Where the Truth Lies.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1)

Submitted: January 20, 2013

Reads: 27

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Submitted: January 20, 2013

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Elise was awake and eager to start her day when she heard the front door quietly open and close.

Having already pulled her jeans up, she shifted over to the window and pulled back the blinds to look out as she popped the button into place.

Outside, Drew was sat on the porch leaning his head against the cold wooden post, staring out into the distant fields, deeply transfixed in his own thoughts.

Watching from her bedroom window, her thoughts returned to last night and the look of shock on Drew’s face as recognition hit him with full force. Indecisive of what exactly he remembered, but deeply sure that the house was the main factor; she was ready, if prepared for the image his features exhibited.

If he hasn’t figured it out by now, she thought. He never will.

From what Dean had revealed to her on many occasions, this huge quaint house had been the focus of attention for several parties and gatherings. Most of the campus knew this house like the back of their hands.

Her attention turned back to boy on her porch just as he stood and began pacing from one side to the other, talking to himself. Elise flinched when he waved his hands around in gesture, throwing them up and down as though trying to convince himself of something. He seemed mad and confused.

He ran his fingers through his shaggy hair, brushing it tightly backwards.

Leaving him to his thoughts, she turned, exited her bedroom and slowly began walking towards the other room across the hall.

For a long moment, she stood by the door, fighting with her mind’s will to enter the room. Having avoided this for the three months she’d lived here, the daunting task of clearing out the room put off for as long as possible, the mere thought of touching Dean’s things had her struggling to breathe.

Taking a deep stimulating breath, she opened the door and stepped inside.

A profound musky smell hit her senses, filling her nostrils with memories of Dean and a quick glance around the room was all it took for the tears to fall, streaming down her face.

The room hadn’t changed since the day he had died. With no one wanting to ruin anything, nothing was moved and the room remained the same as when he’d left it.

The unmade bed against the right hand side wall still lay with his clean washing flung haphazardly on top in typical Dean fashion, the curtains were half open, a little stream of light from the morning air drifting through the gap and his coursework placed in not-so-elegant piles on the desk situated against the left hand side wall.

Taking a step further into the room, she wrapped her arms around her tiny frame, protecting herself from the memories forcing their way into her body.

“Why did you do it, Dean?” she asked to the empty room before her. “Why did you risk your life for these… these ungrateful… I’ve no reasonable words for them. They’re not human beings, they’re not people; they don’t deserve that title. They’ve forgotten all about you, Dean, and now you’re gone, never coming back. Why did you do it?”

Sobs wracked her body, pushing her over the edge. In one fell swoop, Dean’s coursework was thrown to the floor, the desk flipped over onto its side.

“WHY?” she screamed. “WHY DID YOU LIE TO ME? YOU PROMISED ME!” Storming over to the wardrobe, she ripped out all of his clothes, hurling them to the floor.

Unable to understand, unwilling to accept the apologies people had given her over the past eighteen months, the calmness she’d adopted disappeared, all the anger, the stress, the confusion spilling over, releasing itself in one huge burst of energy.

~

In the room down the hall, Sarah was woken by a loud thud and shouting.

With barely enough time to take hold of her senses, she jumped out of her bed and ran towards the noise, curious as to the abrupt wake-up call on a Saturday morning.

Knowing that Elise hadn’t stepped foot in Dean’s room since moving into the house, she was shocked when she arrived in the hallway to find his door wide open and Elise throwing things around inside.

Initially startled and slightly alarmed, Sarah was unable to move, rooted to the spot outside the door watching the scene unfold in front of her; the desk overturned, the bed-sheets ripped, curtains pulled down, clothes on the floor.

When a chair flew across the room and out the door, narrowly missing her head, she screamed.

“DREW!” Panic-stricken, she ran down the wooden stairs, tripping over her feet clumsily. Pulling open the front door, she spotted him pacing along the front porch.

