Chapter 7

Isabelle and Solly lay asleep in the early morning stillness.

It had been a week of watch-standing and caretaking – of The White Elephant and each other. They made love when they felt like it and skinny dipped in the lake under the moonlight. It had been a week of bliss, romance, love, and fulfillment.

Solly was a changed person now, able to let go of the sadness of grief – cherishing Ginny while not allowing himself to die along with her.

Isabelle was kind, patient, considerate, giving, and understanding and it was her caretaking that made Solly feel alive again.

It was the noise of trucks and heavy equipment and the shouts of workers that finally pulled Isabelle and Solly from their sleep. Isabelle hopped naked from the bed with annoyance.

"What the hell's going on?" She asked, throwing on some clothes and heading for the door.

Solly quickly dressed too and he followed Isabelle out of the cottage. Several bulldozers and a crane with a wrecking ball on it were being taken off trailers hitched to the back of dump trucks. Construction workers with yellow hardhats and vests were already hard at work taking down the chain link fence.

"What is the meaning of this?" Isabelle demanded.

"Isabelle O'Connell?" The foreman asked, a burly guy with tree trunks for arms.

"Yes," she frowned.

He handed her a work order. "Your grandfather thanks you," the foreman said. "But your work here is done."

"You're tearing it down?" Isabelle asked with disbelief.

"I'm afraid so," the foreman acknowledged.

Isabelle turned and fell into Solly who was standing behind her. "Oh, Solly, it's over," she sobbed.

"The cottage is going too," the foreman said, gesturing to a stake truck that was driving down the driveway. "They're going to clear it out so you might want to get your personal belongings out of there. Your grandfather said to go on home now."

"Just like that?" Isabelle asked bitterly, breaking from Solly and turning toward the foreman. "No warning. No time to prepare. Just get out, it's coming down?"

"Your grandfather didn't want a lot of publicity," the foreman explained. "There'd be protests and drama and crowds gathered. This way, she'll be down before anybody realizes what happened."

"Well, it sucks," Isabelle protested.

"You need to move out of the cottage, Ms. O'Connell," the foreman replied.

"Fuck you," Isabelle said angrily. "I'll move when I'm ready."

"You have an hour," the foreman replied without emotion. "Son, help her, will you?" He asked, gesturing to Solly.

Solly let out a sigh and wrapped his arm around Isabelle's shoulder. "Come on, Isabelle," he said gently.

Resigned to the situation, Isabelle burst into tears but she allowed Solly to walk her back to the cottage.

"This is no way to say goodbye to the Elephant," she complained.

"I know," Solly agreed.

They packed up the food from the kitchen and some personal affects and mementos from around the cottage, as well as their clothes and personal belongings from the bedroom.

The workmen were already carrying furniture and kitchen equipment out of the cottage. Out in the driveway, they saw some of the hotel kitchen appliances being brought out from the back of the hotel.

"Do you want to stay and watch?" Isabelle asked, wiping tears from her face.

"I'd rather remember it the way it was," Solly said quietly.

"Yeah," Isabelle said with a sigh. "I never expected it to hit me like this." She turned and looked at him. "It's probably because of you."

Solly smiled. "It's because of you," he told her.

"Come on Caretaker," she said once they finished loading their stuff into the car. "I'll buy you breakfast."

"On your grandfather," Solly replied.

They gave The White Elephant once last affectionate look.

"So long, you gray ghost," Isabelle sighed before climbing into the car.

"Thanks for the memories," Solly said with a smile. "Thanks for saving me."

He got into the car and neither of them looked back as Isabelle drove the car out of the driveway and down the lake road.