I took the proffered motorcycle helmet and climbed onto the bike. While there was that part of me that took notice of his strength and warmth, much more of me cued in on the tension he held. Cables on a suspension bridge had nothing on Caiden at that moment.
We took off down the driveway faster than I thought safe, but I wasn’t driving and had no way to talk to Caiden. He turned onto the blacktop. We cruised for almost an hour before I saw the first landmarks I’d recognized. Edward had taken me somewhere along the edge of the Superior National Forest. I knew Virginia, MN only because I’d gone up there with an ex-boyfriend about a year ago. The epic fight happened on that trip. We broke up within a week of returning home. I had not yet forgotten that trip.
When we reached Hwy 169, we turned off. That caught me off guard. I knew I35 was just a little further south and the fastest way home. So, where were we going? Asking was out of the question. Once again, I was at someone else’s mercy when it came to control over where I went.
We stopped at a gas station in Grand Rapids. He put gas in while I waited.
“You need anything inside?”
“Some apple juice would be nice. Where are we going? Home is in a different direction.”
“I know. It’s time to take you before the council.”
He must have seen my panic, “Remember. Your training was rather skewed. The council isn’t what you think.”
“Yes. You need to learn the truth about our kind. Not the half-truths and scare tactic stories you were given before.”
“Not like I really have a choice here, do I?”
Caiden jerked back from me as if I’d slapped him.
“Is that what you think? Look, Shayna. I’m not that kind of person. If you want to go home instead, I will take you. Please, though, trust me. I do have your best interest in mind and I want to help you. Goons like Edward and his kind are not going to leave you alone and I want you to be ready to deal with their ilk when they skulk around again.”
I stared at him. A voice screamed in my head for him to take me home and let me get back to my blissful and ignorant life where I could just ride the high of a storm as I shepherded it through the area to minimize the damage it did. The quiet whisper got my attention instead. Trust him.
I nodded, afraid of what I’d say if I tried to speak. The tension left him and he smiled at me.
“I’ll be right back. We’re not far from the council. It’s between here and, well, Bemidji. In the Chippewa State Forest.”
I laughed, “There’s nothing between here and Bemidji but the Chippewa National Forest.”
He walked away laughing and returned a few minutes later with two bottles of apple juice for me and two bottles of Mountain Dew for him. We headed off. The ride was beautiful, with a crystal clear blue sky, and the ditches speckled with dabs of bright color from random wildflowers.
An hour later we turned off the highway onto a dirt road. It wound around Lake Winnibigoshish a way before ending at a massive gate. Caiden punched in a code at the control box tucked against one post where I had missed it entirely. We passed through the gate and up the dirt driveway to a huge rustic style house. Or maybe mansion. A man waited outside as if he knew all along we were coming.
“Shayna, this is Marcus. Marcus, this is Shayna,” Caiden said as he got off the now parked bike.
I shook Marcus’s outstretched hand.
“Marcus is our Raconteur.”
“I’m sorry, your what?”
“Caiden means I am our people’s storyteller.”
“Like a historian?”
“Yes,” he smiled, “Very similar. Only there’s a little more to it for our kind.”
“What do you mean?”
Marcus gestured to the door, “Why don’t you both come inside. We can talk there. I promise all of your questions will be answered and you will understand why it was so vital Caiden bring you here.”