A memories of Myst and Uru Blog

Some of my memories of the games, and the events. Disclaimer: All of these posts are simply my recollections, and my imagination. Nothing here should be construed as fact. All copyrights of Myst, Uru, and any other intellectual properties pertaining to Cyan Worlds Inc. should be respected.

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Location: Gatineau, Quebec, Canada

I'm me. Unique and crazy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I hope you enjoy reading this blog and novel

It's been fun, and I am seriously going to try to write more to finish the thoughts that I've got going. I just haven't felt the urge.

Honestly, let me know if you like it, okay? Thank you, the reader!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chapter 13

Chapter 13

Continued from Chapter 12

As you wake up, the next morning, it's a nice realization that, once again, you've not had any nasty visitors. "Let's hope they stay away, but I'm sure they'll be back," you mutter, under your breath. "Who is behind this? How did they find out about D'ni and the linking books, at all? How did they know I have one?" All these questions pile in your head, sending it spinning. So many questions without answers. With all this going on in your head, you don't see Lesley wake up beside you. She leans in for a kiss, startling you. "Oh, good morning!" you stutter, suddenly thinking of her.

"Good morning, and how did you sleep?" She nuzzles her head in and kisses your neck, loving the feeling of your soft, warm skin so close. You hug her in close too, liking this warm, female body next to you. So comfortable, content, and cozy this morning, between you.

"I slept well. I'm glad we didn't have visitors, in the night," you say, with a wry tone.

"Yes, not welcome at all." She shakes her head. "Well, let's not think of that, okay?' You kiss her again as she leans in. "Mm, I think I need to be loved some more," she says, winking. You laugh, and eagerly comply with your lady's wishes, putting a lovely smile on her face.

After breakfast, it is decided, after talking about it, that your ankle isn't better enough, yet, for walking, although as you admit to her, you are dying to find out more. "But it'll only set me back farther if I damage it, correct?"

"That's so true. So, time spent resting it is better, correct?" she says, nodding her head.

"Yup, so I'll work on my maps some more today. I'll be needing some ink for my tracing pen later, as well. So, perhaps, we'll go together?" She nods in agreement.

As the day wears on, she starts to feel that dreadful, painful feeling. She checks her dates in her little calendar book, and sits down. Beginning to cry, she feels so sad. It's the day for her monthly period. She knows that for the next few days, she'll be in pain, in bed, with a hot water bottle, if possible, clutched to her middle. It's a sad day for her. You find her sitting there, crying. Planning to head off to get the ink, you were hoping that she'd come with you.

"What's the matter, Lesley?" you say, concern evident in your voice.

"Oh, just that time of the month for me. So, for the next few days, I'll be in some pain. I've already taken some pain pills but I'm not feeling very good, as it is. You hug her, feeling badly.

"I'm sorry. Is there anything I can do or get for you?" you ask, concerned and wanting to help.

"Do you have a hot water bottle handy perhaps?" she asks, looking up at you with her tear-stained eyes.

"No, not here, at the house I do. I'll drop by there and get it for you, if that's okay?" you reply.

"Oh yes, that would be great," she replies, but not in a happy tone. Already she's feeling the dull agony of the pain starting. You nod and kiss her goodbye. She lays on the bed, after you've gone, and quietly cries.

You head off in the truck, to get your supplies for the map drawing and also, to get the hot water bottle for her. You feel a heavy weight of sadness, knowing that she's in pain, as you drive away.

She falls asleep, while resting, on the bed. Upon waking, she hears voices in the Cleft. Thinking that, perhaps, you've returned, she calls out "Gareth, I'm here, in the bedroom, still." She waits for a moment, and then as footsteps get closer, she smiles, anticipating your appearance. But to her horror, it isn't your face. It's the two fellows who were here, in the Cleft, earlier, looking for the D'ni linking books.

"Well, look at this. Miss Scratch My Eyes Out and she doesn't have her knight in shining armour to protect her. Isn't that sad?" The fellow who she attacked walks right in. His buddy is with him. They both have smirks on their faces. Guns are drawn and pointing at her. She hesitates and looks very worried. Inside she's screaming "Oh my god, no, no, Gareth I need you. Come and rescue me." She knows that she'd never get to the shotgun standing at the head of the bed in time.

"What the hell are you doing here? Don't you know the books are gone? Did you think we'd be stupid enough to leave them here for you to steal again, you idiots," she yells at them. This doesn't help matters at all with these guys. Adding insult, to the fact that they see a helpless female, who has badly injured one of them, just fuels the fire. The guy whom Lesley hurt walks towards her.

"Well, honey, I don't really care about the linking book at this point. All I want is you." He starts to undo his pants. She realizes that she's sitting there with her top undone, and her breasts, cupped in her bra, are showing. As a result, it's a desirable sight for any guy, let alone one who'd like to teach this girl a lesson in behaving. The buddy smirks. Lesley grows more scared than ever, as she sees this guy taking off his pants, as he watches her. She feels a cold pit of dread in her stomach because she knows she's helpless.

"Don't you dare touch me! I'll scream, and I'll bite you, and you'll regret it!" Lesley yells at him. But he just smirks more as he moves in towards the bed. He knows she's defenceless.

"Who will hear you scream, little lady? If you hurt me, I'll hurt you worse, I promise." He grabs her by the hair and pulls back, hard. Her hands reach up to scratch him, but the pain of having her hair pulled is so painful, she starts to cry. He pushes her down on the bed. "Oh dear, the lady is crying. Maybe she's missing some of this." He forces his erect penis up against her jeans, getting so excited at the thought of all of this. The thought of causing her pain is exciting to him. It's a thrill. An excitement that can't be stopped now. All the whimpering she does, asking him to please stop, just fuels his desire, even more. The buddy helps with undoing Lesley's jeans and pulling them off and her underpants. "Oh such pretty underwear, all nice and frilly. Mm, fresh pussy juice," he says, sniffing them, getting a massive erection at the thought of fucking her.

As he fingers her, she is crying and whimpering and saying, "stop, please stop, I don't want this, stop." He sees some blood there, on his fingers, and that is exciting to him. It's like blood in a shark's nose, for him, to see it. Eagerly, he penetrates her, enjoying it so much. Roughly, hard, eager, forcing his penis deep into her, he loves this. The stiffness of her body as she tries to force him away. All the while, he is pulling back, hard, on her hair. The pain, the agony, the fear she feels, is immense. There is no love here. No tenderness at all. It's a raping of not only her body but her soul. She cries bitter tears, praying to you to hear her cries. She prays to Jesus too, asking for comfort. It's no help, at this time.

The buddy has his turn next as the first guy gets dressed. All the time, a gun is trained on her, and her head is pulled back. So, there is no escaping this torture of the body they inflict upon her. She is helpless in their wanton misuse of her body. A crime of the spirit that she can't do anything about. After he's finished with her, the buddy pulls away, and flicks himself clean. Getting dressed, he jokes with the other guy that yeah, she was a decent lay but man, sure didn't do much to help them. She lays there, curled into a ball now, feeling so dirty, defenceless and broken as a human being. "So, lady, where's the linking books? You tell us, or we shoot you, now, here, and we lay in wait for Mr. Knight in Shining Armour to come back, and find you dead, and then make him tell us where they are. Talk!" At that, Lesley has to gather her strength from somewhere.

"They are not getting the linking books! I can't let them shoot Gareth! No!" says Lesley, to herself. "You think I'm going to tell you where they are? Are you an idiot?" He gives her a good swat across the face.

"You tell me, bitch!" He is furious with her. His swat sends her staggering off the bed. She cowers there, afraid. But she's closer to the gun now, on the floor. The guys haven't seen it because it's tucked up beside the bed, at the head of it, against the wall. It's not obvious, at first glance.

Meanwhile, you have returned in the truck, from your errands. You see their car parked there, beside Lesley's, and know they are in the Cleft area. So, you are very cautious in your return. You peer over the edge of the Cleft and hear voices. So, you quickly climb down the ladder, and then crouching down, you go to the kitchen. You arm yourself with a knife. Holding it in front of you, you creep towards the bedroom area. You hear Lesley scream and a man shouting, "you tell me, bitch!" Then you hear the sound of flesh hitting flesh again, and her moan of pain. You want to scream out, "STOP! STOP the torture!" But then you hear him say, "I'll shoot you dead and then I'll shoot the knight in shining armour too, when he comes back, and finds you dead. Then we'll tear this place apart to find them. I know they are here!" So, you know they have guns, this time.

"Oh my god, what do I do? How can I call them off Lesley, and get them out here?" you think. The worry you have for Lesley is full in your mind, but that has to be pushed aside now. The dilemma of what to do to save her, and yourself, and quickly, is foremost in your mind. You know she's got a gun in there and that it's loaded. "So, I'll have to draw them out here, somehow, and let her get to the gun, somehow. Dear Lord, please let this work. Please save Lesley, I love her so much." You realize that you've spoken to the Lord for the first time, in a long time. You gather some pebbles, forming a plan at the same time. You need to get at least one of them out here, and then the other one to be distracted. You remember some firecrackers you have in the kitchen. Working quickly, you get them into a tin can that you empty out and dry out. Then with that set and ready, you light the long fuse. You quickly run back, quietly to the bedroom area, ready to attack the first one who comes out.

As the fuse burns out and the firecrackers light up, you tense up, getting ready for the action. As expected, the buddy sticks out his head. He's curious as to what is making the banging noises, after all. He walks out and comes down the stairway. His attention is where the noise is coming from and not on you. You realize that, and come towards him, from behind, quietly and efficiently. You clamp your hand over his mouth and put the knife at his throat. "Make a sound and I slit your throat, buddy!" you hiss into his ear. "Now, move!" You quickly escort him to the far end of the Cleft into the kitchen, all the while holding the knife steady over his throat. When you get there, you relieve him of the gun, and pointing it at him, you then retrieve the duct tape. Forcing him down, you use some plastic cable ties on his wrists, behind his back and on his ankles. A quick rip of the duct tape and it's over his mouth and another length of it for his eyes. "Now, stay here and you'll live!" you whisper, then you are off again, eager to get the bastard who hurt Lesley, you're sure.

