Katherine A. Standell
Alison Grant was not one to listen at keyholes but she had to think of the family's reputation, even if Harrison didn't. She walked down the hall away from Harrison's office to a much smaller room. A young man sat behind a cherry wood desk dialing numbers and taking notes.
"Richard, there has been a slight delay in plans, Miss Lura is not leaving until Monday. I need you to reschedule things for then. I am throwing her a surprise going away party so this will be our little secret, okay?" Alison said smiling at the young man.
"Umm, I'm sorry Mrs. Grant, but I take my orders from Mr. Grant. I would need his permission to make those changes," Richard stated, glancing up at Mrs. Grant. He knew that Harrison Grant would have a large piece of his rear if he ignored or changed any direct requests and Alison was known to become "involved" in the company business where her personal needs were concerned. He wasn't sure what was going on but unless he got a call from Mr. Grant he was not changing anything.
Alison was furious, how dare that young nobody tell her no? When she finished dealing with Lura's little problem she would see to it that he was informed of his station. She turned on her heel and huffed out the room. There was more than one way to fix this problem. Mrs. Grant climbed the stairs to the second floor and strolled down the hall to her private salon, pushing the door open, she smiled at the beautiful bright room. She had decorated this room herself and it was her retreat when things got too stressful in the real world. The entire room was done in shades of white, cream and gold. The delicate French provincial furniture was actually Louis XV and had cost Harrison a small fortune but, she smiled, I am worth it after all.
Alison walked over and sat behind the delicate cream desk and picked up the hand set of the antique phone, the old fashioned rotary dial face was very beautiful but tended to rub the polish on her nails. She reached into the desk drawer and pulled out a dialing stick. Placing the rounded head in the finger holes she dialed the airport.
Yes, there is more than one way to fix this little problem.
The phone was answered on the third ring, Alison spoke softly into the receiver, "Hello, this is Lura Grant. My father's secretary just called to make reservations for me and something has come up. I need to change my flight…"
Lura was floating on cloud nine. She didn't need to worry about anything now except finding her Hawk. Her father knew all about them and he didn't care, he just wanted her to be happy. She raced up the stairs and into her room where she opened the closet door and began throwing clothes onto her bed. Jeans, sweaters, long sleeved sweatshirts and lightweight jackets, all joined the pile. Next she bent to sort through her shoes, hiking shoes and sneakers joined the growing assortment of clothing. The boots and sneakers kept disappearing only to reappear in the trash, so she had hidden them in the back of her closet until she needed them.
Smiling and humming to herself, Lura went to her second closet and pulled out her suitcase. She reached in again and came out with a large backpack and placing both on the bed she began packing, her mind already in flight and heading south.
Alison hung up the phone, it had been difficult to make all the changes but she had been successful. Now she had two days to work on changing her daughter's mind, two short days to keep her daughter from ruining her life and Alison's reputation and social standing. She needed to find someone to help her and as much as she detested Nathan, he was the only one available on such short notice. With a groan and a sigh she went back to the phone and began dialing again.
Nathan had finished the first bottle of Scotch and unfortunately, he was still conscious. He reached up and grabbed the counter, pulling himself to his feet just as the kitchen phone rang.
"Nathan Owen the third," he answered with a drunken slur.
"Nathan, this is Alison Grant," responded the cultured voice on the other end of the line.
"You sound strange. Are you alright?" Alison asked concern in her tone.
"Yes, yes I'm fine. I was lounging in the library over a good book and I fell asleep." The lie slipped smoothly from his lips. "I guess I shouldn't have played that last round of golf at the club this afternoon," Nathan said, now sweating into the phone.
"Umm, yes of course," Alison responded, not believing a word he said. Lura was right, he was slime but she would use him long enough to get Lura straightened out and then she would find someone more suitable for her son-in-law.
"Nathan, Lura is going away for a few days and her father and I are throwing her a surprise party. A few hundred people, just a small gathering of family and close friends. We would like you to attend. Are you free on Saturday?"
Nathan felt his heart leap, "Yes, of course…what time?" He winced at the eager tone evident to his own ears.
Gotcha! Alison smiled, if all goes well, Lura will realize how unacceptable and foolish her little crush is and I can make her see what a waste she is making of her life. Nathan is an idiot but he is male and that is all I need, for now.
"Cocktails will be served at six o'clock, this is a casual affair so a sports coat is acceptable. I will see you then, and Nathan, no more childish antics! Understand?" She hung up before he could answer.
Nathan stared at the phone. What just happened he thought? Who cares, I have a second chance and I'm not about to screw this up again. Dollar signs flashed through his brain and he rushed upstairs to look for a clean sports coat and slacks.
Harrison was tired of waiting. For some reason Richard had not answered his page nor responded to his calls. He slid back from his desk and standing, walked to the door. Pulling the heavy door open he scowled down the hall in the direction of his secretary's office. Richard was pacing back and forth across the hall mumbling to himself and scanning several sheets of paper. Though his secretary was a bit unusual and a perfectionist to the point of being anal retentive, Harrison knew this was unusual behavior even for Richard.
"Richard!" he bellowed, "Why haven't you answered your phone? Didn't you hear me calling?"
"Yes, Sir," the quiet young man responded. "I supposed that you were calling to check on the reservations. I…I…I"
"Oh for the love of God man, spit it out," Harrison said frustrated with the babbling.
"Well, I am not sure what to say, sir. I called and made all the reservations just as you requested. But when I went to print them out the dates…well, see for yourself." He handed the stack of white pages to the silver haired Harrison. Harrison scanned the documents, his expression becoming more clouded with each line.
"I told you specifically to schedule the flight for tomorrow, not Saturday. Can't you follow simple instructions?"
"Why, yes sir, I can," the young man responded. "I checked the reservations twice but when I called the airlines again, they told me that Ms. Grant called and changed them, Ms. Lura Grant."
"But Lura wouldn't…wait. I bet…no, she wouldn't…yes, she would. Bitch!" Harrison was furious. He crumbled the pages in his hand as he turned and headed towards the stairs. "She has controlled that girl long enough, she is not going to ruin this for her. I will not stand for it." He took the stairs two at a time, his anger at the boiling point. Striding down the hall he threw open Alison's salon door.
"Alison! I know you are in here. Alison!" he called. His lovely wife strolled into the salon and up to him, placing a quick peck on his cheek.
"Yes dear? I really wish you would not bellow so, what would the neighbors think?" She smiled, straightening his tie.
"To hell with the neighbors!" Harrison continued. "Why did you change Lura's reservations? And don't even try to deny it, Lura would have never changed them," he growled.
"Well, dear, when I accidentally overheard you asking Richard to make plane reservations for Lura, I was just torn. I just got my dear daughter back and here you were sending her off to some wild country again. Well, I just had to give her a going away party; it is only fair, dear. Who knows when she will be back? After all, you made it a one-way flight. I just couldn't let my little girl go without a proper farewell. She can still go, I just moved the date back a few days. Is it too much to ask to allow a mother to say goodbye to her child?" She pouted looking up at Harrison with the same hazel/green eyes as his daughter.
He knew he was beaten and Harrison felt his shoulders slump in defeat. What in the world will I tell Lura he thought as he walked from the room, his wife at his heels.
With her pack securely on her back and her small suitcase in hand, Lura trotted down the stairs, a smile on her lips. She had to call the driver and have him come around for the bags. Her heart danced as she thought of the look on Dylan's face when she opened her front door.
"Humm, I wonder if I have enough time to make a quick stop at the mall," she mumbled aloud to herself. Adjusting the straps on the backpack she carefully placed it at the door next to her suitcase. She reached up and patted her cheeks. The muscles were taxed and a bit sore from smiling, but she could not help herself, the smile just wouldn't go away. Her mind kept returning to the image of a beautiful woman in black, a small isolated cave and a warm golden fire.
Spinning on her heel she strolled back to her father's office to call the driver and pick up her tickets. She tapped softly on the heavy door and waited. A deep voice called her into the room and she pushed the door open and stepped in. Looking around the room she was surprised to see her father's secretary and her mother standing with her father in front of his desk. Alarms began to go off when she noticed the smug look of success on her mother's face and the look of anger in her father's eyes.
"Um, Dad? What's going on? Is everything okay?" she asked. Her question addressed to her father, but her eyes were on her mother's smiling face.
"No Lura, everything is not okay. Your mother has taken it upon herself to cancel your reservations," he said in an angry heated tone. "She has rescheduled your flight for Monday. Seems she wants to throw you a bon voyage party."
"I…I…wait! She WHAT? Mother? Please, tell me you didn't. Tell me that my flight wasn't cancelled." Lura looked at her mother with pleading eyes.
Alison Grant simply smiled and then glanced at her watch. "Well, I am sorry dear, but the last flight out to Atlanta leaves at six thirty and believe me, it is sold out. Now, we have some planning to do. You have to get your hair done and we simply must buy you a new dress. You have nothing to wear to a party," Alison stated, ignoring the stunned look on her daughters face.
"Like HELL I will mother! You just don't get it, do you? I am leaving and I am leaving today. I don't give a damn if it is by plane, train or automobile. I am out of here. I will not be attending any stupid party, I am going to find the woman I love and if you can't understand that then to hell with you, Mother."
Lura turned to her father. "Dad, can I borrow the car?" Harrison Grant grinned at his daughter and reached into his pocket.
"Take the Benz, the tank is full and my gas card is in the glove box. Bring that soldier girl of yours home when you find her. I would love to meet her," he said tossing the keys to Lura.
Lura snatched the keys out of the air and rushed to her father. She threw her arms around his neck, placing a loud wet kiss on his cheek. "You are the best, you know that? I love you, Dad."
With a final hug she turned and rushed from the room. Flying up the stairs she threw open the doors to her suite and rushed in. Had there been a fly on the wall it would have smiled watching the young woman rush madly around the room talking to herself.
"I've got one important stop to make before I hit the road and if I am going to make it to Gray Hawk's anytime soon, I had better get rolling."
Adding a few last minute items she zipped her bag closed grabbed her backpack and raced down the stairs. Turning right at the bottom of the landing she ran through the formal dining room and into the kitchen. Lennie stood in the middle of the kitchen with a brown bag in hand. Her tear-streaked face was creased with a smile.
"I packed you a bag darlin'. Now you be careful on the road and don't you dare talk to any strangers. Oh, and give that cute soldier of yours a kiss for this old woman will ya?" she said smiling as she hugged Lura. Lura could only grin and nod in response as she ran from the room.
Outside she headed for the garage, but noticed that her father had asked the driver to pull the Benz around front. She redirected her flying feet in that direction. Reaching the vehicle she opened the back door and threw her luggage across the seat. Slamming the door she snatched the front door handle, hoisted herself up on the running boards and slid into the front seat.
She cranked up the Benz and revved the engine, enjoying the powerful purr of the SUV. Stomping on the gas pedal she waved and grinned as she heard the sound of gravel fly.
"Why Harrison? Do you know what this is going to do to our reputation? What will people say when they find out our daughter is a…a, my God, I can't even bring myself to say it. A lesbian?" Alison whispered. "How could you? You are going to condone this? You are going to subject us to the ridicule of our friends? Why? Just give me one good reason why?"
"For love, Alison, something you obviously have forgotten about," Harrison stated coldly. He moved around his desk to stare out the large lead glass windows onto the front lawn. He was happy as he watched his daughter open the doors of the Mercedes ML55 SUV, toss the bag and backpack into the back seat and grabbing the front to open the driver's door. She pulled herself up onto the running boards and into the front seat. With a smile and a wave to her father she started the engine, revved it up and squealed down the drive, her blond head barely visible over the plush leather headrest.
Alison Grant watched as her daughter disappeared down the long drive and out of the main gate. This just can't be happening. All my planning, all my hard work to establish myself as a leader in the community. All wasted, out the window. Why and for what? An inappropriate affair with a strange woman, if she wanted to have an affair, she should do something more socially acceptable and go to Europe for her sordid flings. What will people think?
Alison bit her well-manicured nail as she walked from the room. Hurrying back up the stairs, she entered her private salon and sat at her desk to think. Suddenly a thought occurred to her. She picked up her address book again, looked up the name and dialed the number. A few minutes later she hung up, confident that all would be well. Gloating, she dialed a second number and scheduled herself for a massage and manicure.
Lura pulled into the first rest stop on I-95, her mind took her back to her last visit here and she scowled. Reaching into her black CD case she pulled out her worn copy of SKIN and slipped it into the player. The Alpine hummed and surrounded her with the sultry tones of Melissa. She closed her eyes and relaxed back into the soft leather of the seat, her mind picturing her soldier in blue.
He watched the blond first smile then lay back in the driver's seat. She was listening to music and napping, so tempting but he would wait. There was plenty of time…now.
The air was fresh and crisp, the scent of pine mixing with the smell of cedar. The morning was chilly and brisk. It was the kind of day she had grown up with and she smiled remembering the mornings with the young men of the village. She had spent one wonderful summer camping with her grandfather and other young would be warriors as the old War Chief taught them the ways of the Cherokee. Those skills had come in handy later when she had become a silent deadly killer.
The smile faded from her face as new memories replaced the old. Quietly Dylan rolled out of her shelter and began her day. No use staying abed with the thoughts that haunted her, this was the day that would begin the cleansing.
Dylan quickly and efficiently gathered kindling and firewood, cedar, pine and oak. Going to her shelter she reached into her pack and found a lighter and beginning with the pine she built a fire pit and started the flames. The pine and cedar would produce a great deal of cleansing smoke and the cedar would evoke the spirits and take her prayers to the old ones, the spirits of the great and wise warriors of the past.
She stood and turned back to the edge of the clearing. She had found a small stream the previous night and had enjoyed fresh trout for dinner. Now she would wash herself in preparation of the quest.
Stripping naked, she left her clothing in the shelter and continued to the stream. The mountain water was like ice and goose bumps sprang up on her skin. Using the white sand at the bottom of the stream, she scrubbed her arms and legs, her feet and hands, her breasts and belly. Finally she rinsed. The finely powdered sand mixed with the icy water left her skin rosy and tingling. Stepping from the stream she walked, dripping from the icy water, to stand before the fire. The smoke, now full, wrapped around her body like a soft cloak, while the flames slowly, gently dried her chilled skin and warmed her. She thought of the last three years in the desert. She tried to remember each day, each night and each man she had killed. She remembered the burning hatred she had felt and the desire for vengeance that had eaten away at her soul.
Finally dry, she pulled a burning cedar limb from the flames and followed the path she had laid the day before into the sweat lodge. Once inside she touched the cedar to the wood in the fire pit and began the slow lengthy chant to invoke the totem spirits.
Lura woke to the rolling sound of wheels as another SUV passed behind her, the sound of tires on gravel causing her to start. Alarmed and disoriented she sat up quickly and looked around, she had fallen asleep in the car. She glanced at her face in the mirror, thinking that it was the best sleep she'd had since she returned home. Checking the gas gauge she sat the back of the seat up straight and tightened her seat belt. Shifting the car into reverse she slowly backed up and headed for the merge ramp onto I-95.
