Michelle woke herself up, shivering. The fire had gone out at some point, and the crow’s nest wasn’t very well insulated. Even Samantha’s warm body pressed against her flank didn’t do much. It didn’t help matters that they had fallen asleep last night without getting dressed. The chilly early morning air found a lot of bare skin.
Moving carefully not to disturb Samantha, Michelle freed herself from the girl’s embrace and went to the stove. She poked around inside to see if any embers still burned, but the fire was completely out. They hadn’t brought anything with them to start a new one, so she decided just to get dressed. Rubbing her arms, she collected her discarded clothing.
As she wriggled her jeans over her hips, Michelle looked through the big glass window to the east. It was early, the sun not yet peaking from behind the horizon. Buttoning her jeans, Michelle decided to wake Samantha up for the sunrise, assuming she didn’t get up on her own. Last night’s sunset had been spectacular, and she thought the cresting of the sun above the trees would be just as epic.
Michelle finished getting dressed. The clothing helped, but it was still cold in the crow’s nest. She looked down at Samantha, thinking the girl’s body looked warm and inviting. Stretching out on the bearskin, she moved molded against her.
“Mm…” Samantha murmured, then said, “why are you dressed?”
“It’s freezing in here,” Michelle said, kissing her shoulder.
“The fire dead?” Samantha asked.
“Should have brought the battery and wire,” Samantha said, sounding like she was smiling.
“Or Helena’s lighter,” Michelle said, laughing.
“I guess I better get dressed, too,” Samantha said, rolling in Michelle’s arms. She gave Michelle a quick kiss, then said, “Don’t go anywhere.”
“I won’t,” Michelle said.
There was just enough light spilling through the windows of the crow’s nest for Michelle to watch Samantha gather her clothes and start to get dressed. Smiling, Michelle thought, how did I end up with such a beautiful girlfriend?
“What’s that smile for?” Samantha asked, slipping back into her shirt.
“Just thinking how lucky I am to have an incredibly hot girlfriend,” Michelle said.
Samantha paused in, getting dressed to give Michelle a toe-curling kiss and a smile. Straightening up, she said, “I was thinking the same thing last night.”
“You were thinking I’m lucky to have an incredibly hot girlfriend?” Michelle teased.
“Yes,” Samantha said, making Michelle laugh, “but also that I’m lucky to have an incredibly hot girlfriend, too.”
Michelle had promised to stay put, but she had to go to Samantha. Pulling the girl into her arms, Michelle kissed her tenderly. She smiled at the girl, said, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Samantha said, then laughed, “I’d love you more if you’d let me put my jeans on. I’m freezing.”
“Sorry, Babe,” Michelle said, letting Samantha finish dressing. As Samantha shimmied into her jeans, she said, “The sun should be coming up in a minute.”
“Nice,” Samantha said, sitting on the bearskin to slip on her shoes and socks, “do you think it’ll be as pretty as the sunset?”
“From up here,” Michelle said, indicating the crow’s nest, “it should be. The view from up here is amazing.”
“Yeah,” Samantha said, smiling, “I need to bring my camera up here.”
Laughing, Michelle said, “To continue to document all the places we fooled around?”
Her smile widening, Samantha said, “That, too.”
Both of them dressed, the girls stepped out onto the walkway to wait for the sun to retake the sky. With their arms around each other, they watch as the horizon began to glow, not red but golden yellow. Michelle smiled, thinking about the old saying, ‘red sky at night, sailor’s delight- red sky at morning, sailor’s warning. She hoped this was an omen of a good day to come.
The sunrise was just as epic as the sunset had been, maybe even more rousing since it was the beginning of the day and not the end. Watching the sun reclaim its glory in the sky above buoyed Michelle’s spirits and had her ready to face the day.
“So beautiful,” Samantha said, a hint of awe in her voice.
“Yeah,” Michelle agreed.
“I’m going to miss views like this.”
“Me, too,” Michelle said, looking down at the twin ruts that made up the ‘road’ to the watchtower. Soon, her parents would be coming up that road to get her. Like Samantha said, she was going to miss this place and its natural beauty.
Still looking at the road, she smiled. She understood now why Helena had wanted her to warn her parents about trying it at night. The part she could see was overgrown and rutted, a muddy mess even though it hadn’t rained in days. She thought it would easy to drive right off the road in the dark and never find it, again.
“I hope my parents don’t get stuck,” Michelle said.
Following Michelle’s eyes, Samantha laughed, “I saw that last night. That isn’t much of a road.”
“I think it would have been worse if someone hasn’t been using the shack as a hunting camp,” Michelle said.
“It would have been overgrown completely,” Samantha agreed.
They fell silent again, but it was a comfortable one. There was nothing that needed to be said that couldn’t wait. Michelle thought that was a statement on their relationship, that they could be together and not need to fill the time with meaningless chatter. Just having Samantha close was enough for her.
Once the sun was fully up, they returned to the crow’s nest to gather the things they had brought with them. The improvised strap-on was rolled up in the bearskin, so they could smuggle it down the stairs without Helena seeing it. While Helena might get a kick out of their ingenuity, Michelle wasn’t ready to have that embarrassing conversation.
The girls headed down the four flights of stairs to the ground. They made their way through the tall, dew-covered grass to the shack. Blue was lying next to the door, and she lifted her head as they approached. Michelle took a moment to bend down and pet her before going inside to see if Helena was awake. The woman was still asleep, snoring softly.
