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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hurry up and post! 11 & 12

I am gearing up for our church's annual VBS. I'm a Bible teacher for the week. It's exhausting work and I never feel like cooking when I get home. So.....this year I am doing all my cooking ahead of time. Well, not ALL, but most of it. Here I must admit that I am not a planner as far as meals go and I get more stressed out trying to get it organized before hand than spur of the moment cooking. Now you know my day today! woopie! Ok, so since I will be in VBS all week and then out of town next weekend, I shall post 2 more chapters.
my funny white queen 6/3

    On the day of her flight to Spain, she entrusted her belongings to Kathryn and packed the rest in a large suitcase and small carryon. She slipped off her engagement ring and put it in a small box. She left it with Kathryn explaining that she didn’t want anything to happen to it in Spain and that she wanted to be sure that Scott really wanted to marry her before she wore it again. Scott and Spencer came to take her to the airport. Danny had called her early that morning to say his good bye. He thought it would be best if he didn’t get in Scott’s way. Rachel was happy that Scott at least wanted to see her off. He was very serious on the way to the airport, but didn’t offer any explanations or tell her anything. He didn’t seem to notice that she was not wearing her ring. She pulled her sweater sleeves down over her hands to hide the missing jewelry. She pulled him into a tight embrace as they were preparing to leave her at the departure door. She whispered into his ear, “Scott, no matter what happens, I love you. I’ll be thinking about you and hoping that you are happy.” He simply replied, “Thanks.” She wanted to kick him in the shins, but remembered what she had just finished telling him. She hugged Spencer and thanked him for everything. He was kind and gracious. Inwardly, he felt he owed her for the patient care she had given Danny when he was in the hospital. He felt embarrassed that Scott was being so smug and apathetic. So, Spencer showed her love the only way he knew how.  “Dahling, I thank you for your patience with my family. Please feel free to buy anything you want or need while you are in Spain. You deserve to be spoiled a bit. Have a lovely trip, dear,” he said. He kissed her on the cheek and they left. She rolled her bags to the ticket counter and began the next chapter of her life.
    Her first encounter with jet lag was not pretty. She was completely exhausted for several days following her arrival. She was quite thankful that the university had the foresight to send students in well ahead of classes so that they could acclimate. Her host family was an upper-class fixture in Madrid society. As a result, their home was a buzzing hive of activity from early to very late. “Do these people ever eat dinner at a decent hour?” she wondered. Being on American teams in South America had not given her a proper introduction to Latin culture. She was having a crash course in the culture her first couple of weeks. The first week she had the hardest time understanding the Castilian Spanish spoken around her. She gradually picked up on the differences and was at least aware of what was going on by her third week. One of the family’s daughters ran a cosmetology school and she gave Rachel a haircut and taught her to do makeup. They told her she was gorgeous and they wanted her to attend all of their social functions with them. She had male friends of the family asking her out on dates; to which she declined because of recent arrival to Spain. At times she wished that she had kept her ring on, but she wasn’t sure if that would have deterred these Latin lovers. She was becoming convinced that she should just forget about Scott anyway. He had not called her a single time since she had set foot in Madrid. She was relieved when her classes started because she could set her own schedule and not be at the mercy of her host family’s whims. Her routine became constant: morning classes, lunch and siesta at home, and evening classes. She loved her new schedule and was happy with her classes. She was fascinated by the flair and finesse of the Spanish and the way they lived their lives without focusing on making a living, but rather, on living.
     In late August, she was studying in her room. It was Saturday and she was trying to avoid being swept away by the household conveyor belt of social planning. She received an instant message on her computer. “Rachel, it’s me Danny. Open your Skype account so we can talk.” She slid her computer towards her on the desk and logged into the online video chat site. Danny found her and set up their call. She was happy to actually see him on the screen and forgot that he could see her. “You look awesome, Rachel! Spain must agree with you,” he said. He was smiling while he waited for her to say something. “Hey, it’s great to see you, Danny. I was feeling a little lonely even though I’m surrounded by people. What’s up with you?” “Well, let’s see…Dad sold off a couple of companies, but you know I don’t really have anything to do with that. Scott is…well, he’s as unsociable as ever. Oh, I have good news. International Conservationist hired me to write a piece once a month on green spots in large cities around the world. So, it looks like I’ll be travelling a bunch. How is it going there?” he said. A loud noise interrupted them from outside her door. “Well, let’s just say it’s never dull here at my host family’s house. They’ve been really good to me, but it gets a little overwhelming sometimes. I love my classes and I really love Madrid,” she replied. They chatted for a few more minutes and then Danny said, “Rachel, what do you say we do this every Saturday at this time? It would give you somebody to talk to every week and I’d get to see your pretty face. What do you say?” She smiled and pushed her hair behind her ear. “Yeah, that sounds great. I appreciate this, Danny,” she answered. As the weeks past, she found herself longing for Saturday to come so she could see Danny and talk to him. She rubbed her left hand nervously and wondered if she should feel guilty about wanting to talk to Danny more than Scott.
    As she was fretting over the decisions of her heart, Danny was having a serious talk with Scott. They were lounging in the elegant living room of their home. Danny sat forward in his seat and said, “Look, Scott, I’ve got to get something off my chest. Do you know why Rach went to Spain? She went because she couldn’t get a commitment out of you. She wants you to sweep her off her feet, romance her, make her a queen, and set a firm date for your wedding. You treat her like garbage. I just don’t get you. She is the most amazing girl you are ever going to meet, but you treat her like she is a common, annoying socialite. Dude, you’ve got to make a move if you want to keep her.” Scott jumped off the couch defensively and headed for the door, “I don’t want you or anybody else telling me what to do with Rachel!” Danny sat back and ran his fingers through his hair. He felt hopeless. What was he going to tell Rachel? His heart pounded at the very thought of her name. He had to just keep his relationship going with her until she pushed him away; or Scott gave up and let him have her. She needed him right now and he was going to be there for her whatever it took.
    The next Saturday, he had some news for her. “Hey Rach, guess what! I’m going to do a piece on a green spot in Madrid. I want to time it when you have a break so we can hang out together. When’s your next break?” he asked. She smiled and tried to calm the butterflies in her tummy. “Well, Christmas break. That would work because I’m not planning on coming back to New York then. I get two weeks off.” “Perfect! I’ll spend two weeks with you, then,” he replied. She blushed at the thought of spending two weeks alone with Danny, but she was unbelievably happy about it. They talked for almost an hour and found themselves having a hard time saying good bye. Rachel was helped by a knock on her door. She said, “Oh, I’ve got to go. Somebody is at my door.” Afterward she sat on her bed daydreaming about Danny. He was coming all the way to Spain to see her. She wondered if Scott even knew about it. Not that he would care. He had only called her once in three months. That one call had been so cold and shallow she felt like she was his estranged uncle, rather than his fiancé.
    Friday night after she had finished her finals, she was in her room organizing her books and papers. She couldn’t believe she had already completed a semester in Madrid. Now she had Danny’s visit to think about and then her next semester. She paused in front of the mirror and brushed her hair. She supposed she would probably get sucked into some activity or other at the host’s home that evening. Sure enough, as she laid down the brush, there was a knock on her door. She opened the door and it was not one of the family, but Danny, who was standing there. She was shocked, but then realized he hadn’t told her exactly when he was to arrive. He pulled her into a warm embrace and she welcomed it. “Oh my goodness, it is so good to see you, “she said. She took a deep breath to fully take in his smell and presence. It was intoxicating and she felt her butterflies going crazy. “So what’s on the schedule tonight, my dear?” he asked. He had not fully let go of her yet and she was having trouble thinking straight. “What would you like to do? Oh, never mind, I know what to do. I would love to go have a meal at a decent hour!” she exclaimed. He laughed and ran his hand through her hair. She thought that his hand on her hair had an entirely different effect than Scott’s. She grabbed her coat and the necessary Spanish accessory: the scarf. It took them a while to find a fine dining establishment that served an early dinner. It seemed they were all on Latin schedule and began serving dinner at nine. They finally found a place that catered to tourists and served food all day long. They were so happy to be together that they didn’t really care where they ate. They settled in at their candle lit table and began catching up. Danny glanced at her left hand as she rested it on the table. “Um, Rach, where is your ring?” he asked. She held up her hand and sighed. “Well, I left it with Kathryn. I told her I didn’t want anything to happen to it while I was here, but honestly I took it off because I don’t want to wear it unless Scott is serious about what it means,” she explained. “Ok, then,” he replied and smiled. “Well, I guess I have more of a chance than I thought,” he mused triumphantly.  
