Astrid Simpson is a goddess—she descended to earth eons ago as a fiery star, and like starlight, she’s elusive and virtually impossible to possess.
She’s gone again on an archeological dig in the Sinai, and although she was due back last week, she has yet to arrive.
I should be worried, but I’m not, because that’s Astrid—a chaste goddess who’s fallen in love with the chase.
I’m left alone to ponder the stars on my rooftop terrace, although I’m really only staring at one faint star—the only one I can discern through the purple haze, and that’s Venus—ironically, Astrid’s planet, although she rules my heart in its place.
I admit, I’m enthralled with Astrid, and still waiting for her to become my wife.
While I’m pondering her absence, my cell rings—it’s Jarrod Mason from the Smithsonian. I immediately pick up.
“Hey Pal—still playing the part of the ascetic alone on your rooftop?”
I groan. “How did you guess?”
“I just got off the phone with Astrid—she was in the airport limo and should be sharing a Shiraz with you anytime now.”
The news is bittersweet, hearing it from Jason—Why didn’t she phone?
As if anticipating my feelings, he explains.
“Sorry, Paul—she was about to call you when I broke through and bent her ear concerning a new venture I want you both to consider.”
“Oh, I don’t know, Jarrod—I haven’t seen her in weeks—can’t it wait?”
“Talk to Astrid, Paul—it’s time sensitive, but I’ll leave it up to you. Give her a big kiss for me, Pal.”
“Fat chance, Guy—you’re married and I’m trying to get there. But you keep getting in the way.”
“Ha, ha. I hear you. Relax and have a great night, Paul.”
I close my cell and stare up at Astrid’s light, glimmering beyond my reach—she’s beckoning from the purple haze, along with the stars of my youth—so far, so high, like my dreams, inevitably fading to endless night.
“Why so glum, Chum?”
I turn and look into Astrid’s lovely face.
She puts her arms around me and I’m plunged into a deep desert night filled with stars. I bury my head in her soft tresses and inhale the fresh scent of her—breathe in her essence—starlit clouds and wind.
“Don’t let me go,” she whispers.
“Exactly my intention,” I reply.
Later, lying beneath the stars with a glass of Yellow Tail, we talk drowsily of the sand and the sun, but inevitably Jarrod’s name comes up.
“What does he want now?” I ask, half-afraid I’ll give in.
Her eyes go sad—not the reaction I was expecting.
“He told me a tragic tale of loss, Paul—it was so touching I cried, because I suppose I saw us.”
“Us?” I asked alarmed, “What do you mean?”
I almost wished I could take back the words the moment I uttered them.
I knew Jarrod Mason had sent Astrid to seduce me into some wild adventure but I had no idea that this expedition would involve the most improbable project I had ever undertaken.
As unbelievable as it sounds to say even now, I eventually discovered that Jarrod wanted us to help a man contact the dead!