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“There it is!” Katie said, pointing to a path down the rocky slope to Beaver Falls. They made their way to a series of the semi-circular terraces where Havasu Creek bubbled and churned from one level to the next. Travertine ledges at the front of each fall held the water back to depths of two, three, and four feet before allowing the water to cascade into rocky bowls beneath, offering plenty of places to soak in the warm water

“This is perfect for me, I’m staying right here,” Katie exclaimed. Removing her pack she stretched her arms, then helped Rory with his pack, rummaging through it to find the sandwiches Ellen made. “Rory, I’m happy here. Do you want to go on with Ellen and René? I’ll be okay, and you should see the river. I can take care of myself for a few hours.”

Nope, we’re buddies; we don’t leave anyone alone. I’ll stay here and take some pictures. You and I will have more chances to do this. One day we can come here with our kids.

The thought of their children made both smile.

“You can explore here, too,” Ellen offered. “One of the falls has a secret cave behind it, Rory.”

“How did you find out about a secret cave?”

“A ranger told me.”

“Then it isn’t a secret, is it?” He chuckled.

“I guess it’s a selective secret.”

Lunch was quick as René and Ellen were eager to explore, probably as eager as Katie was to relax. “Okay. We’ll see you guys in a couple of hours; I’ll think of you while I’m drifting off,” Katie teased.

As soon as they were gone, Katie removed her hiking clothes to get into her swimsuit. She thought about going without to give Rory a treat but decided her pregnancy demanded a little more propriety. Pulling out her two-piece she laced her feet into water shoes. Looking up, she saw Rory was already testing the water’s edge. He thought it might crumble apart or be too slippery, but it wasn’t, and the flow of the water was gentle against his feet. He turned and held out his hand.

Together they walked into the water, along the rim of a travertine goblet that spilled clear warm turquoise water across their toes. Rory steadied himself holding both arms out, Katie placed both hands on his waist, and they moved across the chalice’s edge like synchronized dancers.

Katie spotted a perfect soaking hole and called for a train stop. “You’re on your own, Rory, I’ve found my place.” She unhitched herself from him with a final kiss and settled into the warm, soothing spa. “Are you going to join me?” she offered.

“Not yet. I want to find that cave Ellen mentioned.”

Closing her eyes, Katie drifted and fell asleep in the warm waters of Havasu Creek.

She slept for a long while and woke up refreshed and calm. It just doesn’t get any better than this, she told herself, as she stretched her arms and stood up. I wonder how long I’ve been asleep? She didn’t see any sign of Rory, but she wasn’t worried. As she bent to adjust her water shoes, she noticed her legs were covered with black blotches. “OH, MY GOD! RORY! RORY!” Katie bellowed. “Rory! Come here quick! Hurry! I’ve got leeches all over me!”

Rory came running from behind the falls and rushed over to her. She was shrieking and hopping around, her arms flailing, her fists clenched. “Oh, God, get these off me! Shit! I hate these things. Get them off of me!”

“Calm down, they’re only leeches, stand still,” Rory chuckled.

“This isn’t funny! I’ve never seen them here before. Oh, I’m so grossed out. I wouldn’t have gone in if I knew they were here.”

“What should I do?” Rory asked, also starting panic. He hadn’t seen leeches since he was a kid, and his mother took care of them, then.

“Get a stick! Flick these off me, use your fingers, get rid of them. Eeewww…”

“Katie, Katie, quit jumping around. I can’t get near with you moving like that.” She stopped squirming as Rory pulled the first one, surprised at its grip.

“I heard they fall off by themselves, given enough time,” he said.

She moaned.

When he realized these guys were easy to pinch off after the first hard pluck, he gained confidence. “This won’t be so bad. I only have to release the suction, and they’ll be gone.”

“Stop talking and get them off me!”


Last Chapter

The Confluence





Audiobook coming soon




Leeches! Butterfly Boy, Chapter 33

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