She didn't notice the dark shadow trailing her car as she pulled into the flow of traffic; her mind was hours and miles away. She cranked up the music, rolled down all the windows and opened the sunroof. Reaching into her backpack she pulled out her favorite baseball cap and slipped it on her head, pulling her hair through the opening in the back to keep it out of her face. Reaching into the glove box she fumbled around until she found a pair of Ray Bans, her father's, and slid them on as she pressed the gas.
The dark shadow accelerated to keep up, the driver smiling as he watched the SUV pull into traffic totally oblivious of the fact that he had cut a tiny hole in her tire while she slept.
Lura tapped the steering wheel to the sultry beat of Melissa Manchester as she checked the rear view mirrors, flipped on her indicator and eased into the fast lane.
Oh yeah, put that hammer down girl, she thought as she accelerated past the small four door sedan that was slowing her down.
She had lost a bit of time falling asleep in the rest stop but with any luck she could make it up by driving straight through to the state line before she stopped again.
As she pulled into the left lane she felt the outside rear tire bump. She checked the rear view again but didn't see anything that may have caused the thumping noise. She continued driving but turned off the music so she could concentrate on the sounds of the car. She felt the thumping again and realized that the rear tire was losing air. Slowing she turned on her hazard blinkers and looked for an exit.
Behind her the driver in the dark sedan smirked. Soon, he thought, real soon Lura Grant. Grinning he followed the disabled vehicle.
Lura kept her eyes on the road signs hoping to see a service station sign for the next exit. She also kept an eye on traffic behind her as she limped along noticing that no one seemed inclined to assist her. Several people honked as they passed gesturing their frustrations as they flew by. Initially Lura simple ignored them and frowned as the irritated travelers passed, but after the fifth car whizzed by honking and gesturing, Lura had endured all she could take. She had just taken a deep breath and begun to wind up and let fly when she saw blue lights blinking in her rear view mirror.
"Now what? As if I didn't have enough trouble…" Lura eased the car to the shoulder and pulled her backpack to the front seat. She turned the engine off and began searching for her driver's license and insurance card.
A tap sounded on her window and she lowered it to speak. A pretty young trooper stood at the window.
"Ma'am, seems you have a bad tire," she said smiling.
"Humm, what gave it away?" Lura smiled, chuckling with relief to see another woman as she passed her the license and registration. The trooper laughed and glanced down at the license.
"Okay Ms Grant, tell ya what. You follow me to the next off ramp. There is a service station there and I know the mechanic." She tipped her hat and handed Lura back her identification. That was when Lura noticed the ring on her finger. The stones were rainbow colored.
Family! Lura grinned as she cranked up the truck and slid in behind the trooper car.
Damn, damn, damn he thought as he pounded on the steering column. He had her then that damn stupid trooper had to show up. That's okay, there will be another chance. He pulled back into traffic and eased by the trooper's sedan and the SUV.
Dylan poked at the fire adding more limbs to the blaze. The heat was intense and she was sweating rivers. She wiped the salt from her eyes and lay back on the soft blanket that covered her bed of pine straw. Closing her eyes she worked on bringing to mind the events of the last three years. She hung them out on the smoke and heat and reviewed each event as if seeing it through the unbiased eyes of a stranger.
She watched the attack on her unit and the death of her men. She watched herself stagger through the sand to fall unconscious by the cool waters of the oasis. She saw the faces of the desert people who had taken her in and healed her; she saw the fear in their eyes when they realized what they had brought into their homes.
These thoughts saddened her because she did not want to see the fear on the faces of those gentle people. It tore at her heart.
Ashamed, she cried silently, her tears mixing with the sweat as it rolled from her eyes to soak into her hair. She kept on, her mind taking her on a path, a vision quest of her life. She saw the faces of the enemy, the men she had killed, but this time she was an observer. She saw them attack the helpless villagers, killing the men and then raping woman and young girls. She watched as a dark figure in black came out of the night and defended the helpless villagers. She saw her face twisted in pain and anger as she fired again and again until her weapon was empty only to fight on bare handed to drive off the attackers.
Now she saw that she had saved lives by fighting, that she had stopped the death of many people and she had been able to prevent families from being destroyed. She watched as a young blond boarded a plane, her face alive with the excitement of facing a new adventure.
Smiling, Dylan watched Lura elbow the man next to her who seemed determined to turn the young woman into his own personal lounge pillow. She saw the frustration on the face of a reporter hungry for a story but stopped at every angle and sent on wild goose chases through the streets of foreign towns searching for a shadow called Hawk.
Her heart leapt in her throat as she saw the van Lura traveled in forced off the road and the young reporter roughly tossed into an ancient SUV driven by the terrorist. She watched Lura fight the men who had come to rape her, then the rescue from the tent when she had taken the beaten woman into the night.
When she her mind drift on to thoughts of Lura, she saw in her vision a huge hawk. Its talons were sharp and its beak open as if in a silent cry. The hawk was angry, its hackles rose as it cried over and over again. The golden wings of the hawk spread and beat the air as it fought an unseen enemy.
A large wolf loped out of the mist of her dream and sat watching the hawk. The wolf was huge, a silver and black beast with blue-white eyes. It sat with its tongue lolled out almost smiling as it watched the hawk struggle. There was a disturbance in the air and Dylan was amazed to see a graceful falcon drop from the sky. Reaching out with sharp beak and talons the falcon dove through the invisible enemy that fought the hawk. The hawk rolled away, struggling to reach a misty precipice. Screaming in victory, the falcon folded its wings and came to rest next to the hawk. Once the falcon landed the hawk settled and began to preen the smaller bird. The delicate falcon nestled closer to the large hawk never fearing that the larger bird would turn on it.
She watched, as the two seemed to melt together, each content in the presence of the other.
Still stunned, Dylan was amazed when the wolf turned its beautiful sleek head and seemed to stare through the smoke and mist directly at her.
Startled from her dream she sat up shivering, as she heard the howl of a wolf in the distance. Funny, there haven't been any wolves in the Carolina mountains for at least 50 years. Dylan thought.
Lura, watched as the new tire was put on the rim of the Benz. The state trooper was in her car calling in a report. It seemed someone has slashed the tire just deep enough to allow the air to slowly leak out. Jessica, the state trooper, had been very concerned. Lura knew that her father had just gotten the truck back from the dealership where it had been in for its 15,000-mile service and everything that could be done had been done. She pulled out her mobile phone and dialed then waited for the response at the other end.
"Hi Dad. No, I'm in Petersburg. I had to stop, because of a flat tire," she told him. She held the phone away from her ear and listened as her father turned the air blue with his opinion of Mercedes Benz mechanics. When he finally stopped to take a breath she told him that the mechanics had not been at fault rather that the tire had been slashed. She held the phone away from her ear again as the voice on the other end grew louder.
The state trooper had stepped out of her car and stood grinning as she too heard the lengthy, loud string of curses coming from the phone.
"Your Dad?" she asked.
"Umm, yep, that would be him," Lura commented, scratching her cheek in embarrassment as the trooper broke into rolling laughter.
"Who is there Lura? Who's laughing in the background?" Harrison asked.
"Oh, sorry Dad, that was the State Trooper who escorted me off the highway. She was really nice about it, she even helped me find a mechanic."
Lura did not mention that the mechanic was a tall, leggy redhead who just happened to be the trooper's partner. She watched as the mechanic drove the SUV to the edge of the parking lot, wiped her hands on a towel and tossed her the keys with a roguish wink.
"Well, you make sure you get her name Lura so I can send a letter to her supervisor," Harrison stated. "Gotta take care of anyone who helps my girl."
She could hear the smile on the other end of the phone.
"Now, tell me more about this tire. When did it happen, who was around and are you okay?"
"Whoa, Dad, slow down a bit. All I can tell you is that I stopped at the last rest stop and fell asleep. It must have happened then. Probably just someone playing a mean trick. I'm okay and I plan on gassing up then I'm not stopping until I get to Gray Hawk's place."
"Good girl, you call me when you get there and don't forget to grab something to eat." There was a long pause and then Harrison's voice came over the line. "I love you, Lura."
She was touched hearing the crack in his voice. "I love you too, Daddy. Talk to you soon."
She pressed disconnect and ended the call. Slipping her cell phone back into her pack she turned and smiled as she watched the state trooper quickly and shyly hug her partner then place her hat on her head seemingly donning the "I'm a tough trooper" attitude at the same time.
The mechanic stood back and grinned shaking her head as her trooper turned and headed towards Lura. Still smiling Lura waved a thank you to the mechanic and, like the trooper, slid into the driver seat and cranked up the car.
Dylan had been in the sweat hut now for two days. The heat inside the small shelter was intense but compared to what she had endured over the last three years, quite bearable. No it wasn't the heat that affected her, it was the water and food or the lack of both. She should have felt the thirst; felt the hunger in her belly that should have felt like a tightening in her stomach.
But Dylan was not aware of thirst or her hunger. She was deep in sleep, held there by her vision, by the guide that had come to lead her through the challenges of her quest.
Dylan followed the footprints in the ashes and the sand. She walked again the path she had made over the past three years.
More times than she wanted to see, the path was slippery and wet with blood. It was the blood of her soldiers, the blood of the enemy, but many times it was her own blood. She saw the face of the Hawk twisted in anger and hate when she fought the terrorist.
The Dylan in her vision was quick, agile and often seemed fearless, she stepped uncaring into the heat of battle often facing seemingly overwhelming odds. This Hawk had no other will but to fight and destroy the enemy, her eyes were only alive when they were facing the challenge of combat. Dylan witnessed this she watched her past like a stranger watching a horror movie. She felt her spirit crumble in pain as the Hawk killed over and over again. Tears filled her eyes and she hung her head in shame.
Surprisingly, she felt her hand warmed. Glancing down she found it buried in a gray and silver pelt. She stroked the coarse hair, following her hand forward to look into the white eyes of a huge wolf. She should have felt fear; instead she felt peace. She had hated the Hawk of her vision but she watched through the eyes of the wolf and saw the truth. The fierce Hawk had been needed to meet and survive the time of the desert. Now Dylan needed to understand that the Hawk of the desert was not evil, simply a survivor.
She cried, her tears leaving salty trails down her cheeks.
The wolf nudged her hand, but she could not bring herself to move, the wolf leaned heavily against her leg and she felt herself stagger forward past the blood and death.
She watched her arms encircle a small figure, her heart beat faster as she watched them embrace, their bodies glowing in the firelight as they made love through the night.
She felt a heat, but it was not the fire, that was too cold. Nor was it the heat of the stones that was an icy heat. This was warmth that began deep inside and radiated through her body. She felt it creep into her bones, tingling through her skin and peaking in the smile on her lips. She knew the cause of the heat and she was not surprised to hear the cry of a falcon.
Glancing down again, she absentmindedly buried her hand in the wolf's mane and smiled.
Lura drove on through the night pushing herself. The traffic on Interstate 95 and Interstate 85 had not been bad and until her unexpected delay in Petersburg, she had been making good time.
As she merged from Interstate 85 South she began to tire. The next two legs of the journey she knew were going to be the hardest, first with I-85 then onto to I-40. Usually she just drove until she was bored or tired then checked into a roadside hotel for the night. But now her concern was to get to Dylan as quickly as possible so late night layovers were out of the question.
The hum of her tires on the road was mesmerizing; the flashes of the white dashes dividing the lanes caused a hypnotizing effect. All this, combined with the fact that she was already exhausted, forced the young woman to take refuge in the next rest stop.
Pulling in, Lura parked the SUV under a brilliant streetlight in front of the main building. She turned off the music, closed the windows, turned the air down and reclined the driver's seat.
"Fifteen minutes, I only need fifteen minutes," she mumbled to herself. Closing her eyes she quickly drifted off.
On the far side of the parking area a car door opened, a figure emerged and first entered the building heading towards the restrooms. The parking lot was nearly empty except for the solitary sedan, now empty, and the quiet rumble of the Mercedes SUV engine. The figure paused on his trek towards the rest rooms. He turned and glanced back at the SUV. With a nod he slowly walked toward the vehicle.
Lura was fast asleep, her mind on visions of Dylan hurt and calling to her. Why else would Gray Hawk send for her?
As Lura nodded off the figure slowly approached the truck, he peeked into the rear window then walked around to the driver's door. He paused to look inside and noticed the sleeping woman. Reaching into his pocket he drew out a set of keys and tapped on the glass. The noise startled Lura and she quickly sat up her nerves already on edge. She stared up into the face of a stranger, her eyes wide with fear.
"Sorry to startle you," the young man said. "Do you have any change? The coffee machine only takes quarters and the change machine seems to be empty."
Lura did not open the window, but simply stared at the young man then shook her head. The man waved his thanks then headed back towards the restrooms. Lura pressed the recline switch on the driver's seat, raised it and then she put the truck in reverse and left the rest stop. She was definitely wide-awake now.
Dylan felt as if she were swimming through mud, trying to reach the surface. She felt a grip on her ankle and looked back to see the wolf gently restraining her. There was more she needed to see. She nodded her head and turned back to the path. Her feet now rested on strange soft brown earth, new grass just beginning to peek between her toes. She felt refreshed; the feeling of dread had lifted from her shoulders. But there was something that still troubled her. She watched as an image slowly materialized, the setting was familiar, the voices were angry. It was her parents, but they looked different, younger.
Dylan watched as her father paced in the living room of their old home. His arms were flailing the air while his angry voice was directed at her mother. She remembered this argument, it had occurred the night of her eighteenth birthday. She had not been able to hear the entire conversation; she had been confined to quarters, her room. That was the night she had packed her bags and left.
Her mother was crying, unable to stop her fathers ranting. Her grandfather had stood there silent until the younger man had finished.
Finally Gray Hawk spoke. "You young pup!" he said in a cold hard voice. "That is your daughter that you were speaking of. She is the flesh of your flesh. You should feel greatly honored to have one such as she, touched by the Great Spirit. In the old days she would be revered and trained to be a great warrior. Yet you do not see in her the promise of greatness, you only see something that is not of your kind, something different than others. You see this as a blemish on your career. But she is no blemish, she is simply your daughter." The old man folded his arms over his chest and stared at the young version of her father.
Dylan was stunned to see tears in her father's eyes. He hung his head in shame
"God, what was I thinking?" he whispered. Going to a chair in the living room he collapsed, his head in his hands.
Gray Hawk watched, his eyes cold at first, then warming. He walked over and knelt beside her father.
"You must go and speak to your daughter. She is deeply wounded by your angry words."
"I will." He stood and walked down the hall, noticing that no light was coming under the door to Dylan's room. Turning he walked back to the living room.
"She's asleep, I will speak to her in the morning. Maybe we can talk and she can explain why. I will try to understand," he said, his head down and his shoulders slumped.
