown
Hair Color: Blonde
Weight: 105 lbs
Scars or Marks:
A series of silver criss-cross scars which one can only really see in certain lights which cross her upper thighs.
Stretch marks on hips, abdomen, and breasts from a very young pregnancy.
Self-Harm scars up and down both forearms, most of them thin.
Tattoos or Piercings
Face Claim: Julia Stiles
MBTI Type: INFJ
horses, hummingbirds, reading, books, the smell of books, used book stores, big cushy armchairs, puppies, kittens and cats, writing poetry, warm blankets, her bed, jewelry, designer blue jeans, knitting, aluminum knitting needles, hand-knit sweaters, woolen socks, mittens, fingerless mittens, fingerless gloves, knitting mittens, crocheting, baby blankets, children, new baby smell, trucks, sports cars, softball, baseball, watching basketball, tall men, blonde men, marc (most of the time), thunderstorms, being alone, show jumping, cross-country, eventing, the smell of leather, dark chocolate, cooking
loud noises, being left alone, very hot weather, blood, getting sick, very sweet foods, western riding, wannabe cowboys, posers, fake people, her parents, people who remind her of herself, adoption, positive adoption language, people who make out that adoption is "beautiful", liars, con artists, restriction, juvenile detention, people who pretend to care, having to watch her mouth, doing chores, being forced to serve other people, doing more work than other people, school, home work, feeling stupid, failing in school, adults being "disappointed" in her, letting people down, not having friends, struggling with relationships
always honest (never lies!), intuitive, excellent with children, patient, hard-working, level-headed, pragmatic, committed, loyal to friends, animal-lover, excellent singing voice, physically strong, emotionally strong, able to make tough decisions when necessary
stingy, impatient, impulsive, self-loathing, self-harming, depressed, distant, vague, lonely, clingy, trouble with boundaries, emotionally scarred, emotionally sensitive, over-sensitive, pushy, loud-mouthed, foul-mouthed, aggressive, timid, broken, high expectations, cynical
snakes, fire, losing her teeth, public humiliation, drowning in shallow water, large open places, crowds of people, public speaking, disappointing teachers, breaking a leg
Secrets: she had a baby at the age of twelve years old and was forced to give the child up
Vices: alcohol, self-harm, food addiction
Aspirations: make it out of high school, maybe get adopted
Divergence: Major Depression, Self-Harming, Possible Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD
Risk Factors: Parental Abandonment, gave birth at age 12 (child surrendered for adoption)
Current Treatment: None
Brook Haven Referral
Referred by: Older brother Marc
Referred for: Parental abandoment following 18-month Juvie Sentence
Problem Areas: aggression toward humans, major depression, possible borderline personality disorder
Romantic Orientation: Heteroromantic
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Relationship Status: Single
Significant Other: None
Career/Occupation: Brook Haven Student
Education: 9th Grade
Dream Job: Horse Trainer
Home Town: Raleigh, North Carolina
Religion: Agnostic, but hopeful
Preferred Riding Style: English
Disciplines: Show Jumping, Hunter/Jumper, Dressage
Riding Strengths: Excellent Seat, Good Equitation
Riding Weaknesses: Horse/Rider communication
This is Just the Prologue
Every life, however long or short, is nothing more than a series of stepping stones. These stepping stones do not, however, flow easily from Point A to B to C and so on. They form a tangled web, each point in the journey connecting itself to other points along the way with the soul living the life caught somewhere in the middle of all of it, like a spider's dinner.
It is this way for all of us -- every last one of us. An event here or an event there may seem insignificant to one person, while to the person experiencing the event, it is an explosion in their lives. That is the way I want to tell your story, Rachel. I want our readers to see how your life, and its significant moments as well as its seemingly insignificant moments, all come together to bring you to this one place: Brook Haven Ranch.
You're starting over here, a fresh start, a new universe, a new place where you can learn to be yourself all over again. This is a place where you can heal from the damage that has been done to you in the past, recover from the wounds of your own real world, and can seek the peace and solace of living through it all again to reach a different (or perhaps the same, how will we know until we get there?) point in your life's journey.
I love you Rachel. Let that be known, dear reader: This girl is someone I care a great deal about, and I want her to have this chance, to take this chance to start over, to live through it again, and to find something perhaps different waiting for her on the other side.
Before There was You
Your story, as many do, begins before you were even born. It begins with your brother Marc, nearly a young man in his world by the time that you came along, a strapping young boy of thirteen years who already had seven years of boarding school under his belt by the time your parents conceived -- and chose to have -- you.
There is more to this story, Dear Rachel, and I will come to that in a moment, because I want to tell the story of how you came to be, in half a dozen ways, both big and small, but for now, let's talk about Marc. Let's talk about your parents, and what they wanted from him. From you.
Marc was your parents' dream. Your mother, a socialite whose parents had died when she was only eleven years old (plane crash, or so you've been told. I find this unlikely and believe your mother might be making this story up to hide some darker truth. We all have our dark truths, don't we, Rachel? You know my secrets as I know yours), needed a son to "consecrate" her marriage. To "consecrate" means to make something sacred, or holy. In your mother's case, she believed that if she gave your father a son, that his family would accept her.
They'd been married four years before Marc came along. It was a long time spent trying to get pregnant, and I suspect, as I think you do as well, that your mother might have terminated a pregnancy or two. Who could blame her? Your father had been cast out of his family, disinherited by his parents (who might have left hundreds of millions of dollars to him if he had only "behaved himself" according to your mother), and your mother believed he had lied to her. People who lie often believe that others are lying too. I don't suppose not lying makes it any easier on you though, does it? How many people do you trust, Rachel? Am I the only one?
Marc was, from the very beginning, what they had always wanted. Precocious and quiet, he tested on the "gifted" spectrum when your parents applied to that prestigious pre-school. Your father, or so I've heard, argued with your mother that they didn't have the money for the school, but she always managed to find it somewhere. He accused her of withholding funds, having a secret store of money, but she denied it. I believe that the truth is that her parents had left her a trust fund. However they died, they were certainly dead and she had come from money too. Money doesn't always indicate an easy past, as you well know.
Your parents struggled in those days. You weren't born yet to remember, but your father drank a great deal and jobs were difficult for him to find. He had a reputation, and his disheveled appearance didn't help things. So your mother applied Marc to the pre-school all on her own, and he was tested "gifted." It was enough to get your father to clean up his act, however temporarily. Alcohol had never been his only vice: Cocaine and Heroin were too easy to get a hold of in the suburbs, and he had to enter a residential treatment facility to work his way off of them.
You didn't know that, did you? I'm sorry, I shouldn't have brought it up.
Before there was you, there was Marc: An outstanding little boy who surpassed all of your mother's expectations and who convinced your father to seek treatment, stop using the drugs, and to shave once a day. Marc changed your parents' marriage, but he didn't change who they were. I'll get to that in a moment.
Because before there was you, there was a little girl named Toby. She's younger than you, but she existed before you, at least in my imagination. She existed a long time before you.
Toby's always been difficult. She's not only tough to understand -- a complex person with enough neurodivergence to make my own head spin, but so talented that I sometimes fear she's over-played -- but she doesn't do well with people. People like her, of course; They've always liked her. Everybody likes Toby. It drives you crazy, doesn't it? Because people don't like you. But we'll get to that in a moment.
In the beginning, Toby needed somebody who didn't like her. At that time, she was one of a small handful of people who existed inside of my head. Not the only one, by any stretch of the imagination. She had (and she has) Zach, and Lily, though they have never gotten along and probably never will, either. But you? You came along to hate her. That was your purpose: To hate Toby.
She was your foundation, the groundwork my imagination laid to bring you into being. Your early personality was based on hers, but with more boldness, more brass, more anger and frustration.
More of me, Rachel. You came into being to be more of me.
Who knew that you and Toby would become best friends, virtually inseparable in my mind?
That is the first stepping stone of your story, the first thing that will begin to take you to where you need to go -- Brook Haven Ranch. I promise you that I will talk about these things -- both your reality, the story of you, the history of your life, and my reality, the story of how you came to be, the story of why I choose to write for you when I could keep you all to myself.
Reader, please do not think me crazy, or be discouraged. Rachel knows that she is a very real part of me, and that she is a very real part of my story. In some ways, hers is my story, though not in the finer details. If you continue to read, you will come to understand me in ways you might not have thought possible. A sort of "roleplayers anonymous" isn't it?
A Child is Not an "Accident"
You were born on a hot summer's day in July. The air conditioning in the hospital where you were born was on the fritz, in and out, and your mother had been in labor for fourteen hours before you would finally make your appearance. Her doctor said that you were a "stubborn one" and perhaps that is one of the things that stuck with her on those few occasions that she deigned to spend her time with you: You were stubborn, you would never change, and she couldn't expect you to do things the way that she wanted you to.
Your mother was something of a control freak in those days. I know her better now, though you do not. We will leave that story for another time, perhaps.
