Cool Blast

Fuzzy socks padded against the wood floors as she wiggles her popsicle toes. The first “cold” day of fall finally arrived to her sunny subtropical abode.

Others would say it’s warm or comfortable, but her blood had thinned from years in 90 plus degrees most days. The higher humidity made it feel cooler than it really was.

Goosebumps covered her arms as she moved through the house. She slid open the cherry wood drawer which held her tees. She shuffled through and found a long sleeved pullover.

She made a quick change from her tank and rubbed her arms before heading back to the kitchen. Chili seemed like a good fit for the change in the weather.

She sorted through the canned good in the pantry. Ingredients came together, except for one. Beans. No way she could make chili without beans! Exasperated, she looked at the ingredients she did have.

Pulling open the fridge, she pulled out more peppers. They had plenty of them at least. Dicing and chopping, she rearranged her mind to be set for this instead. Chili will have to wait for another day.

The aromas of onion, peppers, garlic, meat and tomatoes filled the house. She served it up, then crawled under her blanket while the fan above swirled at full blast.

Star Wars, one of the new series, played on the television. Her cats mewed and crawled up, curling up on the furry throw sitting across her lap.

The evening settled in and the temperature continued to drop. The cold front is only going to last a day or two; may as well enjoy it while it’s here.




The scream echoed about the alley. A body slammed against the wall with a sickening thud. Then the sound of a splash as the body fell to the rain drenched alleyway.

Standing over him, she crossed her puny but tatted arms. Hard to believe they’d be capable of moving anything, much less pushing a full grown man into the wall.

He wouldn’t strike back, and she knew it. “You deserve what you get!” she snarled as she walked off, flicking him off one final time as her silhouette framed by steady neon lights turned the corner.

He curled up his knees and held his head in his hands. He was mad. Mad at her, mad at himself, mad at the world. Mad at the situation he found himself in once more, another broken moment in his life.

He palmed his eyes a moment, trying to save face should anyone see. Red eyes still gave him away. He spider walked himself back up and wiped away what he could of the puddle which now wet the seat of his pants.

Slowly, he walked toward those same lights but turned right instead. The glass wall of the local Chinese restaurant displayed freshly made duck and the aroma of rice wafted around. His stomach growled, but he continued to wander down the street. Chickenshit? Chickenshit! he mulled over her parting words.

A distant siren echoed as it came closer. Blue and red flashing lights bounced off the buildings. Wet hair hung clung to his face, filtering the scene from his view. His hands gently pushed it aside so he could see.

A small girl sat on the curb as the paramedics frantically worked on someone in the median. She clutched a small curly haired teddy bear missing one eye. A stroller, haphazardly inverted, sat in the crosswalk. Broken glass littered the intersection from the windshield of an orange colored Charger.

A woman, brought to tears, stood amid the chaos. Her hands trembled as the cop escorted her to the same curb to sit by the little girl. An ambulance pulled away, the siren sounding a moment, then falling silent.

The woman looked up, struggling to speak, as a policeman took her statement. He took it all down, and then read it back to her. She shrugged, and lowered her head, bawling.

Softly, the officer tapped her shoulder, trying to reassure her. He looked up and saw the man from the alley standing there. “Son, can you either help or move along?”

He acutely became aware of his gaped mouth, and closed it. “Yes, sir.” He quickly walked over, wringing his hands. “How can I help?”

The cop looked him over, then looked at the curb. “Can you distract here a bit while I finish up?”

He shook his head in compliance, then knelt down in front of the two girls. “ You okay?”

The little girl shook her head while the woman shrugged and responded, “I don’t know what happened. The light was green and I was just driving. No one should have been there…”

He let her release her upset and quietly chided himself for being upset with himself earlier. This was much graver than what he ever dealt with. She sobbed into his shoulder.

“Can I call anyone?” He asked as she calmed down. He handed her his phone so she could dial the number. She stood up and took a few steps away as she explained on the phone what happened.

He turned his attention to the little girl. “Do you need anything?”

She’d been quietly sitting there, and looked over and shook her head no. A sweet smile came across her face. “Tell the lady I am okay. It wasn’t her fault.”

