Empowerment. Engagement. Authenticity.

Rangers Lodge Saga - The Quarry

The quarry was way more than rocks. Kristen stood above a rugged crater of shale and limestone, crumbled from past miners and scavengers, that was now dotted with clumps of flowering thistles, swaths of tall grasses and frothy ferns. She saw sunbaked plateaus and shady grottos that, to her mind, would make wonderful picnic or reading spots.

“Want to take a closer look?”

Adam had once again commandeered her camera and had already snapped a few profile shots. Now he gestured to a curving path of uneven stairs. Kristen was itching to explore but her balance was shaky at the best of times and the quarry was definitely not as accessible as the rest of the facilities.

“I’m not sure I trust myself on those stairs,” she admitted. Especially with the mood she was in this morning, she thought darkly.

“Fold up your cane and take my elbow.”

“Oh, no…that’s fine.” She was suddenly flustered. “View’s awesome from here.” Adam stuck her camera in the pocket of his khaki cargo pants and reached over to take her cane. “Hey!” she exclaimed, instinctively reaching out for his elbow to steady herself.

He took her hand and tucked it into the crook of his elbow. “Trust me.”

It was easy to do, Kristen realized. Just as they had done on the dance floor, they fell into sync with each other as they picked their way down the first flight of steps. She didn’t feel coddled or like she was slowing him down. Slowly, she let out the breath she’d been holding and looked around.

“Took me a while to figure out what would thrive here,” Adam said. “When I was a kid, my buddy Nate and I would build forts between the boulders and spend hours playing hunter and prey.” Kristen caught a glimpse of that kid now in the flash of his grin and in the reminiscent way his eyes swept over the landscape. “Was a shame to blast it all. But when it began to take on its new shape, I realized I’d created my own grownup hideaway.” He raised the camera and Kristen posed obligingly, more confident now with her footing. Her smile though, Adam noted, was distracted.

“Come on, I’ll show you my favourite spot for watching storms.” He smiled when she took his elbow without prompting and led her along a slope that turned into more stairs. Another sharp turn brought them to a hollow in the rocks, just tall and wide enough for two. Kristen looked up. From this vantage point, it was easy to pretend the world above was very far away. When she turned back, Adam had spread a blanket on the ground. He offered her a travel mug.

“Thought I’d forgotten breakfast?” He patted the blanket for her to sit as he dug into a knapsack.

He’d been waiting for her at the garden gate that morning and Kristen had had to conceal her disappointment that they wouldn’t enjoy morning tea in the kitchen. She’d already dealt with one guy’s lack of consideration that morning…damn Adrian for yet again refusing to come on the walk with her and having no interest in coming to her audition…and it had annoyed her that Adam, who was the host of the place, would disregard her love of tea. Now she saw that he hadn’t missed a detail. He set saucers and scones on the blanket and passed her a newspaper folded open to the crossword. She laughed when she noticed it was blank. Her spirits abruptly lifted.

“Aww, did I knock your confidence yesterday? Tell you what,” she said, getting comfortable on the blanket and taking a long sip of tea, “you can read the clues and I’ll give you a three second head start to solve.”

“You’re on,” Adam traded her a saucer for the paper. “First, tell me what’s bugging you.”
“No.” She grimaced. “I mean, it’s nothing relevant.” She traced the soaring crags and dips with her eyes as she ate. The scone was still warm despite their hour’s walk. Adam must have thought to wrap it in foil or something. No one could deny he was into hospitality. “You’d actually watch storms from here, huh?”

He let their former subject drop. “Uh huh. Hunker down in here before it started and be as snug as a bug in a rug.” Adam drew his knees up and propped his elbows on them. “The lightning over those ridges is spectacular.”

“So is the sunrise.” Kristen polished off the scone and dusted her hands on her jeans. “K, read me the first clue.”

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