The day started out with a call around 08:00 this morning it was Trina. She asked me how I liked my shower. I asked her why she wasn’t there.
She laughed. “I figured it was easiest way to lull you into a false sense of security.”
I had to smile, her laughter was infections. I think it was at that point that I pretty much decided to forget the quest– at least until after Case and I were on our way.
She came over for breakfast and filled me in on the preparations. She had indeed thought of just about everything. She told me to meet her at the clinic around 16:00 to go over the last few details, like my gown and the services. Then she left.
It was still a weekday, and the clinic had people to care for.
I puttered around the condo a little cleaning up and then headed downtown to a travel agent’s. I wanted something leisurely and spectacular, something that preferably meandered along. No point in just showing up in Cusco and waiting there.
We ended up with a cruise ship to Patagonia, with stops in the Carribean. Then three days, two nights in Cuscu with a tour of Machu Picchu,.before the trip back. We were lucky– May is before the real start of tourist season and the Cruise ship was only about three quarters booked. We got a discount rate and a suite.
Everything was falling into place– until Fin caught up with me. He demanded to know what was going on and why I wasn’t including him in whatever it was I was up to. It was kinda sweet. I’d forgotten that he’d set himself up as my protector.
“Fin, hon– lighten up,” I urged. “Case and I are getting married... and I don’t think including former boy-friends is exactly traditional.”
There was something in the way he looked at me, I can’t really place it but if I had to, it was suspicion. I admit– it wasn’t the whole truth, but Case and I figure this is personal. I’d love to have Fin with us, but there was just no way to include him without arousing suspicion.
Its like I said, you don’t bring and entourage with you on your honeymoon.
He smiled and apologized, but I don’t know– he’s never been that protective of me. Especially not when Case has been there to take care of me. Funny how changing relationships can effect your relationships with others.
I’m about to be a married woman, that’s a trip: a married woman with ten days to figure out what’s been going on for the past year.
No mean feat if you ask me.
I met Trina at the clinic yesterday, as planned. She actually closed up shop and took me to Council Island. We were expected.
Mrs. Walker was waiting for us with lists of things we needed, and who had been invited. She seemed rather hesitant to tell me that my folks wouldn’t be attending. I wasn’t really surprised. I mean, Mom’s never been all that close and Dad– well, he didn’t approve of me coming out here in the first place and I somehow doubted my marrying a ‘cop’ was going to make things any better. At least mom sent her well wishes.
It took me a little while to accept it, but in the end it didn’t really matter. The only other person attending and approving that mattered was Case.
And there were a lot more people that approved and would be there. Jonathan would be standing up for Case, Trina for me. Mario would be giving me away and my new family would be there. I could tell they were mixing traditions for me. The reception would be more in the tradition of the Salish, while the wedding itself would be Catholic.
How they managed to get a Catholic priest to marry a divorce’ to a lapsed Catholic Paramedic on a Sunday with no counseling is beyond me– but they managed.
I was about to head home, when I was told in no uncertain terms that I would not be leaving the Island without a full escort.
“Is this tradition?” I asked Mrs. Walker, completely floored by the concept.
She chuckled and patted my hand. “No child– it is just that I know you and I do not want anything to happen to you right before your wedding.”
I had to laugh at how plainly she stated it. I mean, I can’t really argue with that reasoning.
She smiled and reassured me that she was taking the same precautions with Case. She said she wanted her children to be happy and safe, in spite of their true natures.
I did go back to the condo, but only to pack up my things for the trip and to ask Mario to take care of the cats. He told me that by now I should know I don’t need to ask.
I do know– but its still nice to ask.
I packed two weeks worth of clothes, some books from Alan’s library and the oranges that were still sitting in the fridge. I figure they’ll make good gifts at the wedding.
The day was hectic, but at least I was now a part of my wedding preparation. Trina and Mrs. Walker put me to work as Mrs. Walker explained some of the Salish traditions that we would be following.
The reception would be a proper Salish celebration, held in the long house. We spent the better part of the morning preparing gifts for our guests as Mrs. Walker told us stories of celebrations past: of Gwynth and Michael’s naming ceremonies; the dreams she had had for her daughter’s wedding.
I put down the package I was working on and hugged her. I was her daughter, and I was getting married as she’d dreamed– but it wasn’t the same. I wasn’t the daughter she had brought into this world– the one she’d planned all this for.
Finally she patted my hand. “I am glad you are here Jessica,” she said softly.
“Me too,” I answered. “I just wish....”
She looked up at me and shook her head. “Do not say it child. She is here in her way, and always will be. We cannot change what is.”
I nodded and finally went back to work. There was still so much to be done.
I saw Case briefly as Jonathan and Mr. Walker ushered him through the long house. I started to follow, but Mrs. Walker stopped me. “Give them their time,” she told me in patient tones. “You will be together from tomorrow on.”
Its late now, the evening’s festivities finally winding down. It was an emotional day. Okay, that’s probably an understatement, but it’s the best I can do right now.
Every part of the services were beautiful. The traditional Catholic wedding, the traditional Salish reception– they were so emotionally charged.
I could feel my hand tremble in Case’s as we took our vows. I could barely get his ring on his finger as I pledged my love to him. I could feel his tremble as he placed the ring on my finger and promised to love me forever.