    The next day, after a pastry and coffee together, they went to the Parque del Retiro in central Madrid. Danny was doing his piece on this 350 acre wonder. “Did you know that Madrid has the most green spots of cities this size? Anywhere in the city you can walk a few minutes and arrive at a green area. Pretty impressive, right?” he said. She nodded. She enjoyed watching him work as he photographed various aspects of the park. He also took lots of pictures of her. She had never been photographed so much in her life. He pretended he was just joking around with her, but he was really thinking he would cherish each picture of her. After he had shot what he wanted, he put his camera away and they walked together through the park. She was starving when they finished, so they went to a café and ate. “Hey, why don’t we go back to my hotel for siesta? I mean, not like together in the bed, or anything, but you can see my room.” He was blushing as he finished his question, but she agreed to go with him. He was staying at The Westin Palace and it was a spectacular sight. She felt like she wore out the word ‘wow’ on her way up to his room. He showed her around his suite and the view from the large windows. He let her flop on his luxurious bed and squeeze the sofa cushions. She curled up on the soft couch and closed her eyes. “Mmmmmm, I could just take a nap right here,” she sighed. He draped a blanket over her and left the room as he said, “Sleep tight, then.” When she woke, Danny was sitting in a chair across from her typing on his computer. “Ug, how long did I sleep?” she asked. “Oh, about an hour and a half. Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you need it after all those tests this week. Hey, I’ve got an idea. Since you’ve got two weeks and I’ve already done my info gathering for my article, why don’t we travel around Spain a bit?” he said. She sat up and smiled, “OOOh, that sounds great! You can plan it and I’ll just tag along with you.” He had already packed up his suitcase, having hatched his plan while she was asleep. They took a taxi to her house and packed her suitcase. She told her host mother her plan and they left. They took a bus to Segovia and checked into a nice hotel close to the ancient Roman Aqueduct. She noticed that he had reserved one room with two beds. She respected Danny, though, and knew he would act honorably with her. As if knowing she was thinking about that, he explained, “The only other room had a shared door with a family.” They ate a fashionable dinner and walked a little before deciding to go to their room. Working out the bathroom schedule was a little awkward, but Danny was a gentleman and let her go first. She wore sweats to bed, but her feet were still a little cool. “Oops, looks like I forgot to bring socks,” she said. He pulled a clean pair out of his suitcase and brought them to her. “Here, you can wear mine. I don’t want your feet to be cold on my watch,” he said with a smile. She thanked him and put them on.
    The next day they toured the castle and walked around the streets. She did a little shopping and he patiently endured it. They could be together effortlessly and both felt very happy. Danny was only encumbered by the thought of Scott and his vague claim to Rachel. Still, he held her hand and put his arm around her when appropriate. She had not once rejected his mild affections and that emboldened him to continue to show his care for her. They travelled south to Seville, Malaga, and Granada. Then they went north to Valencia. Rachel enjoyed the National Museum of Ceramics and Danny loved all of the parks. The views of the Mediterranean Sea were spectacular from their hotel. Danny gave her a diamond necklace for Christmas and she gave him an alpaca scarf. She thought that his gift was much too valuable to be for just a friend, but didn’t want to read anything into his motivations. In Barcelona they took in a soccer game. It was so cold and they marveled at the dedication of the fans. Their two weeks were nearly finished by the time they left Barcelona. They returned to Madrid and spent the final days of December in quiet cafes and museums. They were sitting having coffee when she asked him, “Say, whatever happened to Kimberly Morgan?” Danny laughed and said, “Let me tell you about Kimberly Morgan. Six years ago she and Scott were class mates, and they were dating. She was what she is now and she pushed him around and he just took it. I transferred to his university and was doing my jerk thing of making him crazy. So, I got Kimberly to like me. It was weird, you would think he would have been happy to get rid of her, but he wasn’t. I think he actually liked having her in charge. Anyway, he was so mad at me over that and I dumped her in like three weeks for another girl. That was a horrible time in my life. So, I think somewhere in the back of his mind, Kim is his first love. I told her about that and she quit calling me.” Rachel was in shock. Scott had never mentioned being with Kimberly. In fact, she remembered him saying that she was perfect for Danny. Crazy wasn’t descriptive enough for this uncertain situation with Scott.
   Rachel had a knot in her stomach the day he was to leave. “I don’t want you to go,” she said at the airport. “I hate to leave you, too, but you’ve got to be smart person and do your studies,” he replied. He wanted to say a lot more, but didn’t. She cried after he went through airport security and was out of sight. At that moment she wished more than anything that Scott would call and tell her he’d met someone else and didn’t want to marry her.  The gray skies outside of her taxi seemed to mimic the mood of her soul. “At least I can look forward to Saturdays again,” she thought. She had to focus on her degree in order to garner the strength to stay in Madrid without Danny.
    She worked hard all week on her studies and her Saturdays were dedicated to Danny’s call. She tried not to look like she had been waiting by the computer for an hour, but it seemed as though Danny had done the same. Their conversations were longer and longer. “Don’t you wish we could virtually eat dinner on this thing?” she asked. He laughed the laugh that gave her butterflies every time. “I hate to ask this, but he won’t tell me. Has Scott called you lately?” he asked. She shook her head, “The last time he called was in November.” Danny clenched his jaw and looked angry. He tried to relax and said, “Hey what are you planning for spring break?” “Um, nothing, yet,” she replied. “Well, I’m going to come see you again, then. Would that be ok with you?” he asked. She swallowed and tried not to act overly excited, “Yes, that would be fine. I would like that.” She wished so much that she could touch his hand through the screen; not knowing that he was wishing the same thing. She would only have to wait a month for spring break and she would have to conquer mid-terms before then. She was beginning to wonder why she was getting a degree, but always remembered that it was an accomplishment she needed for herself. She didn’t dare think about what came after that. The thought of being with smug Scott filled her with dread.
    She slogged her way through her mid-term exams and came out victorious. Danny came on cue the Friday evening after finishing her last exam. He told her to pack a suitcase for the week and he would surprise her the next day with their destination. They went out to dinner at the correct Spanish time and it was late when she returned to her room. She was on cloud nine to have been with Danny again and excited about his surprise. The next day they took a bus to Mar Bella. Danny rented a bungalow for the whole week. Rachel was in awe at the picturesque setting on the edge of the ocean. Behind the bungalow were all the shops for the elite class Mar Bella serviced.  She was excited about at least pretending to shop there even though she knew Danny could probably buy anything he wanted. Their bungalow had two bedrooms, but they didn’t spend much time in them. There was too much to do in Mar Bella.  She noticed that Danny was acting a little nervous and at the same time super happy to be with her. On their second night, Danny had arranged to have a fancy dinner to be catered to their bungalow. They finished their appetizer and Danny hopped up from his chair. “I….I just can’t wait anymore. I’ve been trying to keep my feelings in check for more than a year. I’ve tried to give Scott time to do the right thing with you. I can’t wait for him to be a man and treat you the way you deserve to be treated. I love you more than you can even imagine. I want to be the one to spoil you and treat you like the princess you are. I want to wake up every morning next to you. I want you to be my wife. And I won’t make you wait. I will marry you as soon as you finish here in Spain and that is my promise. What do you say?” She sat with her hand over her mouth for a minute. Tears started running down her cheek. She sighed and said, “Danny, I love you, too. I would love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you. But I have a huge problem and his name is Scott. I tell you what, let me call him and get an answer once and for all from him.” He tossed his phone across the table and said, “Call him.” She dialed his number and waited. “What do you want?” Scott said when he answered, thinking it was Danny. “Scott, this is Rachel. I need something from you. I need you to tell me if you want to marry me. And you had better tell me the truth.” The pause on the other end was deafening. She knew he was trying to choose his words carefully, but in the end they were harsh and cutting. “Rachel, I need to be honest with you. The only reason I proposed to you is because I thought I needed to rescue you; just like a school that needed repair. I felt sorry for you and what you had been through. I haven’t loved you for a long time, if ever. I’m sorry, but I just can’t marry you.” She swallowed hard to push down the anger that swelled up inside. “Thank you,” she said and then hung up the phone. It was clear to her then that Scott had taken her on as a charity case and then grown to resent her. Danny knelt down in front of her and asked, “What did he say?” When she told him, he had to get up and look out the window to cool down. “Ok, as much as I hate what he told you, it means we can be together. Here, this is the ring I bought you. I hope you like it.” He pulled a large chocolate diamond ring and put it on her finger. She took a deep breath and smiled. She sat in stunned silence for a few minutes. She had been engaged to Scott for so long that it took a while to fully comprehend her freedom. She hadn’t realized how much his negativity and lethargy were affecting her until she felt the burden of him lift off her shoulders. “I feel about 180 pounds lighter,” she said. She stood to face her new fiancé. He held her tight and the last bits of pain left her. “Let me show you what it’s like to kiss someone who really loves you,” he said and then he delivered. The floor melted away and she floated on air. The whole room disappeared and there was only Danny. She knew she would talk about this day many, many times. “When you said you had a surprise for me, you weren’t kidding!” she teased him later. “Well, I can’t stand having all these Spaniards hanging over you, slobbering, and waiting for a chance to have you. Meanwhile, I’m thousands of miles away taking pictures of grass and trees and I can’t do a darn thing to protect you. Now you have protection,” he said and raised her left hand. No one could miss the large diamond ring. “Ok, now that I have your approval, my love, let’s talk wedding day,” he said. He had no intention of hurting her as his brother had. “My, but you don’t waste time,” she replied. They settled on the first of June. It didn’t give her any time to plan, but Danny assured her he would get a wedding planner to do all the work. “So that’s settled. What do you say we enjoy the rest of our vacation in Mar Bella?” he asked. She nodded and kissed him on his scar. That spot on his forehead became her new favorite spot. She caressed the scar with her finger and said, “If it weren’t for this scar we probably wouldn’t be together now.” “You’re probably right,” he replied.
