Celeste appreciated the time with Allen at Big Boy and being able to postpone the harsh reality of her drab survival for a while. As the waitress approached with more coffee and their meals Celeste noticed her thewless envy and blatant flirting. She sat back a bit, bit her lip and watched to see what Allen’s reaction would be. Quietly he reached acriss the table, too Celeste’s hand and said, “Sweetheart, shall we bless our food?” Celeste giggled again as the waitress let out a rather loud “hrumpgh!!”, and stomped off. Allen smiled, squeezed her hand, blessed the food then asked if he could call her sweetheart. All Celeste could do was nod, giggle and turn bright red.
As Celeste dug into her plate of food she remembered her grandma’s fresh shredded mozzarella cheese and wished she could go back to visit . . or maybe simply correspond . . a long letter or a nice heartfelt chat on the phone . . but would that be a safe counterweight in her current situation . . would Grandma tell her parents where she was or keep her safe? Celeste vehemently wished she could reach out.
Allen had been watching Celeste while she ate deep in her own thoughts. He was amazed at all she’d been through and that he could qualify to call her sweetheart! She deserved and honourable love and his thoughts of the future floated away wings of anticipation. First was to get her into a more stable living situation. Her life had been in revolving sleeping spots and he wanted better for her. She needed to sleep where she woke feeling rejuvenated, safe and happy.
“Deasil? Caverns?”, Allen asked, completely caught off guard and perplexed.
“Oops! Thinking aloud . . I only have a finite amount of information to share and some seems garbled. What was in the book was helpful but may be contrived or, at best, missing quite a bit of information. I feel like I’ve had an epiphany . . we need to do an indepth exploration of the hotel (that secret passage is nagging at me) then do the same in the caverns!! But I think there is more to this than we realize, the group somehow went literally underground when run off and is still very active. There is still so much at that old hotel that is so very wrong.”, and Celeste sat back in her seat looking scared, lost and frustrated yet so excited to explore further. “Are you writing this all down?!!”
“Yes, Sweetheart, but it’s garbled. .” Allen answered wondering exactly what had happened. As he sat and listened intently Celeste started over from check-in at the hotel. . . slowly she gave each intricate detail. . a few times he stopped her and asked questions. It was all so much at once! This old forgotten (had this been done deliberately on the part of the owners?) hotel was like a pressurized canner ready to blow!!
They chatted a bit about all she’d shared, Allen asking questions to fill in gaps. Then they discussed doing research on the property . . maybe a geographic study could be found?
Sipping hot coffee slowly, Celeste brought up Arnold’s Shoe Store. “I’d like to talk to him myself. . .tell him who I am without him revealing that to others . . then see if he needs any more help with his new website . .?”, she trailed off thinking about how sleek the website could become with sone tweaking.
“Let me see what I can do. I’ll go talk to him and get a feel for the safety in that.”, Allen suggested.
Adding fresh strawberry pie to their meal they sat back and chatted on, growing closer as the conversation progressed. They discussed living arrangements and Celeste agreed to stay in his spare bedroom until she could get into a decent apartment.
“What’s going on with the mining?”, Celeste asked gazing into his eyes and wondering how she never noticed before how beautiful they are.
“The town’s gone crazy!! Feds have shown up and are running the whole town and all of the city and county government and law enforcement are sitting in jail. Many with a basement are tearing it apart looking for tunnel access. Tourists are everywhere recording every detail on every corner 24/7. And news crews have brought in huge RVs and are basically living in town now.”, Allen explained.
“Wow! Too crazy and funny!! How far do the tunnels run?”, Celeste marveled. “Can’t wait to see how this all plays out.”