Jack paced angrily in his office as he listened to the county sheriff explaining what had caused the large explosion that had started the second avalanche.
"It would seem that they had built a drug lab where they were concocting something like meth. We're still trying to put together all the components to figure out what exactly they were doing but it appears that it was a meth lab that exploded and caused that avalanche," the sheriff concluded.
Jack shook his head. "That stuff is so awful. It just seems to keep hurting people. It feels like there will never be an end to it."
One of the deputy sheriffs stuck his head in the door and asked the sheriff to come outside. The sheriff stepped outside but come right back in, "I think you need to see this Jack."
Jack stepped outside and the sheriff pointed into the back of the deputy sheriff's jeep. There were bags of partially burnt roots. Jack picked one up and looked at the sheriff, "Peyote?"
"That's what I thought too." The sheriff stated with a nod.
"The DEA thinks that they were using part of the stuff used to make meth and mixing peyote with it to make a new, more potent drug." The deputy sheriff said as he closed his jeep back up. "They said that if these people had succeeded at getting this stuff out on the street it could be more addicting and more deadly than meth is."
"Great Creator," Jack breathed, "we have to pray that does not happen. Meth is already destroying so many people's lives. I can't imagine something worse being available."
"Humph," the sheriff said sadly, "It's just a matter of time."
"Do they think they know who might have been financing this? I'm sure the people who got killed in the explosion were just nobodies stupid enough to do the dirty work." Jack said as he followed the sheriff to his car.
"The DEA say they have some leads but now that the Feds are involved they aren't telling us much. When I know something, I'll let you in on it, okay."
"I'd appreciate it, Jerry." Jack said as he patted the sheriff on the back and headed back to his house. Jerry Thompson was a good sheriff and had been taking care of this county for more than twenty years but if there were people trying to make something worse than meth, Jack was glad that the Feds were here to deal with it. Hopefully they would be able to stop it before it did become an epidemic like the meth problem had become.
When he got back inside the house he picked up the phone and called Robin. She needed to know what was happening. She had survived the avalanche with little more than scratches. He knew that she felt responsible for her friend who had been with her in the avalanche. The poor woman still had not woken up and she had been at the hospital for almost two weeks now. He picked up the phone and called Robin's cell phone. She answered on the first ring and Jack quickly filled her in on what they now knew about the explosion.
"Sweet Spirit! That's horrible." Robin exclaimed.
"I know," Jack agreed, "but that is what happened."
"I hope they figure out who is behind it and get them into jail."
"Me too," Jack said but he was afraid that if who ever it was had the money to finance such a thing, they would have the money to keep themselves out of jail. "What are you doing now?"
"I'm on my way to see Marianne. I pray every day that she wakes up and is okay." Robin said sadly.
"That's all we can do for her." Jack had a feeling that Marianne meant more to Robin than she was letting anyone know. "Let me know how she's doing."
"Okay, Dad, I'll talk to you later." Robin said as she pulled into the hospital parking lot and parked her Jeep in the visitor's area. She went inside and hoped that she did not run into Marianne's parents.
Robin hovered in the lobby of the hospital waiting to see if Marianne's parents were going to leave for awhile so she would get a chance to sneak in and see Marianne. She had made friends with one of Marianne's nurses after the woman had seen her crying and talked Robin into telling her what was wrong. The nurse, who was also a lesbian, had been very understanding about Robin's dilemma and helped Robin to get in to see Marianne as often as she could.
Finally Mike and Janice Jones got off the elevator and left the hospital. They usually took turns going so that one of them would be with Marianne at all times but occasionally they would leave together. Mike had taken time off from work and Back Lands magazine was putting them up in a hotel near the hospital. Josie had felt so responsible for this happening to Marianne that she pulled some strings and got the magazine to agree to provide a hotel for Marianne's parents for up to a month.
Once Robin was sure that they had left the hospital she headed up to the third floor where Marianne was lying in a bed and being constantly attended to. Robin sat down in the chair next to the bed and took Marianne's hand. She wished so much that Marianne would open her eyes and be okay. The doctors said she was getting better and could wake up at any time. She had taken quite a bump on the head. The doctors said that, the cold and the shock was what put her into the coma. They said that once she woke up she would most likely make a full recovery. Robin squeezed Marianne's hand and said a prayer that today would be the day she woke up.