By the time that you came along, your mother had given your father two strapping boys. Marc was thirteen years old and a student at a boy's school in Washington, DC. Jake was only eleven months old. Perhaps that was why your parents didn't want you. To be honest with you, I'm not altogether sure, but I know that your mother cried the day that she found out that she was pregnant with you, and that she leaned heavily on your father. In the back of my mind I often wonder whether you have the same father as your siblings -- both your brothers and your sister. You were the only child your mother hated from conception, the only child she truly did not want and it breaks my heart to think of how isolating and alienating that must have been for you.
After all, it was isolating and alienating for me to be given up for adoption as a baby whose mother never held her. My mother didn't hate me, of course. I know that now, but when you were born in my mind (a sort of second birth), I didn't know that. She didn't want me, but she surely didn't hate me. Maybe that's why I want so badly for your relationship with your mother to improve. But that's a story for another time, a later date, and perhaps after you have the opportunity to be adopted by someone who does love you. Let me get back to your story. I have every opportunity in the world to tell mine.
They (your parents, that is) wouldn't know until later on that you weren't precocious like your brothers. Doctors had their suspicions about Jake from the time that he was fourteen months old, but it would take longer for them to ascertain that you just weren't as bright as Marc was. And neither, for that matter, was Jacob. He had his strengths though, and he played well with other students. Nannies liked him, now that your father was working steadily and able to afford to take care of his children -- even to send his son to an expensive boarding school in DC. Jacob loved to ride horses from the time that he was three years old, and that was, perhaps, one of the reasons that you have grown up on horse back.
Blame your brother.
Or blame me, because I'm partially responsible for that. I love horses so intensely that it's difficult for me to imagine somebody inside of me, occupying my mind-space, who doesn't love horses.
But I digress.
Your mother hated you from the time that she conceived you. You were an accident, conceived too soon after your brother's birth, and I suspect with a man outside of your mother's marriage. You were unwanted, but by the time that she realized it, she was too late to terminate the pregnancy, or perhaps your father wouldn't let her. He was busy by then, working double time to make up for lost years on the job. I'm not sure what he did during your early years, but I know that later on he worked for a company that developed software. Professional software, not like video games, and no, it wasn't Microsoft. Your father wasn't that smart. He was never like Marc.
None of you were, I'm sorry to say. And that was what devastated your mother. By the time that she found out that you -- her first, and at the time only, daughter -- were merely average, she'd already discovered that Jake wasn't like your older brother either. He was bright, precocious, eager to learn, but he was not gifted. He wasn't exceptional.
And you? Next to Marc, you were just plain dumb. I don't mean this to hurt you Rachel, mainly because I'm not speaking what's in my own mind; I'm speaking what I know to be in yours, because I can feel you and hear you just as clearly as I can see feel and hear my own thoughts and feelings. It's amazing, isn't it?
But let me go on. There isn't a particular moment that I'm getting to here, but I don't mean to talk about your mother as though it was a process of deterioration. She never liked you. You were never good enough for her, for her family, the one that she'd created. By five or six, Jake was an exceptional athlete, and Marc was off to college at the age of fifteen years old. You'd never prove your athleticism -- not up to this point, that is -- or your intellect, your academic prowess. You were then, as you are now, merely average.
She made sure that you knew, your mother did. She fed sibling rivalry the way that one might feed a favorite pet. Thanks to your mother, you learned to compete against Jacob, knowing that you would never be as good as he was. When you failed, she thrilled, and when you succeeded, she always had some way to tell you that you could be better. By the time that you were four years old, you already knew: You would never be good enough. They were difficult formative years, marked by the struggle to find a place where you belonged.
The one bright spot in those four years was your little sister, Leah. But I'll get to that in a moment, because I need you to see how you fit into my story as well, and how you fit into the scheme of this monster I have in my mind, the army of people who make themselves known to me and force me to write.
Like you, I wasn't particularly athletic, and as far as my parents were concerned, I was neither particularly beautiful nor was I particularly bright. In my case it was not an elder, but a younger, sibling who I rivaled, who my parents believed was superior to me, but I know the feeling all too well. It was impossible to be good enough: Something I know that you understand well.
And you had to be average in order for you to work for me, because Toby, the predecessor the first-born muse of a mind that is teeming with them, she was perfect. Intelligent and talented and exceptional and, in the original form which I have since discarded, no doubt a Mary Sue, overpowered by perfection and overburdened with despair. You had to offset that; You had to be painfully average, and so you were.
It will never cease to surprise me how often you manage to prove me wrong, but on this timeline, in this AU, you haven't done that yet. I plan to give you the time to prove them all wrong, but we'll get there. Later, when you have new friends and new confidants and new people to help you to find Rachel. To help me to find Rachel.
I love you. Don't forget that as you continue to read this.
It Wasn't Just a Party
Sometimes a single event can mean one thing to one person, and something else to another. You were eleven when it happened, a copy of your favorite book at the time (Flowers in the Attic) tucked up under your arm, your brown eyes wide with the amazement and wonder of the event. Of the season. I can picture you in your long red night gown with the bits of lace at the sleeves that scratched your wrists when you were a little girl, its high collar and the flat slippers with the soft soles that you loved so much. Those were a gift from your paternal grandmother, the first you ever got from her. Do you remember those? I'm sure that you do, now that I've mentioned it.
It was a week before Christmas, your mother's first big "do" since the money had begun to pour in. She'd lived rich, your mother, regardless of the amount of money your father had in the bank, but this was something different. For the first time in your life, your parents could afford this. The big house haunted you with whispers in every corner, and you longed for the structure and attention of boarding school when you were at home while longing for the comfort of your mother (who you knew even then had never loved you) when you were away at school. The big house meant nothing to you: It was just another place for your parents to ignore you and where you would long for school, and when you were away and thought of home, it was your parents and Marc you thought of, not the house itself.
Four walls are meaningless if you have nobody to spend it with.
Your mother was trying to fill the same void. I never understood that before, my darling, but I do now. Now I can see her as she was, as a lonely person whose own demons haunted her in every corner of that big house.
So she threw a party.
It was a big one, though not so much in the number of people who attended but more in the way that your mother threw it. You crouched on the balcony and looked down over the great room, made to appear like a ballroom with all its grandiosity. People had dressed in gowns and milled about eating catered food and drinking wine from tall glasses. The wine sparkled. Do you remember how you noticed that? It was the first time you'd ever seen champagne.
Marc was there, and Jake, only twelve years old. By then your eldest brother was grown. You were so proud of him! Do you remember seeing him in his suit, dressed up and looking so wise? And Jake, so lost, so confused, his eyes searching the crowds for something familiar? That was the first, and perhaps the only, time that you've felt sorry for your Irish twin.
Leah went too, only eight years old and dressed in a sparkling gown that your mother had had custom made for her. Every once in a while you looked for her in the crowd, and found her often with your mother, but always admired by the women who mingled in the great room of your new home. She talked to them, charmed them. They smiled when they talked to her, their cheeks heating with the flush of the wine and her words. Your sister knew how to compliment people, didn't she? She still does, doesn't she?
Dear reader, if you're following you might note that our Rachel is the only one of her siblings not invited to the party. The only sibling in her nightgown looking down on the party instead of dancing among the party goers. Think of her that way, as I'm sure she now thinks of herself, small and looking down on those people, all the food, and the music, and the dancing. Imagine how much she might have wanted to be part of that, only she wasn't allowed. And why? Because her mother didn't love her.
Because her mother was ashamed of her.
You remember, don't you Rachel? You were too dumb to go to the party. You weren't pretty enough. Nobody wanted to mingle with you. You'd only embarrass yourself. And you were fat. You'd never have fit in one of those pretty gowns like your sister did.
You believed them. Do you remember? You still do.
Understand, Rachel, that I need this memory for you. I need it because for a time, I was that child. I was ugly, unwanted, different than my sister, as you were different from yours. She got to do the things that I didn't, just as Leah (and Marc and Jacob) got to do the things that you didn't get to do. I was an outsider looking in on their lives. Perhaps they didn't dance, but I wanted to be part of them, and I was never good enough.
Rachel, I understand. I needed this from you because I needed someone to see me, years later. And in my writing, in the power of the words I can speak about you, I can tell my story in this way, too.
Besides, there was, as there always is, Toby. The talented, remarkable, amazing girl who everybody likes. And you had to be different. You had to offset her. And you had to have a reason to hate her, at least in the beginning. Gods, do you remember how you loathed one another? I do. Chasing one another around that kitchen, her with a spoon, you with a knife, and screaming at one another until someone came along to break it up. It makes me laugh now. Toby too, I suspect. Are you laughing? I gather you would be amused by this. It's hard to imagine you two as anything but friends, isn't it?
But you had to hate one another. You, Rachel, had to be different.
And so you were.
A Little Too Young
I want to say that the next part of this story in no way belongs to me, dearest Rachel, but when I think of the parallels between your life and mine it hits me square between the eyes that this one is a little bit too close to home. I'll get to that, of course, but I needed to know it myself for the telling, and so now I do.
