The Mansion in The Mountains Part Ten, by Stella Brians

The Mansion in The Mountains Part Ten

Photo and story by Stella Brians

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Eloise

She slept on the drive back, emotionally and physically exhausted from the ups and downs that the day had brought them. Relief set over her that Vincent was not in danger, and her body relaxed allowing her to sleep. The few times she had opened her eyes she had seen Leon’s hands on the steering wheel, a few woven bracelets she had made for him way back when around his wrists. She began to wonder about what they would all look like when their skin was no longer beautiful and young, when they would be old but still the same people. Eloise wondered about the future often. Tonight she was excited to see where Leon had been living for the past year while he had searched for her. He hadn’t sounded too excited about it himself as it was a motel, but she wanted to see everywhere she could that he had been. They liked to share everything, past experiences, places they loved or at least had been to. It was something the two of them had always done together. With the small amount of consciousness she held while dreaming, Eloise thought about this.
With a loving touch to her arm, Leon woke her up and whispered, “We’re here.”
Here was an old two story motel built in a hidden shoulder away from the city. It wasn’t any classier than motels she had seen before but it was private, which she knew Leon found appealing.
They sat in the parking lot for awhile, being as close as they could be in the seats of the car, touching hands and fingers. Leon leaned in towards her, and kissed her like he used to for the first time together. It was a relief that Vincent was safe, and that she and Leon were together again making her heart and her world whole complete. He was as he had always been, nothing had changed and she hoped she hadn’t either. Leon told her that he had a surprise for her, well two actually.
“Okay.” She whispered back.
It had gotten cooler since they had left Vincent’s mansion, and the sky foretold a mean storm. She and Vincent had always loved storms, because to them they were exciting and peaceful at the same time. Whether there was going to be thunder or rain couldn’t be farther from Eloise’s mind at that moment. The evening seemed mystic around them, and as surreal as it felt she knew that this was how she had always wanted it to be. This was what she had thought she had never deserved and had therefore denied herself. As Leon took her in his arms in front of this motel in the middle of nowhere, she felt wild and free, and loved. She forgave herself for her brother’s disappearance, and knew that Leon understood and would help her continue her search for him.
“I bet you’re really hungry and tired.” He whispered into her hair and she nodded. Up the stairs they went, and into the room that was his home. Everything was dark at first save for the gray light peering through the tattered curtains. Leon gently brushed past her to turn on lamps that lay on either side of his bed. Yellow light elimated darkness and took the drape of secrecy away, revealing a room dedicated to her, and their time together at the Rainbow Retreat. Photos of them together laughing and kissing under a cathedral of trees back in upstate New York, and up close or intimate photographs of just her were tacked above his bed. There were photos of just animals, posters depicting nature in all forms which Leon must have gotten here in California. His bed and the blankets belonged to the motel, but everything else was him. The dirty clothes in the hamper, the altar dedicated to the God and Goddess, the few plants on the window sills. He had brought the retreat here, and had waited for her everyday. The guilt and sadness resurfaced for a moment, but diminished when she saw him watching her from the bed where he sat. His face glowed, and eyes were filled with love and care. Eloise remembered one time she had gotten very upset with herself and had said, “You must hate me.”
“No,” He said answered. “I truly love you, and always will.”
Leon’s heart had kept its promise and had never stopped loving her as he always had, never stopped searching. Eloise removed her street clothes and sat on the bed with him, looking into his eyes she said “I’m so sorry for everything.”
“I forgave you the day you left, Eloise. I just wanted to find you again.” He whispered. They fell asleep naked, without any dinner or a care in the world. Having each other was everything to them, and they slept in complete peace.
Morning came, sunlight blaring through the windows and making its way up Eloise’s legs as she slept on the bed. When she did wake, Leon was watering the plants and humming. He had just gotten a shower and was fully dressed.
“Good morning, sleepy.” He smiled at her teasingly, which caused her to throw a pillow at him.
“Feisty this morning are we?” His eyes wavered over her naked body.
“If you want me to be.” She said, enticing him back into the bed.
***
They had lunch at a diner while they told each other about the jobs they had held in California.
“So that was how you knew about the cult and eventually Vincent’s mansion.” Eloise said, putting it together for sure.
Leon nodded, adding “And meeting you was fate, or at least a happy accident.”
“I believe it was fate, and I believe that if you put all of your personal energy into a specific goal and send it out to the universe it will be brought to you in manifest.” Eloise answered, staring down into her chocolate M&M shake.
“Would you like one of your surprises?” Leon asked, taking her hand.
“Yes, please.”
From his pocket, he withdrew an ornate ring that was crafted to look like dainty flowers and leaves beautifully twisted together.
“I am honored to ask you to marry me, Eloise. Let me take you back to the retreat by the end of this week to be married in a handfasting ceremony.”
His eyes were so full of love, and his smile made her cry. To her the restaurant around them didn’t exist, and the past didn’t make any difference…all was well in their universe. She used to think that her life wouldn’t go anywhere, and no one would ever want to marry her. Eloise couldn’t have been more wrong about all of that.
“Yes, of course Leon. A million times yes.”

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