Well, this week’s challenge called us to write 1k of words on this picture…hmm… This picture’s emotions fit my story, but the trolley doesn’t, nor the street. Thank you, WP for your inspiration this morning. I was wondering where to go with the next scene in my story…Soooo, if I may translate the scene to the good ol’ US of A….
‘…But, Caroline and Mark are not due back for an entire month, yet.’ Terrence noted as he spoke to the Chief of Police.
‘Here, look at the telegram for yourself if you don’t believe me.’ Chief Evans handed over the thin slip of paper. ‘It says she’ll be flying into CVG tomorrow afternoon and she requests a ride home. I decided to send you.’
Alexander sighed. The last thing he wanted to waste his skills on was being a nursemaid to a lonely wife, and especially to Caroline.
‘So, why is she coming home alone, Chief? Where’s Mark? It’s most unlike them to travel home from the mission field alone.’ Chief Evans sighed. ‘And why here, Chief? I remember her vowing that she’d never step into pine ridge again. It just doesn’t make any sense.’
Alexander frowned as the Chief’s questions piqued his investigative curiosity.
Chief Evans harumphed. ‘As I recall, she swore never to return as long as you were here.’
‘All the more of a reason to send Scotts or Thomas.’ Alexander ranted.
‘No, it will be you. The telegram doesn’t say exactly why she’s coming, but I have a feeling that it can’t be good. That alone, is why I’m sending you to pick her up.’
‘Oh, no… no, you don’t.’ Alexander began to resist. ‘I’m not – I repeat – I am not going to go anywhere near her, or have anything to do with her. She’s made it quite clear she does not want me in her life.’
‘That was four years ago, Alex. People change.’ Chief Evans remembered the legendary fued all too well. ‘You’re both adults now, and hopefully more mature. I suspect something has happened to Mark. She’ll need both someone to trust and to feel safe with.’
‘If you suspect what I think you’re saying, then wouldn’t it be better to send a woman; a grandmother, even?’ Alexander was still looking for an excuse.
‘I considered it, but my choice remains. Call it the still small voice of God, if you will, but I’m sure you should be the one to go. Final decision.’
‘Whatever you want, Chief; but when she murders me, it will be on your head. I want a full heroes funeral, too.’ Alexander muttered as he stepped out of the office, slamming the door behind him.
Alexander packed his overnight bag, threw it in the rear of his SUV and headed for the interstate. He’d called ahead to the airport and confirmed landing time, but things could change so he was prepared.
‘This is nuts.’ His voice growling his displeasure as he slid a cd of pow-wow drums into the player and cranked the volume. It was a long drive up to the airport so he might as well try to relax.
The music did little to help his mood as he was continually bombarded by the memories of her body under his, locked in an ancient rhythm. Oh, yeah, he remembered her all too well. He even remembered how she had called their love affair nothing more than a fling. He’d been prepared to ask her to marry him. Alexander shifted his position in the seat. Just thinking about her still caused him to strain against his zipper.
‘Dammit, Evans. I’m going to get you back for this one.’ He still questioned his Chief’s decision. There were a dozen other officers Evans could have chosen, officers without a history with her.
Caroline stepped through customs easily. After all, she had nothing at all to claim. Medicine Bear walked with her to the front of the terminal. Neither really wanted to be the first to say goodbye.
‘I’ll see that you have a ride, then I’ll move on to my connecting flight’s gate.’ Compassion filled his voice as he gently hugged her. She tensed in his embrace. ‘You’re home, now. You can relax.’ He whispered close to her ear.
‘I sent a telegram. I’m sure Chief Evans will take it out to the farm, and someone will come and get me. You don’t have to stay.’ She sniffed as they stepped apart. ‘I’ll be okay, Bear. You can go on.’
‘I have three hours before my connector leaves. There’s plenty of time.’ He lifted her bag to her shoulder from where it had fallen during their hug.
