When they arrived back at his cabin, Gabriel stopped outside the door and gave Aurora a cheeky grin.
“You have a weird look on your face,” she laughed. “What is it?”
Without answering, he scooped her up into his arms and shoved the door open with his shoulder.
“You broke the door,” she laughed out loud. “You’re crazy.”
“Well you broke it first, remember when you kicked it in? And besides, who cares? I can’t wait any longer.”
When they were inside, he placed her down on the bed and lit a fire in the hearth. The flames crackled and danced as he lay down beside her. “Aurora, you are the most amazing woman I’ve ever met.”
The soft flicker of flames created shadows that skipped across the room and Aurora’s heart was so filled with joy that she found it hard not to join in. She had never felt so complete and as he lifted the soft cotton of her singlet, she caught her breath. His hands were rough, but his touch was gentle and when he reached for the button on her jeans, she closed her eyes and gave in to him completely.
“Gabriel…” She breathed his name, loving the way it sounded on her lips.
He answered by pressing his mouth hard against hers. His breath was hot as he moved his lips from her mouth to the soft dip of her neck.
“Aurora…” He whispered her name over and over as his tongue moved in circles causing her to shiver with delight.
Unable to wait any longer, she grabbed him by the shoulders and flipped him onto his back. “My turn.”
She straddled him and held both his wrists in one hand, pinning them down on the pillow behind his head.
“I’m yours,” he grinned. “Do whatever you want.”
Her fiery hair spilled onto his chest as she leaned forward and bit his lip. “You’re mine now Gabriel Stone, forever.”
“Forever,” he promised. “And not a day less.”
When she let go of his hands, he quickly pulled her close and with one sweeping motion, curled his arm around her waist and lay her back down on the bed. When he moved over her, she craved the weight of his body and delighted in the warmth of his touch. She closed her eyes, losing herself in the moment. And then it happened. He intertwined his fingers with hers and together they rode the warm waves that flooded their bodies, taking them up and up until they reached the highest peaks. When it was over, he pulled her close until she was safely tucked away in the space beneath his arm.
“You’re amazing,” he whispered.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” she teased. “Although I’m not entirely convinced. We may have to do it again.”
He laughed and pulled her even closer. “You won’t get any argument from me.”
“I can’t believe this is really happening,” she sighed. “I never thought I could feel like this.”
“You? What about me? I thought I was going to have to live up here alone, forever. I thought I would never even talk to another person for hundreds of years.”
Aurora nodded as her body fell slack and her mind began to drift. She was so happy. If only she could share it with her sisters.
“What is it?” He asked, sensing her mind had drifted away.
“Nothing, everything is fine,” she smiled. “In fact, it’s more than fine.”
But he wasn’t buying it, he knew her too well now. He propped himself up on one arm and gazed down at her. “You can’t keep secrets from me Aurora, not anymore.”
“Okay, it’s just… I was thinking about my sisters and how much I want to tell them about us, but they would never understand.”
Gabriel nodded and let his eyes fall. “I’m sorry Aurora. I honestly wish things were different. I wish I had never gone to your house that night.”
“No Gabriel, I didn’t mean it like that. It’s not your fault. I just feel sad that I can’t share my happiness with them. They’re my family.”
“Aurora I - ”
But a sudden knock on the door stole the words from his lips.
“Don’t move,” he whispered. “Do you hear me? Do not move.”
“Who could that be?”
“I have no idea. No one knows I’m up here.”
He threw his legs over the side of the bed and pulled on a pair of old jeans. “No one has been to this cabin in 10 years, so whoever it is was not invited.”
Gabriel’s mind raced as he moved quietly toward the door. It was possible for a car to reach the cabin via an old fire trail, but only he and his family knew about it and Jasmyne was the only other person who knew the location. Was it possible she had come to try and kill them despite what the Council said?
He reached the door and glanced down at the broken lock. Whoever it was could have burst right in, but they had taken the time to knock. Bracing himself, Gabriel opened the door and immediately caught his breath. “What the hell? What are you doing here?”
Standing on the porch was his oldest friend Harrison Hargreaves. As 10-year-old boys they had explored the forest, slung mud and built tree houses. At 18 they had signed up to the Army and together served three tours of Afghanistan. Out in the field Harrison had saved Gabriel’s life more than once. Now he was standing on the front porch.
“The question is Gabe,” he grinned. “What the hell are you doing here?”
Gabriel stared at Harrison as a thousand memories rushed through his mind. He would be 33 now. Gabriel was still 23, at least on the outside.
“You sure had us all guessing when you just disappeared like that,” Harrison continued. “It’s been 10 years. Can you believe it? Now are you going to invite me in or what?”
