Noah’s Boy – Snippet 19

Chapter 12

Bea liked the cabin.  She’d been expecting something bare, perhaps with bathroom facilities outside. She’d never seen much point in that sort of thing. As far as she was concerned, humans had spent thousands of years getting away from the icky and stinky parts of nature, and it would be an insult to their efforts for her to go back and live like a savage.  She liked indoor bathrooms and heated showers.

But she hadn’t been counting on getting them this time, and she was half ready to rough it.  After all, it might be a matter of life and death, both for herself and for Rafiel.

And she still couldn’t understand why she felt so comfortable driving through the night next to this heavily mangled man.  He’d given her some instructions and then let her drive while he slept.  He hadn’t been joking about the healing capacities of shifters.

She knew that she, herself, had always healed fast from the scrapes and hurts of childhood, but she’d never been as hurt as Rafiel was.  And she could see him healing before her eyes as he slept.  She saw the scrapes shrink, grow pink, disappear.

Twice, she had to wake him to ask the way at some unmarked intersection.  City gave way to countryside with startling suddenness, and they were soon driving a little road up a mountain side, with the only lights distant glimmers.

And she was sure they were going to be in a bare log cabin, with only wood for heat, and only water they could pull up from some well.

But when they approached the end of the directions, and Rafiel woke up, he said, “Down this driveway, there.  Yeah.  I know it looks like a goat track, don’t worry.  It’s large enough for the car.  I often come here when I have to get away, because — When I have to get away.”

The driveway wound and wound, and was more than a mile long, but at the end of it, they came to a little clearing in the midst of the tall trees.  And in the clearing, stood…  It was, in fact a log cabin, and not very big.  However, when they approached, the light over the door went on, and it was undeniably electrical light and brilliant.

“It’s on a sensor,” Rafiel explained.  He opened the door and got out, and, as Bea turned off the engine, walked around to open her door.  “I’m sorry you didn’t have a chance to get your clothes.”

“No.  They were in my pickup, and that was in the parking lot of the Three Luck Dragon, and I’m not –”

“No,” he said.  He held the door open for her, and extended a hand to help her get out.  “My mom probably has some stuff in there.  Don’t look so outraged.  She mostly wears dresses and stuff when she’s out here, so you can probably borrow something.  And if not, I have t-shirts.  Though I’m afraid my jeans won’t fit you.”

“Your t-shirts would probably be dresses,” she said.  Although she was by no means small, certainly not by the standards of most Asian women, she felt tiny as she got out, beside Rafiel, who had to be well over six feet.

He grinned.  “Well, there.  Problem solved.”

He led her to the door, which he opened.  And inside, she had a shock.  Oh, the walls were made of logs, just like any log cabin’s, but the floor was modern wood, sealed, probably pre-sealed in the factory.  And the little hallway they entered had a coat rack and a table.

She followed Rafiel into a central room which, yes, had a massive fireplace.  But it was obvious even to her inexperienced eyes that the fireplace was wired for gas.  The walls were covered in bookcases filled with books.  Not the pretty-pretty leather bound books that people bought to look important, but paperback books with colorful covers.  This was a place inhabited by serious readers.  And they did their reading in spacious brown leather sofas.

Rafiel looked back over his shoulder with a deprecating smile.  “I’m afraid,” he said.  “That my family has a thing for mysteries.  That’s why my mom named me what she did.”

“Raphael?” Bea asked, desperately trying to understand the significance.

“No.  Rafiel.  After Agatha Christie’s character in Sleeping Murder and –”

“Nemesis,” she completed, smiling.

“I see you read mysteries too.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” she asked.  “My dad is a big Christie fan.  He read me to sleep with her work.”

“So.  So did my parents.  So much so, I almost forgive them for giving me a name that forced me to correct my teachers all through school.  Okay, let me show you around.”

The cabin consisted of two bedrooms, in addition to the living room and to a sleeping loft which, Rafiel said, “Is where I normally sleep, but you can have it if you want to.  It has a skylight and you can look up and see the sky.”  And when Bea had expressed her admiration for the room, with its broad, quilt-covered bed, and its view of the evening sky, Rafiel had insisted she take it.  “No,” he said.  “Really.  We’ve changed the sheets since the last time we were here.  Mom drilled it into my head it’s always the last thing we do before we leave.”  He patted her on the shoulder.  “Let me show you something.”

He pressed a button on the wall near the skylight, and it slid open.  “Normally I keep it closed,” he said.  “But sometimes in the summer, when it’s really warm, it’s worth it to sleep, you know with the smell of the trees all around.  It’s like being in nature, but still having a real bed with clean sheets.”

The other creature comforts of the cabin included not one but two fully equipped, modern bathrooms,  and a hot tub out on the balcony that jutted off the loft.  “I don’t know if mom left a bathing suit,” Rafiel said.  “But if not, you can try it out next time.”

And the weird thing was not that he was talking as though absolutely sure that there would be another time of her coming out here with him, but that she felt as though he was perfectly justified.  There would be another time, or possibly many times.  They would come out here, together, and spend time even when they weren’t running from anything.

The rational Bea scolded her.  There was no way she could know that.  Perhaps he always brought girls out here.  Perhaps he didn’t like her.  And even if he liked her, the trouble they were in, it would be a miracle if they survived, much less if they got to play house together.

She was being stupid and reverting to middle school.  There would be time enough for a game of “he loves me, he loves me not” if they survived this.  And if he loved her not, she really hadn’t lost anything.

“I’m going to take a shower,” Rafiel said.  “The kitchen is that way.”  As though realizing what he’d said, he added, “In case you’re hungry.  Why don’t you see if there’s anything you want to eat, and I cook when I come out?”

She grinned at him.  “Good,” she said.  “Because I’ve been known to burn water.  I’ll go look.”