Reba walked into her bedroom, stopping in the doorway as she glanced about the room. She sighed when memories of her and Brock played out in the room. Some were good and some were bad, but she couldn't help but cherish each and every one of them. She shook her head, trying to ignore the ghosts dancing around the bedroom, and entered the room, shutting the door behind her. She took her robe off, tossing it to the rocking chair in the corner of the room. She climbed onto her bed, pulling the blankets tightly around her body.
Reba closed her eyes, beginning to count sheep in hopes of falling asleep soon, but after a few minutes she began tossing and turning with restlessness. She ran her hands over her face, frustrated with the thoughts bouncing around inside her head. She rolled her eyes when the storm started up again, sending loud booms of thunder and bright flashes of lightening through the room. Rolling over to her left side, she stared at the blinds hiding the window. Thoughts of Jeremy returning, waiting outside in the storm, forced her heartbeat to increase, but she was determined not to fall victim to them once again. Instead she sat up, turning on the lamp next to her bed, and focused on the memories of her and Brock playing out in front of her.
She concentrated on one specific memory of her and Brock dancing quietly together late one night after a long day of taking Cheyenne and Kyra on a hike through the woods. It had been the first time that they'd had a moment to themselves since Kyra had been born, and Reba smiled as she remembered how wonderful and simple that moment had been. Reba took a deep breath, the memory fading away and the loud scratching of small tree limbs against the window registering in her mind. She closed her eyes, counting to ten before opening them. She jumped slightly, and cursed when she realized nothing had been there to scare her. She sighed, lying back down and pulling the blankets completely over her head. She took a deep breath, repeating over and over that she had nothing to be afraid of, but it did little to calm her nerves.
She opened her eyes when she heard Brock's laughter come from the living room, and she smiled at the sound. He must have been watching a late night show, waiting to go to bed until he was certain she would be fine on her own. Reba tossed the blankets off of her as she climbed out of bed. She headed down the hallway, reminding herself that Brock didn't expect her to be so strong so soon. Once she made it to the end of the hallway, she peeked around the corner to watch Brock. He was stretched out on the couch, chuckling at the television. She smiled at the sight, and backed away slowly and quietly. He was having a good time, and she really didn't want to disturb that. Besides, he did expect her to work on getting better, and how would she ever do that if she continued to rely on him to chase away her every fear.
Reba darted quietly back into her room, climbing into bed with a slight tremble. She had to make it through at least one night just to prove to herself that it could be done. She took a deep breath and counted the number of times Brock laughed before he finally shut off the television and tip-toed down the hallway to his own room for the night, checking on her as he did. Reba sighed, rolling over onto her back. She could already tell that she was in for one very long, sleepless night.
The next morning, Reba walked into the kitchen, finding it empty. She sighed, realizing that Brock had to still be asleep. She rubbed a hand over her face and through her hair, mad that the morning had taken so long to arrive. She moved to the coffee pot, starting the first brew of the day. Reba sat down at the kitchen table, tapping her fingers as she stared at the wall. Her thoughts drifted over the last year or so of her life, and she realized that it had come down to sleepless nights and extremely long, exhausting days.
The coffee machine began beeping, bringing her out of her thoughts. She stood up, sighing as she poured herself a cup of coffee. She walked out of the kitchen, moving to the back porch. She closed her eyes briefly as fresh air wrapped around her. She took a sip of her coffee, opening her eyes to stare at the woods around the cabin. She studied the area carefully, noting clear paths and good hiding places. Her eyes stopped on a wide, clear path made of stone layered into giant steps. It led up the hill to a secret, hidden place.
Reba smiled when she remembered where exactly the stone path led to, and she quickly moved to the steps of the porch, rushing down them and running across the grass. She planted her bare feet on the cool stone, looking over her shoulder for only a second before slowly disappearing into the woods. Her breath caught in her throat when she finally made it to the end of the path and she stopped dead in her tracks as tears blurred her vision.
