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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2010 4:46 pm  Post subject: Ghost Hunting  
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Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:19 pm
Rank: Champ
Location: NC
Added some stuff. Think I'm getting close to the end of the word limit, tho.
Yup, got a new story up. I still have several in progress, it just depends on my mood (or moods, as the case may be.) I have finished a few of them...they're all at the usual site if you want to read more, http://www.fanfiction.net/~bookwtchery
Please note: the computer I type this stuff up on has a freakish "h" key. I try to fix all the missing h's...but I do miss some of them. Please be gentle!

For now, here's the new story.
********************************
Elise yawned and stretched, then rolled over, expecting to curl into Brodi’s hard chest. She instead found a cold, empty mattress.

“Brodi?” she called out sleepily.

“Relax, my absahna. I’m here.”

She sat up in bed and looked over the foot of the bed to see the delicious sight of a shirtless Brodi in full back bend.

“Yum.” She said teasingly as she laid down on her stomach and rested her chin on her folded arms. Brodi chuckled as he lowered himself back to the floor. Then he stood and toweled off the glistening sweat before sitting down beside her.

“You’re up early, babe. I was trying to be quiet; I thought I’d let you sleep in. ”

Elise yawned and stretched again, then sat up and draped herself over his back, nuzzling his neck as she settled into a comfortable spot. God she was tired. They had gotten in late last night, and she certainly wasn’t expecting to be awake so soon.

“I could say the same thing about you, sweetie. You had a rough night sleeping.”

Brodi reached up and clasped her hand, kissing it softly before resting his cheek against it. “Which means you did, too. I am sorry, babe.”

Elise squeezed his shoulders then moved so sit facing him.

“Nothing to apologize for,” she said as she rested her hand once more against the side of his face. “I told you I’m in this for the long haul. Besides, it wasn’t as bad as it has been in the past. You were talking in your sleep, that’s all.” She hesitated a moment before looking into his eyes. “Is being here bothering you already?”

“Here” was his old college town, where he had started his undergraduate work. It was also where he had been kidnapped and tortured for three days, barely escaping with this life. It was those memories he had come to confront, albeit against the advice of his therapist, who felt he was moving too quickly. Elise herself had her doubts, but she knew Brodi was strong enough and well grounded enough to know what he needed to do to heal. She also wasn’t about to let him handle the situation alone. So, she had told Rahzel she was taking two weeks off, and the next day boarded a plane with Brodi headed for California; and now, here they were, in a hotel room with no set plans yet for how they were going to approach this. Brodi wasn’t aware of it, but she had this therapist and his mother on speed dial, although she didn’t know if that would be helpful or harmful in the long run.

Brodi turned his head slightly and kissed the palm of her hand, then leaned in and kissed her softly. “I’m fine, babe.” He said after lingering on her lower lip for a torturous moment. “You know I need to do this.”

Elise nodded sadly. “I know. I just keep thinking about what Andrea said.”

Brodi flinched slightly at the mention of this therapist’s name. Elise had come to a couple of sessions with him because she was closest to him and had seen him in the worst stages of the memory trauma. And, well, who were they kidding, the two of them had a sexual relationship together.

“Andrea?” he said, almost in disbelief. “Andrea’s not happy with the way I’m dealing with this; I know that. She’s a therapist. She’ll cope.”

“She’s worried that it’s too soon.”

“Too soon?” Brodi stood and started pacing the room. “It was 10 years ago. How long should I wait?”

Elise stood and stepped in his way to get him to look at her. “She means since the stalking incident at the lodge.” She stepped closer and rested her hands on his shoulders, sliding them down his arms before stopping at his elbows. “Honey, you’ve had a lot to deal with in the past year. You had a catastrophic injury; you’ve been very sick. You’ve been under extreme emotional stress…”

“I. Need. To do. This.”

Elise drew him to her and wrapped her arms around him. “I know,” she said simply, looking him directly in the eyes and holding his gaze. “I know you do. And that’s why I’m here with you. You aren’t going to deal with this alone.”

She rested her head on his shoulder and just let herself breathe into him. They stayed like that for a moment, just holding each other and breathing together, content to be with one another with no other thoughts but of the person they were holding.

“Well,” she said softly, punctuated with a soft kiss on the side of his neck as she released him. “what do you want to do first?”

His only response was to kiss her with an intensity that caused a shiver deep in her belly. She fell into it briefly, then pulled back and looked up at him.

