All I Need Is You | Chapter 31 of 35

Author: Julia London | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 1597 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Twenty-Six

ELI almost killed himself untangling his limbs from Marnie when he heard the sound of the helicopter above them. He was hopping around with one leg in his pants, trying to get the other leg in too, when she sat up, scratched her head, then looked at him as the sound registered somewhere in her sleepy brain. "Helicopter!" she shrieked, as if he hadn't noticed, and was suddenly fighting the covers to get to her feet, and then, leaping off the end of the bed, she ran for the bathroom.

Eli shoved his feet into boots and grabbed up his shirt, marched to the door, and flung it open just in time to see a couple of parcels drop from the bird above them—he jumped off the porch and looked up.

It was not a T.A. bird dropping stuff to Vince, Olivia, and Rhys, who had run into the meadow, too.

Eli was still standing there when Marnie ran past him. "Come on, let's see what it is!" she cried, and bounded down the steps, her copper hair streaming behind her as she ran to the meadow.

As the helicopter rose up and turned toward the lodge, Eli caught sight of a man hanging out the door, a wide-angle-lens camera in his hand.

The press had found them.

His radio went off, and he withdrew it from his pocket, flipped it open. "How'd they find us?" he asked.

"Someone talked in L.A. Once they got up here, they didn't have to ask around too hard to find out there was a little problem at the lodge," Jack drawled.

"Damn," Eli said.

"It's pandemonium down here. If they aren't drunk, they're trying to get out before their half-drunk faces are plastered all over the tabloids."

"I don't think our bridal couple noticed," Eli said as the bird came round again and swooped low, getting pictures of Vince and Olivia digging through the packages they had dropped.

"Good news is, our bird will be up in a couple of hours. You'll be out of there by early afternoon. Not a moment too soon, either—you're booked on a morning flight to Brazil."

Eli didn't say anything. He'd managed to put the Amazon trip with the Japanese contingent of businessmen out of his mind during the last few days.

"Unless, of course, you want me or Coop to go," Jack was saying. "I don't mind, bro, if you need a break after this—"

"No," he said, cutting Jack off. "I'll go. I committed to them and honestly, I need a little space to clear my head." Did he really? Didn't he know what he wanted?

"Sure," Jack said. "We'll have you back in L.A. tonight."

L.A. It seemed like, another planet at the moment. He watched as Marnie pulled out a tabloid from one of the packages. The moment Olivia saw it, she jerked her gaze up, saw the camera, and shrieked. She snatched the tabloid from Marnie's hand to shield her from the paparazzi above and was suddenly running for the cabin.

Eli closed his radio and went out into the meadow to pick up whatever the paparazzi had tossed down to them.

THE five of them sat in the cabin, their nerves frayed by the sound of helicopters buzzing them, looking up at the roof every time one flew overhead, munching on Ho-Hos and bananas, courtesy of the tabloid press. Vince and Olivia were not even speaking—they'd made it quite clear that the wedding was off by calling each other a host of names that made Marnie cringe. Rhys was certain he'd been poisoned by the lake water, given that he'd spent most of the night in the outhouse, and Eli was busily preparing to have them all lifted out in a matter of hours.

Marnie was the only one who was smiling as she ate her Ho-Hos, but then again, she'd always been a huge fan of the chocolate treats. Not that the Ho-Hos Were at the root of her frighteningly good mood, really—it just seemed as if the air was just a bit crisper, the sun a bit brighter, and the company she kept not nearly as odious as they really were. And even though Olivia was being a monstrous horse's ass, Marnie didn't even care.

When the T.A. helicopter finally came and they were deposited at the lodge, Marnie was the only one who was not rushed into the waiting hands of some handler, the only one who was not put in front of a camera or microphone to talk about how the hush-hush wedding of the century had disintegrated into a true episode of Survivor.