Returning again, to just below the bedroom, you hear the idiot say "what is taking him so long to find out what that noise is? Hey you, bitch, get up and look out, for me, and tell me if you see him." He figures that's safer, that way. You see her look out and try to catch her eye. She sees you but doesn't make a move. She knows there is a gun trained on her and that the idiot isn't afraid to use it. You are shocked to see her naked from the waist down, blood on her legs, her shirt open, her bra showing, and her face looking beaten up again.

"I don't see him. Go find him yourself," she says in a flat, hard voice and goes and sits at the head of the bed. What he doesn't realize is that she is now very close to the gun. He stands there, indecisive, wondering what to do and where his buddy is. He takes a quick peek out of the doorway, trying to see his buddy. He calls to him. That's the break she's been waiting for. She grabs the gun and thanks the Lord, and you, for showing her, the other night, how to cock it, and shoot it, if necessary. She doesn't say anything, until she's got it steady, ready, aimed, and cocked. The click alerts him that something is up. "Drop your gun," she yells, alerting you to the fact that she's got the gun in her hands. As he stands there, indecisive now, as what to do, you creep up the staircase. You enter the room and see her there, gun at the ready, and him facing her now. You silently creep up and then grab him around the neck and get the knife there, at the throat. Lesley doesn't let the gun drop but walks slowly towards him and takes the gun out of his suddenly limp hands. She knows you are in control of him but she really wants to hurt this man badly. The longing to shoot him is very strong within her. "You bastard!" she screams at him. "You bastard, for raping me. I want to shoot you, I want to kill you, I want you to suffer, like you made me suffer. You bastard!" she screams. You pale in shock, at her words, spit out at this guy you've got a hold of.

"Rape? Oh my god, they raped her? How dare they do that to her! A poor, defenceless girl and they raped her. Oh my god, it would be so easy to slit this man's throat. How can I stop myself? How do I stay strong, and not hurt him, like I want to hurt him!" are the thoughts racing through your mind. But you say, the words hissing out, "I'm not going to slit your throat like you deserve. But I am going to hurt you for a minute." You step back and kick him hard in the back of the knees, causing him to fall to the ground, as his legs buckle. Then, as he turns over, lying down, you give him a good kick between the legs where it really hurts. "You ass hole! How dare you treat a lady like that? How dare you rape a woman who never hurt you except in self-defence? You ass hole!" You restrain yourself from kicking him into a senseless ball of flesh.

All the while, Lesley stands there, shotgun steadily trained on him. Tears are running down her face as she weeps, in pain, both physically and mentally. You go to her, and hug her, but both of you are cautious, still, of the danger presented by the man on the floor. Then, you say, "I'm sorry, I have to go get something to tie him up with. Then we're going to get some answers to some questions I have!" She nods, aware that she has to be strong for a while longer. You quickly run to the kitchen, grab the cable ties, and cut the ties on the buddy's legs. You rip off the duct tape over his eyes. Hauling him to his feet, you march him back to the bedroom, where under the watchful eye of Lesley, the other guy sits there, waiting. He's still wincing in pain.

"I'm going to get you, for kicking me in the nuts. Don't you worry, I'm going to get you!" he boasts, as soon as he sees you. You go over and look him in the eye.

"I'll not even bother answering that stupid statement. But what I will say is this. You will give me answers as to why you are here and what you are here for and who sent you, or your friend here, will pay the consequences with his life." You indicate the buddy. This doesn't scare the big brute, you can tell. You proceed to apply cable ties to his wrists, behind his back, and to his ankles. Then you tear off a strip of duct tape and put it across his eyes. You do the same to the buddy.

That done, you proceed to Lesley and take the shotgun from her. Hugging her deeply, you cry a little inside for her. "Your lady wasn't a very good fuck, you know. She whimpers too much for it to be any fun," pipes up the idiot.

"You'll not talk of her in that way, in front of her, or me, you understand," you say, in a quiet, furious voice, in his direction. "Her name is Lesley and she is a person, not an animal, and should be treated kindly, and with love and respect. Something you don't get, obviously." You hug Lesley tightly and whisper to her, "don't mind him, he's just an animal, low-life, person who is trying to get us to do something rash. We have the upper hand now." She nods her head, her tears still flowing. She hugs you tighter, needing your strength more than ever now. You know that she should be seen by a doctor soon, too, and that worries you. But you know that you need answers too. Why are these men here, again, so soon? Why do they want this linking book so badly? How can you get answers quickly, and yet, get help for Lesley, too? Your mind spins with it all, but you are calculating all the time. "Okay, I have a plan Lesley," you whisper again, into her ear. "I'm going to go up top and call for the police to come and pick them up. I'll ask them to send an ambulance too, for you, so that you can get treated quickly, while on the way to the hospital. Because you should be looked at. What I want you to do is this. When I say 'Oh my god, Lesley, you're hemorrhaging blood, we have to get you to the hospital right away,' I want you to come with me, as far as the doorway, then stop. Just crouch down outside and listen to what they say, okay? Left alone, at this time, not knowing what I'll do with them, is likely the best option. Fighting with them, trying to get out the answers, isn't the smartest idea. Mind games is the ticket, I believe. That okay with you?" You look at her, your heart melting at the sight of Lesley with tears upon her beaten up face, and her body naked, and abused. She mutely nods, too tired and scared to speak. Kissing her, you whisper, "Don't worry, I'll get you the help you need. Don't worry, stay strong. Are you ready?"

"Yes, I'm ready," she whispers back, in a tiny voice, weak with fatigue. You flash a brief smile at her, swelling her heart with love. She feels such love for you. You step back from her, and hold up your hand.

"You should get dressed Lesley," you say, in a normal voice, now. "You'd feel better that way, having some clothes on, I'm sure."

"Yes, okay, I'll get dressed now," Lesley replies, not sure where you are going.

"Oh my god, Lesley, the blood is just gushing of you now!" you suddenly cry. "We have to get you to the hospital right away or you'll die of blood loss. Come on!" You take her by the arm, gently and the two of you, smiling at each other, quickly make your leave. The buddy speaks up.

"Hey, what about us. Are you just going to leave us here?"

"Don't worry, I'll be back," you say, on your way down the stairs. You pause, looking at Lesley crouched there, just outside the door. You smile at her, wanting to give her hope, courage, and support. She looks so small, weak, and defenceless, sitting curled up like that. But you know you have to call the police and get an ambulance there, for her, soon. Waving your hand at her, you then run to the ladders, and climb out quickly. You call 911 and tell them your girlfriend has been attacked. The attackers are being restrained, and your girlfriend needs an ambulance pretty bad. On the phone, you're calm and composed, but inside you're seething angry at what they did to Lesley. A deep seated anger that you'll have to let out at some point, you know, but so far, you can keep a lid on it.

Meanwhile, Lesley is waiting there. There is silence for about a minute. "What should we do?" asks the buddy, in a plaintive voice. He's at a loss.

"Well, we should try and escape, shouldn't we," says the other, in a "why don't you ask another another stupid question?" sounding voice. "Can you move at all?"

"No, he pulled the cable ties really tight and my hands can't move at all. You?"

"No, can't move my hands, but I could try and get along on my knees maybe, to the wall and get the damn tape off my eyes. Man, this is bugging me, not being able to see!" He tries, and fails to get to his knees. They are truly hogtied, for the moment, unable to do anything to escape. Realizing this, they sit there a moment. "Why didn't that bitch cave in? Why didn't she give us the damn book? Shit, it wouldn't have been so complicated then." Lesley's ears perk up at this line.

This is all that I've written so far. I hope that the will to write comes back, and that I'll enjoy it again. I can't say, when, or if, I'll continue. Let me know if you like it, or love it, or hate it. Thanks.

Chapter 12

Chapter 12

Continued from Chapter 11

After a long time in Relto, where you both recover from the shock and dismay of the day's events, then you return to the Cleft, when your tummy starts to rumble. You speak of it, and she agrees that it is time to return to the Cleft.

Once there, you both prepare dinner. It is a nice time to cook with someone else and have the meal ready in short order. As you eat, your mind is going over, again, the plan for safety you have been mulling over, while lying on the blanket in Relto. "Let's put your Relto book in another hiding spot, okay, and then if either of us needs it, we'll have quick access to it?" She nods her head.

"Where did you think would be wise?" she asks, head tilted to the side, wondering what you have in mind. She's been eating up, hungrily, starving for good food for herself.

"Here," you indicate with your hand, "is a good spot to put it." It's behind the row of batteries that you use for power. There is a little, narrow platform they sit on, and you can just squeeze the book under it, so that even by just looking back there, you can't see it without reaching for it.

"Yes, good place!" she states, with a smile on her face. "Now, how are we going to ensure that we don't get attacked again, for those books that aren't here?" She has a worried look on her face.

"Hmm, well, I've been thinking out a plan. I think I should set up a simple trip wire at the bottom of the ladder. That way, you and I will know it's there, but others won't, thereby sounding an alarm. She nods her head, thinking that a good idea. "I'll also bring my shotgun down here and have it beside the bed, just in case." Your face is set in a stern, forbidding look. Angry at having to resort to using that dreadful tool, but practical too. Not an easy decision, but a wise one, you realize. You head off immediately to the ladder, to climb up and get it and the box of shells from the truck . As you climb out of the Cleft, she is left there, thinking her own thoughts.

'How can I help protect us? What can I contribute to this mess we've in? Where can my knowledge help us in some way?" are her thoughts, as she stands, mute, at the doorway of the kitchen, regarding the ladder out. She's at a loss for a minute. She's not religious by any means. But despite her anger at the hypocrites in the church she still feels a sense of peace when she asks for help. So, she says a small prayer for safety and help in this time of need. Then she goes out. She spies her groceries still lying on the Cleft floor. Gathering them, she returns to the kitchen and puts them away. Meanwhile, she is still thinking of what to do to protect you both. She comes up with a plan.

"I'm back," you announce, walking into the kitchen with the shotgun in hand. She turns to look at you.

"What do you think of this idea?" she says. "We'll get some old clothes and stuff them with something and place them in your bed to look like we are there, in bed. We'll keep your trunk locked again, as well, thereby still letting anyone think the books are still there. We'll sleep in my room, with a row of small rocks hanging from the edge of the curtain for a slight protection. At least, then, we'd hear if they came into the room while we were there." You smile at her inventiveness.

"Yes, those are all wonderful ideas! For a trip wire, I was thinking of a thin wire, attached to a tin can with a few rocks in it. So, then the can would rattle with the wire moving." You grin at her, liking both of your ideas, for safety.