Carrie, the lesbian nurse who was letting Robin visit with Marianne came by and told Robin that she would warn her when Marianne's parents came back. Robin thanked her and began talking to Marianne. The doctors said that they should talk to her because it might help her wake up. Robin told her about the meth lab and the explosion. She told her about the peyote and what it would mean if they made a drug worse than meth. She told her about last night's snow that had completely covered the mountains, causing most roads to be closed. After what seemed to be an hour or so, Robin was getting sleeping and let her head drop down to the edge of Marianne's bed. She fell asleep with her head resting next to Marianne's hand. Robin didn't feel it when Marianne's hand began to gently rub Robin's head.
An angry voice woke Robin, "Who are you and what are you doing here?" Mike Jones demanded.
"I…I" Robin jumped to her feet and stammered.
"She's my friend," Marianne croaked out.
"Oh my God! She's awake!" Janice Jones cried and ran out of the room to get the nurse.
Mike Jones glared at Robin. Marianne reached up and squeezed Robin's hand making Robin turn to her. She didn't say anything else until the doctor came in. Robin moved out of the way of the doctor and nurses but made a point to stay away from Mr. Jones. She was about to leave when Marianne whispered, "Wait."
"Save your voice Marianne," Nurse Carrie said and started to usher Robin out of the room.
"No," Marianne whispered. "I want her to stay."
Dr. Carter took Marianne's hand, "We'll allow her to come back after we've had a look at you. You've been in a coma for fifteen days and now that you are awake we need to look you over."
"Coma?" Marianne echoed. The last thing she remembered was Robin telling her not to let go of her as the snow from the avalanche crashed into them.
"Yes Sweetheart," Janice Jones said as she tried to fight back her tears. "You've been in a coma. Now let the doctor look at you and your dad, me and your friend will be waiting to talk to you when they let us come back in."
Marianne looked at her mother's tear stained face, Robin's fearful face and her father's angry face. She looked at the nurses and the doctor who were trying to give her reassuring looks. "Okay," was all she could say and she fell back on the pillows.
Nurse Carrie ushered Robin and Marianne's parents out of the room with the warning, "Do anything to upset her and you will be asked to leave the hospital."
After the nurse went back into the room, Mike Jones growled, "What the hell were you doing in there with her?"
Robin didn't want to get him angry enough to deny visitation for her so she said, "I just feel so guilty that I couldn't get her out of the way of the avalanche in enough time. I just wanted to come up and pray for her."
Mike raised his eye brow warily, "Pray for her?"
"Mike, for Christ's sake," Janice said exasperatedly, "She is obviously concerned for Marianne and if she wanted to come up and pray for her that is all the better."
"You look very familiar," Mike said and narrowed his eyes at Robin.
"We have met before," Robin admitted, hoping that Marianne's mom would not remember the bathroom incident. "I'm Kevin James' cousin. I met you in Denver with him and his friend Jarrod."
Recognition set in on Mike's face but Janice's face didn't change, "I knew you looked familiar." Mike thought back to that night and remembered that there seemed to be a tension between Marianne and this woman.
Robin sensed the direction of Mike's thoughts, "After our first excursion out on the trails when she fell in the water and almost drown and this time she got buried by an avalanche, I was afraid that she would think I was a bad omen."
"I doubt that, Hon," Janice made eye contact with Robin; "I think she is still quite fond of you. And, after all, you did save her both times."
"Yeah, but," Robin said dropping Janice's gaze, "she almost didn't survive this one."
"But she did, and we are thankful for all your efforts and your prayers. Aren't we Mike?" Janice nudged Mike not so gently who was still staring daggers at Robin. Janice had a feeling that Robin was more than Marianne's friend and she was not going to let Mike run her off. In the past few months Marianne had been happier and more excited about her life than she had since before the incident with Amanda Kinsey. Janice was not happy about Marianne's chosen lifestyle but she wanted her daughter to be happy, something she, herself, had not been in many years. If being with women was what made her happy then Janice was willing to accept that.
"What?" Mike growled again, having not heard anything Janice had said because he was still trying to recall the night he had met this girl with Kevin James.
"We are grateful for her saving Marianne." Janice stated in an angry tone.