No, Marnie was shown to what remained of the reception tent and left to sift through all the stuff that had been ordered for the wedding of the century, to get it ready to be returned. Outside the tent was sheer chaos—the press was everywhere and frantic celebrity guests were sneaking away from the lodge. Vendors and lodge personnel looked shell-shocked. Marnie wandered around the madness, dressed in a clean pair of terrain pants and jacket, her hair buried under a baseball hat, calmly thinking amid the chaos about the enormity of what had happened between her and Eli.

It was huge, wasn't it?

In the half of the reception tent that was still standing, amid tables and chairs that some kind soul had stacked and moved out of the elements, Marnie searched through the debris in the wake of a couple of days of hard partying to inventory the linens. She didn't care that it looked as if all the champagne was gone. Nor was she particularly perturbed that some of the Baccarat crystal bowls had been used for ashtrays.

Nope, Marnie was too busy waxing romantically that she and Eli had crossed some invisible barrier. There was nothing to hold them back now—they'd been freed from the past, from their working relationship, from the secret insanity of this wedding. Marnie didn't even care that her one shot at big-cheese wedding planner stardom had been effectively dashed when Olivia's publicist had informed the gathered throng of press that Olivia Dagwood had no plans to marry anyone, and that she and Vincent Vittorio were merely friends.

No, this afternoon everything was looking rosy and beautiful, and as Marnie folded a tablecloth that had been used to wipe something brown with, she pictured herself with Eli riding on horseback through a mountain meadow. Maybe in matching chaps. Yep, she was pretty certain Eli was The One, the man she would spend the rest of her life with. She knew it as well as she knew that she was sitting right in the middle of a sensational Access Hollywood taping.

So naturally, she was expecting Eli to confirm there was a "them" when he came walking into the reception tent several hours later, clean shaven and dressed in a fresh pair of faded Levi's and a starched white shirt. Marnie lit up when she saw him, and thought, now that they were off the mountain and essentially clear of their constant companions (who were, Marnie'd heard, already on their way back to L.A.), that maybe he would be able to speak more clearly about what was in his heart.

She honestly expected him to take her in his arms and kiss her and laugh about the three days they had spent marooned with Bridezilla and company, then offer to drive her to Farmington or Durango where they could hop a puddle jumper to Phoenix and go on to L.A. together. She expected it so much that she turned toward him with a beaming smile.

But Eli did not gather her in his arms. He stood on the other side of the table and smiled thinly, and Marnie felt the first worm of doubt creep into her heart.

"You doing all right?" he asked, and put his hand to his nape, rubbing it a little in a way she had learned meant that he was uncomfortable.

"Yes," she said, swallowing down a sudden swell of panic in her throat. "Clean clothes, clean body—I feel like a million bucks. What about you?"

"Feeling pretty damn good myself," he said, then lowered his hand, put it on his waist. Then dropped it. Then put it on his waist again.

"You want a drink? There's some champagne left," she said, and forced a little titter that was supposed to be an easy laugh but sounded more like the screech of a night owl.

"No thanks," he said, missing the joke. "Listen, Marnie, I've got to head out tonight."

Now the panic reared up and slapped her. "Head out?" she repeated stupidly. "What do you mean?"

"I've got to be on a plane to Brazil in the morning. I've got another gig lined up with some Japanese businessmen who want to do the Amazon."

"Do the Amazon?" she echoed, and mentally stomped her foot, wishing she could find her tongue instead of repeating everything he said.

"A raft float and then a hike into die jungle, basically. So I'll be incommunicado for a while."

"Oh," she said weakly as her heart slipped from its sky-high perch. "So…" She had to pause and screw up her courage to ask the obvious, folding the tablecloth into an even smaller square. "When will I see you again?"

"Ah… I, ah… I can't say for sure," he said quietly.

She tried to smile, but it was impossible to do so when she was trying to make sense of what was happening. "Don't they have phones in Brazil?" she asked, and risked peeking up at him.