You met Evan a few weeks after the party you spent peering through the banister railing down at your dancing family. Young, lonely, and starved for affection you fell into an inappropriate relationship too easily. He was your brother Jake's friend that year, someone he'd met at boarding school and brought home with him when Evan's mother and father were away on holiday. That's the story he told you then, and you believed it. It was too easy for a girl like you to believe that a parent might go away and leave their child behind them. We both know, now, that it was different than that. Evan's parents fought all the time. Neither of them were bad people, but they were bad for one another, and perhaps bad for Evan and his brother Kyle.
The reader doesn't need this information, but you know it, and I know it, and it's relevant to the story in as much as the reader might want to know who Evan is, and why he was there. He, too, was starved for attention, though for different reasons. His parents loved him -- there's little doubt of that, and he was close to his siblings as well. In him you saw a kindred spirit, someone neglected and left behind. It didn't matter that the two of you were different. Each of you filled a need that the other had.
One thing led to another. He was fourteen at the time, you were only twelve. Afterward neither of you spoke about it again, and you remained friends for the week or so he spent with you before you both went back to your respective boarding schools.
You were as close as two people could be. When you shared with him your feelings about missing out on the party, he told you that you were beautiful. When he shared with you his worry that he'd never make anything out of his life, you reminded him that he was smart. Between the two of you, you made one another feel good, even if it was only temporarily.
It was too early, too young for that first sexual encounter. Fortunately it would be the only one for a long, long time.
I promised that I would tell you how this relates to my own story, Rachel, because I need you to understand where you come from. For me, it wasn't my first -- not by a long shot, something which embarrasses me -- but I found myself in the arms of a man much older than me, and a similar, strange situation as well. It do to go into the details. They don't matter in this, but the important thing is that I've had that May-December romance. Twice now, if I'm honest. Two years is only a lot when you're twelve and fourteen, though, and you'll grow out of that. Maybe the two of you already have. That's something else we'll have to see for ourselves.
And this one -- you remember that I promised that I would do my best to tell you how everything connected in the way you came to be, didn't I? -- you had to take from Toby. It was her burden, too much innocence lost at too young an age. Only the details are different for her, more wrapped up in the horrors of child trafficking. It doesn't do to go into those details, either, but this next part will explain more.
Oh! The Shame!
You see, you became pregnant from that first encounter with Evan. Young and "stupid" as your mother called you when your school sent you home with a bulging belly and she slapped your face so hard that you bore the mark for nearly a week. "Stupid" for getting pregnant at twelve years old. "Stupid" because it was your brother's friend. "Stupid" because you didn't think about how it would make her look among her friends.
She sent you away. It was old fashioned, or so you thought at the time, to send a girl away because she'd become pregnant whens he was too young to take care of a baby on her own. Your mother and father conspired to send you to a home for young girls who found themselves in "difficult" situations. The home would take care of you, and later of the baby. Maybe she'd learned her lesson from her own earlier abortions, or maybe you were too far along to have the procedure done legally.
One way or another, you stayed in that home. The women there were kind to you, and to the other girls. You were the youngest, a pet of sorts among the others, and you kept to yourself in spite of the weekly activities the home had for the girls. You spent most of your time in your room with a skein of yellow wool and a crochet hook, creating a small yellow blanket that you believed you would take your baby home in.
You had no idea what they had in store for you.
And I'll get to that in a moment. Like you, I had no idea that my child would be taken from my arms. I won't go into the details. It's not something I can bear to think about for too long and I would prefer to leave it be.
You had to take this burden from me. It's the cornerstone of who you really are. Your great secret. Your deep, dark secret. Mine too. In this way, we are the most alike. The way people view you changes when they know that you've lost a child to adoption. I didn't want to be looked at that way, so I put it on you. It's still mine to carry, mine to bear, but you've helped me to get through this, Rachel, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.
The Small Yellow Blanket
The blanket went with the baby. You never got to hold your child, and nobody told you if it was a boy or a girl, so you've always referred to your child as "he" because you don't know. Someone took the child from your body and handed him to someone else, along with a small yellow blanket.
You went home not long after that, nearly thirteen years old and angry with the world. They hadn't listened to you. It was the middle of summer and you would start school in September at a new boarding school where nobody knew your shame. Your mother no longer spoke to you. Nobody knew that you'd had a child, and you didn't see Evan again, though Jake was home for the summer and reported that his friend was fine and staying with an uncle for that summer. It made you cry to hear him say it in that cold tone of voice.
In your mind, you hadn't changed: everybody else around you had.
Except that you had changed, hadn't you? You'd survived something that might have killed another person. Your child had been taken from you, and yet you still stood strong, your chin up, and looked your mother in the eyes as she shipped you off that autumn.
You didn't come back for two years.
Our connections are not something I want to talk about so publicly, Rachel, but you will see them here, no doubt. You know my mind, and you know my heart. I'm sorry that I put this on you, but I could no longer carry it all by myself, hiding this secret from everyone who asked. There are things, as my mother used to tell me, that we just don't talk about. Isn't that what your mother taught you? "Hush hush, Rachel. Don't tell them that." Always scolding like you were a little child, but by the time they took your child away from you, you were grown, weren't you? In your mind, you were grown.
And this is why, ultimately, you and Toby could be friends. I look forward to the world being ready to meet her.
You came back to North Carolina on your own. If you hadn't, Mother might never have had you back. Jake and Leah laughed in the dining room when you let yourself in the front, all faces turned to you, shocked that you were back. Had they forgotten about you? By that point you were about to be fifteen. Maybe they had.
You came back with a plan to make them notice you, to make them see. You had to do something drastic. They'd been ignoring you your entire life, and now you had to make sure that they knew the ache inside of you was too big for one person to bear.
It was easier to get a gun than you thought it would be. A bit of cash (you'd pilfered plenty from your roommate's purse over the preceding weeks) and someone who needed it, and you had a .38 in your hands. That gun was more than you needed to do the job.
You didn't want to kill yourself. You'd thought it through. All you needed was for them to find you with the gun and they would know that you were hurting. They would stop you before you could finish the job, and then they would love you. Once they stared your death in the face, they'd know how much they cared about you.
Only you didn't turn the gun on yourself. The risk was too great, and you realized it in time to avoid making a terrible, careless mistake. You didn't want to die. Death would only take you further from your child and not closer. It's not that you wanted to hurt somebody else either, but when you turned the gun on the clerk at the convenience store, you very nearly did. It was a moment that you will likely regret for the rest of your life. You surely regret it now.
The police arrived before things could get any worse. He lived, if only because your hands shook too much to aim properly and the bullet hit the wall three feet from his head instead of hitting him. They took you into custody, and you felt sure that your mother, your father, would arrive to bail you out, to take you home, to cover you.
They had the money for good lawyers.
But they wouldn't pay. Your mother turned her back on you, and your father followed her lead. The public defender assigned to you was new to the job, didn't care enough about you personally to do enough for you. After all, you were a daughter of a rich name, even if the father himself carried no wealth with him. Why should he put the effort into defending yet another spoiled rich kid? It would do little for his reputation, and after all, you'd done the crime. You broke down and blubbered your confession prior to trial then, on your attorney's advice, you pleaded not-guilty.
It would cost you eighteen months in Juvie.
I will admit here, Rachel, that in some ways my sentence was lighter than yours and in others it was heavier. I never went to jail (thank the gods!) but I will spend a lifetime wondering how things might have been different. You made mistakes which I did not, and I think in some ways that bundling up the guilt I feel for something I didn't do and placing that on you has helped me to understand my own situation better.
And we had the same lawyers, in half a dozen significant ways I won't get into. Just rest assured that I know how it feels to be abandoned by a system that ought to be defending you, and that I appreciate your being there to take the pressure of my memories from me. It makes it easier, knowing that you're there.
Post Traumatic Isolation
You withdrew from everyone, Rachel. Perhaps it was your aggression -- goodness knows your mouth has always gotten you into trouble, and those girls knew how to fight, didn't they? Maybe it was the fact that you never knew when to stop talking.
They tossed you into isolation ever opportunity they got. If we're honest, and I think that we can be honest about this, some of it was your name. People liked to see the rich girl "get it." You'd been "getting it" your entire life. Did I forget to mention? Your father gave up the heroin, the cocaine, but never the alcohol. It would turn out to be your own vice in your early teens, at boarding school. When he drank, he beat you, but not the way that one thinks of a father beating his son or daughter. He beat you with his belt, yes, but he preferred long, lean switches he cut from any one of the trees available in the yard.
Oh, yes. You'd been "getting it" your entire life. But they didn't know that, did they? In their mind, you were another entitled little rich kid who had acted out because she was bored. But you weren't bored, were you, Rachel? The racing thoughts, the flash backs to your tumultuous pregnancy, the sorrow of losing your child, these thoughts never left you. You were never at peace for long enough to be "bored." You'd never acted out due to boredom, you'd acted out because you were scared of being alone.
And so they isolated you, separated you from the other girls, put you somewhere with your own thoughts until you began to scratch at your flesh with your own fingernails until your forearms bled from the effort. If you could get your hands on a blade -- which at the time you could not -- you would have sliced your flesh open just to see the blood.