Anna looked at her watch as she stood on the dock, sighing when she noticed it was close to six in the morning. The man had called her back around four, asking her to meet him at the dock by six. She glanced around her, noticing a few fishermen climbing onto their boats. She took a deep breath, hoping she wasn't being fooled. She smiled to an old man as he stopped next to her. He leaned his body weight onto the railing as he looked out to sea. She let out another deep breath as she glanced around the boats and dock again. She jumped slightly when the old man cleared his throat and started talking to her. "You Anna Shelton?" He asked, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it. Anna nodded her head, turning around to face him. "All right then, let's get going. Leroy's expecting us by seven." The old man pushed away from the rail, and started walking down the dock.
Anna took a deep breath, glancing over her shoulder before darting after him. "I'm sorry, but where are we going?" The old man sighed as he stopped in front of a boat. He held his hand out for her, helping her climb into the boat before climbing in his self.
"You wanted to talk to Leroy. Well, that's what we're doing." Anna sat down and took the life jacket he was offering her. "I called him, told him you were looking for him, and he said to bring you on out to the boat. He needed some supplies anyways." Anna nodded her head, still uncertain of what was happening, but decided to stay silent for now. As long as she got back in time to pick Kyle up from the airport, she was fine.
Brock stepped into the kitchen, running a hand over his face and through his hair. He hadn't slept at all the night before, and he was hoping that hadn't been the same case for Reba. He moved to the coffee pot, finding a fresh brew awaiting him. He took a deep breath filling a cup and heading to the back porch in search of Reba. He stopped on the back porch, looking around the woods. When he saw her coffee cup sitting on the porch rail, he felt his heart rate increase, and he called out loudly for Reba. When he didn't get a response he spun around, running inside and calling out for her again.
With silence still as his answer, Brock darted back outside. He ran down the porch steps, where he spotted the stone path that he, Ralph, and Richard had worked hard on for their wives. He took off across the grass, ignoring the cold stone on his bare feet as he reached his full speed. She had to be up there. If she wasn't then he wouldn't be able to handle the thoughts and feelings he knew would be within him.
Anna was startled when the old man's voice drifted over the sound of the ocean and interrupted the silence they had fallen into when they'd left the dock. "I don't normally like to get involved in Leroy's business, but I recognize your last name. Jeremy's your brother, isn't he?" Anna nodded her head, a sudden nervous fear inching up her spine. She took a deep breath, second guessing her decision to climb onto a boat with a complete stranger. "Leroy doesn't care much for Jeremy anymore, thinks he killed his sister." Anna nodded her head once again, keeping her eyes locked on the older man's body.
"That's what I wanted to discuss with Leroy. It might help with a situation Jeremy's involved with now." The old man took a deep breath, his eyes darting around the water. "I'm sorry, but who are you? How do you know Leroy?" Anna knew she was pushing her limits, but she had to know. She couldn't help but want to solve the puzzle.
"Uh, I'm his father, Carl." Anna was shocked, and felt her heart skip a beat at the realization that her brother had more than likely killed his daughter. "Well, we're here." Carl shut down the boat, moving away from the wheel. He sat across from Anna, keeping his eyes away from hers.
"I'm so sorry, Mr. Hensley." Carl waved her off, no longer in the mood to talk. He cleared his throat, opening the ice chest at his feet and pulling out a drink. Anna turned her eyes to the water, her attention landing on a boat heading in their direction. "Is that Leroy?" Anna motioned with her head, her stomach doing flips when Carl nodded his head.
Within a few minutes, Leroy was joining them on Carl's boat. "Anna?" She nodded her head, standing up. A small smile stretched across his face as he looked her over. "You've really grown up. The last time I saw you…" He trailed off, the smile dropping from his face. "Anyways, you wanted to talk to me?" Anna nodded her head, taking a deep breath as she tried to find a way to phrase her questions.
