“Now this is going to have a much stronger kick than you’re used to so be careful,” Annie instructed. She and Cameron had ridden into the woods outside of the city so that Annie could show him how to shoot her Glock. “Make sure that you don’t lock your arms.”
“I won’t,” Cameron assured her.
“Now, just aim and squeeze the trigger. It’s sensitive so you won’t have to pull very hard.”
Cameron nodded then did as he was told. A loud crack rang out through the forest. The gun did indeed have a strong kick to it. It was nothing that he was used to. “That was exhilarating!”
Annie laughed. “I’m glad you enjoyed it. Your aim was impeccable. You hit the target dead center.”
Cameron gave her a wide smile, revealing his dimple. “Well, I had a wonderful instructor.”
“You’re welcome. Now, should we eat? I’m starving.”
“Me too,” Annie replied then sat down on the blanket she had spread out earlier. Cameron removed the picnic basket from his horse and sat down next to her. “So, what do we have to eat today?”
“I have no idea. Mary packed it this morning before we left.” As he spoke, Cameron began removing the contents of the basket. Plates of fruit, chicken, cheese, and bread covered the blanket. The final item was one of the bottles of wine Annie had bought the day before.
So far the day had been perfect. Cameron had slept in Annie’s room the night before. They slept wrapped in each other’s arms until the sun had risen. Before they left the room Annie had asked him if he still wanted to learn how to shoot her gun. He had told her yes so they made plans to leave the city for the day and just enjoy nature. After breakfast Mary packed a picnic lunch for them then they had ridden to the woods where Annie had spent the last hour showing Cameron how to handle her futuristic weaponry.
“What are you thinking about,” Annie asked.
“I’m just appreciating this perfect day,” Cameron replied, giving her a soft kiss.
Annie smiled at him. “It has been pretty amazing. And it’s only half over.” She was savoring the reprieve she had been given from Major Andre. She had woken up this morning feeling lighter and happier than she had in ages. Last night had been magic. They had talked until the early morning hours then fallen asleep curled up next to each other. She only hoped this magic could last.
Their lunch was incredible. The food tasted amazing and the conversation that accompanied it was light and at times downright funny. “You should have seen me the first time I shot a shotgun,” Annie said after swallowing a strawberry. “I fell flat on my back because I didn’t leave enough room to compensate for the kick. I had a bruise for a week.”
Cameron laughed at the idea of Annie on her back, clutching a gun in her hand. “You have a lot of experience with firearms,” he stated.
“My grandfather insisted that we learn how to use guns responsibly since they are so prevalent in our time,” Annie replied. Her face grew contemplative. “Most people have multiple guns.”
“Why? Is life that dangerous?”
“No, not really. My grandfather had a couple. The Glock he kept just in case someone broke in, although he never had occasion to use it. He also had a rifle that he used for hunting. But there are others out there who feel the need to arm themselves to the teeth for reasons that I cannot begin to comprehend.”
“I see,” Cameron stated. “How else is life different? How have things evolved between now and your time?”
“Well, we’ve had some great social and technological advances. Women are allowed to vote. Slavery no longer exists, well, at least in the developed world. We have cured diseases that today would kill you. Smallpox, Polio, and the Measles have been virtually annihilated. It is far easier to travel the world. I’m only twenty-one and I’ve already seen most of the United States as well as England, Ireland, Scotland, and Mexico.”
“Is there animosity between England and the United States?”
“No, in fact they are close allies. Now most of the conflict lies in the Middle East.”
“I see,” he replied. “Do you miss home?”
“Yes and no. I miss my family and my friends. I miss the freedom I have there. But I love being here too. I love history and living it has been exhilarating. Besides, I’ve made some very good friends here. And of course you’re here.” Annie scooted over towards him then cuddled to his side. “I have a difficult decision to make. That decision grows harder and harder each day.”
Cameron wrapped his arm around Annie, pulling her closer to him. The thought of living without her tore at his heart. He knew it would be unfair to ask her to stay here. She had a life back home. A life full of possibilities, possibilities that would not be available to her here. “Would you want to stay here?”
