A/N: Be Forewarned – there’s a little lemony goodness in here
The vibrations on the double paned jet window thrummed against Lillian’s forehead and she jerked awake. She hadn’t been conscious at 10:30am in months and she felt like hell warmed over. She didn’t even remember the plane taking off and now they were already bumping along the short runway in Shreveport.
“You alright, ma’am?” Jeremy reached across the aisle to her. Eric had insisted she be accompanied by her ex-marine daemon bodyguard. He could be stunningly high-handed sometimes.
“Yah, m’fine.” She rubbed her face, trying to wake up. It might have only been half an hour, but she’d had busy, unsettling dreams. Some of the images were deeply distressing, some were extraordinarily erotic. She quickly jotted a few keywords down in her notebook as Godric had suggested. Her dreams could be more than just an overactive imagination now.
“You all set? Just stick to the story, don’t elaborate, and I’ll meet you out front with the truck. If you get flustered, just pretend to cry or get choked up.”
“Yes, sensei,” she muttered.
This was going to be interesting. Lillian was more than a bit surprised when Eric had returned last night and explained he wanted to leave the city – during the day. With Marduk on the lam and no way of knowing whether he had the gift of flight, Eric didn’t want to risk moving at night. Jeremy took care of their “baggage” in New Orleans, but now she was going to have to sign off on it here. She pulled out a handkerchief and disembarked down the stairwell to the tarmac.
“Good morning Dr. Choate. Manifesto says you’re transporting some remains?” a stubby, round-faced man yelled over the sound of the engines.
“Yes, sir. Oh god, it’s just been so terrible! Three of my lab assistants killed. Three! Just terrible, terrible. Please, what do I need to do?”
“So sorry for your loss, miss. You’ll need to come this way, please. We’ll get this taken care of in a jiffy.” The sweaty man looked on her sympathetically and ushered her towards the building. As Eric had anticipated, no one would think to question a pretty lady with the prefix “Dr.” in front of her name. Doctor of what, precisely, she didn’t need to reveal.
The routine paperwork and procedures were actually fairly easy. Pam was a whiz with computers and had created a stack of medical forms declaring that the three coffins contained the bodies of medical students fatally poisoned by an accidental gas leak. It wasn’t long before the coffins were cleared for pickup.
Jeremy got them into the truck and they headed down the winding county highway. When they passed the turnoff for the Treehouse, she became alarmed.
“Jeremy…where are you taking us?” She panicked, realizing she had no idea what to do if he had something sordid up his sleeve.
“Calm down, ma’am. Eric didn’t want to tell you beforehand just in case we ran into a problem. He runs a tight ship that one – everything on a need-to-know-basis. He’s having me take you all to his house.”
“His house? Oh…” Of course Lillian realized Eric must have his own house in town. Hell, she already knew he must have numerous places in Shreveport. She’d just never given it much thought. Hadn’t the gate guard said Godric’s place had been shut up for several years before she came to it? She looked back at the rack of coffins in the truck anxiously.
Jeremy made a turn down a narrow road that was unusually well paved for the countryside. The area was heavily wooded for several miles until they came through a bend and the land had been cleared entirely. She pitched forward in her seat and grabbed the dashboard.
“He’s a mad genius!”
“It’s phenomenal!” He’d barely stopped the vehicle before Lillian leapt out and was jogging towards what was clearly, albeit very subtly, a modern interpretation of a Viking longhouse. The rectangular building sat atop a small hill – a very aggressive defensive position, she noted. The roof was slate with large sections of glass skylight. Unlike Trädkojan, the lower exterior walls were mostly solid stone and instead boasted long window panels that ran along the entire top length of the walls sandwiched between the roof line. It was obvious even at a distance that there wasn’t actually a second floor. Rather, this ring of windows must have a gangway where one could stroll around and see all 360 degrees of the entire property from above. The middle of the building was dominated by an all glass entryway that jutted out. Its low slung inverted V of a roof made it like a glass box and framed a truly massive wood door that was painted red. The surrounding yard was landscaped beautifully in a variety of creeping groundcover and small carefully manicured evergreens, but nothing tall enough to obstruct a near total view of the fields surrounding the house. Nothing tall enough, that was, for anyone to hide behind. She suddenly pitied the fact that this remarkable structure had to live in the balmy Louisiana heat. It should be surrounded in wintertime darkness and everything should glitter with snow, she thought.
