Adrian stood there for a moment silent and staring at Brooke with a look that made her heart sink. The butterflies that filled her belly fluttered away and left her with feelings of sadness and regret. Wishing she could turn back the hands of time, she opened her mouth to say 'I'm sorry' but before the words could escape her lips...
"You gonna invite me in?"
She stepped aside and allowed him to enter the room. She shut the door, took a deep breath and turned to face him. He was leaning against the chest of drawers that the television sat on with his arms folded.
"What are you doing here, Adrian? How did you find me?"
"Come sit down, Brooke."
She did as she was told looking like a child that just got called to the principal's office.
"It is nice to see you're alive. I started thinking the worst."
"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to make you worry. How did you find me?"
"I had no clue you were down here. When you disappeared I decided to postpone my flight. I didn't know what happened to you. It didn't feel right to leave without giving it some time so I called a couple of my friends and they invited me down for the tarpon rodeo. Imagine my surprise when I saw you on the beach. I was shocked. I couldn't have been but ten feet away from you.”
She realized that she needed to be more aware of her surroundings.
"I had a lot on my mind."
"You care to fill me in?"
"I think it's best if I don't."
"I can't accept that, Brooke. I won't accept that. I was about to move you into my home, start a life with you. Do you think I can't see the fucking bruises under your makeup?"
She shook her hair in an attempt to cover her face.
"No, Brooke. Tell me what happened."
"I don't want you involved, you should just go home."
She had never spoken words that stung as much as those did when she said them. She wanted nothing more than to forget the events of the past few days and fly home with him like they planned. That was just a fantasy now. There is no way she would allow herself to be with someone as good as him being the monster she perceived herself to be. She debated with herself about telling him the truth. Maybe knowing the truth would make him realize that he needed to get as far away from her as he could.
She sighed, "Alright, Adrian. Maybe you should come sit down now."
He walked to the other side of the bed and sat down, his face full of worry. Fidgeting, she took a deep breath and proceeded to tell him the details of what happened in her dorm room and how she ended up in Grand Isle. As she got deeper into the story, expressions of shock and horror enveloped his face. When she finished, he was speechless. She thought the truth had done the trick and he would walk out the door and never look back. She was wrong.
After about a minute of trying to process the things he just learned, "Why didn't you call me, Brooke? You know that was self-defense, right?"
"C’mon think about it. No one would believe that. She didn't have a gun or a knife or anything that could be considered a weapon."
"What about your face?"
"She kicked my ass. Is that enough of a reason to kill her? That's what it looks like, Adrian.. I've thought about this. Shit, it's all I ever fucking think about."
"Are you positive that you're not a suspect?"
"Not really. I mean, I don't think so but if they find out her identity then they could possibly find the connection between us."
"Jesus, Brooke. Why the fuck didn't you just let me come with you?"
"It's water under the bridge now."
He shifted his body to face her and grabbed her hand.
"Let me help you, Brooke. I can get you the best attorney..."
"No, Adrian, this is my cross to bear. You will not be involved in this." She pulled her hand away. "I think you should go."
"Please, just go."
Without looking at him she got up, walked to the door and placed her hand on the doorknob. "I'm sorry, Adrian."
Fighting back the tears, she opened the door. He got up in disbelief at how things were ending and slowly walked to the door. He looked at her once more hoping she would say something and when she didn't he walked away and didn't turn back. She shut the door, collapsed across the bed and cried herself to sleep.
She was startled awake mid-morning by the sound of the room phone ringing.
"This is Cindy at the front desk. Someone has left an envelope for you. Would you like me to bring it to your room?"
"No, No. I'll pick it up a little later. Thanks."
She hung up and rolled over. She already knew who the envelope was from. She was mentally drained and didn't want to deal with it so she slept a few more hours. She woke later that afternoon, took a shower, got dressed and ran down to the office to retrieve the envelope she was sure Adrian had left for her. She was right and went back to her room to open it.
Sitting on the bed she pulled a handwritten letter out of the envelope.
