Anna recaptures her past.
Gerard smiled, “I was watching over you just as you have watched over me. How are you feeling now?”
“I feel..” She tried to put the intense feeling into words, “I feel as if a great burden has been lifted from my soul.”
Happiness made Gerard close his eyes a moment. “Good.’ He said from deep within his soul.
A soft knock on the door caused them both to still.
“I’ll see who it is.” Gerard said getting off the floor quickly. He pulled on his jeans then went to the door.
Christa was standing in the hall with a worried expression on her face, “We are all going into town for a late dinner. I told Ray I would come by and check on you guys.” She tried to look around Gerard, “How’s Anna?”
“I am fine now.” Anna had gotten up and threw on her robe.
Relief flooded Christa. She pushed past Gerard and went directly to Anna who opened her arms to hug the woman tightly.
“Oh Anna I’ve been so worried. I’m sorry about what happened at the museum.” Christa said shaking her head.
Anna smiled, “It is okay. I am glad it happened. For too long I was running from the past but no more.”
Christa took a step back and looked at her. While she was confused about what she had seen she could not ask Anna.
Anna understood her feelings, “It is me in the photo. It was taken just days before I died.”
“Oh” Christa blinked back tears.
“It is still hard for you to hear the word died.” Anna said with understanding. “I can feel that.”
“Yes.” Christa nodded, “Because to me you are so alive I can’t imagine you..” She refused to say the word.
Gerard walked over and lit a cigarette. Outside the sun was setting and the room was becoming filled with shadows. He flipped on the light by the bed and sat down.
“I’ll tell everyone you both are feeling better. I told Ray it was probably just a bit of altitude sickness.” Christa said looking over at Gerard.
He nodded, “Yeah, thanks.”
Anna looked over at him, “If it is okay with you I would like to have dinner with our friends.”
He was surprised. The last few hours had been so emotional he had believed she would want to say in the room. “You feel up to it, Sugar?”
Anna nodded, “Yes, I really do. Our life is wonderful and I do not want to waste one moment of it.”
“Yeah, it really is wonderful.” Gerard said smiling at her. He took a puff then looked at Christa. “Is everyone going now?”
“We are all meeting downstairs in a few minutes. Bronco Billy’s has a steak dinner special and that’s where we are going.”
“We will meet you there.” Anna said nodding.
“Great.” Christa smiled, “I’ll tell everyone. I’m sure Alicia will be thrilled at the chance to gamble a bit while we wait on you two.” With that she headed towards the door, “Oh and Anna..” She turned, “Claire has been worried sick about you. She wanted to come up and check on you but it was easier for me to get away from Ray.”
Gerard laughed, “Yeah cause you guys aren’t newlyweds.”
Christa nodded, “Yeah, that’s true.”
“I will speak to Claire alone.” Anna said softly, “But please assure her that I am fine.”
“Finally.” Frank said getting off the bench in front of the casino as he saw Gerard and Anna walking hand in hand down the sidewalk.
“Let me guess you’re starving?” Gerard laughed.
“Hell yeah.” Frank answered, “Alicia has assured me they have more than just steaks. They better.” He grouched.
Anna smiled, “I am sure they do. Is everyone else inside?"
“No, Bob and Claire wandered up the sidewalk when we first got here.” Frank explained, “And they better get back here quick.”
Just at that moment Bob and Claire appeared walking towards them. Anna noticed that Claire was clutching something in her hand.
“Anna.” Claire said smiling, “I am so glad you are feeling better.”
Anna looked into her eyes making sure Claire understood the underlining meaning, “Thank you. I am much better now.” She looked at the flat bag in Claire’s hands, “What is that?”
“Oh” Claire gushed, “Bob and I had a wedding photo taken.”
“A wedding photo?” Frank asked sounding confused.
Carefully Claire pulled it out of the bag. “Yes, it is an old time photo done on tin.”
They all gathered around to look at the photo. Claire was wearing an antique wedding gown and Bob was dressed as a lawman.”
“What the hell?” Frank laughed, “How come you’re Deputy Bob?”
Bob shrugged, “Figured I could pick whatever costume I wanted. Ya know they didn’t have rock stars back then.”
“Claire you look beautiful.” Anna said studying the photo. “And Bob you look quite handsome.”
Bob grinned, “Well we’re not smiling because they told us people didn’t smile in photo’s back then. That’s why we look so somber.”
Frank grinned mischievously, “I just figured Claire looked like that cause she realized she was really married to you.”
“Very funny, yard gnome.” Bob said rolling his eyes.