As she approached the house, a pair of handsome dogs came springing out from the side. Jeremy yelled at them. “Slutta!” They stopped dead in their tracks and Jeremy ran to Lillian’s side. “That’s Luleå on the right and the other one is Njal. Let me introduce you so they don’t freak out. Komma!” he ordered. They trotted right to him and sat. Lillian held out her hand let them each sniff.
“You two be nice to Miss Lillian. She’s with master.”
“Aww, good puppies. Do you speak engelska? Can you show me your bellies, pup-pups?” The one named Luleå rolled over with a goofy, pink-tongued grin and the other wandered off, finding something more interesting to sniff in the grass.
“What are they?”
“Elk hounds. They live mostly in the barn or the garage around back but if you hear them barking at night, don’t go out. They are very protective of the property and have been trained to recognize…others.”
Lillian didn’t hear much past ‘barn.’ “There’s a barn?”
“Well, more of a small stable, I guess. Øpir and Bonny are in there – Mr. Northman’s Friesians. I’ll show you later.”
“Eric has horses!?“
“Yep. But you’ll have to talk with him about riding them. Bonny is for Miss Pam and I’ve never seen anyone other than Eric manage stay on Øpir’s back. He also bites.”
“Incredible. I would never have guessed Eric had pets.”
“Here, let me open up the house for you and get everyone inside.”
Jeremy pulled the heavy door open and dug a letter out from his pocket. “He said to give this to you now.”
Welcome home (again!). Once more I wish I could be with you to share this moment, but I’ll give you the real tour tonight. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of you…
She could melt. Walking through the entryway, the interior was exactly what she expected it to be. Only Eric could balance minimal, modern design with enough natural materials so that it felt comfortable instead of cold. Beautiful plush wool rugs carpeted large swaths of the living area which was dotted with low white sectional seating and a floating woodburning firepit. The open kitchen was spare with clean lines – economical but certainly fine for a house where no one ate (much). The roof was supported by massive exposed beams that contrasted with the delicate glass windows and gold-stained wood floors. She wandered around the light-filled, airy space with her mouth hanging wide open. Jeremy finally found her staring out the huge back window which mirrored the entryway and overlooked a terraced backyard. There was a cabana house and shimmering black-bottomed lap pool in the side yard and further below, a stone stable and garage. Beyond that a paddock was set out in nearly invisible electric fence taping.
“If you come with me, ma’am, I’ll show you downstairs. Mr. Northman asked that you be set up down in the master suite. There are guest bedrooms on either end of the house up here though, if you prefer natural light during the day. I’ve also taken the liberty of moving your things from the other place. Everything should be stocked to your liking, but please let me know if there is anything else you need. My apartment is over the garage.”
“Oh Jeremy. Thank you so much! You’ve gone above and beyond, really.” He led her to an inconspicuous wall and swiped a pattern on an odd glass picture hanging there.
“Lay your hand flat here.”
She did and something flashed behind the glass. A section of the wall came to life with a mechanical whirring sound and sunk down, revealing a spiral staircase leading underground.
The downstairs was glorious. The rough hewn stone walls were whitewashed and lined with rustic wood bookshelves packed with beautiful and rare volumes and fascinating curiosities. The main space served as a casual living area. The terra cotta tiled floors gave the space a warm feeling. A long vaulted hallway had rooms leading off either side and ended in a set of heavy wood double doors. In case it was unclear who slept behind them, they were carved with the most intricate Viking tracery she’d ever seen. At the other far end of the lower level, Jeremy used another strange scanner to unlock a steel door, revealing a heavy duty elevator with a rack of 3 coffins on a rolling cart.
“This leads up to the garage. Eric will have to set the keypads to this and the master suite when he wakes up. Only he can change those codes.”