Confusedly, he looked over his shoulder back at the woman, then back at the girl.

She repeated, “I’m okay.”

Suddenly the woman bent over his shoulder and returned his phone. “Thank you. My sister is here to take me home.”

He looked over the scene and realized time had passed and the wreckage had been removed.

He looked past the woman, “Where’d she go? The little girl?”

The woman paused and stared at him. “They took her in the ambulance.”

He rose to his feet. “No, it was another little girl. With the…” he paused. “She wanted you to know she was okay and it wasn’t your fault.”

The woman’s face turned angry. “Why are you saying these things! I can’t believe…what a chickenshit!”

He stammered, unsure why she turned angry. “She’s…she’s okay.”

Rage filled the woman’s face, “She died!”

He stumbled back to the wall behind him and sunk to the ground amid his confusion. The woman stormed off.

A few moments later, the girl walked back up. “Thank you for trying to tell her. Sometimes people can’t or don’t want to hear.” She reached to give him a hug as he stared. “And, you are no chickenshit!” her little voice squeaked. “Thank you for staying with me. I have to go now. Take care of Curly for me?” She waved as she disappeared from view.

He collected himself. It had been a strange night. In the distance, the sky began to lighten with the dawn. He looked around and saw a a small teddy bear at his feet. He picked it up and gave it a look. A little tag hung from its paw, Hi! I’m Curly.


Tropical Trek – Part 8

Suzy dressed and got ready to head down to the restaurant after wrapping up work for the day. As she opened the door, she almost ran into Mark. He was about to knock.

“Oh, Mark!” Startled, she stammered, but her voice went flat. “What do you need?”

Mark’s stern look softened, and she could see worry only his eyes. “Can I have a minute?”

“Sure, can we talk while we walk?” She pointed down the hall.

He nodded yes, then slowly spoke, “I was out of line, so I came by to apologize. It’s none of my business how you live your life.”

She could see he was struggling with his words. She took in a breath, then forced herself to move on. “Mark, I appreciate the apology.” She surveyed his face and realized how much he had aged since losing Sarah a year ago. “I’m not Sarah, but understand why you worry about me, and the crew.” She searched for words to make him feel better; she abhorred conflict.

He seemed relieved, and his haggard breath released. They walked up to the restaurant and Mark nodded toward Steve. “Have a nice dinner.”

Suzy smiled at Mark sweetly. “Thanks, Mark. I will.” With that she turned and exhaled as she stepped away.

Mark disappeared back down the hall.

“Hey, is this seat taken?” She tapped her fingers on the back of the chair.

Steve looked up from his drink with a smile. He stood up and greeted her with a hug. “Well, I hoped you got my note!”

He pulled out her chair and slid it back in as she sat. “Sorry for the disappearing act this morning. The guys wanted to go down to Manuel Antonio for a full day and we headed out early.”

She nodded, “Yeah, no problem. It was an early day for me too.” She looked over the menu and figured out what to eat. “So, how was it?” She looked up to see him almost eyeing her.

“Oh, uh, good. We went to this plane themed restaurant…”

“El Avion?”

“Yeah, that’s the place. It poured while we were there. It was good to be out of the rain. Calming, even though the drinks were flowing.”

Suzy put the menu down and the waiter popped over to the table immediately to take their orders.

After he left, Suzy looked over Steve. He seemed nervous. “Hey, is everything okay?”

Steve played with his ring finger. Oh boy, she knew that look of guilt. She hung her head; another unavailable man wandered into her life. She sighed audibly.

He looked up at her. “It’s still fresh. I’m not married. Any longer. My buddies insisted on getting me out of my condo a few days. That’s why we were here.”

Well, at least she wasn’t a home wrecker! “No worries. Life just throws things at us at times. We’re good.”

She forced a smile through the knowing of the shoe about to fall. “Let’s have a nice meal and we’ll return to our lives each with a new friend.”

He didn’t seem satisfied, but let it go as the appetizer was placed on the table. They shared some more of the days events with each other as they enjoyed the meal although somewhat awkwardly.

Suzy watched out over the rainforest as the sun sank down on their final night. The sky illuminated with pinks and purples then gave way to navy.