"Yes, we can use the can from the beans we had tonight for supper!" she exclaims. She digs it out of the garbage can and goes out to the Cleft floor. Gathering pebbles she fills the can half-full. Then you put a small hole in the closed end of it and then feed a thin piece of wire through the hole and then encircle the can with it, thereby anchoring that end of the wire. Then you tape the open end shut with duct tape. Taking the thin wire roll and the can out to the ground right near the bottom of the ladder, you wind the wire around the ladder bottom. You use some rocks to hold up the wire at just about ankle length. Then place the can in a hollow area, against the wall, where it's not noticeable. She smiles at your handiwork. "That's great work, Gareth, and I think that will work well."

Next, you go to your room, and lock the trunk again, thereby making it look like the linking books are still within its safety. Lesley uses some sheets wadded up and stuffs a couple of pants, and two tops to make "bodies" for the bed. For heads on the "bodies" you use pillows tied around with string. "There, does that look good?" she asks as she finishes arranging the covers up around the "bodies". You smile and nod your agreement.

Next, Lesley uses some thread to sew on some little pockets at the bottom of the curtain covering the door of her room. She works quickly, sure of herself with her needle that she retrieved from her little sewing kit in her backpack. You go out and gather small pebbles again. Together, you pour the pebbles into the pockets. They make a satisfying little jingle as you move the curtain even slightly, testing it. "There, that should announce someone visiting us, uninvited," you say, with a sense of pleasure in your voice.

"Yes, hopefully, we'll get some sleep tonight," is Lesley's comment. It is deep night now, the moon not as full. Lesley lights the coal oil lamp. You get yourselves settled in the room. It's not as big as your room but it's got the same size sleeping platform with a nice mattress. You both get ready for bed, with the shotgun close at hand, and then climb into bed. It's nice once you're there with her, under the covers, cuddling. After a nice kiss, you both fall asleep. But neither of you sleep well, wary of any sound in the night, hoping against hope not to hear the sound of the pebbles in the can.

As she awakes, the light tells her that it's morning. She's happy that you both had a decent nights sleep despite the worry of the day before. Turning her head, she see you still asleep, on your stomach, head turned away. Not wanting to disturb you, she stays there, curling on her side, to watch you sleeping. Her mind goes over the last day. Her face hurts and her body is sore from the punching and the bruising. She can see by just looking at her arms that they are bruised. As you awake, you become aware of her lying there beside you, after you turn your head. You smile at her. "Good morning! I guess we got through the night without any nasty visitors, thankfully."

"Yes, that's a good thing, always." As she is speaking, she's also moving into the circle of your arms and reaching her face towards yours for a nice kiss good morning. You lean back and regard her face.

"Wow, lots of bruising now. Are you sore all over?"

"Yes, I'm a bit stiff and sore, but I'll live. Am I ugly with the bruises on my face?"

"Of course not!" you vehemently deny. "You're still the beautiful girl that I love, and who is so brave." You lean in for another kiss. She kisses you back and arches her body into yours. It's an open invitation this morning. You sense her mood, by the way her hand is on your face, and the way her body keeps pressing into yours. She's not breaking the contact at all. "Hmm, would my lovely lady like something? What, on earth, could that be?" you tease her. She giggles and smacks your shoulder gently.

"I want you," she says boldly, but still a bit shy. But then, she sits right up and takes off her pyjamas, right there. Just throws them onto the floor and then kneels there on the bed naked and smiles at you. "Yeah, I want you. Want me?" She beckons with a finger.

"Hmm, let me see. Would I like to have a nice screw with my lady, or get up and eat some food? Which should I choose?" You ponder the question, finger on your lips, playing with her. She's smiling at you, breasts naked, her lovely, lithe body on display for you. You suddenly pounce on her, and hug her, and fall back to the mattress, holding onto her. "I choose you," you say, and then kiss her, hard and demanding like, on the lips. She's kissing you back just as hard, pleased at your choice. It's a fun time but a heated moment too, where you are stoking each other's desire. She helps you off with your pyjamas soon after.

Kissing her way down your body is a fun thing for her to do. You enjoy watching her touching you in so many places. She's like a hungry lioness over your body, desiring you. Then she sits on you and you slip into her. Hands locked together, she stares at you. Throwing back her head, she moans that lovely deep moan of a woman who is satisfied in a deep way. So nice to see her on top of you, swaying. She leans forward for you to catch her breast in your mouth. "Mm, Gareth, that is so wonderful," she exclaims. You build up to a lovely climax. As you slow down, she sinks to your chest and kisses you deeply. Her eyes are closed. The feelings of love, trust, and pleasure are all there in her lithe body, as she lays on you. "That was amazingly good feeling," she says, softly, as she lays there. "It was different feeling, and nice, and sooooo hot." She smiles at you.

"Mm, yes, very hot for a man to have a woman undress for him, and ask him, in no uncertain terms, to make love to her," you say, teasing her.

She laughs and says, "yeah, I wasn't very shy this morning, was I?" She winks at you. You both erupt in laughter, enjoying this silly banter between you. It's light, and funny, and very silly. After a little cuddle, she looks up at you and whispers, "try number one for a baby huh?" and then giggles. Laughing as well, you kiss her. But it's a tender time too. Because you know that she's stopped taking the birth control pills. You want it to work for her, just as much as she does.

Breakfast is made together, this morning, with laughter, and joy present in the air. It's another beautiful day, but a bit chilly. It's late September now, and in the mornings, and evenings, the air has a nip to it, now. Within the month you know, you'll have to move to the house, where you'll spend the winter. You bring this up with her. "By the end of October, it'll be a bit cold to be here. So, I'll be moving to the house in towards town. Would you like to come and see it with me?"

"Oh really? That soon? I didn't realize that you couldn't live in the Cleft for longer than a few months of the summer and fall!"

"Yes, it gets just too cold for comfort to stay here," you reply, reaching out for her. You've just finished drying the dishes, and are holding the dish towel, still. But, she comes willingly into your arms. A soft hug together, a gentle kiss and a short time of togetherness. "This is lovely, having you here," you say, softly nuzzling her neck. Your heart pounds for this beautiful woman now. Her scent, her movements, her beauty, even when bruised, is captivating for you. She's caught you in her web, you know, and you're completely content to be there.

"I miss coffee," she says, as you break apart. "I used to have morning coffee, and lattes, and watch television in the evenings. I do miss those things a bit but honestly not a great deal." You smile at her, as she lists the things she misses.

"Well, I've got a television at the house, but no satellite connection. I just don't watch enough of it to warrant the cost," you say, shrugging your shoulders.

"Yeah, I can understand that," she says, smiling at you. "Don't worry, I'll not make you get it for me." She rolls her eyes in laughter.

"Ha, well, if you want it, you can pay for it!" you say, joking now with her. Her face takes on a serious look.

"Yes, I'll have to think of looking for work, won't I? Or finding some way of getting some money in. I mean, I've got some savings yes, but not enough to live on, without some coming in regularly."

"Well, don't worry about that right away, let's enjoy some free time with each other, while we're here at the Cleft, and worry about the nasty details of modern life and money in a week or so, okay?"

She nods her head. "That's sounding pretty darn nice. I don't miss phones at all!" Her voice emphasizes the word phones. "Gareth, I so appreciate you offering me a place to stay and then letting me into your heart and your life like this. I feel so amazingly alive now. I feel like a new woman reborn, with hope. Thank you!" You step towards her, and capture her again in your arms. Wordlessly, her arms link around your neck and your hands sit on her hips. You kiss each other again. Long, slow, loving kisses.

"No, thank you, you beautiful woman, for coming into my life. You are what I needed, more than ever, and didn't realize. I needed you and you came. Thank you." Again, it's a very tender, loving moment between you where tears are at the brink of her eyes. You stare at each other, feeling the closeness. Then you hug, so aware of needing each other.

"So, what should we do today? How's the ankle feel this morning? Are you thinking of walking to the cave?" she asks, firing off the questions rapidly, mind churning, as she breaks away after the tender moment. Your mind changes gears as well, thinking about your ankle. You test it, and evaluate how it feels.

"Hmm, it's a bit sore when I really rotate it. I'd think another day of not walking would be better on it. Why don't we go and see the house and see if it's okay, for now?" you ask her, eyebrows raised in question.

"Sure, let's take it easy today, and have a picnic lunch on Relto, maybe afterwards?

"Yes, that sounds like a good plan! I'd love to do that, with you." You reach and cup her cheek with your hand, running your thumb over her cheek. "Let's get ready and head off to the house first, okay?" She nods, and turns and heads off to get changed. You get the keys you'll need, for the house, from your study. You've not been there since the spring. Sharing the house with your grandmother was nice but it's been lonely since she passed on. So, inside, you're excited at showing it to Lesley. You want her to like it. She arrives back, to find you standing there thinking.

"What are you thinking of?" she asks.

"Oh, just my grandmother and how she hated to leave the Cleft in the fall. She missed living here. It was lonely in the house without her, after she passed away."

"Ah, yes, I'd imagine so. Well, I'm sorry for your loss," she says, coming over and holding your hand. She gazes into your eyes.

"Yes, I miss her," you say, simply then turn away, walking out. Lesley follows you.

You climb to the desert floor and Lesley joins you. Together, hand in hand, you walk to the truck. Opening the door for her, you smile as she climbs in. Then you get in on your side. After starting it, you both put on your seatbelts. Then you drive off.

The house is in fine shape, you find, except a bit dusty. But that's soon cleaned up. The furniture is covered with cloths, to protect it. But you enjoy showing Lesley around. It's an old Victorian style house, built in the western style with a wide verandah for sitting upon. So, after retrieving a can of frozen juice from the freezer, you make up some lemonade for the two of you. Sitting on the verandah, you talk for a while. About how the house came into your possession because of a deal your grandmother made with a local man. How, in her old age, it was easier for her to deal with the stairs than the ladder at the Cleft. But how she, also stubbornly insisted on visiting there until the last few days of her life. "How did she die?" Lesley asks, gently.

"She got a bacterial infection that wasn't treated fast enough. It killed her quickly and painlessly, I believe," you say, shrugging your shoulders. "Her foot got a severe cut when she dropped a glass and being the type she was, she didn't see a doctor. It should have had stitches in it." You tell the story in a flat voice, emotionless, the telling of it painful but necessary. "So, not knowing how serious a cut it was until a day after the fact, the damage was done. I took her to the doctor, who put her in the hospital, but within a couple of days, the infection killed her. Such a tragedy." You sound so sad. Lesley reaches out and grips one of your hands, in sympathy.

