When they arrived back at the house they settled in for lunch. But they didn’t get the chance to eat. They were standing in the kitchen, getting ready to cook, when the floor shook. Lenci fell onto Beck. He caught her and held her up with him against the counter. He held her tight until the shaking stopped.
“Hey there.” He looked down at her.
“Nope.” She stood up quickly, using the same thing he told her the night they met.
He laughed and asked, “What was that? An earthquake?”
“No. We’ve moved again. Let’s go see where we’ve landed.”
“Why would we have moved again?” Beck followed her to the front door.
Lenci opened the door and smiled. “Because he thought we might like a warmer vacation.”
“He?” Beck peeked around her to look outside. Before them was a sandy beach and turquoise waves. Not a soul in sight. It stretched on as far as they could see.
“I won’t complain. I hope he got me a swimsuit.” He turned around and headed straight for his room.
A few minutes later they both emerged from their bedroom doors to face each other in their swimsuits. Beck was in a pair of black swim shorts. Lenci was in a green one piece with mesh and no lining on her nearly flat torso. A short, flouncy, white swim skirt hid the tops of her round legs. Sunglasses sat on her head like a headband, keeping her hair out of her face.
Beck leaned against his door frame as he looked her over. “Yep. This is my best vacation ever.” He smiled at her as his eyes meandered over her well supported and much less covered than usual chest.
“None of that, you!” Lenci laughed even though she couldn’t help but notice his body too. He looked fit but not carved, with a healthy thin layer of fat over his abs that still allowed for the nice V shape she loved at the bottom. His chest looked firm and his arms strong. He looked like he took good care of himself, which made her happy. “Come on!” She grabbed his hand and pulled him along to the beach.
Lenci and Beck swam around, splashed, played, and laughed in the waves. Lenci was enjoying herself when she heard a quiet voice in her head. She knew who it was. It was the same voice she’d been hearing and fighting off for two centuries. She froze in the water. It was cool and refreshing. Her body was losing heat quickly. As the voice echoed in her head she wondered if she’d stayed in too long.
“Edifice,” Braithe whispered to her mind. “Edifice.”
“No,” Lenci answered silently. She noticed Beck staring at her. A few moments passed as Lenci pushed Braithe down deeper. “Sorry,” she said aloud to him. “I think I need to get some sun. Some heat.”
“Alright. Need me to get something to lie on?” Beck asked. He watched her with concern in the waist deep water. The waves didn’t budge her. Her eyes were distant and shimmered oddly.
“Sure. There are some light blankets in the closet.” She didn’t move from her spot in the water.
“I’ll go get one. Come on, Lenci.” Beck took her arm and pulled her hesitantly to the shore.
As he turned to walk away she grabbed his arm and said, “Thanks.” He nodded and went inside. She stood in the sun for a few minutes as Braithe tried to persist. Lenci closed her eyes as Braithe’s grating voice faded from her mind and she sighed as the sun warmed her skin. Beck came back as she let out a long breath. He saw her chest rise and fall dramatically.
“Everything okay? Are you in control? Should I get the lighter?”
Lenci opened her eyes. “Everything’s okay,” she answered. “Everything is good. I should probably stay out of the water the rest of today.”
“Here.” He laid out a large blanket for both of them to lie on.
“Thanks.” Lenci lied down, pulled her sunglasses from her head to her face, and basked in the sun’s warmth.
After a long period of silence, Beck turned on his side and propped his head up on his hand. “What’s it like, living for so long?”
“It’s weird.” She laughed and turned to him too. “You see things come and go. People come up with the strangest things. Some are amazing, some are bonkers! Cars, phones, computers… the internet! The fashions are interesting to watch change. I’ve loved watching the progression of equality so far. My favorite is the food. Oh the things people have done with food! You have no idea how excited I was when the cupcake came about!” She gushed. “Chocolate milk, ice cream, burgers and fries, tacos, oh my heavens. Who knew?!”
Beck laughed loudly. “Of all the things you could love about being immortal, it’s awesome your favorite is the food.”
“It’s not all good.” Her face fell. “People are born and die while I don’t age. I watched my family grow old. My siblings got married and had children of their own. I stayed with them until all my immediate family was gone, held their hands as they died. I even kept a distant eye on my siblings’ great grand children. Eventually they branched out too far and I was left with no family. There are horrifying wars and devastating illnesses. As much good as there is, there’s an equal amount of awful.”
“I’m sorry you’ve had to see all that.” He tilted her face back up. “That’s a lot.” She looked into his hazel eyes and didn’t say anything. “Maybe I can help you through the next little bit.”
“I’d like that.” She gave a small smile.
“I think I might too. If I can manage not to get killed,” he chuckled.
“I’ll do my best to teach you what you need to know.”
“No small task.” He sat all the way up and picked at the blanket. “I’m not quite sure why you chose me. I’m sure there’s someone out there better for the job. Maybe someone who knows how to fight.”
“Fighting skills I can teach.” She sat up, put her sunglasses back on her head, and put a hand on his shoulder. “What I can’t teach is a sense of right and wrong. I can’t make someone learn how to have a conscience or a strong moral compass. I most definitely cannot teach someone to have an intuition like yours. You have what is needed. I can teach you the rest.”
“You really think so?”
Lenci threw her arms around him, nearly knocking him over. “Oh Beck,” she whispered, “you have no idea how hard it was to find someone like you.”
“Thanks.” He hugged her back tightly. His stomach growled and he laughed as he let her go. “I guess I’m a little hungry.”
“We did skip lunch. We should have a picnic dinner on the beach! I’ll go whip up some sandwiches.”
“I’ll get drinks and chips.”
After their dinner, they sat on the edge of their blanket sipping sodas and watching the sun set. They were side by side, their shoulders close to touching.
“I know you can’t be in a relationship. But have you ever been in love?” Beck asked.
Neither of them looked at each other as they stared at the vast array of colors before them. The pink and orange sky reflected on the water and it looked as though they could dip their toes into the sunset. Lenci loved the thought of it. She thought a sunset ocean would be supremely warm. She wasn’t sure how she should answer his question though. He deserved her total honesty. She also didn’t want to give him any ideas.
“Yes,” she answered after a long moment of silence. She would give him the truth. “Not being able to be in a relationship doesn’t stop feelings from arising. I’ve learned to break off connections early if I begin to develop real feelings that could lead to love. So I haven’t been in love in a long time. I don’t give myself the chance any more.” She dug her toes into the sand.
“You should.” Beck rested his hand on hers. “I imagine a long life without love would get lonely.”
“Let me guess, I should give it another chance with you?” She looked at him with a wry expression.
He broke into laughter. “No! That’s not what I meant! …Although I wouldn’t complain if it ended up being me.” He winked at her.
“I’m not going to fall in love with you, Beck.” She shoved him a little but not hard enough to knock him over.
“Yes, we will.” Lenci twisted around suddenly as the house’s alarm blared. This time it was flashing blue. “Inside!” She shouted and heaved Beck to his feet.
They dashed into the house and back to the mansion. Doors slammed behind them. The house shook once again and they both fell to the floor. When the shaking stopped, Lenci stood and helped Beck up.
“Did we move again?” He asked as he regained his feet.
“Yes. That was an emergency move. I wonder why.” Lenci walked to the front door. “Let’s see where we are now.” She opened the door and groaned. “Crap.”