If Simon was a natural when it came to friendly abduction, at least he was also a talented survivalist, a nice perk if one was to hang out with him in hostile terrain. And by that, Sylvia meant a place with no vegetation, paralyzing cold and no grocery store. At the “camp” he took her to they had a cozy, windproof shelter filled with warmth and light and all the physical comforts. He was pleased by her reaction when she first saw it. “I’ve been here before and liked it,” he reported. “But I know it’s not the Four Seasons.”
It might as well have been, in Sylvia’s opinion. Simon had arranged for everything—he’d put Aiden and his former excavation team on super-secret stocking and delivery detail—and had specifically thought of her when ordering supplies. She guessed she might be the first person on the ice cap to have a stash of European butter and pastry flour for making croissants. He’d even brought dehydrated apples, as well as cognac to rehydrate them. “In case you want to make apple fritters?” he ventured hopefully.
On the practical side, they had three generators at their disposal; space-age, will-not-fail winter wear; and high-tech water and waste systems that made her proud to be among a race of creatures who could contrive such things. Simon understood every small piece of information required to maintain them on this desolate continent, and his assurance gave Sylvia confidence they would live to tell about all this.
Her favorite feature of their hideaway was a domed solarium, situated as a semi-independent pod attached to the main living quarters, and the experience it offered convinced her there was no better place on earth Simon could have chosen for their tryst.
It said something about his sensibilities he had planned this particular excursion, especially given how far removed it was. Before their arrival, even with Simon’s encouragement, Sylvia had doubted the location would have any romantic integrity, had maybe even felt a little sorry for herself. They would share no barefoot walks on the beach, no candlelit dinners beneath swaying palms, no carefree tropical atmosphere to complement their sensual explorations. Shortly after settling in, however, she understood Antarctica’s unique appeal and loved Simon all the more for knowing it. And for taking the not inconsiderable trouble necessary to make this place their lovers’ destination.
She would not have understood in advance how uniquely nature had formed this ethereal haven; or predicted the effect of its quiet, otherworldly beauty on her frame of mind. A uniformity of color—the grays, blues and whites of their surroundings, animals included—was so different from the palette that served as the backdrop to her reality back home. It made time feel like an altogether different dimension, one where past, present and future blurred. And certainly didn’t matter.
But the real magic of the place revealed itself at night. Lying side by side on the floor of the solarium, she and Simon stared overhead and fell into a meditation enabled by the enveloping sky. Starting in the late afternoon, the dense darkness of night began its heavy press downward, seeping through the transparent dome until there was no division between inside and out. As the light from the sun disappeared, starlight took its place, emanating from a hundred million brilliant pinpoints that seemed close enough to touch. At these times, she felt suspended, floating in a beneficent and glittering canopy that spoke to them of heaven. As harsh as the elements actually were, the couple felt included in a gentler, freer world, one concerned only with the elemental.
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