Not bothering to wake her, Michelle put another log on the dying fire, then whispered to Samantha, “Grab your camera.”
“Okay,” Samantha said, going to her pack. When she ran the zipper down, Helena stirred awake. Samantha gave Helena a sheepish smile, said, “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Helena said, yawning, “what are you up to?”
“Just going to take some pictures of the tower,” Samantha said.
Nodding, Helena sat up. With a groan, she stretched her back and said, “I’m getting too old for sleeping on cots.”
“It doesn’t look very comfortable,” Michelle said.
“It’s not,” Helena said, then looked at the other cot still folded up in the corner. Laughing, she said, “I take it you slept somewhere else.”
“Um, yeah,” Michelle said, blushing.
“Well, go take your pictures,” Helena said, standing up, “I’ll see about getting us some breakfast together.”
“Okay,” Michelle said, waiting for Helena to turn around before pulling the strap-on out of the bearskin and stuffing it into her backpack. She quickly zipped it closed, then straightened up before Helena turned back around.
“I thought you were going to take some pictures?” Helena said, seeing them still standing there.
“Um, we are,” Michelle said, putting her hand on Samantha’s arm, “let’s go.”
Outside, Michelle met Samantha’s eyes, and they started laughing. Covering their mouths so Helena wouldn’t hear them, they hurried away from the shack. When they were a safe distance away, Michelle said, “That was too close.”
“Yeah,” Samantha said, still laughing.
Michelle watched as Samantha took some video of the watchtower from the ground, then they climbed the stairs to the crow’s nest. They walked all the way around the catwalk, recording the breathtaking view of the forest around them. Michelle doubted the camera could capture the beauty of this place, but at least they’d have something to show their families.
As Samantha turned off her camera, she laughed, “What did you call it? Documenting all the places we’ve done it?”
Smiling at her, Michelle said, “Yeah.”
“It’s funny because it’s true,” Samantha said, shaking her head, “a couple of caves, an old cabin, a solar shower… A barn…A tent… Such romantic locations.”
Putting her arms around Samantha, Michelle said, “Maybe we’ll share a hotel room. Mom and Dad in one and you and me in the other.”
“Maybe,” Samantha said, snorting, “unless your parents notice how our relationship has changed. Helena seems to think they will.”
“Maybe we can fool them,” Michelle said, kissing her, “for one night, at least.”
“Mm,” Samantha said, a hint of mischief in her eye, “I’m sneaking into your room, even if they do.”
“It’d be good practice for when we get back to the States,” Michelle said, sighing, “it’s going to be harder to fool around.”
“If we can survive the Canadian wild,” Samantha said, smiling at her, “I’m sure we can figure out a way to be together. Nothing is going to keep me from getting you naked on a regular basis.”
Laughing, Michelle said, “Our parents might have something to say about that.”
“They are going to have their hands full trying to stop me,” Samantha said, kissing Michelle deeply.
Feeling warm and fuzzy, Michelle said, “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Samantha said, stealing one more kiss, before letting her go.
They headed back to the shack to see what Helena had in mind for breakfast. Michelle remembered what they had packed yesterday, so it was probably going to be the remaining peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She was a little surprised when she saw Helena flipping chunks of what looked like rabbit in one of the skillets the hunters had left behind.
“Blue was busy this morning,” Helena said, nodding at the wolf sitting just inside the shack, “she caught us some breakfast.”
“Yeah, she does that sometimes,” Michelle said, hunching down in front of the wolf and petting her, “she brought us a fawn as a peace offering after trying to eat me.”
“A peace offering, huh?” Helena said, amused.
“Sort of a wolf’s version of ‘my bad’,” Michelle said, smiling at Blue.
“Well, it was a pair of fat rabbits, this time,” Helena said.
“How did you get them in the pan so fast?” Samantha asked, frowning, “we were only gone like fifteen minutes.”
“Sweetie,” Helena said, gesturing with her spatula, “when you’ve cleaned as many rabbits as I have, it doesn’t take long. Rabbit stew was one of Allen’s favorites.”
“Well, they smell delicious,” Samantha said, hunkering down next to Blue, “thanks, Blue.”
The wolf nuzzled her neck, making Samantha laugh.
“I’m surprised to see you in here, Blue,” Michelle said, thinking this was the first time Blue had risked going into a human dwelling. Even now, Blue looked a little uneasy about being inside the shack. Still, Michelle decided to take it as a good sign.
“She was just standing in the open door, watching me butcher the rabbits,” Helena said, glancing at the wolf, “so I asked her if she’d like to come in. Had to bribe her with a rabbit leg.”
“Once again, your belly got the better of your instincts,” Michelle said, laughing when the wolf licked her chops.
“What is it, girl?”
Michelle glanced from Samantha to Blue, saw the wolf’s ears prick up. Following Blue’s eyes, Michelle saw she was looking at the road. A minute passed, then Michelle heard the far off grumble off an engine. She smiled as it grew louder as it came closer.
“That’s probably Mom and Dad,” Michelle said, glancing at Samantha.
Taking a nervous breath, Samantha said, “Yeah.”
“Relax, Babe,” Michelle said, taking her hand.
“That’s easy for you to say,” Samantha said, laughing, “you don’t have to spend a couple of days with your girlfriend’s parents.”
“We aren’t going to tell them about us until tomorrow, remember?” Michelle said.
“That doesn’t help any,” Samantha said, shaking her head.
Squeezing her hand reassuringly, Michelle said, “They are going to love you.”