Mike looked at her. Who did she think she was talking to in that tone? He started to say as much when the doctor came out into the hall. "Marianne's vitals are all good and she is remembering a lot more than I expected her too. I'm going to let you visit with her but only for a few minutes. I don't want her upset and I want her to rest some more before she tries to have longer visits." He looked pointedly at Mike, "If she gets upset, the visits will stop until I say otherwise, is that clear?"
"Perfectly," Janice said taking Mike's arm and starting for the room.
"She wants to see Robin alone first." The doctor said and led Robin into the room. Mike started to protest but the doctor gave him a look that made him change his mind. Once inside the room the doctor said "Please keep it short," and left Robin and Marianne alone.
Robin moved to Marianne's bed side and took her proffered hand. "Hi."
Marianne smiled up at Robin's worried face and brought a smile out of Robin. "I am so glad you were the first person I saw when I woke up. It made things a lot less scary than they would have been if I had seen my parents first."
"I'm so glad I was here. I'm so glad you finally woke up. I've been so worried about you." Robin squeezed Marianne's hand. "I want to kiss your whole face so bad but I don't want to get myself thrown out of here for good."
"You won't get thrown out. If this experience did nothing else it has made me realize that I can't let my father run my life." Marianne said firmly.
"I can't believe you are so clear headed after being in a coma for two weeks." Robin said.
"The doctor said that it has been more like just a deep sleep. He said that my brain waves have been consistently good but for some reason my body would not wake up. He said it was a first for him but he had read about it happening to other people with slight concussions." Marianne looked out the window at her parents who were looking a bit impatient. "I'm going to visit with them but I want you to come back later, please."
"I'll be here whenever you want me to be." Robin said putting her other hand on Marianne's.
"Good." Marianne smiled, "I'm going to hold you to that."
Robin patted Marianne's hand then let go of it and left the room. Marianne took a deep breath as she prepared to deal with her parents. After they came into the room and hugged her, she pushed herself up on her pillows and stated, "I'm going to be making all the decisions about my care now that I'm awake and Robin will be coming to visit me often so I don't want you two to say anything to her or try to do anything to keep her away."
Mike started to protest but Janice shushed him and said to Marianne, "We will do whatever you wish, Honey."
Marianne smiled, surprised that it had been that easy, "Thanks Mom."
Marianne visited with her parents for a few more minutes until the doctor came to usher them out of the room. Her father had not said another word after her mother had cut him but Marianne knew he was furious. She was glad to see her mom stand up to him and hoped that she would stick to her guns.
Another week had passed and Marianne was finally getting released from the hospital. Dr. Carter had asked her to stay in the area so he could continue to monitor her progress. She had asked Robin if she could stay with her for a while as she continued to recover. Robin had agreed without hesitation so Marianne felt comfortable staying with her. Even though she was sure she would be able to get good care in Denver, Marianne had grown to trust Dr. Carter and wanted to stay in his care until she had completely recovered, she also didn't want to be away from Robin.
They had talked a great deal during the past week about everything except how they really felt about each other. Marianne knew that she had fallen in love with Robin and was pretty sure Robin felt the same way. Even though they hadn't really gotten to know each other that well, Marianne felt that their connection to each other was at spiritual level. She had never looked that deeply within herself before but coming so close to death had made her take a good long, hard look at herself and it gave her the courage to open herself up and allow herself to love again.
Marianne's parents had protested her staying but when she insisted that this was what she wanted to do her mother had finally relented. Her father had no intention of letting her have her way but her mother told him to leave her alone. She wasn't real sure what had transpired between her parents since she had left Denver but her mother seemed to be taking charge. Marianne had never seen her mother really stand up to her father but she sensed that Janice Jones had changed and she was not going to take orders from Marianne's father any more.
They had come by the hospital earlier that morning then they were going to head back to Denver after they left the hospital but promised that they would be back in a few weeks to see her. Her mother had said that she would be calling every day to check on her. Marianne sensed that her mother had decided that she was going to let Marianne live her own life and was going to accept Marianne for who she really was. It was truly a wonderful feeling that she felt was going to bring her and her mother closer together. Her father was still not saying much and Marianne wasn't sure he would ever come around but she didn't care.
