Caroline has continuously and frustratingly—for Aaron—refused to even consider going to the future colony, which she considers absolutely unnecessary. Aaron is tired of arguing and is running out of time, so, with help from his best friends, he decides to kidnap her, which puts him in the doghouse for a long, heartbreaking time. In little Jennie, though, he finds an ally.
After just a few seconds the little girl in the photo sat up in bed and pulled the blanket to her chin and looked back at him. Her eyes were wide, her mouth was open slightly. She possibly could look very impish at a different time, as her mother had and still occasionally did. But the girl appeared to be very small.
He felt the plaque and photo against his rib cage. They could help just now. He looked at the photo. She was the same girl beyond a doubt but the photo’s expression had suggested she was bigger, older. He looked up again, “Hi,” he said.
“Hi,” she said back, her eyes maybe almost to smile but her face stayed sober. He held up the photo and plaque.
The little girl shook her head, positively.
He moved to her bedside and knelt at the side, about three feet away, and leaned against the bed slightly, “Sweetheart,” he said gently, “What do these two things mean to you?”
“Well,” she answered slowly, smiling just slightly, mouth opening more, exposing spaced teeth, “The picture is me.”
“And the name of the little girl in the picture?”
“I’m Jennie.” She answered cautiously, almost whispering but a grin creeping in, and, yes, a definite impishness in the eyes. He felt himself melting. It had taken exactly one minute to fall in love with Caroline’s daughter.
“Okay, Jennie,” he went on quietly, looking into her blue-gray eyes, remembering long ago when he first looked into her mother’s deep eyes, “What about the plaque of daisies? They were right side by side. They must both be important.”
Jennie shook her head positively, “They are!” she said in a loud whisper, “They’re Mom’s two favorite things! But I don’t know if I should tell you.”
He expected that. He also expected that Jennie knew something somewhere was wrong but so far was trusting him, “All right, Jennie, I’m glad you feel that way. But what if you met someone who loves your mom as much as you do?”
Jennie’s eyes widened. Her mouth opened farther, “Do you love her?”
Okay, you, the reader, knows Aaron has just gotten rudely interrupted at a very important moment. Sorry, but you have to read the book to find out what happens next.
(It takes to past page 340 for Aaron and Caroline to get together at all. But their on again/off again relationship is a true romance. So, in order for future reviewers not to yell at me for keeping them going forever, here is a taste of their love: Caroline is taking a bath in a lake and not expecting anyone.)
From Chapter 50 “The Lake of Embrace”
Caroline’s wet skin appeared so soft, so very soft, so soft he knew lint would stick to that skin. The softness and whiteness flowed from where the shampoo lather ended, smoothly down her arms and back, and slim waist to full and lovely hips, to just above her buttocks and ended at the glassy, inky, color-reflective surface that allowed him to see no further.
He stared anyway, imagining a curvy, distorted continuance of her body, her buttocks, her thighs and calves, her ankles and feet. He felt strange staring, his whole body humming and buzzing, and embarrassed he felt, almost guilty. But that woman was Caroline.
He loved Caroline and was going to tell her so.
He took a step. The humming and buzzing intensified and whirled right out the top of his head. He trembled once, then took another step, and felt a new emotion, one saturating everything, his mind, his heart, his arms and legs and torso, and his groin, deepening there and spreading out again to every nerve-ending in his body. He took another step, didn’t feel the first icy shock of water, then knee-high and the water pouring into his boots, another step, then wading, seeing only Caroline, Caroline, Caroline!
Then a change in water-flow, or air-current, or just an innate sixth sense but she slipped the hanging towel to her front and turned.
“Caroline,” he raised his arms and waded on, “I love you.”
(Later, same chapter: Aaron has Caroline on his horse with him for the first time.)
The saddle creaked with her extra weight and the horse shied, and the instant she settled into place her arms glided around his middle and her breasts pressed against his back. Her feminine softness stirred him deeply, just as the last nights,
Last, all by themselves, with the temptation of falling behind, forgetting everything, finding some soft grass, making love and going to the stars, was Aaron and Caroline.
Aaron nudged his horse gently with his legs, and it moved ahead. Wow, he had just learned something. He felt Caroline move closer, just as close as she could get, gripping his upper body firmly but lightly too. Her face immediately behind his ear felt wonderful, as if some power in the universe had dictated to suspend her face there just for his gratification. Even with the wind of the ride sweeping past them he could feel her breath breathing energy onto him and into him, causing a floaty feeling with the world blurring past him, dizzying him in his love for her, expressed at last.
Aaron Hodges, you are in love.
Just 1 post left. Soon look for a Kindle Countdown Deal beginning at $0.99, regularly $3.99 for this 700-page, 220,000-word book. (Check the last post for when, where & what.)
Since the test in this post suggests love and romance I thought “The Power of Love,” one of my favorite love songs from Celine Dion would be appropriate.