“Jesus. This place is a fortress!”
“Yes, ma’am. That’s what he named it: Fästningen. The Fortress. But usually we just call it the Lodge. Sometimes Miss Pam calls it Rohan, but I think that is just to annoy Mr. Northman.”
Lillian laughed. Of course she called it Rohan.
Grabbing her bags out of the elevator, she helped Jeremy bring everything into the lower living area before checking out the master bedroom. It was simple and perfect. There was a large bed, more built in bookshelves set into the wall, a pair of modernized Dante chairs around a low table and several large round iron chandeliers for light. Off one doorway, she found a fully equipped bathroom with an enormous soaking tub, shower, and (thankfully) toilet. It was obvious that the place wasn’t intended to ever host humans, so she was a bit concerned about the functional aspect of the house. Even the Treehouse didn’t have a proper bathroom in the light tight day rooms underground. A second door led to a large, well-organized closet. She couldn’t help but lean into a rack of suits and smell Eric’s heady scent. Jeremy had left her suitcases in here. It struck her then that Eric had effectively gotten her to move in with him without asking. She’d have to have a word with him about that. Ponies and sweet digs weren’t going to make her lose her own sense of self.
“Does everything appear to be in order, ma’am?”
“Perfect. If you don’t mind, I’m going to crash. I don’t keep these hours anymore.”
“Of course. Like I said, just ring or come knock out back if you need me.”
“Rise and shine, sleepyhead.” Cool hands caressed her cheek and belly. “Wakey, wakey, lover.”
“Unhhhmph…” She felt her ear nibbled. “Eric…arrrrhhhmmm.” She swatted at him but contacted thin air. Suddenly it was her other ear under attack. She forced her eyes open.
“Hi,” he said, stroking her cheek. “You going to get up now?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“I’ve been waiting for hours!”
“Huh?” This got her attention. “What time is it?”
“It’s going on 10.”
“Oh!” She heard loud clattering noises coming from down the hallway.
“Godric’s upstairs terrorizing the kitchen; he’s been so antsy for you to get up! Pam held her flight to Minnesota just so she could say goodbye and I want to show you everything…” He set upon her with a volley of chilly kisses.
“Okay, I’m up. I’m getting up. You’re freaking impatient for an immortal!”
Eric pulled her upright and she begrudgingly clomped to the bathroom to take care of her human needs. She slipped and nearly wiped out on the tile – there was water all over the floor. She kicked a towel down and examined herself in the mirror. Dark rings circled her eyes and her hair was a fuzzy disaster. She was still wearing the black dress and cardigan ensemble she’d chosen as her “mourning” attire. A quick scrub of her face and teeth and she was feeling slightly more peppy.
Inside the massive closet, someone had already emptied her travel bags and it took her a minute to locate what she was after. She happened upon a drawer of expensive lingerie that wasn’t hers and several other cabinets of unfamiliar women’s clothes, most with the sales tickets still on. She moved quickly past these, assuming Pam had overflowed out of what was likely an even larger closet. She also discovered Godric’s small cubby of things, and lovingly ran her hands over a pile of his cashmere sweaters. Even if she wasn’t 100% peachy with being integrated into the household without her explicit consent (traveling and crashing at a safe house was categorically different, she thought), there was something incredibly lovely about the domesticity these three vampires shared.
“Sleeping Beauty awakes!” Pam declared when Lillian emerged from the stairwell landing into the living room. Pam tossed the fashion magazine she was reading down on the large coffee table and gave her a hug. “Take care of the boys while I’m gone, okay? And help yourself to anything in my room. Eric can give you the code for the safe if you want to wear some baubles. Or even better, make him buy you your own!” She whispered conspiratorially.
“Pamela…” Eric warned.
Rolling her eyes, she picked up two oversized suitcases and headed for the door.
“Pam, be careful up there, okay? I know you’re going to be a great queen, even if it’s temporary. Just don’t be gone too long.”
“Aw pumpkinbuns. You care.”
Lillian gave her a sharp look. Love ya. Deal with it, she pushed at her.
