The Logn Road Home, Ch 16: Off the Beaten Trail

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We struck a leisurely pace, for a vampire, that is, walking and running at turns, stopping when the urge struck us to hunt or make love or simply sit and look around in awe. The path we'd elected to follow was essentially along the edge of the Great Rift Valley, over 4,000 miles of perpendicular cliffs and sheer mountain ridges, rugged valleys and deep lakes that traced the lines of multiple faults in the earth. We beheld some of the most dramatic landscapes on the face of the earth first-hand, and both of us were staggered by the ancient feel of it.

But we were in love and free of prying eyes, and the newness of our relationship bubbled to the surface, the giddiness of being besotted with someone coloring our travels. We played like children. It was fun to scale the cliffs and to chase each other from precipice to precipice, to see who could make it to the top of a peak first, or who could touch the bottom of a lake first. Sometimes we'd play an odd version of hide and seek, ranging for miles and miles, him relying on his sensitivity to my emotional aura to locate me, me of course relying on my sight to try to predict where he'd be. He won far too often for my taste, because he'd gotten so very good at reading me, and even more disturbingly, in eluding my sight with his last-minute decisions and mind changes.

One time, when he won three games in a row as we played in the highlands above Lake Victoria, I pouted. I wasn't used to losing. Again, I felt my weakness, my reliance on my sight, and I have to admit, I acted a bit childishly.

Just a bit. Truly, not much.

Really.

"Alice!" Jasper admonished me, flopping down beside me as I sat, dangling my legs over the lip of a cliff, my arms crossed over my chest. I think I even had my lower lip poking out in an expression I vaguely remembered my little sister Cynthia wearing so many years ago when she'd been denied something. "What's eating you?"

I refused to answer. I was wrestling with my own demons inside my head: all those memories, all the fear and pain of the past, all the fear of the future. My vulnerability, my weakness, my guilt at remembering I'd loved someone else...everything all seemed to be stewing down into a thick and loathsome stew that was only stirred to boiling by my resentment at losing a silly game. Well, three silly games. I knew I was being childish and petty, but in that moment I reveled in it.

"Is this really because I beat you at some damn game?" He took me by the chin and forced me to look at him, his eyes, so golden now, boring into mine, reaching down deep into my very soul and warming me with their love. "Or is it something else?" his face grew worried, and I felt his preoccupation: he knew something had been bothering me for the past weeks, but had respected my wishes to keep my thoughts in my head until now. "Have I...have I done something?"

"Oh, goodness, Jasper." I felt like I'd been punched in the gut: how could he think that? He was perfect, completely and wonderfully perfect in his own imperfect way. "No, baby. You haven't done anything at all."

It was me that was all messed up this time, me that needed comforting and reassurance, and I wasn't used to it. I didn't like feeling dependent and needy. He'd always been so good about accepting my support and help, not ever seeming threatened by my take-charge ways, when I knew his masculine ego might actually be bothered by it. But if that masculine ego pricked him, he hid it well.

He watched my face carefully, and I knew he was "feeling" me, tasting the emotional flavor of me, trying to understand it. He'd tried to describe how his extra ability worked to me many times, but that was the closest he could come to capturing it in words, comparing it to touch and taste. "Alice, you know you can tell me anything. Anything at all." And he reached up and pushed the hair back from my forehead, cupping my cheek in his palm. His hand was so big, so solid and warm; I closed my eyes and pressed against it, drawing strength from it, from him.

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