"All The Way"

Chapter 43

The return to Maine…

Their flight arrived in Boston and the trio spent the rest of the afternoon on a train bound for Collinsport. Briefly conversing, napping or staring out the window at the moving landscape they struggled to deal with their return to reality.

Eliot knew the return to Collinsport meant a return to Barnabas Collins. Would Julia be drawn to his needs again? Would he again ask for her help? Despite her confession of love for him, he couldn't put his niggling concerns to rest. He wanted their love to grow, to flourish, he wanted more.

Returning to Maine, Julia felt a renewed anxiety. Would she have the strength to be in Barnabas' presence and not feel those feelings she had painfully fought to resolve. Would she be able to hold on to the love and happiness she had found with Eliot Stokes? Leaving their little paradise had been difficult, but necessary. They had to return to reality and their lives. Thoughts of Richard Carter returned. The package on its way to Anagen Laboratories was just the beginning. The contents in that package would take days of her hard work in the cutting edge laboratory to reveal their hidden secrets. Her own happiness struggled with her need to know. She had found love and happiness with Eliot but the need to uncover those hidden secrets called to her, she yearned for more.

Hallie reclined on the soft seat of their train compartment and dreamed. Sleep allowed her mind to revisit those wonderful times during her 'dream state', a time when she communed with her mother. Returning to Maine meant a return to reality, a reality where her mother and father had died in a tragic accident and nothing more. Visiting her mother, her parents in those wonderful dreams would eventually be unfulfilling, she needed to move beyond. Hallie yearned for more.

The trio stopped briefly to visit with the folks at Collinwood when Hallie cheerfully announced she'd like to spend the night, much to the delight of Carolyn and David who wished to continue their visit. Julia and Eliot were equally glad to see Hallie socializing again and after exchanging pleasantries continued on their way to Arrowhead Lane.

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Arrowhead Lane, the home of Professor Stokes.

Julia held her nightgown and prodded the ashes in the fireplace when she heard a knock at the front door.

In his bedroom, Eliot Stokes stood in front of the bureau mirror, turning his head, examining the stitches on his head. Cautiously, his fingers traced along the large L-shaped laceration. The stitches were neat and smooth and only his barber would know of their existence, the thickness of his hair easily covering them.

He finished buttoning his pajamas when the knock sounded at his door. A voice, a familiar voice…..it was Willie Loomis. Eliot held his breathe, listening, heart pounding, he stepped to the window and stared out at the darkness in an effort to calm himself. He knew he took the chance returning to Maine. But he had obligations here and could not just leave without notice. Being apart from Julia was more than he could bear. But where there was Willie Loomis there too was Barnabas Collins. He massaged his temples, trying to remain calm. Surely this was how it felt to be cast from paradise. He and Julia had been in their own paradise, where nothing else mattered, making love under the stars, enjoying each other in the natural splendor of the waterfall. Deep inside he felt a stabbing doubt that would not go away. He clinched and unclenched his fists trying to will the doubt away. He found himself ceasing to breathe as he waited for her to tell him Barnabas needed her and she must leave at once.

Willie Loomis waited nervously at the door.

"Willie, I'm surprised to see you. It's so late. We just got in."

Loomis' eyes moved over her nightgown, and grew more anxious trying to understand why she was dressed for bed at Professor Stokes' house.

"Hellllo, JJJulia. III'm sorry to bother you and all."

"The grapevine must be working at light speed, we haven't been home long."

"III had to see ya," Willie stammered.

Julia couldn't recall seeing Willie so unnerved before.

"What's wrong, Willie?"

"It's Barnabas, he's gone."

Julia's eyes widened, then narrowed. "Gone in what sense, Willie?"

"You know, he's gone."

Julia smiled kindly. "You mean, he's gone to Boston, somewhere like that."

"NNNo, I mean, he went into the coffin room, like before, with those wand things. I saw him disappear."

Julia's face showed disbelief, and turned from the door, Willie followed close behind.

"BBBarnabas wrote this letter. HHe wanted me to give this to ya."

Willie handed Julia a letter, on the outside written in Barnabas' hand, Dr. Julia Hoffman.

Julia stared down at the letter in disbelief.

"Tell me everything, Willie," she asked calmly.

"Barnabas wrote this letter and told me to give it to ya. He had those wand things and that book. He said he was goin to the coffin room and not to come down right away. He looked me in the eye and told me to come down in a few minutes. He said on the table I'd see those wand things and he would be gone. He got real serious, Julia, he told me I was to pick up the wands and tie them in a bundle. Well, I waited. I guess I didn't wait long enough. Cause when I went down, he was a sittin there. Then suddenly, he was gone. Just like that, Julia." Willie nervously ran his hands through his hair.