    The next morning she called Franklin to tell him the whole story. He was so surprised that she had gone from one brother to the other, but was glad she was happy. He promised to attend the wedding and be her acting father for the wedding. After her call to Franklin, Danny took her shopping. He lavished gifts on her out of his sheer excitement that she was to be his. “Have you told your dad about this?” she asked. “Well, I kind of hinted that I loved you, but couldn’t do anything until Scott gave you up. He actually told me he hoped I won this one,” he replied. Since she had jogged his memory, he called up Spencer and told him the news. He was all smiles as he listened to his dad’s response and gave Rachel a thumbs up sign. At the end of the week, he hired a private car to take them back to Madrid. He didn’t want to share Rachel with a bus full of strangers. He was uninhibited with his affection. His feelings had been bottled up for so long by giving preference to his selfish brother. Now he was able to open the floodgates. He tried not to overwhelm her, but she didn’t seem to mind his constant attention. Rachel was so happy because she knew his attentions were genuine. He was in love with her and she knew it without doubt. After they arrived at her house in Madrid, they told the host family about their engagement. She then enlisted the help of their cosmetology school daughter to find a wedding dress. She was thrilled to take on that job with Rachel. Danny spent his last night on the couch at Rachel’s house. He didn’t want to waste precious minutes away from her. She accompanied him to the airport and didn’t leave his side until he went through security. She thought she would cry when he left, but she was too happy about the wedding to cry. She had only two months left of classes. She would get to New York two weeks before the wedding. She didn’t really like having to trust the wedding planner to do everything, but she didn’t have a choice. At least she would get to pick out her own dress.
    The next week, Elena, her host’s daughter, wanted to go ahead and shop for her dress in case it needed to be altered. She took Rachel to a fancy bridal shop that carried dresses from designers around the world. She was immediately overwhelmed. How was she to choose one from all of those dresses? Elena steered her toward a princess cut style that was flattering on her. She fell in love with a gorgeous dress with tiers of ruffled organza. It had lovely embroidery and stones sewn around the high waist. She chose a long, simple veil to complete her bridal visage. She was shaking as she made the purchase. She glanced around the studio at other blushing brides picking out their dresses. They had all manner of family gathered about them to help them make choices. She put her hand to her throat as a knot formed there. She thought of her family and how they would have judged her new dress harshly. Lace and organdy were not permitted in her home. Nor was the cut of her dress that showed her feminine figure allowed. Her mother would never see this dress and never admire her daughter as a beautiful bride. She tried not cry until she was alone once again in her room. She called Franklin and talked to him for a while. He was her family and she knew that he would rejoice with her over wedding details and the dress. She felt better after she spoke with him. After that detail was taken care of, she felt better about focusing on finishing her classes.
     She tried to enjoy her final weeks in Madrid, knowing it was an experience she would remember for the rest of her life. She wanted to remember the people, smells, and sights. She studied hard until she felt that she was ready for finals. She felt a little guilty that she didn’t have time to do anything with her host family because of papers and studying. They were gracious and understanding since they had been through this with many foreign students before her.
    Finals week was really tough and she was so thankful when it was over. Danny came to help her pack and travel back to the States. She gave her host family some gifts and an invitation to her wedding. They were thrilled for an excuse to visit New York. Danny had come in the Fillman jet, so they didn’t have problems with her luggage and its quantity. She carefully handled her wedding dress and hung it in the coat closet of the plane. She made sure that Danny did not peek at the dress while they were traveling. She didn’t have anything to worry about since he was only interested in being with her; not her dress. They slept for a few hours in the plane to offset the jet lag that was sure to follow their flight. When they arrived in New York, they went to Spencer’s home. He had designated a bedroom for Rachel since she would only be there for two weeks. Once again, he had it completely remodeled to suit her even though she would only be there for a short time. She immediately noticed that he was very chipper and smiley when he was around her. The next day after they settled back in New York, Spencer told her, “Dahling you can’t believe how happy I am that you and Danny will soon be together. You are the best thing to happen to this family in a long time. I think you will find Scott a little more tolerable to be around as well. Anyway, I hope you are comfortable here and that you have everything you want.” She smiled and gave him a hug. “Thank you, Spencer. You are a wonderful father-in-law,” she said.
   After Rachel had recovered from her jet lag for the most part, Danny took her to meet the wedding planner. Rachel was definitely unprepared for this woman. She was in her forties and wore a fuchsia silk dress and hat, with matching shoes. She was loud, dramatic, and her taste was quite different from what Rachel liked. Rachel winced at the flamboyance of Claire Boud’s office. She hoped this was not a foretelling of the plans for her wedding. She was greatly relieved when Claire pulled out the book of Rachel and Danny’s plans and saw very muted tones. Danny had obviously stressed Rachel’s sensitivities and tastes. She loved the pale blue color scheme that they had chosen. The flowers would all be pale blue hydrangeas and green bells of Ireland. Rachel didn’t have a bridesmaid and was a little embarrassed about that. Spencer met them at the wedding venue, an old church with beautiful stained glass windows streaming light in every color into the sanctuary. Rachel’s breath caught in her throat at the beauty of it all. “This is perfect, Danny,” she sighed. Spencer came up to them excitedly and said, “Rachel, I just had the grandest idea! Why don’t you let Kimberly be your maid of honor and then Scott can stand with his brother. What do you think?” She had a confused look on her face until Danny explained, “Um, Rach, Scott and Kim are back together.” “Oh, I see. Well, that would be nice for Danny to have his brother. So, I guess that would be fine,” she replied. Claire went into a tizzy, “Oh my word, do you know what that means? We have less than two weeks to find a tux and a bridesmaid dress! Oh goodness, we need to get them something today!” Spencer called Scott and told him the news.
    Rachel met Kimberly at Klienfeld’s on a warm afternoon to pick out a dress.  “Rachel, I know this is really awkward, but I am grateful to have the chance to be in your wedding. More than that, I am so happy to be with Scott again. I was wrong to ever pursue Danny. Scott and I just fit. I hope we can be friends and just forget all the weirdness,” Kimberly said. Rachel smiled, “I just don’t know anyone else who could be a bridesmaid, so I am glad you agreed to do it. And, of course we can forget the past. Well, shall we go try to find something for you?” They walked up to the salon with all of the bridesmaid dresses and waited for a consultant to help them. Their bubbly consultant nearly fainted when Rachel told her the wedding was mere days away. Kimberly took over lest the ambitious salesperson should get snarky with Rachel for coming in so late. “Listen, if you don’t want to help us, we can just shop somewhere else!” The consultant became contrite and asked what precisely they were looking for. After quite a few misses, they came upon the perfect blue dress for Kimberly. It was not only the exact color of the hydrangeas; it fit her exquisitely and did not need to be altered. They went out for dinner together afterward and enjoyed getting to know each other more. As they stood outside the restaurant, Rachel said, “Kim, even though you and I come from opposite sides of the spectrum, I think that might actually make us better friends. Thanks again for doing this with me.” Kimberly grabbed her in a big hug and exclaimed, “Well, of course! I knew we would be good friends when I met you in the art gallery.” They parted ways and Rachel smiled at the thought of having a girl-friend to help her navigate New York. She called Danny and told him about their successful shopping trip. “We are still at the tux shop. They are trying to locate one in his size. He might just have to borrow one from Dad. I’ll give Claire a call and let her know that at least you’ve gotten a dress for Kim,” He said. “Will you be home soon? I want to spend the rest of the evening with you,” she pouted. He told her he would be home, since they were running into a dead end at the tux shop.
    The next day, Rachel sat in the kitchen eating a bagel and drinking chocolate milk. She was contemplating the whirlwind that she had been in since she came from Spain. “Hey, where are you?” Danny said while waving his hand in front of her blank stare. She laughed at herself and looked up at her fiancé. “I’m right here with you,” she replied. “I need to show you something and have you meet someone else today,” he informed her. “Oh, okay, I’ll go get dressed,” she said. After donning her favorite jeans, she chose a pink ruffled t-shirt and matching shoes. She put up her hair and did a light makeup job and then ran downstairs to find Danny. She found him in the front hallway tying his shoes. “Ready?” he asked. “Yep!” she replied. They went out and climbed into one of the family cars. Danny hadn’t driven a car since his accident; he also hadn’t had any alcohol. Rachel didn’t mind, because it meant that he got to sit in the back seat with her. They drove to SoHo and pulled in front of an old, brick warehouse building that was being renovated into lofts. “Dad owns this,” he said as they got out of the car. They took the service elevator to the third floor of the building. When the doors opened, it revealed a hall with only one door. Danny searched through his pockets for his keys and then for the appropriate key for the door in front of them. He finally found the right one and opened the door. “My love, welcome to our home,” he said as he guided her inside the loft. It was completely bare and Rachel was having a hard time picturing this place as a home. It was an enormous space, but was simply four brick walls with large windows. He saw the empty expression on her face and said, “Our next stop is to an interior designer who is going to fix up the place while we are on our honeymoon.” Rachel felt relief and said, “Oh, that’s good.” They went back out to the car and were driven to the designer’s office. “She’s the same person who did your apartment and the room where you are staying now,” he explained. That made Rachel feel even better since she already knew she liked what this designer could do. They went into her office and she introduced herself, “I’m Margaret. I feel like I already know you since I’ve done two jobs in your style.” Rachel was overwhelmed by the stacks of fabric swatches, floor samples, wallpaper books, tiles, and furniture catalogues. It took her a few minutes to focus on what Margaret was telling her. She had already drawn out a plan for their apartment that included a large kitchen, a huge living room, two bathrooms, and two bedrooms. “Now, let’s talk kitchen, fabrics, and floors,” Margaret said while flopping several of her books on the desk. After an hour, they had picked out everything Margaret needed to get started with their project. Danny was sighing and pacing and obviously completely bored. “Okay, dear, we can go now,” Rachel told him. He smiled, thanked Margaret, and swiftly led Rachel out to the car. After they were seated he said, “We are having lunch with family.” She loved how that sounded and smiled contentedly as they drove to the restaurant of Spencer’s choosing. Spencer, Scott, and Kimberly were already waiting in front of the famous Mexican eatery when they arrived. “Have you gotten your house all squared away?” Spencer asked her as he kissed her cheek. “Yes, I think so,” she replied. It was the first time she had been around Scott for any length of time since her return. He was actually smiling and quite affectionate to Kimberly. It was hard for Rachel to swallow the hurt that he had caused her, but she was genuinely happy for him. All she had to do to conquer her feelings of pain was to look into Danny’s eyes. He loved her so much and was so protective of her. She felt completely safe with him. “You okay?” he asked. She stroked the scar on his forehead and said, “With you, the answer to that question will always be yes.” Mid-way through their meal, Spencer said, “I definitely feel as though I am the fifth wheel, but I am so glad that our family is growing.”Rachel smiled and patted him on his hand. Kimberly had stars in her eyes as she gazed at Scott. Rachel got the sense that for them to fight against being together was like fighting gravity; it is possible, but extremely difficult. They simply belonged together and she knew it. “In the end it all works out for the best,” she contemplated as the last dessert plates were removed from the table. Danny spent the rest of the day with her dreaming about their future as a couple.