Marianne had dressed after her parents left and was making sure she had gathered all her things while she waited for Robin to arrive. She heard the door open and expected it to be Robin but was quite shocked when she turned around and saw Amanda Kinsey standing in the door way. She was just as beautiful as Marianne remembered. Her auburn hair was a little shorter than it had been when Marianne had known her. Marianne's gaze met Amanda's troubled hazel eyes.
"I know you probably don't want to see me but I've come to apologize for all the trouble I've caused you and to say goodbye." Amanda said softly and took a step towards Marianne.
"I appreciate the apology but I've gotten over what happened and moved on with my life." Marianne stated and stood up straighter. She wasn't sure what Amanda really wanted but she wanted to be prepared for anything.
"I'm glad to hear that but my apology is for what happened to you here." Amanda said sadly and looked down.
Marianne studied her, "What do you mean?"
Amanda looked back up at her, "The avalanche was not planned but it was a good thing that it happened otherwise you might not be here right now."
"What do you mean?" Marianne asked feeling a little dizzy and swayed slightly.
Amanda saw Marianne sway and quickly moved to help her sit down. "My father had hired two of the idiots that work for him to make you and your friend have an accident that neither of you were not supposed to survive."
"What?!" Marianne asked, shocked that Robert Kinsey hated her so much that he wanted her dead.
"Apparently your friend was snooping around the lodge too much and he was afraid that she was going to discover what his real interest was here. The fact that you showed up here just gave him an added bonus to his plans to get rid of her."
Marianne was glad that she was sitting because she would have probably fallen down. Just the thought that Robert had planned to kill Robin even if she had not been there was enough to make her feel like passing out but that she was an added bonus was sickening. "Why?"
Amanda took the chair next to Marianne's and took Marianne's hand in hers. When Marianne's eyes met hers she looked down at their hands then back up to Amanda's eyes and wondered briefly why her touch was not affecting her the way it had in the past, "My father is the one who was financing the drug processing place where they were using the peyote and meth chemicals to make a new drug."
Marianne's mouth dropped open. There were a lot of reasons that she could imagine for Robert Kinsey to have been involved with the lodge but manufacturing drugs had not been one of them.
"So now you understand why I'm here to apologize. Your friend had been around the lodge a lot and the Ute Indians had been investigating all the people involved in the acquisition of the lodge and my father was afraid that your friend would stumble across the place they were working on putting the drug together, which your hiking group would have come across if you hadn't been stopped by the avalanche. I'm assuming my father's reasoning was that if something happened to your friend that would take the Ute's attention away from the lodge and what was happening there long enough for him to get the drug developed and move the manufacturing site." Amanda stopped to let Marianne digest all that information.
"But…" Marianne started to say she doubted that Robin would have had a clue about the drugs but she would have guessed what was happening if she had come across the manufacturing lab while out hiking. Even though she wouldn't have known who was responsible, Robin would have immediately alerted the authorities.
"When I saw you at the lodge I was so surprised but I was terrified that my father would see you and even if he did I had hoped he wouldn't recognize you but he did. He started whispering to that Cody guy then the two of them left. I decided to follow them to Cody's office but I couldn't hear what they were talking about. If I would have know then what was happening I would have found a way to warn you guys but I didn't find out what was going on until I got back to Los Angeles. I have always had a few people who work close to my father in my pocket." Amanda looked away sadly. "It amazing what people will do for money," She looked back at Marianne, "Anyway, someone who was very upset about the drug issue told me what was going on with the manufacturing and that led me to the people who told me about the plan he had for your friend and you. He had actually hired to thugs to make sure that you had an accident or to just simply kill the whole party if that became necessary."
Marianne's mouth dropped open again, "My God, why would he kill a group of innocent people like that."
Amanda looked Marianne in the eye, her own eyes reflecting her deep sorrow; "It wouldn't be the first time he has had people killed to get what he wants. He doesn't know that I know about as many people as I do." Looking away from Marianne, "I feel just as guilty for having looked the other way for all these years," looking back at Marianne, "but I decided to make amends. I got in touch with the FBI, who have been investigating him for some time, and told them what I know. That is why I'm here to say goodbye. They are putting me into the witness protection program and I'm going to disappear permanently."
"I'm sorry," was all the Marianne could think to say.
"Don't be. I'm the one who is sorry. I'm sorry for what he did to you, what he did to us. I really did love you and I never wanted you to be hurt." Amanda's hazel eyes glimmered with tears and Marianne knew that she meant what she was saying. Amanda looked at her watch, "I do have to be going now. I hope you have a great life and that things work out with your friend."
