Allison gives her heart to Cahir, a warrior, in an enchanted carnival. Time doesn’t diminish her love for him, and no man can measure up. Until Richard Fallon. Will Allison have the courage to jump on the carousel with Richard?
The fortuneteller’s words, while moderately interesting, were not going to hurtle Allison into the future with a fresh sense of direction. She breathed a sigh of relief when Cahir led her out of the tent. Allison glanced back, expecting to see the fortuneteller still at her table, but the tent’s interior was black as the night sky.
Totally attentive to her, Cahir held her hand as if she were the only woman who had ever been or ever would be. He stopped at one booth where an enormous man with ruddy cheeks smiled at her and gave her cotton candy on a paper cone. When she thanked him, he winked at her and gave her a grin that made her feel like a slightly naughty girl.
Allison and Cahir ate the fluffy confection together and when they finished he kissed her fingers, licking the sweet candy from them. She stood close and breathed the scent of him, felt the strength of his body.
In another time, embarrassment would consume her at such an intimate gesture in a public place. Here, strangers moved around them, locked in their own worlds, their own reality, blind to everything but themselves.
“Come,” he said. “You can touch the stars.”
Allison smiled at the excitement in his voice.
The carnival’s sound faded as they made their way to the Ferris wheel. It grew in size as they approached, a great spider web of light, whispering into the night as it slowly spun, skimming the earth with each turn. It slowed as they came near, then stopped and waited for them. There were no passengers, no attendant to raise and lower a bar across them as they slid into the soft leather seats.
“Cahir?” Allison snuggled against him as he draped an arm over her shoulder. “Am I dreaming?”
“Perhaps.” He kissed her forehead.
Was that sadness she heard in his voice? Discomfort edged through her. Much as she wanted to be with him, her practical teacher’s mind wrestled with the strangeness of the place.
The wheel carried them into the sky, backwards, then up and forward over the arc.
Allison expected to see the carnival spread below, but she and Cahir sat suspended in space with nothing above or below but star filled darkness. A comet flashed past, drawing its sparkling tail behind as it raced into the void.
“So, beautiful,” Allison whispered. “Why am I here?”
“Most come in search of something.”
“Do they find it?”
“Sometimes. What do you want, Cailin?”
“I want you in my life.” Allison spoke the words, true words from her heart. But not here, her rational mind cried. I want you in my life and in my bed in the real world, not this dark, dreaming land.
Allison laid her hand on his chest and felt his heart beat. She heard him breathe and softly laugh. “I am quite real, Cailin. The carnival is my reality.”
But not mine. The words invaded her thoughts.
With no sensation of movement, the carnival appeared around them and the wheel stopped. When they climbed out, it returned to its eternal revolutions among the stars.
Cahir held her hand again and they went straight to the carnival’s heart where the carousel spun in its constant circle, all mirrors and flashing lights. The horses, not wooden at all, danced up and down, their hooves pawing at the air. Heads tossed and manes lifted in the breeze of their passage.
Cahir stopped and his hands circled Allison’s waist. He drew her close and kissed her. His mouth was warm and sweet and her body responded in delight. No man had ever drawn that from her. All her years of loneliness and longing faded away. This is what she’d waited for.