   The first Saturday in June, the sun was shining brightly; Rachel rolled over in her bed and it took her a few moments to cognate that it was actually her wedding day. She was fully aware of the fact, however, when a maid came in with her breakfast, followed by a stylist who was anxious to get her hair and makeup done as soon as possible. She ate her English muffin sandwich slowly and sipped a rich espresso as the stylist started to work on her hair. She felt like she was in a daze, or a dream, and hadn’t fully awakened. Danny popped his head in the door with his hand over his eyes. “Is it safe to look at my lovely bride?” he asked. “There isn’t much to look at yet, my dear. Come on in,” she replied. He laughed and walked over to her. He lifted her head to kiss him, much to the stylist’s disapproval. “Alright, I’ll let you finish your masterpiece here. I just wanted to kiss my girl!” he said and then backed out of the room. Rachel continued to enjoy her breakfast as the stylist worked diligently on her hair. When she was done with Rachel’s hair and makeup, she left swiftly to go on to her next client. Rachel sat in her room and stared at the mirror. She hardly recognized the woman staring back at her. She was amazed what the stylist had been able to do in less than an hour. Her hair was long in the back with loose curls in layers. In the front it was parted on the side and pulled up with a beautiful rose clip. Her veil would be added later and clipped behind the rose. She began to take deep breaths to avoid crying. “My real family will never know what I look like today. They will never meet Danny, or know what a wonderful man he is. My side of the church will be completely empty.” Her pensive mood was interrupted by the sound of the door bell. She was glad because she didn’t want to mess up her makeup. From downstairs she heard a familiar voice and ran down to greet him. She was so happy that Franklin had come to be her father for the wedding. She reached the bottom of the stairs and got a shock; there beside Franklin stood David. “Oh my goodness! Franklin! How on earth did you get him to come?” she asked as she gave him a tight squeeze. “Well, now, I just didn’t like the thought of your side of the church being empty. So I worked on the fella until he agreed to come with me,” he replied. She hugged David and then looked him over. Franklin had obviously bought him some normal clothes for the trip since David was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. David in turn was looking over his sister and her bridal hair and makeup. “You……you look real purdy,” he finally said. “I’m so happy you are here, David. Here, let’s go in the living room and you can tell me all about your trip,” she said. Just then, Danny came in and she introduced him to her brother. “Wow, this is awesome! I’m so glad you came to be with your sister for her wedding,” he said and then excused himself to take care of errands before the wedding. Rachel, Franklin, and David went to the living room and sat on the plush couches. Franklin spoke first, “David, I’m sure she’d like to know about the family and about your decision to come with me up here.” David cleared his throat, sat forward in his seat, and faced Rachel. “Well, after you wrote them last year, they couldn’t very well go on tellin’ everyone that you was dead. So, Mama talked about you every now and then. And me, well, I missed you a whole lot. I mean, you was the only person who wasn’t bitter or mean, you know. Anyway, Franklin found me at Smitty’s and told me about your weddin’ and that you would like it if I came, and that he’d buy my ticket. So, I just went to Dad and I said, “Dad, I’m going to Rachel’s weddin’ in New York and I’ll be back in a week.” Well, he wasn’t happy about it, but he didn’t tell me not to come. Mama whispered to me to tell you she loves you. I was purdy surprised about that. So, maybe our family will come around after all.” Rachel sat quietly for a moment trying to absorb what David had just said. “Gracious, that’s amazing. Ugh! I cannot cry or that stylist will be mad at me for messing up her makeup job,” she said.
    They visited until lunch time. Spencer had a nice lunch catered to the house so they could all eat together and then go to the church for the wedding. Rachel wished that the lunch could last longer so she could spend more time with Franklin and David. At exactly a half hour before the wedding, though, they all shooed her upstairs to get dressed. The maid helped her into her dress and veil. “Sweetie, you don’t have time to admire yourself in that mirror. We need to get you out to the car,” she said while handing Rachel her shoes. Rachel smiled and hugged her. “I’m sorry, I’m afraid I’m a little scatter brained today. This all feels like a dream,” Rachel said. She was soon loaded into the car and situated properly so as not to mess up her dress. She felt butterflies as the car pulled in front of the church. Franklin was waiting out front to walk her inside the church. He kissed her on the cheek and said, “You ready, gorgeous?” She sighed deeply and replied, “Yes, I think so. It still feels so surreal.” “Well, my dear girl, there is a handsome fella waiting at the front of this here church that says this is all very real,” he chuckled.  Just listening to Franklin speak dismissed all her butterflies and helped her enjoy the moment. They went inside and saw that most of the people had already been seated. There were no mothers to seat and so that traditional part of the wedding was excluded. Kimberly looked lovely with her golden hair in a fancy up-do and the bouquet that matched her dress perfectly. She hugged Rachel and then walked down the center aisle to the front. It was then that Rachel paid attention to the lop-sided audience at her wedding. David sat alone on the left side of the church. He would soon be joined by Franklin, but even then, the stark difference between the sides was laughable. As the ushers were about to open the doors of the sanctuary to let her and Franklin in, Rachel heard the front doors of the church fly open. Her host family from Madrid came rushing through the door. They were full of apologies and excuses, but Rachel assured them she was just happy they had come. The ushers escorted them inside and seated them behind David. By then, the organist was getting a little irritated and began her wedding march song again. “This is it, kid,” Franklin said and they began their walk down the aisle. At the front he kissed her and handed her off to her waiting groom. “You are so beautiful,” Danny whispered to her as they stepped up to the minister. She smiled and looked down at the floor. When she looked up again the rainbow colored beams of sunlight coming through the stained glass windows caught her eye. The beauty of it only added to the dream-like feeling she was experiencing. Although she had seen very few traditional weddings since leaving Tennessee, she was fairly sure this was the most beautiful wedding she could have ever had. Scott seemed to be all smiles and kept staring at Kimberly. Rachel turned back to focus on Danny when the minister cleared his throat and began to recite their vows. The ceremony was over soon and everyone was encouraged to follow the wedding party to the hotel for the reception. Rachel and Danny took advantage of the car ride to catch up on the affection that had been missed during the busyness of the day. It suddenly occurred to her that she had no idea where they were going to honeymoon. “Danny, um, where are we going on our honeymoon?” she asked. “Ha, well, are you ready for this? Dad has a condo in Hawaii and we are going to spend a month there!” he answered. She sat open mouthed. “A whole month! What will we do for a whole month?” she wondered. “That sounds great!” she said. “I guess I’ll just worry about finishing school when we get back.”
     The reception was an intimate affair in the conference room of a nice hotel. There were tables of desserts and one large round table with the six tiered wedding cake. Rachel wanted to go around and sample everything, but also wanted to stay close to her husband. She still had an incorrigible sweet tooth from being brought up on large quantities of sugary sweets. Franklin saw her staring wistfully at the dessert tables, so he made a plate of a few of the delicacies and took it to her.   “You read my mind,” she whispered to him. She had nearly tasted all of what Franklin had brought her, when they were summoned to cut the wedding cake. Rachel was so happy to be making all the traditional memories on her wedding day. They even had fun with feeding each other the cake. She didn’t have a lot of time to visit with everyone, but she wanted to take time to thank Kimberly for standing with her. She found her talking with Scott by the drink table. “Kimberly, sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to thank you for being such an important part of this day,” she said. “Oh, dearie, you are so welcome. I have enjoyed every moment. Especially the moments where Scott stares at me like I’m the Queen of Sheba,” Kimberly said while laughing. Rachel laughed too, and then left to go be with her husband again. They danced for a while and then he whispered in her ear, “My love, my wife, let’s go and be alone.” A shiver went down her spine, but she was ready to leave the crowd and be with him. She made a quick circle around the room to thank the meager number of people who had come to support her. She hated that her Spanish host family had come so far to only see her for a couple of hours. They assured her, however, that the best part of their trip was to come, as they were thrilled about seeing all of New York City. “David, I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you came. I hope and pray that everything goes well when you get back home,” she told her brother when she hugged him. “Aw, don’t worry about me. Who knows, maybe I’ll go travel the world like you did,” he said with a smile. After a thorough expression of gratitude and salutations to Franklin, Danny was able to take his bride out to the waiting car. They went to Spencer’s house to change and pick up their luggage. Rachel had no idea what to pack for a whole month in Hawaii.