“See you soon, chiclet.” With that, she hopped into the backseat of Jeremy’s towncar and they headed down the drive.
Godric materialized at the doorway behind her and rested a hand on the small of her back. “Welcome, my bonded. Did you sleep well?” He handed her a champagne flute of mimosa.
“Pretty well, thanks. Hope your ride wasn’t too bumpy. I worried it would get so hot in those horrid boxes!”
He shrugged. Of course the heat or cold didn’t affect them.
She took a sip of the cold drink. “Mmm. This is excellent.” She gave him an orange juicy smooch on the cheek.
“Come get a bite,” he said, then mentally kicked himself for the slip of tongue.
“You know, I don’t think I will ever hear that the normal way again,” she giggled.
He tried to play it off lightly. “You offering then?”
“Let a girl eat first!” She pinched at him and headed to the kitchen. Sitting on a barstool at the island countertop, she tucked into an absurdly large platter of smoked salmon, fruit, bread, and cheese. Godric had made a hellacious mess – she wondered if there was even a clean pot or dish left in the house. Eric sat next to her tapping away at his email while Godric watched her reactions to the various foods in fascination. Or at least that is what she thought.
In fact, Godric was completely on autopilot while he reviewed this evening’s events so far. He’d awoken in his coffin at his usual early hour with the strangest sensation. He felt…weird. He could hear Lillian’s rhythmic heart beat and paced breaths calling to him like a siren’s song. She was sleeping in the same room as he. Eric was also very near him in his own coffin, still fast asleep. Letting himself out, he stood over her for the longest time, simply watching her tiniest movements. Every fiber in his predator’s body was attuned to her. Each time she inhaled, the slightest heave of her bosom, a small twitch pulled at him somewhere directly between his fangs and his groin. He thirsted and ached in desire for her. His mind flooded with erotic thoughts – thoughts of devouring her and pleasing her in every way he knew possible. This sudden and overpowering need stunned Godric to his very core. At his age, he rarely felt so recklessly compulsive and entirely given over to his wanton desires. He made his way into the bathroom, hoping a shower might calm him down. Rather like reptiles, very cold water could slow down a vampire’s hyper-fast thought processes. Leaning with one arm against the marble, the frigid jets streaked over his head and shoulders and he waited for his heightened senses to dampen. They didn’t. After several minutes, he was still actually struggling to suppress his impulses like a newborn vampire. Lathering himself up with a random bottle of Eric’s soap, he thought maybe the different scents would distract him. They didn’t.
“What the hell!” he finally swore aloud. Looking down at his obscenely rock hard erection, he growled in exasperation and started stroking himself in frustration. Desperate for blood, he bit his own wrist. When he finally ejaculated, he was so overcome he actually fell to his knees and cried out. He could hear Eric laughing at him in the room beyond.
Not troubling himself with a towel, he walked out dripping wet, sending puddles splashing across the tile. Wide-eyed and bloody fanged, he pulled at his hair and gestured at his still raging dick to Eric, who was sitting on the edge of the bed watching Lillian slumber.
“Do you care to explain why I’m in there abusing myself like a pathetic boy?!” he yelled in a harsh whisper.
Eric laughed again. “Welcome to bonded life.”
“You’re joking!” he gasped, looking at Lillian. “Gods! She has no idea, does she?”
Eric sucked at his cheeks and shook his head, smiling.
“You’ve controlled yourself this long? How?”
He looked at his maker. “I just tell myself there’s always tomorrow.” He shrugged. “You should know. You taught me.”
“Oh for gods’ sake, Eric! We’ve got to figure something out…some arrangement, some way of making her feeling comfortable…A vampire must never be at the mercy of his emotions. He masters them!”
“Oh yeah, you mastered the hell out of them just now.” Eric started shaking with laughter again.
Godric was more than a little desperate. “Don’t laugh, you idiot! Fuck! I can’t even believe I made it through last night – and that was nothing compared to this. This – tonight – it feels categorically different. It is intolerable! If this goes on for much longer I’m going to break myself!”