Steve piped up, “Could we go for a walk before turning in for the night?”

She half smiled and nodded yes. He showed her the way to the beach path. They walked together quietly and found to beach chairs left out by the waters edge.

He softly spoke, “Suzy, I really am glad you found me at the waterfall. I’ll never forget seeing you come out of the forest, looking around with awe.”

Suzy blushed. She didn’t realize he saw her the whole time.

“I…I…” Steve stumbled over his words. “I hope we can keep in touch.”

Suzy knew tonight would be hard; it’s hard to walk away even when it’s necessary to continue on your own paths.

“Listen,” she grabbed his hand and her voice trembled, “I don’t like goodbyes. They feel final and I don’t want whatever this is to…”

She couldn’t get the last word out as his lips pressed into hers. His hand pulled her face to his and they ended up standing in a full embrace.

“Then, we won’t say it.” He stroked a stray curl from her face. “We will figure this out. I just need time, okay?”

He clasped her hand in his and walked with her back to the resort. He gently kissed her good night at her door. “You have no idea…” his voice trailed off. She opened the door, but he stepped back and softly touched her cheek, leaned in and kissed her once more, then turned and walked away.

The next few days were a blur for Suzy. She wondered how Steve was and busied herself with work. She didn’t know how long she’d wait, but for now, his kiss kept her hopes alive.

Sometimes we don’t get what we want even when everything seems perfect. But, one day, it will come together in the way it’s meant to be. Until then, easy daydreaming will have to do.


Birth of a Star

I interrupt my own escape to bring this little story that I needed to get down…Enjoy!

She stretched out her hand and pinched the midnight sky. A brilliant burst sprayed out from her fingertips. She smiled and leaned back into his embrace.

He stared to the sky for several minutes, his jaw slightly gaping open. A barely audible sound of “Wow!” softly escaped his lips. His eyes, full of wonder, turned to her questioningly.

In her eyes, he could see the universe. In his eyes, she could see their future. This was the magic they shared; this is why they were entwined for always.

“Just for you. It’s yours forever, as is my heart.” She craned toward his cheek and planted a gentle kiss, then returned to his embrace.

Earlier that evening, he heard her pull up. The motor sounded different…a low growl instead of the purr of her car. He heard the motor shut off and, after a few moments, the squeal of the screen door, then her knock on his door.

She had asked him out for the night and wanted to make all the plans. All he had to do…wear some comfortable warm clothes and take a nap that afternoon. He still wondered about that nap, but he wasn’t one to turn a nap down either.

He opened the door. She stood there in a pullover sweater and jeans. Her curly hair bounced around her cherub face, and her cheeks were already blushed.

“Ready to go?” She asked excitedly.

He looked over her shoulder. A four-wheel truck sat in the drive. “Where’s your car?” He questioned with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s safe. This is a rental,” she chuckled as a smile spread across her lips. Her face became a little goofy looking as she tilted her head, “Well, you ready?”

He shook his head, locked up and together they headed to the truck. He noticed a tarp covered the truck bed as he climbed into the cab. The cab was warm compared to the light chill outside.

She climbed in to the driver’s side and turned over the engine, then backed out of the drive. Country music, mixed with pop, poured out of the speakers. She had an eclectic taste in music.

He shifted to look at her as she drove. “So, what did you plan for us?”

She grinned and started, “If I tell you, I’d have to…”

He scoffed and finished her sentence, “kill me?”

She laughed then pasted a fake serious look on, “Well, no. Let’s just say torture would be involved.” She couldn’t contain laughing at herself.

He snickered as he understood what she meant by torture. “Oh no! Save me!” He faked consternation.

She giggled, but remained focused on the road. She slowed to a crawl, looking for her turn. Finally, she found the gravel road.

She turned and the truck bounced about as they moved along. The gravel crunched under the tires.

He asked quizzically, “Where are we headed?”

She refused to answer as the truck pushed through the overgrown bushes. The road seemed to twist and turn. Occasionally, the overgrowth would give way to views of mountains in the distance.

She finally spied the small wooden sign pointing to the left. She pressed the brakes, sending gravels scattering on the road, then pulled into the grassy meadow.