“I meant,” she said, grinning as he moved in for another kiss, “outside this room.”

“Who says we have to leave the room?” he asked, kissing her too quickly for her to answer.

“Brodi,” she managed the next time she let herself come up for air, but the thought was cut off as he picked her up and eased her back on the bed. Then, leaning over her, propped up on his forearms, Brodi leaned in for another kiss. She dodged it, but he seemed just as happy nibbling at her neck.

“Sweetie,” she said between gasps of surprise and pleasure, “I don’t want you to think I’m against this in any…in any way, but…oh god…but shouldn’t we…shouldn’t we…”

“Should we?” he asked teasingly.

She rested a hand alongside his neck. “Brodi, honey…”

Brodi stretched out on the bed beside her, head propped up on one arm, his other hand resting on her abdomen. He gazed at her lovingly for a moment, hand moving in slow, small circles.

“Elise,” he finally began, “I don’t know what’s going to happen this week. But I do know that I will handle it better because you’re here. And because of that, I really feel that we need to take a day just to ourselves first. We’ll feel more rested and better able to handle whatever comes at us. So come on. Just one day to be together. I’m not putting anything off. I just want one day before I let them into my head again.”

He hesitated briefly before continuing. “I want one day where I can be with you without you feeling like you need to take care of me.”

“Brodi, I’ve told you before, honey. I don’t HAVE to do anything.”

“I know.”

“I also told you the day that bitch showed up at the lodge, that I was going to see you safely through this.”

“Elise, nothing matters but right now.”

“I just want to make sure you understand…”

“I do,” he whispered before he kissed her again. “I do perfectly.”

This time he kissed, starting gently but not backing off so soon. He broke off only long enough to change position on the bed, and she finally gave up trying to talk and gave in to the flutter that started below her navel and moved quickly into and up her spine. She melted into him, held to him, pulled him to her as if she could breathe him in.

And this was how they spent the rest of their day. She let him take her to a place she seldom let herself go, a place where she had no control, where she completely surrendered herself. She gave herself totally, and she let the minutes turn into hours until she felt herself finally drifting off to sleep in his arms.
****
Elise woke once again in the early A.M., content and completely relaxed, oddly secure with the strength of the arm slung over her waist. The warmth of the body spooned up behind her left her feeling more “right” than she had in a long time, and she basked in the comfort of how easily her breath synchronized to his. Elise had never needed a man to feel comfort, to feel secure. But this…she felt like she could actually lose herself without losing her Self.

Having watched her mother spiral downward after Elise’s father left, then watch her bounce back and forth between being Miss Independent and Miss Codependent, Elise vowed to never let a man define her or define herself by a man. She would have her sense of self, and she would not be tied down to any man. Men were friends and acquaintances at best, obstacles at worst. More often than not, they were obstacles.

A reporter once stated that Elise had been breaking hearts since she was sixteen, and her reputation as Ice Queen had begun. Her fate seem to be sealed when a pathetic excuse of a celebrity publicly blamed his drinking problem on her rejection of him, and from that moment she had embraced the title fully. Men were obstacles, and if the entirety of the straight gender was dumb enough to be distracted from a goal by a pretty blonde, so be it. She damned sure wasn’t going to be dumb enough to let an opportunity pass her by.

Then Brodi came along. She had flirted with the hot young surfer at a pre-race event in Garibaldi. He was charming, and she was determined to disarm him, to get him so distracted that he lost focus in the race. She had seen him race. He was fast; he was good; he was focused. She should have taken a clue from his mala, from the yin/yang and Om symbols that often decorated his clothing; they were more than just decoration for him. As it would turn out, it was she who lost focus. He was charming and friendly, even winked at her when she blew him a kiss as they approached the starting gate. When the lights hit green and the buzzer sounded to release them, the boy was all business. She actually blew her own chances in the race; when she was ahead, she’d let him catch up to her and pass her, try to get at him with whistles and the occasional taunt. Nothing phased him, and it was she who actually missed a jump she had intended to take, necessitating using a longer line. He smoked her, of course, and after the race she had followed him all the way back to his room afterwards to let him know that she had permitted him to win. His response? He kissed her hand (a favorite tactic of his) and invited her to dinner.

She would have said no. He had beaten her on her home turf; to make matters worse, he had beaten her in front of fellow countryman Psymon Stark. She had actually only accepted Brodi’s dinner invitation because she had seen that lunatic Stark waiting for her to deal out his own taunts. Most days she could take as well as she dished, but she was in no mood that day, so she lingered at Brodi’s door to give Psymon’s short attention span time to get bored.