"Robin." Marianne smiled softly. "Her name is Robin."
Amanda returned her smile. "Robin. She looks like a nice person."
"She is." Marianne said and started to pull her hand from Amanda's but Amanda held her hand then leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips. "Goodbye, Marianne." She got up, turned and walked to the door, opened and went out without looking back.
Robin, who had watched the end of their exchange, was waiting in the hallway with her arms crossed angrily across her chest, stared Amanda down as she stepped out of the room.
Amanda smiled at Robin, "Don't worry. You won't be seeing me around again. She's all yours." She walked past Robin and got on the elevator.
Robin stepped into the room to see Marianne looking out the window crying. "Don't worry, she won't be back." Marianne said as she wiped the tears that she began crying when she realized how little affect that Amanda's touch had on her in comparison to Robin's. She now regretted all the time she had wasted pining for Amanda and the time she had wasted holding Robin at arm's length. But did Robin really care for her the way she cared for Robin? She couldn't meet Robin's eyes when she asked, "She said that she told the police that her father was behind this. Did she really?"
Robin stood by the door unsure of what to make of Marianne crying over Amanda, "Yes she did. The FBI have him in custody as we speak."
Marianne looked up at Robin. She realized that Robin had not come any closer to her. Robin looked sad and a little angry, "You saw her kiss me, didn't you?"
"Yes." Robin didn't move her eyes from Marianne's searching gaze.
"It didn't mean anything."
"Are you sure?" Robin asked, looking at the tracks of Marianne's recent tears.
Marianne stood unsteadily forcing Robin to grab her and help her sit back down, "I guess I'm not ready to be aggressive yet."
Robin had to grin, "What were you planning on being aggressive about?"
Marianne looked into Robin's eyes, "I was going to show you that it didn't mean anything. In fact, I was crying when you came in because her kiss made me realize how much time I've been wasting on her."
"Really?" Robin asked as she knelt in front of Marianne.
"Yes," Marianne said as she cupped Robin's face in her hands and kissed her. She looked deeply into Robin's eyes, "I don't really know how you feel about me but this experience has made me realize how precious time is and I don't want to waste anymore time. I love you but if you don't love me, I want to know now."
Robin rocked on her heels, shocked by Marianne's confession. She had been trying to tell herself that she wasn't falling in love with Marianne ever since that first hiking trip but she knew that she had been falling for her from the moment she laid eyes on the small blond. "I do love you too," She answered quickly so Marianne wouldn't doubt her words. She leaned in for another kiss when she heard someone clear their throat behind her.
Dr. Carter had come into the room after a slight knock and was only slightly shocked by what he saw. He had known that Robin was a lesbian for a long time and suspected that she and Marianne were very close but he hadn't expected to actually walk in on them kissing. "Sorry for the interruption but I've got Marianne's discharge papers if you two would like to continue your conversation somewhere else." He said as his embarrassment subsided.
Both women had jumped and separated themselves when the heard the doctor clear his throat but both were still thoroughly embarrassed. "Yes, we would like to continue our conversation somewhere else." Robin said, not meeting the doctor's eyes.
The doctor went over Marianne's release instructions and had her sign her release forms. When they were almost done he looked pointed at Robin and said, "Now, she does not need to be overly excited for awhile still so try to keep your conversations relatively calm, understand?"
Robin blushed and dropped her head, "Yes, I understand."
Marianne, too, was embarrassed but laughed as she hugged the doctor, "Don't worry. I'm sure she is going to be very over protective of me and not let me get too excited about anything. I'll see you in two weeks at your office."
Dr. Carter hugged her back and said, "See you then." He left the room with a slight chuckle and told Robin to have her father give him a call.
Robin promised and then hurried Marianne out of the room and hospital so they could get back to her house where she could kiss Marianne the way she really wanted to.
Nearly a year had passed since the avalanche and Marianne and Robin's brush with death. Marianne still wrote for Back Lands Magazine but now she wrote from her home with Robin in the mountains outside Durango. Robin had reopened her outfitting business in a small shop in town close to some other tourists' attractions. Business had been booming ever since the story about Robert Kinsey paying to have two thugs to kill Robin and Marianne in an effort to cover up his drug lab in the mountains had hit the news.