With a hefty tug on his still blood-soaked shirt, she grunted, “Andrew John Meuller, get your hunky backside in here now and help.”

Perplexed, Drew eyed her suspiciously. “How do you know my middle name? No one knows that.” A loud bang resounded through the house causing the two of them to jump. “What the-”

“Swear and I’ll beat you senseless. I know everything, Lad. I’ll tell yer what else I know; that girl up there’s gonna tear the place down if you don’t get up there and stop her.”

With the slight feeling that he knew what the commotion was about, and the desperate need to try and fix things, Drew hurried up the stairs taking them two at a time, ignoring the shouts from behind him.

“Don’t put yer foot in it or you’ll regret it.”

Reaching the top of the stairs, he made no hesitations, running straight for the source of the noise. As he trudged his way through the piles of clothes, broken furniture and books on the landing floor, he couldn’t help himself thinking that there was more to Elise than first anticipated.

“Elise?”

He reached the door of Dean’s room and sighed in relief when nothing came hurtling in his direction.

“What’s this all about, Elise? What’s going on?”

Taking a step into the room, he looked around, soon catching sight of Elise in the corner sobbing quietly.

“It’s all my fault.” She told him in a whisper. “I shouldn’t have made him leave. I should have known he wouldn’t come back, I should have known he would lie to me.”

Drew stalled at the end of the bed and inquired, “How do you mean he lied? The Dean I knew wasn’t a liar.”

Elise shook her head. “Guess I’m not the only one who didn’t know him as well as they thought then, am I?”

In a soothing manner, he knelt down on the cold floor beside her and placed his hand on her knee. Startled, Elise jumped, scrambling awkwardly to her feet, pushing his hand away from her shaking frame.

Drew was quick to apologise. “Sorry, I- It wasn’t meant in that… Are you okay?” He held his hands up in surrender and took a slight step backwards, noticeably shocked with her reaction to him.

Dazed and confused, Elise glared at him. The memories were flooding back to her now. She remembered being in her bedroom, when his coarse, skin-cracked hand touched her thigh, inching its way up her skirt. Desperate to be accepted, she allowed it, welcomed the caring side to him. A side she rarely saw.

When he’d finished and pulled his trousers up, he placed a soft kiss on her tear stained cheek, reminded her, “don’t tell a soul,” and hurriedly departed, leaving her alone, bruised and frightened.

The man was a monster, satisfying his own disgusting desires, taking what he wanted and not caring who he hurt in the process.

Now, though, standing across from this stranger in her house, her sense of danger was waning and her breathing steadying.

Her voice was barely a whisper, cracking with emotion as she told him, “Don’t touch me.”

Drew was bewildered. Did she think he would hurt her, touch her inappropriately? It had been a sympathetic gesture, one of understanding, but was clearly misunderstood to be something more, something he didn’t wish to envisage.

Confused, he shook his head. “I’d never hurt you. And I hope you know that I’d never lay a hand on you – or any other woman for that matter. I don’t know where you’ve come to the idea that I would.”

When Elise didn’t reply, her head bowed in distrust, Drew nodded in defeat.

“I’ll go.” He slowly made his move to the door and with a hesitant smile, turned to walk out of the room.

Frightened, Elise didn’t want to be alone. With all the strength she could muster, she whispered, “No; please don’t go. Stay.”

Drew stopped short, but didn’t turn to face her. Shaking his head, he replied, “I can’t stay in a room alone with someone who doesn’t trust me. Sarah’s downstairs; she’ll stay with you.”

“I’ll tell you who he was. Please; just stay.”

Hesitant, he turned to face her. “I know who he was. You don’t need to explain anything to me, Elise.”

Desperate, she admitted, “He was my brother.”

“I know; I caught onto that last night.”

“I don’t know what to feel, Drew. One side of me tells me that he lied, that he betrayed my trust, but the other side reminds me that he saved a lot of lives and that I should consider him a hero.”

