The Lyndesfarne Bridge Novels by Trevor Hopkins

New Bridge to Lyndesfarne: Chapter 13

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Kevin found himself becoming wonderfully awake in his own bed, with the warm and soft body of Tanji pressed against him. He moved carefully, gently, trying not to wake her too early by wriggling.

He lay on his side, thinking about last night. After a rather tentative start, with both of them unsure how to please the other, Tanji turned out to be surprisingly energetic and very enthusiastic. Her demands and needs, and his responses to them, drove him to levels of excitement beyond anything he had experienced before.

He thought about her lithe body, moving above him in the dim light leaking through the curtains from the streetlights, her petite but perfectly formed breasts bouncing as she drove herself down upon him, taking his full length inside her again and again.

He found himself becoming aroused, the reaction suddenly amplified as Tanji stirred against him, still apparently sleepy, but definitely not entirely unaware of his presence. He felt himself harden, stiffening against the smooth curves of her buttocks. She evidently felt it too, moving against him more strongly, and emitting a soft moan as the tip of his manhood pressed against the cleft between her legs. She used her hand to guide him inside her once again, moving first gently and then much more vigorously until they both tensed and cried out almost simultaneously.

"Good morning," he whispered into her ear after a few moments, "Did you sleep well?"

"Very well, but I enjoyed waking up more," she replied with a giggle.

They lay together for a few minutes, not speaking, before Kevin, feeling energised and bursting with vim and vigour, bounced out of bed.

"Why don't you relax there for a while? I'm going to take a shower."

A few minutes later, Tanji joined Kevin in the shower, much to his surprise. He enjoyed the sensation of soaping her shoulders, then running his hands down her back and over the curvature of her arse. He found himself deliberately squeezing past, ostensibly to reach the soap or shampoo, enjoying the feeling of the smooth dampness of her flesh against his. This was quite definitely conscious behaviour on Kevin's part and there was, he strongly suspected, a similar motivation from Tanji.

He stepped out of the shower, leaving Tanji to complete her ablutions. He towelled himself dry, then wrapped the towel around his waist, more out of habit rather than any particular sense of modesty. Tanji followed him a few moments later. He caught sight of her elfin features reflected in the bathroom mirror, a view that instantly took his breath away. He moved to stand behind her, pressing his body warmly against her. She looked up at him, smiling widely, and he smiled back, rubbing his chin over her cheek. He was understandably surprised and rather disappointed when she pulled away suddenly.

"You need to shave. You're a bit, well, prickly."

Kevin ran a hand over his own chin, feeling several days' growth of stubble there.

"You're right," he laughed, "I'll shave immediately. I don't want your gorgeous face to get scratched!"

Leaving Tanji in the bathroom, he wandered out to find his rucksack, which he had dumped by the door on their arrival the previous evening. The backpack was quite full and, needless to say, he discovered that the wash bag containing his shaving equipment was right at the bottom. He ended up dumping what seemed like most of the rest of the contents on the corner of his desk.

Clutching the wash bag, he returned to the bathroom where he gently ejected Tanji, now swathed in a fresh towel he had previously pulled out of a cupboard. He always felt slightly nervous about other people being around when shaving, even someone who was close as Tanji. This was probably something to do with having a sharp implement close to his neck, and the risk of having his elbow jogged at an inopportune moment. Having closed the door, he set about the familiar task of wet-shaving, using that shaving cream from the Body Shop that Kevin always thought both looked and smelt like uPVA woodworking adhesive.

He had just picked up the razor and was about to apply it to his face when he heard a startled yelp from Tanji. Fearing the worst - all sorts of accidents caused by unfamiliarity with Mainland artefacts flashed through his mind - he dropped the razor in the sink and rushed out of the bathroom. Tanji was standing by his desk, quite naked with the towel in a heap at her feet. She was holding something that Kevin could not immediately make out, and had a look of complete astonishment on her face.

"What happened? Are you OK?" Kevin cried frantically.

"Look at this," she replied distractedly.

Lyndesfarne paperweight

She held up her hand, which he could now see contained the glass paperweight he had purchased in the curio shop.

"I rather liked the paperweight you bought yesterday, and was wondering what it would look like on your desk," she said, "So I unwrapped it. I'd hoped you wouldn't mind - I wanted to surprise you."