“I hope so,” Samantha said, kissing her deeply, “because I’m not going anywhere.”
“Good,” Michelle said, smiling warmly at her.
The whine of the engine grew steadily louder, then Michelle saw the muddy SUV come around the last bend before the stretch of road they could see. She had just finished telling Samantha to relax, but it was her turn for her heart to start beating faster. Sometime tomorrow, she was going to come out to her parents, which was a little scary. After that, she’d have to tell them about Samantha, which was even scarier. She really did think her parents would like Samantha, but they might be a little upset about the two of them sharing a room for the night before telling them.
Michelle didn’t intend to tell them that she and Samantha were sleeping together. Hopefully, her parents would assume they were too young for such things. That would be the best case scenario. It would buy them some time to be intimate before the new rules like ‘no alone time in your room’ or ‘one foot on the floor at all times’.
Or whatever parents try to keep their kids from having sex, Michelle thought, amused, at least, Mom and Dad are getting off easy. Not much chance of any unexpected grandkids with Samantha and me. No teen pregnancy drama. I need to remember to point that out if they ever figure out Samantha and I are sleeping together. Probably won’t stop me from getting grounded but it’d be worth a shot.
As the SUV got closer, Michelle reluctantly let go of Samantha’s hand. From here on out, they’d have to hide their feelings for each other. At least until tomorrow, anyway.
Blue growled low in her throat, her eyes on the approaching vehicle. Michelle patted her furry head, said, “Hush.”
The wolf looked up at her, then back at the SUV. She wasn’t growling, anymore, but she still didn’t seem at ease. Her posture was stiff, like she was ready to run away.
Michelle continued to stroke the wolf’s head, said, “Easy, girl. It’s just my parents.”
Blue’s trust in Michelle overruled her natural instincts, and she relaxed under Michelle’s hand. Sitting back on her haunches, Blue waited for the arrival of Michelle’s parents.
The SUV slowed as it pulled up to the tower and the passenger door flung open even before it came to a complete halt. Michelle’s mother was out of the passenger seat and running to Michelle even as her dad was still putting it in park.
Michelle met her halfway, slipping into her mother’s arms. The woman squeezed her so tight that it made tears spill down her cheeks. Or maybe, she was just happy to see her mother, again. Michelle hugged her back just as tightly.
“My baby,” her mother said, the tears streaming down her cheeks thickening her voice.
“I’m okay, Mom,” Michelle managed to wheeze. Her mother was squeezing all the air out of her.
“She’s turning blue, Honey,” Her father said, putting her hand on his wife’s shoulder and gently prying them apart.
“Sorry,” her mother said, wiping her eyes.
When her mother let her go, it was Michelle’s dad’s turn to hug her. The big, ex-Navy Seal was crying as he hugged his daughter. Even after warning his wife to take it easy, her dad nearly squeezed the life out of her, too. It forced a groan from her.
“Can’t breathe, Dad,” Michelle said. He loosened his embrace but just a little.
Behind them came a sharp bark, followed by a menacing warning growl. Michelle turned and saw Blue’s teeth bared and her muzzle wrinkled. Smiling at the wolf, she said, “It’s okay, Blue. He’s not hurting me.”
“Jesus, Michelle,” her mother said, looking wide-eyed at Blue, “that’s a wolf!”
Slipping out of her Dad’s arms, Michelle bent down and scratched Blue behind the ears. She smiled up at her parents and said, “Mom, Dad… Meet Blue. Blue… Mom and Dad.”
“Honey, that’s a wild animal,” her dad said.
“I know,” Michelle said, straightening up, “she’s cool, though.”
“She’s cool?” Her father repeated, dubiously.
“She’s been with us since day two,” Samantha said, joining the huddle.
“Samantha,” Michelle’s mother said, suddenly hugging the girl. Samantha looked surprised but hugged her back. Pulling back, Michelle’s mother said, “That’s from your parents.”
Swallowing hard, Samantha said, “Um, thanks.”
Michelle’s mother hugged her, again, said, “And this is for helping keep my baby safe.”
“Mom,” Michelle said, embarrassed.
“We kept each other safe,” Samantha said, smiling at her, “Blue, too. She’s saved our butts a couple of times.”
Looking from Blue to Michelle, her dad said, “I guess there’s a story here.”
“You could say that,” Helena said, coming up on the group, “you must be Michelle’s parents.”
“And you are Helena,” Michelle’s mother said, hugging the woman, “thank you.”
“It was nothing,” Helena said, embarrassed.
“Nonsense,” her father said, offering her hand, “Michelle and Samantha would still be wandering in the woods without you.”
Shaking it, Helena said, “Actually, you have my cow to thank for that.”
“Michelle mentioned that on the phone,” her father said, laughing.
“Well,” Helena said, pointing over her shoulder, “Michelle, why don’t you take your parents up to the crow’s nest. I’ll load your bags in the SUV for you.”
“Thanks, Helena,” Michelle said, then to her parents, “you have to see this view.”
Michelle led them up the stairs to the top of the tower. She smiled at her parents’ slack-jawed reaction to the breathtaking view. From up here, they could see miles in every direction, and the Canadian wild had a lot of beauty to behold.
After a while, Michelle’s dad looked at her and said, “You found your way through this?”
“Um, yeah,” Michelle said, then pointed, “Helena’s cabin is roughly that way, and the lake was northwest of there.”
“This isn’t very easy country to walk,” her father said.
“We know,” Michelle said, laughing. Sobering up some, she said, “Thank you.”
