She felt him wrap his arms around her and Fern pressed her face to his shoulder. The ends of his hair ticked her forehead, but she ignored it and breathed in his smell of sweat and tobacco. Brook rubbed back and mused into her hair.
‘I’ll take you to my place. You’re still changing and we need to get sorted out,’ Brook whispered into her hair.
Fern thought about questioning him, but didn’t have the energy to voice her words.
Brook let her go, slipped on his t-shirt and came back for her. They went through the hole into the main chamber and to the loose bricks beside the door. Brook removed the bricks and helped Fern out of the mausoleum.
Night covered them with a soft blanket likeness. Fern breathed in deeply, smelling night time flowers, light rain and wet grass. In the distance, she was also aware of the ocean. She stood there taking it all in whilst Brook rebuilt the sinking wall and tried to hide it from inquisitive eyes. He held out his hand to her when he was done and led her out of the cemetery.
‘What about you things?’ Fern asked as they walked down an empty road.
‘It’ll be fine. It’s important to have a few places you can go to ground in. It’s just a habit you pick up,’ Brook stated.
‘And this place of your’s? Is it a house?’
‘It’s a top floor apartment. You’ll see when we get there,’ Brook responded.
They walked in silence the rest of the way and Fern enjoyed the warm breeze on her face and the tickle of tiny rain spots on her skin. She didn’t pay much attention to where they were going only that Brook seemed in a hurry. They past old terrace house lined streets, a rough park, closed shops and a hotel.
Finally, Fern recognized the dual carriageway. Brook led her up a flight of steps and they stood on a bridge overlooking the area. Fern quickly realised that this wasn’t the bridge they had walked across last night. That one was ahead of them and the seaside town it was connected to was sprawled out further up to the right of them. A few lonely cars drove on the carriageway, their headlights blinding and engines loud.
‘Are we going back to the beach?’ Fern asked, hoping Brook didn’t notice the small wobble in her words.
‘Not that beach,’ came a guarded reply.
‘Then where?’ she called to him as he moved off the bridge.
‘Further up. Away from the tourists and to a little village,’ Brook answered back.
Letting out a soft sigh, Fern trailed after him. They walked through a patch of scrub land and a farm, before entering the village. The place was more set back from the sea and looked like it hardly saw any tourists, beside from the lost ones.
Walking down a single road, Fern noticed a small church and graveyard to her left on a raised hill. Cottages, surrounded by large flowering gardens seemed to bear down on them. They passed a pub- The Fisherman’s Purse, a post office and a little shop. Large plant pots lingered on the street then they were at brown-red bricked circle with a small fountain tinkling away.
Brook came to a stop and Fern did too. She looked around the little circle of houses. Rising above the roof tops but still some distance away was a dark green sixed floor stack of apartments. It looked completely out of place and as if a crane had removed it from the seaside town and just dumped it in the middle of the countryside.
‘That’s where you live?’ Fern said a low voice.
‘Yeah. I’ll tell you about as we walk,’ he added shooting a look over his shoulder.
Fern looked too, but couldn’t see anything. The village seemed abandoned, there was no sign of any people and it was quiet. Fern hurried to catch up to Brook who had all ready started walking.
‘Originally, the plan was to have a number of these places and rent them out to holiday makers. Like they do aboard. The people could have the sea view and not be far from anywhere whilst at the same time feeling like they lived here,’ Brook explained.
‘But it didn’t work,’ Fern guessed.
‘Yep. The locals weren’t happy, but they needed the income. So they built this first one as a test. It didn’t work out. People couldn’t really offered it and they actually wanted to be on the beach’s doorstep. So, they had to sell the place off to some rich people and they rent the six apartments out to their family and friends as get away spaces.’
‘And how did you end up with the top one?’ Fern broke in.
They had arrived before a patch of woodland which led to a lush grass lawn and the entrance gate to the apartments. Brook once more took the lead and held back a few of the lower tree branches as they struggled through. They popped out on to the lawn and walked up to the gate. The green building didn’t seemed welcoming and Fern got an odd sense that it wanted to be left alone. Shaking her head she turned back to Brook and waited for an answer.
He had pulled out a key from his pocket and was slotting it into a hidden key hole in the gate.
‘So?’ Fern pressed.
‘It was accidently,’ Brook replied and he pushed open the gate.
Fern followed him and he locked it behind them before going up to the silent building.
‘Looks like we’ve got the place to ourselves. Little unexpected at this time of year,’ Brook pointed out. He seemed to put the same key in the door and opened the door.
Fern sniffed loudly before walking through, the hallway smelt too clean. Almost, she decided, hospital sterilized. She heard the door closing behind her and stepped towards the elevator and staircase as there was nowhere else to go in the hallway.
‘So how did you end up here?’ Fern repeated.
Brook called the elevator and lopped his fingers into the belt hooks of his jeans. He shook his hair out of his face and Fern realised that he wasn’t going to tell her. She breathed out deeply and rubbed her head, deciding that right now it didn’t matter and she just wanted a shower.
The elevator door binged open and they got on. Brook hit the number six button, the doors shut and they went up. Fern glanced at the super clean green painted walls and felt the shuddering under her feet. The elevator juddered to a stop and the door opened. Fern peered out and saw a balcony like space before her.
Fake tropical plants ran along the walls and up to a glass door with an exist sign above it. Fern walked down the dark green tiled and painted hallway, passing a dark brown door on her right and stopping at the glass door. Outside was an actual balcony with a cluster of fallen over fake potted flowers. She could see it ran down to her right and there was a wooden table and four chairs further along.
Brook hummed behind her and she heard the door clicking open.
‘The view’s better this way,’ he said.
Fern turned, walked back to him and followed him side the dark apartment.