It worked. Psymon left, but she was stuck with a dinner date she didn’t particularly want. Might as well have fun, she thought; besides, she had too much integrity to just stand him up. If she said she was going to do something, she did it. Something happened, though. She found that she LIKED Brodi. The sweet charm wasn’t an act. He was sweet. He was intelligent, too, and could hold his own in a conversation with her (in fact, if she admitted it to herself, he could easily leave her behind, and she was no slouch.) He listened to her when she talked, was actually interested in what she had to say. His eyes never wandered as if he thought her chest might suddenly proclaim the secret of life. He was polite to other women when he was with her, but he didn’t turn his head every time a pretty girl, or even Marisol, walked by. In short, they became very close friends without smothering each other.

After about a year of friendship (well, OK, friendship-with-benefits), he had approached her about durable power-of-attorney. For medical reasons, he explained, since family might be difficult to reach in an emergency. He would do the same for her if she wanted, though he didn’t expect her to if she wasn’t comfortable with it. She had done it. Neither expected to ever have to use it; foolishness of youth, perhaps, because they did work in a high risk sports industry.

And they didn’t have to use it, for at least three more years. Then Brodi’s accident came about, and she had become, quite literally, his voice, his advocate, his lifeline. Then the domino effect: a near-fatal bout of pneumonia, a stalking incident and an an ugly case of PTSD…well, suffice it to say, Elise and Brodi had seen each other through some turbulent and unpleasant times, and it was getting more and more difficult to say that Brodi was just a friend.

But maybe that’s where her mother had gotten it wrong, Elise thought as she felt herself contentedly melting into Brodi’s warmth again. Her mother was always looking for a man to save her. Elise wasn’t out to be saved; in fact, she was rather stubborn on that item. She had only begrudgingly developed a friendship with Brodi, and it turned out to be one of the best friendships she’d ever had. Maybe good, solid relationships started as good, solid friendships FIRST.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself, girl,” Elise warned herself silently. Brodi had been sick; very, very sick; deep healing had to happen on both physical and emotional levels. She mustn’t let the trauma of nearly losing him cloud her thoughts, nor confuse the heightened emotion from the PTSD she was seeing him through with a higher level of friendship or relationship. She couldn’t allow herself to become a constant rescuer. After all, didn’t she often tease Brodi about this same thing, about what she called his white knight syndrome?

And yesterday…yesterday had come about because he had wanted to remind her how to be with him, to forget about the caretaking. It had been surprisingly easy to forget that he had been sick, almost frighteningly easy to forget that he had nearly died. It seemed, even, that he had been able to move beyond, at least temporarily, the horrible sexual trauma he had suffered. Maybe they were helping each other. Isn’t that what a relationship is, give and take, helping each other?

But no; she cut herself off again. Decisions like this were not to be made in a state of heightened emotion. And heaven knows he had turned her to jelly several times yesterday and through the night; who knows how that level of endorphine release was affecting either of them.

Maintain the status quo, Elise, she thought to herself. Brodi himself admitted he had no idea what would happen this week. Help him chase and confront his ghosts. Then move from there.

**
Brodi slowly became aware of his surroundings as he awoke, and for the first time in a long time didn’t feel the need to mentally “feel out” his surroundings. He was solidly anchored in the here and now; everything from the faint scent of vanilla lotion to the warmth and comfort of the beautiful angel he was holding…all of it told him he was right where he needed to be. Best of all, he felt absolutely no tension in her body, from the length of her back pressed against his stomach, to his forearm resting on her stomach, to her legs slung over his. Her breathing was calm and even, and so frequently matched with his he even wondered if she knew she was doing it.

He knew it had initially been intentional, although he only knew of that second-hand. Nate had taught her the technique (a fact that Brodi was ashamed to admit never ceased to amaze him) while Brodi had been comatose. Of course, Brodi was on a ventilator for part of that time, so Nate had taught Elise comeditation mainly to ease her anxiety. She and Brodi had later used it for his pain control and to help refocus his drug-weary mind. Nate had thankfully never told her about comeditation’s main purpose: the Buddhist practice began as a way to ease the pain and fears of a dying patient. It had other purposes, at least a couple of them more cheerful and interesting, but it was first and foremost a transitional aid used to help the dying. Did Nate know this? Of course he did; he had used it himself to help himself and his dying mother. Odd practice for a Colorado rancher to pick up? Perhaps (and Brodi shamefully acknowledged stereotype prejudice here), but Nate had traveled the world, and like any good rancher knows how to make use of the tools at hand for whatever arises. Nate’s natural instinct during Brodi’s predicament was to fix it. However, since comas don’t really fall within the realm of the rancher (or even army medical corpsman, and the man was that, too), the cowboy focused on what he could do: help Elise. Any benefit that was passed on to Brodi at that time was pure gravy.

