Cave Man (The First Mountain Man) - Page 15


I think Skylar is going to keep arguing with me at those words, but she surprises me when she doesn't. When, instead of running off, following that black leopard into the woods, trying to find her way home, she steps towards me, presses her hands against my chest. "You don't feel stuck with me?" she asks.

I shake my head. I run a hand through her dark, wavy hair, tucking it behind her ear. I lift her chin and I look in her eyes. There's a hunger in them I understand.

"I've never been in love before," I tell her. "I've never met a woman who can pull her own weight, who can take care of herself quite so well. What made you so resilient?"

"A lifetime of pain," she admits.

"And that pain, that's what you're wanting to get back to so damn bad that you're going to risk traveling through time? How do you know if you get the cave to work that you're going to end up back where you belong? You could end up in the goddamn Ice Age. Freezing to death in the Arctic."

"I don't know," she says. "And you're right, Stone. My whole life was painful. I had some good friends, but they were making a life together. Not a life with me. I don't know what I'm fighting for. What I want to get back to. I was out of work. I was practically broke. My skills are limited. I have no family. I don't have some amazing life that I'm missing."

"Neither do I," I tell her. "I've been a lone wolf my whole life. That's why I was in the special forces. I figured, hell, I can give my life for my country because what else do I got? Might as well give it my all."

"I'm sorry you don't have a family," she tells me. Her words soft now. Sure, the fire is still in her eyes, but it's glowing like a low ember. Something to comfort you, to keep you warm. Not something to light it all up and burn it all down.

"Sounds like we've both been through a hell of a lot," I tell her. "And ending up here in the Stone Age is just the icing on the cake."

Skylar groans. "Cake, that sounds good doesn't it?"

I chuckle. "Yeah, Sky, it does."

"Sky?" she asks. "Is that my nickname?"

"You okay with me calling you Sky?"

She nods. "No one's ever given me a nickname before."

"There are a lot of things I'd like to call you," I tell her.

"Like what?" she asks. Now her voice is a whisper.

"Like baby. Like girlfriend. Like wife." She laughs, high pitched as if she doesn't believe me. "What?" I ask. "I do. Why not make a life with me? Why not give in to what the universe gave us?"

I look around. The waterfall before us. The entire world untapped, untouched by other humans. The beginning of civilization.

"It is pretty miraculous," she says. She bites her bottom lip. "I've never been in love either," she tells me.

"Then I guess we have a lot of firsts to deal with, don't we?"

She smiles. "I suppose we do."

"You want to start by being the first to jump into that waterfall, into the lake below?"

Sky laughs. "No. I want to jump in holding your hand."

8

Skylar

There is a ridiculously hot man standing right in front of me who wants me in ways I've never been had.

Yes, there are threats around me here too, but what if the real roadblock isn't the woolly mammoths and the dinosaur-sized crocodiles?

What if the real danger is me getting in the way of my own happiness?

Sure, I'm stuck here. But I’m in a prehistoric paradise. Why complain? Why not enjoy the pleasure that it brings?

I step toward Stone and I wrap my arms around his neck. "Come on," I tell him. "Let's jump."

We walk to the edge of the waterfall. It's a 20-foot jump. "Are you scared?" I ask him as we set down our bags.

He shakes his head. "I'm not scared of anything, so as long as I got you."

We don't count off. We don't brace ourselves for a jump. We just go, feet first, into the waterfall, landing in a giant lake of water that is pure and beautiful and fresh in a way no body of water is in the 21st Century.

This is crystal clear. I can see the fish as we land, as our bodies break into the water. I open my eyes, seeing the fish that are magnificently large, brightly colored, and downright prehistoric, which is not an exaggeration. They are. We are. This is another time altogether.

When I break through the water to get air, Stone is right there waiting for me. "You okay?" he asks.

"I'm great," I say, treading water. As we swim toward the waterfall, we dive under it. There is a shallow area with rocks that we can stand on so we don’t have to swim so hard to stay afloat. Behind the waterfall it feels like magic. "Isn't it weird to imagine no one has ever been here before?" I ask, looking at the walls of the cave at the back of the waterfall.


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