Whenever Ethan awoke in the morning, Mara was there waiting with a simple breakfast.  Sometimes there was bread, or various fruits, and plenty of water.  At some point in the day she would fly off, leaving him standing in wonderment at the display of her wings soaring in the sunlight, and then she would return with lunch or dinner:  meats and cheeses, vegetables.  It became a game, where she would tap him quickly on one shoulder and zip around to be on his opposite side when he turned around.  They laughed a great deal as they travelled, revelling in each other’s company.

            Ethan was surprised that he never felt the dreaded heat of the desert sun, so one day he experimented by stepping off the path.  Immediately he could feel the scorching intensity of the air and sand, only to feel cool and soothing breezes as soon as he returned to their private highway.  They would take rest breaks to cloud watch, and talk.

            “What was life like in Heaven?”  Ethan asked as they lay side by side.

            “It was bright.  Everything was shiny with jewels or gold.  There were marble floors.  Everything was scheduled:  when to sing in the choirs of angels for God, when to deliver messages, when to watch humanity, when to study in the Library.”

            “It sounds strict.”  Ethan almost laughed. 

            “Not always.  The Garden in the centre of the city was lovely, and peaceful.  And God was wonderful.”  Mara said.

            “That’s all?  Just wonderful?”  Ethan teased.

            “No, silly boy.”  Mara grinned.  “But it’s hard to explain.  I just felt loved and I was happy.  There was no where else I’d rather be.”

            “That’s how I feel when I pray, or when I’m in church.  Or when I’m with you.”

            For that, Mara kissed him.  Ethan hadn’t really expected it (and later she said she had been thinking about it for years) but when it happened, it felt like his whole soul had been waiting for it.  Every cell in his body, the very fibre of his being, felt like it was filled with light.  The warm love she exuded entered him, making him tingle all over.

She was looking down at him when he finally opened his eyes, resting her chin on her hand and her elbow in the grass.  Mara was smiling like a Cheshire cat, quite pleased with herself.  Ethan felt his head swim.

“What do you say to that?” She giggled.

“Can I have another?”

“If you insist.”  Mara leaned in and blessed him with another loving kiss.

            When the kiss finally ended, Ethan opened his eyes and smiled.  Then his brow wrinkled with thought.

            “That’s not the first time we kissed.”

            Mara blushed.  “We can’t talk about that yet.  It’s not time.”

            “Why not?” He said petulantly.  “I have questions.”

            “And they’ll be answered very soon.”  She reassured him.

            “They had better be.”  Ethan said, pretending to pout.  This inspired Mara to kiss him again, gently nibbling his stuck out bottom lip, eliciting a quiet yet pleased moan from Ethan.

            Following this delightful time, they eventually got back on the road.  After some unknown period Ethan spotted mountains in the distance.  They were just a purple haze on the horizon, but he knew what it meant.

            “We’re getting closer, aren’t we?”  Ethan asked.

            “Yes.  Are you ready?”

            “I think so.  Yes.”

            She took his hand in hers and gave him a reassuring squeeze.  “I know so.”

            The ground eventually sloped upwards, and then became low foothills.  The path stayed sure, but the surrounding terrain became increasingly rocky and difficult.  There was a crisp chill to the air now, and a biting wind even on the path.  One morning Ethan woke to find that Mara had obtained a cloak for him, and wrapped it around him for warmth.  They continued walking, taking no breaks now.  Something inside Ethan was calling him forward; he knew that soon enough something was going to happen.

            One day during their journey through the mountains, Mara pricked her head up, like a hunter smelling prey.  Ethan was about to say something, ask what was wrong, but she held up her hand for silence.  She moved her hand to her waist and drew a sword that moments before had been non-existent.  Silently she moved beside him and pressed her lips against his ear.

            “Keep going.  I have things to deal with but I will see you soon.”  Mara smiled, kissing his cheek before flying off, her wings sparkling in the sunlight.

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