Some would perhaps have been jealous of the friendship that Nate and Elise had forged, but Brodi was eternally grateful. In truth, he and Elise never cemented anything beyond a close friendship. Additionally, although the technique had probably helped amp up her OCD side, the fact that Nate cared enough to help really seemed to help Elise finally begin to feel that she was with family, and Brodi had a feeling that she’d never experienced that. She was still a cautious, still Type-A, must-be-in-control commando, but she was learning to relax. In fact, Brodi doubted that the complete release of yesterday would have happened even six months ago.

The thought reminded him of the present. Now, Brodi. Here. This moment. This is all there is. Don’t lose track of what is right in front of you.

Her breathing was still in-sync with his, but there was some small amount of tension sneaking back in. My poor angel, he thought. Struggling with herself even while sleeping. He kissed the back of her neck and pulled her in closer to him.

“Mmmmm” she said softly, then sighed happily. Still sleeping, but she was starting to wake up. Her breathing pattern always shifted when she was close to waking up. He’d let her tell him she was awake this morning, though. It always seemed to bother her that he could tell when she was waking up; so he’d let it slide today.

“Too late, hotshot,” she said as she rolled over and kissed his collarbone. “I’ve been around you enough that I can tell when you’re reading me.”

Brodi laughed, then met her with a kiss. “Now who’s the mind reader? Good morning, sweet one. Sleep well?”

She leaned up and nibbled on his ear playfully. “After a point, yes. A certain brute had way more stamina than I expected. But no worries. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Brodi grinned. “Careful, absahna, or we won’t make it out of the room again, today.”

“Ooooh, twist my arm, gorgeous.”

Brodi laughed out loud at that.

“Don’t tempt me. However, we really should go get some breakfast. Otherwise, we won’t have the energy to do anything, regardless of what we decide to do.”

“You seemed to have plenty of energy at 3 a.m.”

“As I recall it was you that woke me up, my love.”

“Mmmmm…maybe.” She kissed Brodi then rolled on top of him, leaning in only for a quick kiss before sitting up and trailing her hands down his sides. “We can call a truce on that. I do remember that the shower was my idea. Hey, what time is it?”

Brodi angled himself to peer at the clock on the bedside table. “Almost 7. We’ve only been asleep a couple of hours.”

Elise peeled herself off of him and headed for the shower. “We got enough sleep from time to time.” She called over her shoulder. “Besides, I feel great. Let’s go grab something to eat.”
****
Brodi followed Elise into the bathroom and grabbed her playfully while she was adjusting the water temperature. That earned him a squeal from her and a gale of laughter.

“I meant, something to eat BESIDES me, you goofball.” She giggled as her feet touched the floor again. “Now, what do you want for breakfast? Should we do room service? Is there some old college haunt that you’re dying to get back to after all these years?”

A brief spark of a look passed over his eyes, and she realized that her last sentence had perhaps been worded poorly. Whatever it was, he covered it immediately with a smile and a kiss. Elise would let it go for now, though she had learned to be wary. She misjudged the meaning of a sudden look in his eyes once before and got herself thrown halfway across the room as a result; she hadn’t realized she’d triggered a full-fledged flashback. Brodi would never hurt her, but when he was in that kind of state he had no idea what he was doing. It didn’t appear to be happening now, but it paid to be aware.

“Well,” he said slowly as he turned away from her and started washing his hands. At first she didn’t think he was going to finish the sentence. She noted that he had turned only one knob: the water he was running over his hands was ice cold. Yup, definitely working to keep himself in the present. “I was thinking about this great little place that used to be on the boardwalk.” He said finally. “Locally owned bakery, they do fantastic scones, breads, pastries…they are fantastic. If they’re still there, we could…”

“Honey, it’s OK.”

Elise rested a hand on his forearm and reached across him and turned off the water.

“What?”

She took one of the hand towels and patted his hands dry, then held his hands in hers to warm them back up as she looked up at him.