I understand why you did what you did and I don't like it but I do understand why you've pushed me away. I will respect your wishes and leave you alone.
But if you ever change your mind and want or need my help or if you just want to pick up where we left off, you are always welcome to meet me in Denver. You are NOT the monster you think you are and I hope one day you will realize that.
If you haven't seen it already, I left something else for you. It's not much, just a little something towards helping you with a fresh start. You will also find my address and phone number on the check.
All My Love,
She took the check out of the envelope and sobbed when seeing it was made to cash for five thousand dollars. She held it against her chest and mentally thanked Adrian for that final act of generosity. It was also more proof that she didn't deserve to be with him. She made the right decision sending him away. She left the room and walked the grounds when she ran into Roy and asked him where she could cash the check. Since it was made to cash he had no problem cashing it for a fee of two hundred dollars. She also informed him that she would be leaving and no longer able to work. He was disappointed but wished her well.
It was time to make a plan. She went back to her room and packed her things. Before heading out she sat with the cell phone and searched for a map of Southern Louisiana. She wanted to stay in the state for the time being thinking it would be easier to keep her eyes and ears on any developments that may arise with the Jada situation. She probably could have stayed in Grand Isle for a while but the thought of just one road on and off the island wasn't very appealing with the situation she was in. She looked west, as far west as she could go without crossing the Texas border.
Lake Charles was her new destination. She grabbed her belongings, checked out of her room and was looking forward to the next leg of her journey.
Once she got off of the island she drove west with the music turned up, a pocket full of money, an uncertain future and hope that she would not spend the rest of her life in prison. The only thing missing was Adrian. She knew she did the right thing but she would always wonder what could have been. He awakened something in her and showed her just how sweet life could be.
After a couple of hours on the road and a couple more to go she decided to seek out a place to eat. In this area of Louisiana you never have to travel too far to find a roadside diner or a hole-in-the-wall kitchen serving home cooked food. She found a small place on Highway 90 in Franklin, Louisiana with a wooden sign out front that said 'Hot Plate Lunches' and old gas pumps proudly standing strictly for decoration.
Brooke felt uneasy when she walked through the door as every eye in the place looked in her direction. She hated being the center of attention and oftentimes wished she was invisible. She glanced around and found that the food was served buffet style. She passed and got a look at her options while heading to the restroom and was disappointed by what she saw. She decided to skip the plate lunch. After washing her hands, she grabbed a Coke and a Snickers bar and got back on the road.
She drove west for two more hours and saw the exit sign for Lake Charles when a sudden an unwelcome memory surfaced and struck her with the familiar fear she came to know well. His face always did that.
Brooke's father had an occupation installing security systems for residential and commercial clients and until she and her brother were old enough to stay home alone, on occasion they would have to accompany him. These jobs would often require the buildings to be empty and would have to be completed after business hours. This gave dear old Dad the opportunity to do the horrific things he did to her. It was easy for him to give Jacob busy work while Brooke and her father retreated to another part of the building for some privacy.
She had been to Lake Charles before and that memory came flooding back making her feel like that weak and scared little girl she was not so long ago. She took the exit and pulled into the first place she could find. Shaking and terrified she took some time and trying to calm herself and remember all of that was over. She wasn't a stranger to these memories surfacing but it was never easy reliving those moments her mind seemed fit to block. She didn't understand why they wouldn't stay locked away.
She finally got herself together and questioned if Lake Charles is the right place to be. She put the car in gear and looked for the nearest place to rest her head for the night.
“Without realizing it, I fought to keep my two worlds separated. Without ever knowing why, I made sure, whenever possible, that nothing passed between the compartmentalization I had created between the day child and the night child.” ― Marilyn Van Derbur
Dear Loyal Readers,
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you have enjoyed Chapter 13. Please stay tuned for Chapter 14. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments as I love hearing what you all have to say. If you would like to be added, just let me know and I will be honored to tag you for the release of each new chapter. Thank you for all the love and support you've shown since starting this journey with me.
Thanks for stopping by y'all!