“For what?” He asked.
“For everything you’ve ever taught me about survival,” Michelle said, hugging him, “and thanks for the waterproof backpack liner that I rolled my eyes at when you gave it to me.”
“Came in handy, huh?” He asked.
“I wish I had had one,” Samantha said.
“I’ll give you one when we get back,” Michelle’s dad said.
“Sweet,” Samantha said, grinning.
“I’ve got to tell you, girls… I’m impressed,” he said, still hugging Michelle, “you’ve covered some serious ground. You should be proud.”
“Wait until you see the bearskin,” Samantha said.
“Bearskin?” Michelle’s mother asked.
“Um,” Michelle said, with a nervous laugh, “I sort of left that part out on the phone.”
“The part where we killed and skinned a grizzly bear,” Michelle said.
“You what?!” Her mother said, mortified.
“I thought you had told them,” Samantha said, smiling sheepishly at Michelle, “Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Michelle said, laughing.
“You really killed a grizzly bear?” Her dad asked.
“With a spear,” Samantha said, grinning, “then made it into a rug.”
“Really?” He asked.
“Yeah,” Michelle said, smiling at his reaction, “did a brain tan on it.”
“That’s my girl,” her father said, giving Michelle a squeeze. His pride in his daughter was clear in his voice.
“Your girl? Your girl?!” Michelle’s mother said, incredulously, “she killed a bear, for God’s sake!”
“Well, the bear started it,” Michelle said, laughing when her mother threw her hands up in exasperation, “I didn’t want to tell you over the phone because I knew you’d be worried.”
“Of course I’d be worried,” her mother said, stealing Michelle away from her father to hug her tightly.
“Would now be a bad time to tell you about the guys with the AR-15s?” Michelle asked.
“Yes,” her mother said, squeezing her tighter.
“You can tell us about it, later,” her father said, grinning, “after your mom has had a few drinks.”
“God, I could use one now,” her mother said, finally letting go of Michelle.
“Let’s go back down,” her father said, heading for the stairs, “I’m sure Helena needs to start back to her cabin soon if she is going to make it before dark.”
Blue was waiting patiently for them at the bottom of the stairs. Seeing the wolf, Michelle took a deep breath and said, “Um, Mom… Dad… I kind of told Blue she could come with us if she wanted.”
“Did you now?” Her father said, sounding amused.
“She’s a wild animal, Michelle,” her mother said.
“She’s super smart, she’d basically take of herself, and…” Michelle said, sighing, “and it’s completely up to her if she wants to come.”
“Do you think she’d want to come?” Her dad asked.
“I don’t know,” Michelle said, looking around, “this is a lot to leave behind.”
“It is,” he agreed, then hunkered down to Blue’s level, “I see why you call her Blue now.”
Holding out his hand, he waited to see if Blue would let him pet her. Blue glanced at Michelle questioningly, and she smiled and nodded, said, “He’s my dad. It’s okay.”
Satisfied, Blue moved closer. As her dad petted the wolf, he met his daughter’s eyes, asked, “Did you train her to do that?”
“No,” Michelle said, smiling, “Blue is smarter than the average wolf. If you give her a chance, she’ll amaze you just how smart.”
“Do you think she’ll be this well behaved in the car… The hotel room… The car again, I guess, going home? I don’t think we’d be able to fly with her,” Her dad asked.
“I don’t know,” Michelle admitted.
“What do you think, Hun?” He asked, glancing up at his wife, “you up for a long road trip with a wild animal in the backseat?”
Michelle’s heart sank at how he framed the question. It felt like he had just torpedoed her chances of taking Blue home with them. The way he put it, even Michelle thought it sounded like a horrible idea.
Michelle’s mother surprised her by hunkering down next to her husband. When she offered her hand, Blue didn’t even need Michelle’s reassurance that she was a friend. It was almost like Blue understood that she needed to win over Michelle’s mother. She relented to being scratched behind the ear, grinning happily.
“She doesn’t seem that wild to me,” Michelle’s mother said, smiling back at the wolf, “do you, girl?”
Blue chuffed in agreement.
“Will she listen to you if she decides to come?” Her mother asked, glancing at her.
“Yes,” Michelle said, pretty confident she was telling the truth. She really did believe Blue would be okay in the car and everywhere else after that. She held her breath as she waited for her mother to make up her mind.
“Well,” she said, straightening up, “we’ll let you ask her, then.”
“We can keep her?” Michelle asked.
“If she wants to come.”
Michelle gave her mother a huge hug, said, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
“You still have to convince Blue,” her mother said.
“I know, but I really didn’t expect you to say yes,” Michelle said.
“Did you forget what my favorite animal is?” Her mother asked.
Her eyes widening, Michelle said, “Wolves… I didn’t think about that.”
Smiling at Michelle, her mother said, “Your dad and I will give you a moment. Have your talk with Blue.”
“Okay,” Michelle said, returning the smile.
“Just for the record, Blue,” her mother said, getting the wolf’s attention, “I hope you decide to come with us.”
Michelle watched as her parents walked toward the SUV, then hunkered down next to Blue. Stroking the wolf’s neck, Michelle said, “It’s time for me to go, Blue.”
Blue met Michelle’s eyes, held them.
“I can’t believe Mom said yes,” Michelle told Blue, meaning it. Even considering her mother’s love of wolves, it still surprised Michelle how easy it had been to convince her to let Michelle take Blue home with them.