"I'm not really sure how to go about this, Leroy, but, uh, I think Jeremy's done something…wrong." Anna took a deep breath, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear. "I was thinking about him last night, and I remembered how you blamed him for your sister's…" She trailed off when Leroy's face tensed. She sighed, noticing how much he and his father were still affected by her death. "You said he…uh…"
Leroy nodded his head, sitting down across from her. They both sat in silence while Carl grabbed a box of supplies and left his boat for Leroy's. "He raped her and then tormented her for months. Your brother's always been different, Anna. I just didn't know how different until my sister told me what he'd done to her." Anna stayed silent, the slight rocking of the boat adding to the uneasiness in her stomach. "I don't really like to talk about it. My dad and I like to remember her happy, but if you think he's up to something again…I'll help."
Anna nodded her head, hesitating for a minute before continuing their conversation. "I think he's done it again…might even still be doing it." She stopped when she saw Leroy look away, his jaw tightly clenched together. Anna swallowed the lump in her throat before telling him everything she knew about Reba and her brother. Leroy listened intently, making a few under the breath comments on occasion.
Reba cautiously stepped towards the gazebo, entering it as she took a deep breath. She ran her hand along the wooden bench, sitting down in the middle of it as tears slipped down her cheeks. The men had built this secret gazebo for their wives to go to for a few hours each day. They had called it their own personal wives' club, and this was where they had talked about all the horrible and wonderful moments of their lives. Reba closed her eyes, picturing her long ago friends sitting next to her. She took a deep breath, stretching out on the bench as she felt built up tears fall from her shaking body.
Brock hesitantly stopped at the top of the hill, trying to catch his breath as his alert eyes scanned the gazebo and the woods surrounding it. He called out for Reba, his breath hitching in the middle. He closed his eyes when he didn't receive an answer, and he fell to his knees, holding back tears.
Reba sat up slowly, looking over the back of the bench. She frowned when she saw Brock on his knees, and softly called out to him, watching as his head shot upwards. He jumped to his feet, running to her side and pulling her to her feet. He cupped her cheeks in his hands, a smile spreading across his lips. His eyes locked with hers as they tried to blink back their tears. "You're okay? I haven't lost you." Reba could barely make out what Brock was saying, but she nodded her head, her hands wrapped around his lower arms. Brock took a deep breath, gently pulling her closer to him. He kissed the top her forehead, his lips lingering for a moment. He lowered his head, their foreheads barely touching. "I didn't lose you." His whispered breath brushed across her skin and lips, forcing her to close her eyes as his words slowly sank in.
Reba swallowed the lump in her throat, quiet tears slipping from her eyes. "I'm sorry. I should have told you." Brock looked up, his eyes catching hers. The corner of his mouth curled slightly upwards as his tears still occasionally slipped from his eyes. He gently wiped her cheeks with his thumbs before pulling her into a warm, tight hug.
"It doesn't matter anymore. You're okay. That's all I care about right now." Reba closed her eyes, wrapping her arms tightly around Brock as they both silently cried a little more. Brock was the first to pull away, still trembling with fear. As his eyes danced around her slightly dampen, redden face, he tucked strands of her soft hair behind her ears. Reba watched as he took a in a shaky breath, noticing that he still wasn't satisfied that she was all right. She covered his hands, which cupped her cheeks, with her own and softly called out his name to gain his full attention.
"I'm fine. I promise." She gave him a small smile, using her thumbs to rub the back of his hands for a second before pulling his hands away from her face. "I wanted to see this place again." Reba glanced around the gazebo, her smile growing slightly before she looked back to Brock. "I got excited, and didn't think about leaving you a note. I'm sorry." She swallowed, and watched as Brock did the same. He gave her a small smile, a tiny bit of uncertainty remaining. Reba gently wiped at his cheeks, erasing the tear tracks. "I am safe." Brock and Reba both took a sharp intake of breath at her sentence, realizing in separate ways that she was indeed safe.