"Oh my, such a senseless death of a very special lady," she says, sadly.

"Yes," you reply, simply. For a short time, there is silence between you. "Well, let's get these glasses washed and head back to the Cleft, okay? I'd like to make a picnic lunch and enjoy some quality Relto time with my lovely lady. You smile at her.

"Sure, let's do it," she replies.

After you return to the Cleft, she makes the lunch, with your help. Then you retrieve the Relto book you hid underneath the batteries. She links first with a smile. You link right after her. Once there, you walk to the far end, spreading a blanket for the two of you, to sit upon. She smiles her thanks and settles down, getting comfortable. You hand out the freshly made sandwiches, hungry for food. "Mm, thank you!" murmurs Lesley, after her first bite. "These are so good! I love smoked meat with mustard and lettuce and cheese." You nod, your mouth full too.

Afterwards, sitting on the blanket, crunching on an apple, you are both silent. Minds busy with your own thoughts. You lay down and have a nap, on the blanket, enjoying the peacefulness of this place. It's nice feeling peaceful here, with her beside you. A very pleasant time. After you wake up our mind goes over, once again, the cave and the discovery. "What was the purpose of him being there? Why? Why was he there without climbing equipment? How did he get there?" Your mind churns with questions, again. As she sees you sleeping, her mind is on you, remembering making love to you, your grandmother, and your wife. All the things she's learned about you, are going through her mind.

After a couple of hours you get up and stretch. "Well, that was a pleasant, lovely break, wasn't it? Let's try and get back to the Cleft soon, however. I should do some map work for a couple of hours today, to keep up my skills." She nods, and within a few minutes, you are linking out again, back to the Cleft.

You get to work, in your study, working on a custom map for a customer. It's not a rush job, but a job that should be done, at some point. You use pencils and rulers and refer to the topographical maps on hand. It's detailed work and requires concentration. She's gone off to the room you two are using now. Sitting on the bed, she writes in her diary for a short while and then sits and dreams again. "Oh, how much I want a baby in here," and she gently rubs her tummy and smiles. A deeply held dream that just may be realized, soon, she hopes. Then her tummy starts to rumble so she heads to the kitchen, to prepare dinner.

"Gareth, dinner is almost ready, okay?" she says, poking her head into your study.

"Oh, okay! Will be there in a few minutes. Let me just finish here and put my stuff away," you reply, smiling at her. This is really nice, you realize, having dinner all made for you, with a lovely lady for company, to boot. You remark on that fact as you sit down. She blushes prettily.

The two of you do up the dishes together, afterwards, and then, as a nice closer to the day, you play the guitar for a short while. She admires your skill at playing. Then you head to bed, together, again, hoping for no night visitors of the human kind.

Continued in Chapter 13

Chapter 11

Chapter 11

Continued from Chapter 10

In the early morning light, she wakes first. She turns and sees you still sleeping. Curling onto her side to face you, she lays there, with a small smile playing on her lips. She watches you sleeping. You soon stir. As you become aware of your surroundings, you turn your head and see her there, eyes open, watching you. "What are you looking at?" you say, in that lovely, gruff, early morning voice she's coming to know, and to love.

"Just you sleeping. It's nice to see all that worry gone from your face." She leans in for a quick kiss. "Let's eat, I'm hungry." Then, she jumps out of bed. You are surprised at her eagerness to get going. You lie there for a minute, evaluating what to do. Like most guys, you're experiencing a natural phenomenon that occurs during sleep. In some ways, you're thinking about dragging her back into bed. But breakfast does sound good too. So, you decide on the food, rather than the sex, this morning. She's already gone so you get up and get dressed.

Breakfast is a quick, short matter this morning. "I'd like to get my car today, if you don't mind and I need to get some laundry done, because I'm running out of clean clothes," she says, as you dry up the dishes after she's washed them. "Honestly, your ankle isn't really good enough to go walking to that cave and doing exploring, correct?" She stands with her hands on her hips, sure of herself. You smile at her and nod affirmatively. She smiles and sticks out her tongue at you and says, "Told you so." You snap the dish towel at her, for her sauciness. She dances away from the towel, laughing at you, for missing her. You give up the chase, and get back to work drying the few dishes.

"Hmm, if we're going to be in town, I should get a new cell phone battery actually," you say, with a thoughtful look on your face. She looks surprised.

"You have a cell phone out here?" Her eyes are wide in surprise.

"Yeah, works great up top, but the reception stinks down here in the cleft. It's a 12 volt charger that I use, plugged into a panel, that draws the power from my batteries." You wave your hand, indicating the row of deep cell 12 volt batteries in the far corner, behind the curtain. She nods, understanding that quite well.

"Just like a cigarette lighter in the car, obviously."

"Yup, but the battery is over a year old and doesn't hold a charge for more than a hour now. So, time for a new one for me. I'll have to drive to the phone shop which is about an half hour extra drive away. But not a big deal, since you can come back here, on your own, after you're done with your errands." You smile at her. She nods. "We should get some water too. With you here, we're using water at twice the rate of me alone". You indicate the large plastic jug that you use for drinking, cooking and washing up.

"I'll go collect my stuff. Can I collect your dirty clothes as well and wash them at the same time?"

"You have to ask me that?" you say, winking. "How about if I get down on bended knee and say would you please take my clothes and wash them for me? Would that work?" She giggles at your silly statement.

"Of course, you have to ask me nicely to do it, or you ain't getting a piece of me later, boy."

"Oooo, the girl plays rough, doesn't she?" You're both giggling like crazy now, at this silly banter between you. Without further ado, she goes and collects all the dirty clothes into a large garbage bag and her wallet and knapsack. She climbs the ladder with all the laundry as you watch her from above. You've got the large water jug, on the ground beside you. She's panting slightly, at the exertion. You take the clothes in the big bag from her, with a smile, and carry them to the truck for her.

As you start up the vehicle and begin the drive into town, she asks, "How do you support yourself? Where does the cash come from?"

"In the winter I'm a general handy man for people in this area, and I do detailed maps for customers. Different ones, some topographical, some contour. Depending on what they want. In the summer, I collect semi precious stones and rocks and sell them to a collector who drops by every couple of weeks." She nods at your reply, satisfied with the answer. You discuss rocks in more detail with her, describing what you look for when rock collecting. She says that she'd love to help you hunt out more rocks. She talks about field trips she did, while in university, where she was a rock hound, chipping away with her little hammer, and safety glasses on.

You soon reach the small town. Pulling over at the service station, you stop the truck. She leans over towards you and gives you a kiss goodbye. "See you in a couple of hours back at the Cleft," are her parting words. She gets out and waves as you drive off. She transfers the laundry into her car, and drives down the street to the laundromat. Since she's the only one there, she is able to use three machines at once. Giggling at your underwear included in the wash, she still gets to work and gets the machines loaded with change. Then, she grabs her novel, and sits down to read. "I'd love a coffee about now," she thinks. So, she heads down the street to the small cafe and goes in. She gets a nice takeout coffee with her double cream and sugar that she loves. Settling back down in the seat in the laundromat, she reads her novel under the bright lights. It's warm and comfortable, not hot. "Rather boring," she thinks, but necessary, too. When the washers are done, she loads the dryers quickly.

In short order, she's walking out of the laundromat, with her garbage bag, full of clean clothes. She stops at the grocery store to get a few things that she'd love. Then she's on her way back to the Cleft in her car. "I wonder how long Gareth will be?" crosses her mind. "He's an interesting person," also crosses her mind.

As she approaches the barbed wire and the gate where she has to turn in, she sees another car parked inside the fence. Not recognizing it, she wonders who it could be. "Maybe, the rock collector has come to pay Gareth a visit, perhaps?" crosses her mind. She parks her car beside the other. She glances in the windows and sees nothing amiss. She decides to leave the clothes for a later trip, and just takes her backpack, and her bag of groceries with her, on the first trip. She walks towards the Cleft. Hearing voices, as she stands at the top of the ladder, she's wondering who is there. "Hello? Who's there please?" she states, in a firm voice. She doesn't hear a reply, and thinks, "Hmm, that's a little weird, maybe they didn't hear me." She climbs down the ladder and goes to turn around. Suddenly, from behind her, a hand is firmly clamped across her mouth and a male voice is hissing in her ear. She can feel something sharp in her ribs, poking her.

"You make a move lady, and I'll stick this knife right though you!" says the voice, in her ear. It's a cold, dreadful, shocking feeling to suddenly feel this dread, coldness in herself upon feeling this hand on her. Hearing the voice sends surging adrenaline through her body. It kicks in almost instantly, and she drops her grocery bag, stomps down hard, aiming for his shin. As he lets go of her, in pain, she tries to connect her elbow with his nose, knowing from her self-defense training that is wise. She does and she gets away and turns towards him. She's got her keys in hand and quickly laces them through her fingers, like talons, ready to strike out at him. He does lunge at her with the knife. She aims for his eyes and connects quite well. He screams in agony and clutches his bleeding face. Her adrenaline is running very high at this point. She turns to climb out of the Cleft but he comes after her. He hauls on her boots and she tries to kick him away. But she can't. He's stronger and pulls her down.

Once he has her down, he throws her to the ground hard and says, "I'm going to hurt you, you bitch. You fucking little bitch, you've hurt me so I'm going to hurt you." While he's talking, he's whacking her hard around the head and shoulders. Just striking out with blows. She covers her head as best as she can to protect herself from the blows but he's too strong for her. She rolls herself into a ball, trying to ward off the blows.

Your voice booms out. "What are you doing? Get away from her, now!" It's your voice and you're standing up top, holding a shotgun, at the top of the ladder. The guy attacking Lesley steps away and holds up his hands. Lesley isn't sure if she's dreaming or if your voice is really there.