“I don’t know.” Annie’s answer was honest. She had no idea what she would do. She missed home desperately. But the thought of leaving Cameron tore at her gut. Could she be happy here with Cameron? As much as she loved him she couldn’t fathom living permanently in a world where her opinion didn’t matter. Then again, could she be happy in the future without him? “What about you? Do you want to stay here?”
Her question caught him by surprise. He had never thought about leaving this world behind permanently. Granted he had very few ties here other than his business. But he could give that over to James. He had learned the business well and would run it efficiently. Besides, other than his spying activities, life had grown dull for him. At least until Annie showed up in his life. But could he bring himself to leave the familiar for something unknown? Something told him he could, as long as Annie was with him. “Tell me, would I like the future?”
“Well you already like aspects of it. Shoot, we watch at least one movie every night. And you did spend those few hours with me over a month ago. Did you enjoy it?”
“Well, I did enjoy that shower, that’s for sure. Plus, that outfit you were wearing when we first encountered each other was, well, enticing to say the least.”
“It’s called a swimsuit. I had been in the swimming pool, then decided to cook dinner. I didn’t feel like changing, especially since I was already dry. I was cleaning up the dishes when you came in.”
“Do most women wear clothing like that when they go in the water?”
“Some. My swimsuit was relatively modest compared to what some other women wear. But I’ve never been comfortable in a bikini.”
Cameron had no idea what a bikini was. But the fact that her swimsuit was considered modest was a shock to him. “Fashion certainly has changed. Not that I’m surprised.”
“Well, two-hundred years does make quite a difference. Don’t worry though, we don’t walk around in swimsuits all the time. Usually I’m wearing jeans or shorts and a t-shirt.”
“You never did fully answer my question.”
“I know. I’m not sure how to answer it. Do I think you’d like the future? Yes, I do. But it would be a difficult adjustment for you. Not everything is perfect, but I do have a lot to be grateful for. There are still wars, injustice, and inequality, but it is far different than here. As a society we have made great strides, but there is still more that we can do.”
“I fear the world will never be perfect because perfection is not a part of human nature.”
“That is true.”
“I have much to think about.”
Annie nodded. “Yes, you do. Just know that I will respect whatever decision you make. You are your own person. I don’t want you to feel pressured.”
“I know, and I appreciate that.” Cameron gave her a soft kiss then pulled her closer to him. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Their conversation replayed itself through Cameron’s mind for the rest of the afternoon. Annie had done as she promised and not pressured him. She had answered every question he asked. When they went to bed that night he had held her tight, savoring the feel of her body next to his. His mind filled with the memories that they had made over the past month. Each memory brought a smile to his face and warmth to his heart. Gradually the idea of living without her grew more and more unthinkable. By the time the sun began to rise he had made his decision: he would go wherever she went. With his mind made up he cuddled closer to Annie and fell into a peaceful sleep.
The week passed far too quickly for Cameron’s taste. Each day spent in Annie’s company only served to strengthen his resolve to live his life with her. It was their last night together before Major Andre was set to return. According to Annie this was the most crucial time of her mission. It would be coming to an end soon. The moon was full and the scent of autumn was in the air. He and Annie were sitting out in the garden, enjoying the quiet night. “Are you tired,” Cameron asked.
“No, not yet,” Annie replied. “Are you?”
“No. But I’m ready for bed.” Cameron hoped she understood the meaning of his statement. It had been a week since he touched her. He savored the nights that they had slept curled up together, but tonight he needed more. He hoped that she felt that too.
“Okay. Just a few more minutes.”
“Okay.” He had found that after this week, Annie’s way of speaking was rubbing off on him. They sat outside for a little while longer before Annie got up.
“Let’s go.” Annie offered her hand to him and they went inside.
Once they were inside her room they did not speak. Annie felt his urgency and responded with her own. Tomorrow the real world would intrude upon their brief taste of paradise. Long hours passed before they gave in to the need to rest. Before Annie slipped off to sleep Cameron whispered the words she had been longing to hear all week, “Annie, wherever you go, I will follow.” Silently she thanked the heavens for this wonderful man. She cuddled up as close as she possibly could and fell asleep with a smile on her face.