“How did nobody die?”
“I don’t know. It seems like we can’t go five miles, though.”
Kanesha frowned, then relaxed. “I don’t see anyone being petty enough to just crash a truck in front of us. Unless they had very bad aim.”
I laughed a bit at that, but weakly. The trooper had been right. If we’d been closer we’d have been hit. If somebody had been trying to hurt or scare me, though.
Maybe scare, although they should know it wouldn’t work. Nobody had died.
“I think it was just an accident, but I mean, seriously, so far on this trip we’ve got shot up in a CIA safe house, had to deal with Unseelie, been harassed by a Celtic god and now nearly run off the road. Why do you stay with me?”
She grinned. “Because it’s fun?” Clearly not entirely serious. “Or maybe I just can’t help it.”
She knew what I was really asking. We both did. But there was really nothing to be done about it. I was who I was, and I wasn’t going to break up with her to protect her. That bit of the YA romance had never appealed to me. “I know I can’t help wanting to be with you.”
If she hadn’t been driving, I would have kissed her. But the rest of the day went without anything going wrong.
And the next, so maybe it was just the first part of the trip that was jinxed. The second night we stayed in a hotel in upstate New York, in a beautiful place. It was nice to not be in a city.
It was nice to relax, and I had, while not forgotten about the riddle, managed to put it out of my head far enough that I suspected the right insight would come anyway.
And there was no sign, anywhere, of giants or Aesir. Fairies, yes, little dryads and nymphs living in the woods. They kept their respectful distance from me and me from them.
No reason to be enemies, that was for sure. And this was their home, and I treated it with respect.
Maybe I would finally get the vacation I had been hoping for. Or at least part of it. I stepped out into the hotel grounds and looked up. It was dark enough to see the stars.
Not quite the stars upon stars effect I’d seen in Africa, but certainly a reasonably good display. The depth and size of the universe, and I felt very small. Whatever I was, this was about Earth.
Whatever was out there would live even if I messed this up. Alien races, perhaps, on thousands of worlds.
With their own gods, gods I would never know or have to deal with, yet ones I might be linked with, part of the same thing.
The stars were slowly dancing. I smiled up at them, knowing they were only balls of fire.
Knowing they were also alive. Knowing they were real.
Knowing that everything had so many levels of truth that you could not merely pick one.