The scene faded and Dylan continued on. As she watched a second scene began to unfold, it was her old bedroom; she smiled seeing items from her past.
"God, was I always that junky?" she questioned herself, amazed at the magnitude of clutter she saw thrown about her room. She watched as the door opened and her parents walked in.
"Dylan? Dylan honey?" her mother called. Her father walked around the room staring at first one thing then another, slowly the truth surfacing on his face.
"She isn't here, she's run away. Our little girl has run away." Dylan watched as her mother sat down on the edge of her bed with a stunned look on her face.
"Why? Where could she go?" her mother asked in a choked voice.
"It's my fault, I should never have spoken to her like that," he said. "Don't worry, honey. I will find her; I will find our little girl and bring her home. I promise," the Senator stated as he sat next to his wife and pulled her into his arms.
Dylan was stunned. He had wanted to apologize all those years ago. Had she not run away…
She shook her head in anger; she had only been a young girl. He should have tried to understand, not attack her like he did. No, she had done the right thing.
Dylan turned her back to the scene and began walking in a different direction. As she walked on, a new image began to appear. It was her father again; he sat in his huge office in Washington. It was late in the evening; the outer offices were dark, evidence that he was working late and alone.
"Humph, he should be home with mother and not constantly working. Doesn't he know that she needs him?"
Then a second thought sprang into her mind. She wouldn't be alone if you had not run away.
The voice was not her own, definitely female, but very rough. Startled, she glanced down and met the eerie blue eyes of the wolf. The look in the wolf's eyes told Dylan that the voice had, somehow, come from the wolf.
Shaking her head she walked around the desk to stand behind her father, reading over his shoulder. She was stunned to see her father reviewing her military records.
What right does he have? She asked herself, angry to see this man studying the records of the last few years of her life.
The rights of a father who is concerned for his child, the voice said. Dylan did not bother looking down; she recognized the voice of the wolf.
We have to go on. There is more to show you, the wolf said.
Dylan turned and walked from the image of her father's office, still angry over the last vision.
This was all so strange. She glanced down to see her naked feet treading on clouds; they moved with her and swirled around her. The whole world was a soft lavender blue; it was all beautiful and very tranquil.
She hated it!
Grumbling under her breath, Dylan followed the wolf glancing around wishing for a stone or a stick or even a lumpy cloud to kick. Why was her spirit guide showing her these images?
Because you need to see them, you need to see the truth.
"Damn it! Get the Hell out of my head!" Dylan exclaimed, thumping the side of her head with the butt of her hand.
"I have enough problems with my mind speaking to me. I really don't need some crazy canine running around in there too," she said scowling down at the wolf.
Stop being a cub and pay attention. The wolf replied, ignoring the scowling naked woman at her side.
Dylan wanted to tell the wolf to go to hell, but for all she knew, that was exactly where they were, purple clouds or no purple clouds. Still grumbling, she followed the wolf.
The new scene in front of her was a familiar one. She had spent many days here studying the books about tracking and survival in the hope that her grandfather would one day give in and allow her to go on the summer trips that the young men took each year. The library had always felt like a warm place, safe and comfortable. It was not a large library by any stretch of the imagination, but it was well stocked.
She looked around seeing the outdated computers, the ancient tables scattered about with students of all ages leaning over pads and books, hands gripping pencils and brows furrowed in concentration. She smiled remembering the days she had spent here trying to commit to memory all the possible skills she could find, just in case…
Well, I guess all that studying did come in handy, she mused.
Walking on, she passed walls of shelves lined with books. The library was quiet as usual. The librarian and Dylan's first crush, Miss Karen, stood behind the tall desk, her large brown eyes scanning a microfiche of titles and authors. She was just as beautiful as she had been all those years ago with long glossy black hair and beautiful creamy skin.
She stood for a moment remembering the time she first saw the cute librarian and the realization that she was attracted to her. At first she was embarrassed, not understanding her feelings. She spent hours lingering in the library just so she could watch her. She had always secretly hoped that Miss Karen would notice her and she smiled remembering the shattered heart of that young girl when Miss Karen became Mrs. Brayboy. She stayed out of the library for almost two weeks, but eventually she returned and was surprised to get a welcome back hug from Mrs. Brayboy.
Smiling she glanced around wondering why the wolf had brought her to this location, then she saw him. Her father was sitting alone at a table piled high with reference books. Mrs. Brayboy came to him with a slip of paper. She quietly laid it on his table. She stared down at her father's bent head waiting patiently for him to look up. Finally he did,
"You know, Dylan has always been a sweet, bright child. I guessed that she might be gay when she would follow me around the library. I felt flattered; she is such a wonderful little thing. I have no idea why she would run away, but I hope that whatever caused her to leave gets resolved quickly. She has a lot of friends here that are going to miss her and will probably be very upset to learn that she has run away."
With that, and a withering cold look, her sweet librarian turned her back on Dylan's father and stalked off. He watched her until she sat back down, flipped her hair out of her eyes and glared at him. With a shake of his head he returned to his study.
Dylan chuckled, watching her father's shoulders, first stiffen then slump. Her smile disappeared as she watched him drop his head into his hands, close his eyes and sigh deeply. What was he studying so diligently?
She slipped up behind him and glanced over his shoulders, forgetting that there was no need for stealth. She stared down at the title of the book, "Homosexuality, facts and fiction." Her eyes widened in disbelief as she shot a glance over at the stacks of books on the table, each one covering a single subject matter, homosexuality.
Dylan stared at the stacks of research books. He must have every book on homosexuality in the library, she mused. Why? She was angry.
"Did he think that it was a disease, that it was catching, maybe he is looking for a cure?" she mumbled aloud.
She was startled to feel the nip of teeth in her butt and with a yelp she stared down indignantly at the wolf.
You, young one, need to learn patience, came the sound of an overly tolerant, very female voice. Watch and learn, perhaps you may discover things that you were not aware of, the voice continued.
Dylan stared at the wolf, the voice in her head still startling.
"Okay, okay, I'll watch but I doubt anything he does will surprise me."
There was no reply from the wolf, just a look of irritation, if you could call it that.
"Do wolves get attitudes?" Dylan asked herself.
"YES!" came the strong reply in her head.
She glanced down again surprised at the wolf who seemed to be ignoring her, much to Dylan's annoyance.
She stepped away from the wolf and wandered over towards a table thinking to sit on it and wait patiently, but reconsidered when she realized that she might simply slip through the furniture. Instead she stood crossing her arms over her naked chest in an effort to appear bored.
She watched the man she knew as her father, as he flipped from page to page, book to book, reading, taking notes and finally slowly a look of realization appeared on his face. Tears began to creep down his cheeks. He let them fall, wetting the pages of the text below.
Dylan stepped forward and read the passage that had caused the tears. It was an article about child abandonment and children who had run away. It covered topics about neglect, abuse and … rejection.
"My God. What have I done?" the whisper came in a broken voice filled with pain and self-disgust.
Dylan watched as he slowly closed the book and wiped his face. The man that stood from that table was an older man. Exhaustion was etched on his face and in his walk. He selected one book and waited in the check out line quietly. When he laid the large book on the table Mrs. Brayboy smiled at him.
"So now you understand. Well, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to sit back on your wide political ass and disown your daughter or are you going to go look for her. If you find her you had better hope that she can still find a place in her heart for you. That little girl spent half her life looking for a father and what she got was a pig headed bigoted greedy politician. Life is short, do you think it is worth going through without your little girl?"
John Cameron stared at the small woman with the beautiful eyes. His expression began to change from hopeless to hopeful.
"Now, a little birdie told me that a young girl just got recruited for the Army not a week ago. Seems her name was Hawke, Dylan Hawke."
Dylan was shocked. Of all the people to betray her, she never expected it to be Mrs. Brayboy. She felt the nip on her butt again and looked down into the angry eyes of the wolf.
"Betray you? What makes you think she is betraying you? Remember you were only an eighteen-year-old child then. What did you think of the eighteen-year-old warriors in your unit?" the voice asked.
"Humph, they couldn't pour pee out of a boot with directions on the heel," Dylan chuckled. They needed someone to hold their hands when they crossed the street.
Well, what made you so special then, warrior? Did you not feel responsible for those young lives? Did you not feel the need to protect and safeguard them? the wolf questioned, the pale eyes narrowing on Dylan's face.
"Well, that was different. I was mature for my age," came the sulky reply.
Even she did not believe that. She scuffed a bare toe on the cloud below her feet seeing the scene before her with different eyes.
"I was not thinking," she admitted finally.
Yes, but neither was he. Perhaps you know now where you get your temper? The voice asked as the wolf and the warrior turned to watch the man leave the building.
"I know I have the right town," Lura mused flicking from low beams to high in an effort to see any street names.
"Why the hell do people even bother to name a damn street if they aren't going to put up damn street signs so you can figure out where the Hell you are, DAMN IT!" she exclaimed, feeling much better for being able to voice her opinion.
Suddenly, a large bird flew out of the bush and across her windshield.
"What the…" she yelled as she swerved sharply to the left and slammed on the brakes. The truck came to a sudden stop directly across from an unlit narrow street.
"Well, one road seems to be as good as another," she said shrugging off the eerie feeling that she was being herded towards a place and time.
Pressing the gas pedal she started down the bumpy road. The trees towered over the truck like giants with arms raised as if to protect her from the falling night.
Finally she reached the end of the road, literally. There was nothing in front of her but branches and bark.
"Fine, just fuckin' fine!" Lura said.
She pounded her fists on the steering wheel in frustration, her anger evident in the honking of the horn.
Finally she bent her head to rest on the leather wrapped wheel in exhaustion.
"Dylan. Where are you baby?" she asked in a soft voice.
"Were you looking for my granddaughter?" asked a male voice from the left of her.
Startled, Lura looked up.
She glanced around in confusion finally looking out the window to see a copper colored face with black eyes staring back at her. She recognized that smile, and she recognized that face. Wiping her cheeks she snatched at the door handle.
"Gray Hawk!" she exclaimed. "Boy am I happy to see you." Lura stated as she open the door and slid out of the seat.
Gray Hawk was startled to find his arms full of a small giggling blond.
"I am very pleased to see you, Little Falcon, the elderly man said, hugging the young woman. His heart soared with the knowledge that his granddaughter's mate had arrived and would now help her complete her quest.
Grabbing the suitcase from the back seat he wrapped his arm around the small shoulders and led the way.
"Come in little one, come in."
The cabin was filled with the smell of burning wood and the glow of a warm fire. Lura glanced around smiling at the obviously male décor. She could envision her Dylan growing up in this house, first a lanky teenager then a feisty defiant adolescent. She smiled as her mind pictured a younger version of her soul mate.
"Welcome to my home little one," said the old man.
He led Lura into the living room and to a seat by a dancing fire. Placing her luggage by the hall he walked slowly back into the living room pausing to turn on the heat under the ancient teakettle. He glanced into the room watching the young woman. She was a small and golden bird, alert and curious and he understood why his granddaughter was drawn to her. He watched as she paused in front of a picture of Dylan, her hand reached out to trace the image. He heard her whisper in a determined voice.
"I'm here Dylan. Don't worry baby, I'm here now."
The old warrior smiled, he saw the spirit of the falcon in this small blond. She would make a good mate for his granddaughter.
"Well, young one, I have put the kettle on and we will have tea soon. While we wait I have a story to tell you, it is about a hawk and a falcon…"
The dark sedan pulled into the parking lot of a small hotel; the driver stepped out and slammed the car door.
"Stupid piece of shit," he grumbled walking around the front of the car. He walked up the drive towards the hotel lobby, jerked the door open and strolled up to the desk. The attendant was on the phone giggling to someone on the other end. She looked up and noticed the tall blond man standing impatiently at the desk tapping his key on the counter top to attract her attention.
"Hold on a minute honey, some dick weed is demanding my presence," she sighed in irritation then placed the hand set on the desk and turned to the man.
"Yes? Do you want a room?" she asked staring at him coldly.
"What do you think? That I'm here for the fucking weather? I want a room for two nights. Is that gonna be too difficult for you to handle?" he stated, glaring at the young woman.
"Fine, that is $40.00 a night, pay in advance and if you want to use the phone that is extra," she said smiling at him.
He opened his wallet, pulled out four twenties and tossed them at the girl.
"Now give me a damn room."
The girl collected the cash and slipped it into her pocket. Turning, she reached for a key and tossed it to him.
"Room 124, go out the front and all the way to the end of the building. Ice machine is on the corner and check out is at eleven." She turned back to the phone and pick up the receiver.
"Now where were we? Oh yeah, well Karen told me last night…"
He frowned at the girl then turned and headed back out to his car.
"Stupid fuckin' bitch. This room better be nice for what I had to pay for it," he grumbled as he walked back to his car.
The young woman on the phone started to chuckle.
"Hey, Sue, that stupid dick weed just left. You remember that room we have the work order on? Yeah, the one with the leaky toilet and the air-conditioning that doesn't always work. Well, guess what room Prince Charming is staying in?"
Gray Hawk stood and walked slowly into the kitchen. Lura could hear the sound of plastic wrap, glasses rattling and the soft splashing of water. Moments later she could smell the scent of fresh brewed tea and hot bread.
The old man came back out with a small tray of toast and two large cups of tea.
"Can't tell a story without refreshments ya know," he said smiling.
He placed a steaming cup in front of Lura along with a paper towel with two thick slices of toast with melted butter.
Gray Hawk stared into the fire and began his story.
"The story has been handed down in our family for many generations. It has changed very little over the years. I remember when I told Dylan's mother the story and I am sure she told Dylan."
He poked the fire with an iron poker and collected his thoughts.
Lura sat quietly waiting for the elder to begin the story. She had heard that there was a tale of a Falcon and a Hawk and she was anxious to hear it but knew better that to push the old man.
"Well, let me see if I can remember it all" he began.
"Legends tell that many, many years ago when Mother Earth was new there existed two of every animal. They were told that they were to be the beginning of their kind on the planet. Each species found its mate and set about creating a home.
The powerful horse galloped off with a beautiful mare and soon returned with a small golden foal that looked just like him. The great eagle flew off with his mate and returned bragging that he had bested the horse and had two young ones. The graceful playful otter swam off with his mate and returned with three young and bragged to the others. The hawk flew through the sky with his mate and returned boasting of his four young. And so it went, each creature trying to outdo the other.
Now, of the creatures that lived on the earth, the raptors were the proudest of all. After all they commanded the winds and the sky. Of all the creatures surely they were the greatest. So for years each competed with the other. Year after year their young grew to adulthood and left their families finding mates and increasing their numbers.
Finally, they gathered to determine which bird was the greatest so it happened that the birds all met one day and decided to count their children, and grandchildren and great grand children. The great eagle screamed out a call and the sky was filled the beating of hundreds of wings. The great raptors blocked out the sun. Each was counted.