   The flight from New York to Los Angeles seemed endless to the newly married couple. Danny had wisely planned for them to stay the night in a hotel and then fly to Hawaii the next day. They were both exhausted when they finally entered their hotel room, but still excited to be together. They didn’t even think about food until the next morning. They had to grab a quick continental breakfast before being shuttled to the airport. The air in Hawaii seemed different to Rachel. She had felt humidity before, but this was a damp, tropical air that made her feel relaxed. Their condo overlooked the ocean on the north side of the big island. Rachel had fun walking to the stores and learning to cook with Hawaiian ingredients. As they lay on the beach they talked about jobs, children, pets, and many other subjects that marriage necessitates. Rachel was firm on finishing school when they returned and thought she could finish within a year. Danny and Rachel were very happily together all the days they were in the condo. She was totally satisfied that the man she had married was happy to be with her alone. There was no guessing whether or not he loved her; she knew without doubt. The month went by much quicker than they expected. She had received a few calls from Margaret with design questions, but it sounded like she was right on schedule to finish before they came home. The day before they were to fly home, Margaret called and informed them that the apartment was finished. Rachel sighed as she  packed up suitcases and thought of the lovely time they had in Hawaii. As they boarded the plane, they felt a bit melancholy about leaving their own tropical paradise.
    Rachel was very tired when she and Danny walked into their apartment for the first time. They had just flown all the way from Hawaii and they were ready to sleep off their jet-lag. They had to take a few minutes to look over Margaret’s handy work. Rachel thought she loved it, but decided to reserve judgment until she was more lucid. They slept for twelve hours and Rachel awoke somewhat refreshed. She now noticed much more detail throughout their home. It was lovely and exactly what she had wanted. Except for a funky green pillow on the couch, Rachel was happy with Margaret’s design. The kitchen cabinets were a soft, country blue and the countertops were a crème colored  granite. The blue color was carried by the dining room table legs and then the living room sofa. It was all very soothing to the eye and Rachel thought it would be a perfect environment for studying. After looking over the apartment to her satisfaction, she sat down with her laptop and started registering for a couple of late summer and fall classes. Danny emerged and asked, “Hey, whatcha doing?” She kissed him and said, “I’m trying to register for classes. It’ like a puzzle trying to get everything I need for my degree in the time frame I have.” “Well, I’ll be so proud of you when you finish and also happy that you will be mine all the time,” he said.  
    Danny and Rachel soon settled in to their routine as a married couple. She was the ever diligent student and he worked on his green area journalism. They were both very busy, but that did not take away from their joy of being together. They knew there would come a day soon enough that their lives would slow down and they could concentrate on being a family.
    The next summer, Rachel graduated with her degree in anthropology. Danny was indeed very proud of her. The whole family had come to congratulate her. Kimberly was flaunting a very large engagement ring and Scott didn’t seem to mind the commitment that ring entailed. Spencer kept hugging her and telling her of his pride. He gave her a Mercedes for a graduation present. “I may need that soon,” she thought as she caressed her belly. A tiny kick inside her responded to her motion. “Oh! She moved!” Rachel exclaimed. “She’s just proud of her mama, too,” Danny replied. Rachel had graduated in plenty of time to enjoy being pregnant. She would have five months until her sweet baby made her debut. After they went home, Rachel sat down at her computer and composed a letter.
Dear Anna,
I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written. I have to tell you, my life has been so very full and blessed. I’m about to celebrate my first anniversary with my husband, Danny Fillman. Today I graduated with a degree in anthropology. In five months our first baby will be born. I was thinking of naming her Anna. Would that be okay with you? I feel like you have been such an inspiration for me and the changes in my own life. I’m just so thankful for the life I’ve had since leaving Tennessee. Who knew it could be so amazing? The world is a big place and there are good people everywhere.
Well, I send my love to you and your lovely little family, Rachel
She sent the letter and then closed her laptop. She sat for a moment on the couch, tears of joy streaming down her cheeks. “I really could not ask for a single thing more. I am happy.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

party and chapters 9 and 10

 We had such fun at my little one's 6th party! Her sisters played the parts of the red and white queens smashingly!  I sewed all the dresses and did my girls' hair and makeup. We played the red queen's crochet with a flamingo and hedghog. We found the white rabbit and slayed the jabberwocky. We had a delightful tea party and finished up the party with a fudderwacken dance contest. And now, I am relieved that we don't have to celebrate any more birthdays until December!! This summer will be busy enough without the intense planning of parties!
So, here I will post the next two chapters of my second book.

    Saturday morning she woke up early and called Franklin. They decided on a few tourist spots to hit that morning and afternoon. Then she called Scott. He answered and still sounded upset and tired. “Um, I just wanted to tell you about my plans with Franklin today and to see if you wanted to come with us,” she told him. His voice perked up, “Actually, that would be awesome. I’m going to have to sneak out of here, but I’ll meet you down at his hotel in less than half an hour.” She was relieved to hear him happy about something, but a little worried about the “sneaking out” part. She put on some comfortable tourist clothes and went to find a taxi. Scott arrived only five minutes after she did and was thrilled to finally meet Franklin. They went on a Hudson River tour for the whole morning. Scott was his old, happy self until his phone started ringing repeatedly. Every time, he would glance at the screen and ignore the call. Finally he just turned his phone off. “Who is that?” Rachel asked. “My stalker brother who is dying to meet you,” he answered. He put his phone away and wrapped his arms around her. It felt good since it was a very chilly morning. Franklin just smiled and was glad to see that his girl was taken care of. They ate a hearty deli lunch before seeing a couple more sites on the must see tourist list. They were strolling through Central Park when Rachel’s phone rang; and because everyone she would normally talk to was right there with her, she checked the caller ID. It was just a number, so she showed it to Scott. “Is this Danny?” she asked. He sighed and rolled his eyes, “Yep.” She pressed the ignore button and dropped her phone in her purse. He liked that and pulled her in for a kiss. When the afternoon was nearly gone and the time came to part from Franklin, they walked him to his hotel. Rachel promised to see him off the following day since he was leaving for the airport mid-morning.
    She stood in front of her closet for some time pondering her clothes selection for the evening. She wanted to be dressed up enough for Spencer, but not draw attention from Danny. She looked down at her engagement ring and smiled. “Scott will be my protector,” she thought. She finally chose a navy blue dress with a matching cardigan and blue and white pumps. She showered and fixed her hair. Her makeup skills were still rudimentary, but she did her best. She had just had her ears pierced a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t change them yet. She found a bracelet that would coordinate with her trainer earrings and declared herself ready. She pulled out an extra shawl in case it was too cool for just the cardigan and went to wait for Scott in her living room. He was early and had the same upset, tired tone that was becoming familiar to her. “Scott, what is wrong? You seem so upset,” she asked. He sighed and put his hand on his forehead, “I was just getting along great with Dad until Danny came back. He makes everything difficult for me. He wants to constantly pummel me with stories of the army. I respect what he did for our country, really, but he doesn’t need to boast about it twenty-four hours a day. I don’t brag about HtW to him. He has asked me about it a couple of times, but the way he asks I know he doesn’t really want me to answer. I have absolutely begged Dad not to let him work with us in our office. Dad says he will give him some time to pursue his photography and journalism dreams and then he will have to offer him a job somewhere. On top of that, I am dreading this dinner tonight; because I know this will be the beginning of his mission to steal you from me.” When he finished speaking, he had tears coming from his eyes. She wiped his tears away and held him close. “Remember,” she said, “I promised you I would not let him do that. Do you see this gorgeous ring on my finger? It means that I am promised to you and only you. No one else in the world can have me. Property of Scott.” He smiled and thanked her. He glanced at his watch and told her they should be getting down to the car. He held her and kissed her in the elevator all the way down.
    The car took them to a very fancy hotel and Scott ushered her to an exclusive restaurant. She fussed with her shawl when they were being shown their table. It had been lovely to have on outside, but inside it made her feel stifled. She managed to wrestle it off and drape it neatly over her arm before they reached the table. She felt very clumsy and undignified in places like this. It was going to be a challenge to not embarrass Spencer. She saw that he and a tall, broad shouldered, blonde were already sitting at the table with half empty champagne glasses. They both stood as she and Scott arrived. “Hello, Dahling! Allow me to present my elder son, Daniel. Daniel, this is Rachel. Your brother’s fiancé,” he said with great emphasis on the last part. Danny just gave her a smirk and walked around the table. She extended her hand for a proper hand shake, but he whirled her into a full bear hug. “Ya gotta give hugs to family,” he said as he released her. “It’s nice to meet you,” she said in her polite voice. She was already completely uncomfortable with him. He was much too pushy and arrogant. She gripped Scott’s hand and was loathe to part with it when the waiter brought her a menu. She was still agonizing over the menu selection when the waiter returned to take their order. “Ah, don’t mess with that, Rachel. I’ll be ordering for her today. She wants the roast duck with pineapple sauce,” Danny said confidently. Rachel didn’t lower her menu for fear of revealing the shock on her face. Duck was the last thing she would have ordered, but as usual her polite side took over. She looked over at Scott and his face was red. She suddenly found her voice and said, “Waiter, I would actually really love the New York strip steak with mushroom sauce instead.” She felt very proud of herself and could see by Scott’s grin that he was pleased. Danny just smiled and winked at her. This annoyed her, but she tried to just think about something else. “Your girl has got an appetite, eh Scott?” he said. Scott glared at him and went back to looking at his own menu. When they had all ordered Rachel was sorry to lose her menu shield, but was soon occupied with bread and salad. She was artistically buttering her bread when she heard Danny say loudly, “Rachel! I just ask you how the classes are going.” “Oh, sorry, I’m enjoying the bread. Well, they are fine,” she said. She knew this would not satisfy his curiosity about her, but she hoped someone else would speak. Spencer seemed to sense her uneasiness and started talking about business. She did her best to only look at Spencer and Scott, but once in a while she caught Danny staring at her. She finally thought about the Lisa soap opera of old, and leaned over to plant a kiss on Scott’s cheek. She whispered, “Lisa,” in his ear and he grinned. He kissed her on the mouth, perhaps inappropriately for this class of restaurant, but they had an objective. Danny cooled off for the rest of the meal and Rachel was glad their show of public affection was effective. What she didn’t know was that he had just become challenged; like a red cape to a bull in the ring, he was going for the prize. He was just going to have to be more cunning about it. She was obviously not like most of the girls he was used to. After Rachel had finished her exquisite triple chocolate mousse cake, she found that everyone else was already finished and ready to leave. Spencer turned to her at the door of the hotel, “Rachel, I don’t suppose you would like to come watch us play tennis tomorrow at the club?” She shook her head, “Oh, I’m sorry, but I have some homework I need to get done before Monday. Thank you, though.” He actually looked relieved that she had been unable to attend, but Rachel convinced herself she was misreading him. He and Danny wished her a good night and then Scott led her to the second family car that would take her home. “Please tell me you need help with your homework!” Scott said when they were in the car. “Not up to ultra competitive tennis?” she asked. He nodded and laid his head on her shoulder. “How about you and I have a date tomorrow night?” she suggested. He felt that would be some consolation for having to endure brutal tennis with his brother and father. She walked herself up to her apartment since it was late. She drew a hot bath to soak her achy feet. She knew her shoes had looked lovely, but did nothing for comfort.