I know it’s a hard promise to keep, things change.. But its hard not to believe in forever when one of the Salish elders stood and gave us a traditional blessing.
It was perfect. It went something like :
Now for you there is no rain, for one is shelter to the other.
Now for you the sun shall not burn, for one is shelter to the other.
Now for you nothing is hard or bad, for the hardness and badness is taken by one for the other.
Now for you there is no night, for one is light to the other,
Now for you the snow has ended always, for one is protection for the other.
It is that way, from now on, from now on. And now there is comfort.
Now there is no loneliness. Now forever, forever, there is no loneliness.
Forever. I like the sound of that.
Jonathan drove us to the Sound, where we met the cruise ship. It sets sail in the morning. Sitting here thinking, how I’m beginning three adventures at once: my marriage, the cruise and the final search for my brothers.
Seven days until we learn what this was all about, but now, I am no longer alone...
And somehow– I feel stronger because of it.
It was strange waking up in Case’s arms, nothing had changed and yet everything had. I can’t really explain it. We lay there together for a while... just getting used to it. Finally I got up and looked out the window.
We were already heading South. We’d slept through the hoopla of leaving port. I don’t think anybody’s going to worry about it– we’re booked in a honeymoon cabin. They’ll probably just figure we’re...busy.
And we are, just not the way people figure.
It didn’t take long for me to get Case up to speed on what I’d found. You have to admit, the boys planned this out very carefully– even the rate at which I’d get the clues. Nothing too fast– nothing too telling.
It was frustrating and at the same time exhilarating. We were getting closer all the time.
We ordered room service and dined in as Case and I started studying maps and information. It was mostly touristy stuff– but that was fine, I had Alan’s books in my bags.
We were up late reading, Case sitting up in the bed, me resting my head on his lap. I woke at about 0200 with cold feet and a knot in my neck muscles.
Case gently took my book and put it aside. Then he started massaging my shoulders.
“Pace yourself,” he urged. “We need to make sure we can act if we need to.”
I know he’s right, and I’m trying I really am, but with only six days– its going to be hard.
This morning when I woke up Case was in sweats and carrying a tray of orange juice and croissants. I looked at him and could tell he’d been jogging. From the looks of things it had done him a world of good.
I should probably spend some time in the weight room– work off some of the tension. Case watched me with an amused smile as I ate.
“You didn’t bring anything formal did you?” he asked knowing full well that I only have one ‘formal’ dress and it was back in Seattle.
I squinted at him a moment. “This is like in all those cruise ship movies isn’t it?”
He grinned. “We’ve been asked to dine at that captain’s table tonight.”
I shook my head. “Do you think its wise?” I asked teasingly. “I mean... you and me, in the same room like that– you know something’s bound to happen.”
“Its not that bad...” he objected.
It wasn’t that bad, but it came close. I ended up buying a dress at the ship’s store– it almost fit, not that it really mattered. Halfway through dinner, someone at the next table started choke. Case and I were on our feet instantly.
Case got there first and had already realized the man wasn’t getting any air in or out. Before I could offer to help, he’d performed the Heimlich Maneuver. As he dealt with the patient, I sat back down.
Case had everything under control, and he was basically the primary responder.
It was funny as I sat down, everyone around me said how wonderful it was that Case knew how to do that. They commented on how proud I must be of my husband.
I am, but to be honest, I’d be rather disappointed in him if he didn’t know the Heimlich Maneuver.
So much for keeping a low profile.
We made our first port of call this morning around 1100 hours. Case and I went ashore and did touristy thing, but we were both very alert to any signs of trouble. The last thing we needed was for someone to recognize us, well– me.
Lets face it, the last time I was in Aztlan was not one of my better weeks. We bought souvenirs and sent post cards home. Then we headed back to the ship.
No point tempting the fates.
While we waited for everybody else to return, Case and I took advantage of the relative quiet in the weight room. I have to admit, the workout really helped.
So did watching two girls on exercise bikes as they tried to subtlety ogle Case. Case was oblivious to it, which was probably for the best.
We dined in again, reviewing the notes and books we’ve been going over. Its some pretty interesting stuff.
The story of Conquistador’s take over of the Inca empire was one of deceit and betrayal, written in the blood of the Inca people and that of their leader- the Inca.
The Conquistadors, invited the Inca to negotiations. When he came, they kidnaped him and ransomed him for an ungodly sum. The people paid the ransom, but the Inca was strangled.
The Conquistadors then appointed his half brother the Inca. It was a puppet government, the first of several. It was a web of deceit, murder and betrayal, finally ending with the decapitation of the ‘last Inca’ and the deportation of his family.
What interested me, was that he was marched into Cusco with his family and a gold statue of Punchao, the sun disk. According to the books, the statue was a representation of the Incan lineage said to contain the hearts of the previous Incas.
Now that sounded like something AZT would be interested in. Especially with their propensity for blood magic.
I showed it to Case and he agreed it did sound like something they’d be interested in, but there could be a lot more reasons for all of this– and AZT may not even be involved.
Everything they did to me to try and get to the boys, may have nothing to do with this. That’s a scary thought– that this might just be the edge of the problem.
I’ll know in a few more days.