I've been through that too. It's the way that we both eat and eat and eat as though by eating we can comfort ourselves. And I must make the connection again because you had to be different than our anorexic Toby, didn't you? So you cut, and you scratched, and you eat yourself into oblivion. How you burn all those calories off, I'll never know.
They released you only after you'd served your full sentence. It was longer than most girls, and you'd spent most of it in isolation. By the time that it was done, you'd lost weight. Not because you wouldn't eat, but because there wasn't enough too eat in isolation. Your clothes no longer fit when they pushed you through those doors into the outside world.
Your parents should have been there. Marc should have been there. They'd not visited you in eighteen months incarceration, but you looked for them just the same.
Only it was a beefy police officer who grabbed you (was it just your imagination, or did he cop a feel?) and tossed you into the back of a marked car without any explanation.
We both know what happened after that, only some of the story hasn't been told. After that -- three hours on an airplane and two more in the car -- you arrived in Montana, and then, in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, you arrived in a place with a smell you thought you'd never smell again: Horse shit.
And maybe, just maybe you'll smile soon for the first time in a long time.
Like a Long Lost Friend
When Rachel got into trouble with the law, her parents punished her as hard as they possibly could. Not only did they refuse to hire defense for her at trial, but they sold her horse: Naut (barn name for Six Nautical Miles). That horse had been through everything with her and she never thought that she'd get over losing him -- until she met Thor. He came to her as Lord of Thunder, and she shortened it to "Thor." Since arriving on the ranch, the horse has been her one true source of companionship, and she avoids close contact with other students while she spends the majority of her time bonding with Thor.
The "regular" classes frustrate her. Horsemanship is old hat to her, and she's not fond of the fact that she's having to learn how to do a lot of the messier (and harder) caring for her horse, but Rachel is secretly thrilled that she gets to spend so much more time with him than she got to spend with Thor. Now she has actual aspirations of becoming a stronger jumper and of placing in the ranch's competitions -- and the competitions against Hillbrook.
It will take a lot for potential friends to pull her away from Thor, who has been, in essence, the replacement for Naut.
Everyone Has Secrets
And Rachel's are huge. When she was barely twelve years old, Rachel entered into a relationship with one of her older brother's friends. The boy was fourteen, and she was twelve. It wasn't until she was five months pregnant and the boy was off to boarding school in South Carolina that her parents discovered the pregnancy and sent her off to live in a facility for young mothers. Her deepest secret is that she had a baby and that the baby was taken from her and given up for adoption -- or more accurately, given to its father and his family to raise out of sight.
Rachel's an honest person and if she is confronted -- asked directly if she's ever had a baby if somebody sees her stretch marks -- then she will tell the truth about her secret and it will be out there in the world. For this reason she does her best to keep her body covered so that nobody can ask questions about how she got those scars.
A Small Yellow Blanket
Four years ago, when she was only twelve years old, Rachel gave birth in a center for unwed mothers who would give their children up for adoption. Throughout her pregnancy, while she waited behind closed doors to give birth to her daughter, she crocheted a yellow blanket. Nobody told her what the sex of the baby was and she had no idea if she ought to be stitching in blue or pink, and so she used the neutral yellow color. When the baby was adopted -- without her ever seeing or getting to hold her child -- the blanket went with her. Nobody told Rachel if she had a son or a daughter, but she prayed the day she gave birth that one day the yellow blanket would reappear in her life.
And it has, carried by a boy with a face from her past, a boy who was a friend of her brother Jacob's when they were younger, a boy who planted his seed within her and left her bereft when her child was taken from her. She still hasn't seen the baby, but she has seen the blanket -- and the boy who fathered the baby that was so cruelly taken from her at such a young age.
Rachel has a great deal of trauma associated with losing her daughter, but the boy comes with mostly happy memories, while her brother does not. She's struggling to figure out what her relationship is with Evan Bennett, and whether or not she ought to try to convince him to let her see the baby she was forced to give away to him and his family when she "couldn't take care of her."
Rachel's story at Brook Haven is rather complicated. She's a "rich kid" in that she was raised in a wealthy environment, attended boarding schools, and has been in equestrian sports since she could walk. A lot of students will probably look down on her for this, since many of them come from "rougher" backgrounds than she does. She was referred by a sibling as well, and since so many of the students on the ranch don't have parents or siblings that it makes it easy for people to look at her as nothing but another "spoiled rich kid."
But Rachel's life was hardly perfect. In spite of her name, she hardly grew up in the lap of luxury. Her mother, a socialite, was preoccupied with her reputation and her appearance and had little time for Rachel. Her father, a businessman, kept himself too busy to engage in childish games with his children. They hired a nanny to take care of their four children (two boys: Marc and Jacob, and two girls: Rachel and Leah), and paid little more attention to them.
The emotional deprivation led Rachel to act out. She'd never been good at making friends, and attached herself most often to the friends of her elder brothers. Jacob's friend Evan, in particular, caught her eye. He had gone back to boarding school in South Carolina before she discovered that she was pregnant with his child. That was the first of two big incidents which would lead Rachel to Brook Haven Ranch.
In the second, she borrowed one of her father's hand guns and held up a convenience store. It was a stupid move, a cry for attention, a terrible form of self-harm intended to demonstrate to her parents that she needed them to pay more attention to her. It had the opposite effect. They were quick to abandon her to a court-appointed attorney who lost the case (an easy case to lose) and landed Rachel an 18-month stint in juvenile hall.
She's arrived at Brook Haven bitter, angry, and abandoned. Rachel is dealing with major depression, and anger is one side of her experience that she cannot seem to get a grip on. Most people see the anger rather than the sorrow, and whatever she might be feeling, the anger is the most obvious part of her experience. It makes it hard to get to know Rachel because her walls are so high, and she doesn't tend to reach out to other people due to her fear of abandonment.
Rachel doesn't make it easy to be friends with her. She avoids getting close to people due to her fear of abandonment, and then blames them for her fear, regardless of whether or not they have been loyal to her. She's cynical and doesn't trust people to be there for her, and when she does make a friend, she clings to them and pushes them away all at the same time. If you've ever met the type of person who pushes others away before they can abandon them, that's the way that Rachel is. Most people will find her difficult to deal with, which is why she desperately needs the sort of loyal friend who won't give up on her when her personality issues get in the way of stronger relationships.
What she wants -- what she needs -- is the type of friend who is able and willing to set boundaries with her while still being willing to hear what Rachel has to say. Someone who is good at active or reflective listening is sure to take her by surprise and stop her dead in her tracks. She's accustomed to people not listening to what she's really saying and therefore she doesn't always want to open up with the people who would otherwise get close to her.
When Rachel does make a friend, she won't get much easier to get along with. She is a clingy friend, and she tends to want to spend every waking minute with her friends. Friends will need to be able to handle someone who attempts to stick like glue, set strong boundaries, and be willing to say "no" when it's the right thing to say. At the same time, friends can trust Rachel to be honest with them, and not to interfere with their plans since she's always honest -- always. Rachel simply does not lie.
She's also incredibly supportive of her friends and tries her best to give to others what she wants for herself in relationships, which means that she will pour her heart and soul into her friendships. When she does things that she wouldn't like if the roles were reversed, it's usually something she doesn't realize that she's doing, and it's never intentional.
Rachel is... complicated. She's damaged, romantically speaking. When she was twelve, she fell into a temporary, puppy-love relationship with a boy who was two years older than her. At the time she was much too young to really understand what real love was. She knew what her body wanted, and she knew that it felt good, but the two of them were foolish, reckless, and just plain stupid. Everything since that time -- and since the things that happened as a result of that time -- Rachel has had trouble getting close to boys.
It's not that she's gay, because she's definitely not gay. And it's not that she doesn't want to have a relationship: It's that she wants a relationship so desperately that she is overbearing and "annoying" at times. Her sensitivity makes it difficult for people to get close to her because she takes everything so personally, and the slightest rejection from a boy can set her off for a week of storming and sulking and not doing much of anything about her chores.
So this is a tough area for Rachel. She wants somebody, but since Evan has returned to her life, she's not actively looking for somebody: She's actively pursuing him, and he seems to be receptive to her advances, and even making some of his own. Since she's new to this area, she won't have any past boyfriends in town and she surely won't have anybody at Brook Haven from her past. Crushes (on her, and maybe her on them) are pretty much par for the course: She's sixteen after all, and so are a lot of the boys around here. But serious relationships are off the table until she can figure out what she wants.
Even Rachel seems to know this in some way. if you're interested in her, it's going to take some work to get close, but there is still a possibility that Evan will reject her this time around.
Enemies are sort of... expected with Rachel. She's aggressive, she has a loud mouth, she's foul-mouthed and she can't keep a secret because she refuses to lie to anyone about anything, even if it gets her in trouble -- or her friends in trouble. This is going to really annoy some people who might have been past friends of hers, or who tried to be friends with her, and there are others who she might tell that their butts look big in those jeans, or she might point out that so-and-so has bad body odor today. Rachel doesn't tend to watch what she's saying and so her relationships will likely lean mostly toward antagonistic until other people get to know her.