    The next morning she woke late and had to race to meet Franklin before his departure for the airport. “Hey girlie, I was beginning to think you were standing me up,” he joked. “No, I just slept in. Stressful night last night. I have really enjoyed having you here. Sure you don’t want to move to New York?” she asked. He chuckled, “No way! I want my small town back! But, I will miss you, Rachel. You call me as often as you can, ok?” He tried to hug her enough to last him a while, but he knew he would miss her anyway. She cried as he sat in the taxi. He was the most like a father to her. Before he closed the door she called out, “I love you, Dad!” He closed the door, but she could see him start to cry as the taxi drove away. She got a text on her phone a moment later, “I love you too, daughter.”
    She went back to her apartment and attempted to do her homework. She couldn’t stop thinking about the message from Franklin. “I have family. I have a father. I am not alone,” she thought. She finally shook herself to reality and the work in front of her. She worked on it the whole day and was just finishing up algebra homework when Scott called. “Hey sweetheart, I’m downstairs. Are you ready?” “Uh, no. I just finished my homework and I’m still sitting here in sloppy clothes. Just give me a minute,” she said. She hurried through a spruce up and was presentable in five minutes. She raced to the elevator and thought it was slower than usual as it carried her to her fiancé. Scott took her to a relaxed pizza restaurant and Rachel fell in love with it. She had not had a lot of pizza in her lifetime, but this stuff was just good, warming food. They were enjoying each other’s company for most of the meal; until Rachel spotted Danny at a table facing hers. She gasped and asked, “What on earth is HE doing here?” Scott leaned over so he could see what she was talking about. He scooted out of his chair, threw down his napkin, and said, “Excuse me one moment.” He marched over to Danny and began an argument that she couldn’t hear, but she could only imagine that it included, “What on earth are you doing here?” At length, Danny stood up, put his hands in the air, and left. Scott came back still rattled from his verbal tussle. He tried to regain his composure for the rest of the evening, but it had been ruined by his brother’s outright disregard for boundaries. She rubbed his neck and stroked his hair, but nothing seemed to work. Later, he told her good night at the elevator and didn’t even try to go upstairs with her. She knew there would be a full on family feud when he got home. She said a prayer that this would all go away soon, but felt in her heart that it might take a while to resolve.
    The next week was fairly calm and Rachel hoped that Scott’s stand had produced good results. The week after that, however, her hopes were dashed. She was reading a book required by her English class over a turkey sandwich at the university’s café. A voice across the table startled her. “Well, well, look at our diligent student,” Danny said. She nearly spilled her drink trying to put her book away and compose herself. “What…..How….Why are you here?” she said. He smiled a Cheshire cat grin and said, “Well, I wanted to see you in action.” “I mean how did you know I was here? That is so very creepy, you know,” she said. “Oh, I just waited around here until I saw you. I figured you would have to eat at some point,” he answered. His response did not satisfy her in the least.  “Well, I’m busy,” she said as she raised her book and took a bite of her sandwich. “I see that,” he replied. She kept hoping that she would look up and he would be gone, but he actually stayed until after she got up to go to her next class. She thought about calling Scott, but decided not to. He would be so angry. “Gosh I hope he doesn’t start showing up here all of the time,” she thought.
     But that is exactly what he did. Every day he appeared at lunch time and sat staring at her while she studied and ate. After two weeks of his stalking, she told him, “Please don’t come back. I don’t want to see you here again. It’s weird and creepy and I don’t like it.” He laughed and said, “Alright, I’ll just have to find other ways to see you.” She decided it was time to call Scott. She asked him to come over so she could talk to him in person. “What’s up?” he asked. “Please don’t get angry with me. I thought about telling you this sooner, but I really don’t like to see you angry. The thing is; Danny has been showing up at the university café every day. I don’t talk to him, but he just sits there and stares at me. I told him today to quit; that it was creepy and I didn’t like it. He said something about finding another way to see me and that’s when I knew I needed to talk to you. Scott, he scares me. I don’t want to be alone. What if he comes here and you aren’t here? He could probably get a key from your dad; or something.” She paused to see what he had to say. He stared at the floor for a moment before responding. “Well, I wish you had told me sooner. I know he will think that the fact that you didn’t tell me for two weeks is because you wanted him to come. But, it’s ok. We will get this sorted out eventually. You should probably change up your routine as much as possible. Don’t eat lunch at the café; take a different route to and from your apartment, that sort of thing. I’ll talk to Dad. Don’t worry, sweetheart. I won’t let anything happen to you.” He held her tight for a long time and she began to feel more at ease. She knew that he was inwardly boiling, but was maintaining a calm exterior for her. That night she set all of the locks on her door and also locked her bedroom door before going to bed. She could imagine Danny standing over her with a camera in the middle of the night.
    The next day she wondered about the fireworks that had exploded in the Fillman house the night before. She didn’t have much time to think about it, though, since she had to get to class. She had signed up for an extra credit course on anthropology in South America that met for the next three Saturdays. The classes were six hours a day with a thirty minute break in the middle. It was intense, but she enjoyed it. She felt as though she were removed from the Fillman issues for six and a half hours a week. She was transported to ancient civilizations that were brilliant and unique. Scott didn’t like her being gone on Saturdays, since that was one of the few days that he could come see her. Although she loved Scott and desperately wanted to marry him, she found herself enjoying the separation.
    Eventually Danny became more creative with his plot to see her. He began organizing family activities, which Spencer loved and supported. She had excuses for many absences, but could not get out of all of them. Danny would hover over her and find every reason imaginable to be near her. She was so annoyed. With each family time Scott grew angrier and cross, and she grew more fed up with the whole family. She pondered what escape could possibly bear her away from this antagonizing situation. She had a light bulb moment as she entered her apartment following one such torturous affair. The phone rang twice and then, “Rachel? What brings you to call me?” Rachel cleared her throat and began to tell Kathryn the whole ordeal. “Look I know it’s probably selfish for me to call you like this, but I can’t tolerate another moment with Scott angry and Danny flirting! I figured you know that family better than anyone else and might have some ideas.” Kathryn laughed and replied, “Oh, I’ve got all sorts of tricks up my sleeve. Leave it to me; I’ll get Danny off your back. Let me make a call and then next family gathering you can see if it has made a difference.” She thanked Kathryn and they hung up. She wondered what in the world could she have up her sleeve, but she trusted her to be honest.
    The following Sunday Danny had organized a lunch at a modern art gallery. Rachel dressed up and crossed her fingers that Kathryn had come through. She was surprised to see Kathryn at the door of the gallery. She leaned over to whisper in Rachel’s ear, “Our solution is now mingling stage left.” Rachel strained to see who or what was on the left side of the gallery. She saw a woman who looked like she had just come off the catwalk of a major designer. Her hair and makeup were professional and she carried a purse and shoes worth thousands. Rachel looked back at Kathryn with a gaped mouth. “She will do the trick,” Kathryn whispered and then walked to her car. She went into the gallery and introduced herself to the top model woman. She wanted to know exactly why this was the answer to her Danny dilemma. “Hi, I’m Rachel, Scott Fillman’s fiancé. Who are you?” The statuesque woman turned around abruptly and replied, “Everyone in New York knows who I am, or they should. I am Kimberly Morgan. I’ve known the Fillmans since I was a little girl and someday I will marry Danny, because I always get what I want. I can’t believe he didn’t call me when he got back,” she chattered on. Rachel then saw crystal clear what Kathryn’s plan had been. “Well, Kimberly, you must join us for lunch then. I believe we are back in the New Impressionism wing,” she said as she took Kimberly by the arm and led her back to the waiting family. Danny’s expression was priceless when he saw Kimberly. He began sweating and blushing and stuttering. Scott was suppressing a huge guffaw. The sight of Danny being so overwhelmed by this woman was too good to forget. “Danny! Why haven’t you called me?” Kimberly said as she walked over to him. She lambasted him with a barrage of questions and he could not answer a single one. She made herself comfy next to him and seemed to forgive him in spite of his bumbling. Scott leaned over and whispered, “Where did you find her?” Rachel replied, “Let’s just say your dad’s assistant is a miracle worker.” Danny actually scowled when he looked over at Rachel during the meal. She just smiled and enjoyed herself. She asked Kimberly lots of questions to keep her talking. Spencer seemed oblivious to the whole business; he was just thankful to have the family together. She was feeling very good about her accomplishment until Scott called her that night. “Look, sweetie, I know you thought you were doing a good thing, but I think it only made him angry. When he gets angry he is even more competitive. He yelled at me for an hour after we got home. Kim’s perfect for him, but he can’t see it. He still thinks he needs to have everybody else’s women. Anyway, you need to still be careful, ok?” he said. She was crushed. She thought she had done such a good thing. It was getting close to Christmas vacation and she couldn’t bear the thought of all of the family gatherings. She called Scott back. “Scott, I want to go stay with Franklin for the holidays. I just can’t stand the thought of all the family stuff with Danny making our lives miserable. I haven’t spent even close to my monthly allowance, so I can buy the tickets. Is that ok with you?” she asked. He sighed and said, “Yeah, fine, go ahead and get your tickets and I’ll try to keep it from dad and Danny until you are gone.” Rachel thought that he had agreed rather quickly to her plan to be separated from him for a month, but she was feeling like a June bug in the middle of ducks and had to go. She called Franklin and told him about her plans. She had him find her tickets since she had never purchased tickets in her life. He was thrilled that she would be spending nearly a month with him.