As the day went on each great bird of prey brought out their families. Finally it came down to the last two great raptors, the First Falcon and the First Hawk. Each called their children and counted, each one knew they had the largest number of children. All the other birds waited to see what would happen. As it turned out both had the same number of children and grand children and great grand children. So they decide that the only way to determine who was the greatest was to have a great battle. The Great Spirit had been watching all that was going on and became angry. He spoke out to the raptors.
"I have placed you here to live in peace. I will not allow this battle to occur. Instead I will allow the youngest of each of your tribes to battle. The winner will prove that their tribe is the greatest."
Now, unknown to the Great Spirit, Mother Earth knew that the raptor's youngest children were one male and one female and she placed a love spell on the battlefield. The two battlers would be joined forever and one would not be able to survive without the other.
The Great Spirit, like Mother Earth, was very concerned. He knew that if no battle occurred then the great tribe of the raptors would set aside their competition and live in peace. He planned for the battle by blessing two young families. Days before the battle arrived two raptor families were blessed with hatchlings. There were four eggs in each nest and three had hatched from the hawk's nest and three from the falcon's nest. All had been large and powerful males; finally the last eggs began to crack. The hawk arrived first; a beautiful and powerful bird emerged from the egg. The First Hawk screamed out his pleasure, and the Great Spirit smiled for as he had planned, the young Hawk was a female. He believed that the female would not fight.
The falcon clan watched as each small falcon egg hatched. They flapped their long beautiful wings as each male emerged. Finally the last egg hatched and a beautiful little female emerged.
Now, each tribe waited for their young to grow until finally, the time arrived for the battle. Both tribes sent their youngest out to the battlefield. The great hawk had been trained to fight and knew that the pride of the hawk tribe rested on her powerful wings. She flew into the sky over the battleground, screaming out her challenge. In the distance she heard a high-pitched response. Into the sky came a beautiful swift winged falcon.
The hawk was stunned; she had never seen such a beautiful bird. She could not bring herself to battle the falcon.
The falcon saw the hawk and called out a challenge as she also had also been trained to battle.
With her talons outstretched she dove at the large hawk, determined to tear the other bird from the sky. She fell towards the hawk that had come to rest on a great stone, her breast exposed to the falcon.
The great hawk felt that if she were to die, it would be at the talons of this beautiful falcon.
As she got closer the falcon was struck by the beauty of the great hawk. She tried to stop her flight, but could not. In desperation she turned her wings at the last minute and struck the rock at the feet of the beautiful hawk and died.
Heartbroken at the death of the falcon the hawk threw herself from the rock tumbling through the sky and landing in the rocks next to the broken falcon.
Seeing the death of the two beautiful young birds, the raptor tribes realized how foolish they had been. They went to the Great Spirit to plead for their lives.
The Great Spirit was saddened; he had not planned for the death of the two beautiful birds.
'I cannot bring back the two young raptors,' he told the tribes, 'but into each generation two souls will be reborn. One will be soul of the Hawk and one will be the soul of the Falcon. And like your families they will mate for the duration of their time on Mother Earth. This I promise to the tribes of the raptors.'
"So every generation we look for the spirit of the Hawk and Falcon. We know that they will meet and nothing will come between the two mated souls."
Lura stared wide-eyed at Dylan's grandfather.
"Dylan calls me her Falcon. Does she think we are the reincarnated spirits of the two raptors?"
"No," the old man smiled. "She does not think you are the falcon, she knows it." He stated sipping his still warm tea.
The wolf nudged Dylan closer towards the doorway and out onto the open courtyard by the library. She watched as her father turned away from the parking lot and his car and walked out towards the park across from the library.
"Where the devil is he going?" she asked absentmindedly scratching the wolf's head.
She had not expected an answer and so was surprised when a voice responded in her head. Why don't you follow him and find out, young pup. You might be surprised.
"Humph, who are you calling a pup? I figure I am older than you even if you count your age in doggie years," she said smiling.
Don't bet on it pup, the voice responded.
I am much older than I look and I have followed you through several lifetimes. You humans are strange creatures. For some reason you seem to have to make life difficult.
The voice responded with a chuckle as the wolf nipped Dylan in the back of the leg.
"Hey! Watch it you. I thought you weren't suppose to feel pain in your sleep."
Well, that would be if you were having a regular dream. You, young one are on a vision quest. That is a bit different, the voice said.
Dylan walked forward following her father and rubbing her leg where she had been nipped. Looking down at the wolf that studiously ignored her and loped along at the woman's side, her tongue hanging out, the edge of her mouth turned up in a wolfish smile.
John Cameron walked through the park, his hands balled into fists and shoved into his pockets. He had done quite a bit of research and learned some things that he was not sure if he believed. He did however learn that it was important to the mental health of a young person to have the support of their family as they went through these changes. He finally realized that Dylan's preference for women was not something that she had a lot of control over. She had not set out to cause her family any pain or embarrassment, as he had initially thought.
It's just the way things are, he tried to reason with himself.
Finding a bench under a sheltering pine, he sat down and leaned forward clasping his hands together deep in concentration.
This could be a defining moment in his life. He had a serious choice to make and a lot of thinking to do before he made it. The last time he faced this type of crossroad he had opted for the easy, safe road and it had nearly cost him the woman he loved. Now here he was again back at that same fork in the road. His decisions could be complicated or they could be simple. It all depended on what he wanted…didn't it?
Dylan watched the younger version of her father. He seemed to age before her eyes.
John sat thinking, not about this decision, but how to make the decision. What to base it on? Should he decide based on his career? The last time he did that he became a Senator and a very wealthy man, but that choice had cost him years with his wife and daughter.
Should he decide based on how the world would view the father of a lesbian? What would his peers think? His fellow Senators? Was it important? What about the people who had elected him into office? How would this affect his future? Was his future that critical? More so than his daughter?
Should he base this decision on his conscience? How did he really feel knowing that his daughter was gay?
All these thoughts raced through his mind. He bowed his head and felt his shoulders slump. Slowly it dawned on him, his daughter was missing! She had run away, because of him. First he abandoned her, then, when he finally did come home, he tried to force her to become someone she could never be. Now, based on what he had read, he was trying to control her very existence. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! He sat up as if pulled upright on a puppeteers string. What had he been doing? These last few years had been the happiest and the most rewarding in his life because of his family. He realized now that he had pushed and pushed constantly trying to remake them. He was happy with his wife, she was loving and beautiful, his daughter was bright, attractive and popular. They had lived together happily before he had come back into their lives. Now he was ruining it all. Why? For the sake of his career and the feelings of a bunch of stuck up bureaucrats? He neglected his wife, no not neglected, ignored. He used her as a beautiful prop, part of his political arsenal, now he wanted to do the same thing to Dylan. He had chosen the easy path and had met with success, but at what cost? No, this time he would go the distance, he would support his family, no matter what, he would be there for his daughter.
What an insensitive jerk I have been. It has always been about me, what I want, what is best for me. I think it's time to think of my family. God, it took Dylan running away to make me really look at myself, John thought.
He had nearly lost his daughter because of his pigheaded, stubborn drive for fame. Then he realized, he had lost her, she was gone. He had finally learned an important lesson, but what had it cost him? His heart sank again. He looked up at the sky through the pine needles.
"Dylan? I am not sure where you are, but I am so sorry. If God lets me see you, again I swear, I will try to understand, I promise. God just give me the chance," he whispered.
A figure in the shadows wiped the tears from her eyes.
Lura stared at Gray Hawk. "So if the legend is true, Dylan and I are soul mates," she said a smile in her voice.
The elder smiled, he had seen the dazed look of awe in the young woman's eyes.
"Gray Hawk," she stated, her voice sounding drawn and tired. "I love your granddaughter and I don't doubt that Dylan and I are suppose to be together. Since I have found her I can't imagine my life without her."
Lura looked into the empty cup of tea, surprised to realize she had finished it while listening to the story. She looked up into the black eyes of Gray Hawk.
"I know you and Dylan are very close. When she…" Lura's voice broke and she paused to collect herself. "When she left me, Dylan left a note. She said she would love me forever. I believe her, but if she does not want me, if she wants to be left alone, she needs to tell me, face to face."
Lura stopped here, her throat tightening. She looked again at the empty cup wishing that more tea would mysteriously appear to ease her throat.
"I know that Dylan would have come here, come home to you. Please can you tell me where she is? I know she needs me," Lura pleaded.
Gray Hawk stood and walked to the fire where he stared into the flames.
"Lura Grant, do you have any idea what my granddaughter has been through? She came here to soothe her soul. Her body has been broken and her mind is confused. She sees the enemy around her and fears for her own sanity. Her nights are tormented with the dreams of those she has killed. She sees their deaths over and over again. Now she has a chance to regain control to and heal her mind. What makes you think that your presence will not cause her more harm and undo the healing that has already begun? If she left you, maybe that is what she wants. Why should I go against her wishes?" He turned to face Lura, an angry scowl on his face.
Lura was confused, why was he keeping her away from Dylan? She had not come all this way to be stopped here so close to the woman she loved. Dylan was in trouble, she could feel it and no one, not her mother and not even Dylan's Grandfather, was going to keep them apart. If Dylan didn't want her fine, but she had damn well better tell her that herself.
Gray Hawk watched as the frightened, confused and desperate expression left Lura's face.
She stood slowly from the chair, placed the cup on the table and walked towards the fireplace. She leaned forward, her hands resting close together on the mantle, her forehead resting on the backs of her hands. She stared into the fire, drawing the heat into her lungs, fueling her anger.
Gray Hawk saw her shoulders slump then watched as the small woman took in a deep breath and began to speak. Each word fell on his ears hard and distinct. She turned, her head still down, her fists balled as she walked towards him. Her voice was cold, soft, with a much more pronounced Southern accent.
"The way I see it Gray Hawk, this is not your decision to make, it is mine, mine and Dylan's. I was there when she was going through some of that killin'. I was there for her when she was wounded and while she struggled everyday, to regain enough strength just to stand. She saved my life and the way I see it I owe her the chance to heal. But I know Dylan, she is as stubborn as she is brave and she needs me now whether she knows it or not."
Lura stopped here and looked up into Gray Hawk's challenging eyes. "
"I love Dylan and she owns my heart, I will be damned if I am gonna leave her now."
Gray Hawk was amazed at the strength in the small woman.
"Let me make sure you understand this right now, I am not going to let you or anyone else drive me off."
She stepped closer to the old man.
"Yep, the way I see it you got two options. You either tell me where I can find her or I will call out every damn Forest Ranger this side of the Carolinas and we will start scouring these woods for her. And believe me Gray Hawk, I will personally pull up every DAMN tree and look behind every DAMN blade of grass until I find her! Dylan needs me and by God I am gonna be there for her. You can either help me or get the HELL OUT OF MY WAY!"
Lura was now as close to nose to nose as her five foot four inch frame would allow. Her eyes were hard dark chips of emerald. Her brow was furrowed with anger and determination.
Gray Hawk did not back down.
"Well, how do you plan on doing that?" he asked, pressing in closer to the angry blond.
"There are no phones in this cabin and I have been told that this is what is called a dead zone for those small mobile phones. So how do you plan on calling your Rangers?"
Lura stared back at the old man.
"With fuckin' smoke signals if I have to!" She said her eyes still flashing angrily.
She was totally unprepared for the response; Gray Hawk threw back his head and laughed.
Her brow furrowed and her eyes closed in tight slits as she placed her hands on her hips and stared up angrily at him.
He continued to laugh, tears streaking his face. He sat down on his chair holding his sides, bursting into fresh bouts of laughter whenever he looked up at her.
"What, may I ask, is so funny?" she asked, very obviously peeved.
"I am sorry Lura Grant, but I can picture you, standing over an open fire, great puffs of smoke billowing out," the old man said, wiping the tears from his eyes.
"I see now why my granddaughter calls you Little Falcon. You are as fierce and protective as that small sky warrior. You are a good match for my Dylan; maybe you can tame that woman down."
Lura smiled at the old man. She had no intention of taming Dylan; she liked her just the way she was so she simply grinned at Gray Hawk and kept her opinion to herself.
Still chuckling, the old man walked out of the room and returned several minutes later. In his hands he held a hand drawn map. Waving at Lura to join him he spread the map on the table and began tracing a path.
"We are here." He said pointing to a small star shaped marking on the map.
"If you go in this direction you will find a deer path, somewhere near here. Follow it to a clearing, Dylan is there."
"Why is she in the forest, Grandfather? Is she so determined to escape from the rest of the world?" Lura was concerned. If Dylan wanted her to stay away, if she didn't want the world to find her, then maybe it was best she wait here. Dylan would come out when she was ready.
Gray Hawk though about what Lura was asking.
"Little Falcon, it is not Dylan who makes this decision, it is the Great Spirit. It guides Dylan's life, it calls you to her and you must follow, it is your destiny to be at Dylan's side."
Lura stared at the old man, then down at the sketch.
He has got to be kidding, she thought.
Her eyes traveled from the paper to the old warriors' smiling face.
Guess not. She grinned back.
"You had better rest tonight and start out at first light. The path is not visible in the dark and if you miss it you could be lost in that forest for a very long time," Gray Hawk said rolling the map and handing it to Lura.
Lura took the map holding it close to her chest and smiled at Gray Hawk. "Thank you Grandfather. I will bring Dylan home safe, believe me."
In the small, humid hotel room Nathan kicked the rattling air conditioner in disgust.
"Damn piece of shit! I know that bitch at the desk knew this thing didn't work."
He walked over to the battered nightstand and picked up the room phone ready to dial the front desk.
"Damn, damn, damn!" He slammed the dead phone down sat on the bed and reached for his shoes.
"Wait 'til I see her. Who does she think she is dealing with? I won't stand for this. First no air and now no damn phone!"
He stood and walked out of the room, forgetting that motel doors lock automatically when shut. He jerked around quickly and made a grab for the handle, just missing.
"Fuck!" he screamed then turned back towards the front of the motel. Now thoroughly angry he stomped towards the front door. Reaching the outer door he snatched at the handle and discovered the outer door was locked. He looked through the glass and saw the attendant still on the phone her back to him. He banged on the door, and watched as the girl, her back still to him, wave her hand at the No Vacancy sign. Apparently the door was sound proof.
"ARRRGGGHHH!!!!" Nathan turned and sat on the ground outside the door and waited for the girl to get off the phone.
Lura stood silently in the forest, surrounded by wooden giants. It was truly a beautiful place. Sipping from her bottle of water she smiled thinking of her lover close by and in such a peaceful setting. The trees were beautiful, a mixture of evergreen, oak and, unless her nose deceived her, a cedar or two.
She glanced down at the hand drawn map to recheck her location. Based on the drawings there was supposed to be a trail near her that lead to a clearing and Dylan.
Putting her water back in her pack, Lura stared down at the map again. She hefted the pack onto her back and leaning the wooden walking stick against her shoulder glanced up to get her bearings.