She drove out along a dirt road about 150 yards, then pulled off the road into the high grass and put the truck in park. She turned to him and asked, “Will you help with the tarp?”

Without a word, he hopped out and began untying the endless knots, pulling back the tarp. Soon he saw pillows and a warm blanket and a basket stuffed full.

She lowered the tail gate and hopped up, then swung her short legs up and stood up in the bed. “Just, give me a moment,” she asked as she straightened a few things up. She pulled out a picnic blanket and draped it across the tailgate, then set the basket on top. She stooped back down then sat and dangled her feet. “Come, sit.”

He hopped up and grinned at her. “So, this is your plan?” He took a cup she handed him and sipped.

She proceeded to pull out a variety of finger foods they could nibble on. “Yes. Do you like it?”

He leaned back as he bit into a meat and cheese roll up. Gently, he smiled and nodded yes. He knew she worked hard to pull this together.

“Look!” She whispered excitedly. A fawn jumped over the high grass across the meadow, then stopped and stared as the two of them. He bent down and nibbled on some blades of grass, and then bounded over the ridge.

They chatted and snacked as the remaining sun disappeared below the horizon. Occasionally, deer would wander by and birds would flit and land on the truck bed saying hello.

The skies turned dark, and the moon and stars lit up the meadow. She climbed up onto the mattress and relaxed into blankets and pillows in the truck bed. She motioned for him to join her.

He climbed up and leaned back. She pointed up to the skies. “There’s a meteor shower tonight.”

A few streaks lit up the night sky. “Make a wish” she whispered in his ear, “and I’ll do all I can to make it come true.”

He pulled her closer, then softly swept a curl from her face. Then he kissed her gently. Slowly, they stopped and he heavily breathed out “You already have.”

“Here, I have a gift for you.” She outstretched her hand to the skies and then the magic happened.


Happy Birthday!

Blindfolded, he sat at the dining table. A slight smirk rested on his lips.

She set something in front of him and slid into her seat.

“Okay, you can take off the blindfold.”

He slipped off the silk covering and looked around.

The house was still with the exception of a few lit candles. Before him set a single cupcake with a glowing candle. And then he looked to his left.

There, she sat. A chemise tank top cut low framed her assets perfectly. One strap slipped off her shoulder. She smiled at him as his grin grew.

“Happy Birthday, hon. Make a wish and blow out the candle.”

He rested his head on his hand as he continued to look her over.

“I don’t need a wish, I have all I want.”

She blushed, understanding what he meant. Then she giggled.

“Okay, then. Blow out the candle,” then she winked at him.

Happy Birthday, indeed!



“Phhhhbt!” the sandy haired boy blew raspberries at the brown eyed curly haired girl standing in his front yard.

Her lower lip wavered a moment. “Momma said to bring this over!” She stretched out her hands, balancing a plate full of peanut butter cookies with chocolate kisses.

The boy stepped out from behind the porch railing. “Are those kiss cookies?”

The little girl blushed. “Yes. I helped momma make them.”

The little boy raced down the front steps and ran up to her, reaching for the plate. He exclaimed, “My favorite!”

The little girl turned her Mary Jane patent shoed foot inward. “Yay! I hope you like them.” She handed him the plate. A brown curl fell across her forehead.

He grinned as he took the plate, then turned and ran back to the porch. He yelled back , “Thanks!” and gave her a quick wave.

He swung open the screen door and called to his mom, “Look! Cookies!” then disappeared behind the squeaking door.

The little girl turned back to her house. A sweet smile crept across her lips as she skipped home.


Acushla Bound – Part Twelve

Vacation, Day 12 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I catch up on work after a great vacation!

The snow started falling outside the window as Mikaela and Kester lay wrapped in each other’s arms. They enjoyed the silence with each other. They spent most of the rest of the day, and night, in bed.

In the morning, Mikaela snuck out of bed. Kester stayed soundly asleep. Rex climbed up into the bed and snuggled with his master.

Mikaela made her way outside to the chicken coop and gathered the eggs. The snow had stopped falling overnight and the skies were a brilliant blue with white cirrus clouds. She loved mornings like this.

