The Songs of Home

Sunshine, so vital to the world, so lonesome and yet so comforting. The sun shone brightly through the hotel room window, Dave opened his eyes and looked over at Amarinder. She had moved from her position on the bed next to him and was standing at the window looking outwards towards the east, towards her home.

"I miss it you know," she spoke after a long pause.

"Miss what?"

"My home, I've only been gone a few short days but I'm starting to feel homesick I guess."

Dave thought about this a few moments. "Do you want to go home?"

"Yes and no."

"Why yes?" He tried to be supportive to his young love's mixed emotions.

"Because I miss my home itself; my house, my belongings, my friends."

"And why no?"

"Because although I miss my home I don't miss the life my parents built for me there. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for everything I have but they are all material possessions. I would give up the material possessions any day to live my life in my way."

"Well perhaps I can do something to help you?"

"What do you think you can do?"

"I think you should come to Brisbane with me. Let me show you my home and my life. Then you can look at both lives, weigh up the pros and cons of each and decide which one you want to follow." Dave was good at coming up with logical solutions when the situation required it.

The prospect was interesting and Amarinder considered it seriously. She had already run away from home and was already in deep trouble with her parents. If she left Dave now she would have to face the wrath of her parents. She may as well go with him as it would not mean any more or less trouble from her parents if she did eventually decide to go home. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, this was what she always wanted and always craved. She knew she needed to take the chance there and then or forever it be lost to her.

"Yes I will go with you," she answered, her mind made up in an instant. She still had her reservations, after all she hardly knew Dave but she was never going to be entirely sure about any decision she made unless she followed her gut instinct.

"We should pack and get ready to go," Dave replied, his heart soaring with what he was suggesting.

"I think I'm going to have to buy a few things when we get there and I don't have any money," Amarinder said as she watched Dave pack his small suitcase.

"You are my guest my love. I just love having you with me. I will help you out with anything you need. It would be my pleasure."

Amarinder looked at the ground and blushed. She had never known anyone to treat her with such respect. "Thank you," she whispered.

Dave and Amarinder took a taxi to the airport and Dave bought two tickets for the next flight to Brisbane as soon as they arrived. Before long they were on the plane chatting excitedly about their time together so far and the time ahead of them. Dave told Amarinder about Brisbane and all the things he wanted to do with her and places he wanted to take her. Amarinder grew more and more excited with every passing minute and was sure that she had made the right decision.

The flight seemed shorter than either of them realised. When they landed at Brisbane airport they took another taxi straight back to Dave's place. He paid the taxi driver, climbed out and finally helped Amarinder out in his usual gentleman-like fashion. He didn't realise that the whole time, watching them getting out of the taxi, was Fiona sitting on the steps to Dave's apartment, looking angry, eyes filled with tears, make up smudged down her cheeks and hair that looked like it had not been brushed for a week.

"Fiona!" Dave exclaimed. He had completely forgotten about her bombshell until that moment. "Far out! What are you doing here?"

"What am I doing here?" she screamed as she stood up. "Where have you been would be a more appropriate question. I have been trying to call you for the last two days!" Fiona continued to scream unintelligibly at Dave who stood and listened to her as she ranted and raved. Amarinder just stood there, opened mouthed at this strange woman yelling some unknown obscenities at them. "And who is this?" she continued pointing at Amarinder and looking her up and down in disgust. "Another one of your little floozies I'll bet. Is that what I was? A little floozy? I thought I meant something to you. I thought I was special to you. We were going to get married and have children and be together forever!"

"Fiona, please stop, let me explain," Dave interrupted Fiona's rant, but she did not stop there.

"I bet he didn't tell you that he has a girlfriend" she screamed at Amarinder.

Amarinder remained silent; she did not know what to say or how to say it. She didn't know if she even had the right to be angry at Dave for this. She herself had secrets that she had kept but surely Dave could have told her about this before they arrived. This woman standing in front of them raving like a lunatic did seem rather odd to Amarinder and she knew that at this point in time she didn't have the full story. Amarinder decided to get the full story from Dave when the situation calmed down before she made any judgements.

"I'm sorry," Dave was trying to apologise to Fiona but she was not listening. "Please let me explain."