"Of course I don't mind," Kevin said reassuringly, "But what's the problem? Is it damaged?"

"No, no, it's fine. But look at it now."

Tanji moved her other hand in a simple motion Kevin recognised. The paperweight immediately lit up, glowing brightly in the dimly-lit room.

"I used the 'make light' gesture. It was just force of habit," she said, "I didn't even think about it. And it worked!"

Kevin reached out and made another gesticulation, one of the few he was confident he could remember. The light from the ornament dimmed quickly.

"Bloody hell," he swore under his breath.

He made the appropriate 'on' and 'off' gestures several times repeatedly, the paperweight responding immediately to each one. He looked up into Tanji's gaze.

"Is everything else working as well?"

"Let's find out," she responded.

Tanji put the still-luminous paperweight on the desk, and scooped up her towel, rapidly wrapping it around herself. There was then a mad escapade as the two towel-clad people hopped about the flat, urgently hunting for magical artefacts and trying them out.

After a short search, Tanji located her pack, which she had also left by the door on her arrival. She pulled out her magic slate that she had been using so frequently, and started making gestures. Judging by the increase in emphasis of the movements and the frustration plainly visible in her body language, Kevin could tell that it was not functioning.

Meanwhile, Kevin had picked up the bag containing the few Lyndesfarne coins he had not managed to spend. He emptied the contents onto the desk, and picked up a couple of the featureless flat disks. The magical markings which normally appeared below the surface of the metal when the coins were on the Island were absent, and he judged that the magic must be broken, or just missing. Just to be sure, he pressed two of the coins together with two fingers while making the gesture which was supposed to collapse them into a single disc. Nothing happened. This was one of the gestures that he was less than totally confident in his ability to perform correctly.

Lyndesfarne money

He turned to Tanji.

"Am I doing this one right?"

Tanji came over and repeated the actions, without success.

"It's not functioning. It's just the paperweight that works."

"Can you shape shift?" Kevin asked her urgently.

"I don't know. Let me try."

Tanji stepped away and stiffened slightly, a look of concentration appearing on her face. Kevin could not help but think how attractive it made her look. She caught him looking at her, and smiled and looked down in a slightly embarrassed way that Kevin thought was charming but entirely at odds with the facts that she was (a) in his flat and (b) wearing only a towel.

"Nothing. I can't change my appearance at all," she said at last, still smiling wryly.

Kevin went back to the paperweight, still glowing gently on the desk. He could clearly see the markings inside the glass that indicated the weather predictions for the next twenty-four hours. He was almost certain that the icons had changed since he first looked at them only a few minutes before.

"How does this work?" he asked Tanji.

"Well, it's a bit complicated," she replied, "But basically it just knows the future."

"What?" Kevin exclaimed.

Tanji looked up sharply at his tone of voice. Kevin had tacitly assumed that the device functioned in the same way that a modern barometer worked - by measuring changes in atmospheric pressure and knowing that, for example, rapidly dropping air pressure meant that stormy conditions were likely.

"You mean it's prescient?"

"Well, yes, in a limited kind of way. But with something as hard to change as tomorrow's weather, it's very reliable."

Kevin was astonished. This was an aspect of Lyndesfarne magic that was entirely new to him. He was certain he would have remembered if this capability had been mentioned in one of those NISSA briefing sessions. Why is it, he mused bitterly, that I am not being told so many important things.

He picked up the magic paperweight.

"OK. So why does this thing work here and everything else magical doesn't?" he asked Tanji.

"I don't know, really. It certainly shouldn't work. And I've never heard of anything like this before."

"Hmmm. I wonder. Let me think for a moment."

By now, Kevin was getting rather worried. He had already discovered that the natural rules - the physics, if you like - appeared to be the same in the two worlds. Gravity, the biochemistry of living creatures, light and sound all appeared to be identical. However, it seemed that there were certain additional magical properties which only seemed to work on the Island. Now he knew that at least some magic also worked here.

Was there some deliberate policy, Kevin mused, of not informing him about some facets of the magic world of Lyndesfarne? Were some characteristics only communicated on a "need to know" basis, like the existence of reliable predictions? And, most importantly, was Tanji part of some kind of conspiracy to prevent him from discovering just what was going on?

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