“It’s OK. I know you feel like you need to do this, so we’re going to do it. The operative word here is ‘we’. This is Elise, remember? I am here with you. Now, I can hear the tension building in your voice. We’re going to proceed slowly, OK? We’ll play it by ear: one goal at a time. We spent the day in yesterday. Today, we’re going to jump into the shower and then go have breakfast. We’ll decide what we feel like doing after that. Deal?”

“Elise, I’m fine.”

“Of course you are. And you were just running ice cold water over your hands because…?” Elise took a step closer and took Brodi’s face in her hands, looking him directly in the eye. “You are fine, sweetheart. And we’re going to keep it that way. Now, let’s get to that shower before we waste all the hot water in the hotel.”

Elise pulled back the curtain and liner and stepped into the tub, holding her hand out to him. He stepped in beside her and replaced the curtain. Because of what was weighing on both their minds, this wasn’t their usual shower together. There was a fair amount of kissing, true, but it was followed more by just holding each other and even washing each other; much more sweet and tender than hot and sexy, but this worked just as well for them and to be honest both of them enjoyed it just as much. They read each other well, picked up on each other’s needs well. Elise just hoped that the trend would continue as they progressed through the next two weeks.
*******
“Brodi, this is FANTASTIC!”

It was just after 8am, and Elise was sitting with Brodi at an outside table in front of a boardwalk bakery named Kneadful Things. On Brodi’s advice she had taken a fresh croissant with the bakery’s own mixed honey-nut cream cheese. For a little while she could almost let herself feel like she was on vacation, not on this dark business they were on.

“Told you that you’d like it. And the mocha?”

“Pure, unadulterated heaven.”

A breeze just then came in off the water, and Elise threw her head back to catch the most of it; the feel of it in her hair, on her skin; the smell of the ocean air; she made a mental note to make Brodi catch a few waves sometime before they had to head back. It would do them both good.

“Brodi? Brodi Ford? Impossible!”

Elise opened her eyes, startled by the sudden exclamation, only to see a pony-tailed, goateed man in is mid-50’s standing at their table.

“Mark!” Brodi was saying. “How the heck are you? Elise, this is Mark Stevens, an old friend of the family. Mark, this is my gir…ah, good friend, Elise Riggs.”

“Ah yes, Miss Riggs. I believe I’ve heard Brodi’s parents mention you. They’re quite fond of you, pretty lady, if I recall correctly, and their high esteem is not given lightly. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”

Elise smiled as he took her hand, but was still a bit taken aback. Thankfully Brodi came to her rescue.

“Now, Mark. Don’t go stealing my thunder, pal. Care to join us?”

Mr. Mark Stevens looked from one to the other, apparently searching for a hint as to what his answer should be.

“Well,” he said hesitantly.

“Please do.” Elise offered as Brodi pulled out a chair and gestured towards it.

“Awww, why not? I can take a few moments for old friends. So what brings you kids to town? Isn’t this the middle of the snowboarding season? That is what you’re still doing, isn’t it? Professional snowboarding?”

Brodi stole a glance at Elise before he answered.

“I guess Mom and Dad didn’t tell you about my accident?”

Mark looked puzzled briefly, then accepted whatever train of thought he was following.

“Come to think of it, maybe they did. You’ll have to forgive an old man, Brodi. I did come of age in the late 60’s, you know.” He winked at them playfully before continuing. “Yes, yes. I remember your poor mother being frantic. I knew you’d been hurt, but I didn’t know it was that bad.” Mark turned to Elise before continuing. “Brodi was the miracle child among our group of friends. Trish and Kurt had trouble getting him to this earth safely, and they were never able to have any more children. The boy was healthy as a horse when he got here, but it was such a difficult pregnancy and labor, and Trish had already had a miscarriage or two. I guess I just figured she was being overprotective when she was so anxious.” Mark laughed to himself. “But then we were all the same way. Poor child had at least three sets of parents growing up, we all fawned over him so much.”

“Now Mark,” Brodi said teasingly, “no need to embarrass me in front of my friends. That’s Mom’s job.”

“Your mother,” Mark said as he shook his finger good-naturedly at Brodi, “did a damned fine job raising you. She was so scared when you went off to college. That’s why I told her and Kurt that you could stay at my beach house—promised them I’d keep an eye on you. Now,” Mark raised a hand to keep from being interrupted, “this boy has always had a good head on his shoulders, and I didn’t hover. I never interfered, never made him feel like I was watching him. And I hope I was a good enough pretend uncle when you were growing up that you were comfortable coming to me if you needed anything.”

