Part 7

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When I reach a certain level of terror and excitement, I giggle. In my very early memories of learning to fly with my grandfather, who had this obsession with jumping off of cliffs, I would take his hand, close my eyes, and let him jump. Together we’d fall, wings held wide, watching as the grass and the trees soared to greet us. We’d catch ourselves just before we smashed into the ground (surely hard enough to kill us both), and I would giggle wildly.

The trait would be cute, I supposed, except that with Caleb’s radio-helmets he could hear me every time, and every time he laughed at me. I had yet to tell him about the flight thing, hoping that it would go away eventually, but when the engine revved and we started hitting 70 on the on-ramp to I-5, there was no hope left. I was pathologically incapable of stifling my giggles every time the motorcycle contraption gained speed. The wind was coming at us just as fast as it did on those cliff-high falls from childhood, and it felt as if we were about to take the motorcycle airborne. I ducked my head closer to Caleb’s back (his wings, sadly, remained tucked beneath his jacket). My stomach fluttered in that almost-pleasant new-love kind of way as we took off onto the actual highway, giant semis and cars flanking us like enemy armies. We were tiny next to them. Caleb’s cycle was specially modified, he’d told me, so that it was almost as big as a small human-sized cycle, yet still designed to fit his three-foot-seven frame. The seat was set extra-low while the handlebars were a little on the high side. I supposed it made sense, in a way, but I had my doubts about the safety of being so small on the road. He didn’t seem concerned about it at all.

Good gods, it was terrifying, but it was so much fun.

“Has anyone told you that your giggling is adorable?” Caleb’s electronically-transmitted voice sounded in my ear as he punched it, weaving around a car going slow in the right lane. I yipped, my fingers digging into his hips, probably painfully, I noted. I couldn’t really change that, either.

“I think I hit the last person who said that,” the squeak in my voice belied my tough-Fae attitude.

There again, his laugh – a rather enchanting laugh, actually. I had to remind myself to stop thinking of so many of his attributes as enchanting. I still didn’t know the man. The whole way to Corvallis we’d spent most of our time talking about riding etiquette and the special features of his bike. He liked to tinker with it himself, apparently. That was something I knew. He had a thing for wrenches and wiring. It wasn’t exactly something we had in common.

“Maybe next time you can do the driving,” he continued. We were going at a better pace, now, back in the right lane with a lot of space between us and the next group of vehicles.

I was starting to shiver even more than I had when we were back on 99, even with Caleb in front of me to shield me from the wind. He must have been positively freezing. “Nah,” I replied, “I don’t think I’ll be doing much more motorcycling in the future.”

“You say that now.”

“Surely I’ve passed your test.”

“Test, Ms. Fletcher?”

“Well,” I started to relax, the tension in my fingers easing up. His hips would have to be bruised by now. “I don’t have any better explanation for why you’d take me out on this… thing.”

“Did you ever consider that I wanted to have a little fun?”

“I don’t know what to consider with you. You’re… inscrutable.

“Those are big words to use on a simple muse such as myself.”

Simple. Sure. “Tell me something about yourself that I don’t know,” I countered. It was a little on the nose, I supposed, but I was getting sick of this who-do-you-think-I-am game, and we still had a half hour to go before we came in range of the glade… and another few minutes of flight to get to the right place. “Something I wouldn’t have read on the internet. You owe me after that little snit in the conference room.”

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