“Right,” Claudia whispered, clearly thinking Valentine was a loon.
I grabbed Claudia’s hand and pulled it to me. “Honey, listen to me. Valentine’s been in touch with this, uh… other me. She’s on board and she wants this as much as me. I’ve written a twenty page report on my life and all she needs to know about it to show her the way and she’ll have you.” I squeezed her hand. “She’s going to write to me about what I need to know about her life. It’s all sorted. It’s all good. But if I do this, which I’m going to do, this has to happen very soon. The window is closing.”
Claudia stared in my eyes and I saw fear in hers. “Okay, Finnie, I get this, I get it, I’ve gotten it for years. I get what you want from this. I get that your Dad, your Mom –”
My lungs seized and my back went straight before I snapped, “Don’t.”
She squeezed my hand and kept at me. “I wouldn’t but you’re giving me no choice. You’re giving this woman a million dollars for something…” she shook her head, “for whatever this is and you have no idea if it’s going to work, where she’ll send you if it does and what will happen once you get there.”
I grinned. “That’s the adventure,” I pointed out the obvious.
“This is why I like her,” Valentine murmured decorously.
Claudia’s eyes slid to the side, aiming a vicious “shut up” look at Valentine but they cleared when they came back to me. “Your Mom and Dad –”
I tried to pull my hand from hers, snapping again, “Don’t.”
She held tight, leaned far forward to get in my space and didn’t give up. “Your Mom and Dad, Finnie, they died because of this thirst for adventure, a thirst they taught you and a thirst you’ve never quenched, not once in all your wanderings and shenanigans. And I fear, honey, I fear you never will until you meet their same end.”
I yanked my hand free and looked hard at her. “They died happy,” I stated.
“Finnie, they died young,” Claudia said gently.
“And happy,” I returned.
She closed her eyes tight and then burst out, “God!” She opened her eyes and retorted, “You can’t know that.”
“No, she can’t, but I can,” Valentine butted in at this point, Claudia’s face got hard and she and I both looked at her.
Valentine was looking at me.
“They did die happy, you are correct,” Valentine declared, my heart tightened and Claudia muttered, “Freaking great, now she communes with the dead.”
Valentine continued, totally ignoring Claudia. “Though, you must know, happiness is a line and that line has degrees. There is bliss at one end and there is contentment at the other. They were not blissful as I would assume you think they were, being in love, being together and dying doing something they enjoyed, the sheer exultation of thrill and excitement coursing their veins, life as big as life can be rushing through their systems. They were happy but this happiness held weight. And that weight was you.”
I pulled in a soft breath and heard Claudia do the same.
“They were sad to leave you,” Valentine said quietly. “Very sad. And you should know with what we do this evening, there is no guarantee. You do take risks with this venture. I do not know a great deal about this world. I know it exists, I get communications from it but infrequently. That said, although interesting, I have little interest in it. These communications are a nuisance. There is much going on in my world, I cannot find the curiosity to learn about both. I am also not a seer. So I do not know what will befall you there. What you can expect. If you will be safe or in danger. I do know there is another you and she wants to be here for a year. And I would caution you to understand that her motives might not be the same as yours.”
“This is true, Finnie,” Claudia whispered, grabbing my hand again, “think about that.”
“But you can bring me back?” I asked Valentine and Claudia’s hand tightened in mine.
“Yes, Seoafin, I can bring you back,” Valentine answered.
“You can definitely bring me back,” I stated and she inclined her head regally. “So what do I care what the other me wants here?” I asked.
“While here, ma cherie, she will be you,” Valentine replied with a fluid twist of her hand.
“And I will be her when I’m there, honor system,” I returned.
“There are as many ideas of what honor is as there are people, my goddess of love,” Valentine warned quietly.
Hmm. That didn’t sound good.
“I will, however, provide you with another service,” her eyes drifted to Claudia momentarily then back to me, “free of charge, because I like you. I will keep an eye on this Sjofn. And if I have concerns, I will get a message to you.”