For some reason Grandfather had decided that she needed a bit of assistance in making it through the forest. The long wooden stick he had given her was fairly lightweight and had actually come in handy. She had poked the bushes before she passed making sure that no slimy, creepy, hairless and legless things were in her path. She shuddered at the thought of snakes.
Not far behind Nathan followed, but his path was not as easily traversed, seemed the trees continued to jump in front of him, but he was determined to keep Lura in sight. "Damn her she did have to go into the woods. Thank you Lura Grant!" he exclaimed to no one in particular.
Why couldn't she run away to Tahiti or Barcelona? The woods. The damn, stinkin' woods. What the hell could she be looking for in the woods? Well, it sure wasn't that old man; I know she didn't sleep with him. What the hell would he have to offer a girl like her? She needs a real man, like me not some old shriveled up old goat. Humm, maybe that's why she's here. Maybe she found some young Forest Ranger or young buck. Well, I can take care of him, whoever he is. I was the Winchester Club Boxing champ two years in a row.
Nathan puffed out his chest a bit very sure of his physical prowess. He stepped over a fallen tree and paused. He had finally caught up with Lura and watched as she stared at a large piece of paper. Apparently there was someplace in particular she was heading and she had a map. He waited as she checked the terrain and compared it to the map then picked up her walking stick and disappeared into the forest.
"What the…where did she go?"
Nathan stepped out onto the trail and stared at the trees that appeared to be a solid wall of wood. How could she have just disappeared? She had just been standing here. He looked down but was not able to see anything in the fallen leaves.
"Damn, damn, damn!" he swore running his manicure fingers through his tousled hair in frustration. He had never excelled in these sorts of outdoor activities.
He paced back and forth for several minutes before deciding to head in the general direction he had last seen Lura.
Forcing branches aside he stepped into the tree line.
Lura followed the deer trail deeper into the woods. Each step, she knew was bringing her closer and closer to Dylan.
The forest was incredible, the morning was fresh and even though it was late August, it was comfortably cool. She strolled along her mind on her missing soul mate as she stepped into a large clearing. She stopped, breathless at the sight. A single large cedar seemed to dominate the clearing next to it was a small wood covered shelter, smoke curling from an opening in its top and a trail of stones led to a covered doorway. To the right of the shelter was a neat camp, the set up all to familiar to the blond.
She stepped into the clearing and towards the camp area, dropping her bag next to the circle of stones that marked the center of the camp.
"Well, Dylan must be in that little hut, the question is should I wait here or go on in? Humph, like that is really a question. I haven't seen my woman in weeks and she is just on the other side of that doorway."
Lura stooped down and crawled into the hut pausing for a second to allow her eyes to adjust to the darkness. It was more the site before her than the steam in the small hut that took her breath away.
Stretched out on a pallet of cedar branches and fall leaves lay Dylan, naked. Her skin, covered in a soft sheen of sweat and resembled molten bronze in the dim light. Her black hair soaked and curled around her shoulders and cheeks, her chest rising and falling with each steady breath.
Lura was stunned; she had almost forgotten how beautiful Dylan was. Slowly she crawled forward, careful not to waken the sleeping woman as she gazed down at the still face. When was the last time she had seen Dylan like this? Their hotel room in Georgia, the night before Dylan had left her, but even then she had not had this calm still look on her face. She had been tormented and confused. She had been so tense that she feared her own actions.
Now here she was close enough to touch.
Lura watched as Dylan's eyes fluttered as if on the edge of a deep dream. She wanted desperately to wake her, but she remembered reading somewhere that it was not safe to wake someone from a trance or deep sleep. So she sat back and waited, content to be so close to her soul mate.
Nathan winced as yet another branch reached out and slapped him in the face. "These woods must be cursed. Why else would I be going through all this just to find one small blonde?"
He swore as he wiped his face and struggled through the thick brush. Finally he reached a clearing and he was about to step through when a movement caught his eye. He watched as Lura stepped into the clearing near him. Amazed at her pristine appearance, he was tempted to confront her, when he saw her face light up at the discovery of the small shelter in the clearing. Lura dropped her pack and walked to the shelter.
He watched as she mumbled something to herself and seemed to pause for a minute to make up her mind. Then to his utter amazement she knelt on the ground and crawled into the shelter. He waited for some sound to come from the small wood and mud hut, but nothing happened.
"Whoever built that thing must not be around. Well, that suits me just fine. I'll just sit here and wait until he comes back. If he thinks he is going to steal my woman, he has another thought coming."
Nathan looked around for a likely spot to settle in and finding a moss-covered boulder, he crawled on top and made himself comfortable.
Lura smiled as she watched Dylan sleep. She was glad beyond reason that she had finally found her. She was concerned about the depth of the sleep though. It was obvious that the dreams the soldier was having were disturbing, she moaned in her sleep and, at times tears rolled from her eyes.
Lura reached out to touch her more than once, but the thought of the hot coffee incident back at the hotel stopped her from waking the sleeping woman. As time wore on she found herself becoming drowsy.
Must be the heat in here, she thought. I'll just stretch out for a while and take a quick nap. That way I will be here when Dylan wakes up.
Lura took off her shoes and carefully stepped over the steaming rocks and lay next to Dylan. Minutes later she was sound asleep. Her body, sensing the presence of the woman she loved, slipped closer and wrapped an arm around a naked waist.
Lura wiggled closer in her sleep and rested her head on Dylan's shoulder. With a sigh, both women drifted deeper into sleep.
Dylan watched her father walk away. She wanted to reach out and touch him. He really had wanted to make things right.
She felt a nudge on her hand and glanced down at the wolf, her blue gray eyes stared back at her.
Yes, he regrets his actions young cub, but he needed time to realize his loss before he could accept such change.
Again she heard the voice in her head, but this time it was comforting.
"I see that now, Wolf. I will try to forgive him. It is over and time to settle old wounds," she said.
He is a stubborn man with a very strong will much like his totem, the badger. But like the badger he is very determined and will not leave a trail until his quarry is caught.
The voice continued. "A bit like your mate."
"My mate?" she asked
She looked again in the direction her father had taken but the scene had changed again.
A heavy fog had covered the area, golden and warm. She heard a sound in the distance. It was the beating of wings, then a piercing cry. She looked up to see a large hawk circling above. The hawk's cry was chilling and almost poignant. She watched as it drifted lazily in the golden fog, its powerful wings holding it aloft on some unseen, unfelt thermal. She did not see its wings move but still she heard the beating of wings. The hawk called again, this time the sound was answered by a higher longer call.
Dylan squinted to see through the haze. It started as a small speck but rapidly grew. It was another raptor, a beautiful swift winged falcon. The hawk spotted the smaller bird and cried out again. Folding its wings the falcon dove down towards the large hawk.
Dylan was sure they would fight, but at the last second the hawk rolled over, talons extended and gripped the talons of the falcon. The two birds tumbled through the air, their wings held out their cries intertwined. As they grew closer to her they finally separated and climbed together. She watched as they flew higher and higher until they were out of sight.
She started to turn towards the wolf again to ask him the reason for the aerial display when she felt a presence drawing her. She felt hot, her head throbbed and her throat was dry. She struggled now against the golden fog, fighting the clinging mist.
Lura awoke to the moans and struggles of the woman in her arms.
"Dylan? Honey, wake up. Dylan?" Lura sat up, awakened by the thrashing and heat coming from the woman next to her. Alarmed now, Lura rolled to her knees. She reached for the struggling woman.
"Dylan, please, wake up."
She placed her hand on the hot forehead. Dylan was burning up. She moaned and thrashed about struggling against some dream that held her tight.
Lura stroked the damp forehead. She had been right; Dylan did indeed need her. She crawled from the sweat hut and, still barefooted, trotted to her pack. Snatching it up she slowed only long enough to grab Dylan's canteen on her way back into the hut.
Nathan watched, growing drowsy waiting for something, anything, to happen. Lura had been inside the small hut for what seemed like hours and he looked up surprised when he heard a disturbance. Lura came scrambling out of the hut, rushed to her pack and grabbed it and her canteen. Without a backwards glance she rushed back into the hut.
"That bitch, she's been in there with him all this time!" He was angry, Lura had always portrayed the image of the innocent when she was whoring around all that time. Well he would take care of her once they were married, but for now he needed to take care of this rival.
Nathan stood and brushed off his trousers. He prepared to face the man inside the hut. He stepped forward out of the tree line but paused.
What the hell am I doing? I have no idea what this guy looks like or how big he is. He may have a weapon. Yes, I had better wait until I know what I am facing. Yeah, that would be a better plan.
He assured himself that his actions were more prudent than cowardly. He made a hasty departure making sure not to disturb the two in the small hut but also making sure he left a trail to follow back, and he planned on coming back. Lura Grant was too important to him, or rather her money was.
Inside the shelter Lura opened her pack pulling out a small bottle of aspirin, her water bottle, a towel and a washcloth. She lifted the now prone body and placed the pack under Dylan's head and shoulders.
Lura popped open the aspirin and shook two out into her palm.
There is no way in hell she is gonna be able to swallow these, Lura thought, staring at the small white tablets.
She opened her pack and pulled out her water bottle. She poured most of the contents onto the towel and washcloth and then she dropped in the two tablets. While they dissolved she wrapped the towel around Dylan's body and gently wiped her face with the washcloth.
The heat inside the small hut was almost unbearable. Lura looked up and saw that the majority of the smoke was leaving in a thin stream through the top of the hut, but the heat stayed inside.
She crawled to the door of the shelter and propped it open allowing some of the heat to escape and bringing the temperature inside to an almost bearable level.
"Dylan, open your mouth, Honey," she coaxed gently.
As the lips parted Lura dripped some of the melted aspirin and water into Dylan's mouth, rubbing her throat to encourage her to swallow.
"Good girl. Now rest, I'm not going anywhere."
She laid the towel over Dylan's overheated body and poured the remaining contents of the canteen over it, trying desperately to bring her body temperature down. She would need more water and quickly.
She crawled back out of the hut again and stood listening, the map she had gotten from Gray Hawk had shown a small pool of water near the area he had marked as the clearing she now stood in.
Lura closed her eyes, trying to focus all her attention on her hearing. There, I hear it!"
She turned and headed to her right. Forcing her way through the brush she stumbled into a small deep stream of fresh water that led to a pool. It was cold, washed down from the mountain's melting snow and mixing with a fresh water spring.
Lura filled the canteen and paused long enough to splash cold water onto her face. A quick flash of silver caught her eye. Fish, fresh food for Dylan, and all I have to do is…
She leaned forward and reached out, her eyes following the sleek swift fish. "I just have to grab one and it's fish fry for me and my baby." Lura concentrated on the movement as she brought her hand closer to the water. That is when she noticed the small fish had begun to congregate under her shadow. As she watched the school of tiny fish gather she noticed a large fish darted towards her drawn to the school of minnows and the prospect of an easy meal.
She waited, slowly lowering her hand closer and closer to the water, one quick movement and she had it. She drew her hand out throwing the fish onto the grass.
"Ha! Yeah, fish tonight!"
Lura jumped to her feet and did a little jig, staring down at the flopping fish.
With the canteen in one hand and the fish in the other she headed back towards camp.
Carefully Lura prepared the fish gutting it and placing it over the fire to cook. She went back into the shelter to check on Dylan and was pleased to discover that her temperature was falling. She poured more water on the washcloth and wipe her lovers face. Dylan's lips curved into a smile as the cool cloth touched her face.
Lura anxiously watched for any other indication that her lover would wake. She could be patient; they had a lifetime ahead of them.
Nathan sat in his hotel room, hot dirty and tired, the noise of the constantly dripping toilet had kept him awake all night.
He had finally gotten back to his hotel room after a day of hell in the forest and the air conditioning still wasn't working.
"That stupid heifer at the desk hasn't called in the repair for this damn thing yet. And I know I told her about the toilet. Just wait; when I get the money I will buy this stinking hole just so I can make her clean this room. Just before I fire her."
He smiled thinking of the young receptionist sweating in the heat of the room then begging him for her job.
"Wait, what if she decides to marry that other guy," he spoke aloud to himself.
"If Lura decides on him then he'll get my money! No, that is not gonna happen. I gotta stop him," Nathan said. "I gotta figure out what to do about him."
That night Lura sat up with Dylan, waiting for her to open her eyes. She had been to the pool several times refilling the canteen and her water bottle. She kept rewetting the towel, dissolving tablets and keeping her face wiped.
What seemed like days, but was only hours, passed and finally Dylan's eyes fluttered. Slowly, painfully Dylan struggled through the golden haze. The falcon called her soul and she had no choice but to respond.
Lura held her breath as she watched the blue eyes she loved focus on hers.
"Lura?" The voice was harsh and so softly spoken she was forced to lean closer to hear. She felt a hand slip into her hair and her lips were captured by her soul mate's.
Dylan could not resist the tempting site above her. She reached up, pulling the beautiful angel to her. As their lips touched she felt her heart soar. She opened her eyes and knew that things were right, her falcon had found her and she was home.
Gray Hawk pressed the button disconnecting the mobile phone.
Wonderful things these mobile phone, but really bad reception. Maybe we really are in a dead zone. He chuckled thinking of the tale he had told Little Falcon. She was indeed a fierce little warrior.
He placed the phone back on Dylan's bed, the conversation he had just had was enlightening. Lura had come here even after her mother cancelled her flight. Harrison Grant had a great deal to say about that. Gray Hawk laughed aloud remembering the triad of creative terms Harrison had come up with to describe his feeling on that particular topic. Yes, he knew where Little Falcon got her temper.
Gray Hawk walked back out through the living room, picked up his staff and headed for the front door. It was time for his morning hike. Stepping out onto the front porch he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply smiling as he enjoyed the smell of the fresh air in his lungs. He paused; his eyes still closed and tilted his head. Something odd was going on.
Listening carefully, the old man tried to understand what his ears and now his nose were telling him.
A storm was coming, but this was not a regular storm. He listened again trying to pick up familiar sounds. There were none. No birds, no insects and no wind in the leaves. Everything was still…too still. This was not a good sign. He bent to examine the little worker ants at his feet. As he watched they stopped their usual activities of food gathering, and had begun piling large grains of sand and clay at the entrance of their home. They were shutting the door, preparing for a storm. As he watched he saw the ants carry large bits of clay deep into the hole this was followed by sand and dirt. They were not just shutting the door; they were stopping up the entrance ensuring that nothing got past the plug. This was not just a storm; this was something much worse.
Nathan lay on his bed thinking of how he could prevent his rival from stealing his fortune. He had thought of challenging the man, but he had no idea how big this fellow was. He could get his ass whipped if the guy was big enough. No, maybe he needed to see what this guy looked like, maybe learn a bit about him and then he could plan.
He rose from the bed and grabbed his bag, tossing it onto the adjacent bed. The much-abused Samsonite still retained its good looks and strong locks.
Nathan slipped his key in and turned, though the locks were very good they were also very stiff. After banging repeatedly on the small silver clasp the lock finally gave and he opened the bag. Inside were several items of clothing, all of very good quality and in fine condition.