"Fine have her," Fiona threw her hands into the air and stormed off towards her car. "I never want to hear from you again," she screamed out the window before driving off.

David looks at the group of people who had gathered around him. "You know, I never saw Fiona again and I do not even know if she had that baby or not. She quit her job and changed phone numbers, left her flat and disappeared. None of her friends would take my calls so I did the only thing that I could do, I left her alone in peace"

"So you might have a son or daughter out there?" Bridgette asks.

"Yes somewhere perhaps, but I'm not sure. She could have lost it, or even destroyed it. Anyway I digress so I will continue now."

Dave looked at Amarinder her face shocked and stunned. "OK Dave I'm not going to judge until I have the full story. Please explain what just happened."

"I'm sorry Amarinder, I should have told you. Fiona got mixed messages. I was seeing her but I had a much different idea as to the serious of the relationship than she did and I didn't realise what she was thinking and feeling." It wasn't a complete lie but he knew that to tell her the full truth may mean losing her forever and he couldn't stand the thought of losing her in that way.

Amarinder considered his explanation. "Any other secrets you care to tell me about before we go on?" Amarinder asked gently.

"No, no other secrets. I am truly sorry can you please forgive me?"

"Yes I can." Amarinder was sure of that. She was in love with Dave and she was prepared to forgive what she considered the small indiscretions for her chance to live her dream.

Dave hugged Amarinder warmly before opening the entrance door and showing her into his apartment. "Welcome to my humble abode," he announced proudly, quickly moving along from their shaky start.

The days seemed to grow longer, each day bringing more pleasure and pleasant surprises than the next. Amarinder was truly in love, in love with Brisbane, in love with Australia and more importantly in love with Dave. She could not believe how the fortunes of her world could change so dramatically. One minute she was sitting with her mother being commanded to follow orders she did not want to follow and being treated like a child who could not do anything without proper approval and here she was now a free woman with the man she loved enjoying a life of her own choosing, away from the overprotective, even if privileged, lifestyle that she had grown up with.

She did so much in such a short time with Dave. They went on the big Brisbane Ferris wheel and saw the lights of the entire city; they cruised up and down the river on an old paddle steamer river boat and watched as the brightly coloured fireworks exploded overhead on one of the many holidays which Australia celebrated every year; they sat by the river under the stars on a clear night with a picnic dinner. She was truly happy for the first time in her life. She had found true contentedness. Dave took her to the movies, the theatre and to nice dinners. He took care of her, not like her parent's over-protectiveness, rather like a prince taking care of his princess. He introduced her to his friends and they went to pubs, nightclubs and parties. She learned what a White Russian drink was and played drinking games for the first time. She woke up with her first real hang over and discovered the joys of just being with the one that you love when the hangover took hold. They filled their days and nights with endless fun and activities together and Amarinder could not hope for a better time.

Dave was the perfect gentleman, he loved her with all his heart, he loved her more and differently than any other woman he had ever met. She was different to him, like a child who had opened her eyes for the first time to see the full glory of the world around, as if her mind had been a seed and it had suddenly blossomed to life. Dave enjoyed the time they spent together even if it meant he was going without his normal dose of physical intimacy. Amarinder had asked him to be gentle with her and not to push for more than she could give him at that point in time. He had given his word and was keeping to it. Of course they spent a fair amount of time in each other's arms sharing a warm embrace and passionate kiss but the act of sex itself did not seem as important to Dave at that time. It was as if just spending time with Amarinder was by far a greater gift and perhaps if and when she was ready to take the next step would it would be enjoyed and created and would be at the right time for both of them. But at that moment in time he simply wanted to be with her, nothing more and nothing less. He was happy to just be.

One evening, a few weeks into her stay in Brisbane, Dave sat down on the couch next to Amarinder. He put his arm around her and she rested her head on his chest. She was tired and struggled to keep her eyes open. Dave gave Amarinder a tender squeeze that implied 'never leave me'. "I'm here my darling, I'm not going anywhere," Amarinder whispered in response to his loving action.