Even though the Feds had known about the hiring of the thugs, the story did get released to the reporters until the bodies of two men were found by hikers after the spring thaw. A note was found clutched in the hand of one man that told who had hired them and why. It also told of the whereabouts of the drug lab. Although Clarence Bosvic had been considered the brains of the two man operation that the FBI had been hunting in connection with two other murders, Bart Townsend was the one who had the conscience and had written the note telling what the two had been doing in the mountains just in case they didn't get rescued. Later when the police searched Bart and Clarence's apartments, they found journals that Bart had kept which told in great detail about many of the jobs that they had done for Robert Kinsey including the two murders that the FBI had already been hunting them for. The journals, along with Amanda's testimony, proved to be monumental in the Attorney General's prosecution of Robert Kinsey who received a life sentence for his involvement in four murders and six attempted murders, including his attempt to have Robin and Marianne murdered.
Marianne's parents divorced about six months after Marianne left the hospital and her mother had moved to Durango where she opened a dress shop. Marianne had been quite surprised to find out that her mother had been an aspiring model when she had met Marianne's father. Her father had made her mother quit modeling when they got married but Janice had never lost her flair for fashion and was now using it to her advantage as she catered to the taste of the more well to do tourists that came to town either for the nature or outdoor activities.
Marianne's father had stayed in Denver and was still working to try to become a partner at Brandson, Brandson and Wiseman. He still had not accepted Marianne's lifestyle and the two had not spoken in almost a year. Marianne was quite sad about it, especially today because she and Robin were about to be married and Marianne wished that her father could be there to see the ceremony and be happy for her but that was not going to happen. Marianne's mother, however, had been ecstatic about the wedding and had insisted on finding Marianne a dress. Robin and her parents would be wearing their traditional ceremonial clothing.
The wedding was being held at the cliff dwellings just outside of Cortez because Marianne and Robin both wanted the historical tribal setting to be apart of the wedding. Thom "Grizzly" White Feather, who was the tribe's shaman, was going to perform the ceremony for them. When Marianne had first met the small man she had asked how on Earth he had got the nickname "Grizzly," he had smiled and showed her a scar that went across his stomach. "The grizzly that gave me this when I was a young man stood taller than Jack Hawke. He made the mistake of leaving me before I was dead." He pulled the necklace of grizzly claws from around his neck for Marianne to see, "He didn't get a chance to make that mistake twice."
Marianne had been in awe by that story about the quiet man but she had been really surprised to find out that he was not an elected shaman, that it was a family gift that had been passed down for many generations. Many members of his family had been given the gift of healing and had passed it down the generations. The longer Marianne had spent around Robin and her family the more she learned about the importance of the Native Americans effort to preserve their history and their need to share their traditions with the young. She was quite impressed by the amount of energy most of the people in the tribe put into making sure the young learned their history, their stories, their language and traditions. Marianne wanted to help too and had begun to volunteer to help tutor some of the kids.
Robin's whole tribe seemed have embraced Marianne. Everyone seemed to be involved with the ceremony in one way or another. Although some of it was going to be like a traditional Native American marriage ceremony, Robin and Marianne both wanted to add their own special touches to the ceremony.
In the few weeks before the ceremony, Marianne found that there was a big secret about Robin that was being kept from her and not knowing what it was going on was making her nuts. Everyone seemed to be in on the secret but her. Robin promised her that she would find out what the secret was soon enough.
Finally, today, the day of the ceremony came. It was a perfect southwestern day. The sky was cobalt blue and dotted by only a few small clouds. As the day wore on the browns, oranges and reds of the cliffs began to glow setting up the perfect back drop for their wedding. The photographer had already taken tons of pictures with her digital camera. Marianne was a nervous wreck. She had not been allowed to see Robin since the day before. Robin's mother said that even though they were two brides, it would still be bad luck for them to see each other before the wedding.
People seemed to be coming out of the wood work and the four drums representing the four directions of the winds had been set up and the drummers were beginning to play and sing the chants of the Native American songs. The rhythm of the drums seemed to match the racing of Marianne's heart as she came to stand in front of the shaman. All her friends from Back Lands were sitting with her mother on the front row. She and Robin had decided not to have bridesmaids. They were going to just have to their closest friends in the front rows with the families. Josie and Janice were already crying and Marianne could see that Karen, Brenda and Sally were all trying to keep things together. The men of course were all acting like everything was okay but she saw Tim wipe a tear once.