Rachel is not the most formidable enemy. Experience in boarding school and juvie has told her that she's definitely not the strongest among most groups of girls and she doesn't want to take the risk of being beaten up. She'll mostly avoid her enemies rather than getting into some sort of altercation with them, and she is especially timid around bigger teenage males. That doesn't mean that she will automatically back down, however. When confronted she will bluster, puff herself up, and get right in your face -- and then likely get beaten up.
Family isn't something that Rachel wants to talk about on the ranch, but as with anything, she'll answer any questions as honestly as she can without being totally open with people. She still legally belongs to her family, though they desire nothing to do with her and would likely abdicate their responsibility if they were asked to do so. She has a close relationship with her brother Marc, almost no relationship at all with Jake, and a strong, if weird, relationship with her sister Leah. The sisters are competitive, but if they were to be adopted, they ought to be adopted together.
If it does come down to adoption, we know where Rachel will go: With Andrew and Kai Wolfe. This really isn't an open section considering that all of her family members already have players.
Rachel is going to have to have relationships with the staff of the ranch, and that's going to be tough for her. She's lost her ability to put her faith in the staff of any such facility. Boarding schools and juvie both taught her that those in authority either don't care much for her or that they don't care much about her. Sometimes she could do whatever she wanted and nobody noticed at all, and other times she could hardly breathe without someone punishing her for having done the wrong thing. Authority is, in her experience, inconsistent and often cruel, and so she tends to be inwardly fearful of authority while outwardly confrontational and hostile toward authority figures.
It doesn't make for a particularly appealing relationship with her, and staff are probably either going to leave her alone because she's frustrating for them, or they are going to push her so hard that she's going to break.
And make no mistake, when Rachel breaks, she breaks hard. That hostile, aggressive, confrontational teenager will shatter into the heart and soul of a very sweet little girl who just desperately wants and needs somebody consistent to love her. This may also be frustrating, but it is likely to surprise those on the ranch who are accustomed to working with tougher teenagers. For her, "tough" is an act. Her life has been difficult -- more than a lot of the less "privileged" teenagers -- but she's not developed a thick skin and she is therefore incredibly easy to hurt.
Most people's first impressions of Rachel are that she is aggressive, hostile, and maybe even mean. She's quick to lash out at other people and she doesn't hold back when she feels threatened. Since she nearly always feels threatened, this means that Rachel can be a highly aggressive person who gives a particular first impression. The majority of people probably don't like her when they first meet her, and they probably also think that she doesn't like them.
Because of the way that Rachel presents herself on first meeting, the majority of people probably won't think of her -- at first -- as a spoiled rich kid in a place like Brook Haven Ranch. They're more apt to see her as somebody who is pissed off at the world than to see a wealthy, entitled kid (and make no mistake: in spite of herself, Rachel is entitled!). What they will see instead is someone who lashes out at the world; Someone to be avoided.
People have heard about Rachel (or at least people in North Carolina have): She's a bit of a rogue element, a girl who went off the rails in spite of a "loving family" who took "good care of her" and having "everything she could possibly want." Strangers who know her story, who have read it in the papers or who have Googled her name on the internet, will likely view her as somebody who is entirely too entitled, who believes that the world owes her everything, and who has a vicious mean streak on her way to getting what she wants. Strangers will likely see her as a very bad person, and most of them won't have a lot of sympathy for Rachel because as a stranger, it's hard to see what she's gone through.
This ought to include staff of the ranch working off of her file -- the one that was sent to them from her previous boarding schools and juvenile hall. The file doesn't contain the particular confidential information, however. Strangers won't know that she conceived a child at the age of twelve and that she gave birth before her thirteenth birthday to a child who was taken from her body and never placed into her arms, and they won't have information about the trauma that she experienced as a result of her parents' emotional deprivation. All the information they will have points to a spoiled little girl who thinks that the world owes her a favor, and who won't stop until she convinces it that it does.
Friends will have to deal with Rachel's clinginess. She holds onto her friends too tightly and she doesn't always let them have their own lives without her involvement in them. She wants to know here her friends are, where they are going, what they are doing, and when they'll be back. This happens every time that the people she's close to aren't with her because she is terrified of them disappearing on her, of them abandoning her, of them walking away from her and never returning the way that her parents have. It's not easy to be Rachel's friend, and so the first friendly impression is this.
However, as friends get to know her better, they will see that Rachel has a lot of secrets that she's hiding. Without being directly asked, she won't tell people about what happened to her with her baby, and it will take the right kind of direct question to get this information, so friends will be left with a long-term sense of her being secretive and not telling them everything. This makes trust difficult -- both for her trusting other people and for them trusting her.
Rachel only really has close family. Her grandparents aren't in her life due to some of her father's mistakes, and her mother's family treated her mother much the same way that her mother treated her. The close family that she has -- her mother, father, brothers, and sister -- see her primarily as a problem child. Of her siblings, she was the one that her parents didn't anticipate, didn't want, and never treated well -- ever. To say that her parents dislike her is an overstatement. Truthfully, her parents don't know her and never spent the time it took to get to know her well enough to care about who she is. It was easy to abandon someone with whom they had no bond or any real interest.
Their impressions of Rachel are, therefore, much like the stranger impressions. They see her as being entitled and hostile, that she will do anything to get what she wants, and not in a good way, either. The one exception to this is Marc, who sees the way that their parents have hurt and neglected Rachel and therefore who sees the person behind the frantic, desperate little girl who is just trying to find somebody who genuinely cares about her. Marc, of course, does care about her, and their relationship is close, if unstable.
Rivals find Rachel an unusual contradiction in terms. Most of them know her reputation as being nothing more than an entitled, spoiled rotten rich girl, and many are confused by this reputation, especially considering that when it comes to the areas in which she is most apt to be competing, Rachel is anything but an entitled, spoiled rotten little rich kid with who is bored with the life that her parents gave her. In fact, she's one of the hardest workers on her equestrian teams (specifically she's looking to join the 3-Day Eventing and Endurance teams). If there is anyone who will see first-hand what a hard worker Rachel is, it is her rivals.
But there is more apart from this. Because Rachel has never seen herself as the equal to her peers, she consistently competes against her own times rather than against her opponents, and when she's in a good emotional place, she can be very supportive of her rivals and their efforts on the course. The best way of looking at it is that Rachel can be a better friend to her rivals than she sometimes is to her own teammates.
Enemies see Rachel as primarily three things: Spoiled, stupid, and weak. The first impression that a lot of people have of Rachel is her name, though of course that's doesn't always reflect in "first impressions" because sometimes people don't know who she is to start out. If it's their second impression, it's certainly the same. "This girl is rich" comes to mind when people hear the name "Vanderbilt" and so they assume, naturally, that she's spoiled rotten. Particularly those who know that she had horses, but no longer does, see her as rotten, and these are the enemies who rarely give her the time of day to begin with.
Then there are those who see her as stupid. This can also be a secondary impression following the impression of "spoiled." Rachel picks fights that she can't finish, walks into trouble knowing that she won't like the end result, and pushes people who are stronger or more stubborn than she is. Regardless of her actual intelligence, this gives enemies the impression that Rachel is too stupid to continue breathing.
Finally, the impression that she is weak comes from the fact that Rachel doesn't do well in a fight, though she causes plenty of them. She can't keep up with the person she's fighting and she nearly always comes out the loser in any physical fight she gets into. Most enemies feel like she's too flexible, too, continually changing to suit her environment. They may be right. Time will be the best judge of that.
The first thing that authority figures often see from Rachel is that she is a very difficult child to deal with. She has a lot of attitude and a lot of buried/masked pain, and many authority figures in the past have given up on her before they could get too far into actually helping her. For most, she is a struggle and they can see that quickly. With a quick temper and an attitude that could push her best friends away, authorities would prefer to pass Rachel on to somebody else who is "more equipped" to deal with her than they are. After all, that's the way that she found her way to Brook Haven Ranch.
But that is the past and this is the here and now and the authorities at Brook Haven are likely to see a strong-willed girl with an intense desire to survive everything that life has thrown to her. The authorities here don't have all of the information (for example, they don't know that she has a three-year-old daughter who is currently living in Trader's Bend) but they know enough about her to see that she's come through a lot and that she's somebody who struggles to work through her problems on her own, rather than being somebody who is there simply to cause problems.
People who work with Rachel on projects find her aloof and distant from the project on which they are working. At the same time, she's hard working, and often takes group projects on herself to work on it rather than getting involved with the other students. If the other people working on the project are inclined to also work on what needs to be done, this results in the completion of two entirely different projects. For this reason, most of her classmates and coworkers don't particularly like her, as she doesn't appear to be a team player.
Things get weird when Rachel does a project on her own but continues to support the other people in her group or in her class. Sometimes this comes out of the clear blue and most of her coworkers or classmates don't understand that she can both want to be alone in what she's doing and that she wants to support their endeavors as well.
Therefore, classmates and coworkers generally find her weird.