Drew took a step towards her. “Make no mistake; Dean was a hero no matter what. He still ran into that burning building and saved lives and risked his own for those people.”

Elise squeezed her eyes closed and shook her head. “He promised me!” she spoke loudly. “He promised me that he was going to come back for me, yet he didn’t. I waited and waited for him day after day and he never stepped foot in that house again. I don’t blame him to be honest because quite frankly, I never want to go back to that house again either, but he made me a promise. And he broke it.”

Tears streamed down Elise’s face as she bared her soul, breaking down in front of this stranger, who, in a mere twelve hours had already changed her life in ways she could never have imagined.

Never had she thought the day would come in which she’d manage to step foot in Dean’s room. Breakdown or not, this, in itself was a major accomplishment.

As she’d been watching Drew pacing the porch, something inside of her had urged her, demanded that she open the door, pushing through the barriers of pain that she’d put up several years earlier and face up to her emotional demons.

Unsure what it was, she had cautiously followed, pushing all rational thoughts away, out of her mind.

But it was wrong, she thought. I shouldn’t have come in here.

Tugging at the sleeves of her top, she sniffled, forced a weak smile from her lips and made her way to the door.

As she passed him, Drew placed his hand lightly on her shoulder. “There was a reason.” he pondered with a shake of his head.

Elise sighed. “No. I understand. He found his chance to get out of there which he did and I couldn’t have been happier for him. He was a student and he deserved to be happy. But to be honest, what student wants the burden of looking after his little sister?” she shrugged and nodded. “I understand.”

Shrugging his hand from her shoulder, she wrapped her arms around her waist and crossed the hall to her room, slamming the door behind her.

Downstairs, Sarah was waiting patiently, pacing the breadth of the living room; nerves beginning to set in.

Though she knew how bad Elise’s outbursts could get, until now, Dean’s room had been avoided at all costs; the door remaining tightly closed, delaying the inevitable explosion of emotion soon to follow.

For a long time, she had been dreading today, not entirely sure she would cope with Elise alone. Now the time had come and Elise had broken the unspoken rule, Sarah was glad for Drew’s presence, relieved and comforted in the knowledge that Elise would have someone close to Dean to talk with.

With a cup of tea to calm her nerves, she kept herself busy putting the used blankets and sheets in the washing machine, cleaning the few mugs that Drew had used overnight, making herself some breakfast. When that was finished, she sat herself in the armchair in the living room and watched the time tick by.

Desperate to find out what was happening, on several occasions she had to stop herself from intruding on their talk. Peevish, she hissed, “Don’t be so nosey, you silly mare. It’s got nothing to do with you, so leave them to it.”

When the shouting upstairs started again, Sarah jumped from her seat. For a split second, she couldn’t help feeling that Drew would make things worse, bringing back memories for Elise that were best left in the past.

She was, however, reminded and comforted by the knowledge that Drew had been friends with Dean and the thought that maybe he’d be able to shed some light on all the things Elise needed to hear, so she reluctantly pulled herself from the bottom of the staircase and left them to finish their conversation in private.

Several long moments passed before footsteps could be heard on the wooden staircase and Drew entered the room.

Dishevelled and defeated, he sat on the sofa and ran his hands over his face.

Looking up at Sarah, he wondered, “Has she always been such a closed book? So… disconnected?”

Sarah recoiled in confusion. “Disconnected? She’s not that bad. A little shy, maybe, but I wouldn’t say disconnected.”

Drew reassured her. “I don’t mean like that. Have you not noticed how one moment, she’ll be talking and the next, she’ll be staring into space? It’s quite common to wander off into one’s own world, but Elise seems to be in her own world more often than most.”

“What’re you, a shrink?”

He smiled. “Psychology student.”

“Meks sense.”

Drew laughed a hearty laugh, clutching at his sides and Sarah scrunched her eyebrows in bemusement and sneered, “What’s so funny?”

Lifting her legs up and wrapping her arms around them in a protective manner, she scowled as Drew continued to laugh with tears rimming his eyes.

