Read Solstice - Of The Heart Online

Authors: John Blenkush

Tags: #romance, #paranormal, #teen romance, #teen love, #mythical, #vampirism, #mount shasta, #law of one

Solstice - Of The Heart (6 page)

BOOK: Solstice - Of The Heart
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“Hi Julissa,” he said.

“Sorry,” I said. “Afraid I don’t know
your name.”

“I’m in your Spanish
class.”

“That I know.”

He extended his hand through the
window. “I’m Jason. Jason Chavez.”

Cherrie’s Jason?

I looked over to see if Cherrie was
awake. She was. She eyed Jason with undue interest.

I stuck my hand out and shook his
hand. “I’m Julissa Grant.” And then got down to business. “She,” I
pointed Cherrie’s way, “wants it black. I’ll take a small mocha.
Extra hot. Lots of whip cream, please.”

Jason nodded and disappeared into the
booth.

“So,” I said. “That your
Jason?”

“He’s a stud, don’t you
think?”

I had to admit. Jason had his Hispanic
father’s dark eyes and hair. His skin looked richly tanned, not by
the sun but by DNA. He was built stout, not all that tall, but,
from what I saw, aptly proportioned in all the right
places.

“Boy would I like to take him
home.”

“He doesn’t seem to be all that
interested in you, Cherrie.”

“He would,” Cherrie said angling to
get a better look at Jason’s behind, “once we were in
bed.”

“Cradle robber,” I accused
her.

Jason delivered the drinks.

I paid.

Jason leaned out with his hand closed.
“Open your hand.”

I was a bit hesitant, but his voice
sounded sincere. He brandished his sun-shiny smile at us. Who could
resist? I opened my hand. He filled it with coffee beans, not the
kind you grind up, but the chocolate covered high-caffeinated
candy. I handed them off to Cherrie, said “thanks”, put the LC in
gear and drove off.

“He likes you,” Cherrie said, between
mouthfuls of licking and eating the buzz beans.

“No kidding. I saw him staring at me
in class.”

“He’s not all that bad, you
know.”

“Never said he wasn’t. He’s good
looking. Stud. But I’ve other things to think about right
now.”

“What? Like Aaron Delmon?”

“For starters.” I cranked the steering
wheel to the right to enter Everett Memorial Highway. “What do you
know about the Lemurians?”

“Did you say Leprechauns?”

“You heard what I said.”

“And you heard what I said.
Leprechauns.”

“So you don’t believe Lemurians
exist.”

“Sure I do. The same way I know
Leprechauns exist. In some folk’s imaginations. Nothing wrong with
a bit of fairy-telling, long as you can separate fact from
fiction.”

I sipped my coffee. I had asked for it
extra hot. I downed the rest in a gulp and tossed the cup over into
the back seat with the rest of the trash that had history dating
back to the car’s purchase date.

“Okay,” I said. “But don’t you believe
there’s something mystical about the mountain?”

I looked ahead and spotted Mount
Shasta through a gap in the conifer forest. Snow capped its peak.
The rest lay exposed with rock.

“Suppose anyone with an open-mind
would. A hunk of rock known to spew lava now and again can’t be
dismissed as not being a living breathing thing.”

“Wow. So you believe.”

“Not in a city called Telos beneath
the mountain, I don’t. Do you?”

“No.”

I said that fast. But it was true.
Everything I read the day before, now in daylight and with clarity
of mind—given the mocha surge and coffee buzz beans—made the
Lemurian theory seem otherworldly, a story for Hollywood and
nothing more.

“Pull in here,” Cherrie
said.

I cranked the wheel hard and pulled
into Bunny Flat. “This is it?”

“If you want to climb, this is where
it starts.”

I looked around. One other vehicle sat
in the parking lot. “Where is everybody?”

“Where do you think? This is Sunday
morning. Most people are still in bed or at church or watching
football. Not out here hiking.”

“No climbers?”

Cherrie took my head in her hands. She
turned it toward Shasta. “Look at the mountain. You see
snow?”

“Just on top.”

