A second thunderous boom followed by another flash of lightning revealed no one in the room with her.
She knew that Leo was dead. Buried. Gone. She'd seen him in the casket before the funeral. There was a part of her that wondered if someone like him could survive even death. She'd had nightmares about this very thing, enough that she wouldn't be surprised if they finally came true.
The storm had knocked the power out evidently because when she tried to flip the light switch nothing happened. She didn’t let that slow her down, though. If he caught her she'd be right there with him. Dead. Buried. Gone. She ran through the house eyeing every darkened corner suspiciously. Every flash of lightning seemed to reveal something sinister. She didn't bother getting dressed beyond stepping into a pair of shoes she kept by the door before running out into the night.
She wasn't really cognizant of the storm that had taken Twin Peaks by surprise. The rain pounding against her hard enough to leave bruises didn't register either. The fact that she was probably in more danger walking on a deserted highway in the middle of the night dressed in her pajamas didn't occur to her. Of course, no one passed so she trudged along, desperate to put as much distance between her and the house as she could.
She had to get away from the house. From Leo. Because if he caught her, found her, cowering in the corner wouldn't save her. He'd get her, punish her, make her pay for everything bad she'd done. For cheating on him with Bobby, for burying him when he wasn't even dead, or whatever reason he could come up with. She was sure there was plenty. She'd never lived up to his expectations of what a wife should be no matter how hard she tried.
Soaked to the bone, teeth chattering together from the chill, and clutching her arms around her in an attempt to get warm she stood in the parking lot of the Great Northern.
Someone at the front desk must have called Audrey because she was heading towards her. Well, she was until Agent Cooper stopped her, apparently deciding this was one for him to handle. He, being the gentleman he was, offered her his suit coat. She was too cold to do it herself, so he draped it over her shoulders.
She saw sympathy in his eyes not condescension or censure. If only he knew, but then Agent Cooper knew more than he let on so he probably knew her secrets. All of them.
And, yet, he'd still given her Gordon's phone number.
"Gordon," she murmured through clenched teeth. That's why she'd come here. He was here and she'd be safe here. Safe from Leo. Even if it was only for a little while, because Leo would find her. He always did.
"I'll bring you to him," Agent Cooper said, draping a protective arm around her. And she knew it was protection he was offering, comfort. Nothing more, though the glare in Audrey's eyes told her that the other woman didn't realize that.
"No," she said softly.
"All right, Shelly. Are you hurt?" He glanced at her then, as if looking for signs of blood or injuries. "Audrey, go get Agent Cole."
"All right," Audrey said, appearing sympathetic toward Shelly for the first time. Then again, who knew what Audrey knew about her? She worked with Bobby so she might know more than Shelly liked.
"You going to tell me what's going on, Shelly?"
She just stood there, clutching the edges of his suit coat. He was getting wet now, too. The storm showed no sign of letting up. She should send him inside, back to his room or whatever he was doing. He and Audrey had come out together, so maybe… Well, it was none of her business. She couldn't bring herself to do that, though.
She had no idea how much time passed. It could have been two minutes or two hours. All she knew was that Gordon was finally there.
"Coop?" he asked loudly. He didn't look as if he'd been asleep, and Shelly wondered briefly what it is that had brought him to Twin Peaks and why it was causing him to stay up so late.
"I'm not sure, Gordon," Agent Cooper replied in the same tone. "She obviously walked here by the state she's in, but hasn't said anything besides your name. I'll see if Audrey can't get a cup of hot chocolate rustled up and sent to your room."
"Thank you," Gordon said and then finally turned his attention to her.
She wasn't sure what she expected from him. Pity, suspicion, to be yelled at. Perhaps all three, and more. He put his arms around her, drawing her to him. He was taller than she was, but it wasn't a huge difference so she fit against him nicely. Comfortably.
She started to cry then. And still he said and did nothing beyond stand there and hold her, which was apparently what she needed. He didn't seem to care he was getting wet or that they probably looked ridiculous standing in the parking lot together like this. He wasn't embarrassed to be seen with her like this. She probably looked worse than a drowned rat.
She balled a section of his shirt with her fist. "I saw Leo," she said finally, knowing it sounded crazy. Saying it aloud made her realize how crazy she'd been to believe she really saw him.
He didn't say anything, instead held her tighter if that was even possible. As if he understood. Maybe he did.
"There was lightning and thunder and there he was, in my room, by the bed. He was so angry. And the power was out and I was so scared. I couldn't even think straight because I just knew he'd come back to finish what he'd held off doing for so long. Bobby'd stopped him one night, but of course he'd know Bobby wasn't there anymore because he's Leo and he just always knew things. This time he'd break me, Gordon. He never did that before, you know, no visible signs of what he did but I knew he'd never stop tonight. Not until I'd joined him."
Her body started to shake and she was feeling weaker than the month she'd been out of school with mono. The adrenaline from running from the house was wearing off and she was going to pay for it. But Gordon was here. He wasn't strong physically like Leo, but he was just fine. And he'd never hurt her the way Leo had. And there was something to be said for strength in character, which Gordon had ten-fold. She didn't have to know him for long to know that.
"I thought I was done. It was done. That I'd never have to worry about him hurting me again."
He smoothed her hair down. It felt so good, so safe.
"I won't lie to you and say he can't, because I've seen people continue to hurt those they loved from the grave. He is dead, though, Shelly. You were probably having a bad dream or the storm scared you."
She used the edge of Agent Cooper's suit coat to wipe away her tears, mentally making note to pay for his dry cleaning bill later.
"I just want to feel safe again. I don't want him in my dreams or anywhere in my life."
He brought his hands to either side of her face. They were smooth, no sign of hard work as Leo's had from working on his truck and building the house. His fingers smoothed back some of her hair and then he cupped her cheeks. He opened his mouth as if to say something. He wanted to make it better for her, to say something that would cure her of her problems. And she wanted him to have the answers, to be able to banish Leo to the farthest recesses of her mind so he'd never make an appearance like he had tonight again.
Instead, he kissed her. He was so gentle about it, giving more than taking as if asking her permission for more. She let go of Agent Cooper's suit coat completely, feeling the chill of her wet clothes being exposed to the night air again once it fell to the ground.
This was what she'd needed, what she'd come here for. To be reminded that there was something good about - and in - her, that Leo hadn't completely made her feel defeated and worthless. And maybe this was part of his plan to banish Leo to the farthest recesses of her mind, because it was hard to think about the past, a past that could no longer physically hurt her when the present and the future felt so promising.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com