     After that was all settled she turned her attention back to studying for finals. She had to do well to keep her scholarship and so far she had made perfect grades. Finals, however, were a bit daunting. By Friday of finals week her brain was so tired. Copious amounts of coffee didn’t seem to pick her up at all. She tried to call David at the set time, but Smitty informed her that the rabbits weren’t producing and he wouldn’t be coming in for a few weeks. She was disappointed, but asked him to tell David that she would be in town for the holidays. After her last exam she went to her apartment and slept the rest of the day. She woke up very early and started packing for her trip to Tennessee. “I can’t believe I’m excited about going to Morristown,” she thought. Scott came to see her late in the morning and was surprised that she was already packed. “So, you’re going to leave me, huh?” he said. She told him she would miss him. “So, any word from Kimberly?” she asked. “Oh yeah, she calls about ten times a day, but he isn’t answering the phone anymore. Knowing her, she will start showing up at his door,” he replied. They talked about the time they would be apart. He reluctantly left close to midnight.
     The next morning she woke up early and got ready to go to the airport. She decided to check her email before she headed out the door. She was shocked to see an email from Anna.
Dear Rachel,
I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your letter. My life has been so crazy for the past year. I am married to a British man and have a sweet baby girl. I couldn’t believe it when I got your email. I’m truly glad that you found a way out and that you are getting an education. We should Skype sometime. I actually live in Italy! I’m so relieved that you weren’t offended with my book. I’ve written three of them. I have found it to be the best way to deal with what I went through with Roy. Congratulations on being engaged! When is your wedding?
Well, I should go. The baby is calling for me.
Talk to you soon, Anna
Rachel read her letter through several times before packing away her laptop in her carryon bag. She decided to think about how to reply while on her flight to Tennessee. She grabbed her suitcase and headed for the elevator. She hailed a cab and made the slow journey out to the airport. The flight was long and Rachel had a lot to think about with Anna’s email and everything going on with Scott. She was starting to feel like they would never get married. She didn’t like who he was with his brother around. She tried to put that out of her mind as the plane approached her destination. She was determined to enjoy her visit with Franklin.
     He picked her up at the airport and Rachel was nearly overwhelmed by the memories of escaping there. How far she had come in a year. “Guess what, Anna wrote me this morning,” she told him after they got in his car.            They drove through town and to Franklin’s house. He had fixed up the guest bedroom just for her. She wasn’t sure how they would spend the next month, but anything was better than being with the Fillmans. After a couple of days she sat down to write Anna.
Dear Anna,
Guess where I am right now! Morristown! I am visiting my adopted father. He is the one who got me out of here. Some crazy stuff is going on in my life, too. That’s why I am here for Christmas break. I would love to Skype sometime. Scott and I haven’t set a date for our wedding.
Thanks for writing, Rachel
She clicked send and closed her laptop. She went out to sit with Franklin. It wasn’t ultra exciting or busy staying with him, but she was glad for the rest. She needed a slow down after a semester at NYU, not to mention the family drama.
    After she had been with Franklin for over two weeks, Rachel’s phone rang late in the morning. “Hey, is this Rachel?” the voice on the line asked. When she replied that it was, he said, “This is Smitty. Your brother is here, come on by if you want to see him.” She told him she would be there as soon as possible. Franklin drove her to Smitty’s shop and dropped her off. “I’ll be down at the café getting some coffee. Call me when you’re ready to go,” he said. She nodded and went into the shop. David was leaning against the counter at the back of the shop. He didn’t even recognize her when she stepped up to him. “David, it’s me, Rachel!” she said. His mouth dropped open and he stood up straight. She pulled him into a hug and said, “I’ve missed you so much.” When he finally found his voice he said, “You’ve changed an awful lot. Yeah, I guess I miss you, too. Ain’t nobody to talk to at home.” They sat and visited for half an hour, then he looked up at the clock on the wall. “I gotta go. Dad will get mad if I take too long here. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll get out of here, too. It was good to see you, Rachel,” he said. He hugged her and left. She called Franklin and walked down to the café to meet him. She sat down across from him at a booth in the café. She ordered a cappuccino and began to tell Franklin about her visit with David.
    The day after Christmas she and Franklin were enjoying a big breakfast at a local diner. She had just taken a big bite of pancake when her phone rang. She swallowed as quickly as possible and washed it down with coffee. Her phone was hiding at the bottom of her purse, but she managed to answer before it went to voicemail. Scott was on the line. “Rachel, I need you to come home. Danny was in a terrible accident last night. He is in a coma and has multiple injuries. Dad and I just can’t be with him all the time and we need you to fill in when we can’t be there. It was bad, really bad. I don’t know what else to say. He’s at St. Mary’s. Will you come?” She didn’t hesitate, “Yes, of course, I’ll come. I’ll see if I can get on a flight today. Don’t worry.” She quickly filled Franklin in on the details. They went back to his house and while she packed, he worked on getting her flight changed. He yelled out, “Girlie, I’ve got you a flight today, but we’ve got to leave right now to make it!” They raced with her things out to the car and he drove faster than usual on the way to the airport. “Franklin, I’m so sorry I have to leave you like this. I’m not sure if I should be flattered or not that Scott called me. Ugh. I hope all of this uncertainty is resolved soon,” she said. They said good bye at the drop off door and she raced to get her boarding pass and through security check on time.
    She arrived in the afternoon and went to her apartment first to drop off her things. She changed into a comfortable dress and sweater and then left for the hospital. She found out from the information desk where Danny’s room was, but since it was in ICU she wasn’t allowed in without a family member. She called Scott and told him she was there, but they wouldn’t let her in. He went to the nurse’s station and told them about her. After a few minutes they came to get her. She was completely unprepared for what Danny looked like. As if all his cuts and bruises were not bad enough on their own, he was hooked to all manner of tubes and wires. There were large machines on the left side of his bed and behind the head of it. Beeps and strange sounds of sucking air filled the silence of the room. Spencer sat against the wall with his head in his hands. She had never seen him look so disheveled. Scott had obviously been crying and was doing his best to hold himself together. She took it all in quietly and then sat next to Spencer and held his hand.
    Later that evening she told Spencer and Scott to go home to rest and eat. She would stay with him as long as necessary. Her classes didn’t start for another week, so she could at least devote a week to his care. They reluctantly agreed and left for some much needed rest. The nurses showed her how to apply Vaseline to Danny’s lips and other small chores that needed to be done while he was on all the machines. She stroked his hand and spoke to him, hoping something would help to wake him from his trip to the in between. The next day, Spencer came for the morning shift with Danny. Rachel went to a café and ate a big breakfast. Then, she went home for a nap. That evening she went back to the hospital and Scott was there. “Scott,” she whispered, “can you tell me more about what happened?” He sighed and said, “He decided to get drunk and have a party for Christmas. He said he didn’t want to spend it with Dad and me because we are boring. So, he got drunk and went for a crazy drive through town. He was in the wrong lane and hit a garbage truck head on. We got the call about 11:30 at night that he’d been in an accident and the EMT’s weren’t sure if he was going to make it. Poor Dad about had a heart attack. He hasn’t spoken much since it happened. I know I’ve told you how much I can’t stand Danny, but he is my brother, and I don’t wish this on anybody.” She held his hand tightly and stroked his hair. “Since you are here now,” he continued, ”I’ll go check on Dad.” She nodded and he kissed her on the forehead as he left. She stared at Danny for a long time. She began to think about her experiences with his family. “Why is there such animosity between you all?”she wondered. Suddenly a picture formed in her mind and she knew why this man had spent his whole life in competition with his little brother. She scooted her chair over to his side and spoke to him. “Danny, this is Rachel. I’m just going to visit with you for a while. I’m thinking that you can hear me and maybe some of this will stick in your hard head. Well, I was thinking about you and Scott and why you give him such fits. I’ve come to the conclusion that somewhere, sometime; you thought that your father loved him more. Scott is a smart, quiet guy who acquiesces to everything your dad says. Now you… aren’t like Scott at all. You are loud and daring and adventurous. You will try anything, but at the end of it all you just want your dad’s love. Let me just tell you that he does love you. He loves you so much and he wants you to just be yourself. You don’t need to be anything like Scott. You can use your crazy personality to become the best journalist or photographer or anything else you want to be. Personally, I would love to have you be my brother. We just need to get your brother to set a date. You can talk to him about that, right? Never mind, we’ll just stick to your issues, ok?” She spoke to him until a nurse came in to do her hourly check. “If his eyes are moving under his eyelids, does that mean there is brain activity?” she asked the nurse. “Well, it could be. Hard to tell with this severe of an accident,” the nurse answered. Rachel chose to cling to hope.