"Gareth, there is another guy down here. There are two of them," Lesley yells. Her tormentor gives her a good boot in the head to shut her up. But you've been warned already. So, you know not to climb down. "You, the big idiot, you climb up and carry her up, with you, or I start shooting at your knees." He doesn't move, indecisive. But you put the gun to your eye and take aim and say "Move, now, or I start playing games with you." So, he does move and picks her up like a sack of potatoes and drapes her over his shoulder. He climbs up out of the Cleft, carrying Lesley. You back up, giving lots of room between you and this idiot. "Lay her down there." You indicate the ground in front of you. You are shocked to see her face, all bloodied, and that she appears to be out cold, from the kick to her head. But, the cold steel of your anger at this animal in front of you, doesn't allow your gentle nature to shine, at the moment. "You call your friend up, or I'll shoot your kneecaps." He hesitates and again you put the gun to your eye and cock the trigger. He doesn't do anything. So you fire off a shot, hitting the dust in front of him. "Want me to aim a bit higher, next time?" you ask,dryly. He calls out to his partner, giving up the pretence of trying to be a man in front of you. "Why are you here?"

"We just want the Dunny linking book, is all," he states, in his flat voice. It's a weasel sounding voice, suitable for this low-life.

"Well, pond scum, you're not getting it. If you want one, you'll have to write one yourself, or tell whoever sent you to write one themselves." At that insult, his hands clench. His henchman, or partners head emerges from the Cleft. at the top of the ladder, at this point. He's not got anything in his hands. Their trip has been unsuccessful, obviously.

"Your books are safe, for now," says the second guy. "But we'll be back." They slink away, trying to avoid looking at you. They break into a run and head for their car. You are glad to see them turning tail and running away. Watching them carefully until they are gone, in a plume of dust. Wheels spinning as they want to be away from you and your gun.

When they're gone you turn your attention to Lesley. She's still out cold. You had a bad feeling when you pulled in and saw a second vehicle parked there. You didn't recognize it so your defences kicked in and that's why you reached behind the seat for your shotgun. Threading the shells into it, you had hoped not to have to use it, but, sadly, such was not the case. You have a matter of fact attitude towards it. Useful for self defence, when necessary, but you'd prefer not to have it at all. You're kneeling down now, looking over Lesley. She blinks and coughs. It's very painful for her and she grimaces at the light hitting her eyes. "Ouch, ouch, ouch, that hurts," she says, as she rolls herself into a ball and clutches her sides. You are powerless to help and feel a sense of frustration, anger and worry at seeing her moaning in pain on the ground.

"I'm sorry that had to happen to you," you blurt out. "Why did they have to come here? Why did they have to attack you? Why do people have to try and get what isn't theirs, in an underhanded way!" As you talk, your anger is growing, in leaps and bounds. But, the sound of Lesley's groaning stops that anger from exploding. You reach out to her and smooth the hair away from her face. Then you try to help her up. She can barely sit up, at first. The blood is drained from her face. But soon, her blood pressure returns to normal. Then she's able to stand on her feet with you as a support. She sways, dizzy, for the first minute. "How are we going to get you down the ladder?" you think out loud. She speaks, then, in a weak voice.

"Don't worry, I'll climb down after you go down. Just watch out for me, that I don't fall off the ladder." She gives a weak laugh as the silliness of that statement filters through her brain. "I'm hurting but I'll live, I think." You nod, but you're worried about her, still. But, you trust her judgment. Slowly, you climb down, looking up at her. She manages it fine. You take her by the hand, idly noticing the scattered groceries, on the floor of the Cleft. Heading into the kitchen, you sit her in the chair, and you get a clean cloth. After wetting it, with some water, you clean off the dried up blood on her face. Although a lot of it is still fresh. She's wincing in pain as you do it as gently as you can.

"I'm sorry if it hurts but I should try and get you cleaned up." You are worried, in the meantime, knowing that you've not seen the last of these idiots who did this to Lesley. That thought is on her mind as well.

"What did they want?" is her question after a quiet bit, where you keep trying to dab off the blood gently. It doesn't come off easily. You set down the cloth and stand there, jawing clenching, in anger, at what they've done to Lesley.

"They wanted the D'ni linking book to the city," you say, in a tight voice. "I'm going to have to take the linking books and store them elsewhere. This just is not safe enough anymore," you state firmly. She nods, agreeing with you completely. That's a sad fact that has just been made very obvious by this brazen outcome of this day's events.

You head to your room, expecting to see a mess. It's not far off from looking as though a tornado has ripped though it. "Oh my," says Lesley, as she is behind you. The trunk is a lot more worse for the wear, having had a axe chopping away at it. But the lock has held and your books are safe.

"At least the trunk withheld their attack," you say, feeling an immense sense of anger at the destruction wrought on the lovely old trunk. Chips of woods have splintered off it, as they chopped away at the lock, and around it. The top of the trunk is all mangled, chopped wood now. You stand, hands clenching, furious, wanting to strangle someone, or something, who would wrought this destruction. An overwhelming anger surges through you, as though it's being poured into your veins through an intravenous connection. "Damn them!" you spit out, the words slicing through the air. Mutely, Lesley turns. She gets a broom and dustpan from the kitchen and returns. As you see her begin to pick up the rug to take it and shake it outside, you shake yourself out of your anger. Retrieving the blanket from the floor where it had been heaped, you help to clean up. It's a quiet few minutes of work between the two of you. Then you retrieve your keys and kneel in front of the trunk. You fit the key into the lock. The lock is rough with the axe chops on it. It springs open and you open the trunk. Retrieving your Relto book, you stand up. "I'll take the books to my Relto, and store them there, then I'll find a hiding spot for my Relto book here in the Cleft," you say to Lesley. "Would you like to come with me and bring an armful of books? That way, it'll take less time for us to do it, and the sooner we do it, the safer we will be." She nods in agreement.

"Yes, I do think that very wise. Let's get that done as soon as possible." She steps towards you, laying the broom aside. You retrieve a few books and hand them to her and then offer your Relto book to her. She's gone in an instant. You retrieve a few book yourself. Then, carefully locking the trunk, you link to Relto as well, gone in a flash. You materialize there, standing on the cliff. She is there, as well, standing in awe at the view. It is an amazing sight for her, this Relto island in the clouds. A small island, with a hut and a waterfall. It is alone among the clouds with smaller islands surrounding it. There are trees growing, and birds chirping. A lovely, little tranquil spot of refuge amongst the clouds. You lead the way to the door and open it. The dust inside is stirred up, with your movements as you walk in. It's been a long time since you came here. You wrote this age, when you were very young. Your father thought you silly for writing such a simple, silly age. But you enjoyed linking here and having fun, pretending. It was your little fun age, to do with, what you wanted. You indicate an old bookcase, mutely, with your hand, as the point of your interest.

"There, that's where we'll put these. They can sit there. I hope they'll be safe." You place your armful of book onto the shelves. Lesley does the same.

"What is this place? How does it exist?" she asks, after you've turned away from the bookcase and are standing there, in the hut, dust motes dancing in the air between you, in the simple stream of light coming in the door.

"I wrote this age when I was young. It was the first one I wrote. I had fun here when I was little and learned about creating things for pleasure." You shrug your shoulders, not sure that she'll completely understand you or your motivations. She nods, accepting this explanation.

"Well, we better get the rest of the book, hadn't we?" she states, getting back to the real topic of why you are here.

"Yes, let's go!" you state, holding out your Cleft book for her, to link with. She's gone in a flash. You link behind her.

As you materialize, again, in the Cleft, in your room, you see her standing there, waiting for you. She's still so beautiful for you to look at. Her clothes are dirty and dusty. Her face is red and sore looking. Her hair is messy looking and she looks like she's been through a dust storm. But to you, a warm, beautiful woman, whom you know, loves you. You step towards her, and open your arms. The two of you kiss, and you whisper "I hope you're okay. I'm sorry you got so hurt by all this." She hugs you tightly.

"Yes, it was a terrible shock, wasn't it?" she says, muffled, with her head turned to the side. The rough material of your shirt is hard on her tender, scraped skin, and you realize this when she flinches away. "But, I'm here for the long haul with you, you know," she states, her voice louder and more sure sounding. You smile at her, and gently trail your thumb across her cheek. Your admiration for this woman just grew again. It's a warm, swelling of emotion you feel.

"Let's get the rest of the books taken on this trip, okay?" you say. You both smile at each other, glad that you took a brief minute to get close again. The day's events just threw the nice part of it away. You unlock the chest again, and retrieve another armful of books for her. Then you hold open your Relto book and she's gone, just like that. You get the last of the books. Included in this bunch are your fathers papers in the old, leather bag that you retrieved from the cave. This time, you leave the chest open, empty now, of the precious linking books, that someone would steal from you, if they could. You link out, feeling a sense of satisfaction that you've outwitted them.

You materialize again, in Relto, and again, you both enter the hut, and place the books on the shelf. "There, that's the sum of them," you say, with some pride, in your voice. "They'll be safe, we hope, here, and now I'll have to hide this precious book, in the Cleft, to protect this place." You indicate the Relto with your hands. She nods her head, understanding your motivations. You hold the linking book, for the Cleft, open for her. Then you follow.

After returning to the Cleft, you walk out of the bedroom. You have a good idea of where to store this precious Relto book you are holding. Lesley follows you, her words fading out as you walk away. "Where will you hide it?" is what she is asking. You don't speak, continuing to walk. At the very far end of the Cleft there is a small tree growing. You kneel and you unstack some stones, built up in a small cairn. What you uncover is a small, little hole under the base of the tree. The roots have filled in a bit of the hole but there is still, essentially, a gap for a body to fit in.

"This is where I'll hide the Relto book," you state, definitively, continuing to unstack the stones, working quickly, your motions a blur. She kneels and helps you. Then you fit yourself into the hole and you disappear from view. She doesn't follow you because it's too small, too tight a space. Then you reappear, dirt on your clothes. "I found this while playing as a child. I haven't been in here in a long while. You can't tell this from the outside, but in there," you indicate with your hand, "is a small, natural cavern in the rock. Likely created by water, over the years." She nods, understanding what you meant.

"That's very cool!" She helps you start replacing rocks again, to block up the opening from view. "But, if we want this to be easily accessible, we'll have to put something different in front of this opening, won't we?" she states, with a worried look on her face.

"Hmm, yes, that would be wise. I'll have to think of something, maybe a large rock to make it easy to move." You both continue stacking stones to make it look like a natural, small cairn of stones. Once finished, you both head to the kitchen to wash your hands. Then you make some lunch, finally, both suddenly realizing you're very hungry and need food. "Well, with that nasty piece of business out of the way, we'll have to get you a Relto book too, won't we?" You smile in her direction. You retrieve your blank paper and your pens and ink from the desk in your study. Sitting at the kitchen table, working quickly, you write Lesley her own Relto book, for linking to your Relto age. As you finish it, she stands, marvelled at your skill.

