"Should I follow you?"
Checks paid and we're outside the cafe, helmets in hand.
"The Bonneville. Nice choice." He crouches down to look at the engine.
"Not quite as nice as the Manx."
He looks back over his shoulder at the silver machine, practically gleaming with pride as much as it does. "The frame, the featherweight puts the center of gravity lower to the road so it handles better. But for engines, this…" He turns back to my Triumph and runs his finger along the airfoils. "…is a thing of beauty. Tell you what." He stands and swings his leg over the seat, flashing that boyishly cocky smile. "Why waste the petrol?"
That he did not suggest his bike does not bother me, the Norton does not seat two. That I am about to head off into the wilds of Northumberland with a rather large, strange man with no individual means of escape? Well, what's life without a little adventure? I deposit the saddlebags with the cafe owner and come back out to climb on behind the A.M.
Alpha Male. I'm considering calling him "C.A.M." Consummate Alpha Male. But it seems to be a natural part of him rather than a show put on for others, so it doesn't bother me as it normally does in other men.
As I have ridden as a passenger before, I know to put my hands on his hips. Honestly that's why I do it. Really. He is a much more experienced and confident rider than I am who obviously knows these roads intimately. After a few shake down miles in which he gets the feel of the bike and realizes I'm an experienced passenger that trusts him enough to follow his movements, he opens another gear up and lets the Triumph engine sing. We are flying up the hills and down the small gullies. I follow his shifting weight so that we are hugging the asphalt through smooth swift turns, just enjoying the feel and flow the road. Watching the cliff of the coastline as it sweeps in and out, a dance between the road and the sea.
He slows the bike to a stop at top of a cliff face overlooking a small secluded beach of white sand, the waves of the North Sea breaking in last of the sunlight behind us.
"It's beautiful." I say as we take off our helmets.
He only looks over his shoulder with a soft smile and pats my thigh to tell me dismount. I follow him to a narrow trail switch-backing down a ravine, taking the hand he holds out to guide me down the rather treacherous path.
I am not a slight woman, so when a man's hand is big enough to encompass mine, I notice.
And shiver a little bit in delight.
He does not release my hand when we get to the bottom and we walk in silence, savoring the rugged austere beauty of this little untouched place.
Eventually the suns set far enough and the bay is cast in shadow, the waves losing their dancing glints.
"You should see this place at sunrise, when the sun rises and brings the waves to life with light, the kiss of her warmth in the cold, damp spray." He says.
I murmur an assent. It is truly lovely, but I have no illusions about being the first woman he's brought down here and it's going to take more than a romantic view to sway me. I want to know who I'm dealing with. I can't figure out a way to tactfully guide the current un-conversation to it, so I ask outright.
"Why are you so angry?"
He looks at me quizzically with an edge of annoyance. "I thought I explained that." The unspoken accusation, I thought you understood.
"Oh, you explained the intellectual reasons, but your anger is more than a philosophical difference of opinion. It's personal. Why?"
He drops my hand to consider me for a moment, weighing options, weighing me.