Sarah shook her head and frowned. “I’d laugh with yer, but I don’t even know what you’re laughing at.”

Drew stopped laughing long enough to spit out, “It just comes on, doesn’t it? You don’t even notice you’re doing it and it’s so funny.”

“What’s funny? What don’t I realise I’m doing?” Frustration was beginning to take hold as she contemplated any nervous habit she might have. She didn’t have a nervous tick; no twitch of the lip or the eye. There was nothing she could think of that would cause such raucous laughter from the man.

“Your voice.” Drew gasped. “You’re from Lancashire, right?”

Sarah nodded. “Brinscall, Chorley. You were laughing at my accent; all of that for my accent? And what, pray tell, is wrong with my accent, Andrew?”

Drew sniggered. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist; there’s nothing wrong with your accent. It’s just funny how it comes and goes and you don’t even notice it. You’re bi-accented; it’s interesting.”

Shocked, Sarah choked on her tea. “I don’t know whether to slap you or thank you; talking about my underwear like that, then ending with a compliment.”

“Compliment? I said your accent was interesting, not you, bighead.”

With that, she reached over and slapped him across the back of his head. Grumpy, she stood from her chair and trudged into the kitchen to boil the kettle. After pulling from the cupboard a clean mug, sugar, tea bags, coffee and milk from the fridge, she turned to Drew.

“Tea? Coffee? Mek it yersen’, I’m off to take a shower. I would make one for yer since you’re a guest, but considerin’ you’ve been so damn rude, you can do it.”

There was a hint of jest in her voice and Drew knew she was joking, but nonetheless stalked his way to the kitchen to make himself a mug of coffee.

Suddenly a thought occurred to him, so he span around and asked, “Before you go. Feel free to tell me to mind my own business, but what exactly happened to Elise? I’ve got a feeling it was something bad because she wouldn’t let me touch her, but I don’t know. I can’t imagine Dean doing anything to the extent I’m picturing, but-”

“Don’t think wrongly of Dean.” She hastily interrupted. “I can’t tell you anything; it’s not my secret to tell, but if and when the time comes in which Elise trusts you enough, I can promise you that you’re going to wish she didn’t. There isn’t a single part of your psychology degree that will help with this, Drew. You can try, but don’t be disheartened if it fails.”

Without another word, she bounded up the stairs, leaving him alone with his thoughts.

After making his drink, tidying up the kitchen, putting the milk back in the fridge and attempting to place the coffee, tea bags and sugar in suitable places, he rested back onto the counter and wrapped his cold hands around the mug.

Looking around the room, Drew noticed how strange it felt to be in this house again. With the last time he’d stepped foot in here being several months before Dean died, he hadn’t been expecting to be standing in this spot again so soon – if at all.

Nothing had changed. The décor; clearly not Dean’s choice was pink and white with rose covered wallpaper and the furniture; long overdue for replacement when Dean lived here hadn’t changed a bit, not even the layout had changed with everything remaining exactly the way it was before.

Difficult as it was to remember Dean before, Drew’s first memory of him was vivid. Bounding down the campus corridors, football in hand, he’d been an instant hit with the ladies; his constant ability to radiate exuberance infectious, catching to everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him.

Everyone knew he loved Elise. With her pictures all over the house and the way he spoke about her to his friends, it was hard to not fall in love with her.

The beautiful girl with her brown hair, hazel eyes, sweet and caring was known widely between Dean’s friends as his sister; the reason he was here, the reason he was trying to get a decent grade, the reason he was alive.

Besides Elise, he’d been a mystery. Although he’d held regular parties in this house, no-one knew much about him; his private life, his family and his past all were tightly under wraps. That was the way Dean liked it, and that was the way it stayed.

