"I was working a job in Romania." Eliot held up a hand to shush Parker, who looked as if she was about to jump out of her seat. "No, Parker, I was not hunting for Dracula. I'm not a vampire hunter. That's Sterling," he told her with a wink.
Parker settled back into the chair, and Eliot relaxed a little more into the circle of Nate's arms. "I was hurt... I'd been shot, and I was bleeding, and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to make it back to the inn where I'd been staying. It was snowing so hard I could barely see my hand in front of my face, and my equilibrium was completely shot. I was bleeding all over the snow, and I was pretty sure that when it got dark, I'd have wild animals to deal with, too. The sun was setting, and there were shadows everywhere...and when you're in the state I was in, the shadows start to mess with your mind. In the Romanian countryside, people are still very wary about being outside after dark."
"How do you know so much about Romania?" Hardison piped up, proving that he was actually paying more attention to Eliot than to whatever was on his laptop.
"I lived there for a while. See, before Nate, I was with someone. He was Romanian--" Eliot paused to shoot an amused look in Parker's direction. "Hush, Parker. You all should know by now that I have flings with women, but I fall in love with men. " He squirmed when Nate elbowed his ribs. "Had," he amended. "Anyway, he became very ill and he died, and I couldn't stay in Romania any more. I just... it hurt too much."
"But you went back for the job," Parker said.
"Yeah. It's been several years. I can tolerate it in small doses now." Eliot shifted position and took a sip of coffee before he continued. "So here I was out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the worst snow storm I'd ever seen, and I was pretty sure that I was going to die out there where nobody would ever find me. I fell, and when I was able to push myself up out of the snow a little, I was staring at a pair of boots. I felt myself lifted off the ground, and I had this sense of being carried... fast. The next thing I remember, I woke up in my bed at the inn, with a very worried innkeeper hovering. She'd buried me in blankets and stoked the fire, and she brought me soup and hot tea pretty much every hour."
"But how --" Parker started to interrupt again, but was silenced by Sophie's hand on her shoulder as she paused to refill Parker's coffee mug before moving on to Eliot and Nate.
"She told me that a man had brought me back. She described him to me...tall, muscular, long black hair, deep green eyes. She said that he told her his name, and asked her to give me something. Two things, actually. When I asked her what they were, she pointed to a vase on the dresser with one long-stemmed white rose in it. Then she handed me an onyx and silver pendant on a silver chain. That confirmed what I had suspected." He rested his head on Nate's shoulder. "It was him. The weirdest thing was that my shoulder, where I'd been shot, was completely healed. No scar or anything."
"Wait.... you're telling us that you think your dead boyfriend carried you through a snowstorm for god knows how many miles and healed a gunshot wound?" Hardison was staring at Eliot, computer completely forgotten.
"No, I'm telling you I know he did."
"What makes you think--?"
"I recognized the boots, Hardison. They're very distinctive boots." He stretched and snuggled closer to Nate. "He told the innkeeper his name. She described him perfectly. He grew white roses...they were everywhere...outside the house, in the house... everywhere. But it was the necklace that really convinced me. He gave it to me once before, on our third anniversary. It was inscribed on the back. Dragostea nu moare. Love never dies. I put it in his coffin when he died."