It had been three long days from Mountain River to Los Angeles, pushing the bike hard, blasting across the plains and through the mountains.
Charlene’s Black card rented a hotel villa looking out over the brilliant blue Pacific with long sand beaches as far as you could see.
They didn’t set foot on the beach for the first three days.
Luc and Charlene made love to each other, over and over, again and again, spending every ounce of effort every time in mad pursuit of carnal bliss.
Charlene’s wounded heart healed, stitching itself whole again. Allowing Luc in, allowing him to share and show his love for her, allowing him to reflect the parts of her that she had lost and forgotten.
On the fifth night in California, Charlene snuggled against Luc’s sleeping body. She had finally worn out her warrior and he lay defeated and helpless beside her. She cradled her head in the pillow and closed her own eyes.
Within moments her body began to rise above the bed and she was transported to the Devil’s retreat, on a patio overlooking a mountain lake. She was clothed in yards of sheer black fabric draped from her wings and bands of gold around her horns.
As the Devil turned to approach her she recoiled from the horror of his sight and the horror of what she had become. With clawed hands she grasped her horns, pulling as if to tear them from her head.
The Devil locked his gaze with hers and his expression turned from delight to fury in an instant. As he lunged at her, she arched back her wings and tore though them with her claws, leaving rags of black and red flesh. She closed her eyes and recoiled inwardly, falling though darkness until she felt herself falling in her body back onto the bed beside Luc.
He had never even moved and still snored softly. She rose and poured herself a drink in the kitchen. She could not sleep again that night.
She woke Luc at 5:00 am. "Baby, I’ve got to go."
Luc squinted the sleep out his eyes to find Charlene dressed and ready to leave. "What’s going on?"
Charlene said, "There was a fire last night in my office. I have to get back to Mountain River. I’ve got a flight out of LAX at 6:30 and my cab is here. I’ll call you when I find out more."
Luc jumped out of bed and wrapped the sheet around himself. "So you’re going to leave me to ride all the way back to Alberta by myself?"
"I’m afraid so. Sorry baby, I’ve got to go"
She stopped and looked over his rugged face. Grabbing it with both hands she kissed him goodbye.
She said, "I love you Luc. I want you to know that I know you love me too. No matter what happens, I want you to know that."
Charlene spun on her high heel and walked to the door, barely slowing down to pass through it. Tears started to collect in her eyes as she pulled down her sunglasses and climbed into the taxi.
Up the coast, in Malibu, a famous romantic actor drove his new Ferrari over a cliff, killing himself and his friend, a famous professional hockey player. The obituaries would note that both men came from Mountain River, Alberta.