Reba smiled as Brock pulled her into another hug, and tried to keep her thoughts in the back of her mind. She had said she was safe because she felt it, but did she want to believe it so easily? Did she want to let her guard down so soon? Reba held her breath as Brock pulled away from her, his eyes looking at the ground as he released a shaky breath. His eyebrows scrunched together, and Reba suddenly became nervous at the reprimanding expression on his face.
"Why are you barefooted? It's cold and wet out here." Reba rolled her eyes, and let out the breath she was holding. "You might be fine now, but you'll get sick if we don't get you back inside. Come on, I'll make us breakfast and start a fire." Brock wrapped his hand around hers, starting to lead the way back to the cabin. Reba kept her eyes down as she started to walk, and scoffed when she noticed he didn't have any shoes on either. "Oh, no, don't start with me, Missy. We both know I handle the cold better than you." Reba rolled her eyes, playfully smacking his back before moving to his side as they walked. Emotions and thoughts still gripped at their minds and hearts, but for now, they were both content to ignore them as they ate breakfast and enjoyed each other's company. Maybe afterwards they would have the strength to tackle what was currently haunting them?
Jeremy glanced around his room as he stood in the doorway. Kyle hadn't arrived home for lunch, and the break in habit aroused Jeremy's suspicions. He hadn't spoken to Anna in two days either. He slowly entered his room, opening his dressers. His clothes had been touched, and Jeremy felt his anger rising slightly. He turned to stare at his laptop, and his arms dropped to his side when he noticed the chair had been turned away from the desk. He made it a point every time he stood up to turn the chair towards the desk. Jeremy pulled his cell phone out of his pocket to call his brother-in-law.
His eyebrows rose when he noticed a missed call. He pressed the send button, putting his phone to his ear as he waited for his phone to connect to his voicemail. "Hey, Jeremy, it's Kyle. I, uh, planned a last minute surprise for Anna. I'm boarding a plane to Houston right now. Thought I'd, uh, check out the house she bought and maybe even visit my parents. You're more than welcome to stay at the house for as long as you want. Our home is your home. Talk to you later. Bye." Jeremy deleted the message before hanging up his phone, and moving to his computer. He sat down, turning it on and signing into his laptop.
Anna took a deep breath as she stared at the approaching dock. Her conversation with Leroy had taken a lot out of her, and she couldn't imagine what it had been like for him. She glanced at his father, her heart breaking at the sadness on his face. They hadn't said a word since they'd started back, and a part of her was glad. She sighed as Carl eased the boat into its proper place, and once he told her it was safe, she darted off the boat. "Thank you, Mr. Hensley. I know that couldn't have been easy for you or Leroy, but it's going to help another woman out greatly." Carl nodded his head, turning his back to her and heading down the dock to another boat.
Kyle took a deep breath as he searched the airport for his wife. He hadn't felt a moment of relief or comfort since he'd found those pictures on Jeremy's computer. He smiled when he saw Anna walking towards him, and dropped his suitcases at his side as he wrapped his arms tightly around her. "I was so worried about you." Anna kissed her husband, taking a step back and reaching for one of his suitcases. "So, what'd you tell Jeremy about leaving?"
Kyle took a deep breath, following her back to her car. "Well, I left him a message saying I had planned a last minute surprise for you, but Anna, I don't know if that's going to work. If we're going to help this woman, if we're going to put Jeremy where he belongs then we have got to do it fast. Your brother isn't a very patience man nor is he stupid." Anna frowned as she nodded her head, and for the rest of the walk to the car she contemplated telling him about her visit with Leroy.
After making a stop at the hotel, Anna and Kyle pulled into the police parking lot. "Are you ready?" Kyle's voice broke through Anna's thoughts, sending her heart racing. She nodded her head, a sadness occupying her body. From the moment she began suspecting Jeremy she hadn't had any time to wrap her mind around the information she was finding out by the second. She took a deep breath, grinning slightly when Kyle wrapped his hand around hers. "We can take a minute if you need it. I know this is hard for you." Anna looked at him with tears filling her eyes. He pulled her closer to him, holding her tightly as she cried for her father and her brother.