Mikaela did a few more things then returned to the cottage. She mixed up some biscuits and set them to bake over the fire, hoping they didn’t get too dark being over the heat of the fire. She then whipped up the eggs and found some ham to slice. She hoped she would surprise Kester with a nice breakfast.

As she worked in the kitchen area, Kester couldn’t help but hear the commotion. Mikaela tried to be quiet, but was unsuccessful. Kester quietly walked in to the kitchen and behind Mikaela, kissing her on the neck. “Everything okay, here?” He whispered into her ear.

She giggled and smiled. “It’s not like cooking There.” She was trying to loosen up an egg she had cooked.

“Here, you will need to use more butter. It will stop it from sticking. You’ll get the hang of it.” With that he pecked her on the cheek and stepped back, leaning on the chair by the fireplace, watching Mikaela work on breakfast. He smiled to himself.

“Sit down. I will have breakfast ready in a minute.” Mikaela used more butter and cooked up two more eggs. She grinned when she pulled out the biscuits; at least one thing cooked up right. She plated everything up and served breakfast.

Kester looked over the meal. He picked up a biscuit and took a bite. Mikaela anxiously looked at him, wondering if she cooked them as well as back There.

“Best biscuit I’ve had outside of Oklahoma!”

Oklahoma? Mikaela thought to herself, Well, at least they came out edible. She took a biscuit and built a breakfast sandwich, drizzled a little honey on it, and joined him to eat.

“So, it’s a beautiful day. Could you show me around some?” Mikaela asked as they ate.

Kester looked outside. “Wow, it actually is. We probably shouldn’t go too far should the weather turn, but definitely. Let’s get out for a bit.”

They finished up breakfast and cleaned up. Kester found another coat, more suitable for Mikaela than a blanket, to wear. “Here, try this on. It may be a little long.”

The leather coat was lined with wool and was warm. “It’s perfect.” It actually hung down to Mikaela’s calves, but she didn’t mind.

“If the weather holds out for a few days, we can go onto town and get you some warmer clothes. How’s that sound?”

Mikaela smiled and nodded. “Right now, show me around, okay?”

They headed outside and walked along the stream which ran along the edge of Kester’s property. The sun had melted some of the snow, and the water babbled over the iced areas and rocks.

A small flower popped up in the snow. Mikaela kneeled down and admired it. It’s bright color was striking against the white snow.

Kester looked back. “Those only grow Here. I never saw one like it back There.”

“It’s beautiful!” Mikaela stood back up and caught up with Kester, slipping her hand into his as they walked on. Kester just smiled.


Acushla Bound – Part Eleven

Vacation, Day 11 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Mikaela curled up with the book as Rex climbed into her lap. She gave him a pet and started reading Kester’s writings. She became lost in his journeys through Somewhere and Nowhere, which had some similarities to hers but also stark differences.

He wrote of being Here and shared his story of how Pepper brought him almost everything he needed. Pepper was almost like a fairy godfather in horse form.

Pepper was even responsible for Dorian’s presence. ‘I recall the morning after I dreamt of riding a dark horse across a meadow that Pepper was hyper and broke out of the paddock. Later that evening, he and a dark stallion walked up and back into the field, enjoying some hay. Dorian never ran off, although it took a few times to get him used to a saddle. I don’t know how Pepper did it…can he read minds?’

Mikaela paused and looked out the window toward the barn. Kester was working with Dorian, who was in a playful mood, knocking over the bucket near by and prancing about.

She smiled and turned back to the book. ‘I dreamt of her last night. Macushla, that’s what I called her. Her eyes blazed into my soul, those dark eyes.’ Mikaela paused. Who was this mystery woman of his dreams? Could it be…no, probably not.

Kester’s story continued to wind and turn through growing his homestead, taking up writing, and finding his way Here. She came to another passage. ‘I saw her in my dreams again. She was sleeping under the willow where I came here originally.

Could he have willed her here? Mikaela dismissed it. They didn’t know each other outside of Here. I’m reading too much into this she thought to herself. She continued to read on.