“Yep. No one climbs the mountain this
time of year.” She turned and looked at the Dodge Ram pick-up truck
with its blue weathered paint job parked in the lot. “Except the
Delmons. They climb all the time. Practically live on the
mountain.”

“You mean they’re here?” I had a hard
time containing the excitement in my voice.

“Yes, puppy-love. Your beau is here.”
She pointed up to the summit. “Probably up there looking down on
you right now thinking, oh I hope she climbs to the top so I can
eyeball her again.”

“Don’t tease or I might.”

Cherrie tossed me a pair of hiking
boots. “Don’t know I’ll live long enough to see you climb anything.
Put those on and we’ll see if the flatlander can at least make it
to Helen Lake.”

“Where’s that?”

Cherrie pointed to a plateau halfway
up the mountain. “See there.”

“Yep.”

“That’s Helen Lake.”

It took us two hours to hike up to
Helen Lake. Cherrie, for all her loafing and sucking on unlit
cigarettes, outpaced me and lay basking in the few sun rays not
obscured by the clouds when I arrived. I fell, exhausted, down next
to her. My breaths came hard.

“Didn’t think I’d make that last
hill.”

“That’s why they call it
stand-still-hill.”

“How high are we?”

“High enough.”

“No. Really. What’s the
elevation?”

“I think we’re at
ten-thousand.”

“Ten-thousand feet!”

“Yep, or thereabouts.”

“Now I know why I am out of
breath.”

Cherrie got up. “Time to
go.”

“We just got here.”

“You just got here. See those clouds?”
Cherrie nudged her head to the sky. “You don’t want to be on the
mountain when they get here.”

I hung my head in remembrance.
Suddenly I felt cold, chilled to the bone.

Cherrie wrapped an arm around me.
“Sorry,” she said. “I forgot your dad died in a
whiteout.”

“You’re right,” I said. “We should
go.” I took a step forward and then stopped.

Above us, in the direction of the
cloud approach, high in the spires overlooking Helen Lake, I saw
movement. Four figures picked their way through the jagged
rock.

“The Delmons?”

“Yeah. They’re leaving and so should
we.”

I followed Cherrie down the well-trod
path. It was, of course, much easier going downhill, but I still
found myself stopping to catch my breath. When I did, I looked to
the ridge above us and to the four mountaineers. As before, I could
see Aaron Delmon bringing up the rear. Bernard, with his gimpy
walk, was easy to spot in the lead. Beaumont and Belmont filled out
the middle. No way to tell which was which.

After dropping down into the trees and
passing Horse Camp, I lost sight of the Delmons. It wasn’t until we
were back at the car, had removed our boots, and were driving away
I spotted the foursome in the rear view mirror, walking out of the
woods. They stepped onto the asphalt of the parking lot. Aaron
stood in front of the group, in the middle of the parking lot
watching us—watching me!—drive away. Even from this distance, I
felt my heart flutter under his gaze.

A scream from Cherrie broke my focus
on Aaron.

Looking forward, I saw the road
curving right. We were leaning left. I cranked the wheel
hard.

Cherrie grabbed for the wheel and
pulled.

The Lincoln Continental didn’t
respond. It couldn’t. The left front tire dug into the shoulder of
the road. The gravel and loose dirt pulled us in a straight line
over the embankment. For a split second or two, sky filled our
horizon. The car lurched forward and down.

Before us lay a steep embankment and a
drop-off, which ended thousands of feet below. I expected the
worst. We would both be killed. I don’t know why, but in the back
of my mind-flippant as it might seem-I kept thinking; this is going
to be one hell of a short ride back home.

The LC, no matter how hard I pressed
the brake pedal, picked up speed. I could hear the snapping of
twigs and branches and the scraping of the undercarriage as we
bounced over the uneven ground and rocks. Sky and clouds filled our
vision. I heard Cherrie screaming. Junk, from the back seat, shot
forward through the divide in our seats. The steering wheel
wrenched from my hands. As if riding a roller-coaster, all I could
do is hang on.