“If you want to come with us, you can,” Michelle said, wondering if Blue understood what she was saying.
Blue glanced away from Michelle, and her eyes went to the SUV. Michelle smiled, thinking that answered her question. On some level, Blue understood the significance of the car. Blue looked at the car for a long moment, then turned and walked toward it.
Following her, Michelle asked, “Does that mean you want to go?”
Blue didn’t answer. She walked over to the SUV, sniffing everything as she circled it. When she made it to the back of the car, she looked back at Michelle. Smiling, Michelle opened the hatch for her. Putting her paws on the back bumper, Blue looked inside. She sniffed Michelle’s and Samantha’s packs, Michelle’s parents’ luggage.
“What do you think, Blue?” Michelle asked.
Blue gave Michelle a tongue lolled out grin.
“Does that mean you are coming?” Michelle asked.
“Let me start the car,” Michelle’s dad said, opening the driver door.
“Okay,” Michelle said, crossing her fingers. She knew the rumble of the engine would spook Blue. The real question was if Blue would get in the car with it running.
Her dad turned the car over, and Blue jumped like she had been shocked. She turned and ran away from the vehicle, stopping fifty feet or so away. She looked nervously at the SUV, then at Michelle.
Walking over to Blue, Michelle sat down next to her. Looking at the SUV, she said, “It makes a lot of noise, doesn’t it?”
Blue risked a glance away from the car, looking at Michelle.
“Smells, too,” Michelle said, catching a whiff of exhaust.
Sneezing, Blue shook her head.
“I wouldn’t want to get in there, if I were you,” Michelle said, petting Blue, “I have to, though. It’s time for me to go.”
Blue looked at her anxiously, then back at the car. She was trembling under Michelle’s hand. Blue didn’t trust the vehicle, that much was clear. Would Michelle’s promise that it was safe be enough this time?
Tears stinging her eyes, Michelle hugged the wolf and said, “I love you, Blue. I’ll understand if you don’t want to come.”
Michelle took a deep breath to push the tears back and got to her feet. Walking back to the car, she glanced over her shoulder at Blue, saw the wolf pacing nervously. Michelle didn’t need to be an expert on animal body language to recognize Blue’s struggle with her instincts and her desire to come with Michelle. The wolf’s indecision tore at Michelle’s heart, and Michelle had to look away from Blue’s torment.
Helena was standing near the SUV, and Michelle managed a smile for her. When the old woman opened her arms, Michelle gave her a hug and said, “Thank you… For everything.”
“You are welcome,” Helena said, slipping a piece of paper into Michelle’s hand, “my number… Maybe you can call sometime.”
“I will,” Michelle said, glancing at Blue, “if she doesn’t want to come…”
“I’ll take care of her, if she’ll have me,” Helena said, with a sad smile.
Nodding, Michelle said, “Bye, Helena.”
“Bye, Michelle,” Helena said.
Michelle got in the SUV, leaving her door open. Looking through the back window at Blue, her heart sank. The wolf was still fifty feet away, pacing anxiously. The tears she had managed to keep in check finally began to fall.
“I don’t think she’s coming,” her mother said, tenderly.
Nodding, Michelle closed the door. As her dad put the car in drive, Michelle looked out the window at Blue. With a sad wave, she said, “Bye, Blue.”
As the car began to move, Michelle’s heart broke. Watching Blue fade into the distance, hot tears slipped down her cheeks. Leaving Blue behind had hurt more than she had expected, and she had known it was going to hurt like hell. Just under a month was a short time to know each other, but the bond between them had been undeniable. That connection tore a hole in Michelle’s heart when it was ripped away.
She glanced at Samantha, saw the girl’s eyes were red from crying. Samantha had loved Blue as much as Michelle had, and she was hurting, too. Michelle wanted to put her arms around her or take her hand, something to comfort her, but she couldn’t. Not without blowing their cover, so she sat on her hands to keep them from reaching out for Samantha.
Her girlfriend’s misery made fresh tears sting her eyes, and she had to look away before she started crying, harder. She made the mistake of looking at her reflection in the rearview mirror, saw her red eyes and tear streaked cheeks. Sighing, she looked out the window, instead.
“I’m sorry, Sweetie,” her dad said.
“Me, too,” her mother said, turning to give Michelle a sad smile. Her makeup was smeared from crying, her eyes puffy and red.
Nodding, Michelle said, “I’m okay.”
“You sure?” Her mother asked.
“I mean, I will-” Michelle said, then stopped when she saw something in the rear view mirror just before the car had rounded a bend in the road. Her heart skipping a beat, she said, “Stop the car!”
“What?” Her dad said, letting off the gas and looking at her in the rearview mirror.
“Stop the car!” Michelle said, craning her neck to look out the back window.
Her dad stepped on the brake, and the SUV slid to a stop. Looking over his shoulder, he asked, “What is it?”
“I thought I saw something,” Michelle said, her heart racing.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as Michelle stared out the back window. It was a cruel trick of perception that stretched her nerves to the breaking point as she waited to see if she had really seen what she thought she had. Each tick of the clock in her brain made her doubt herself. Maybe her mind was just playing tricks on her, and she had imagined it.
Then Blue came barreling around the bend they had just passed, running full tilt. Gasping, Michelle cried, “It’s Blue!”
Michelle opened her door and tried to get out, but she got hung up on the seat belt. She fumbled with the impossible release button for what seemed like forever. When she finally managed to pop the catch, she turned just in time to see Blue leap through the open door and into the backseat. The wolf licked Michelle’s face enthusiastically.
