Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: Both
Vacation. It was a novel concept. I'd never had one before; running around trying to hide from a crazy stepmother hardly counts as rest and relaxation and I'm fairly certain that's the cornerstone of this whole vacation thing. What would I do with nothing but time on my hands? Gods, the concept boggled my mind.
Before my Da died, my time was always very carefully planned and accounted for. Every minute, every second had a preassigned purpose; a specific place I had to be, a specific activity I had to do, a specific person I needed to see. It was very organized.
After my Da died, I spent a lot of time trapped in a place I didn't want to be. It was small and dark and I only ever had one visitor; a lithe, double-jointed male who smelled of poppies, reminded me of a scarecrow, and was much too fond of hearing me scream. When my wraiths tore him apart I was far from upset over his passing.
With freedom came running. I ran and I hid, scurrying all over the world, going from hole to hole like a mouse who knows there are predators on her tail. It let me see a lot of places - I even had my own private island for a few decades - but I think the constant paranoia and inability to feel safe may have cancelled out the vacation classification.
But nowadays was different. I'd regained my title, my home, my wealth. I had my friends, my family, my felines. I was happy and in love and life was pretty much as perfect as it could get. Most important of all, I had someone I trusted who I could leave my responsibilities with for a time and not worry about being betrayed.
So, this time, finally, I was on vacation. An actual, honest-to-gods, can't-deny-it vacation. There was one of those tropical huts set back among the trees and there was a beach with a roaring tide. Several of my cats prowled around and my hyena (don't give me that look - genetically, they're closer to cats than dogs) was chasing something I'd rather not think too intently about along the shoreline. I was sitting in a lounge chair, wearing a silver bikini, soaking in the rays.
"Are you happy?" Tru asked. He was sitting in his own lounge chair a few feet away from mine. Unsurprisingly, he was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, although to give credit where it's due his feet were bare. He'd been working so hard trying to make our vacation perfect; he'd even gone so far as to try his hand at those coconut drinks with the umbrellas. It was a disaster but it was still sweet of him to try.
I rolled up to my feet and sauntered over to straddle his hips. Bracing one hand on the back of his chair, I leaned close, my hair falling forward to veil us both in our own little world. I smiled. "I'm beyond happy; you plan one hell of a vacation, lover mine."
His lips jerked upwards in a sardonic grin and he nodded once. "Good."
I shifted position so I could lay my head on his chest, my ear over his heart so I could listen to its slow, steady beat. Somewhere my family was stirring up drama and my people were inciting disasters and my enemies were plotting my demise. Somewhere there were humans forming cults to burn me at the stake and others erecting temples devoted to my worship. Somewhere there were hunters hunting me, assassins studying me, an collectors coveting me.
I have a seriously messed up life.
But right then, right there, at that moment, I had my pets, I had beautiful surroundings, and I had Tru's embrace. I couldn't imagine a paradise more perfect than that.
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