Jana and Nathan form a closer connection in the way men and women have connected since the beginning of time.
Later, with my head resting on Nathan’s chest and my hand idly caressing his side, I murmured, “That was fun. And relaxing.”
Nathan ran his fingers through my hair, “I’m feeling much more closely connected to you, too. Much closer.”
“Same here.” I was quiet for a moment as I tried to impose logic on my mind, which had been running on pure emotion lately. I only partially succeeded, which is why I said, “Maybe I should be the only one to make another run on the Star Stone.”
“No way. Either we both go or neither of us goes.”
“No. Way. You’re not going back in there alone.”
“You don’t fully comprehend the dangers, Nathan. I… Don’t want to finally find the right man and then lose him to the Star Stone.”
“So, I’m supposed to just stay here and accept the risk that I might finally find the right woman only to lose her to the Star Stone?” Nathan tightened his arms around me, “I don’t think so. You’re just going to have to do your best to prepare me for the run on the Star Stone. Start by telling me how you got out.”
“When the Star Stone told me I’d never leave, my brain began spinning so fast that I couldn’t actually think. When that happened to me in the past, I would sit down with my parents and talk about what was bothering me or what I was trying to figure out. It wasn’t that they would offer exactly the right advice that solved my problem—most of the time, they didn’t really follow most of what I said—it was that they listened to me. I’d usually solve my own problems just by talking through them with Mom and Dad.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” Nathan said. “I did the same thing with my parents and, after I moved out, with Mark.”
“I thought you’d understand.” I lifted my head and kissed him gently before continuing, “That’s when I realized that I only wanted to see my parents for logical reasons. It wasn’t because I loved them and missed them. I didn’t feel any love for them. I didn’t feel love at all. I can’t explain it, but that realization let me see my mind’s connection to… I guess ‘soul’ is as good a word as any. And once I saw it, I just sort of asked my soul to bring me home. And it did.”
“So, when we get inside the Star Stone, all I have to do is think about my parents and how I feel about them and I should be able to find my soul connection?”
I shrugged, “It worked for me, but I don’t know if that will work for anyone else.”
“Or I could think about you and how I feel about you. Since you’ll right there with me and since it will be so soon after this extremely close connection of ours, it ought to be even easier.”
“God, I hope so. You’ve got to promise to tell me if that works, though. Because if it doesn’t, we need to turn around and get the hell out of the Star Stone immediately. If that happens, I just hope I can pull you out of there.”
“Don’t worry, Beautiful, I have full confidence in you, and at least a little confidence in myself. We’ll get out.”
We got dressed and went to our new slicing station. The equipment wasn’t quite as good as what we left behind in Nathan’s apartment, but it was more than adequate for the job. We plugged into the systems, ran a few tests, settled into comfortable positions on the couches, and jacked into the system.
We had already selected our route to the Star Stone. It was a twisting, turning, complicated pathway, and we had to bypass more cutting-edge security than either of us had ever seen. But, just because we hadn’t seen that much security didn’t mean we couldn’t handle it. In a surprisingly short time — I doubted more than fifteen minutes had passed in the real world — we cleared the last security barrier and the way to Star Stone was open to us.
I pulled up short of the interface into the Star Stone, “Are you sure you want to do this, Nathan?”
“Do you want to go back, Jana?”
“No, but maybe you should. I’m not positive we’ll—”
“I’ve already said ‘No’ to that and never want to hear you suggest it, again. We go forward or we go back, but there’s no way in hell I’m letting you go in there by yourself. Got it?”
“Got it,” I sighed.
I wasn’t surprised by Nathan’s declaration but I felt I’d had to try. I was terrified that he would get stuck inside the Star Stone and I’d find myself forced to leave him behind. And I wasn’t sure I could do that, not even if it meant sacrificing my own life.
“Do you remember everything I told you about the Star Stone?” I asked.
“Yes, Beautiful, I remember. It was only a few minutes ago and I’m not feebleminded. So, are we going into the Star Stone or not?”
Together, Nathan and I entered the maelstrom that is the interface with the Star Stone.
What will Jana and Nathan find inside the Star Stone? Find out in Chapter 30, coming Friday!