"That is amazing, Gareth, at how you do that!" Her face is a mixture of awe, admiration, and fear, somehow, at your obvious skill.

"Let's try it and take a blanket and have some fun, okay?" you say, to her, gently, wanting to have some quiet time now, with this lovely lady. She nods and scared of this new adventure, still reaches out her hands and links. You follow her. Safely on Relto, you smile at her. "I did it! Woot! The skill is like riding a bicycle. Once taught, never forgotten." She smiles back at you.

"Thank you!"

You walk to the far end of Relto and spread the blanket. She follows behind you. You both sit on the blanket and then take a minute to enjoy the tranquility of the scene. A very peaceful, quiet time for both of you. A time of reflection, finally. "Well, we've found to our dismay that someone is going to use unscrupulous methods to get the D'ni linking book, aren't they?" you say, with a downcast face.

"Yes, it would appear that way. Any idea who this could be? Directing this at you?"

"I have no idea, at all, sadly. But, obviously, they aren't going to give up, I'd say. I think we should be ready for a visit any time, day or night, from those yobbos," you state, with an angry, tense sound to your voice. Lesley picks up on this tenseness in your voice and she leans towards you, reaching out. Her touch is a pleasant one, linking you again, together, through touch. A warm feeling spreads its way through your body at this simple touch of hers. A feeling of calm, and caring. It's a nice feeling. You reach out your hand and cover hers, with yours, and hold it. Then you turn towards each other and kiss. A mere touch of the lips to each others, but a warm, lovely feeling all the same.

She mutters, "I'm so angry at your books being threatened like that, but right now, I've just got you on my mind." She reaches out, with both her hands, and grasps your face in her hands. Kissing you hard on the lips, you get the sense that she's got something on her mind, a wee bit.

"How are you feeling?" you ask her. The concern in your voice is evident to her. You know, by her body movements that she wants you, but you don't feel that way towards her. It's more a concerned feeling you have now, seeing her bloodied and bruised.

"I'm okay but a bit sore." She smiles tentatively at you, seeing you're not responding to her advances.

"That's good to hear. Let's rest a bit here and then we'll think of a plan to keep us safe in the Cleft, okay?" You lie down on the blanket, patting it beside you, indicating mutely, that you want her to lie down, as well. You both lie down, looking up, hands clasped together, between you. A tranquil time of peace, for both of you.

Continued in Chapter 12

Chapter 10

Chapter 10

Continued from Chapter 9

After you've eaten your breakfast, you sit, sipping your tea. She's humming as she does up the dishes, quickly. It's a lovely day, as usual, with the sun shining. You can hear the hawk giving its piercing cry but the sound is so familiar that it barely registers. "I'd like to take you with me today, to the Garden Age," you pipe up. She turns, surprised to hear you say that.

"You mean, linking, with you?" she says, surprised at your statement. You sit there, smiling at her, acting like it's no big deal at all. But to her, it's a bit scary and bizarre since she's never done it before.

"Yes, I'd like to show you what the Garden Age is like. How you feel when you link isn't pleasant but the feeling soon passes. The Garden Age is one of my favourites." She smiles at this news and you can tell she's excited at the thought.

"Wow, yes, I'd love to try that! Let's get ready and go!" She scampers off to put on shoes. You follow her slowly and put on your boots while sitting on the bed. Then you take your keys and unlock the chest. You select the Garden Age book and hold it in your hand. You lock the chest again and stand up. She stands close by, an eager look on her face, watching you for your next move.

You smile at her and open the book and say "Place your hand there. You'll feel as though you're being sucked into a small hole. But you'll emerge on the other side safely, don't worry! I'll be right behind you, promise." With that last instruction, she bites her lips and looks a bit worried. But then, she hesitantly reaches out her hand to the shimmering panel, and "whoosh", she's gone. You place your hand on the panel next, and "whoosh", you're gone too. Nothing left in the room anymore, to tell either of you were even there.

She materializes, standing in a portico. Just as you'd said, she feels like throwing up for a minute, but is amazed at how fast that feeling passes. Then she starts to look around her. "Wow," is all that she can say. Everywhere, there are plants, bushes, trees and flowers growing. It's a veritable jungle. There is a blue sky with some clouds and a double sun. She can hear birds chattering in the distance. You link in, right beside her. As you materialize and sway she claps. "Hurray, you made it safely!" She cheers again with her hands in the air. You smile at seeing her happy.

"Yes, this age is an amazing one, honestly. It's been around for a very long time and is very stable. Let's walk and I'll show you some of the lovely features." You take her hand and walk along, slowly, limping, on your sore ankle. It's almost normal today, but still a bit sore.

After a short walk down a gravel path where she is looking from side to side and up and down and gasping in amazement, you reach a small area upon which sits a gazebo with benches. It's overlooking a sloping down area with a small stream. The babbling sound of the water is a pleasant backdrop. You sit on the bench with a sigh, glad to take the weight off your ankle. She doesn't sit down but goes over to the stream to have a look. It's a pretty little stream with fast running water. She soon returns to you and sits down. Her face has a bemused expression. She's obviously enjoying this adventure of yours, immensely. She turns and says "thanks for bringing me here. This is awesome!" You reach out and hold hands with her. It's a nice feeling of being connected again. Fun to share this lovely age with someone instead of always being by yourself. You see, once again, things through fresh eyes, that aren't jaded with familiarity. Her excitement rubs off on you and you find yourself smiling at her pointing out a bird. It's just a chickadee, after all, but to her, it's special. "Does anyone live here?" she asks, turning to look at you again.

"I don't think so. I've never seen anyone around but I suppose others may come here, perhaps." You shrug your shoulders, unable to fully answer her. She lets it pass and doesn't continue with that line of questioning. "In most of the ages, I visit, there are no other visitors, because of no linking books available," you explain. "It's a lost art, that has almost completely died out, as far as I know. I may well be wrong, mind you, but so far, I don't think I'm wrong."

"Oh that's interesting. So, what you are doing are actually creating these ages, you mean? Or are you just writing linking books to ages that already exist?"

"Well, both, honestly. It's a case of having a few, very old ages that I've studied thoroughly and then applying that to write new ages where I can test new development, and take measurements. You see, I'd like to be able to rebuild the city of D'ni at some point. In the memory of the people of D'ni whom I truly admired. I didn't admire their rulers at all. But the people themselves, honest, hard-working folk, I'd like their memory to live on." At this statement from you, her face widens in surprise.

"You mean, rebuilding a place from scratch?" Her voice is full of scepticism and wonder. She is thinking privately, "this man has insane dreams."

"Hmm, yes, the thought has crossed my mind and I'm working on it, when I can. But don't worry, it's quite far in the future and I'll not be able to go it alone, believe me." You wink at her, as you are saying this.With this statement she laughs, relieved that you're not truly serious about this immense project. You change the subject with the statement, "I'm hungry. Let's go back to the Cleft and have some lunch."

"Oh, okay, that sounds good, but I'm sorry to have to leave this place so soon! Can we come back and visit again?" She smiles eagerly at you. You smile back, benevolently, proud of her eagerness to explore.

"Of course you can. I'll leave the book where you can link to this age when you want to." She smiles at this news. "We'll have to go back to the link-in spot. That's how it works. You have to link out again, and you return to the spot where you left from."

"Ah, I see, that's how it works!" she replies and nods her head. You walk together, holding hands, back to the portico, where you arrived. She links first and then you follow her. As you materialize in the Cleft, in your room, there is the familiar, sick feeling. It's soon finished with. You walk with her to the kitchen and she makes lunch for both of you as you rest in a chair, again.

Later that afternoon, you are discussing with her, the possibility of returning to the cave again, for more exploring. She's expounding on the assertion that she thinks it still too early for that long walk to the cave and then to do the climbing. But, you are so eager, to continue. It's like a itch, just dying to be scratched, for you, to explore more. You are explaining, again, your reasoning. But she is just as firm, in her stance, that it's been there for a darn long time, and it can stay that way, unexplored, for another few days. You laugh, trying to break this stalemate between you. "Our first good discussion, hey? Every relationship has one, doesn't it?" You wink at her. She laughs too, realizing you're changing the subject to cool off tempers. There's a silence for a few minutes, where you both are trying to think of a way to continue without getting too heated.

"How many women have been in your life?" she asks, suddenly, out of the blue. It's a complete, off topic question that is thrown into the mix. You pause, wondering where this is coming from. You look at her and meet her gaze which is directed at you, level and square. She's not smiling but serious, now.

"Didn't you know you shouldn't ask questions for which you may not like the answers?" you answer, obliquely. "Can I say that it doesn't really matter since none of them are here now?" You smile at her, deflecting her question. She realizes this quite evidently as the silence lengthens after your last statement.

"Ah, the old answer a question with a question yourself game, huh?" she says, with a flat voice. She turns and walks out of the kitchen area. You're not quite sure what to do at this point. Then you think, "let her go and have some time on her own." You sit down again, in the chair from where you stood up, when she walked out. You pick up a book lying on the table, and start to read. Just because she's chosen to head off, doesn't mean you're going to run after her. You realize that she's independent. It's not a nice feeling to think that maybe, she's a bit hurt by your non-answer, but then again, not all in your life should be talked about with the same degree of openness. With that thought in your mind, you let your mind drift back to the two significant women in your life, other than your grandmother. You haven't really thought of either of them in a while. Both brought something special in your life, for a brief time, then they were gone. The first was a local girl whom you met at school. A long time ago, your grandma thought it best to fit in with the natives, so to speak. She enrolled you in school. You were a good student but an independent thinker. The girl liked that about you. You thought her funny and cute and for a while you thought she walked on water. She actually consented to being your girlfriend. It never did progress to anything more than kissing. But, her eye was caught by another, and she never gave you so much as a thought before hanging out with a popular guy. You were sadly jaded with girls for a long time after that. The second woman in your life, that really meant something, then comes to mind. That line of thought picks off the scab on the old wound. It's a deep one, that you thought well healed by now. She was special to you. Your wife. The love of your life, or so you thought. You met when she was young, and foolish, and silly, and wanting a man to take care of her. She fell for your good manners and your kind attitude. But, what she didn't realize was important to you, was your grandmother, and the books, and the Cleft, and all that meaning behind them all. The circumstances behind the meeting of you two were fairly simple. It was at a friend's place, where you two were both single. A barbeque, where, as these things happen, you get talking, and something clicks with the person. She seemed interested in you, and you were interested in her. After a few meetings, it really seemed special between you. She seemed to really like your grandmother after meeting her. Being an honest man, you married her, feeling it was right between you. But, she quickly grew tired of the Cleft and the lifestyle you were able to offer her. She had no interest in your dreams, your books. She broke your heart, with a letter one day, left on your bed. Folded within it, was her wedding ring. She wrote down that she was sorry to do this, but she couldn't live a lie any longer, and she was leaving to live life in the city. She'd send divorce papers for you to sign and could you please send them back. She ended it with a line that drove the knife home. "I loved you once but the love has died like the violets under your boots. I'm sorry. Goodbye." With that, your love for her died as well. But the tears still came. Because, yes, you did love her, and wanted her to love your life and what you wanted to offer her. You didn't want to bend her to fit in with your life but have her bend to fit, of her own accord.