Brodi smiled and clapped a hand on the pretend uncle’s shoulder. “I did, Mark. I did.”

Mark smiled. “Good.”

“Mr. Stevens?”

“Mark, please, dear.”

“Then, Mark? Do you still have the beach house? Brodi was going to show me some of his old haunts. I’d love to see it if we could.”

“Why yes, dear, I do. You kids want to meet me there around lunch time? I have some people to meet this morning, but my entire afternoon is free.”

Elise looked over at Brodi, who had gone a little distant. “Would you like to, Brodi?”

“Hmmm?”

“Would you like to meet Mark at his beach house? For lunch?”

“I could cook for you.” Mark offered. “Haven’t had anyone to cook for in a long time. Lunch, 12:30ish, you, me, and your pretty girl here?”

Brodi looked up from his tea.

“Oh yeah. Sounds great.”

“Then it’s settled. Still remember how to get there?”

“Of course.”

Mark pulled a small steno notebook out of his khaki sorts pocket and scribbled something on it, then ripped the sheet out and handed it to Brodi. “My cell number,” he explained as he stood up. “Call me when you’re on your way so I’ll know how to time lunch.”

And with that, Mark Stevens sauntered off down the boardwalk.

“Well, he’s definitely a character.”

Brodi nodded while taking a sip of his tea. “Has been a friend of the family for as long as I can remember. I think Mom and Pop knew him when they were in college.”

Elise smiled. “I think he has a bit of a crush on your mother. Can’t blame him.”

Brodi grinned mischievously. “Don’t tell me you have a crush on my mother.”

Elise smirked. “And if I did? I don’t think I’d stand a chance against your father. Those two are obviously deeply in love.”

Brodi stood, smiling, and offered Elise his hand. “Come on, Elise.” He said, “Let’s see what this day has in store for us.”
***
The day was busy after breakfast. By 9:30 they had rented a car—they could walk just about anywhere they needed from their hotel, but they would definitely need a car for the 2 hour trek into the mountains to his parents’ place. After the rental was completed, it was time for a little sightseeing. For a time the two of them looked around the many shops along the boardwalk, then they drove through the city where Brodi found the temple which housed the sangha Brodi had joined while attending school.

“It’s beautiful,” Elise whispered as they walked along the path lined with rock gardens, sand gardens, and various sculptures of dhayani Buddhas.

“This place saved me,” he said quietly. “Not just after; it started before. If I hadn’t been coming here before, I don’t think I would have had the inner strength to keep going.”

Elise had no need to ask before what. His entire life had been permanently divided into “before” and “after”, she realized. She had no response but to lean her head on his shoulder.

“Afterwards,” he continued, “if I couldn’t sleep and there were no waves to surf, I’d come here. Only rarely would I go inside. More often than not I would sit out here and recite my mantra over and over. One of the monks would usually find me asleep in one of the gardens.”

“What would they do?”

Brodi shrugged.

“Usually give me a cup of tea. The offer was synonymous with an offer to talk if I wanted to. Normally just sitting with someone helped.”

Elise kissed his shoulder and linked her arm through his. “I’m glad you had that, baby,” Then, after a brief silence, “Is that why you wanted to come here?”

Brodi nodded. “Mostly I think I just needed to know it was still here, to know they were still doing good.” He stopped and turned to her. “Would you like to go inside?”

“Can we?”

He nodded and approached the door. Together they removed their shoes and walked in. No one was in the sanctuary, so Brodi fished a $10 out of his pocket and placed it in a bowl at the feet of one of the Buddhas.

“One dollar for every year that has passed,” he explained. “It’s not a lot, but it’s a start, and they will put it to good use.”

“But no one is here. What if someone steals it before one of the monks sees it?”

“If it is stolen, it will hopefully still fill a need somewhere,” said a quiet voice from behind them.

They bot turned to see a monk in traditional orange garb approaching. Brodi bowed, hands in prayer position at his heart. Elise followed suit.

“Namaste, my friend,” Brodi was saying, “please forgive the intrusion. I attended sangha here many years ago and wished to repay, if humbly, some of the good this place has given me.”

The monk returned the bow gracefully. “Namaste,” he replied. “You entered with pure heart, so it is no intrusion. Your gift is appreciated, and your company is welcome. I am Ananda. May I offer you a drink, some food?”