Eli wasn't any better at forcing a smile. "Sure they do," he said. "In some places. I'll give you a call when I can."

"Oh. Well. A call," she said.

Eli surprised her by leaning across and putting his hand on hers, stopping her from folding the tablecloth once more. "I think it's folded," he said, and Marnie noticed that she had folded it into a towering square. She put it aside, folded her arms across her middle, and looked at him.

"I'll give you a call when I'm able, okay?"

She nodded and waited a moment, waited for him to tell her how much the last few days had meant to him, how he would miss her. But when the words didn't come, she began to doubt her sanity, to wonder if perhaps the whole we're trapped! atmosphere had led to the best sex of her life. Was it nothing more than that? Marooned sex? Not the ride-off-into-the-sunset sex she had believed all afternoon, shivering with delight each time she thought of it? Was Eli right, and she'd confused sex with love?

"Marnie," he said.

She pressed her lips together.

"I'll call you."

"Great!" she said, and forced a smile. "Give me a call when you get back to L.A. and we'll catch up. So… how am I supposed to get out of here?" she asked, picking up another linen. "And I'm still getting paid, right? I mean, you guys aren't going to hold that freak storm against me."

"Of course not. Michael will take care of it when you get back to L.A. I just assumed you'd have enough to do here to keep you a couple of days."

"Right, right," she said, and picked up another tablecloth. "Lots to do."

Eli sighed and shoved his hand through his hair, and she realized she misled his growth of beard. "I'll talk to you, coppertop."

"Okay!" she trilled. Eli smiled sadly and started to turn away, but Marnie couldn't let him go, couldn't let him walk out of this tent without knowing what had happened between last night and today. "Wait!"

He stopped and turned halfway toward her. Marnie dropped her tablecloth. "Is that all there is, Eli? After… after such a fantastic night—nights—together, the best you can do is say you'llcall?"

He gave that a thoughtful nod and looked at the floor a long moment. "I'll be honest, Marnie. I don't know what to think," he said, lifting his gaze. "I'm not really sure where my head is at right now."

"Oh," she said, nodding smartly. "I guess that means you're just not that into me."

"I didn't say that."

"You didn't have to." Did he think she was naive? She'd read the book, along with the rest of America. Oh yeah, she was a great bang when they were stuck on a mountaintop, but in the real world? God, she hated him in that moment and looked away from him. "Whatever, Eli. Have fun."

"Look, Marnie, I've got to get back to L.A. and be on a plane first thing in the morning. I haven't had time to think through everything that has happened with us, and the only truly honest thing I can say at this moment is that… I don't know. I just don't know what I'm doing, I don't even know what I'm capable of doing. And I don't want you to think there's going to be something between us if I can't live up to my end—"

"This is just fucking fabulous," she snapped.

Eli frowned and rubbed his nape once more. "I never said—"

"I know, Eli, you never said anything. That's the difference between me and you, right? I do all the talking. You do all the taking."

"Marnie…" He sighed. "Just Jet me call you, all right?" he asked. "I don't have time to have this conversation right now. I've really got to go."

"Fine. Go," she said, and turned around, away from him, willing him to leave, to go so far away that she'd never have to lay eyes on him again, and began to fold her tablecloth with a vengeance.

Eli started to walk away. But men he pivoted and walked around to Marnie's side of the table. She ignored him, kept folding her tablecloth. He leaned to his side, put his hand against her cheek, his big rough cowboy hand, and she crumbled. She closed her eyes, leaned into his hand, and let him turn her to face him.

Eli pressed his forehead to hers. "Have faith, remember?" he whispered, then kissed her. It was a tender kiss, a sweet untangling from what they'd shared on the mountain. He lifted his head, kissed her forehead, then dropped his hand and turned away, striding out of the reception tent.

Marnie waited until he had disappeared into the fading light of the day before she lifted her hands and tried to stab the tears of frustration back into her eyes before they fell.

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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