“You’re telling me?! I had to leave the night we first bonded. I was such a disaster in those following days. Godric, I swear on Odin’s hat I was like a deranged masturbating, bloodthirsty monkey. And you know Pamela hardly did a god damn thing to help me. She just sat in that hotel room watching her soap operas and cried blood she was laughing so hard at me. I will never hear the end of it. But I promise, it does get better. You’ll settle into it.”
“The hell I will!”
Godric snapped out of downtime just as Lillian popped a grape in her mouth and crushed it between her front teeth. Seeing this, he actually swallowed and his eyes rolled back, so overcome was he with the desire to pin a certain round part of hers between his fangs and torture it mercilessly with his tongue until she begged him to stop.
“I don’t need to tell you that this place is fantastic,” she quipped, crunching happily on her breakfast.
“You like?” Eric asked, catching the glazed look on Godric’s face that hinted he was starting to slip.
“I love it! But you already knew that. I swear, why would you mess with running a club if you could just design homes all day long?”
“I do occasionally, but only for clients willing to appreciate my talents. Most people just want some ghastly McMansion with more space than they’ll ever need and a 40 car garage to house their toys.”
“Oh right. Surely there aren’t any toys in your batcave, Mr. Northman.” Godric’s jaw clenched and he gripped the edge of the counter. He was about to lose his shit.
Go to Fangtasy, Eric pushed at his maker. Work it off!
He nodded imperceptibly.
“So you want to see my toychest, eh?” Eric threw an arm around Lillian’s waist and in a flash, jumped off the balcony and they were standing down the hill in front of the garage. Thankfully, the sudden speed wasn’t quite as forceful as the occasion in New Orleans and her breakfast stayed where it belonged.
“Put me down!”
“Fine. But you must not want this then.” He held up a keyset with a ribbon tied around it.
“Eric…what the heck is that…”
“It’s a little homecoming gift. One of several. Did you not see Pam filled up your side of the closet?”
“That was for me?…Oh jee…Sweetheart, I don’t know what you’ve done, but you know you don’t need to prove to me that you’re a generous, wonderful person. I already know.”
“I know I don’t need to do anything, but it is my wish. Just be a sport and accept it before Pam does.”
She took the key. Inside, the garage was dark. Eric flipped on the overhead lighting, revealing four cars and a couple motorcycles at the end. Several kayaks and a number of gorgeous road bikes were suspended from the roof. She hit the unlock button on the remote and a set of lights flashed next to his familiar flat black Ferrari F12.
“Oh what the hell. Is that…” She went closer to it. “Is that a…” she stuttered, gesturing at a sleek, dark silver vehicle.
“An Aston Martin Vantage V12? Yes.” He said, his eyes sparkling in excitement.
“Yes,” he said firmly.
“It’s not really for me.”
“Tis.” He shrugged.
“Tisn’t!” She put her hands on her hips.
“You don’t want it? Fine, let me try another angle. I was going to get it one way or another, but I would be happier sharing it with you and telling Pam she can’t touch it. Compromise?”
Lillian humphed, then a smile cracked unwillingly across her face.
“Good. C’mon, I want to show you around.”
“Eric Northman, you could outwit and out-maneuver the devil himself!”
They visited the dozing horses and checked out the open pool house, which had a firepit and long billowy curtains. The sky was clear and the bright moon afforded enough light even for Lillian’s weak human eyes to appreciate the gardens that lined each level of the terrace. The hounds snuffled around, following them as they meandered through the grounds.
“Eric?” He stopped and gazed at her with adoration. “It’s wonderful here. Thank you for loving me and trusting me enough to share this little corner of your world with me.”
“It is you who honors me by being here.”
She swallowed hard, hoping the next words wouldn’t sting him. “I wish you’d given me a little heads up, but I know you’ll remember next time.”
“I wanted you to be surprised.”
“I was. Humans make a big deal about moving in together.”
“Oh.” He said. She felt the bond snap back like a rubber band. Ouch. That hurt her too.
“I like the car. It’s completely ridiculous. But I like it. I’m going to do 180 and outrun the cops.”