I keep having dreams of her. I need to find some answers.’ Mikaela flipped another page, but nothing more was written on the next few pages. She flipped through the remaining pages and realized the back side of the book also contained writing in a separate smaller insert.

She wondered a moment if she should read it. Did Kester realize he gave it to her? However, she was looking for answers and he did give it to her.

‘When I dream of her, it is like I have known her my whole life. Her dark brown hair and eyes are so familiar now. I long to hold her in my arms and kiss her lips.

When I see her in my dreams, she’s a bit of a klutz, but I like that about her. It gives me a reason to hold her hand and catch her when she trips.

‘Last night, she was in my bed in my dream. Her sheer gown showed off her breasts in the firelight. I fought hard to control myself, although it is just a dream. Maybe I should just let myself go.

Mikaela paused, wondering if she should read on. She found herself already attracted to Kester, and her mind began to wander, wondering how it would feel to be with him in that way. Sleeping in his arms last night was comforting. But, she’d only known him a day.

She put the insert back into the book, then set the book back on the table. She donned her boots and layered two blouses and grabbed a blanket to head out to where Kester was. Rex followed on along.

She stepped up to a fence post and rested her chin on her arm, watching the horses and Kester in the field. The cold air had blushed up Kester’s cheeks. Mikaela found herself lost in watching them.

Kester looked up and saw her standing there. The wind was blowing Mikaela’s hair and her cheeks and nose were starting to turn red as well. He walked over to her.

She straightened up as he walked up. She smiled and tilted her head. Her eyes looked down then back up into his eyes. He wrapped his hand behind her neck as he went in for a sweet, long, tender kiss; a kiss that warmed both of them up from their toes.

Kester stepped back, jumped over the fence and pulled Mikaela toward the house. She paused only a moment, then thought, this is only a dream. She kept up with Kester as they entered the cottage.

Once inside, they quickly undressed each other and then paused. Mikaela was as nervous as a virgin. Kester stepped closer to her, taking her hand and kissing her as he walked her to the bed.

He was gentle with her, loving, and also strong. As they joined together they moved as one. Mikaela bit her lip from the pleasures Kester delivered time and time again.

Mikaela wrapped her legs around Kester, pulling him in closer. With this, he groaned in ecstasy. Her legs held him tightly against her as he collapsed onto her.

Together they rolled to one side, facing each other. “I didn’t expect..” Kester was stopped with Mikaela’s finger on his lips.


Acushla Bound – Part Ten

Vacation, Day 10 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Kester played with Mikaela’s curly brown hair as she slept. Quietly, he whispered, “Macushla, I have dreamt of you. I cannot believe you’re Here.” Softly she stirred in his arms. He quickly closed his eyes so she wouldn’t see he was awake if she woke.

Mikaela was a heavy sleeper however; her stirring was just a passing dream. She curled into Kester’s chest, her arms wrapped around his torso and her feet entangled with his. She was not quite a foot shorter than him, so her face was buried into his chest.

Slowly, the winter sun started to glow and filled the cottage with light. Kester got out of bed carefully, letting his guest sleep some more. She had a harrowing journey here and he wanted to make her feel welcome. He prepared tea and breakfast for both of them. Mikaela smelled his cooking and woke up.

She slid out of bed and made her way over to the living area where Kester had put a pot on the fire. “Thank you for taking me in yesterday.”

Kester turned and smiled, handing her a tea. “Of course! It’s good to have a guest. I hope you’ll stay a while.”

Mikaela frowned, but then smiled. “I don’t understand why I’m here. It’s an amazing journey, but can I really just leave reality, er, There, behind so easily?”

Kester understood what Mikaela meant. “Have a seat, we should talk. First, I want you to know you are welcome Here. Second, I, too, am from There.”

Mikaela looked up at him with little confusion. “Yes, I understand. Hank from Nowhere told me how we all are from Thaer as he called it. It sounded like people decide to stay in this world or go back however. I just don’t know how I can let everything There go. Family, commitments, vows.” Mikaela looked down. “Part of me wants to stay here. Learn all there is to know about Here and you. Build a new life. But, is it real?”