"One must keep up appearances," he mumbled to himself.
This time he was going prepared. He pulled out a pair of 501's, a pair of tan jock socks, a beige polo shirt and a light tan canvas LL Bean vest. He reached into the bag again and retrieved a brown belted shoulder holster and reaching under the piles of clothes to retrieve his Ruger 9mm. Checking the magazine, he slipped it into the butt of the pistol, pulled back the slide and chambered a round. Smiling, he re-holstered the pistol and laid it next to the clothes. Then he picked up a towel and headed for the shower.
Lura sat inside the small sweat hut feeding bits of fish to a still naked Dylan. She was a very happy camper and unable to remove the smile from her face.
Dylan had tried to get dressed but her clothing had disappeared, and strangely enough, she wasn't complaining.
Dylan leaned back relaxing as Lura carefully picked bits of fresh cooked fish from the bones and hand fed them to her. She had been here now for almost four days and this was the first bit of food she had eaten since the vision quest had started. She was not sure how Lura had found her but she was too happy to care. Right now the only thing that concerned her was eating, Lura had promised to help her with her bath once she finished her dinner, so hell or high water she was gonna eat every last bit of that damn fish.
Lura had it all planned; she would heat up some water in one of Dylan's tin cups then give her lover a relaxing sponge bath. Her lover was weak but gaining strength with every bite and she was determined to have Dylan back on her feet as soon as possible.
Or maybe I will get her back on her back as soon as possible. Oh Lura, you are soooo bad, the blonde thought with a grin.
Dylan watched her mate meticulously pick and de-bone pieces of fish careful to remove all of the tiny translucent bones. Why this would make Lura grin so foolishly she was not sure but whatever makes her happy.
That evening a freshly washed Dylan lay in front of a warm fire wrapped in a blanket as Lura gently combed her hair. The feel of the comb sliding through the long stands followed by Lura's gentle fingers was very soothing, very soothing.
Lura had enjoyed bathing her lover and was looking forward to a pleasant evening. She sat behind Dylan carefully untangling her long hair and enjoying the warmth of the fire, her mind on the events she hoped would occur later that evening. She was so preoccupied that she was taken completely off guard when she heard the soft sound of Dylan's snores.
"No," she whispered. "Not now, not tonight." She leaned forward and glanced down into the sleeping face of the exhausted woman.
Well, so much for the romantic plans. Lura thought with a sigh.
Standing she gently rolled Dylan over onto her side, the movement did not even wake her. Lura stared at the sleeping woman and realized how much she had missed the sound of Dylan's gentle snore. Smiling to herself she quickly removed her outer clothing and grabbing her blanket she lay down, covering them both and wrapping her arms around Dylan, she was soon asleep.
Neither woman had noticed the darkening of the sky and both were asleep when the first gentle breezes began.
Gray Hawk was surprised to hear the sound of a car door slamming, he knew of no one who would be out near him at this time of day, especially with the storm coming. He knew it was not Dylan; she had enough sense to find shelter for herself and Lura.
The old warrior glanced out the front window still a bit surprised to have a visitor. "Who the devil would be out in the weather this time of day? Probably some tourist that has lost their way or something," the old man mused aloud.
He opened the door only to be greeted by the barrel of a pistol brandished by a young white man. Alarmed, he backed up, allowing the young man to push the door open and walk in. He wasn't sure what the fellow wanted; he had nothing in the house of any significant value.
He started to mention that to the young man when he felt the first blow. Falling to the floor, Gray Hawk looked up stunned and surprised. That was when he first noticed the look in the man's eyes.
Nathan was tired of the chase, he wanted what was rightfully his and Lord help anyone that stood in his way. Now he needed information and this old man was going to give it to him.
"Get up, you old man, I have some questions and you are going to answer them," he snarled. He motioned towards the living room with the pistol indicating to Gray Hawk to precede him. They sat on the chairs, which, earlier that week, had been occupied by Gray Hawk and Lura. Sitting by the fire Nathan turned and smiled at the blood he spotted trickling through the gray hair.
"Okay you old goat, I need to know who my woman is seeing in the woods. Is that your son out there she's shacked up with or some other young buck?"
Silence filled the air.
Nathan was not in the mood to play, he wanted answers now. He pulled back the slide and was startled to see a round fly by, he had forgotten he had chambered a round already. Grinning he looked up at the old man.
"Well, now you know there are real bullets in here old man.
Leaning forward he stared into the black eyes that even at his age, appeared clear and alert.
Now, I am not a real patient fellow, so if you don't mind, I am waiting. Who is Lura with in the woods? What's he like?"
Gray Hawk frowned, his heartbeat picked up at the mention of Lura's name. This boy wants Lura and he is asking about Dylan. I don't know if Dylan is in any shape to handle him. She is on quest and is probably very weak now. Maybe I can stall.
"What makes you think I know who Lura is?" Gray Hawk questioned, staring at the frustrated would-be suitor.
Nathan looked at the old man and smiled, he calmly pointed the pistol at Gray Hawk and pulled the trigger. The report was booming in the small room. Gray Hawk felt the round tear through his arm as he fell backwards onto the floor by the force of the impact.
"I told you old man, I really am not patient. Now, I am going to ask you again, and I will shoot you in the other arm if you don't tell me." Nathan grinned, he was really enjoying this, why hadn't he thought of this earlier? He pointed the pistol at the old man again, tapping his foot impatiently.
Gray Hawk looked up from the floor. This man is insane. If he told him about Dylan this man would try to kill her. He had to stop him.
"Don't, old man. I can see it in your eyes. Believe me I will kill you and then I will kill the man with Lura. Just tell me so you can live." Nathan sneered; he was getting tired of waiting. He aimed at the old man again a pulled the trigger. This time the bullet ripped through his leg.
"Surprise," Nathan laughed
The pain was incredible. Gray Hawk fell back clutching his leg with a scream of agony, his body twitching in response to the pain. He heard ringing in his ears and then nothing.
Nathan stared down at the unconscious man in disgust. "Some warrior you turned out to be old man, you couldn't even take a bullet or two." He holstered his weapon, turned and without a look back strolled out the front door, blissfully unaware of the dark gray clouds rolling overhead. A storm was brewing.
Dylan woke in a cold sweat; something was wrong. She sat up and stared around at the strange surroundings, initially disoriented. She felt a heaviness on her body and, glancing down, saw Lura laying beside her. The blond had one arm hanging onto her blanket and the other draped possessively over Dylan's waist. The picture filled her heart but she was certain that the smaller woman's presence had not cause the reaction, that pulled her from her deep sleep.
Dylan glanced around; the forest was trying to tell her something. Looking up she watched as greenish black clouds began rolling across the sky. The giant pine trees bent, swaying in the heavy wind. Tilting her head she sniffed the air, a heavy rain was coming she could smell it. But it wasn't just the rain; there were no animal noises. No birds, no frogs, no bugs, nothing. The forest was virtually still except for the trees that swayed back and forth and the sound of the wind.
"Oh shit!" Dylan exclaimed.
Now she knew what was happening, this was not just was a big storm on its way and the animals had already taken refuge to ride it out. They knew that this was a different kind of storm. She had to find some shelter for Lura fast; the way the wind was picking up it was going to be a bad one.
She reached down and shook the small shoulder next to her.
"Lura, Lura honey wake up," she called gently. She really loved having the other woman with her, even in this kind of weather.
"No! Dylan, don't leave me. Please don't leave me," Lura mumbled in her sleep.
Dylan listened to the girl's pleas frowning, realizing how much she had hurt Lura. At the time she hadn't even thought about Lura's feelings when she abandoned the other woman. She had simply left a note and disappeared.
Her only thoughts were to get away. She had lied to herself and to Lura. Telling the woman she loved that she was afraid that she might hurt her wasn't a complete lie, but she knew that deep inside she would rather die than hurt Lura. The truth was that her only concern when she left was for her own pain. Her guilt for living when her men were all dead, the pain of living to kill, it had all come back to torment her and she had not been able to bear it. She had run.
Now she knew that leaving Lura was the wrong thing to do, Lura would have helped her bear the burden and eventually would have helped her overcome the nightmares. If only she had told her the truth. Well, they had a lot to talk about when they were out of this mess. She smiled at the idea that if possible, she intended to spend the rest of her life telling her how much she loved her. The short time they had already had was not enough.
No it wasn't, a voice spoke in her mind.
That voice, it's familiar, Dylan thought, looking around.
There at the edge of the forest was a large figure, as she watched a wolf stepped out into the open. It stared at her with blue white eyes, its tongue lolling out in a wolfish grin. Dylan stared back gape jawed. She started to rise and go to the wolf when another sound drew her attention.
Glancing to her left she saw a strange man step out of the woods. He stared at her frowning, then down at Lura. His eyes Dylan though, they aren't right.
The stranger reached inside his jacket and drew out a pistol. Dylan's eyes grew large as she stared at the big bore gun. Slowly she stood hoping that her naked frame would draw his eyes from Lura.
"Who are you? What do you want?" she asked, stepping between the stranger and the sleeping woman, her eyes focused on his.
"Humm, funny you should ask," Nathan said walking carefully out into the open, his eyes taking in the full breasts and the long naked legs.
"I came here for her," he said, waving the gun in Lura's direction his eyes never leaving the naked body in front of him. He had been a bit surprised when the tall beauty moved to position herself between him and the still sleeping blond.
"Well, well, what have we here? You afraid I'm going to shoot…your girlfriend?" he sneered, pointing the gun down between Dylan's legs that were now straddling the sleeping woman.
"I would have never taken her for queer, but she did turn me down back at the mall." Nathan said musing aloud and rubbing his cheek as if still feeling the sting of the slap.
Dylan's eyes grew cold as she listened to the man.
"No wonder that old man back at the cabin wouldn't tell me who she was seeing," he laughed, his voice carried away in the growing force of the wind.
"Hope he wasn't important to ya." He grinned when he noticed the angry look he was receiving from the dark woman. "Hope he wasn't some sort of Chief or something. He didn't die well. Really begged me not to shoot him," Nathan lied, seeing that his words were having an effect on the dark haired woman.
"Pain?" he taunted, "Do I see pain in your eyes? You are trying to steal what belongs to me," Nathan said gesturing at Lura.
"That is my property and you need to step away, now." He said, pointing the pistol at the dark woman.
Dylan could not believe what she had heard. Gray Hawk was dead? No, my grandfather is a warrior and this man lies.
"Liar!" Dylan yelled over the sound of the rising wind, stepping forward with each word.
"My grandfather is Chief Gray Hawk, War Chief of the Cherokee Nation. A Hawk would never beg. You are a liar. And Lura belongs to no man. She is my mate and you will not touch her," Dylan screamed.
She had been able to move closer to the strange man but stopped when he redirected the pistol at her. Her eyes narrowed as she stared at him, her head pounding with the pictures his words had drawn in her mind. She felt heat radiating from her body even in the now chilled wind. Her focus narrowed, blocking out everything but the man in front of her. He became the embodiment of all her torment and pain. He may have harmed her grandfather and had tried to claim Lura. That would not happen.
Nathan watched the woman's eyes; they changed from light blue to almost black as her pupils grew large. Her brow furrowed and her hair, picked up by the wind, seemed alive and writhing around her shoulders and waist. Slowly a grim smile appeared on her lips and she began to walk towards him. He pointed the gun at her.
"Stop right there or I swear, I will shoot you," he yelled, confident in the power of the threat.
He was stunned when she ignored him and continued forward.
Dylan could hear nothing but the wind. It sounded different, more like the howl of a wolf. She prowled forward slowly anxious to have this threat terminated.
Nathan backed up, his mind telling him that this woman was different and that she was not afraid of him.
"What is wrong with you? I told you, I will shoot you." Now his eyes widened with fear as the strange woman threw back her head and laughed. When she returned her gaze at him he was chilled by her eyes, they had changed again; her pupils had shrunk to a pinpoint. Focusing her eyes on his throat, eyes that had now gone from a dark storm blue to silver, her face still wreathed in a feral grin.
Fear gripped Nathan. He felt his stomach roll and the taste of bile was in his throat. He had never dreamed of facing anything like this. His heart raced, as his mind tried to find a way to win out. He had to keep this woman away from him.
He pulled the trigger, but she kept coming. He fired again…nothing. He knew the gun had fired, he felt the recoil as it kicked in his hand.
Dylan saw the flash of the pistol and felt the bullets as they whistled past her ear. Nathan's fear was making him shake, throwing off his aim. Dylan knew that if she shook him up enough he would become so rattled that his aim would be fucked, but that would correct itself as she got closer.
Can't be helped, she thought.
Suddenly, something flew past her and straight at Nathan. It knocked him to the ground and sent the gun flying.
The sounds of the gunfire had awakened Lura. Rolling over, she watch in shock as Nathan fired at her soulmate. What was he doing here? Who in the hell did he think he was, firing at her Dylan?
She watched first stunned then relieved as Nathan missed again. Her relief was soon replaced with anger when Nathan leveled the pistol to fire again. She knew Dylan, her Hawk, would not stop until one of them was down.
Leaping to her feet she charged past Dylan and threw herself at Nathan. Her teeth rattled as she slammed into the heavier body. She felt them both fall as she impacted with him. She tried to roll so that she would be on top, but he forced her over with is greater strength. He leaned over her, one arm drawn back and she prepared herself for the blow, hoping to be able to fight him long enough for Dylan to get the gun.
The weight of his body on hers was cutting off her wind and he struck out at her, a blow landing with stunning force on her jaw. She saw lights flashing behind her eyes as the pressure of his weight was suddenly pulled off of her.
Dylan had reached the fallen couple seconds after Lura's flying tackle. Her anger had fed her body with adrenaline as she reached down and picked Nathan up by his hair. Drawing her fist back she buried it in his face, smiling at the satisfying crunching sound of breaking teeth. Even as she felt the skin on her knuckles tear, she pulled back again and swung up, catching him in the chest directly under his rib cage causing his legs to buckle.
Nathan fell to the ground with his head spinning from the force of the blow that knocked the air from his lungs.
Coming to his knees, he reached up and, cupping his hand, spit three teeth into his palm.
"You BITCH!" he yelled in an angry lisp. He charged forward, his shoulder down his arm grabbing the naked waist he took Dylan to the ground.
Lura stood in the high winds watching her lover fight the larger Nathan. She silently cheered when she saw him go down, but was frightened when he rose and tackled Dylan.
Lura started forward intent on joining her lover in the fight when she realized that the force of the wind had picked up. She stared up stunned to see the tops of the trees bending and twisting. Their branches seemed to glow as they were outlined against a blue-black sky. The sound around her was more of a roar than the usual bluster of a storm. This sound was more like a…HURRICANE!
Dylan was gasping for air, the blow to her stomach had forced her to the ground. The stranger had followed his tackle with a rapid succession of punches to her ribs, stopping her from inhaling.