Rachel hasn't had a lot of lovers in her life, nor does she believe that she ever will. Those who have gotten this close to her, however, find her to be a deep person, an "old soul" who hangs on their every word. In fact, she might come across as a bit obsessive and clingy some of the time, but the truth beneath that is that she cares deeply about the person she's with, and after a bit of time, every lover she's ever had comes to the conclusion that Rachel loves deeply and with intensity.
Lovers are rare people who have been able to see into Rachel's true heart, and they will find her ceaselessly forgiving, intense, caring, and perhaps a bit needy. Depending on the circumstances, they may also find that she is demanding and feels that she is entitled to more than her lovers wish to give as well, but most of her lovers have found that she gives back as much as she takes, and often more.
Rachel sees herself as a lost cause and unworthy of the good things in life. Brook Haven is tough for her in particular because she doesn't see herself as being worthy of healing and of the things that the ranch offers. It's only when she's with her horse that she comes alive and forgets how much she hates herself. When she's alone -- which is often because she's an introvert -- she only sees the bad in herself, and it's only when she can see herself reflected in the eyes of her horse that she begins to see that there might be something better in her.
Over the years she has internalized every negative thing that has ever been said to her, about her, and she sees herself as a horrible, unworthy, unwanted person who will never get it right. In short, depression and self doubt are ruining her chances at real healing.
Too often, a person can only be seen following their death. Post-Mortem, people will likely see a hard-working girl who did the best that she could but whose best simply never measured up to the best of those around her. They may remember someone who was often frustrated and frustrating, but also someone who regularly gave the best that she could to her friends and who bent over backward to be the best friend she could possibly be.
Rachel will be remembered as someone who could never quite make it to where she wanted to go and who did her best to get there.
I love Rachel. If I've not made that clear already, I'm sorry. Rachel is a hard-working, depressed young woman who's just trying to figure out where she fits into the scheme of things, and to decide whether or not she's worthy of being loved. In short, she's a lot like I was at her age!
Nick Fisher • Tentative Friendship
Nick's not always nice -- to anybody -- but he and Rachel bump into one another quite a bit in the library during their free time. Since there are so few students who will admit to enjoying books, they are this time together and have developed a tentative relationships that centers around these moments in the library. Rachel would like for the friendship to be more, but Nick's still holding back. The relationship makes him uncomfortable and Rachel doesn't understand that he might not want the world to know that he's got problems the same as the rest of them.
There's potential for this relationship to develop further, but they're going to have to see how it goes with one another.
Tony Brook • Mentor
Rachel didn't think that she could possibly wind up being friendly with one of the guys who runs this place, but somehow she's discovered that Tony doesn't want to hurt her -- and that he'll listen to her when she has a problem. Most adults won't do this for her and so it's been rather surprising for Rachel to discover that he's not out to get her and is willing to hear her when she needs somebody to talk to.
John was never a particular presence in Rachel's life. His addiction, and his foolishness, were more important to him than being a good parent to her. His neglect of his daughter went to the extreme to be abusive, and though she wanted a relationship with him, she never had one. Marc had to step in and be the father that John never was. Rather than resent her father, Rachel mostly pretends that he doesn't actually exist, because that's easier for her than facing the truth that she would never measure up to him.
Elise Vanderbilt • Mother
Where John was neglectful, Elise was downright abusive. Her spite knew no bounds, and she often treated Rachel as though it was her fault for being born a girl and not a boy who could change the course of their fate. Or maybe it was just that she resented Rachel for being born at all, because by the time that Marc was eight, Elise had decided she was done having children. Either way, the relationship between Rachel and Elise has always been tense, with Rachel attempting to please her mother and her mother rejecting her every advance.
Marc Vanderbilt • Brother
From the earliest time that Rachel can remember, she and Marc were close. He was the one who held her when she cried, and read her stories, and tucked her into bed at night. At least he did these things when he wasn't away at the boarding school where their parents had sent them. During her times of greatest distress, Marc was nearly always there -- with the exception of the birth of her child. Of all the people in her life who Rachel loved and respected before the relinquishment, Marc was at the top of this list.
Jacob Vanderbilt • Brother
Rachel has always resented Jacob. He's older than her, and her parents accepted him in spite of their desire not to have children after Marc, but they couldn't accept Rachel, as though she was the "spare" child. Or perhaps it was just because she was a girl. She's always competed with Jake, who is also a horse person, and the two of them have never seen eye to eye. It's just as well with her that he is off at college and that she didn't wind up having to face him at Brook Haven.
Leah Vanderbilt • Sister
Things with Rachel and Leah are complicated. Their mother always favored Leah, which Rachel thought of as unfair considering that by the time Rachel came along, Elise was done, but Leah is younger and therefore perhaps deserves the same fate that befell Rachel. Elise has always spoiled Leah, but that's not Leah's fault. On some level Rachel understands this, and she wants a relationship with her sister, but the two of them have an upward battle to face.
Fae Bennett • Daughter
Rachel has never met Fae, and she generally refers to her as "her child." She's not aware of the sex of the child that she gave birth to when she was only twelve years old. The only thing that she has is the memory of a little yellow blanket that she crocheted while waiting for her baby to be born. She never held her child or saw her face, but it just so happens that Fae has been living with her father this whole time.
Keith Thompson • Group Leader
Rachel has come to trust Keith more than she ever believed it would be possible for her to do. He's helped her a lot and he has valued her ideas. He's one of the first adults in her life to value what she has to say and this has made him stand out as somebody who she can take her thoughts to without worry that he will dismiss her as feeble or nothing more than a child. Most of all Keith makes Rachel feel intelligent, which is more than most adults have done for her.
Emily Schuster • Teacher
Rachel got to know Ms. Schuster a little bit while discussing books in the library. It was a surprising discussion while the two of them discovered that they had several things in common with one another. Even their taste in books is not altogether different, and the two of them have been able to find a tentative bond over something that they both love. Now Rachel must face the sense that Ms. Schuster doesn't have as much faith in her ideas as Keith does, and she's doing her best to understand.
When Rachel feels insecure, or when she feels that she is in the midst of being confronted, she draws her knees to her chest and wraps her arms around her knees to protect herself from whatever she feels is threatening to her. If she is in trouble and you are scolding her and she takes this position (which she's able to do in most chairs as long as she's seated), it is generally a sign that you're coming on too strong because she feels that she needs to protect herself. Given that she doesn't often go on the defensive when she's in trouble, take this as a sign and back off, as that's the most appropriate thing you can do for her under the circumstances.
During her time at boarding schools and then at Juvie, Rachel didn't get enough to eat. When she was home, she could eat as much as she wanted as long as she didn't get caught, where her mother would accuse her of being fat and make fun of her weight (in spite of her slimness) and since she has been denied food, Rachel tends to binge on food whenever she has the opportunity to eat. This means three or four helpings of food where other students (even the boys) might only take one or two. She eats a lot for her size and gender, but fortunately burns most of it off. Though when at her "normal" weight she's just a smidge on the chubby side, she's by no means "heavy."
So much has been taken from Rachel during her lifetime that she has to check in to make sure that everything is fine before she can go to bed. She checks first with her group leader to make sure that she has done everything for the day that she's supposed to do, and then she checks secondly with her counselors, and finally she checks in with Thor before heading to bed. When she checks in, she prefers to touch the people with whom she's checked in, just to confirm that they are real and that they aren't going to vanish when she steps away from them.
It might seem unbelievable, and some people say that those who claim they never lie are liars, but Rachel never lies. If you ask her a direct question, she will always answer it honestly and directly. This is not to say that she won't withhold information if you ask the wrong questions (less direct) or that she will tell you everything you want to know simply because you questioned her. Sometimes getting information from her is like pulling teeth, but she will tell you what you need to know if you are direct enough.
Rachel touches a lot. These are small touches, fingertips on an arm or a shoulder, a way of proving to herself that the people in her life are real and solid. Her parents rarely allowed he to touch them and so this is a way that she helps to center and ground herself to show herself that the people in her life now aren't going anywhere, as they have already promised her that they would not. This is often an undesired behavior that gets her into trouble with potential friends and even authority figures, but for Rachel the comfort of it is worth it to know that the people at Brook Haven aren't going to turn their backs on her.
Swears like a Sailor
Rachel swears a lot. She has a very foul mouth and it seems, sometimes, that "fuck" is her favorite word. She uses the expression "fuck a money" with some frequency, usually to express frustration with something that isn't going her way. Her mouth is one of the things that gets her into the most trouble but this is an old habit that she has already had a lot of difficulty breaking. She means nothing by it at all, it's just the way that she is, and cursing isn't intended to start a fight -- though sometimes it is meant to finish one.
Clingy with Everyone
For the first time in her life, Rachel is learning how to cope with Borderline Personality Disorder, and the disorder has made her cling to people instead of giving them the space that they need. She's not great with boundaries and is terrified of people turning their backs on her and walking away, and so she can be overbearing and often pushes them to tell her what they are doing and where they are going when they don't owe it to tell her at all where they are going or what they are doing.