Dave gave her a light kiss on the top of her head before leaning forward without removing his arm from Amarinder's shoulders and grabbing the television remote from the coffee table in front of them. He flicked the television on and as the picture appeared before their eyes a large number 9 appeared in the top right hand corner of the screen indicating the channel that they were watching.

A news anchor appeared on the screen shuffling his papers about to introduce the next story. "And next on A Current Affair after the break we cross to our foreign correspondent, Sienna Jones, who recently spent some time in the Kashmir region on the front line with Lieutenant Amal Sharma who has provided a compelling insight into the most recent war between India and Pakistan. That and more after these short messages."

Amarinder sat bolt upright. "War? What war? I didn't know about any war." Amarinder's heart began to pound with fear. "What if my family and friends have been killed? I could never forgive myself. What am I going to do? I have to find out if they're OK," she spoke very quickly as panic began to set in.

"Please my darling. You have to calm down -" Dave began to speak.

"Calm down? How can I calm down? My family could be dead." She was on her feet her voice getting louder and louder.

"Wait honey please just hear me out. Please darling," Dave attempted to calm her.

Amarinder sighed, sat back down facing Dave on the couch and made a concerted effort to calm her fears. "OK, OK, I'm sorry, what did you want to say? I'm listening."

Dave took both her hands in his and rested them on her knees. He had a look of true concern in his eyes and wanted desperately to solve all of Amarinder's problems. "Firstly, think carefully. All your family are away from the war zone, right?" Amarinder nodded and Dave continued. "It's more than likely that they're OK. Secondly, you know how the media love to make mountains out of mole hills. Maybe the situation is not as bad as it sounds." Amarinder nodded again and Dave kept talking. "Look," he nodded to the television, "the ads are about to finish. Let's see what the reporter has to say and then we can work out what do to from there."

"OK," Amarinder turned back to the television and listened intently to the anchor who was appearing back on the screen.

The anchor introduced the story and before long the face of a bright, bubbly, young, brunette filled the screen. "I am here with Lieutenant Amal Sharma of the elite artillery division of the Indian army. He has kindly taken some time out of his busy schedule to discuss the recent Indian/Pakastani war that has been going on for the last few weeks. Tell me Lieutenant Sharma, what has been happening in the war so far?"

"Well firstly, I wouldn't exactly call it a war, more a conflict if you ask me and the rest of the Indian government -"

"See there you go," Dave spoke quietly, "a conflict, not a war, the media's first beat up of the story."

"Hold on a minute," Amarinder interrupted Dave's attempt to comfort her, "Amal Sharma, I know that name. Hmm Amal Sharma, Amal Sharma, oh my goodness that's the man my parents want me to marry!" Amarinder exclaimed half angry, half shocked.

They continued to listen to the interview. Dave had come to terms with the fact that Amarinder's parents would do anything to have her marry another man but she was here with him now so that was all that mattered. Despite that, actually putting a face to the name was more disconcerting than Dave ever thought it would be. He watched the reporter and Amal calmly discuss everything about the recent conflict and government actions. While he watched there was something that was bothering him that he couldn't quite put his finger on and suddenly in dawned on him. "Their body language," he thought to himself, "they've slept together." He saw the mutual flirting going on between Amal and the reporter and knew from so much personal experience that there was more hidden behind what the camera was showing, much, much more. It made Dave so angry. Here was Amarinder, a beautiful, intelligent woman who should be treated like the princess she was and this was how he acted. "If he's going to be like this now, I can't imagine what it would be like for Amarinder in twenty years time if she had of married him," Dave's mind continued to race with the thoughts. He hoped that she had more sense than to go back to him after this but somehow deep down he knew that the potential of her family being in danger might just push her into wanting to go home. He decided it was better not to tell Amarinder about his suspicions.

They watched the entire news story in silence, Dave trying desperately to comfort Amarinder who had an endless stream of silent tears rolling down her face the entire time.

"Call it war or call it conflict, who knows when this senseless loss of life will ever end. We pray for all the men and women in war zones across the world. For A Current Affair, I'm Sienna Jones."

