I walk up the sidewalk to Joel and Sage’s Juniper Ridge home. It’s larger after the new construction—even without the Olympic-sized swimming pool they added in back for Joel. Still, it’s smaller than most of her sisters’ homes. The wrap-around porch greets me along with the fresh scent of pine and spruce trees. I saw the pool house as I drove up a few minutes ago—it was early morning—far too early for my taste, but the pool was lit up.
A note on pale peach stationary on the door holds my name and I removed it. Inside it read, “Heather, come around back to the pool.”
The pool house is ringed with windows; though they all had blinds, several of them were open to the sunrise. I suppose they can both be a bit more lax about their privacy now that the threat from Sage’s stalker has been eliminated. Through the window, I see Joel in the pool, swimming laps while Sage transitions smoothly from a downward dog to a cobra on a nearby yoga mat.
I knock on the glass door and Sage looks up and smiles at me, her dark curls escaping the twisty knot on her head. Smoothly, she stands and approaches, opening the door. A few trickles of sweat beaded from her forehead and she wipes them away. “Welcome. Sorry about the early hour and odd location.”
“No, this is perfect. I love all the plants.” It was half greenhouse in here with elephant ear and rubber trees, but I also see a small lemon tree, some tomato plants and salad greens on one end. “You can take the girl off the farm, but not the farm out of the girl?” I ask.
“Something like that. Mom insisted we grow a few things since we have this space and it stays warm year round. Jonquill was happy to set us up. Mom thinks we should be growing most of our food, but I draw the line at a few salad ingredients—I have other things to focus on and we eat at the hotel half the time anyway. Come over and have a seat.”
She pours us each a glass of herbal tea—her own mix. A moment later, Joel emerges from the pool. He still has the build of Vin Diesel and the goatee that could make almost any woman drool. He seems like a giant compared to his wife. He towels off and slides a white tee over all those muscles. What a shame.
“Welcome to our home.” He shakes my hand and takes a seat beside his wife. Sage passes around muffins and fresh fruit for our breakfast while we talked.
It is supposed to be her interview, but I can tell Joel isn’t going anywhere, and that’s fine by me. I love seeing them together.
“Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of precognition. How early did you know that you had these… premonitions?
Joel takes Sage’s hand in his and she leans lightly into him as she speaks. “I don’t remember ever not having them. I learned early on not to talk about them to anyone outside my family though because it bothered some people. The first one I remember clearly was when I was five. I woke in the middle of the night seeing one of my mom’s workers in a car accident. I told Mom about it and she soothed me and sent me to sleep again. I found out later that day that he had actually been in the accident on his way to work, but Mom had warned him about making sure he buckled up and took the roads slower than usual. When the deer jumped out in front of his car, the vehicle was totaled, but he walked away without any injuries.”
“That must have been confusing sometimes.” I try to imagine being in her position.
“When I was younger it was, a lot. But Mom and Harrison both took it in stride—I guess I had been seeing things since I could talk, so they had both become accustomed to it. Dad was really understanding as well, though I don’t think he believed in it until years later.”
“I can see that it would be a lot to swallow. I know some people say that the sight is a gift from God, while others say it’s from the devil. What do you believe?”
Joel leans forward, as if he is going to say something very male and protective, but Sage touches his shoulder and shakes her head. “It’s a fair question, and something I’ve thought about many times. It doesn’t feel devilish to me. Sometimes I get full images of something that’s going to happen, but more often I just get impressions of ways I can help people, or insight that helps me to understand or support someone better. I think a lot of people get those kinds of impressions if they’re open to them. I can’t see how that comes from the devil. If there are only two sources for this kind of gift, then that leaves only one source. It’s not something I would exploit for money or power.”
“You’ve never even been tempted?” I ask.
She laughs. “I actually tried that when I was eight or nine—trying to make money from it at school. My gift didn’t work at all when money was the driving force. This only confirmed to the kids at school that I was lying about all of it. I learned really fast that I couldn’t use it like that.”
“Joel, you had trouble staying hidden from her when you first started tailing her for her father, didn’t you? So how long did it take for you to believe in her gift?”
“Longer than I’d like to admit. It bothered me that she was able to sense me and anticipate my actions sometimes before I decided on them. It’s an important part of who she is though.”
“And what’s the most important part of who you are?” I know my readers would love to know. I am sure interested.
He seems flustered. “You said the interview was for her.”
“Yes, but you’re here. Come on, one question.” I know he is quiet by nature and always suspected that was partly an inner shyness rather than stoicism, though he overcomes that most of the time if he has work to do.
“I don’t know how to answer that.”
“Think about it for a minute while I enjoy these pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.” I settle back in my chair and take a bite. It’s heavenly—seriously, the woman has a talent.
He grunts but after I take a couple bites, he starts to speak. “I was going to say my SEAL training, but Sage would say I’m more than that.”
“So true,” she puts in. “But it’s a sign of who you already were.”
She touches his angular cheek, staring into his eyes with nothing but love in her expression. “You’re a protector. You did it with your friends when you were still that inner city kid. You learned more skills so you could do it better as an adult when you joined the SEALs, and you did it after the Navy when you took on the job of protecting me. It’s who you are.”
“So I have a saving-people complex?” he asks, still looking at her, but with a teasing glint in his eyes.
“Something like that.” She lightly touches her lips to his before turning back to me. “He hates talking about himself, but it’s part of his nature, even if he is too humble to admit it.”
“Joel, when did you first realize that you were going to have to hold onto your heart with her around?” I asks.
He grins. “The first time I saw her picture. She about blew my breath away. I told myself it was just because she was beautiful, that it wouldn’t be a problem, but it didn’t take long for me to realize it was a big problem. Not that I was about to let that get in the way.”
“There were times I wished you weren’t so great at self control,” Sage said. “I didn’t need any kind of second sight to see that we belong together.”
Joel bends to give her a meaning-filled, if brief, kiss. “I’m glad you’re so persistent.”
He whispers something in her ear and she grins. I decide that is probably all I would get out of them. They are still newlyweds, after all, and despite the time they’ve already been together, they are still just about the cutest couple I’d ever seen.
We talk for a while longer about her sisters and how the hotel is doing before I excuse myself so they could get ready for the day. I have a hike planned on a trail Jonquil has suggested before I head back down the mountain.
To read their story, buy SEALed with Love!