Nathan grinned down at her feeling secure in his position atop her body. Flushed with success, he wanted to end this little battle and claim his prize. He looked to his left to see his pistol on the ground near him and he twisted his body to reach for it.
Dylan felt the weight on her stomach shift, relieving some of the tension on her sore ribs. She rolled violently with the shift, throwing the man off of her. She continued the roll and got to her feet just Nathan reached the gun.
Alarmed Dylan knew there was no way she could stop him from reaching the gun in time. She turned, making eye contact with her soulmate. Staggering to her feet she opened her arms just as Lura flew into them.
Lura watched the expression on Dylan's face. She knew what Dylan was doing, she was saying goodbye and placing her body between herself and the threat, preparing to take the bullet.
Well, she had not spent all her life looking for her lover just to have some ass wipe with a pistol take her away. She dove towards Dylan, wrapping her arms around her lover's waist. She twisted her body, throwing Dylan off balance and effectively switching places with her. Now her back was to Nathan.
As Dylan wrapped her arms around Lura she heard the sound of the gunfire and steeled herself for the impact. She prayed that her body would be able to shield Lura from the bullet. Just as this thought occurred she felt the other woman twist, now Lura's back was to Nathan.
"NO!" Dylan screamed, her eyes wide. Her head lifted as she frantically searched for the lunatic.
Surprised when she did not feel the shudder of a round, Dylan looked up over a blond head and saw the wolf. Its jaws locked around the strange man's throat. The huge wolf had leapt on the man, her massive weight knocking him from his feet. Her teeth were buried deep in the man's throat and she shook her head viciously back and forth, as she would to kill a rat or snake.
Dylan could hear the snap of his neck even over the sound of the wind. Her hair whipped around her face and neck stinging her as it struck out, blinding her and blocking her vision
As the wind picked up, Dylan found it more and more difficult to keep her footing. She had to get them out of this weather. Hugging her soulmate close she glanced back down at her companion and saw the look of terror in Lura's face.
Lura was frightened beyond belief; she had never witnessed a storm like this before. Tears of fear sprang into her eyes and she pulled herself closer to the tall soldier, determined to hold onto her lover. Together they would live or die.
Dylan had no desire to die, she had finally gotten her Falcon back and she was not willing to give her up so quickly. Holding tightly to Lura, she looked around for a place that would shelter them both. Heading to the trees, she saw the flick of a tail and she picked up her pace following the wolf.
Lura held on tightly to the naked waist. She was relieved to be alive, if even for a short time. She feared the storm much more that the bullet. A bullet would have taken her while she lay in Dylan's arms, but the wind of the storms might tear them apart. Fear forced her to turn her head; she stared back at the rapidly disappearing camp. The sight was amazing to watch. The blankets had come to life, flying off into the trees. She looked again noticing for the first time the still body of Nathan Owens near the base of the cedar tree. One large branch had fallen and seemed to have crushed his neck. His eyes were open and his face was a frozen mask of terror.
He must have seen the branch coming, she thought. What a horrible way to die. She wrapped her arms tighter around Dylan as she watched the wind begin to lift and twist the body, causing the limbs to dance grotesquely in the air. The large limb that had trapped the dead man's head and neck kept the wind from completely claiming its new toy.
"We have got to find someplace safe," Dylan screamed Lura nodded in agreement, sure that her voice would be carried away by the wind.
Dylan led them deeper into the forest towards the hills, finally finding a deep embankment she walked barefoot along it until she came across a small narrow crevasse. She pushed Lura in and followed her. There was just enough room to slide through. They followed the crack in the land to a wide-open overhang. The two women curled up close, facing each other with their legs intertwined.
Dylan wrapped her bare legs tightly around Lura's waist, hoping to prevent the other woman from being captured by the fury of the wind.
They sat together listening to the storm beating the dirt walls of their shelter. Slowly the air stilled, the eye was passing over.
Lura looked up at Dylan, glad to see the fire and anger had left the beautiful face. She had her hero, her Hawk back.
In the stillness of the storm, Lura leaned back into the warm embrace of legs and arms and looked up into the beautiful face, searching for the stress she had seen there earlier. As she looked, her mind finally clicked in and she realized that she was exactly where she wanted to be. No, not in the storm, or the dirt, or the wind, but in the embrace of her lover.
Her heart rate picked up when she realized that they were both alive and Dylan was quite pleasantly naked. The smile on her face grew wider when Dylan looked down into her eyes.
Dylan looked into Lura's smiling face, surprised to see that the look of fear gone, replaced by a silly grin. She was curious.
"Lura? Why are you grinning?"
Lura wiggled an eyebrow, leaned forward and took a bare nipple in her mouth, tickling it with a warm tongue.
"Lura!" Dylan exclaimed pulling back in surprise. "Woman, we are in the middle of a hurricane and all you can think about is sex?"
"Well, you are right, we are in the hurricane. All the more reason to make love, we may not survive this. I came a very long way to find you Dylan Hawk and if I am going to die, I want to die while making love to the most beautiful woman on this planet."
She leaned forward again this time to accept a pair of willing lips. Her hands slid up and around the warm soft naked body wrapped around hers.
Dylan felt the rough lace of Lura's bra as it scratched her, now alert, sensitive breasts. She felt her inner thighs brush against the silk of Lura's underwear.
"Oh, those have got to go," she mumbled as her fingers worked on the elastic and snaps on the back of the bra. The clasps gave to her strong fingers and she pulled back taking the bra with her. Her fingers now went to work on the underpants.
Lura whimpered with excitement as she felt her breasts freed.
"Dylan, Honey, how are you going to…"
Dylan smiled into Lura's eyes as she stopped her questions with her lips. She took the thin strips of silk in her hands and tore first one side then the other. Placing one strong arm around Lura's waist she lifted the smaller woman off the ground and used the other hand to pull the tattered garment from her body.
Lura gasped when she felt the strong slender fingers slip gently between her legs and stroke her hot flesh. Tightening her legs, she pulled her body closer to Dylan's thrilled when she felt the brush of crisp hair against her groin.
Dylan's fingers slid up and over Lura's hip, her arm tightened around the small waist. She pulled Lura into another deep searching kiss moaning into her mouth when her searching fingers parted moist hair and stroked the trembling bit of flesh she found there. Her fingers moved of their own accord as they felt Lura's clit grow hard.
Lura threw her head back leaning into the embrace of Dylan's legs. She spread her legs wide allowing the cool breeze to brush the moisture that Dylan's still questing fingers created. She watched in fascination as Dylan lifted her fingers to her stare at the slick moisture she had discovered. Smiling the dark woman painted her lips with her fingertips then leaned forward, sharing the taste of Lura's passion, closing her eyes she hummed her appreciation.
Like a starving wolf, Dylan twisted the blond around until her back was to the building wind. She gently lowered Lura to the ground, her eyes caressing every inch of bare flesh she saw.
Lura looked up at a vision she was sure she would remember for the rest of her life. Dylan, her long black hair streaming in the wind looked hungrily at her with deep blue eyes, a gentle smile on her glistening lips.
Slowly Dylan leaned forward, lifting Lura's legs over her shoulders as she bent to take the quivering clit into her mouth, sucking gently. Her fingers slipped deep into Lura, slowly pumping in and out, stroking her walls as they tightened in response.
Feeling Lura near the edge of an orgasm she slowed her hand, and lifted her head. She wanted to see the face of her lover when she came. Slowly she parted the flesh again, her eyes leaving the heavy lidded green ones long enough to glance down at the treasure she had almost lost.
Lura watched in fascination as the dark head bowed, a soft pink tongue slipped from between coral lips and ever so slowly reached down to stroke her clit. As the warm tongue touched her, the blue eyes looked up and a pair of long fingers plunged into her.
Dylan saw the green eyes flutter shut and felt the hard clit quiver in her mouth as a violent shudder passed through the blond curls that warmed her lips. She felt Lura's body shake and she sucked the clit gently between her teeth drawing out the orgasm and the warm flow that followed.
She stilled her fingers as she felt the walls release their hold. Staring again into hooded green eyes she brought her fingers to her lips and slowly licked them clean.
Gray Hawk felt the hard floor beneath his head; the pain in his leg throbbed, forcing him awake. He listened for the sound of the storm but heard nothing. Raising his head he looked out the window and saw the sun shining back at him. He had survived the storm, now if he could just survive the gunshot wounds.
There was a pounding on the front door. He heard voices, but wasn't able to call out. Suddenly the door burst open and his daughter and son-in-law stood in the doorway. John Cameron glanced quickly around taking in the entire room, his eyes settling on the crumpled figure of Gray Hawk on the blood-covered floor.
Dylan felt the small hand in her own and looked over at Lura. She searched the face for signs of fear and found only contentment there. She smiled, her face mirroring that of the naked woman next to her.
She was so preoccupied staring at the smiling face she was taken by surprise by the pinch she felt on her hip.
"Ow!" she exclaimed reaching down to rub the tender place. She turned hurtful eyes to her lover. "What was that for?" she asked with a pouty face that would have done any three year old proud.
"That was for the smug look on your face," Lura said. "And this," she added with a deep kiss, "is for distracting me long enough for the storm to pass. Thank you, sweetheart."
She wrapped her arms around a warm golden tanned waist and buried her face in the silky black hair. She felt a sudden tightening in her chest, her throat closed and she felt her shoulders shake as the tears fell.
"Hey, hey…Lura, what's wrong? Hey the storm is almost gone, you're safe. I promise." Dylan whispered into the fiery gold hair. When she received no response she tightened her hold on the crying woman, a needle of doubt creeping into her mind.
"Lura, are you okay? I…I didn't hurt you did I? Please tell me I didn't hurt you?" She asked holding her breath waiting for the response.
"No" came the broken muffled voice. "I'm fine, I'm better than fine. It's just that first you left me…" she cried, holding tighter to the taller woman. "Then I find you only to cause you pain," she finished softly, the tears slowing.
"No honey, you didn't cause me any pain, if anything, I hurt you. I left you there and ran away like…" She felt a hand cover her lips.
"Listen to me," Lura said wrestling herself up on one arm.
"That man, the one back in the camp. I know him. I brought him here to kill you." She felt Dylan stiffen under her hands.
"What? What do you mean, Lura? You don't know that guy, do you?" she asked, her heart stopping.
"My mother tried to play match maker. She wanted me to marry Nathan. I tried to get rid of him, but he, he was…"
Dylan could feel the anger rising in the small woman and felt the tension leave her.
"He was like a walking hemorrhoid, a big pain and always on my ass," she said angrily.
Dylan chuckled at the angry blond. Until she felt the hand slap her naked midsection.
"This isn't funny Dylan, Nathan said he hurt your grandfather. He would never have come here if it weren't for me. Don't you see? It's my fault," Lura finished, once again burying her face in the strong shoulder.
Dylan stroked the soft hair, what could she say?
"Lura honey, there is no way that he could have killed my grandfather." Dylan said, "Gray Hawk is the War Chief of my tribe. Your friend Nathan said he cried and begged. Lura, you met my grandfather. Would he have begged for anything?" She felt Lura still; she could almost hear her thinking.
"No, the man I met would never beg," she admitted.
"No, he wouldn't, but I am afraid he may have hurt him. We have to get to the cabin." Dylan said.
As the storm blew itself out the two exhausted women returned to camp to collect what they could of their gear and get dressed. They had expected little of the site to remain and were surprised at what they found. The hut was still standing and relatively untouched, their clothing, shoes and camp gear though tossed about were still there also.
Dylan walked over to check on Nathan he was most defiantly dead, the wind had twisted his body, turning it completely around while the tree limb kept his head pinned in place. He resembled a crumpled doll whose head some mischievous child had tried to twist off.
They left Nathan's corpse where it had fallen.
Dylan turned to Lura hoping that she had not seen the condition of the body.
"That tree limb crushed his throat. It must have been quick." Lura said, her eyes traveling to the broken body.
Dylan started to correct her when she saw the shadow of a large wolf lumber through the edge of the wood line. It paused to turn a silver eyed, wolfish smile her way then continued on to disappear in the shadows.
They dressed quickly then cleaned up the camp, gathering the remainder of their gear. Dylan picked up her tall cedar staff, noticing for the first time the condition of both walking staffs. Both were leaning upright against the large ancient cedar. Both we polished and clean, but the strangest thing was that both now bore the names of totem animals. Dylan's also had the four elements carved into hers. They stared at the staffs, but neither made any comment about the changes. Dylan traced the names wolf and hawk on one portion, earth, wind, fire, and water on another section. She had no idea what it meant but she knew now that the staff her grandfather had always carried was carved the same way.
While Dylan studied the cedar limb, Lura was twisting her staff in her hands amazed at what she saw. Lura's staff had split in two, the two pieces twisting around each other joining again at the top. The name Badger was etched deeply in the single top portion. She rubbed her thumb over the name and glanced in confusion at Dylan. Dylan simply shook her head with a sigh.
She returned to gathering and loading their packs, as she was anxious to return to the lodge and check on her grandfather.
Hours later two very tired women stumbled from the woods. It was already dark out as they approached the cabin. Dylan had rushed them both out of the forest as quickly as possible considering the conditions in the storm torn forest.
They approached her grandfather's cabin through the clearing. There was no sign of life, no lights on, no smoke from the chimney. Dylan's heart began to pound in fear of what she may find. She slowed as she got closer to the door, her mind flashing back to the mouth of a cave and the broken bloody bodies of her men.
She reached the door only to find it locked. Leaning her staff against the outer wall, she turned and searching around picked up a large rock. With a twist she opened the rock that was actually a hiding place for a key.
Holding it in her hand she glanced over at a worried Lura.
"Yeah, I know, key in the rock. Hokey. I kept telling him that this was gonna get him…" Dylan felt her throat close on the last words. She turned away to prevent Lura from seeing the tears in her eyes.
Taking the key she slipped it into the lock. Turning the key she pushed the door open. She smelled a faint, but familiar, metallic smell…blood! She stood in the doorway her feet refusing to move her forward, her body frozen in place.
Lura watched as the color left Dylan's face, her body swaying in the doorway. Dropping her staff, she reached out, wrapping her arms around Dylan's waist, leading her back out onto the porch. She helped the tall woman sit on the front step, forcing her head between her knees. Dylan's mind seemed to have shut down. There were no commands from her brain to her body. She sat gulping lungs full of air, unable to get enough.
A sound finally broke through her haze as a car rolled up the drive with a policeman behind the wheel. Lura stood and walked out to meet the officer, her concern for her partner overriding her initial concern for the old warrior.
Dylan had not moved, her head was still bent and her hands now trembled with anxiety. "Dylan, Dylan honey, the Sheriff is here. He has something to tell you," Lura said.
"Ms. Hawke? Your father sent me, he told me you would be here," the young deputy said. He was not ready for the response he received. The woman, who seemed to be on the edge of collapse transformed before his eyes.