“They just send the tickets to the house.”
“You would know!” She smiled at the thought of piles of orange speeding citations arriving in the mail.
“Lover?” he pulled her to a small bench and sat down. “I want to ask you something.”
“I did move you in without your permission. But I want to ask you now whether you’ll stay.”
“Aw, Eric. Yeah, I’ll stay here. I like the Treehouse – it’s where we first made love and where we blood bonded and where I met Godric. But I’m sure there are plenty of memories to be made here too. It’s just as enchanting and I get that it’s far safer. It makes sense. I trust you to make the right decisions about this kind of thing. You’ve been doing it a heck of a long time!”
“No, I mean I want you to stay stay. Don’t go back to Boston. You’re not really moved in if you’re still half there.”
She was momentarily speechless. She hadn’t even thought about what would happen in a month when she was supposed to go back to teaching. Each day here had been a completely wild adventure. She’d barely attended to her work email and hadn’t even begun thinking about developing syllabi for her annual course load.
“Say something,” his voice cracked slightly. “I don’t know what you’re feeling. Your end of the bond is all twisty.”
Lillian took a deep breath. “What about my job?”
“I’m not asking you to give up your career. We can work something out. Though depending on how your gift develops, you might start thinking about how you could use it to your benefit.”
“Well, what about my family and friends? You haven’t even met them.”
“I’m sure they’ll adore me. If not, I’ll just glamour them!”
“You poop, you will not!”
He grinned goofily. “So what do you say? C’mon. At least tell me you’ll consider it. “
She bit her lip and looked him in his ice-chip blue eyes. “Eric. My lover, my bonded…”
Flying leaps. In flying leaps we must all live.
“You know I’ve already made my decision. This is my path now. Let me be clear: I have no idea what that’s going to mean in a week, a month, or even a year. But we’ve got plenty of time to figure out all the fine details and we’ll figure them out together, okay?”
He kissed her in a frenzy and squeezed her a bit too hard, causing her to squeak.
“Careful there, hulk. I like my ribs uncracked.”
“So what’s on the docket for this evening? Are you going to work or do we get to relax a little?”
“Godric is going to put in a showing at Fangtasy, so I’m off the hook tonight. He’s been feeling…a little stir crazy.”
“Yah, I noticed. His bond is all jumpy. Is he okay? He’s not regretting this, is he?”
“No, quite the opposite. He couldn’t be more excited about it!” Lillian could feel his sincerity. The bond rippled in giddiness.
Now, how about I teach you how to fly?”
“Up there.” He pointed up towards the moon.
“Oh my god. Really?”
He nodded. “You’ll need a jacket.”
Lillian vaulted over the bench and leapt over a clump of succulents to the next level of the terrace. Eric let her think she had a lead on him for perhaps two seconds before he pounced on her and zipped back to the living room balcony. He kissed her passionately, setting her on fire. Then, wrapping her up in a puffy down coat, they ascended into the sky. Wafting slowly through a layer of clouds, he hovered there, letting the moonlight paint them in its silvery light. The air was brisk and whipped around them. She clung to him as tightly as she could.
“You’re okay. I won’t drop you.”
“You’d better not!”
“I’ve only dropped Pam once. The night Godric came here, actually. Did I tell you that?”
Lillian felt faint. “I think I’m gonna vomit…”
“Nooo…You’re fine.” He pushed a wave of confidence at her. “It was an accident. He flipped the bond wide open and I was surprised, that’s all. Pam beat the crap out of me.”
“With good reason!” She squeezed her legs around him even harder and let go enough to look around. “Don’t you worry about planes?”
He laughed, spinning them in circles, sending wisps of cloud vapor swirling in curls around them. “Nah. I’ve got radar.” He pointed to his temple.
He rolled onto his back so she was against his chest and sent them floating in no particular direction.
“Just try to relax. Breathe deeply and slowly, I know the air is thin for you. We’re at about 10,000 ft. I won’t go any higher.”
“How high can you go? Can you go into space?!”