Perhaps less a hobby and more an interest or a sport, but Rachel takes eventing seriously. She has spent her life from the age of three learning dressage, and then later cross country and show jumping, and she's participated in the eventing class since she was twelve years old. This is a serious thing for her and a major commitment of time and energy to learning about her horse and communicating with it in the hope of perhaps one day becoming a professional horsewoman, or maybe even an Olympic horsewoman.
As previously mentioned, Rachel is an avid reader who enjoys little more than curling up with a good book and a cup of tea on a rainy day. The one thing that she enjoys more than this is riding, and most days you'll find her spending her free time either in the barn or in the library, reading. She is particularly fond of the young adult genre and just about anything that Nora Roberts has ever written, including her books as J.D. Robb. A good romance is a fast and pleasant break from some of the heavier themes of her favorite young adult novels.
Though she can't have knitting needles on the ranch at all, Rachel loves to knit and she enjoys spending her time with some high-quality yarn (her favorite is cashmere) and a pair of knitting needles. Her favorite things to knit are mittens and socks, and she does wear the fingerless mitts that she wears, especially when she's out riding in colder weather. This is a great cold weather hobby that she enjoys a great deal and she loves using it to make gifts for other people.
It's been years since Rachel started figure skating or had much opportunity to skate, but this is one of the hobbies that she enjoys when she has the opportunity. She loves to get on a pair of skates and glide across the ice in an indoor rink, and she'd love the opportunity to skate outdoors as well. Perhaps this upcoming winter it could be a possibility for her to get onto a frozen pond, if the ranch can be persuaded to risk skate blades.
Rachel loves to sing, and especially country music, but she has little confidence in her actual ability (which is reasonable). She'll take any opportunity to participate in karaoke, in part because she gets a good response from any audience and she's not altogether tone deaf. Her voice is excellent and her singing skill is improving, so this is something that she enjoys doing to practice and it's nice to hear people applaud her when she does well at her performance. Karaoke nights at Brook Haven, please?
Horseback Riding • Proficient
Rachel has been riding since she was three years old, and therefore has gained some proficiency in this area. She is a jumper and has some skill at dressage (which she's been working on for longer, but she lacks proficiency in equine communication). This is an area where Rachel is constantly striving for improvement, and she loves to ride and gain higher levels of skill. In spite of this, she does desperately need horsemanship classes!
Knitting • Excellent
For all of her lack of skill in other areas, Rachel is a surprisingly excellent knitter. This is one of her more recent hobbies, but she has grown exceptional at the stitches necessary to produce most knit items, including more complex cable-knit patterns. She also crochets, but with less proficiency than with which she knits. Her favorite things to knit are small projects like socks and mittens, and she particularly loves to make fingerless mittens as gifts for the people who she cares about. It's killing her not to have access to knitting needles at school!
Singing • Very Good
Though she's never had any formal training at all, Rachel has an excellent singing voice and some skill at the art of music. Her voice is her only instrument, and she loves singing more than she admits to people. Karaoke is one of her other hobbies that she enjoys a great deal and she tends to impress people when she gets up to do a karaoke night when it's an available activity on the ranch. Country music is her favorite to sing and she loves listening to it as well!
Ice Skating • Good
When Rachel was young and involved in horseback riding, her parents also got her into ice skating. At one point her mother, Elise, hoped that she would go to the Olympics for ice skating -- Elise's sport more than Rachel's -- but it was not to be. Though she's good at many of the turns and spins in figure skating, this isn't a sport that Rachel is obsessed with the way that she is with horses, and she doesn't want it as much. Regardless, she's skilled enough that she rarely falls and can make some fancy moves.
Cooking • Very Good
Cooking is something Rachel is good at because she enjoys food so much, and sometimes getting enough food at home meant making it for herself. She's gaining skill rapidly and with the home economics classes at Brook Haven, she's getting increasingly good at making meals for herself and for other people on the ranch. Few people have complaints about the food that Rachel cooks, and she has her own arsenal of favorite hearty recipes.
Although this is an area of weakness for Rachel, skill-wise, it's something that she's striving to learn more now that the ranch will be teaching her the importance of good, strong equitation. She wants to improve in this area, and she's made it something that she's focused on with her horse, Thor. It's important to her to be able to communicate and move with her horse as this will improve her odd of winning competitions, and most of all beating her own previous scores.
The Hunger Games
Since she first read the first book, Rachel has been obsessed with The Hunger Games. While she enjoys other young adult series (namely The Twilight Saga), this one series has captured her imagination more than any other, and she reads and re-reads these books over and over again as often as she can get her hands on them in the school library. This is her favorite of all time and she absolutely cannot get enough. In her opinion, the books are way better than the movies.
An odd sort of interest for Rachel, tea is something she's become interested in about four years ago. She loves to sample a different variety of teas, as well as collecting teacups and tea pots. Tea is her favorite drink to share with a good book and a rainy day and she loves the look of the tea pots and tea cups that she collects. This is an interest which embarrasses Rachel and which she doesn't share with a lot of people. It seems to her as a "old lady" interest.
Getting Back On
At some point or another, every equestrian is going to run into a broken bone. Rachel is particularly susceptible to illness and broken bones for reasons that her doctors have, frankly, never looked into. A broken bone on the ranch wouldn't be the first, but it would put her into the unique position of needing to demonstrate to other students that you have to get back on when you've fallen off, so this could mean becoming a natural leader to the other students, particularly in her own group.
One of the few things that Rachel has carried over from her wealthy family is her tendency to enjoy expensive clothing and fashionable clothing. She loves to wear things that are the current fashion, and is obsessed with finding just the right accessories for her outfits. Of course since she's going to be adhering to the dress code, she is strictly limited in what she wears and the availability of street clothes, but as soon as she can join the equestrian teams at Brook Haven, she'll want to be wearing the smartest clothing available. This could easily create conflict with her group staff.
Competing Against Herself
Rachel is a competitive person. She wants to win. But she learned early on that she won't be able to win every competition. What she can do is beat her own previous best times and scores, which allows her to support her fellow equestrians. It makes her an excellent team member. A plot in which she sets out to support her team or her group, while putting her own desire to win to the side, could make for some good, strong relationships for Rachel, and I would love to have that for her!
Time Zone: GMT-5
Native Language: English
Other Languages: French (proficient), Dutch (learning), Italian (learning)
Preferred Word Count: 250-2500
Likely Triggers (Please just tag these!): positive adoption language (PAL), miscarriage/infant loss, graphic bloody violence, needles, medical scenes, parental abandonment, post traumatic stress (especially if portrayed badly)
Your Other Characters: none yet, but a ton of them coming!
When people look at Nick, they tend to see a big dumb bully. For all most people experience of him, they might as well be right. At heart, Nick is a smart, sensitive kid who’s learned to act tough because it keeps him safe, but that’s buried deep enough that plenty of people will never encounter that side of him.
They definitely have some things in common, and could provide some good support to each other. The hard will be getting them together and finding them some time.
The library definitely seems like the place to start it. Nick is trying to be sneaky with his library habits, but he has to sneak in to get books every so often, and there are only so many hours in the day he has the opportunity. Would it work if one day he doesn't notice Rachel in her chair, is walking out with a book she's read, and she comments on it, to get them started? After that, it might not to be hard to form a relationship based on meeting in the library during some of their scant free time and talking quietly.
The thing that would work, I think, is that when Nick is there, he's present. I'd expect him to be a bit insensitive about the parts of her experience he doesn't understand and ask some blunt and confused questions, but he'd actually listen to the answers and learn, slowly. Nick would really benefit from sharing some of their family experiences, especially because Nick blames a lot of his experience on growing up struggling for money without a mother, so hearing about Rachel's experiences with her father's drug problem would help him understand some of the ways his own father's alcohol problem affected his life.
When it comes to boundaries, there's going to be some tension. Nick's friendship style is basically the opposite: he likes to have lots of friends with neatly compartmentalized times and places where he socializes with them. Nick's perfectly capable of enforcing boundaries, he's just not particularly nice about it. If he thinks of her as "friend I talk to in the library", he'll be surprised if she also wants to be friends with him at any time, and will probably just refuse to have much to do with her if he's doing anything else at the time. With Rachel, I don't think he'll be cruel about it, but he might not be particularly gentle either. Then later he'll want to talk to her in the library again like that never happened.
So far, I am loving Tony and Rachel together. Not only does he really like her, I think that there is a ton of potential here that I might not seen if they hadn't had the opportunity to role play together.
He wants to see her grow, but so far, she's just impressing him and he's really interested to see where it is that she's going to go.
Is it bad that I'm thinking about dropping his kids so that he could adopt her? Because she is exactly the type of kid he'd go for, and I think they could have an absolutely amazing relationship (either way, really).
There's so much potential with these two that it's nuts. He wants to see her grow in her training abilities, even if she does decide to show -- he thinks that it could only help for her to learn better how to communicate with her horse.
While I was writing Emily, I wondered how she'd get along with Rachel, but in the end I really don't expect them to get along. Emily's not going to respond well to Rachel's attitude, and while Emily also loves books, she's pretty open about looking down on the sorts of books Rachel likes to read.