Lura watched in amazement as the deputy began to back peddle, his feet shuffling in the dirt as he tried to escape the charging figure.
Dylan was on her feet in seconds, charging towards the deputy. Grabbing his shirt she lifted him off his feet, her momentum carrying them both back to his sedan. Dylan thrust her arms out slamming the deputy's body into the side of the police sedan.
The eyes staring at him were cold, dead eyes. He saw death there.
"Where is he? Where is my grandfather?" Dylan growled.
The young man broke out in a cold sweat as he stared into the grimacing face of the crazed woman. Dylan had not patience for this and she drew back her fist preparing to get her answers one way or another.
"Wait, wait!" he shouted, holding up a hand to delay the angry brunette.
"That is why I am here, because of your grandfather."
"What about him? Where is he?" she shouted, throwing him against the car again.
"Dylan!" Lura shouted. "Stop, he's trying to tell you. Let him go honey." she asked softly, her hand now resting on the tense arm of the tall angry woman.
Dylan turned her head, confused. She stared down at her lover as if she could not understand what she was saying.
"Ms. Hawke, your father sent me to get you. I'm to take you to your grandfather," the deputy blurted out quickly in the hope of avoiding another jarring impact with the car body.
"What?" Dylan asked. "What did you say?" She stared down at the quivering deputy, her hands finally releasing the young man to land safely back on his feet.
"Grandfather is alright?" she asked
"Yeah, that's what I am trying to tell ya. Your father was here, he found your grandfather wounded in the house. They are at the hospital now. Chief Gray Hawk is going to be fine. He wants to see you," the deputy said, feeling a bit more confident now that he could breath normally again.
"He said something about bringing the Little Falcon with you." He smiled as he watched the two women shout and hug each other dancing around.
I guess I can let her go this one time. I probably would feel the same way if it were my Grandad, he thought
"Hey, hey!" he shouted, getting the attention of the jubilant women. "You two want to follow me?" He grinned.
Dylan was apprehensive; she hated hospitals, as her experiences with them had been much too long. Even the smell of the floor cleaner brought back unpleasant memories.
"Dylan, Dylan honey? Please, my fingers…" Lura cried.
Her hand was held in Dylan's vice like grip. Her lover had not realized that her grip was crushing the smaller hand.
"Ah, Honey, I'm sorry, it's just that I really don't like hospitals. I just want to see Grandfather," she said turning worried eyes again to the small blond.
Lura rubbed the large slender chilled hand with her own, trying to reassure her lover.
A voice called her name and Dylan looked up to see a tiny woman standing in the doorway. Her uniform informed Dylan that she was a nurse, her nametag read Sarah Heath. She glanced around the room expectantly, waiting for someone to respond.
Dylan sprang to her feet, her eyes bright with anticipation.
"Yes, this is Dylan Hawke," Lura spoke, holding onto Dylan's hand.
"Ah, yes, well, your Grandfather is in room 423. He is asking for you and Little Falcon." If you go down the hall," the nurse pointed. "He is in the third room on the right. Don't keep him up too long, he has been through quite a bit," she warned, shaking a finger at the much taller woman.
"Yes Ma'am," the soldier said, smiling down at the nurse even as her feet began to take her down the long hall, a small blond in tow.
Gray Hawk sat up in bed, his arm in a sling, his leg heavily bandaged.
They had removed the bullets and patched him up and he was ready to go home now. He sat sulking in bed angry that he had been shot and even angrier that he had missed dinner and was forced to spend at least one night in the hospital. Would no one save him from this hell?
The door opened and hope had arrived. His beloved granddaughter walked in with her small soul mate.
Yes, there was hope, he thought, smiling at the concerned look on the soldier's face.
"Dylan, thank the Great Spirit! You have to help me!" he began.
The door opened again and in walked the deputy with a second man in a poorly tailored suit.
"Mr. Hawk?" he asked
"Yes, I am Gray Hawk, and unless you are here to release me from this place of torture, I would like some privacy with my granddaughter," the old man stated.
"Well, I'm sorry Mr. Hawk. I already met Nurse Heath," he said as he loosened his collar, clearing his throat. "I think that you are out of luck in the escape department
"Mr. Hawk we are here about the incident." The deputy said. "This is Investigator Crosby, he has some questions to ask you about your assailant."
Lura was on her feet in seconds.
"The man who did this was a man named Nathan Owens. He was a stalker looking for me. He is the one who shot Gray Hawk, he told us so. He also tried to kill Dylan," she stated her voice bitter and angry.
The investigator was taking careful notes, writing as fast as he could.
"Miss…?" he asked, looking at the blond questioningly.
"Grant, Lura Gillum-Grant, of the Richmond Grants," Lura stated her voice still angry.
"Miss Grant? You say that a Mr. Owens assaulted Mr. Gray Hawk?" he asked. "What do you base that assumption on?"
"Well, it could be because he bragged about it just before he tried to kill Dylan, Captain Hawk" she said.
"Captain Hawke?" he asked. "The soldier?"
"Yes, the soldier. Owens followed me from Virginia. He was trying to kill Dylan," Lura stated.
"Do you have any idea where we can reach Mr. Owens? We have some questions we would like to ask him," the investigator stated, frowning at the turn of events.
"Yes, he is about three miles west of the cabin, under a large tree branch," Dylan stated quietly staring coldly at the police officers.
"He's dead." Lura added. "He came after us during the storm. A tree branch fell on him."
The investigator looked up at that staring at first one woman then the other, both meeting his eyes easily. The tall soldier's eyes reflected the pain and strain of the last few hours. He had heard of the Captain and had no doubt that she could have killed the man, but the evidence of the initial assault on the old man led him to believe that the women were telling the truth.
Completing his notes he thanked the women and left them with Gray Hawk.
The old warrior turned puppy dog eyes on his granddaughter. "Dylan, you are my favorite granddaughter. Can't you do something about helping me escape?" he pleaded
Laughing Dylan shook her head, "Grandfather, I am your only granddaughter. If the doctors wants you to stay here, they probably have a very good reason." She grinned.
"That woman, that nurse Heath is a fierce woman. I believe she was a evil shamaness in her last life," he whined.
Lura chuckled knowing that the old warrior was going to have to stay in the hospital and the formidable nurse Heath would have to put up with him until he was released.
As if on cue the door swung open and in walked the tiny nurse.
"Sorry all, but Mr. Hawk needs his rest. You can come and see him tomorrow." She stood, holding the door open waiting impatiently for the two young women to leave.
Laughing, Dylan kissed her grandfather goodbye and promised to see him the next day.
Lura smiled seeing the same pouting look on Dylan's face before.
They left the room with Dylan walking on air. She was with her soulmate, her grandfather was alive and things were just…
She turned the corner and walked into her father.
For the first time in his career John Cameron was speechless. His daughter was standing in front of him and he had no idea what to say.
"Umm, Hi Dylan. I found Gray Hawk, he's here," he said, stammering like a schoolboy.
Dylan simply looked at him, unsure what to say until Lura jabbed an elbow into her sore side.
"Oww1" she exclaimed, still looking at her father.
"Yeah, thanks. I think you saved his life." She shuffled her feet nervously.
She looked up at her father and smiled nervously.
"Well, that is a start," the Senator said smiling back.
Dylan frowned, "Well, I have things to do. I…I have to go."
Taking Lura's hand Dylan walked around her father and out the front door. She was still not sure if she was ready for a warm fuzzy relationship with the man, but she was willing to give him a chance.
Lura smiled at the broad back, happy to see that her lover was willing to work on a relationship with her father. She turned and smiled at the Senator.
The silver-haired man smiled back.
The day had been one extreme to the next and the two women were exhausted. Dylan drove the Mercedes back to the cabin. They rode in silence, both women deep in thought. This time when they arrived at the cabin, Dylan was prepared for the smell. What she wasn't prepared for was the note on the front door.
They opened the door to the fresh smell of pine. The two women smiled at each other and stumbled off to bed together.
The smell of coffee woke her; she reached over to discover the bed empty but the sheets still warm. Dylan smiled as she rolled over and onto her feet. Checking the clock on the bedside she was surprised to see it was almost one o'clock, they had slept through the morning and most of the afternoon.
She padded barefoot into the kitchen to discover a naked Lura pouring coffee into two tall cups. Dylan leaned against the doorjamb, admiring the view. She was so preoccupied with her favorite past time she was taken by surprise when the soft voice spoke out.
"If you are going to stand there all morning why don't you get the cream out of the frig?" Lura said without looking up.
"How? God, I must be losing my touch. First grandfather now you." Dylan sulked as she strolled into the kitchen and over to the refrigerator. Pulling the door open she leaned forward to retrieve the carton of cream.
Lura stopped pouring long enough to glance up. She smiled as she now took the opportunity to scan her lover's body. The wounds looked almost healed now, she was amazed, and thrilled to know that Dylan would soon be back up to snuff, and she was a happy camper.
"Honey why don't you go take a shower? I have to call my Dad and let him know I'm alright," Lura said.
"Humm, I have a better idea. I will go get in the shower. You finish your coffee and come join me. Then you can call your father." Dylan said, wiggling her eyebrows at Lura as she advanced slowly on the small woman.
Lura laughed backing up slowly, her hands outstretched to hold off the brunette.
"Now Dylan, you know you have been through a lot and you need to rest. Recover your strength," she said, now back peddling.
"Well, what do ya know? I'm HEALED!" Dylan exclaimed grinning from ear to ear while trotting after the nude blond.
Lura giggled and headed for the living room with an equally naked Dylan hot on her trail. She caught the blond in the living room and carried her to the bear fur rug. She made love, slowly, passionately to her falcon, joining their souls.
Dylan woke up for the second time that day, rolled in a bearskin rug. "Lura? Lura?" she called, walking through the house dragging the large rug wrapped around her.
She entered the bedroom that they had shared only hours before. There on the bed was a blue satin gown, matching pumps and a velvet box lay next to it. There was a note by her pillow along with the keys to the Benz.
I am waiting at the Sterling Swan.
Dylan entered the restaurant feeling very vulnerable. It had been quite a while since she had worn anything as beautiful as the blue gown.
She stared around the room trying to spot a small blond. A maître d' in a black tuxedo approached.
"Ms. Hawke, your party is waiting. Would you please follow me?" he said weaving his way around table after table.
Surprised and curious Dylan was unaware of the admiring glances she was receiving.
The soldier did not resemble a soldier this evening. Her elegant body was wrapped in a dark blue gown. Its clever construction teased the eye of the admirer with a tantalizing glimpse of bare thigh as the tall brunette walked. Her silky black hair was twisted into an intricate knot at the back of her head, tendrils escaping to caress her cheeks.
Long, golden legs looked even longer in the beautiful three-inch sling back heels. A single strand of glowing white pearls accentuated the graceful neck.
Dylan was seated alone at a table next to the dance floor. She shifted uncomfortably in her chair, glancing around at the other patrons, all couples.
She was ready to leave when she felt a hand on her shoulder and she glanced up to see Lura. Her lover was dressed in a sleek red dress, the back cut low and the front high. She looked beautiful, expensive and off limits.
Sliding into the chair across from Dylan she nodded to the waiter who stepped forward and lit the single candle on the table. Lura watched as Dylan's eyes glittered in the flickering flame. The waiter returned moments later with a bottle of chilled wine. He poured a bit into a glass and waited while Lura first tasted it then nodded her head. Filling both glasses he disappeared.
Neither woman spoke they sipped their wine as the waiter returned again with two plates of food. Dylan raised a brow as a large steak filet with corn, French cut beans and hot bread was placed in front of her. The steak was warm and rare, the wine was chilled and Dylan was enjoying herself. Lura had not spoken a word she simply watched as Dylan slowly consumed her meal. Dylan was enjoying the game; Lura was flirting without saying a word.
They finished their meal and sat sipping the last of the wine. Dylan was anxious to continue this game back at home.
She was very surprised then as the lights dimmed and the music softened. Lura smiled as she watched the blue eyes grow large then narrow as they turned to look at her.
"Lura, what are you up to?" she asked, a smile on her lips.
She stood and held out her hand to the surprised Dylan.
"Dance with me, Hawke."
Dylan slipped her hand into Lura's and allowed her to lead her to the dance floor.
She followed the beautiful blonde, glaring at the disapproving looks they were receiving.
No one seemed to want to challenge the dark haired woman.
They reached the center of the floor and she wrapped her arms around Lura's small waist and pulled her close, closing her eyes to enjoy the feel of the woman she loved swaying with the music.
Behind the two women a silent screen lowered, as romantic scenes of sunsets and beaches played behind them.
As the music slowed Lura raised her hand to signal the mat're d' again. The music changed as a single guitarist stepped out onto the stage. She seated herself on a stool and began to play, singing along softly along with the music.
Would you dance
if I asked you to dance?
Would you run
and never look back?
Would you cry
if you saw me cry?
And would you save my soul, tonight?
The screen behind the two women darkened, the scenes on the screen changed. No longer were there pictures of sunsets. Instead the screen darkened with the image of endless sand. A helicopter flew in landing and stirring up the powdery sand. A camera zoomed in once the helicopter landed. Troops poured out, rifles at the ready. They charged the enemy and in the background flashes of gunfire lit a mountain cave.
I can be your hero, baby.
I can kiss away the pain.
I will stand by you forever.
You can take my breath away.
The picture switched to a stretcher, a wounded soldier covered in blood was hustled onto the helicopter through a whirl of dust.
A small distraught blond, her face covered in dirt, her hand covered in blood ran after the stretcher, tears streaking her face. She fought against the arms holding her, keeping her away from the soldier.
I can be your hero, baby.
I can kiss away the pain.
I will stand by you forever.
You can take my breath away.
Oh, I just want to hold you.
I just want to hold you.
Am I in too deep?
Have I lost my mind?
I don't care...
You're here tonight.
The other diners watched stunned as the next shot showed the same soldier, her face battered and bruised with her head thrown back in a silent scream of pain as she struggled to walk.
The slide show continued with picture after picture of a warrior's struggle, ending with the presentation of the Medal of Honor from the President of the United States.
As the final notes of the song faded the lights came up and Dylan looked around. For the first time she realized that they were alone on the dance floor. She glanced around to see every person in the restaurant on their feet.
She heard the murmur of her name as the crowd broke into applause. Too stunned to speak she felt a tug on her hand and turned to see Lura down on one knee.
"Lura? What? What are you doing? Get up, people are staring," Dylan whispered pulling at Lura's arm.
"Dylan I love you, shut up," Lura said in frustration. There was soft laughter from the now staring crowd.
"Now, where was I? Oh yeah. Dylan Hawk, I love you. I have loved you since the day I met you. Would you please be my life-mate?
Dylan pulled Lura to her feet, brushing her blond hair behind her ear as she smiled into the beautiful green eyes.
"There is one thing you have to remember, Little Falcon. The mate of the Hawk never has to beg."
The crowd applauded as the couple in the center of the floor sealed their promise with a kiss.
The end, until the next time.
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