Chapter 27

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Terra had always been confident of her Talent. She could put herself in risky situations that other women would wisely avoid. More than one man who would not take no for an answer suffered her response. She began to realize how vulnerable she actually was to the man beside her.

He is more powerful than anyone could have imagined. Yet I am not afraid.

She put her hand gently on his shoulder. "Will, I do not fear you. I have come to trust you."

As Will began driving again, Terra continued. "You could have left me to die at the hand of Necros and spared yourself all this trouble. Just being with me puts you in danger."

"No. That was never an option."

They continued their drive through the night in silence. Terra gazed out her window to the starry sky.

How is it that this good man cares for someone like me?

Terra's eyes grew heavy and her head began to bob as exhaustion took hold. Will reached back with one hand while he grasped the steering wheel with the other. He pulled out two blankets and placed one on his lap. At his bidding, she laid on her side across the seat with her head on his lap. He tossed the other blanket over and she pulled it to cover herself. His hand on her shoulder and the motion of the truck soothed her and soon she fell asleep.

Terra awoke as the truck stopped and Will slid carefully out from under her. She sat up with a stretch that painfully reminded her that her ribs were not yet healed. The sky had just begun to brighten before dawn. Will went ahead along the narrow twin tracks that were the road and opened an old rusty gate. He drove through and then closed it behind them.

Will grinned at her. "This is the second sunrise in a row. What has happened to you, Terra Lorr?"

She groaned. "Brain damage for sure."

They continued down the bumpy road for two or three kilometers. At one point the truck bounced across a pothole causing Terra to grasp her ribs. "Oww!"

"Sorry. We are almost there."

The truck rounded the last bend and before them in a clearing next to a grove of trees stood a small log cabin. A large porch on the front featured a pair of weathered wooden rocking chairs. Nearby to the back stood a shed and a fenced off area that held a weedy garden. A fire pit and metal grill lay just off to the side with wood stacked neatly behind it. Below the cabin flowed a creek that tumbled over a series of rocky cascades into a pond. Pine trees framed the area on hills above. The only thing modern looking about it on the outside was a set of solar panels on the roof. The whole area conveyed rest and relaxation.

Will pointed ahead. "There it is. My sanctuary."

"I can see why you like this place."

Will pulled the truck up to the front porch. He got out and went around to help Terra out of the truck and up the two steps to the porch. He guided her to a rocking chair and wrapped a blanket around her.

"Let me check that everything is good inside."

He unlocked the front door and went inside. Terra began rocking in the chair and admired the view across the valley. She watched an eagle soar in the distance and land in a tall tree and felt what anxiety she still harbored fade away.

Sanctuary indeed. This place is therapy for the spirit.

After a few minutes Will came back out on the porch. "Okay, it is presentable now."

Inside, the layout of the cabin was simple and efficient. A bed set against a far wall beside a small closet. A wooden shelf partially partitioned it from a living area that contained a couch and wooden table with two chairs. Open to that was a small kitchen with a stove, sink, and a small chiller. The appliances and fixtures appeared to be recent additions. Cooking and eating utensils were displayed neatly on open shelves below the counter with a pantry cabinet to one side. A black potbelly wood burning stove sat in the middle with a chimney flue that rose straight up to the ceiling. A door led to a bathroom with a small tub, toilet, and sink, which also appeared to be recent additions. Sunlight streamed in through several windows, two of which were open to let in some of the outside breezes.

"Will, this place is wonderful."

"I thought you would like it. How about some breakfast?"

"You are too good to me."

He winked. "I know. You can make it up to me later."

Terra let herself down gently on the couch. Will plugged in a tea kettle to heat some water and then went to fetch the food and supplies from the truck. Breakfast was simple, consisting of yogurt, bread with butter, apple slices, and tea.

Will beamed as he told Terra more about the cabin. "My grandparents built this place originally as a hunting lodge. Ginny and my dad spent a lot of time here when they were growing up. My dad then brought me up here to hunt and fish. My mom was not much of a frontier woman and usually did not come with us. I updated it over the last several years. Put in the bathroom and upgraded the kitchen. Electricity comes from the solar panels charging a couple of power cells, although the power is limited, especially hot water for the bath. There is plenty of water, though. It comes from a well out back."

Later in the morning, Terra did another psi-surgery session on herself to relieve inflammation around her injuries. She changed out the dressings on her wounds. Will was not much help with this task, only able to hand her the items she asked for while averting his eyes from the weeping wounds.

She could only smile when he explained. "This is why I went into engineering rather than medicine."

In the afternoon Terra settled into a rocking chair on the front porch.

Will held up a fishing pole. "I am going down to the fish market to see what I can find for dinner."

She watched him as he hiked down to the pond below and admired his masculine form. She closed her eyes and allowed herself a brief sensual fantasy, imagining how his lips would taste and how it would feel enclosed within those arms. The rocking motion of the chair and a warm gentle breeze soothed her and soon the nap that stalked her made its claim.

That evening they feasted on grilled fresh trout accompanied with raspberries and greens gathered from the garden.

At Will's insistence, Terra was given the bed while he took the couch. After the lights went out her mind drifted as she laid awake. She imagined escaping the world and staying here with Will. But then she wondered if that could ever be.

With my past, and the world as it is, how can I even dream of that?

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