“Godric says it is possible. He won’t say how far he’s gone. You still have to stay in the earth’s shadow, of course. I don’t know about the UV from other stars outside of Earth’s ozone. Maybe we’d still need a spacesuit or something not to get fried.” Lillian suddenly thought of Godric standing on the dark side of the moon like the Little Prince. Eric was thinking similar thoughts, though far less romanticized. It sent shivers of cold horror down his spine. For lengths of time, sometimes as punishment but mostly just for privacy, Godric would close down all but the basic thread of their bond. It was enough to know he lived, but not to find him. Only the Gods knew what his maker got up to during those times.
After a long silence, Eric spoke in a small voice. “I tried it once…going out there. But feeling gravity start to completely release you like that…feeling the Earth slip away…I hated it.”
“It scared you.”
He hesitated. “No. It felt like dying.”
More precisely, Eric thought it had felt like choosing to die, which went against every survival instinct in his body.
The revelation shocked Lillian. She should have realized that Eric knew what it felt like to die. He had already died once. She could practically see him bloodied and broken, collapsing into that grassy battlefield near the sea. She thought of him dying and being born for three excruciating days in his maker’s fierce embrace. Thank god for Godric. The firmness of Eric’s body felt comforting to her in that instant. He was here; he was safe.
Eric was silent for a long moment. “It’s this funny little planet that makes all this magic possible. Why would I want to leave it? Space is cold and empty. And there’s no blood out there!”
“Hmm. Good point.” She chuckled. “What about the ocean? Can you use your flight power to move underwater?”
“Oh yes.” His eyes glittered. “Now that is something I love to do. The coral reefs and the things down deep. You couldn’t imagine. Mountains ranges with glowing creatures…And the whales. Above all, the whales, Lila!” He crooked a leg around hers firmly and went rolling giddily and zipped through the sky.
“They remember you; they greet you! We sing together!” he shouted up to the heavens. “I’ve known a blue whale I call Big George for 50 years.”
“That’s amazing! I never pegged you as an animal lover, you know.”
He floated in place and pushed a strand of hair away from Lillian’s face. She was heartbreakingly beautiful in this light, he thought.
“This world…it is precious here, my love. Everything is connected – always moving, changing, morphing in some mysterious dance. It is perhaps the biggest miracle of them all.”
Lillian gazed upwards at the spectacle of the Milky Way. Even the moonlight couldn’t blot it out entirely.
“The night sky has always held the most mystery for me. We look up and all we can see is the smudgy blueprint of an ancient drama unfolding. Billions of years this light has travelled to tell us a lost story. Lost to whatever or whoever lives there now. We’re staring directly at worlds we cannot know for another billion years, and they’re staring back at us, equally blind to our co-existence.”
“Spoken like a true seer.”
There was something she’d wanted to tell him since she’d woken. “I had a dream today that we made love in the Northern lights. It was in a house similar to yours, but somewhere far north, deep in the snow. The colors danced on our bare skin. You sang a song to me in Old Norse and I cried.”
He was taken aback. He leaned away to see her more clearly.
“Lila…I think I know where you’re talking about. I’ve already built that house…”
“Oh good,” was all she said.
“Ah, then it shall be, my little prophetess.” He wrapped his arms protectively around her, amazed at the creature in his arms. “You feel chilly. Should we go back?”
“Hmm. I’m just getting the hang of this. But yes, please. All things in moderation.”
“Moderation?” He feigned confusion. “I’m sorry, my English vocabulary must be missing that word!”
“Eric!” She let go enough to thump him.
He howled in glee and started descending, faster and faster, feet first. Lillian screamed, (mostly) in delight.
They landed softly in the grass in the front yard and he slid her off his hip.
“Thank you Mr. Northman. You know how to entertain, that’s for sure.”
“C’mon. Let’s go curl up under a blanket and watch something stupid on tv. Race you!”
She giggled and sprinted for the door. He jogged backwards in slow motion just to tease her, capturing her in the last instant and tossing her over his shoulder. That stayed up late, laughing and chatting, fighting over the remote, giggling over little secrets shared. It was, she thought, a perfect stay-in date night.