She blinks as she steps out of forest shadow into full blazing sunlight, a meadow opening at her feet rampant with crimson fireweed, lavender lupine, and delicate yellow glacier lilies nodding at the edge of a melting snow patch. A stream meanders from under the snow, braiding over the lush, soggy grass—a rainbow carpet shimmering under the incandescent alpine-blue sky.
“Ah!” The intensity of light pierces her heart, breaks it open to gratefulness. Tears sting her eyes.
“Hey.” A soft voice behind her. “You okay?”
She didn’t hear Damon stepping closer on the moist dirt of the trail. She ducks her head, brushes at her eyes, and nods.
He squeezes her shoulder briefly. “Sometimes it’s hard to take, this beauty, eh?” His voice has taken on the slow native cadences, so different from his pace in town. “Almost to the overlook. We can have our lunch there. Take your time.”
He moves around her, up the trail, not pushing her to respond. Again she’s taken by surprise by him. She takes a deep breath, breathing in the shimmering light and color, the pure cleansing air. She smiles, sending out an incoherent Thank you—to what or whom she isn’t sure. Her feet are light on the path as she moves on, higher, deeper, into overarching blue.
Damon’s waiting on the granite knob of the Goat Mountain overlook, shirtless and sprawled out on his back, eyes closed, smiling. Lindsey is smiling, too, as she rounds the last switchback and crosses a lingering snowbank in the alpine meadow. Somehow she’s been released into the joy of the day. She steps forward into a nearly three-sixty panorama of jagged snowy peaks cutting a razor-sharp border into the ultraviolet sky.
“Wow.” She drops her knapsack and stretches.
Vibrant light pulsates over the glaciers and mountain lake almost close enough to touch across the steep valley, a glimpse of the river glittering far below. The intensity of light throbs in her eyes. Shimmers over Damon’s brown skin, a startling contrast of warm, vulnerable flesh against the starkness of black rock, white snow, blue sky.
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