Laughing and crying, Michelle hugged the wolf. Finally letting her go, Michelle asked, “Are you sure, Blue?”
Blue sat down between Michelle and Samantha.
“I think that’s a yes,” her mother said, smiling front the front seat.
“Yeah,” Michelle agreed, hugging Blue, again.
“We are going to need a new hotel,” her father said, easing off the brake, “one that’s pet-friendly.”
“I’ll find us one,” her mother said, pulling out her phone. She fiddled with it for a minute, then put it back in her purse, “as soon as we get back to civilization. No service out here.”
As the car began to move again, Blue looked around the cabin nervously. The creak of the suspension tortured by the bumpy road especially seemed to disturb her. Blue twitched every time it happened.
Michelle put a reassuring hand on the wolf’s neck, Michelle said, “It’s okay, Blue.”
The wolf looked at Michelle, her beautiful blue eyes asking if Michelle sure about this noisy contraption they were in.
Michelle smiled at her and stroked her head reassuringly, repeated, “It’s okay, Blue. You are safe.”
Blue wasn’t completely convinced, but she stopped twitching when the shocks squealed in protest with each rut in the road. As a few miles passed, she relaxed enough that she laid down and put her head in Michelle’s lap. A couple more miles, and Michelle felt the wolf’s breathing slowed under her hand. Blue was asleep. Michelle smiled, thinking if Blue was comfortable enough to sleep in the car, she was going to be okay for the rest of the trip.
Michelle glanced at Samantha, saw the girl smiling at her. Nodding, Michelle said, “I think she’s going to be okay.”
“One-oh-seven and oh-eight. This is us.”
After being in the car for eight hours, Michelle was glad they were stopping. Even with the stops they made every hour or so to let a stir-crazy Blue stretch her legs, it was a long time to be cooped up in a car.
They were about as far south as they could be and still be in Canada. Without Samantha’s passport, they were stuck this side of the border for the time being. Michelle’s dad had wanted to hole up here because there was a United States embassy. The embassy was closed for the day by the time they made it to the city. In the morning, he was going to see if there was a way to get them past the checkpoint without it. He thought there was a good chance she could get a temporary passport, considering the plane crash and everything.
Michelle was glad the embassy was closed. She had been hoping for at least one more night with Samantha before they made it home. With a bed and a shower to fool around in, she intended to make the most of it.
Michelle took one of the magnetic key cards from her dad, said, “Samantha and I will take this one.”
She inserted the key card into the reader, pulled it out, then opened the door. Michelle held it while Samantha went inside, then smiled as Blue peaked into the room warily. Samantha saw her standing in the open door and waved her in. The wolf glanced up at Michelle for permission before entering.
Nodding, Michelle said, “It’s okay, Blue.”
Hesitantly, Blue stepped into the hotel room, pausing as her paws found the squishy carpet. She glanced back at Michelle, again. Laughing, Michelle said, “It’s just carpet, Blue.”
Blue sniffed the floor in front of her, then sneezed and shook her head. Still, she seemed satisfied, because she padded into the hotel room. She looked around her new surroundings, sniffing the beds, the table, the dresser with the TV on it, everything. Blue wandered into the bathroom, finishing her tour of the room. When she came back into the main room, she walked over to the square of sunlight coming through the window and stretched out to soak up the warmth.
“I guess she likes it,” Samantha said, smiling.
“Or, at least, she’s willing to put up with it,” Michelle said, walking over to one of the twin beds. Sitting down, she sighed. When Samantha gave her a funny look, Michelle laughed and said, “It’s so soft. I had forgotten how comfortable a mattress could be.”
Joining Michelle on the bed, Samantha bounced up and down. She grinned at Michelle, said, “We haven’t done it on a bed before… Well, I guess the cabin counts, but those springs kind of ruined it.”
Laughing, Michelle kissed her. She meant it to be just a quick peck, but the moment her lips touched Samantha’s, she knew it wouldn’t be. One kiss became many, and somehow, Michelle ended up on her back with Samantha’s hand under her shirt. Things might have gotten further out of hand if there wasn’t a knock at the door.
Her heart racing, Michelle hopped guiltily off the bed, smoothing her shirt back into place. Samantha was looking at her wide-eyed. Michelle could see Samantha was wondering the same thing that she was- were they busted, somehow?
On legs made rubbery by adrenaline, Michelle went to the door and opened it. Her mother was standing there, and it didn’t do anything for her nerves. Had her parents heard them through the wall? Michelle didn’t think they had made that much noise, but, then again, she couldn’t be sure. When she was with Samantha, everything got fuzzy around the edges.
Her mother was smiling, which she probably wouldn’t have been if Michelle and Samantha had been overheard. Michelle hoped that was a good sign.
“Get cleaned up. We are going shopping,” Michelle’s mother said, then peered around her daughter to say to Samantha, “you, too. Your parents sent us some money for you to spend.”
“Why?” Samantha asked.
“It’s going to be at least a night before your parents can come get you and we can’t have you two smelling like a campfire the whole time.”
“Okay,” Michelle said, then glanced down at Blue, “what about her?”
“Your dad offered to stay with her,” Michelle’s mother said, snorting, “I think he just didn’t want to go shopping with us.”
“Sounds about right,” Michelle said, laughing.
“Knock on our door when you are ready,” she said.
“Okay,” Michelle said, closing the door. Returning to Samantha on the bed, she said, “God, I thought we were busted.”