Amarinder leaned forward and turned the television off quickly and sat in silence, staring into the distance for a few more minutes. Finally she looked towards Dave staring into his eyes as blue as the ocean itself, those eyes which brought her so much love and comfort. "I love you Dave," she sobbed quietly, "but I need to know that my family are OK. I need to go home," her voice trailed off as uncontrollable sobs overtook her entire body and she collapsed into Dave's warm embrace.

From the moment that she made that statement, Dave knew that this was the end. "If you love someone, you will love them enough to let them go," he whispered.

She looked up at him without saying a word.

"Are you afraid to return to your home?" Dave whispered, reading Amarinder's thoughts.

She did not respond except to nod her head.

"Then I will take you home, I will travel with you to your home in India and be with you and make sure you are safe. I won't let anyone hurt you Amarinder, I promise you that with all my heart."

"You would do that for me?" she sniffed.

"Yes I love you Amarinder I would do anything for you."

"Do you realise what going home might mean? Do you realise if I go home I may have to stay there and if I stay there I will have to marry Amal and we can never see each other again?" Amarinder continued to sob. The thought of never being able to see Dave again was almost more frightening than not knowing about the welfare of her family. "I don't want to go home!"

"And you can't stay here, with your family not knowing where you are or what has happened to you. This is not your home, it could be but it's not and I know you miss your home."

She knew that he was right. "Please come with me," she whispered.

It had been decided now that they would return together. Dave knew that this might be the last chance he had to be with his true love and his heart was broken but he needed to be strong if for nothing else than for his Princess Amarinder.

Amarinder hugged Dave with all her strength. She looked him in the eyes and kissed him passionately. She truly did love him but sometimes some things are not meant to be. He continued to hold her close, savouring the moment for as long as he could. He too fought back tears as he did not want to appear weak in front of this woman whom he adored so much, this woman who brought so much joy to his world with her words, her laughter and simply her touch.

"You must promise me something," he whispered, holding her firmly by the shoulders and arms length so that he could look her earnestly in the eye. He was finding hard to form his next words but knew he must say what he was about to say. "You must promise me that after we return to India you will never seek me out again, that when I leave India it will be our final goodbye."

"I promise," she whispered. "And you must promise me that we will spend some time alone together in India, one final night just the two of us," she tried to smile but her heart was just not in it.

"I will do that, but now we must sleep," Dave led Amarinder to the bed and climbed in next to her, pulling up the covers over both of them. Amarinder put her arms around him, she felt so safe and warm there and knew that her true place should be just like that but it could not be. She just wished there was a way to make everything better.

The next day came and went, the sun rose and fell like clockwork and the hours seemed to pass so slowly for both of them. Dave and Amarinder moved as if only going through the motions and it was not long until they were landing in India, clearing customs and heading into the parking lot where the rental car that Dave had hired was waiting for them.

"You promised me some time alone," Amarinder whispered.

"Yes I did and I think we should spend it in the bush. There is a valley not far from here, a beautiful valley that I once read about. I think it would be the perfect location for us."

They stopped the car at a local camp shop and bought a tent and some other items which they required. Although it was not far to the valley, the drive seemed to take several hours. They wanted to make the most of their last moments together but time seemed to stand still as they dreaded their impending final farewell. The sun beat down on the road and they both sweated in its heat. As sunset approached they reached their camp site and soon set about putting up their tent.

High above them the stars shone brightly and the magnificent full moon cast its light, even brighter than the all the stars combined, a soft glow shining across the entire valley in which Dave and Amarinder sat. Amarinder's face glowed partly from the reflection of the moonlight and partly from the warm smile she wore proudly across her face. Her tender eyes also shone like two warm glowing torches and she sat opposite Dave, staring lovingly into his eyes. Dave reached out taking Amarinder's hand in his, their gaze never shifting from each other, not even for a second. A chill ran through her body and she shivered at his touch. Without a word he took off his jacket and moved behind her, draping it over her shoulders. He placed a kiss upon her soft neck and positioned his hands on her shoulders. "You are the most beautiful girl in this valley," he whispered, the sound sending another chill through her body. His hand rubbed down her back, his touch soft and gentle. She moaned a little as his hand pressed firmly against her sore and stiff muscles.