Mfc hugged her bag to her chest as they walked down the main concourse to the front boarding zone. Odd, but she felt as if she were walking a gauntlet to her own execution. She gulped several times as they waited and she considered what she’d do if noone came. In fact, she was ready to hail a cab when she saw the familiar face come in the door.
‘No…not him.’ Her voice caught in her throat. ‘Bearfighter…Alexander Bearfighter. It can’t be him…’
‘Caroline.’ Alexander’s reluctance betrayed itself in his voice. ‘Over here, Carol.’
‘Damn. Of all the warriors Chief Evans could have sent, why did it have to be him? Why did it have to be that one someone she couldn’t stand?’
‘I see your telegram made it in time. He looks like a good man, brave and honorable.’ Medicine Bear noted the strong military bearing of the warrior striding towards them.
‘His name is Alexander Bearfighter. He’s not as honorable as he looks, Bear. Hawks and bears don’t mix if you get my drift.’ She protested the look in the Elder’s eyes.
‘There have been stranger matches in this world, my little hawk.’ He addressed her as he would his own daughter. ‘You will see. This one will prove himself to you, I’d wager.’
‘Never!’ She spat in a hushed whisper.
‘Welcome home, Caroline.’ Alexander tapped his chest and drew his hand out to her in a sign for welcome. He might not like the arrangement, but he would treat her as he would anyone else. After all, the military had taught him to be a gentleman, even in the face of death.
‘Where’s Chief Evans?’ She prompted as she reluctantly returned the greeting.
‘He’s busy. He sent me.’ He answered short and crisp.
‘I must leave you two young people, now. It’s time to get to the gate.’ Medicine Bear nodded to Alexander. ‘May your journey be peaceful.’
Caroline hugged the Elder one last time as tears formed and fell from her eyes. ‘I’ll miss you.’
‘And I, you, child. Go now, before you see and old warrior lose his dignity.’ Medicine Bear gently pushed her towards Alexander. ‘Take good care of her, Sir, or you’ll answer to me.’
‘I will.’ Alexander nodded as the older man turned and hurried off towards his departure gate. ‘Where’s he off to?’
‘Home, no doubt.’ Caroline answered, setting her sights on the door. ‘Let’s go. I’m tired.’
‘Sure thing. Let’s go down to baggage claim and get your bags.’ He swung a hand in that direction.
‘I haven’t got any.’ Her chin jutted as she pursed her lips. ‘I – I just have this bag.’
‘Uh, okay, then.’ He pursed his lips. ‘Why are you coming home alone, and empty handed?’ he thought.
Alexander took advantage of the awkward moment to look her over. Her feet, he’d already noted, were bound within combat style boots that contrasted with the pale yellow dress that hung on her like a sack. The contrast was completely unlike the girl he’d remembered from seventeen years ago.
As his eyes trailed up her body, her noticed the thinness of her arms and the way she clutched the canvas bag to her body. ‘Too thin. Why are you so thin?’ He noted the red cross on the bag and considered that she might be carrying medicine. ‘Are you ill? Is that why you’re so thin?’
His trained eye easily noted the too shallow breaths along with the paleness of the skin below her tan line. His experience also told him that she was as tired as she claimed to be as he noted the dark circles under her eyes and chapped lips. Even chapped, he would love to taste them again.
‘If you’re done staring at me like I’m a piece of meat, I’d like to go.’ She hissed as his eyes met and held hers.
‘Yes, of course.’ He abruptly turneed and offered her his elbow. ‘I’m parked across the street in the short term parking garage.’
She nodded, not taking his arm as she headed for the door. She silently followed him, her eyes flitting around as they walked. She knew she was back in America, but she still feared the shadows. She felt some small measure of relief as he opened the door and she slipped into the SUV.
Alexander shook his head as he went around the vehicle to the drivers side. He had too many questions spinning around in his head unanswered. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw her startle as he clipped his safety belt. The gesture was not lost in translation. She’d experienced some kind of trauma, of that he was sure. But what?