Brodi and Elise introduced themselves and were led through the temple to the dining area, where they were treated to a cup of tea and conversation.

“Please stop in again before you finish your journey,” Ananda told them as they were leaving. “Almost everyone is out this time of day, but I am sure if you return there will be someone who was here when you were.”

Brodi and Elise thanked him and returned to their car.

“Are you disappointed? That no one you knew was there?”

“More relieved than anything, actually,” he admitted. “Now, shall we head to the beach house?”

Elise put her hand over his as he pushed the key into the ignition.

“Honey, are you sure you’re up to this?”

“Up to what? The beach house? I’ll be fine. Nothing happened there. I’ll be fine.”

Elise smiled grimly. “OK, luv. But I don’t know if you’re trying to convince me, or you.”

Brodi sighed and started the engine, handing Elise Mark’s phone number so she could tell him they were on their way.
**
They pulled up at the beach house ten minutes later, at about 12:15. Mark was standing on the lawn as Brodi pulled the car up the drive underneath the house. It was not lost on Elise that Brodi maintained a blank expression as he stopped the car and opened the door. The blank look morphed into a smile as Mark approached and opened Elise’s door for her.

“Hey kids! Glad you made it. Well, son, what do you think?”

Brodi looked up at the house and nodded approvingly. “You’ve really kept it up. Still renting her out?”

“Nope. Got tired of fixing damaged property. Nobody but family gets her anymore. Which means,” Mark looked over the top of his sunglasses at Brodi, “that you have access to it too. You have my phone number now, so no excuses.”

Brodi laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Now, how about a tour?”

“Love it!” Elise exclaimed.

The entire house was on stilts, like every other house that faced the beach. The lower end was nothing but a cement floor housing an outdoor shower stall, a picnic table, a hammock, and a clothes line. For access from the underside, there were stairs leading up to the front door, which opened immediately into a huge den. There were no carpets, just hardwood floors (easier to sweep sand out, and less difficult than carpet in case of flooding, Mark explained.) Only the kitchen and bathroom had linoleum.

“It’s all one level,” Mark was saying to Elise, “Open-air plan, except for the bedrooms and bathrooms of course. There are four bedrooms, two bath, just down that hall.”

The kitchen ad sliding glass doors which opened onto a small porch, which in turn hadits own private boardwalk leading to the beach itself.

The den contained a huge overstuffed sectional, powder blue print from the 80’s, a matching overstuffed loveseat and a papas an chair, all arranged around a glass coffee table strewn with sea shells and magazines. Against the wall at one end was a large screen TV, DVC, stereo, and even a game system or two.

Brodi wandered off by himself while Mark talked to Elise. Neither had really noticed he was gone until they heard a crash coming from one of the back rooms. The two of them sprinted down the hall and opened the door to the room the sound had come from. Inside, they found Brodi on the floor next to the bed, convulsing.

“Brodi!” Elise shouted as she knelt next to him.

Mark started tossing pillows towards her. “Put these around him to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. I’ll call an ambulance.”
***
Brodi’s “ghost hunting expedition”, as he’d come to think of it, was going well, and by that he meant nothing had gotten into his head yet. At least, not until this morning.

He had already started calling this trip his personal ghost hunting expedition, at least to himself, when Elise had asked him about old haunts. It was an innocent, legitimate question, but he immediately felt his chest tighten. A flash of something, still abstract in his mind but clear enough to be recognized as pain, pure, physical pain. He was aware of Elise waiting for an answer, but he kept rubbing his wrists and searching his mind for what he couldn’t quite grasp.

“Get hold of yourself, Brodi. Don’t lose it here. Not already.” He told himself. He turned on the sink…cold water. He forced himself to concentrate on the cold water running over his hands, forced himself to come up with an answer to her question. He heard himself answering her, but the words sounded foreign, cold, deliberate. He felt Elise reach across him and turn off the water, then he stood there like a child and let her dry his hands for him, let her close her smaller hands over is. He focused on her voice, tried to convince her he was OK.

Their shower together had finally cemented him firmly back in the present, and he relished every second of it. He had once been afraid that he would lose any chances with her if she found out about his past. He hated to let three days of his 29 years take up such importance, but when you entered a sexual relationship with someone, things were bound to come out. As it turned out, he took too long to tell her of his victimization and she accidentally triggered a major flashback. He could have hurt her, he realized, shuddering. Still, somehow, Elise had seen him trough it. She hadn’t left him alone. Instead of running from the room, she took the time to patiently talk him down, talk him back into the present. Then, much to his surprise, the woman who abhors weakness held him all the rest of the night, and when she looked at him it was with love, not pity or disgust.