"Press harder there," she cried, as he pressed against one particularly tight muscle. Dave complied with her wish, pressing firmly against a muscle just off-centre, close to her spine. She moaned again in pure pleasure as he pressed hard against the soft tissue. He stopped and placed his hands against her shoulders, slowly working more stiff and sore muscles which were causing her pain. "You're too stiff. Relax and let me do what I'm good at." He motioned to her to lie down. Amarinder, in full submission, lay on her front, her chest pressing against the soft blanket that they had chosen to make their bed. He knelt at her side, leaning over and kissed her neck again. He lifted her shirt and ran his hands swiftly down her back, dragging his fingernails to send a light tingle through her bones.

"Close your eyes and imagine you are on a cloud," he whispered into her ear as he ran his hands firmly down her back. "You're floating on the cloud and it is soaking away all your worries." He placed the palms of his hands on either side of her spine and pushed them outwards. "Let yourself slide now, slide into total bliss." His hands ran firmly up and down Amarinder's long, slender and now very relaxed body, down over her tight firm backside and all the way back up to her shoulders. "That's right, give yourself entirely to me." Amarinder moaned again with pleasure and nodded slightly. "Good girl," he whispered as continued the sensual massage.

Dave softly lay down next to her and she turned to face him. The ground was soft underneath them with long grass like a well-maintained field. They were hidden by the shadows of the tall trees that surrounded three edges of the valley, the other edge being the side of the cliff which lead down to a small enclave accessed only by the sea. Amarinder sat up slowly, again never breaking her gaze from her one true love. Dave followed her into a sitting position and placed his hand softly on her heart. In that way together they close their eyes and listened to the pure sounds of the night and a bird called out with a long piercing screech.

"Listen to it. It calls for a partner. Even the birds are alone and need that special someone." Dave's words spoke as if entering directly into her soul. Amarinder did not speak as the night music continued and those sounds did the talking. There was no need to speak with the chorus around them and the beauty of the night filled with life so readily apparent. Time itself stood still on this endless night. The moment they were sharing had gone beyond that of two friends searching for a few moments of closeness; it had crossed beyond the vale into the bounds of total adoration and love.

There was a unique understanding between them, the one place in the world that understanding could only be found in the bonds of nakedness, within the fragile truth of existence. Just two more creatures of the valley born to love and dream, hope and hold, give and get. Lying there on the blanket at that exact time, the moon brought them the light of the ages, as it had for millions of years. It provided the essential light that they both needed at that point in time, light that freed them from the darkness of the world around them. It was here that they kissed, a soft and gentle stroke brought to strength only within the light of each other souls, two hearts that were never to be truly broken, hearts so fragile and yet so strong. They kissed and were lost into the valley; into the world itself and the night came alive for only them to hear. They kissed with passion growing, more tenderly with each passing second upon the flowing earth. They were one as his tongue slid into the softness of her beautiful and waiting mouth, her arms wrapped around his body their freshness pushed together.

Their embrace was passionate and sweet, simple and perfect in its own right as he laid her back on the ground in one soft movement and without breaking the kiss. This was a passion known only between two people totally in love with each other, known only to a select few because love, in the true sense of the word, is not given as often as it would seem. Here they surrendered to each other totally; no shields or walls, games or ideals, just the strength of two people who wanted to be together, who wanted to feel the closeness and touch of a true love.

"Close your eyes," Dave whispered, placing another more even passionate kiss against her lips. The softness of his touch was like woven silk against her full blooded lips. Her beautiful eyes closed against the blackness and nothing but the feel of his hot breath by the side of her neck enveloped her body. She moved her head as his tongue ran gently down her neck and he tenderly bit her close to her shoulder. She moaned and cried out for the total lust and pleasure shared between them. As his lips formed a perfect union with the skin against the side of her neck he looked into the darkness and began to suck, gently at first, allowing the flow of each movement of his lips draw another gasp of breath from hers. As he took her hand she opened her eyes. The moonlight shining across the ground, Dave lay at her side, his hands all over her now naked and trembling body. It was cold but they did not notice as the warmth from heart and body surrounded them. It penetrated Amarinder in the most relaxed and peaceful of ways, secured with nothing but the most secret of pleasures which were normally hidden from the world but not from this space or place in time, not from this valley or the trees which were in it or the long grass that surrounded them. It began to rain but they did not care. It poured onto them like a waterfall overflowing its crest. They fought off the shivers of the cold and rain as they held onto each other as pure as the moments of their own births. The creation of life and the act from which it all began had started and their bodies entwined as one in perfect union, their perfect desire, true love, taking place in a single moment where one loves beyond that of their own desire and gives totally to the person they have chosen to be with. This was rare within the world and never forgotten. This was the desire to be perfect in union and happy in the touch of another. This was the love they shared.

