(c) Sj Heckscher-Marquis 2009
I kicked off my sandals. I just wanted to feel the stones beneath mybare feet, as always, whenever I came here. The sun was low in the sky andthe evening was coming, so I kicked off my shoes. It was only when I triedto bend over to pick them up that the image changed. My side, with the tornmuscles and flesh recently stitched together, and the three accompanyingbroken ribs, weren't quite up to the effort, but I'm half Italian. Bravado, aswell as blood, courses through my veins. I'm gay, which means I'm supposedto be sensitive and in touch with my feelings (more than one woman has wailedover that), but subtle and sensitive I'm not. I am what I am: a DetectiveSergeant in the Met, and the stepson of a man with power and influence. Aman who actually cared more about me than his own son. A stunningrevelation, which is the reason I'm alive to tell the tale, and one of the reasonsIdd come here.Si's hand closed over my sandals just as I was getting ready for thesecond go at bending over, and he scooped them up. eDom, just take it easy.Okay?f He sounded irritated. The magic of this place wasn't seeping intohis soul yet. I'd brought him here because I wanted the magic to reach outto him, because I wanted, for the first time in my life, to ask a question andmy whole life depended on the answer.eCome on.f I said, and set out on the road. The stone was warmbeneath my skin, the healing peace of the place oozing up through the solesof my feet and I half-closed my eyes to tune out the world, nothing but theclacking of cicadas and the feel of the slowly-setting sun on my body, andthe presence of my lover. We were alone, as I knew we were likely to be.I was drifting, allowing the peace of this place to sweep over me. I neededto be at peace.I could feel the complexities slowly unknotting, unravelling and slippingaway. I could hear the tread of Si's feet and as he followed me, I could feelhis anxiety unravelling too. We needed this, both of us. He hovered closeto me as he had every day since the hour my stepfather had set us both free.My stepfather had saved my life and had given me into Simon Archer's care.The pain in my side tightened for a moment and I almost stumbled. Si was there,his arm round my waist, supporting me. eDom, we shouldn't be doing this.feNo, we should.f I could hear the stubbornness in my own tone. Intruth, I had been seeing this place since Idd awakened in a hospital bed aboutthree hours after it was all over. The siren call which brought me here haddragged me to my feet two days after being shot by my half-brother. I'ddressed in the teeth of all opposed to me checking out. Made it as far asa taxi with Simon in tow, alternately beside himself with worry and out of hismind with angst ridden annoyance at my stubbornness.