Kester looked down. “I come here often, but I too have obligations. There, some of the very same concerns. Here, I am free. Here, however, is magical. We can do as we dream, but we can also do no harm, to ourselves or others, in the real world.”

Mikaela continued to listen as Kester explained how he visits Here while maintaining his life There. “Doesn’t it get, well, confusing?”

Kester laughed. “Yes, especially when people you meet Here, Nowhere, or Somewhere, decide to go back and you meet them There. More than once, I’ve had the sense of Deja Vu with others.”

Mikaela smiled, and then looked at Kester. “Did you ever dream of people you met Here before you actually met them?”

Kester blushed. “Just one.” He wasn’t willing to explain at that point that it was Mikaela however. He thought it might make him sound a little crazy.

Mikaela didn’t push, but instead switched subjects. “Would it be possible for me to see Pepper?”

Kester obliged immediately. “Oh definitely. He should be in the barn. Hold on, let me get you something warm to wear.” He handed her a heavy blanket to wrap around her shoulders. She found her riding boots.

“I’ll be right back.” She waved as she headed out the front door.

Kester watched her walk out to the barn from the window, then turned to finish up breakfast.

“Pepper, how are you?” Mikaela greeted her friend. He nodded at her. She had snuck a couple remaining apples out to treat Pepper. A beautiful dark stallion danced in the neighboring stall. After Pepper chomped down on the first apple, she stepped over to the steed’s stall. “Would you like an apple, too?” The dark horse lowered his head regally, then gently took the apple from her hand. “Good boy!” Mikaela petted his face. She didn’t see a name for him on any of the reigns or stall. I’ll have to ask Kester I guess, she thought to herself.

She walked over and picked up a grooming brush, then took care of Pepper’s coat, brushing it out. She talked to Pepper, thanking him for taking care of her and bringing her here. He softly whinnied and shook his head to the door. “I know, breakfast is almost ready. Would your friend like to be groomed too?” She walked over to the other stall. The dark horse backed up, unsteadily. Mikaela stepped back, she knew he wasn’t yet comfortable with her. “Okay, maybe later?” He stepped back forward and let her pet his face.

She put the brush back and headed back to the house to enjoy some breakfast.

“How’s Pepper?” Kester asked.

“Okay, I gave him a brushing. You’re other horse, what’s his name?”

“That’s Dorian. He’s a little stand-offish at first. Once he gets to know you, he won’t leave you alone.” Kester chuckled.

“Ahh. That’s why he didn’t want a brushing then. Okay.”

They both took a seat and ate breakfast. They talked more about their lives both Here and There. The more they talked, the more they connected with each other.

Mikaela finally asked, “How do you go back and forth between Here and There? You mentioned you still go back.”

He smiled, “Really simple, I just tell myself I’m going There before I go to bed, and I wake up there. It is almost as if no time passes in either place as I go back and forth, except for a dream cycle.”

Mikaela’s mouth opened in shock. “That’s it?” She could not believe the simplicity of it. “Is it that way for everyone?”

Kester laughed a moment. “No, it isn’t that way for most people, only people who actually come here in their first dream of this place seem to have this ability. It’s kind of rare.” Kester scratched the back of his neck.

Mikaela looked at him again. “Wait, you mean if you actually have a journey here, interacting with others, not just dream of the place, your first time, you can just dream your way home?”

He nodded his head, then asked, “How many times did you dream of being here before this visit?”

Mikaela blushed. “I’m kind of rare, I guess.”

With that Kester smiled a large smile, one Mikaela had not yet seen. “You are her.”

Mikaela looked at him, confused. “What do you mean?”

Kester stood up and took the breakfast plates from the table, setting them aside, then pulled out a book with a double love knot on it. He set the book down in front of her. “This is a serch bythol.” He traced the symbol which appeared to be two touching trinity knots. “Inside are my writings of this place; I want you to read it. I hope it makes sense to you. If you are who I believe you are, you will understand.” Mikaela looked up at him. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek gently. “Still Do. Always Will.” With that, he walked out to the barn to check on the animals and left her to read.


Acushla Bound – Part Nine

Vacation, Day 9 – Enjoy a re-post of a story I wrote while I enjoy a well-deserved vacation!