They remained entwined with the clean water of the rain running over their hot and sweaty bodies. They were in love and here they created beauty in the valley filled with the songs of love and the mysteries of nature itself. They came to seek understanding and found their own heart's desire within the valley of dreams.

Morning broke and the warm sun shone endlessly through a crack in the tent. Water from the night's rain sat in small droplet puddles around the grass. Everything in the valley was bright and clean as if it were put together freshly by God's own hand. The world around them was perfect and it was seen with a new pair of eyes as if everything in the doors to their individual pasts had been closed and a solitary new door to the future had been opened. This was the world they now entered; a world once without hope, now filled with desire, a world of pain now filled with delight. The gift of togetherness, the light of companionship, the dawn of the future brought straight to their welcoming arms.

Dave softly stroked Amarinder's soft warm body, waking her from her slumber. She opened her eyes and looked up at him, a smile forming upon her lips so sweet and tender. With that gaze, he could not help but surrender to its beauty, the seeds of true love having been well and truly planted into his soul. With each beating thump of his heart his head swam with true adoration and lusting for the beautiful woman lying beside him. He reached his hand out and gently moved the blanket from over her naked body.

"We must dress and get moving now, my sweet." The words were tender, spoken with the softness of a true Romeo. Dave grabbed his jeans and slowly pulled them up to his hips, fastening the belt tightly around his waist. He took a dark navy blue t-shirt and threw it clumsily over his head and down over his smoothly shaved chest. Amarinder put on a fresh pair of silk panties lined with a soft lace-like material, which she had secretly purchased in Brisbane for Dave's benefit. She slipped a red shirt over her head and tied it up on one side so that it formed a short crop-top, showing her flat, toned tummy. She slowly and teasingly pulled her stone-wash jeans over her slender legs and up to her well formed hips. Dave and Amarinder looked at each other, their eyes gazing into their very souls, like mirrors reflected from within, formed by the pureness of their union.

"What are we going to do today?" Amarinder's words were as gentle as a summer breeze flowing over a grassy field.

Dave reached out, taking her hand and lead her to the cliff at the edge of the valley. "There," his finger pointing toward a small ridge far below them, "I'm taking you there."

"What is down there?"

"You, my love, will have to wait and see," he teased, running his finger down the length of her nose.

Amarinder smiled and breathed a long, contented sigh. She stood on the edge of the cliff and the cool gentle breeze from the north flowed through her long hair. She looked out across the sea and watched the waves far below as they rolled in along the coast and crashed heavily against the rocks, their thunderous sound echoing against the cliff face. A new chorus of birds and crickets called to each other, their joyful songs making a new melody, different to the melody formed by the creatures of the night but just as pleasant.

She looked back over at Dave who had returned to the tent and was disassembling it and packing into his large backpack. He threw the backpack over his shoulders and stumbled backwards just a little as he regained his centre of gravity. Dave's tall limber frame looked small and almost comical compared the size of the pack he was wearing and Amarinder couldn't help a giggle escape her lips.

Dave smiled and poked out his tongue in jest at Amarinder's teasing giggle. "Well do you want to carry it then," he mocked.

"No, nooo. I think it would break me."