“I didn’t want to change anything he touched.” Elise’s timid voice brought him out of his reverie. Her arrival having been unnoticed, he was shocked to see her standing in front of him tugging at her sleeves. “All the pictures up there are the ones he had up and if I moved them, it would feel like I was moving on. I can’t do that; not until-” she looked to the floor and sighed.

Drew was curious. “Can’t do that until, what?”

“Until I feel better. It’s still raw.” Her reply was monotonous, laced in obvious lies, but, not wanting to push her, Drew accepted it.

The sound of a phone ringing filled the air. Drew placed his mug on the counter behind him and delved into his back pocket to answer it.

“Hello?”

Gray’s voice boomed through the receiver. “Dude, where are you? You didn’t come home last night. Hey, did you get laid?”

Drew groaned. “No, Gray, I told you last night; we’re not all male whores. I’ll be back soon; I’m only around the corner.”

“Who lives-”

“Shut up, Grayson.” Drew clicked the end call button and growled.

Elise studied Drew for a moment as he placed the phone back in his pocket. His bruises from last night were already fading, some having turned yellow already. The cut on his lip had scabbed over and his lip was swollen to double the size.

“How are you feeling this morning?” she asked with a sympathetic smile.

With a nod, he turned and placed the mug in the sink. “Better. Thank you for helping me; I owe you one.”

Elise waved it off. “Don’t worry about it. I think you’ve done enough this morning. Not many could have handled that the way you did.”

“Why did you come here?” Drew asked, “If this place causes you so much pain, why are you here?”

Elise sighed. “I wasn’t even meant to come here. They… My parents think I’m in Nottingham. If they knew I was here, I’m not sure… I don’t even think I want to contemplate what they’d do.”

Subconsciously tugging at her top again, she took a deep breath. “I don’t know whether you understand what I’m saying, but it’s probably best you don’t. I don’t even know why I feel compelled to tell you, but there’s something about you that… You look like the type of person that would understand. Did Dean tell you anything?”

Drew hesitated, but spoke the truth, “No, he was quite mysterious in that respect. No-one knew much about him.”

When a silence fell between them, he wondered, “Should he have told me something?”

Elise smiled. “No. It’s best left in the past.”

Drew nodded his understanding. “I’m sure there’ll always be someone there to tell when the time comes. Anyway, thanks for having me stay, but I really have to leave now. Gray’s going spare ‘cause I wasn’t at home last night and If I don’t get back soon, he’ll be ringing around to find out where I am.” He shook his head. “He’s like my bloody dad.”

Elise stiffened. “Right, well, I’m glad you’re okay and make sure you’re careful out there, I’ve heard there’s been some trees knocked down after last night’s storm.”

Drew hastily grabbed his coat and headed towards the door. He had to get out of there, away from the tense atmosphere between them. As soon as she’d said that it was best left in the past, it was as though she’d punched him in the gut.

Even though it was none of his business, something inside of him had wanted to know why she was like she was. It must run in the family, he thought. Even with his cheery disposition, Dean had been the same. With all their attempts at opening him up, finding out his deepest secrets failed, they’d eventually given up.

As Dean had so very politely put it, “It’s not your problem; it’s mine, so leave me to sort it myself. When it’s done, I might tell you, but until then, stop bugging me.”

Out into the open air, the cold hit him with full force, wind howling through the fields. Elise had been right; last night’s storm, although dying down slightly now, had knocked several trees and bushes over in the way of the road. No chance of getting his car out this way later, he’d have to go round, adding an extra fifteen minutes onto his journey.

As the rain began to pour once more, he picked up his pace and ignored the niggling pain in his sides as he strode into a jog, eager to get home before he caught ill.

~

Drew walked through the front door, his breathing heavy and ragged, clutching his sides. Digging out the painkillers the doctor had given him, he dry swallowed two in quick succession, leaning against the doorjamb for support.

Cursing silently, he groaned, “Sweet mother of-”

“So who was she, then?” Grayson stood in the kitchen doorway absentmindedly stirring his cup of coffee; black with three heaps of sugar. “’Bout time you got your rocks off, fella; it’s been too long.”