“Me, too,” Samantha said, laughing.
Smiling playfully at her, Michelle asked, “How long do you think we can take?
“Getting ready?” Samantha asked, then her eyes widened, “Oh, you mean… An hour?”
“Plenty long enough,” Michelle said, kissing her, “to pick up where we left off in the shower.”
Laughing, Samantha said, “You still want to?”
“Don’t you?” Michelle asked.
Samantha thought about it a moment, then grabbed Michelle’s hand, “Come on.”
In the bathroom, they started shedding clothes in a hurry. Each time their eyes met, they would start laughing at their eagerness. They didn’t slow down, though. Not even when Samantha’s foot caught in her pant leg and she almost fell while hopping on one foot, trying to free it. Michelle was there to steady her and, as she finally slipped out of her jeans, Samantha eased into Michelle’s arms. Their lips met, again, the same desire that had gripped them on the bed returning with a vengeance. They were only half undressed, and the water still wasn’t going, but they couldn’t stop kissing. The water was a problem, but at least they could work on the rest of their clothes as they kissed. Michelle managed to get Samantha out of her panties while the girl pulled Michelle’s shirt up. Their lips parted long enough for Samantha to help her out of it, completely, then they were at it, again.
Eventually, Michelle managed to husk, “We should probably move this to the shower.”
“Right,” Samantha said, stealing one more lingering kiss before slipping out of Michelle’s arms, “um, grab the body wash and shampoo.”
Michelle stepped back into the main room and went to Samantha’s pack. Blue looked up from her sunny spot, gave Michelle a curious look. Grabbing the soap and shampoo, Michelle gave the wolf a sheepish grin, said, “It’s not like you haven’t seen us naked before.”
Blue yawned as if to say it was definitely old news.
Hurrying back to the bathroom, Michelle saw that Samantha had towels out on the closed lid of the toilet and was fiddling with the taps. She sat the soap on the rim of the tub, then took a moment to admire the view of Samantha bent over the tub. Michelle wasn’t one to pass up an opportunity to admire her girlfriend’s lovely body, especially when it was so beautifully presented.
Satisfied with the temperature of the water, Samantha straightened up and caught Michelle looking. Smiling, she said, “There you go with those eyes of yours.”
“It’s your fault for being easy to look at,” Michelle said, moving against her.
Samantha let her have one kiss before saying, “We are trying to get in the shower, remember?”
“You said we have an hour,” Michelle said.
Laughing, Samantha said, “And I think we are going to need every second of it.”
“Yeah,” Michelle agreed, grinning at her, “maybe more.”
“We need to try to keep it short as possible,” Samantha said, kissing her, “we are trying to stay under the radar, remember?”
“Okay,” Michelle said, letting go of Samantha and stepping into the tub. When Samantha joined her, she pulled the curtain. Michelle sighed as she stepped under the spray of hot water. The temperature was perfect and the pressure better than Helena’s solar shower.
It felt so good that she forgot about Samantha for a moment, but the girl wouldn’t let her forget for long. Michelle smiled as the girl moved against her under the spray, their bodies molding together. Samantha put her arms around Michelle’s neck and kissed her deeply. Just like that, the roles were reversed, and Michelle forgot all about the shower.
As it had on the bed, one kiss became many. Michelle’s hands thrilled to Samantha’s naked body, ran over her wet skin incessantly. Samantha’s touch was just as eager as she explored Michelle, the caress of her fingertips stoking the already burning fire inside of Michelle. Her passion burned hotter than the water from the shower head.
When Samantha suddenly sank to her knees in front of Michelle, she was more than ready for what the girl had in mind. Samantha kissed her stomach, her lips interrupting the riverlets of water on Michelle’s skin before they continued on down her body. Samantha’s next kiss drew a moan from Michelle, her tongue slipping between parted lips to tease Michelle’s bud. The flick of the girl’s tongue sent shivers of pleasure through Michelle’s body.
Her soft moans of enjoyment were swallowed up by the hiss of the shower at first, but Samantha’s insistent tongue soon had her little cries filling the shower. Her body pushing against Samantha’s mouth greedily. She put one hand on the shower stall wall and the other on the back of Samantha’s head. Not that Samantha needed the encouragement. She seemed content to keep up her delicious torture, to not show Michelle any mercy with her relentless pleasuring. Michelle’s enjoyment kept ratcheting up, her body swaying unsteadily under the assault. She needed the wall more and more, Samantha making her weak in the knees.
Samantha was worried about the time for nothing, Michelle thought, her fingers tightening in Samantha’s hair, I’m not going to last long if she keeps that up.
That thought came as the first whisper of an orgasm found Michelle. That whisper built and built inside until her nerve endings were screaming. It was amongst that cacophony that she lost herself to her climax. It shook her and, in its wake, the only sound she heard was the thundering of her heart in her ears. The silence was peaceful as she drifted down from on high.
As Samantha got to her feet, Michelle moved against her and gave her a very appreciative kiss. Pulling back, she smiled at her, said, “You are so good at that.”
“I’ve just figured out what you like,” Samantha said, kissing her, again.
“I think everyone likes that,” Michelle said, making Samantha laugh.
Her eyes flashing, Samantha said, “I know I do.”
Laughing, Michelle asked, “Was that a hint?”
“Yeah,” Samantha said, kissing her.
Breaking the kiss, Michelle sank to her knees in front of Samantha. The caress of her tongue across Samantha’s bud drew a thick moan from the girl. It was the first, but far from the last as she used her mouth to pleasure the girl. With a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, Michelle thought, I guess I’ve figured out what she likes, too.