    Spencer came the next morning to relieve her and she went home. The three of them settled into a routine so that there would be someone with Danny all the time. She kept telling Danny the same things every time she was with him and his eyes would move as she spoke. At the end of the week they changed the schedule since Rachel would be starting classes. She came directly after her 2:00 class and spent the afternoon and evening with Danny. Scott spent the night and Spencer still came in the mornings. After several weeks, Rachel was sitting in her World History II class when her phone vibrated. She checked it discretely and saw that it was the hospital. She put her book and papers away quickly and dashed out into the hall. “Hello?” she said trying to catch her breath. “Hi, this is Grace from St. Mary’s. I can’t get a hold of Danny’s family, so I called you. He is waking up.” Rachel ran toward the exit, “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” The taxi driver had to endure her constant urging for him to go faster. Finally they arrived and she threw the cab fare at him while she ran out the door. She got up to Danny’s room in record time and saw that they had removed his breathing tube and a lot of the wires. He was his old handsome self; with the exception of a nasty scar on his forehead. She went to his side and the nurse encouraged her to talk to him. “Danny, it’s Rachel. Have you decided to open your sleepy eyes? We would be so happy to see that.” She looked up at the nurse who told her, “His father and brother are on their way. Keep talking to him.” Tears started flowing out of her eyes. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to see Danny look at her. Rachel spoke to him for ten more minutes, and finally his eyes started to blink, and then open. “Danny!” she exclaimed. He smiled a weak smile and she grabbed his hand. “Hey buddy, you’ve been through quite an ordeal. It’s good to see you awake,” she said. He tried to speak, “Rach…I…,” but nothing else came out. She sat with him quietly as he closed his eyes to rest again. In a few moments Spencer and Scott came dashing into the room. Spencer was asking, “Is it true? Did he wake up?” Rachel nodded and as if on cue, Danny opened his eyes again. She moved out of the way so Spencer could talk to his son. “Oh god, Danny, I was so worried about you. Please get well so we can take you home.” Danny gave him a smile and said, “trying.” They let him rest and didn’t make him speak or wake on demand until the next day. The nurses sat him up for a while. In the afternoon, they wheeled him off to do lots of tests and scans. They hadn’t thoroughly checked him the night of his accident because they weren’t sure he would make it. His legs were badly injured, but seemed to be healing well with the exception of one place. They rolled him into surgery and put a pin in his leg. He came out fine and the following week was able to ride around the ICU in a wheel chair. He flirted with all the nurses and seemed to be his old self. After two months in the hospital, he was ready to go home. Spencer set up Danny’s room with a remote control bed so they could elevate his legs. They hired a nurse to watch him around the clock; thus relieving the three of them permanently. Rachel went to visit him one day and overheard Danny and Scott talking. She stopped at the door and listened. “Scott, I owe you a huge apology. I have not been a good brother to you. I promise you from now on, no more competition. You can marry Rachel without a worry. She’s yours. Can you forgive me for being such a bully?” Danny said. Scott stayed true to his giving nature, “Yes, of course. I love you bro.” She heard them hug and then felt it was safe to enter the room. “Hey guys! How is the convalescent today?” she asked. Danny showed her that he could now walk on one leg with the help of a crutch. She chatted with them for a little while and then said, “I’ve got to go study. Mid terms are next week!” She kissed Scott on the cheek and was surprised when he didn’t try to kiss her back. Things were worse, not better, with him. Drastic measures needed to be taken.
    After mid terms were under her belt, Rachel began to plot her big test for Scott. She called Kathryn and asked if she could meet with her. Kathryn said, “Well, I can come about four. Is that alright?” Rachel told her it was and then waited impatiently until the appointed hour. Kathryn was prompt and Rachel was excited to tell her everything right away. They sat on the couch and she began her speech. “Ok, I’ve been engaged to Scott for nearly a year and we still haven’t set a date. I’m beginning to feel like he doesn’t want to marry me at all. I wish he would just tell me, but you know you cannot force anything out of him if he isn’t ready. Anyway, I’ve devised a test. Look at this program NYU has in Madrid. It’s perfect for my major and I already speak Spanish. I want you to help me get into this program. If Scott wants me, he will protest and tell me to stay here, and perhaps set a date for our wedding. If not, I will just go and enjoy Madrid and work on my degree. Can we do that?” Kathryn looked over the page on Rachel’s screen and nodded. “That seems entirely plausible. I’ll get to work on enrolling you in the program tomorrow,” she replied. She asked Kathryn not to tell anyone. Rachel was excited. This proposition had two good outcomes. The hard part would be waiting to hear if she had gotten into the program. Near the end of her second semester, she got a call from Kathryn. “Rachel, you got in! You will have to leave for Madrid the first of July, though. I hope this is what you want, dear,” she informed Rachel.
    Rachel went over to Spencer’s house for dinner that same week. When they were all gathered at the table she cleared her throat and said, “I have an announcement to make. I’ll be doing NYU’s student abroad program in Madrid for my next year of study. It is a fantastic opportunity to study my field and will be great for my transcript. I will leave the first of July.” There was silence around the table until Spencer said, “Oh, that sounds wonderful, dear. What an opportunity!” Scott’s face was red and he was jabbing at his food as though it were alive. However, he said nothing. She wished he would say something, anything. Perhaps he was angry that she hadn’t told him first, but then he hardly called her these days. She decided to just eat and act normally. Danny, embarrassed by his brother’s lack of response, said, “Rachel, that’s awesome, but we will really miss you here.” He glanced over at Scott again, but he was just angrily attacking his food as before. Danny rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. He mouthed, “Sorry,” to Rachel before going back to his own plate. After dinner she sat with Scott on the sofa. She tried to hold his hand but he withdrew it and feigned an itch on his temple. She wanted to cry, but decided she should just make up an excuse and leave. “Um, I’ve got to go do some homework. Lovely meal, Spencer, thanks. I’ll see ya’ll soon,” she said. She left and hailed a cab. She decided to go to her favorite bookstore instead of going to her apartment. She bought Anna’s other books and settled into an overstuffed chair with a chocolate shake. She read for an hour and then walked slowly to her apartment. She flopped on the couch and finally allowed herself to cry. “I don’t know why crying helps; it’s not accomplishing anything,” she thought. She wiped her tears away and tried to think about Madrid. It would be a new adventure and give her exposure to a whole new culture and continent. She called Kathryn. “Hi, sorry to bother you so late, but I have a question. Do you think it would be alright for me to buy some new clothes and shoes for Madrid?” Kathryn told her it was more than fine since she had hardly even spent one month’s allowance in the whole time she had been there. Rachel decided she wouldn’t worry about it anymore and planned a shopping trip for the next Saturday. She went to a large department store and asked the saleswoman to help her with a European student look. She came out with numerous packages and a style that she liked. She registered for two short classes in June so that she could knock out six more credits. She thought it would be better to be busy before she had to leave for Madrid. Scott was broody and impossible to talk to. She wanted to avoid him as much as possible in the weeks leading up to her departure.
    The week before her departure, she was busy sorting things for storage and for taking. Kathryn would arrange for her things to be stored at Spencer’s home while she was in Madrid so that he could rent out the apartment. She was on the floor of her closet when her phone rang. She pulled herself up and went on a hunt for her phone. She was surprised to see that it was Danny. “Hey Rach, um, I’ve got something I really want to show you. Can I come over now? I mean, you can say no, if you want. I know I’ve been ‘super creepy’ in the past, but I’ll try to behave,” he said. She laughed and said, “Sure, come on. I need a distraction from sorting clothes anyway.” He was probably downstairs when he called; because he was at her door in less than five minutes. She was thinking about what a different person he had become since his accident. She actually liked being with him. She let him in and he went to the couch and pulled out his laptop. “Look at this, I started my own blog. It’s called Green Spots and it’s all about conservation of the green areas in New York City. I got out my camera and I’ve been riding around the city taking pictures and learning about each site. I’m getting thousands of hits already! I’m so excited.” She looked through the site and all of his colorful pictures and thoughtful articles. “This is fantastic, Danny! I’m so proud of you. You’re a big boy now,” she laughed. He laughed and then said seriously, “I feel like I should thank you for encouraging me toward this.” She blushed and then tried hard to think of a time when she had spoken to him about it; other than when he was in a coma. She hadn’t spoken to him about it. “Danny, did you hear everything I told you when you were in the coma?” He thought for a moment and said, “I think so, I kept having the same dreams over and over. You were the only one in my dreams and you kept telling me the same things. It was like we were both in heaven and you were trying to help me figure out how to live on earth. A little weird, I know, but I kept dreaming that same thing all the time.” They chatted a little more about his health. He got quiet and walked over to the window. He turned and faced her. “Rachel, I feel like I should apologize for Scott. He’s been treating you like….like….I don’t want to say what. Anyway, I feel so bad. I don’t know what’s going on with him, but you don’t deserve it. You are the sweetest person I’ve ever known; don’t let him walk on you, ok?” She nodded, but had no idea how to protect herself from the emotional battering she was enduring from Scott. “Well, I’ll be gone soon and hopefully he’ll make up his mind,” she said. After he left she found herself thinking that she really enjoyed being with Danny. She really, really enjoyed being with him.