Emily isn't Rachel's teacher yet, anyway, and isn't likely to one of the teachers pushing Rachel hard when she is. The one thing that comes to mind is that Emily might say something disparaging about books like The Hunger Games; I don't know if Rachel would actually start an argument over that.
Tara has been on the ranch since the moment she was born. She's known Brook Haven well before it was ever a safe haven for abused horses and kids that needed guidance. There isn't a piece of this land that she doesn't know or hasn't walked. She spent her life in this place, and she couldn't imagine it any differently.
When her father turned the ranch into what it is, and then when Logan took over it, she smiled and continued on. She never expected her dad to give her the ranch, not only was Logan older than her, but he was a living example of how the program worked.
More than anything, Tara wants to see Brook Haven thrive, and she knows that it can, but she doesn't want to have to play mediator to get it to. She wishes her brothers would get their shit together and figure it all out, because she's tired of translating. Even if she does understand what's going on, it doesn't make it any easier on her energy levels.
On top of everything else with the ranch, a new addition has joined them and this addition is one of Tara's biggest secrets. Grace Somers, her biological daughter who she allowed to be adopted by the girl's biological father and his wife. The fact that she's there, at all, has her concerned, but she doesn't even know how to bring it up with anyone.
And, if for any reason, she thought she could somehow continue to keep this secret, the only man who could blow the lid on the whole thing has shown up at the ranch looking to sponsor. She doesn't want Ethan Somers anywhere near the ranch, or her. So, not only does she have to figure out how to explain to her family (and her husband!) that she had a child, but that while she was pregnant with that child she had a relationship with the child's uncle and that he had been abusive of her -- and now he's at the ranch.
I want these two in a thread so badly. I know that Rachel's been behaving herself, but it might be neat if we got these two in a thread in a way that ... idk. I was thinking, maybe Rachel could drop something or stub her toe (anything that would cause a reaction), which she yells out and swears. Since she's known for "fuck a money" that one would do the trick. I think it would be neat if Tara appeared in that moment with her raised brow, and used that moment as one to talk with an connect to Rachel. Tara doesn't typically step in to discipline the kids, especially not for reactive language, and it might be a neat sort of starter thread for them?
-hand desk-. Yasss they should definitely be friends. Just read through her shipper and Sam has a weird quirk that sort of works in two opposite directions. Sometimes he’ll zone out of a conversation and completely lose track of where it’s heading – this is pretty obvious when it happens. He looks up and away and stops responding until someone says his name, Other times he’ll be staunchly drawn into a conversation even when he doesn’t mean to. So he’s sort of got that weird combination of knowing more about people than he lets on, because he’s embarrassed that he got lost half way through a conversation and came back. If Rachel thinks that he’s not paying attention to her, just as most people do, but he stuns her by suddenly being there, mid-something important.
I also like that she’s always bluntly honest, even when someone else would lie to protect their sensibilities. That in itself would shock Sam, especially if she was forthright with that in passing. Question for you – would she be able to turn around and tell him that he doesn’t have the ability to be a nurse, based on whatever friendship they manage.
As for first meeting – definitely make it horse related. He’s already pretty pissy about the horses, and he’s a slow learner so he’s bound to get aspects of their care wrong off the bat. Rachel could come in and correct him, bluntly, and he’s less than enthusiastic about the whole thing? I doubt he’d be convinced by the whole horses thing in a single session, but he can appreciate a unilateral love of something like Rachel with her horses.
And I think they’re exactly what each other need, even if they don’t recognize it. Sam is the level-headed one, she’s candid and doesn’t hold back. He's not as clingy as she is with friendships, but I think with all his previous relationships he'll simply deflect until he trusts her.
Rachel & Amelia RoseI can also see them being friends. From what I got from Rachel's shipper-- she is pretty (I can't really find the exact word I want) bold? Blunt has kind of a bad connotation, and I don't think Amelia Rose would see her as blunt in a bad way. Amelia Rose would think she was refreshing, but would be a little shy of her at first. But they are the same level of clingy-ness in friendships so they could bond over needing to be velcro-ed together lol. Because of Rachel's background in the upper class Amelia Rose would most likely start off cautious of her, but as soon as she realized that Rachel did... basically the opposite of what Amelia Rose did to cope with her family lol... she would get a lot more comfortable. And because Amelia Rose enjoys observing people and living vicariously through them she would be very interested in hearing about Rachel's life, and really trying to understand her. Hit me back!
Nolan's been in foster care since he was two. He excelled at academics, and spent most of his childhood keeping apart from the other foster kids, believing that his intelligence made him special.
When he hit his teens, that began falling apart as the competition to be the best student around intensified. His escalating emotions led him to brandish a knife at a foster parent, which got him sent to a group home. Teachers who worried about his performance recommended him to Brook haven.
I wouldn't call it sucking up - whatever Nolan's other flaws, he's not that particular kind of insincere - but given her family and connections, I think Nolan would want to talk to her a bunch, if only because he is really curious about that (and she's in his group and he is pretty friendly, most of the time).
He'll also be a bit jealous of her, and have a lot of trouble understanding her motivations - from his point of view, she had everything he ever wanted, and he's not going to understand why her situation wasn't okay, which may lead to some awkwardness.
Otter is the brains behind Brook Haven Ranch, which is the culmination of twenty years of roleplay admin experience. She developed Brook Haven in response to a personal need (both hers and River's) to have a safe place to work through some of the emotions brought about from childhood and adolescence. Brook Haven as evolved from there into a rich and complex setting which permits players to examine not only their own lives, but the way that other people live, so that we can better understand not only ourselves, but one another. It is, without a doubt, Otter's favorite playground.
Otter prefers threads with action, that move the plot forward or foster strong relationships between characters. She is not a fan of one-off interactions or most slice-of-life types of threads, and becomes bored with them quickly. Her preference when plotting is a "one-two-three" plot system (plot-reply-thread) and therefore she likes to provide (and receive) strong ideas that will lead to threads. Relationships are wonderful, but she prefers to foster them organically, which means threads with action first.
When she's not roleplaying, Otter loves to knit. Her favorite projects are socks and mitts (or mittens). Small projects suit her best, but she also enjoys knitting scarves and hats to donate to the local juvenile correctional facilities, victims of abuse, and otherwise the needy in the local area where she lives.
She also loves to read. Her favorite books are constantly changing, but she is a constant fan of The Hunger Games. She keeps a notebook (Leuchtreurm) with a list of the books that she's read with notes about who might enjoy them, and Otter loves to give book recommendations (but is pretty sure she's not good at it). She also has a blog that she frequently forgets to update with her book reviews.
Squirt joined Brook Haven after searching for a site focused on teenage growth in a detailed setting. She became a moderator after displaying initiative and interest. She comes with a wealth of experience in the Harry Potter and high school genres.
Every thread she participates in has a distinct purpose: to develop a relationship or further the character’s story. She quickly grows bored with one-off threads or stalled threads. She’s looking to play more antagonistic threads and difficult familial relationships.
In her spare time Squirt plays desktop video games, watches kids movies, fosters cats, and takes naps.
Ben has been a player on Otter and River’s sites for the last two years, and became a staff member on Brook Haven after when it was starting up again. He’s a big fan of both the detailed setting and the complex themes of the site.
Ben likes threads which move the character’s stories forward. Often those are high intensity emotional scenes, but sometimes they’re little moments in an ordinary day where people say the right thing.
Outside of roleplaying, Ben studies and teachers mathematics loves video games.
Hello members and guests! Brook Haven Ranch is now hiring! We are looking to fill positions for Outreach Admin, Events Moderator, and Global Moderator.
These are our criteria for inviting members to our staff:
Applying Member must have a minimum of one character before being invited to staff.
Applying Member must have been active on at least one character for one month before being invited to staff.
Applying Member must be over the age of 21.
Applying Member must have a good grasp of English spelling and grammar.
Applying Member must have demonstrated eagerness to plot with other members by reaching out to new members.
Applying Member must be actively participating in Weekly Encouragements.
Applying Member must demonstrate a presence in the cbox.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the staff, please let an administrator know of your interest. We invite members to join our staff when we feel that they are appropriate for the task.
At the present time, we are seeking an Outreach Admin, Events Moderator, and Global Moderator. Two of these positions are specialized, while a Global Moderator's purpose is to help with claims and to join the staff in reviewing applications for acceptance.
The Outreach Admin is responsible for leading the Outreach team in advertising Brook Haven Ranch on other sites, chatting with guests and new members in the cbox, greeting new members via personal message, and reaching out to members when there is a discipline problem which needs to be resolved. They help manage the Outreach team, which currently consists of one moderator.
The Events Moderator will assist the Events Administrator by creating and managing awards, brainstorming event ideas, and constructing prompts for event roulettes. They will be responsible for encouraging members to engage with events and activities on the site and are expected to participate in all events posted on the site (to lead by example).
We are looking only for outstanding members of this community who can lead by example and help others to see how we wish for things to be done. Our staff produce the best characters, generate the most exciting plots, and pursue excellence at every turn. If you are interested in becoming one of us, please make sure that you meet all criteria, and then inform an admin of your desire to join the staff!