Eliot heads back to the Inn with the whole day on replay in his head. Eliot instinctively touches the outside of his coat in a moment of reflection assuring him that the letters are still in his pocket. The hour is late enough on his return that no one notices his return. Eliot heads straight to his room to catch up on his reading.
Eliot takes off his coat, pulling the letters out of the interior pocket. He spreads the letters out on the bed to put them in order by date. Eliot checks the addresses and the postmarks to establish the timeline. of the past 8 years. Eliot takes a breath before opening the first one since he knows the tale that the letters tell. It feels a bit like the last page of a book first. Eliot knows how this story ends. Eliot opens a letter about three months into the timeline of when he fell into the darkness. He reads letter after letter placing them into his timeline and his life. Tess told him. She had told him about the pregnancy. There is hope and excitement in so many of the letters. Eliot knows the change is coming. Eliot mentally prepares for what is coming. Eliot reads the decent into sadness, the confusion, the plea for him to say something, for him to say anything in response to her.
Eliot lies back on the bed with the letters surrounding him. Tess had never reopened the envelopes, they were all sealed from when Tess originally sent them. Tess knew the letters never reached him. Eliot knows Tess. This exercise became Tess' therapy. Everything she felt, everything she wanted to say, Tess said on paper and mailed them to oblivion. To Eliot, it was like a glimpse into a diary. Tess' pain was real and was palatable in her words. Eliot loved her, he loved her so very much and he is finding it difficult to process Tess' pain that is expressed so clearly in her words in the letters. Eliot has seen the pictures from Mrs Hannigan and in Tess' albums. The pictures and the letters have formed a movie of Tess that now plays on a loop in Eliot's head.
As if she was summoned by the force, there is a soft knock on Eliot's door. Eliot knows it is Sophie. He saw her glance out the window when he pulled up. Eliot does not even attempt to move the letters. He opens the door to allow Sophie in. Sophie notices the change in Eliot's expression from when she saw him leave the truck and come into the Inn. She cannot help but notice the pile of opened letters on the bed. Sophie moves passed Eliot into the room. She shifts a couple of letters to clear a spot to sit.
"Talk to me Eliot, don't take on this on alone." Sophie knows that Eliot is punishing himself as she waves a letter in his direction. Sophie knows this is Eliot's attempt at a penance. Sophie taps the bed next to her. With the touch of her hand on his arm, Eliot unloads the events of the evening and the letters. "Sophie, Tess was alone..." Eliot motions to the letters on the bed. Eliot's emotions run the gambit as he tells Sophie about the boys finding out that he is their father straight through him taking the letters and reading them. "
Sophie attempts to process the information as fast as Eliot is delivering it. She is a bit surprised as to how much is happening in such a short period of time. Sophie can see the all of the love in Eliot rising to the surface through the trip through Tess' journey to now. Eliot shares stories of himself and Tess. Sophie is touched as to how open and transparent Eliot is being with her. Sophie knows how much this matters to Eliot. She knew Eliot was capable of deep love and it is manifesting in a way that Eliot is now unfamiliar with how to handle. Eliot had to bury so many things so very deep to survive his world. Tess has pulled the pin on her Eliot.
Sophie attempts to offer words of comfort to Eliot. "Do not discount her joy, Eliot. She was not alone. From what I have seen, Tess had a support system. She was not alone. Have you seen Hardison's little dossier on your lost love? What you are looking at is her past. Eliot that woman took her pain and transitioned it to joy." Sophie pauses to gauge Eliot's reaction. "She raised a happy family, has her own business. Do not discount what she has done by getting lost in the past out of context."
Eliot begins to gather up the letters as Sophie bids him goodnight. Sophie knows that Eliot was not looking for advice. He needed someone to listen and that is exactly what Sophie did, she listened to all of the thoughts banging around his head. Eliot needed for his thoughts to see the light of day. Eliot gathers up the letters. Sophie told him to use the past to understand Tess and to understand himself but not to get lost in it. Sophie used Nate as her example. Nate allowed his past to consume him. There is nothing Eliot can change. This is the start of his future. Eliot gently folds the letters, placing each into the envelope from which it was retrieved. Eliot tucks the letters into his bag to hide them from any potential prying eyes or curious souls.
Eliot lies down in an attempt to meditate himself calm with limited success. Eliot tosses and turns through the night with morning coming too quickly. Eliot is up with the sun and out the door to the barns to spend some time with the horses to clear his head. Seeing the barn doors open, Paddy wanders out with a cup of coffee for Eliot. Paddy knows Eliot is doing the chores to pass time since it is way too early to head to Tess' house on a Saturday.
The harvest is still being celebrated and the weekend brings the festival in town which Parker is very much looking forward to. She was intrigued by the signs about the town. Hardison is also up with the sun checking up on that sedan he saw in town before they head out to the festival with Sophie and Nate for the afternoon. The car is a rental, paid with cash which is making a bit of a challenge for Hardison to give context to its connection to the down or to any of them. Hardison saves the search and heads to the shower at Parker's prompting.
