The Long Road Home, Chapter 11: Merge

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Chapter Note: This chapter is the first in the new format of switching POV between Alice and Jasper during the chapter itself. APOV and JPOV, obviously. Enjoy!

Chapter 11: Merge

APOV:

The anticipation was killing me.

It was April 15, 1948. I had to wait until April 23. Eight more days.

Eight. More. Days.

I'd gotten into Philadelphia the day before, and I'd taken a suite at the Bellevue Hotel, a beautiful old hotel in the historic downtown area. My rooms were on the fourth floor, so I had a great view, if I cared. I leaned out the window and pillowed my chin on my arms, looking out but not seeing anything.

My mind was elsewhere.

For twenty-eight years, I'd been waiting for this time to come. I'd awakened from that burning darkness with his face blazing in my mind, knowing that he was my destiny before I even realized my own name. He was my Pole Star, my true north, the direction the needle of my internal compass would always point, the thing which oriented me in life. And I'd never met him before.

But I would. In eight days.

Jasper.

I closed my eyes to the city below, not caring about Liberty Bells or Constitution Halls. I only wanted to see his face, his eyes, his smile. I wanted to see them in front of me, not behind my eyelids, like I had been seeing them for almost three decades. I shivered when I thought about the things that would be coming, firsts of all kinds, in a little less than eight days.

190 hours. 11,342 minutes. 680,520 seconds. And counting.

I opened my eyes again and sighed. I had to get up and do something, anything, to distract myself. I had things I could do. So I shrugged into my coat (it was chilly outside, so the humans would be wearing coats) and went out of the room, down through the lobby and out onto the street, looking ahead into the future, making my plans.

I went shopping.

It turned out Philadelphia was a fine place to hunt in a bloodless fashion. I started out on Walnut Street and made my way through the downtown area, flitting in and out of stores until I resembled a little pack mule. Then I took it all back to my room and went back out again. I had a lot of shopping to do: since I'd been traveling incognito and with no baggage to speak of for the past several years, I had a lot of wardrobe to make up for...and since I'd be meeting Jasper soon, I thought it would be nice to look my best.

I also had to do some shopping for him. Poor thing, he would come to me as dirty and bedraggled as a baby bird fallen from its nest, and just as lost and confused. I thought a stack of new clothes and such would be a good way to make him feel more comfortable.

Of course, I had some serious hopes that the clothes wouldn't be on him very often.

Goodness!

Those kinds of naughty ideas had been coming much more frequently in the past couple of weeks than they ever had before, and it flustered me when it happened.

I had always gotten those kinds of thoughts and urges, of course, I was only human (well, sort of). I had just pushed them down, knowing that it would only be frustrating to allow myself too much romantic or sensual daydreaming when my man was years and years and miles and miles away. But now, knowing that he was physically so close, and those minutes were ticking by so rapidly, I felt those things I had walled up inside me battering against the barrier, trying to break free.

I became more and more aware of my body, of my senses. As I walked I felt the delicious whisper of the fabric of my silk slip against my silk-stockinged thighs, the friction as they just barely touched with every step; I felt the breeze in my face like a lover's caress that set every nerve ending to tingling like a plucked guitar string. I felt a ball of tension in the pit of my stomach, almost painful anticipation, something that had been building for years and had gone ignored until now, something at the point of exploding, and consuming me with it.

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