With these thoughts coursing through you, you realize that tears are streaming down your cheeks. The emotions are bubbling again to the surface. Long hidden, deep within, sad still. It's a wound, still there, in your psyche. Never to be truly healed but glossed over, surface healed, until the next time you think of it. Your thoughts are, that you forgive her for her hurting you, and you say a silent prayer to her health and happiness, wherever she may be. You think, then of your grandmother, as well. She really didn't like Denise, your wife, you know. She thought her shallow and silly. But she put up with her, for your sake. Your grandmother knew how deeply you'd been hurt. But she'd never spoken of it, after she'd left you. It was a closed subject, which was fine for you. With the death of your grandmother, the pain of Denise's leaving was, again, so fresh, so painful. The betrayal hurt even more. You say a prayer for your grandmother, thinking of her, too, at this time. Missing her is still right there, as a very present part of your soul.

You don't realize it, but as you've been sitting there, thinking all these old thoughts, Lesley has returned. She's hovering in the doorway, indecisive for a change. She sees you sitting there with a far-away gaze. There are tears on your cheeks and she hears you sniff. She breaks the silence with a simple question. "What are you thinking about?" You are startled by her voice and half jump out of your chair at the sound.

"Past loves," you say, with a sad smile, once you catch your breath. "Come and sit down and let me explain, okay?" She nods and sits. Her face is passive. She's not giving off friendly vibes but isn't cold and withdrawn either. The air has a slight chill to it, as though the two of you are less friendly with each other now. It's barely perceptible but there, nonetheless. The late sun of the afternoon streams in the window and the doorway. In the stream of sunshine, dust motes dance. She regards you with a steady gaze. Awaiting your revelations.

You pause, wondering where the words are going to come from. Not quite sure where to begin, but knowing you have to try to explain to Lesley why you are so tender about certain things. "I've had two significant ladies in my life, and both, in their way, have hurt me deeply," you begin, after a moment more, of silence. Your words hang there, in the void of silence as she digests them and waits for more. "The first one was a girl at school whom I liked. The moment she said she'd be my girlfriend was a great day for me. But she left me for another guy whom she thought a better catch. That was tough." Shrugging your shoulders, you stop to take a deep breath and she murmurs "I'm sorry to hear that."

"But the person who really deeply hurt me was my wife who left me." You hold her gaze steadily with that statement, unwavering. Her eyes widen in shock as she registers the significance of what you've just said. Her hands clench in pressure.

"Your wife? What happened? When was this?" She leans slightly forward now, eager to hear your response. She's all attention now.

"About 5 years ago. It was a brief marriage, until she got tired of me and my lifestyle and my grandmother and my books." You snort in derision now, tired at the thought of her again. The sadness has left, to be replaced with hurt, and anger, again. "We're divorced now, and that's the way it will stay. I wish her well, but don't honestly care if I ever see her again. As you can tell, this isn't exactly the Ritz for accommodation." Again, you spread your arms, silently indicating the Cleft and all that it encompasses.

"Gareth, I'm so sorry to hear this. I didn't mean to stir up old wounds by asking about past loves. I'm very sorry for having done that." She hangs her head in despair, feeling that she's hurt you, on purpose.

"Oh well, better to have it out in the open, isn't it? No longer a secret now, but a past event, not to be brought up again. See, not all questions have easy answers to them, my dear." You stand up, at that point, and reach for her hands. You pull her up too. She stands up willingly. You hug each other. Glad to be friendly again, not cold towards each other. It's nice to have her warm body next to yours, you realize. "I was wondering if I should follow you, but then thought, no, she's a big girl and is independent and can find her own way back." You kiss her forehead.

"Mm, yes, I was a bit angry at your non-answer but I understand now, why you didn't cough up the answer. I just took a walk around, up top and thought about all the nice things you've brought into my life in the last week." Her voice is muffled as she speaks into your shoulder. Her breath is warm on your shirt and you can feel it through the material. You continue to hold each other, knowing that you need each other now. "I love you, I know," she says, very softly, and shyly. Then she looks up at you. She repeats it, louder, more sure of herself. "I know I love you." Then she pulls you down to her mouth. You kiss.

After a hug, she speaks again. "I'm jealous, honestly, to think of anyone else having your love. I want it all for me. Is that wrong in any way? That's where that question about how many women were in your life before me came from. Again, I'm sorry if I've caused old wounds to open." You shake your head negatively and just hug her tightly. No words are necessary at this stage between you. You kiss her and then you whisper to her "I love you too." It's an incredibly tender moment between you. Both hurt and scarred by previous events, but trusting in each other, now.

"Let's make some dinner and have some food to digest, shall we?" is how you break up this pleasant interlude. She agrees and helps you prepare dinner. It's a nice affair, with pleasant conversation, steering away from controversial topics, on purpose. You enjoy hearing her laugh again. The air is cooler because of the sun going down, but the atmosphere in the kitchen is warm and friendly. For light, you use a coal oil lamp that burns steady and bright in its glass enclosure. A few flies dance around the edge of it, flirting with the light, attracted to its deadly lure. After the dishes are done up, you get your guitar again, and sit on the ledge just outside the kitchen door, where you can see the sky. It's a familiar perch to you. But this night, you decide to ask Lesley what a few of her favourites are and try to pick them out on the guitar. She requests an old favourite of Blackbird. She sings along with it. You attempt it and don't do too badly at all. She applauds your effort and appreciates your skill. For such a simple thing, it's a warm feeling of pleasure for you to receive her praise.

"Where do you think the stars end?" she says, after a quiet, contemplative time, where you are simply strumming a quiet tune on the guitar then stop. "Where does the galaxy end and the next one start? Are we all part of one? Is it ever going to be known, I wonder?" Her voice is quiet and plaintive, reflecting the depth of her thoughts. So vast and obscure as to be unthinkable.

"Wow, you sure do know how to think in large terms." She laughs at your comment. She sticks her tongue out at you, being silly for a moment. You think her cute and funny when she's silly like that. "Well, I don't honestly know, and we'll never know. But we can only guess and marvel at the beauty of them all, can't we?" Your tone turns serious. She nods, staring up at the sky again. You look too, and set down the guitar. It's an amazing spectacle, with no artificial light to speak of, to dim the expanse. The dark blue black of the sky is majestic. The stars seem to flicker off and on with different intensities. There's a definite chill in the air now. The crickets are doing their usual singing.

She shivers and says "I'd like to head to bed, okay? Been a long day and I'm tired."

"Oh, okay, let's head to bed then," you say, standing up. You turn out the lantern in the kitchen and get your torch from its hook. With its steady light you make your way together to your room. Quietly, you both undress. She puts on a nice pair of pyjamas that are warm looking. Brushing your teeth is the last thing you do, before settling down in bed, beside her. You snuggle together, under the covers, getting warm and cozy.

Lying in the circle of your arms, Lesley says, "Mm, I love this, being here with you, under the covers." It's quiet in the dark as you both digest your thoughts of the day. She says, after a short pause, "Gareth, I'll try not to hurt you like your ex-wife did. I don't know why she did what she did, but I can't see myself saying goodbye to you and our love, I promise." Her hand snakes out and finds your hand and gives it a squeeze. You turn and kiss her on the lips, wordlessly thanking her for her declaration. "You've been hurt enough, haven't you, by life, and now it's time for you and I to have some happiness, together, isn't it?" She kisses you again, after that statement. It's a nice way to end the day.

Continued in Chapter 11

Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Continued from Chapter 8

During the night, the temperature drops. She wakes up enough, to realize that the covers have slipped off her. She's cold and shivering. She adjusts the covers to make herself warm. As you sleep, she presses herself against your long body. "Oh I'm so glad he's back safely," is the thought on her mind as she lays there. Her arm is across your chest. She can hear your even, soft breathing as you lie on your back. As she lays there, she thinks back to making love with you. She smiles that deep secretive smile, that a woman has, when she's deeply happy. Her breathing increases in tempo, as her blood starts to stir, at the memories of your hands upon her. What the feelings are, and the reaction her body has, to your touch. She's letting herself think about it, and getting aroused at the thought, of it all. "I love when he touches me right there." She slips off her pants carefully, trying not to wake you, with her actions. After she lays down again, her hand finds its way to her secret place. It's a warm, comforting feeling again, for her, one sought many times before. But now, with her body beside yours, it's a bit more sinful, a bit more delicious than ever before. She's feeling somewhat dirty about it, but yet feeling bold and wanting to feel that excitement again. "I love this feeling," she thinks, as she shivers in delight, knowing just where to touch.

Somehow, in the depths of your sleep, you feel her movements. You awake, beside her, slowly. Her body is arching, and you can hear her softly moaning as your senses gather themselves. You're not sure, at first, what is happening, but then you realize, as you turn towards her, that she's in the midst of her own personal little heaven. It's a startling moment for her when you move, your body a still statue, beforehand. She blushes deeply, realizing now that you are awake, and aware. "You're awake," she states the obvious.

"Mm, yes, I'm half awake," you say, gathering her to you with your arm. Your lips find each other and you kiss. Her blushing face feels hot to your gentle hand on it. "What's happening?" you say, half jokingly. You're aware of what she's been doing, but want her to admit it. It's not really important, but just a silly feeling of pleasure that you have in realizing what she's been up to.