Tess begins her morning routine with the boys. The boys have orders to shower before getting their rooms clean so that the painting can begin. As the boys take care of their morning to do lists, Tess heads to the kitchen to make a few calls to get the day started at the shop. As Tess finishes up her calls, the boys wander down to the kitchen to make breakfast. Tess is quite enjoying a quiet Saturday, it is a very rare Saturday off. As Tess whips up some pancakes in her kitchen, Eliot knocks before walking in the front door. Eliot is not comfortable enough to start using the back door like he had done when he and Tess were together. The boys rush into the living room ushering Eliot into the kitchen for some pancakes. Eliot pours himself a cup of coffee while offering to refresh Tess' cup. To Eliot's amusement, Tess grabs the maple syrup off of the counter, pouring an amber stream into her cup. Eliot had almost forgotten this quirk that he was introduced to over during a morning after the night before with Tess at a local diner. Eliot originally thought it might be a New England thing but quickly found out it was a Tess thing. There are few things Tess will not put maple syrup in or on. Eliot remembers Tess offering up her cup until he took a sip of her morning concoction. He wanted to hate it but the smell of maple coffee is something that always reminded him of Tess and honestly, it wasn't half bad. Eliot offers up a warm smile and a kiss on the cheek in greeting to Tess as she offers up a plate to Eliot.
The boys chat Eliot's ear off as they gobble up their pancakes about their plans for the day. Eliot exchanges a smile with Tess at their gumption. Eliot is quite enjoying all of the playing house with Tess which is something he never imagined would ever be a thought in his head. Tess was not the first woman he was in love with, Amiee was the first but Tess, Tess just might end up being the last.
Not long ago Sophie had been talking with all of them about what they would do after this was all over. Eliot suddenly has new thoughts for that conversation. Eliot wonders if there is any way to navigate Hardison's restaurant and a life with Tess fully realizing that it is a hell of a geography lesson. Eliot tries to quash the thoughts circling his brain. He could make all of the plans in the world but he has no control of his future at this moment. Eliot relishes another moment with the blue eyed boys across the table.
Tess cleans up the dishes as Eliot and the boys make a list of what they need from the hardware store. Eliot offers to run the errands with the boys as he takes the list and loads the boys into Tess' Jeep to head into town. Connie's family runs the hardware store. Every trip into that store is like one into his past. The store looks just like his father's store back home right down to the old men gathered outside playing checkers.
Mr Conrad gives Eliot a hardy handshake as he walks in as the boys dart down the aisles. Eliot enjoys the conversation as the boys gather up brushes and supplies as Eliot finalizes the list of what they need to finish the job at the house. Eliot beams with pride at walking around with his sons in town. Everyone knows them and everyone seems to know him. It is as thrilling as it is unsettling. Everyone in town seems to know that he was the father of these boys. They ask Eliot about Tess, tell him to say hi to Tess.
For a moment Eliot wonders if Tess still owns the boats. Tess' father was a multi-generational Lobsterman. Her family actually owned the original boat works by the docks. Some of Eliot's happiest memories were sailing the local waters with Tess. Eliot's curiosity motivates a drive down to the docks since it is on their way back to Tess' house.
As they walk towards the docks, the boys wave to captains. The boys announce to Eliot the answer to his question, Tess still owns her father's fleet of lobster boats. Eliot is truly amazed that Tess has managed to keep both businesses running all of this time. When her father died, Mr Hannigan had stepped in and ran the fleet for Tess. Eliot used to love his tales of the lobster men and the seafaring hi-jinx of Paddy and Connie when they were young.
The boys immediately point out the sailboat and the Chris-Craft that they are learning to sail. Eliot remembers the moment he met Tess. The Chris-Craft was being restored by Tess and Mr Hannigan in the Hannigan's side barn. Eliot had wandered out to spend a bit of time nose to nose with one of the horses when he quite literally ran into Tesla Baines. Tess had her red hair tied up into a bandanna with paint splattered painters overalls on and a t-shirt. It was late summer and the air was scented with apples. Tess was covered in saw dust from sanding the boat. Mr Hannigan made the introduction with Paddy coming up quickly behind grabbing Tess up into a hug and spinning her around. It was later that same day at the local tavern that he got to know Tess on a blind date with Paddy and his then girlfriend. A warm smile fills Eliot's features as they drive passed the Tavern on the way back to Tess' house.
Eliot fills the boys arms as they head upstairs. Tess has pulled the furniture into the center of the rooms along with taping of the trim while they were away. The boys flip a coin to decide who's room gets painted first. Eliot has to laugh since Tess has her red hair tied up in a bandanna and the same paint splattered overalls on just as she did that very first day. Tess shoots Eliot a quizzical which only garners a broader smile and Eliot responding with a mouthed word of "It's nothing." Eliot smiles about the kismet of irony at play.
Eliot is on cloud nine as they paint away the day well into the start of the evening. The time has come to let the final coat dry as Paddy stops by with an offer from Momma Hannigan to watch the boys at the inn while the adults head to the festival's barn dance at the boat works in town. Tess had almost forgotten about the dance with the chores of the day. Paddy piles the boys into his truck as Eliot follows in his own to get cleaned up. Tess tells both of them that she will meet them at the dance since it is right down the street from her house.