As with most things, when something really wants your attention, it keeps pushing itself in your face. The shower and the leisurely morning with Elise had relaxed him again, and he was just beginning to feel like he could let go for another day when Mark had walked by.

Mark: old friend of the family. The man had practically helped his parents raise him. And the beach house—he had to mention the beach house. Brodi had intended to visit sometime before he left, but it was all screaming, “now, now, now!”

Maybe it was that. Maybe it was the visit to the temple beforehand. Regardless, the theme of the day was definitely the ugly part of his past. Was Andrea right? Was he moving too fast?

No, this needed to be dealt with. He’d been thinking about this trip ever since Lauryll had shown up and Elise had told him, “The past isn’t gone until you put it to rest.”

So he was here to do just that. Still, it all seemed to be rushing forward in one day, not in tiny bits spread out over two weeks like he had planned.

As he pulled up unde the house, all he could see was his buddy driving him home from the hospital. What was the guy’s name….Steve. Steve driving him home, furious that Brodi had signed himself out of the hospital AMA after getting stitched up. Steve helping him up the stairs, Steve unlocking the door for him, Steve offering to go get food, to go get prescriptions filled, to go get the guy who had “mugged” him.

These thoughts consumed him as he walked up the steps of the house he hadn’t been inside in ten years. He heard himself talking, knew he was interacting, saw Elise give him a curious glance once or twice, heard Mark giving Elise the grand tour.

But Brodi was already gone. He was wandering through the house a few hours after his escape, double and triple checking the locks on the doors, clearing the house. As he walked through the house, he could feel every painful step, every bruise on is body, could feel the residual energy of hours and hours of sleeplessness and refocusing and struggling, and even lying. Lying to his mother that he had the flu after exams. Lying to friends, the story of being mugged becoming second nature. Lying to himself that being sexually assaulted…sexually tortured…did not change who he was.

All of these emotions and memories rose as he walked through the house. He didn’t bother to keep track of Elise’s voice; he was too far gone for that to help him.

The bedroom. He was in his old bedroom. Hours and hours of nightmares, reliving every umiliating, painful, torturous moment in his dreams. No sleep, can’t sleep. Too hot. Showers…keep taking showers. Are the doors locked? The windows? Did Mark actually get to all the doors and windows when he changed the locks? Did they know were he lived? Is that noise…them? Are they going to finish the job before it can be reported?

Brodi felt his heart beating faster as he looked around the room. Something was different. He needed to get his breathing under control. What was different? Something was out of place, something here that shouldn’t be here. The room…too warm. Turning to leave…room spinning. White…everything going white. Then nothing.

Sounds of running, someone calling his name.

“Brodi!”

“I’ll call an ambulance.”

“No, wait!” That was Elise. “I think he’s waking up. Brodi? Honey, what happened? Talk to me, baby.”

No…can’t get air. No air…must get outside.

_________________
Never choose the well from which you will not drink.
Marion Zimmer Bradley


Last edited by bookwitch on Sat Feb 20, 2010 1:36 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 6:53 pm  Post subject: Re: Ghost Hunting  
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:22 pm
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Nice new story! Im not really a fan of ElisexBrodi, but, it's Great!!

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:52 pm  Post subject: Re: Ghost Hunting  
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Location: in the Gate of Greed, killing stupid n00bs
Awesome writing skillzzzz bookwitch :thumbsup :cheers :china
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:28 pm  Post subject: Re: Ghost Hunting  
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Location: Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, Philippines!! ^_^
aw!!!! if there would be Marisol/JP....
why not Elise/Brodi?!
but i owe this very much...

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wag magalit, trabaho lang.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 3:53 pm  Post subject: Re: Ghost Hunting  
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tecna jessie wrote:
aw!!!! if there would be Marisol/JP....
why not Elise/Brodi?!
but i owe this very much...

_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+_+
wag magalit, trabaho lang.


Well, Marisol and JP kind of deserve each other. ;) I've always felt that Elise had more of a personality than is normally attributed to her. And, if you've read my previous stories, you know I like to find the hidden qualities and the hidden stories. ;)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 5:29 pm  Post subject: Re: Ghost Hunting  
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:22 pm
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you are officially the best author on FF.net that ever lived

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