"Did I do right, Julia? Should I picked up those wand things like he asked me to?"

Julia stared at the letter, and slowly nodded, her voice sounding more composed than she felt. She knew why Barnabas had Willie pick up the wands; he did not want to be followed.

"If Barnabas wanted you to take the wands you did as he wished, Willie." Julia reached out and took Willie's hand to reassure him. The young man breathed a sigh of relief, then frowned.

"Will he come back, Julia?"

Julia inhaled deeply. "No, Willie, Barnabas is going where he's always wanted to be, I suppose where he always belonged."

Willie searched her face trying to figure out what had happened and what his role should be. He looked down at the letter, waiting for Julia to open it.

"Thank you, Willie, for stopping by." She smiled sweetly and opened the door for Willie.

Loomis walked as though in a trance, stopped and turned to face her.

"Good-night, Julia."

Julia leaned forward and kissed Willie gently on the cheek. "It's good seeing you again, Willie, now go and be happy."

Willie smiled weakly and nodded before he stepped off the porch and disappeared into the darkness.

The physician closed the door, walked to the fireplace and sat down in an armchair. Nervously her fingers opened the envelope.

My dear Julia,

You will understand more than anyone why I must go. I have only been a visitor here, and now I'm returning to where I truly belong. By staying in your time I feel I'm keeping you from true happiness. I'm deeply sorry that I could not reciprocate the romantic love you so desired. But please know that you have been a true and loyal friend and I will always remember you fondly. I wish you much happiness in your life.

Your dear and devoted friend,

Barnabas Collins

Julia slowly folded the letter, placed it in the envelope and stared into the golden embers.

Why did she have no tears to shed? Why did this revelation leave her feeling numb? All along, had she always known it would end this way?

Pulling herself to her feet she leaned against the mantle, staring down at the twinkling lights of orange. In one gentle motion the envelope slipped from her fingers, fluttered ever so lightly landing among the twinkling lights. She watched the edges gradually brown and curl.

Was this sadness or freedom that she felt?

The elegant script of Dr. Julia Hoffman disappeared in a blaze of orange as the fire engulfed the envelope. Taking the poker, she gently stirred the ashes and replaced the metal grating.

Eliot was in bed as she entered the room. Julia dimmed the bureau light, casting the room into shades of gold. Removing her slippers, she slipped beneath the comforter. For a moment they were silent, neither touching nor stirring.

"That was Willie at the door," Julia quietly announced. Eliot remained silent, eyes cast to the ceiling. Julia turned on her side and looked at him, feeling what must be in his heart.

"He wanted to tell me he was glad I was back. Willie and I have always been close."

Julia thought she heard Eliot breath again, then slightly stir. She slipped closer and snuggled into the curve of his arm, pressing against him, feeling his heart beating wildly.

Eliot turned, balanced on one arm; looking down on her face.

"I love you," he whispered.

His eyes gleamed with moisture as her finger lovingly traced along his upper lip where the moustache had been.

"And I love you, Timothy Eliot Stokes."

Running her fingers through his hair she recalled how she had liked his hair long in the back and the moustache, too. She liked the new Eliot and wondered if she asked would he grow them again just for her. Perhaps this was a time for them to make a new start together.

"You know I can't live here," she announced softly.

Eliot's fingertips delicately toyed with the pearl button at the top of her nightgown. "I know," he conceded.

"Let's find a place for us, Eliot." Julia smiled, "A house without unfortunate memories. I want a house where we can make new memories together."

He nodded, and traced over her full lips and exquisite cheekbones with the tips of his fingers.

"I told you at the falls that you were the center of my world," Eliot whispered, kissing her cheek. "I want to make you as happy as you've made me. If you let me love you, I promise I will love you, all the way."

Julia smiled contentedly, unfastened the buttons on the front of her nightgown, took his hand, and placed it on the bare skin above her heart.

~~~Fini for now~~~

I would like to dedicate "All The Way" to Elaine, who inspired this first Julia, Eliot and Hallie adventure. Thank you, Elaine for your inspiration and encouragement in writing a story from start to finish.

I would also like to thank those steadfast readers who have read this story from start to finish. Your patience and faithful reading sustained me. Thank you so very much!

I would also like to thank those readers who have written such kind and encouraging reviews.

If you enjoyed Julia, Eliot and Hallie, the sequel, "More" is currently a patchwork quilt under construction. The adventure continues...

My heartfelt thanks,

Bibliophile Tropicale