Pepper took Mikaela deeper into the mountains, following a well-worn trail. Snow was piled in clumps and slowly filled in the trail until it was fully covered.

The trees became iced over the further they traveled. Mikaela could see her breath. She started to become concerned as she did not have anything with her to keep her warm. She whispered to Pepper, “I am cold. We need shelter.”

Pepper shook his head in acknowledgment. They came to a fork in the trail and he chose to go right, following a semi-frozen stream. The trail continued on with no shelter in sight.

Mikaela bent forward, trying to keep warm against Pepper’s back. She had already pulled out her other top and the nightgown and dress she had in her pack and layered them on, but nothing would stop the chill in the air.

The cold made Mikaela numb. Eventually she faded and passed out against Pepper’s back. Pepper continued on, knowing exactly where he needed to bring her. Pepper rounded a curve in the trail and in the distance stood a small cottage with a barn to its side. Pepper’s steps picked up when he spotted smoke coming out of the chimney. He knew he was home, and he knew he would help.

Pepper walked up to the cottage and with his front hooves, pounded on the step, hoping someone inside heard him.

Mikaela woke up to find she was in another dream. She found herself covered in homemade blankets on a makeshift wood-framed bed. She was still chilled to the bone, but warmth radiated from the fireplace in the center of the cottage which was right next to her. She stirred and started to sit up.

A kind male voice called out from the other side of the fire. “Would you like something warm to drink?”

Mikaela first shook her head, but realized he couldn’t see her. “Yes, please.”

When he came around the corner, he had a small mug in his hand, and bent down to hand it to her. The light from the fire danced in his eyes. She remembered those eyes from her dreams. She believed this to be another dream about him.

She took the mug and slowly sipped. Tea! She thanked her companion for his hospitality. “May I ask, what is your name?”

The man smiled at her, “I am known as Kester. And you?”

“I’m Mikaela.” Finally I know your name, she thought to herself. She smiled. “How did I get here?”

Kester looked at her, “About that, I’m really sorry. Pepper dragged you all the way out here.”

“Pepper?” Mikaela realized this wasn’t a dream in a dream….Kester was, well, still a dream but not a dream inside of a dream. “He’s been a real help actually. He saved me more than once. But, where am I, Kester?”

Kester smiled and waved his hands around. “Well, you are Here. This is my home. It’s not much, but it works for me.”

Mikaela looked around. It was cozy, missing a woman’s touch, but nice. “Thanks for bringing me in and warming me up. But why did Pepper bring me here? And how do you know the horse?”

Kester ran his hands across his short hair and looked down, slightly embarrassed. “Well, Pepper is one of my horses. He likes to go off and find things for me for some reason. Last time he brought home this cute little guy.” Kester petted a blue merle Australian shepherd sitting at his feet. “His name is Rex.” Rex wandered over to Mikaela for a pet, which she happily obliged including some scratches right behind his ears. “But you are a first, the first woman he’s ever brought here.”

Mikaela was touched, smiled, and blushed a bit. She wondered what Pepper had up his sleeve by bringing her here. “So, what do you do Here Kester?”

Kester’s eyes lit up. “During the warmer months, oh, it is glorious to live here. Plenty of room to explore, and I have a small garden I get going for fruits and vegetables. During the winter, I try to stock up plenty to make it through the lean months. I work on wood projects as well as write a bit.”

“Wow, that’s amazing. I want to hear more,” Mikaela’s mind spun, could life get back to being so simple yet full away from There?

Kester and Mikaela talked with each other over the next few hours, then the fire started dying down. Kester spoke up, “It’s getting late. Why don’t you sleep there tonight and we’ll figure out what to do in the morning. I’ll lay out some blankets over here and get some rest.”

Mikaela looked back at the bed, “There’s room for two, no need for you to sleep on the floor. Besides, we’ll both be warmer this way.”

Kester blushed a little bit, but accepted and crawled into bed next to her. They both started to giggle as they tried to get situated. “Are you sure this is okay?” he asked.

“Yes, I think so.” She smiled sweetly as he rested his arm on her waist. She settled her head on his other arm. Soon they both drifted off to sleep.