Empowerment. Engagement. Authenticity.

Rangers Lodge Saga - The Treehouse

Adam retrieved travel mugs from a cupboard. “Coffee or tea?” he asked.

“Coffee,” Kristen said without hesitation, weariness warring with nerves. Which was the better of two evils? Stay in her relationship with Adrian and try not to wonder what could have been with Adam? Or break Adrian’s heart for something that could very well be a fleeting crush?

“Let’s take a walk,” Adam said, “There’s something I want to show you.”
There was an edge in his voice that had her deciding not to challenge his request. Taking one of the coffee mugs from him, she followed him through the garden and into the arbor. She used her cane this morning, Adam noted, instead of taking his elbow as she’d been doing for the last couple days. There was strain on her face that had nothing to do with lack of sleep. Neither of them spoke until they reached the property line, marked by its dense curtain of flowering vines.

Adam parted a section of vines to reveal a door carved into a massive tree trunk. When he coaxed the door open, Kristen glimpsed rough-hewn stairs. “What is this?” she asked, intrigue piercing the fog in her brain.

”Come inside and see.”

Kristen followed him up the stairs to a network of interwoven logs that formed a wide deck. Here and there, the sun broke through in lacy patterns before giving way entirely to reveal the ocean. Kristen was drawn to the sturdy oak railing. The rocky embankment fell in a sheer drop to a choppy sea, punctuated occasionally by jagged outcroppings. Unlike the sandy beaches further up the coastline, the waves here gnashed fretfully against rocks and moss, then receded into restless eddies that melted into billowy swells. A chilly breeze rose up to toss her loose curls across her face.

“This scene suit your mood better?” Adam said quietly behind her.

“Pretty much.” She watched a water bird teeter along the ragged rocks, head bobbing up and down to inspect each crevice. She wondered how it knew there was anything worth scavenging in there. “I’m not sure how we got here,” she mused and Adam knew she wasn’t referring to their physical location.

“To tell you the truth,” he propped his arms on the railing, took a fortifying gulp of coffee and stared out to the horizon where sunlight stretched in a shimmering gold band, “neither am I.” His words drew a reluctant smile from Kristen.

When the wind stirred up an icy spray that had goosebumps tingling their bare arms, Adam turned away from the ocean. Kristen’s eyes met his and he saw the slightest lowering of that wall she’d built around herself. “Come on, I’ll give you the rest of the tour.”

He opened a door and they stood in a small, cosy room with an overstuffed sectional and a domed window that looked out to the sheer cliffs and the ocean. A narrow hallway led to two other rooms.

“Welcome to my souped-up tree house,” Adam said proudly. “Complete with a bedroom and bathroom. It was just a big deck when I was a kid and I spent hours up here. I started expanding it in my teens to create a retreat and kept redoing it over the years.”

“How on earth did you get that couch up here?” Kristen wondered.

“Lugged the wood and cushions up the stairs piece by piece, then assembled it. Dad’s constantly trying to get me to let guests up here but no chance.”

Kristen stepped to the window to stare at the sea. The restlessness of the waves forced her to confront the chaos of her own thoughts. Settling on the couch with his hands dangling between his knees, Adam studied her silhouette. “So, did you have a childhood retreat?”

“My bedroom,” she responded without turning. “ Everything was pink with ruffles – the curtains, the pillows, the carpet. It had a huge four poster bed and I would totally be in my own world.”

“Aww, how cute. It’s nice to escape reality for a while,” Adam said. “Especially as an adult.”

“Is that what you want? A nice break before we return to our regular lives next weekend?”

“I wanted one dance on Saturday night. That changed on Monday.” Adam went to her, put his hands gently on her tense shoulders. “I’m not in the habit of breaking up relationships to satisfy my whims. Neither of us wants to walk away from this. Am I wrong?”

“No.” Kristen fought the urge to lean against him. “But I’m in a relationship with a guy who loves me very much.”

“Loves you or needs you?” Adam challenged.

There was the question she had been asking herself for years, Kristen thought wearily. Did Adrian really love her or did he simply like what she did for him? And was the answer enough to desert him?

Turning her gently, Adam tipped her chin up, forcing her to look at him. “I don’t expect you to have all the answers. This came from left field for both of us. Let’s deal with it together.”


 (c) Kristy Kassie, 2016


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