Eli Sanchez stood on the old veranda and gazed out over the vista in front of him. In life he’d only been to visit the Gradys a couple of times and he'd never really stopped to appreciate the view. Now he finally realised why Ty loved this place so much. The fall sun was low in the sky and the colors of the trees were so captivating that Eli couldn't look away; golds, warm ambers, fire red all merged together in a way that, if Eli had still been breathing, he was sure would've stolen his breath away.
Inside the sounds of the family bustling around were soothing. He had no doubt from the few times he’d met Mara Grady that she’d have everyone organised like a well oiled machine. A soft smile played on his lips as he imagined the domestic scene inside. He could relax. Finally. It made a pleasant change from the last 6 months. Yep, Eli Sanchez deserved a holiday as much, if not more than, Ty and Zane.
It’d been a steep learning curve. Dealing with Henniger had been hard enough, but honestly, dealing with a lovesick and pining Ty Grady had been even worse. It hadn't helped that Burns had sent him on multiple ‘off the books’ missions and Ty, well, to put kindly seemed have practically no sense of self preservation. On the plus side necessity had meant that Eli had developed a whole series of new skills, he could turn on electrical items (a skill that he’d used as a distraction multiple times to buy Ty a few minutes longer) and he’d learnt that if he concentrated he could move a distance away from Ty in an instant. That one had come in particularly handy on more than a few occasions.
None of that mattered right now though. Zane and Ty had been reunited (and Eli was more than glad that no one had been able to hear him when he'd literally whooped when he found out) and surely even they couldn't get into too much trouble on a hike through the mountains. He hoped.
“Pretty ain’t it?”
Eli jumped at the voice behind me and he turned sharply to see Chester Grady sitting on an old rocker, shovel lying in his lap.
“Lived here all my life. Never did get tired of that view.” Chester grinned at him.
Eli’s lips parted in shock. Surely Chester couldn't be talking to him, couldn't see him?
“What you doing son, trying to catch flies?” Chester chuckled “You ain’t gonna have much luck with that, what with you being dead and all”
“You can see me?” The words came out as a whisper.
“Gonna have to speak up son, hearing ain’t what it used to be” Chester indicated towards his ears with a shrug.
“How can you see me?” Eli’s head was spinning. In all the time he’d been, well, dead, not a single person had shown the slightest indication of knowing he was around.
“Well, I don't rightly know. Always been able to. Never really questioned it truth to be told.” Chester said “I was grateful for it after my Evie passed. I did so enjoy her visits. Mind you that woman never did know when to leave things alone.”
“In the end I had to say to her ‘Evie, you don't need to keep looking out for me woman. I'm doing just fine’. Always was a stubborn one, took a bit of persuading I’ll tell you that. Honestly ignoring the light cos she didn't trust me to not get into trouble.” Chester rolled his eyes.
Eli couldn't help but laugh, Ty and his grandfather were way too similar. He didn't blame Chester’s wife one bit.
“So why are you still hanging about?” Chester narrowed his eyes as he looked at Eli.
“Honestly? I don't really know. I just am I guess.” Eli shrugged. It was something he’d thought about. A lot. His best guess was Ty.
“Oh there’ll be a reason. I know that much.” Chester looked thoughtful for a moment.
“Ty, I'm supposed to look out for Ty.” Eli said, it was the only thing that made sense.
“Beaumont has a guardian angel.” Chester wheezed before bursting into raucous laughter. “Full time job looking out for that damn fool.”
“You don't know the half of it” Eli found himself laughing as well.
“Chester Grady.” Mara’s voice called out from inside the house. “Where is that old fool?
With a huff of annoyance Chester got to his feet.
“Looks like I’ll be leaving you too it son. You wanna chat you come find me okay.” Chester grinned a toothless grin.
“Won’t that…” Elis started to speak only for Chester to silence him by raising a hand.
“Not like they’ll notice. They’ll just think ‘there’s that mad old fool talking to himself again’” Chester chuckled, “One of the advantages of being my age. Aren't many others.”
“Okay then,” Eli smiled, “I’ll do that.”
“Make sure you do son, make sure you do. I reckon you need a break looking out for that one.” Chester indicated over his shoulder.
“Hey, at least I get a break being here.”
Chester snorted out a laugh.
“Wouldn't bet on it, son.” Chester said over his shoulder before disappearing through the screen door.
Elis stifled a groan. Dios surely even Tyler couldn't find trouble on a mountain walk. Could he?