Gabriel didn’t know how to react. Seeing Harrison stirred up so many emotions. His first inclination was to grab him in a bear hug, but he also sensed that something wasn’t quite right. It was that feeling again, twisting and turning in his gut. Something was wrong. “Harrison what are you doing up here? How did you know where I was?”
“Well after that thing on the news I just figured it was worth a shot to come up here and see. Thought maybe you were hiding out from the media. And after all, you do seem to like the outdoors.”
“What thing on the news? What are you talking about?”
Harrison looked at him as though he was crazy. “Ah, you fell off a cliff and then completely disappeared from the scene. I mean come on, what is this?”
Gabriel took a step back. “It was on the news?”
“Not just the news Gabe, the national news. You got nation-wide coverage. You’re famous now.”
Gabriel’s head was spinning. He had been on the national news? Did that mean his parents knew? Were people asking questions?
“But there was no photo, no cameras,” he managed, instantly cursing himself for not just denying the story all together.
“The hikers you saved gave an artist impression. The minute I saw it, I knew it was you. It was the damnedest thing.”
“And my parents?” Gabriel was almost too afraid to hear the answer.
“Look, there’s a lot we need to talk about Gabe. Are you going to invite me in or not?”
Gabriel rubbed at his brow. Inviting him in would mean explaining Aurora. How the hell was he ever going to do that?
“Gabriel? Is this a friend of yours?”
And now she was right behind him. Damn it.
“Jesus,” Harrison breathed as he caught sight of her. “Now it all makes sense. I wouldn’t want to leave the house either.”
Pushing past Gabriel, Harrison walked inside his hand outstretched. “I’m Gabe’s oldest friend Harrison. Harrison Hargreaves.”
“Hello, I’m Aurora.”
“Aurora. Well, hello there.”
Gabriel rolled his eyes and closed the door behind him. Harrison had always been popular with women. He loved them and they loved him, for about three months.
“Harrison, my parents?” Gabriel reminded him.
But Harrison was too busy looking around the cabin, peering in at every detail. He flipped over magazines and even tossed one of the couch cushions aside as he flopped down making himself at home.
“Harrison, my parents?” Gabriel said again, this time with a little more authority.
“Your parents saw the news,” he nodded. “It was actually your father who asked me to come up and see if you were here. I told them Newfoundland is a damn long way from Hania but hey, why not? A bit of fresh air never hurt anyone.”
Gabriel was perplexed. Why had his father asked Harrison to come? He knew where the cabin was, he built it himself. So why hadn’t he come in person?
“Is my father alright?” Gabriel asked. “Is he ill?”
“Your father’s a warhorse, he’s fine. I’ve actually been helping them for a while. They’ve been very worried Gabe.”
Aurora reached out and gently touched Gabriel’s arm, but she need not have bothered. He already knew something was wrong. “What do you mean, you’ve been helping them?”
“How long have you been up here in the cabin Gabe?”
“I’m sorry,” Aurora interrupted. “But we’ve only just returned from a trip and as you know, Gabriel was hurt. He really needs to rest, so maybe you could come back tomorrow?”
“That’s right,” Harrison grinned. “Fell off a cliff and lived to tell the tale.”
“Aurora’s right,” Gabriel nodded. “I’m beat. It’s been great to see you Harrison, but we should catch up tomorrow after I’ve had a good night’s sleep.” And time to think.
Harrison looked him up and down and clicked his tongue. “You look pretty damn good to me, especially for someone who just fell from a great height.”
Gabriel exchanged a nervous glance with Aurora. Something was definitely off.
“How about I meet you tomorrow and we can talk about everything I’ve missed?” Gabriel suggested. “You can catch me up. And I’ll pay a visit to Mum and Dad as well.”
Gabriel had no idea if he would actually follow through with anything he just said. All he knew was that he needed to talk to Aurora, in private.
Harrison nodded and unfolded his long legs. “You know I had to hike up here? Took me the whole day.”
“And I’m sorry for that,” Gabriel offered. “But I’m exhausted, I really can’t do this now.”
Harrison smiled slowly, but the gesture didn’t reach his eyes. “How about we meet at Hannagan’s tomorrow, say 3pm?”
“I’ll be there,” Gabriel promised.
Harrison took one last look around and punched Gabriel playfully in the shoulder. “Don’t leave town this time, eh?”
“Right, don’t leave town. Got it,” he nodded. “And Harrison? Be careful heading down the mountain. There’s things out there that can kill you.”
Harrison held Gabriel’s gaze and then broke out into a wide grin. “Thanks for the warning old friend, but you know me. Always one step ahead.” He gently patted a hunting knife strapped to his belt. “I’ll be fine Gabe, but I certainly appreciate the concern. See you tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow,” Gabriel nodded. “Oh, and Harrison? Stop calling me Gabe.”