Dave laughed and took a sturdy step forward and they began to walk, hand in hand, toward a small path which led down the hillside along the cliff face. The path was narrow and long with trees over hanging it, their long branches and green leaves proving a natural block to the hot sun beating down from high up above. They stopped and looked at a sparrow, which had made itself a little nest in a large hole on the side of one of the trees. Its head poked out of the hole and it chirped away happily. Everything in the valley that morning appeared to be full of joy in the eyes of Amarinder and Dave and they felt as if nothing ever could or would break that feeling. The path was slightly muddy from the rain the night before with small puddles of water having collected in some of the crevices of the ground beneath their feet. A frog bounced into one of the puddles, paused and then bounced out again as they continued to walk. The temperature was rising and the warm sun was slowly evaporating the water from underneath their feet. Dave bent over picking up a small worm trapped on a stone and held it up before gently digging a small hole and letting the poor dried out creature dig back into the soft earth where it belonged.

Dave looked around and saw a small bush with some red flowers. Strolling over to the flowers he was pleasantly surprised at the fragrant aroma that it produced. "Perfect," he whispered. He picked one of the flowers and took it back to Amarinder, placing it softly behind her ear. "There, now you really are the princess of the valley," he grinned.

Amarinder looked up at Dave and smiled. "Take me home Dave," she whispered, true sincerity written across her entire face.

"You are home my love. I will take you to your house now, but I just thought -"

"No," Amarinder interrupted, "take me home to Brisbane. I've changed my mind."

"My princess, there is nothing that I want more than for us to be together, but I want you to be sure about your decisions."

"I have never been surer about anything than I am about this now. My home is in your arms and in your arms I must stay."

"Then together we will return home," Dave beamed.

Amarinder threw her arms around Dave's neck and he held her in a tight and loving embrace. Dave could not be happier. His princess was coming home.

Hunters Gather in Dark Places

A vibration from his phone drew Amal's attention to his inner jacket pocket where he always kept his mobile phone when he was away from the base or off duty. He pulled it from his pocket and flipped it open. "Hello?" he answered with a fair degree of urgency in his tone.

"Hi is this Amal Sharma?" a disinterested voice on the other end enquired.

"Yes it is."

"Hi Amal this Jared from the customs office of New Delhi airport."

"Oh good perhaps there is some progress with my tickets to Brisbane," Amal thought to himself. After weeks of searching using his, his father's and Vivik's extensive array of contacts and networks he had finally managed to find out the Amarinder had gone to Brisbane. He had no idea why she had gone there and there was no other way to track her down. He had tried the obvious idea of calling her mobile phone, but just as when Aishani had tried, it went straight to voicemail. No one had known that Amarinder had let her phone battery run out and had made no attempt at finding a charger to charge it. Thankfully, there were many intelligence channels at Amal's disposal, which had worked just as well, if not better, than contacting her directly. "How can I help you?" he asked custom's officer.

"I'd like to advise you that one Amarinder Singh, daughter of the Minister for Cultural Affairs has re-entered into the country and she was with a man, one David Magill. I was instructed to notify you immediately of such an occurrence."

"What? She's back in the country?"

"Yes, Sir."

"Did you detain her?"

"No Sir she was not detained on arrival. She is an Indian citizen and not a criminal. She is free to leave and enter the country at will."

Amal was infuriated at the customs officer. "Stupid government officials, they couldn't follow orders to save themselves," he thought. "Why did you not detain her? I gave direct orders that Amarinder Singh was to be detained indefinitely until my arrival when located and I was to be notified immediately," Amal screamed down the phone.

"I am notifying you immediately Sir." The customs officer looked for any excuse to defuse the situation."

"Yes, I can see that," Amal mutter sarcastically. "Well since you could not do it right the first time, I want all the information that you have on Amarinder Singh and this stranger you call David Magill. I will be at the airport within the hour."

"Yes Sir," the man said and he hung up the phone.

Amal ran to his car, jumped into the driver's seat and headed towards the airport. The chase was going to be much easier now that his target had now returned to him on her own accord. He broke all the speed limits along the way; driving as fast as he could to get there. When he arrived, he pulled into a car park designated for government officials and quickly made his way to front desk.

"Hi my name is Amal Sharma. I am here to see customs officer Jared."

"Yes Mr Sharma, he is waiting for you please follow me." The receptionist led him into a small room behind the security desk and closed the door behind them. After a few moments the customs officer entered the room. He sat down and opened a small suitcase which had some papers inside.

