The dotted line dividing Highway 17 blurred into a yellow stripe as Jake and I sped toward our destination in the bleak hours of early morning. He’d been quiet about where he was taking me, about everything, in fact. Though I’d showered him with a million questions in the backyard, he simply held his finger to his lips and walked me to Esau’s Civic. After not seeing him for days and days, I would have followed him anywhere–Mexico if that’s what he wanted–my attraction was that strong, that overwhelming. I remembered my plea to the universe and shivered. Odd how it brought me exactly what I needed when I needed it.
We drove in silence, lulled by the whir of the road beneath our tires. It killed me to swallow my curiosity, but I didn’t dare speak. To do so would have broken the spell we were under. Every so often, he’d stroke my hand and smile, as if the act of touching me brought him pleasure, then grip the wheel again as the miles unraveled. When the Davis Mountains ironed into the smooth Chihuahuan Desert, we parked near a circular structure by the side of the road: the Marfa Lights Viewing Center. I’d been here several times with Daniel and my father, always hoping to see the mysterious orbs that drew tourists from all over the country, never catching them myself. Shy things, they didn’t always appear when the public wanted, preferring, instead, to appear on their own schedule.
Jake took a plaid wool blanket from the back seat and led me to the open-air viewing center, empty at three a.m. I was used to the wind gusts of Fort Nesbitt, but here, with no mountain range to slow them, they shrieked across the land, pricking our clothes and hair with grains of sand. At least I’d thrown on jeans and a sweater before leaving. With our fingers linked, I followed Jake to the low pink granite enclosure surrounding the observation area and settled next to him under the blanket.
“There they are!” Jake pointed to three balls of light zigzagging over the desert. They were close, only forty or fifty yards away.
“I’ve never seen them before.” My words sounded odd, unnatural in the stillness.
“Me neither.” He tucked the blanket around us. “I’ve been planning for days to take you here. I’m just glad the lights cooperated.”
“You know they’re headlights from passing vehicles, don’t you?”
“Um, we’re the only ones here.” He gestured to the lonely highway behind us. “Could it be a natural phenomenon? Yeah. But the point is, no one knows for sure what causes it, not skeptics, not believers, not anyone.”
I waggled my feet, bumping them against the sharp rock wall. “Why here? Why now?”
“Why here? Because I wanted to show you a miracle, even if I couldn’t work one myself before Saturday. That, and I think we both needed this tonight.”
“Wonder. A little awe-inspiring uncertainty.” He grinned. “You let facts get in the way of your faith way too often.”
“My point exactly.”
We watched the orbs blink from white to red to blue. Jake was right. Even if the lights had a boring explanation, we didn’t know what caused them, and that was pretty wonderful, even, like he said, awe-inspiring. Just for tonight, I’d give in to their mystery. “You didn’t answer the second question,” I said. “Why now?”
Jake traced his fingers over my jaw, tipping my chin gently toward his, and gazed at me with eyes that radiated xenon blue, even in the dark. The corners of his mouth lifted as he studied my face, fueling my anticipation. I sensed his need to be in control, so I clutched the blanket to keep from grasping him, from pulling him towards me and ending the explosive suspense. When his lips finally brushed mine, we tiptoed into the kiss, testing each other, tasting each other, until our exploration turned into something more eager than either of us had counted on, the blanket falling to our feet, the wind lapping our backs, building a charge strong enough to tilt the Earth’s axis, or, at the very least, my own.
I’ve been doing a lot of “promotion” posts lately. Sorry! (a girl’s gotta pay her bills) But don’t worry. In April, I’ll be starting a month-long series about plotting (and pantsing).