“She may not be smiling but look at her eyes.” Anna said softly, “You can see the happiness.”
Bob tightened his arm around his wife, “Yeah, and you can see it in mine too.”
After dinner the couples all headed in different directions. All but Gee and Anna decided to stay in town but they had decided to head back to the hotel. It has been a very emotional day and Anna knew Gerard was tired.
However when they got back to the room neither was too tired to make love. It was slow, sweet and passionate. Afterwards Gerard fell asleep being held tightly in Anna’s arms.
She waited for several hours until she knew he was deep in sleep before slipping out of bed. Tomorrow around noon they would be leaving Cripple Creek and there were several thing Anna needed to do.
The hotel was quiet as Anna walked down the stairs. Much to her relief since the hour was late she did not encounter anyone. As she pulled open the heavy wooden door and stepped out on to the porch the clear, crisp night air blanked her with memories. A bittersweet smile crossed her face as she traveled down the steps and into the yard. Immediately she looked up at the stars. Here in the mountains they were so clear and bright it looked as if you could simply reach up and touch one. When she was little her mama had told her it was possible. Anna still liked to believe that maybe it just was.
Gerard stood in the shadows of the porch watching Anna. He’s sensed she was gone the moment she left the bed. Something had told him not to question her when she’d dressed quickly then left the room. That same feeling had told him to follow her. Now as he watched the moonlight seemed to make her long, flowing hair glow. He couldn’t see her face clearly but he believed she was smiling. Once, then twice she twirled around then stretched her arm out as if she was reaching for something.
Anna giggled quietly. How silly to try to touch the stars yet it felt good to try. She turned and moved along the path then headed down the road.
Gerard pulled his jacket closed tightly around his body then began to follow her steps. Nights here were cold and while he felt the chill but it didn’t slow him down. He made sure he could still see Anna in the distance. She was walking with purpose headed to an area of town they hadn’t explored.
Anna slowed her steps as she reached the end of Bennett Ave. A part of her wanted to stop and return to the hotel, to return to Gerard’s arms but she forced herself to continue. She needed to face this so she could let go.
Gerard saw her slow down so he quickly stopped walking and stood completely still. In the distance a dog backed but then fell silent.
Walking slowly the past once more came into focus. The alley looked different. One of the original buildings had been replaced by newer style architecture but the other building was the original. Anna forced herself to reach out and touch the cold, hard bricks with her fingertips. She closed her eyes remembering the pain….
“Anna why have you come here?”
His voice didn’t surprise her she had felt her presence once she reached the alley. “I needed to.”
Gerard stepped into the alley, “This is where it happened?” He asked but already knew the answer.
She turned to face him, “Yes, this is where I….” She paused feeling a sense of peace, “This is where my life began again.”
“Yeah, Sugar.” Gerard said moving to take her in his arms, “It is.”
Anna smiled looking into his face, “How long were you following me?”
He grinned, “Pretty much since you left.”
“Oh” She giggled, “I was so caught up in the memories I did not sense you until a few moments ago. Did you see me trying to touch a star?”
“That’s what you were doing?” He smiled.
“Yes, when I was little mama told me it was possible so I thought I would try.” She interlocked her fingers with Gerard’s.
He was happy she was recalling the good memories of her past. “They do look close enough.”
Anna took one final look at the alley. “I am ready to move on.” She whispered.
Gerard nodded and they slowly walked back to the street. “So now where?”
Anna gave him a surprised look, “You know that there are other places I wish to visit?”
He nodded, “Yeah, not sure how I know I can just feel it.”
They had began walking slowly, “Gee, I wish to go to home.” She said softly, “But I realize the chances of the house still standing are very slim. Still…”
“I understand but it’s dark.”
Anna smiled, “I have no problem seeing in the dark. But you should go back to the hotel.”
He stopped walking then looked into her face, “Is this something you want to do alone?"
“It is almost two miles and quite cold.” Her concern for him was apparent.
“I can walk two miles and it ain’t all that cold.” He lied. In truth he was already feeling the chill seep through his jacket but he didn’t want her to go alone. “Unless this is something you really want to do by yourself.”
“I always want you at my side.” Anna answered.
“Then lets go.” Gerard said giving her hand a squeeze.
Once they had reached the edge of town Anna led them off the road and across the barren land. While much of the geography had changed over the years she instinctively knew the way home. They cut across a rocky field.
“What do we say if someone sees us?” Gerard asked softly.
“Gee there is no one out here this time of night but even if they did I could handle the situation.”
He thought a moment; “Oh like you did with Frank when he tried my drink?”
‘Yes, glamour.” Anna answered.