"We have managed to determine that they rented a car from Hertz," the customs officer confided in him, producing a photocopy of the rental papers.

"Good. Do you know where they went?" Amal pressed for information.

"No, but all those cars have GPS tracking devices in them. Maybe the Hertz information desk can provide you with those details."

Amal did not wait for further information. He snatched the car rental papers from the custom officer's hand, leapt out of his chair, ran out of the room and headed straight towards the Hertz information desk. Amal and customs officer Jared knew that Amal was breaking all privacy laws by taking the papers but Jared was not given even half a chance to argue and Amal knew that any breach of the law would be well and truly tolerated, and possibly even covered up by the government under the circumstances. "I demand to speak to the manager," Amal ordered.

The manager came out looking anything but impressed and Amal flashed him his security and army badge for added impact. "I want to see the GPS location of this car and I want to see it now!" Amal ordered again, showing the manager the car rental papers.

The manager promised to file a protest about the blatant invasion of privacy but did not refuse to help and provided Amal with the location. Amal thanked him and left in his car, again speeding off towards the location that had been provided to him; towards the valley where his wife to be was with another man.

He arrived in half the time it had taken Dave and Amarinder to get there and he found the car easily, examining it for any clues. The car was empty so Amal decided to track them using tips he had picked up from Hamal in his tracking of the Pakistani pilot. It wasn't long before he spotted them and he hid in the bushes to watch their movements. He couldn't hear their conversation but visual evidence would be more than enough for him. He watched as this strange man put a bright red flower behind the ear of his wife to be and Amal's face reddened with anger. He continued to watch them have a short, friendly conversation and Amal's rage grew. He saw Amarinder throw her arms around this strange man's neck and he returned the embrace with the passion of an American romance movie and with that Amal could no longer contain his rage. Everything let fly in a single moment and he rushed forward the fifty meters, grabbing Dave and throwing him to the ground, kicking and punching him and screaming at him with the incoherent words of a mad man driven to his final insanity.

Amarinder screamed a blood curdling scream that could probably have been heard for miles around. "Stop, please stop, don't hurt him, he's done nothing wrong." Amal continued his attack on Dave has he attempted to struggle free and Amarinder continued to scream and sob. "Amal please stop. Please just stop. What can I do to make you stop?"

Amal ceased his attack and looked up at Amarinder with sheer disgust. "I am going to kill this man. He deserves to die. He took away my honour, my family's honour and your family's honour. He will die at my hand and my family honour will be restored." In the time that Amal spoke Dave had managed to struggle to his feet, battered and bruised from Amal's initial attack. Amal lunged at him once again and Dave ducked an oncoming punch.

"No," Amarinder screamed as a thought entered her mind, a horrible thought but the only way she could think of that would save Dave's life. "Don't kill him, I will go with you but only if you spare Dave's life."

"Amarinder, no, remember your dreams. You will never be able to live your dreams if you go with him."

Amal stopped in his tracks. He was surprised at Amarinder's outburst. Amarinder stepped in between the two men and turned to face Dave. "Dave, my darling," she spoke quietly, managing to calm herself enough to make him see reason, "I love you, you know I love you but I could not bear knowing that your life was taken because of me. I must do this, you must live. You will find a life without me," Amarinder paused and took in a long, deep breath and continued to speak even more slowly and quietly before, "but there is no point in both of us dying." She turned to Amal and held out her hands as if he were about to put handcuffs around them. "Take me but spare Dave."

"You will come? No fights?" Amal asked.

"Yes I will come. No fights. But only if you spare Dave's life." Amarinder sobbed.

Without another word Amal took Amarinder by the arms and dragged her away leaving Dave standing there alone in the middle of the valley that had once been full of so much joy. As Amarinder was dragged off into the distance she turned around, looking straight at Dave. "I love you Dave Magill," she mouthed, "you will stay in my heart forever."

Dave stood and watched as they slowly disappeared from sight. He could not help but shed a tear as his one true love vanished into the wind. She was gone for good, never to be seen again, never to be heard of again and with that his one chance for true happiness had vanished like snowflakes melted by a warm spring breeze. His heart broke in that moment, it broke never to recover again.