Marianne was becoming very nervous because Robin's parents had not come out to sit down yet. She wasn't real sure why but no one else seemed troubled by them not being in the front row. Finally the drummers began playing a traditional Native American wedding song. It was so beautiful that Marianne wanted to cry. Suddenly everyone sitting and watching the ceremony stood up and Robin's mother appeared in her full traditional custom. It was a beautiful buckskin dress, died light blue and adorned with beads and eagle feathers. She came and stood across from Marianne. She smiled with pride then turned to look back in the direction she had just come. Marianne's mouth dropped open at what she saw next. Robin's father was dressed in the full headdress and costume of that of the chief of the Ute Indians. Marianne had seen pictures of the costume in some books. On his arm was Robin, wearing a white buckskin dress and white leather moccasins. The bead work and feathers were amazing and she wore a small headdress made of beads and eagle feathers. Robin had never mentioned her family's status in the tribe other than the fact that her father was on the tribal council.
Robin watched Marianne's blue eyes widen in awe as she came closer. Robin would tell her later that her dress had been made by her great grandmother and worn by her grandmother, her mother and now her at their weddings. Robin stood before Marianne and she wanted to cry at how beautiful Marianne looked in her white silk and lace wedding dress.
Janice had gone all out to find the perfect dress that would be a compliment and a contrast to Robin's buckskin dress. She smiled with pride from the front row at seeing how the dress perfectly complimented Robin's dress which Robin's mother, Betty had allowed her to see with the promise that she wouldn't tell Marianne what it looked like. It was a perfect meeting a two cultures Janice thought.
Thom White Feather smiled at them both. He and Robin's dad were both wearing their long gray hair tied back in a ponytail. He was also in his traditional costume as a shaman. He took their hands and placed them together. They had rehearsed this ceremony several times and Thom said his prayer for them and asked them to say their promises to each other but this time when he asked Marianne if she promised to love and honor Robin forever he added her title to the statement. He asked if she would love and honor the Ute princess and traditional chief's daughter forever. Some how Marianne had gotten out the words that she would and before she knew it the ceremony was over. They kissed briefly and then they were walking down the isle together as a married couple in the tribe's eyes.
They spoke briefly to everyone before they started taking pictures. The sun had started to set and was casting perfect shadows on the rock formations and the photographer was pushing them to get the pictures done before they lost the lighting. While they were setting up for one of the shots, Marianne looked into the Robin's eyes, "Why haven't you ever told me that you were a princess?"
"Because of Cameron," Robin began sadly, "She said that she loved me for who I was but she had found out that my father was the traditional chief of the tribe and a direct descendent of Chief Ouray. For some reason she thought that made us rich and that was what she was really interested in, she thought that we had money but when she found out that the title was only ceremonial and that we didn't live in a castle, she went back to New York and her high class friends. I wanted to make sure you were going to be with me for who I am, not because I have a title or anything else."
Marianne stroked Robin's face gently, "You should have known by now that I didn't care about any of that."
Robin smiled, "I did but the look on your face when Thom said that I was a princess was worth keeping the secret."
Marianne playing punched her arm, "You are something else. You've saved my life three times and you are just simply the best person I've ever known. I don't care if you have a title or anything else, I love you for you."
"I only saved you twice," Robin said puzzled.
"You physically saved me twice but you saved me from myself when I was about to give up on love." Marianne smiled as the photographer snapped their picture.
"You did the same for me. I didn't think I would ever trust anyone again but you helped me get past that." Robin smiled and leaned in to kiss Marianne as the photographer snapped their pictures.
The photographer stood up and pointed to the cliff dwellings behind them. The sun was sinking low and causing the rocks to form shadows and in the middle of the wall was a heart shaped shadow. Robin put her arm around Marianne and looked at the shadow. "Even the ancestral spirits approve of our love. How much more beautiful can this day get?"
Marianne kissed her lightly, "Much more so when I get you home and naked."
Robin laughed, "You're right, there is nothing more beautiful than making love with you."
The photographer quietly slipped away leaving the couple to watch the rest of the sunset alone.
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