“Anna” He tightened his hold on her hand, “Do Healers use glamour often?”
She stepped over a large rock jutting out of the ground and made sure he didn’t trip before she answered, “Some use it more than others but we are warned not to use that particular skill too often. In truth we are only supposed to use it when there is no other way to escape a situation.”
Gerard looked over at her and in the moonlight she looked so young and beautiful. It was like this place was somehow returning her to the girl she once was.
“Why are you staring at me?” Anna asked without looking at him.
He laughed, “How do you know that’s what I’m doing?”
“Gee.” Anna giggled, “I can sense what you do. Now tell me.”
“I was just thinking how beautiful you look.” He answered honestly.
Jacob sat down behind his deck, folded his hands, then closed his eyes. He had promised himself he would not interfere in Annabelle’s life unless the need arose but that promise did not keep him from being concerned. Earlier he’d been shocked when he’d suddenly tapped into her emotions with attempting to do so. She had been distraught and from the small snippets of her memories she was reliving he knew they were brutal. However he had also seen some things that shocked him. Annabelle had never told him about her life just prior to when he’d turned her. He had asked once and the look of devastation on her face had prevented him from doing so again. Many times he had wondered if he should have forced her to tell him because he knew the memories were haunting her.
A smile covered his handsome face when he saw a quick vision of her in his mind. He knew instinctively where she was and what she was doing…she was going home. He was pleased to know that Gerard was at her side.
His first thought had been that she would succumb to disappointment and regret. Would Annabelle realize you could never really go home? But just a quickly he felt her emotions and realized she understood this, she understood she couldn’t go home but she could say goodbye.
“My beautiful Annabelle.” Jacob whispered before opening his eyes. He felt a sense of peace knowing she had faced her demons and was moving foreword.
Gerard was about to ask how much further when Anna suddenly came to a complete standstill. She pulled her hand from his then began to run. She knew this place, these crumbling rock walls…she was home.
When he caught up to her she was standing staring down. It took him a minute for his eyes to adjust to the darkness before he could see the remains of a foundation.
There wasn’t much left to testify that a house once stood on this spot. Sadness filled his heart, what was left of Anna’s home was nothing but a pile of rocks.
“I knew it would be gone.” Anna said sadly.
“I’m so sorry Sugar.” Gerard whispered.
She forced herself to smile, “It is okay. I know it is silly but I just hoped something more than this would be left. I wish you could have seen my home.”
Her sweet voice touched his heart, “Then let me see it through your memories. Describe it to me.”
Anna titled her head then smiled. “Over there.” She pointed to one corner, “That was where Clarissa and I slept.,,,and there….”
Gerard listened as she described each small room of the stone house. In his mind he could almost see it, he could almost feel the love that had filled the structure. He stood behind her with his arms around her small body holding her tight. When her voice finally grew quiet he whispered in her ear, “Thank you for sharing that part of your life with me.”
Anna sighed, “Thank you for coming out here with me. Sharing these memories makes them even more special.” She turned in his arms, “But you are cold and we must get you back.”
He picked up on what she had just said, “Get me back? Is there somewhere else you want to go?”
“Gee, it will be dawn soon. I know you are cold and exhausted.”
He lowered his face to hers and whispered, “Where are we going now?”
“I want to visit their resting place.”
He nodded, “Then that’s where we’ll go.”
Anna sighed, “Gee, are you sure?”
“Yes.” He kissed her lips gently. “I’m sure.”
Moving out of his arms Anna bent down and picked up three small stones then put them in her pocket. She then pushed up her sleeve and bit her arm.
“Anna you don’t need to do that, I’m okay.” Even as he said this his teeth began to chatter from the cold.
“It will warm you.” Anna said lifting her arm. She closed her eyes as he lowered his lips to the wound.
Suddenly his head was filled with visions and he realized he was suddenly seeing the memories she’d shared with him. He continued to drink until she gently pulled her arm away.
“Anna” He said excitedly, “I just saw them.”
She gave him a confused looked, “What?”
“I saw your parents and your sister. I actually saw them.” He described in great detail what each family member looked like as Anna listened in shock.
“Oh Gee.” She finally said, “You really did see my memories. I can not begin to explain how much that means to me.”
“Me too, Sugar.” He put her arm around her shoulder as they began to walk back towards town, “It was incredible.”
The trip back seemed much faster to Gerard because his body was now being fueled by Anna’s blood. He no longer felt the cold; he was filled with a warmth that came deep from his soul. As they walked a thought suddenly came to him. Anna thought they only had one more stop but he was planning one of his own.