"Um, I was thinking about you, and how good you make me feel," she admits, in a rush. She's still blushing like crazy, but it's quite dark and you can't see her face. But you can feel it. "I was helping myself," she further admits. Your hand finds her breast under the covers and feels it, gently, through her t-shirt and bra. It causes her to catch her breath, and to swallow. Your lips capture hers again in a long, deep, slow kiss that sends shivers down her body.

"Does this help?" you say, after you take your lips away and hover there, an inch from hers. It's a tense moment of anticipation between you two, with the passion so evident in both of you. She moans "yes, yes it does, oh kiss me again," and pulls your head to hers, hard. Your mouths fuse together and it's hot, passionate kissing. Her arms lock around your neck. Your one arm gathers her to you, holding her in tightly.

Your hand finds its way under her top and inside her bra. The fingers stroke her breast gently. Her nipple rises in a tight little bud, so excited at the touch. Her body arches towards you, exciting you. This feeling is such pleasant anticipation of the joy to come. Her upper leg rises and crosses over your leg, her heel digging in, pulling you towards her even more. There is a straining of your bodies towards each other.

Without further ado, you remove her top and bra and throw them aside. Then, in the darkness, you feel her lips upon you. She takes off your pyjamas quickly with your help. It's a feeling of such love and joy between you now. Breathless anticipation, hearts beating fast and furious, lips apart, breath coming fast, no thoughts present but those right there. Hands touching in places where the reaction is so pleasant. With no hesitation you crouch over her. Fingers lock together on both your hands after she helps guide you. "Oh Gareth, you are amazing," she moans as you sink into her warm depths. It's a hot, delicious sense of being totally connected, even in the dark. Even without enough light to see her face, you know what the expression is, on her face. The wanting of you in her eyes is there, you know, and it feels so very good. She pants in ecstasy, sending you into a lovely spinning spiral of joy to hear that from this woman. It makes you feel such a man to satisfy her so thoroughly. As her body arches under you and you feel her fingers tightening around yours, it's a wonderful feeling.

Then it's over, just as soon as it began. You sink to the bed, feeling weakened and satisfied, and roll onto your back. She smiles in the dark, and you hear the smile in her voice as she whispers "wow, just wow, is all I can say, and thanks." Her hand finds yours in the dark and squeezes it.

"Mm, let's get one thing straight okay? Let's not say thanks every time please?" you say, in a soft voice, with a laugh. "It's a given that we thank each other for the gift of loving of each and wanting to show that love, okay?" She laughs and nods her head beside you.

"Yes, that's quite true," she agrees, verbally. She pulls up the covers over you both. You lay on your back, welcoming her again into the circle of your arms. It's a warm, soft, connected feeling now, where you are both satisfied.

"So, did you miss me today?" you ask Lesley, your hand absentmindedly stroking her shoulder and arm. It's not really an important question but one you feel you should ask, knowing that yes, you missed her a lot, yourself.

"Oh yes, I missed you a lot! The Cleft is just so empty without your wonderful presence to make me laugh, and make me feel loved," she admits, freely. "I cried after dinner, when you still weren't back. I was worried. I am so happy that you came back safely!" She hugs you tightly with her one arm across your chest. You kiss the top of her head, loving having her so close, and worried about you.

"It's nice to come back and know there is somebody waiting for me here," you admit, with a broad smile, in the dark. "Somehow, having a warm female body in my bed is just the ticket for a good nights sleep," and a deep rumble of laughter emits from you. She laughs out loud too, and giggles that silly little giggle you're growing to love. The air of romantic, passionate sex between two lovers has given way to a silly, fun, giggly time where you both feel young and free, and able to be silly without looking foolish to each other.

"I want to have breakfast with you in the morning," she says, after a short pause, while you both stop giggling. You murmur in the affirmative, feeling tired again. She's smiling again, listening to your breathing and feeling your chest gently move up and down with each exhalation. As you drift off to sleep, you think again of her and her hair spread out on your pillow. How pleasant a sight it was to see, early in the morning, in the early morning light of the Cleft. Her thought is of your hands exciting her as she drifts off into the land of dreams.

In the morning, it's a slow coming to consciousness for you. You wake up and remember what occurred in the night-time. There is a smile on your face as you recall it. You turn your head and see her there, sleeping, still. She's on her stomach, her face pressed to the side on the mattress. Her face has a gentle, soft innocence about it. You lay there, not wanting to disturb her. Not wanting to rush away today, but to give in to her wishes of wanting breakfast shared with you. You continue to lay there, on your back, hands behind your head. You think about the previous day. You think also, about the cave, and your father's remains there. A frown crosses your brow. You test your ankle as you lay there. Finally, this morning, it is pain free as you rotate your ankle. Then you settle down again, thinking still more. It's a quiet, contemplative time for you, where you are deep in thought. You don't sense her stirring and awakening beside you because of your deep thought. The first thing you really notice is a soft hand snaking out in your direction and then touching your cheek. You turn your head and smile at her. Her hand rests upon your cheek softly with the palm warm against your chin. "Good morning" you say, and then pull her to you for a kiss.

"Good morning back to you. How long have you been awake?" she asks, eyes twinkling in joy, happy to see you there, beside her. Her thumb rubs against your beard, loving the feeling of it under her hand.

"Oh, about 10 minutes I think," you say, absentmindedly. You pull her to you again, snuggling with her. "Nice way to wake up," you say, after a few minutes of quiet between you. Her fingers are gently playing with your chest hair, liking the feel of it too, between her fingers.

"I can't get enough of you, you know," she say, softly. "I don't want to be apart from you very much at all, I know, and I love having the freedom to touch you now. Before, when we had known each other for a day or so, I just had this illogical urge to reach out and touch you. It was bizarre and strange. I've never felt so strongly attracted to somebody before as I have with you. It's a strange feeling indeed. I feel like my being here was directed by a higher being. Why, indeed did I take that road instead of the interstate highway? Why did I feel the call to come to New Mexico, after all? It's just all so strange, really, isn't it?" As her voice trails off, you nod in agreement with her.

"Yes, I've felt this strange, illogical attraction to you as well from the first day. A feeling of knowing you liked me, despite us not knowing each other well at all. But an attraction stronger than ourselves, pulling us together. Like a river of feeling that carried me away on its current." As you finish talking, you hug her to you, glad this openness is between you now. "It's such a relief to be able to talk to you about everything so easily. You are an amazing woman. I don't think I've met anyone like you before. Where I could talk about it all. The linking books, I mean, and taking you into that cave. You do realize that you're a special person, don't you?" and you turn her head towards you, with your hand on her chin. You gaze into her blue eyes. You're happy to see a smile pulling up her mouth at the corners and yet detect a slight sheen of tears there. "Why the tears?" you ask gently. She sniffs and clears her throat.

"Mm, just such a sweet guy, you are," she says, in a soft voice, tremulous with emotion. She hugs you deeply. You can tell she's emotional about it all and leave it be. Simply wrapping your arms around her, and hugging her in tightly to you. You know her enough by now, that she'll pull herself together to talk, after a bit. She's a strong woman, you know, and wants to talk on an equal level with you. That's one of the things you appreciate about her - her level headed approach to things, in general, so far, anyhow. Her sense of humour and of adventure too. You realize that in your arms is an amazing woman who, for whatever reason, has decided that you are her special person in life. She's given you the incredible gift of her love and her trust. It's a bit overwhelming in its intensity as you realize the implications of it all but a feeling of happiness, too, settles over you. It's what you realize you've been missing, without having put your finger on it.

Softly, she starts to speak. "Gareth, for so long, I've thought that I'd never have the chance to have a child. But now, with you, if you're still serious about it, maybe I do have that chance. Is it too crazy a thing for me to bring up at this time? If so, I'll just drop it, and that will be fine." She speaks, in a rush now, staring intently at you, awaiting your answer. Her body is tense. You know that she wants you to say yes, at least, and that a negative answer would hurt her deeply. You've thought it over also, as you worked yesterday. How strange a thing it is that, with a woman you've known for a few days, suddenly you are talking about a baby. But, like most things in life, you know there is no easy answer as to why this is happening. As a result you decide to speak your honest mind to her.

"Lesley, I thought this over a lot yesterday, as well as you did, likely. It's very strange to have fallen in love with you as soon as I did. To have the depth of caring that I feel for you. So, when you ask me that question and I give you this answer, know that I've searched my heart and mind as best as I can. I think that we really can't say why we care for each other, can we?" She shakes her head, knowing that. "So, really, there is no real time limit to say that you have to know a person a certain period of time before things are decided, right?" You look at her, hoping she gets your train of thought. She's watching you, following it. "So, as a result, I think that if you really want this, who's to say it's wrong? If it truly is something you want, I'd be happy to help. If it doesn't work, well, it won't be from lack of trying." Your chest rumbles with laughter at that line. Because you know darn well, that any chance you get, you're going to be making love to this woman. She gets the gist of your last line and laughs too, but is crying too, with happy tears.

"I feel so silly to cry with happy tears, but that's what they are. Thank you Gareth, for that lovely, long explanation. At least I know you've thought about it, long and hard, and it's not an idle whim of yours." She kisses you in thanks. You feel warm and fuzzy towards her. Your fingers lock together. "Can I stop taking the birth control pills as today then?" she asks gently. You nod in answer, smiling at her. She smiles and kisses you in thanks again. "Thank you" she whispers, through the tears. All the silly worry of what will happen if and when she does get pregnant is washed away in the knowledge that now she may achieve a long-held dream. A very precious thing for her, you realize, as you feel her gently sobbing. "I'm sorry that I'm crying but it's been such a long time to think I had no hope," she whispers, head buried in your chest. You hold her tightly, not in a hurry at all. Realizing she just needs you, to be there, and to hold her.

After a nice, long period of gentle hugging you gently push her away. "I'm hungry" you state, openly and make the first move to get out of bed. She willingly follows, pulling on her clothes as you dress also. It's not long before you're both walking to the kitchen, with her helping you along. She gets the kettle on. You ask her what she'd like to have to eat. You both settle on eggs and toast. After you look in the fridge you realize she's been to town. "Thanks for getting supplies" you say, with a smile in her direction. She smiles back at you, feeling happy and pleased. It's a lovely start to the day, for both of you.

Continued in Chapter 10

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