The water from the shower rolling down Samantha’s taut stomach and onto Michelle’s tongue tasted like copper from the plumbing. Michelle recognized the flavor. Water from the hot tap on the faucet always had a hint of an alkaline taste like this.
She found it kind of odd that she even noticed, considering what she was doing to Samantha. Then again, she was aware of all the things going on around her- from the swirling water rushing past her knees toward the drain to the pelt of the shower on the back of her head, from soft animal sounds of excitement her girlfriend was making to the pitter-patter of the spray hitting the shower curtain. There was plenty to engage her senses other than the feel of Samantha’s girlhood pushing against her mouth eagerly. Still, the girl was the center of her attention, and the rest was just background stimuli.
In the back of her brain, there was a clock quietly ticking away. With no time for foreplay or to tease, she had to really go for it. Like Samantha had done to her, she didn’t give the girl a chance to catch her breath. The flick of her tongue took Samantha higher and higher, had Samantha leaning on the wall for support, and her body writhing in ecstasy.
“God, you are going to make me come,” Samantha gasped.
Michelle saw the girl’s stomach tightening in anticipation of that explosion of pleasure. She grabbed the girl’s buttocks to keep her thrashing body to her mouth and managed to take her to the edge and then over it. Samantha’s orgasm nearly took her to her knees, even with the wall for support. On legs as wobbly as a newborn fawn, she somehow managed to stay upright.
“Babe,” Samantha said, giving Michelle a dazed smile. It was just one word- one syllable- but it said so much. It was ‘thank you’, ‘I love you’, and ‘I can’t feel my toes because you are amazing’ all rolled up into one word.
Smiling, Michelle stood up and said, “I guess you do like that.”
“Mm… What’s not to like?” Samantha said, moving against her. She gave Michelle a toe-curling kiss, before pulling back to say, “I love when you do that to me.”
“Maybe if you ask me nicely later…” Michelle husked, thinking she wouldn’t even have to ask if she kisses me like that, again.
“Speaking of later,” Samantha said, glancing at her body wash, “do you think we have time to actually shower, now?”
“Um… we’d have to hurry,” Michelle said, hearing the tick of the clock in her head. Time always got a little funny when she was with Samantha, so she didn’t even try to guess how long they had been in the shower. Probably too long.
“Right,” Samantha said, picking up the body wash, “hold out your hands.”
Samantha poured a small puddle in both of their hands, then capped the bottle. With no time to enjoy themselves, they didn’t try to wash each other. Michelle soaped up in a hurry, stepping under the spray of water to rinse it away. It was barely more than a minute, and she was reaching for the shampoo. She washed her hair almost as fast, then she was reaching for one of the towels on the toilet seat. As Michelle dried off, she tried but couldn’t remember ever showering this fast.
Samantha was done just as fast, toweling off beside her. Their eyes met, and they started laughing. Even though they were strapped for time, Michelle had to steal a kiss.
“Maybe we should have waited,” Samantha said.
“Where’s the fun in that?” Michelle said, smiling at her.
As they started to get dressed, Michelle noticed how smokey her clothes smelled. Out in the woods, she hadn’t noticed, but now she knew what her mother meant by them smelling like a campfire. Michelle wasn’t even sure a turn in the washing machine could get the smell out of her jeans.
Tying her shoe, Michelle glanced at the alarm clock next to the bed. She hadn’t checked it before they took their shower, but she thought only forty minutes or so had passed. Two showers in forty minutes wasn’t too crazy. A little long, but not too suspicious. At least, Michelle hoped it wasn’t.
When they were both dressed, Michelle grabbed their room key and opened the door. Blue picked her head up, her ears pricked. Michelle motioned for her to stay, said, “Hold here for a second, Blue.”
Samantha held the door to their room while Michelle went next door and knocked.
Her mother came to the door, giving her a curious look. Finally, she asked, “What took so long?”
Sheepishly, Michelle said, “It’s been a while since we had a real shower.”
It was a lie, but it was a reasonable excuse. Her mother didn’t have any trouble believing it.
Nodding, her mother said, “Let me get my purse. Bring Blue over here.”
Michelle stepped back to her room, said, “Come on, Blue. You can hang out with my dad while we go shopping.”
Blue lifted her head at the sound of her name, then got to her feet. She walked out of one room and into the other, like she understood everything Michelle had said. Michelle looked up and saw her mother and father looking at Blue in surprise.
Laughing, Michelle said, “I told you she was smart.”
“You didn’t train her to do that?” Her father asked.
“To move from one hotel room to another?” Michelle asked, grinning.
“Smart ass,” her dad said, laughing, “so it was a stupid question.”
“I haven’t trained her to do anything,” Michelle said, reaching down to pet Blue, “she just always seems to know what I need her to do.”
“Huh,” her dad said, looking at Blue with new respect.
To Blue, Michelle said, “This room has a sunny spot, too.”
Blue looked up at her, then at the rectangle of light coming in through the window. Yawning, she padded over to the spot and stretched out. She yawned a second time, laying her head on her paws. Her eyes closed.
“She’ll probably be okay there until we get back,” Michelle said.
“Okay,” her dad said, shaking her head and laughing.
“Let’s go, girls,” Michelle’s mother said, then to her husband, “we’ll bring back dinner.”
“Sounds good,” he said, smiling at her, “love you.”
“Love you, too,” she said.