Drew choked and spluttered. “My what?” Managing to push himself from the door, he winced, aching for rest. He stumbled through to the kitchen as Grayson made his way to the sofa.

Settling down on the sofa, legs rested on the coffee table he chuckled, “Your rocks. You finally got laid after all this time. Don’t lie; I can see it written on your face.”

With a shake of his head, Drew refuted the accusation. “No, I didn’t. Where’s the medicine box? There’s some cream in there I want to use.”

Grayson pointed to the coffee table in front of him. “I figured you might need it when you dragged yourself home. It’s all over the campus, you know. No-one will say who it was initially, but Carl heard from Jenny who heard from that blonde girl with Russian name who heard from the American bird, who heard from her boyfriend who heard from someone or other; you’ve missed all the fun.”

Drew couldn’t believe it. Barely twelve hours had passed since he’d been mercilessly beaten and left for dead and it was already public knowledge. Things sure work fast around here.

In two long strides, Drew was in front of the coffee table rummaging through the box.

Grayson lifted his feet from the table and placed them on the floor below him as Drew sat next to him and opened the lid on the tube. Leaning over, he whispered, “Do you know what else I know?”

Drew sighed in relief, the cream tingling, soothing his aches and pains. “I have a feeling I do. The rumour mill has certainly been in overdrive.”

A wide grin spread across his face. “Dean’s sister’s here.”

Seeming unknowing, Drew pondered, “Here?”

Grayson nodded. “She’s somewhere around here anyway. But you know; I think you knew that anyway. You were ‘round the corner’? Dean’s house is round the corner. Or is it Elise’s house now?”

Here we go, Drew thought. Knowing that this wasn’t what Elise wanted, he was worried. She didn’t want the attention. Unlike Dean, she wasn’t interested in the crowds, the popularity or the opposite sex; that much he knew.

Bothering him however, was the revelation that her parents thought she was in Nottingham, nearly one hundred and fifty miles away.

Why would she do that? He wondered. Why did she feel the need to be here to be close to Dean? Yes, he spent the last two years of his life and died in Durham, but they carted his body off to Ipswich following the autopsy. Drew considered the idea that surely she’d be closer to him there, where they grew up.

As he looked up at his friend, Drew spoke softly, “There’s something about her, Gray. She’s got so many problems, so many bad memories that I can’t stop myself from wanting to help. There was something in the way she looked at me; the anguish in her eyes. It told me that there’s a reason she’s here and for the life of me, I can’t figure out what.”

With a sceptical look, Grayson raised his brows and asked, “Are you sure you want to get any more involved in this? You’ve had your chance to forget about it and you took it, but going around with his little sister, his ‘pride and joy’ as he many a time put it himself, is going to be tough.”

Breathing a deep breath, he finished with, “You’ll have to tell her at some point; you can’t keep it from her forever. If you’re going to be spending time with her, you’ll either need a heart of steel or it will soon come out.”

When Drew didn’t answer, but instead averted his gaze to the floor, Gray urged, “I know you’ll do what you want in the end, but make sure that whatever you choose, it’s the right decision for you as well as Elise. Think of how she’ll react when she finds out that you caused it all, and think of how you’ll feel when she doesn’t want to see you anymore. It will be like that Drew; I’m just trying to warn you now.”

Forcing a weak smile, Gray left Drew to mull things over alone. A long time since he’d seen Drew be so interested in a girl, he was pleasantly surprised at the sudden affection towards Elise. He, of course, knew that this affection stemmed from somewhere deeper than physical attraction; remembering the way Dean spoke about her, in their circle of friends, there wasn’t one who didn’t feel some sort of attraction for the girl.

Drew’s fascination, however, stemmed from something much deeper, something more important than the stories Dean told.

It was hard not to believe that this would cause Drew a lot of trouble.

 


© Copyright 2019 Adele Oldham. All rights reserved.

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