Suddenly, the car came to rest twenty
or so feet off the road.

I felt far from being safe, especially
when I didn’t know what had stopped our descent. The LC balanced on
a cliff.

Cherrie yelled at me. “Throw it in
reverse”.

I obeyed her order. The car didn’t
budge. We could hear the wheels spinning. Smoke, steam, and exhaust
rose up from behind, blocking our view to the road.

And then it happened.

The wheels caught traction. The
Lincoln Continental, this tank of a car, backed up the steep
embankment. I stepped on the gas, lightly. This was something I had
learned in my short driving course with my boyfriend back in
Minnesota. Applying too much gas on a slick surface, he told me,
wouldn’t help. Traction wasn’t gained by spinning the tires, yet if
I didn’t give the LC sufficient gas I didn’t think we’d make the
road. But we did, and we did without my gunning the
engine.

That I know.

I looked in the rear view mirror as
the LC toppled back over the embankment. Aaron stood in the middle
of the parking lot where I had last seen him, his arms raised. As
the Lincoln settled on the road, I saw Aaron drop to the pavement
on his knees. Bernard and the two cousins surrounded him, blocking
him from view.

Cherrie performed the act of wiping
sweat from her brow. “Damn girl. Saw my life flash before me and it
didn’t have Jason in it.”

“You okay?” I stammered.

“Am I supposed to be? You scared the
shit out of me!”

“I know. I’m sorry. Do you want to
drive?”

“Damn right I do.”

As Cherrie and I walked around the
back of the vehicle to switch positions, I looked to the Delmons.
Bernard stood in front of Aaron, leaning over him, waving a finger
in his face. His animated actions spoke volumes. Bernard was not
happy. The cousins did not want any part of the scolding. They
stood off to the side with their heads hanging down.

As we drove away, I saw Bernard walk
away. The cousins helped Aaron to his feet. I felt sympathy for
Aaron and any pain my actions might have caused. I couldn’t fathom
what that might be other than Aaron had somehow prevented our ride
into eternity.

There could be no other
explanation.

 

 

5 FIRST CONTACT

 

Monday morning I stepped out onto the
porch of the cabin and promptly fell on my backside. Not a good
omen to start out the week. During the night, hoar frost covered
much of the town of Shasta City. I dusted off my behind and my
temper and put on a smile. The sun rose, just clearing the peak of
Mount Shasta. It set the landscape to sparkling, the same as one of
those picturesque scenes you see in Christmas cards.

As I walked past Cherrie’s place, I
squelched the urge to run up and rattle her door. It wouldn’t do
any good anyway. She was a sound sleeper and, worse yet, if she
were in dreamland with her beau, Jason Chavez, she’d wreak holy
terror on the person who interrupted her love fest.

Due to the ice crystals—pretty as they
were—it took me longer to walk to school than usual. There wasn’t
any wind to speak of, just that same bitter cold one finds in a
freezer when it is all frosted up. I pulled my orange White Bear
Lake beanie down over my ears.

Somehow, even though I had become a
SHS Bear, I couldn’t give up my WBL Bear beanie. I found it ironic
I had come from a school which had the bear as its mascot to a
school with the same animal. I’m sure there were students who
resented my walking around with an orange beanie instead of the
school’s blue and gold beanie, but I didn’t care. Once a bear
always a bear, I felt.

It had been my plan to be
early enough to school to visit Mr. Whittinghill, our counselor,
and ask for a modification of my class schedule, namely to switch
my first period class, Biology, with my last period class,
History.

That didn’t happen.

I found myself wading and fighting
through a sea of blue and gold to get to my Biology class on time.
Jason Chavez bullied his way through the crowd and pulled up beside
me.

“Hey Julissa.”

“Hi Jason.”

“Nice hat.”

I remembered the orange beacon on my
head. I took it off and stuffed it in my backpack. Smoothing out
the hair would require a trip to the girl’s bathroom, which would
have been a nice escape route from Jason had I not been squeezed
for time.

BOOK: Solstice - Of The Heart
8.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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