TITLE: When the Last Petal Falls - Part Four: Let it Rain
SUMMARY: Do we ever really know what we want?
PREVIOUSLY: See Part 3.
FEEDBACK: I love it! Hit that reply button!
DISCLAIMER: Some are mine, but the majority featured were created by DEK.
Morning comes hours later than usual for Lindsay, as the shades keep the sun from seeping through the window beside the bed. Breathing slowly, her back rises and falls against the pace, eyes remaining closed as she holds onto every moment of this serenity. The boat's movements don't go unnoticed, but fail to rattle her even the slightest little bit; if anything, it made her sleep better somehow. It was the first time in ages that she felt absolutely carefree. Was she dreaming? Or was this all really a part of the first day of her new life? Be it choice one or two, she never wanted it to end.
Pleased hums turn into faint giggles as Lindsay herself disturbs the silence. A heart becomes excited as an unknown object makes contact with her lower back, its plush walls rolling gently up her spine. The spicy aroma of peppermint and after shave further wakes her, warm lips brushing her ear working to complete the task. In a voice that tells her he feels the same way, he whispers. "Good morning..."
Pushing up to rest on her side, she crooks her neck to look back at him with a smile. The love she sees gleaming so boldly in those brown eyes makes her tremble. "Hi."
Giving her a kiss, he raises the rose so she can see it. "You hungry?"
"Yeah, actually I am. How late is it?"
"Noon," he chuckles.
"Noon?!" She gasps, shooting up in search of a clock.
"Well, I would have woke you, but I knew you needed some rest after -"
"Oh, ho, ho. So you think you were that magnificent, huh?"
"Hey, you said it, sweetheart," he grins, watching as she flops down onto her back.
"Ah, so I did..."
Leaning on his elbow, he hands her the rose. "I wasn't talking about that anyway," he tells her, seriously. "I've been a little worried about you lately."
"Well, ever since that whole thing with Bobby happened -"
"Carter, we talked about that," she says, rubbing his arm.
"I know. It's just - something...though, now, it seems to be gone..." he touches her cheek. "It was like something was eating you...hurting you even."
Lindsay nods. "It was."
"Did something else happen with Bobby?"
"Yeah...I uh, went to him and told him I still wanted us to be friends. And well, he didn't like the idea too much."
"Oh," he looks confused. "Then why did he come yesterday?"
"Apparently, Rebecca talked to him. They're close."
"Well, I'm glad he came to his senses. He's obviously very important to you...and vice versa."
"Yes," she admits. "But Carter, it's not what you think. There's this connection we have...seperate from our affair. In a lot of respects it's on the career side, but for some...it's not. I can't really explain it...but I know that it's something that I need. And it has nothing to do with romantic love. I don't want Bobby that way. I want you." Raising herself up, she leans into him, meeting his eyes. "I love you."
Releasing a heavy sigh, Carter smiles. Cradling her face, he kisses her. "I love you, too."
Allowing herself to fall over him, she laughs amidst their kisses. The sheet slips further down her chest as passion heats things up, her locket hitting the side of his neck with a thud. Lindsay is startled as he pulls away.
"What's the matter?"
"I"m sorry," he uses one hand to lightly grab onto the star. "I know this is probably a private thing, but I've gotta ask. It's driving me nuts."
"This." He looks down at what dangles between them. "I heard some of what you and Bobby were saying...from what I gather, this is pretty special to you."
"It is," she nods, sitting back on her heels. He rises to join her. "Look," she opens it, showing him the picture. "Remember? My grandmother?"
"OH -" he sighs, understanding. "The stars. Of course."
"I told Bobby about them once...about what happened..."
"And he did this..." Carter shakes his head slightly, studying the picture closely. "Wow. It looks just like it."
"Sure beats theater tickets..."
"Hey," Lindsay objects, sternly. "I love them. We're gonna have a great time." He gives her a small smile, looking down. Her fingers find his chin, and she forces him to look at her. "Carter, you give me so much more than I could ever dream of - everyday you do. Bobby's gift does mean a lot to me...but you... throwing me a surprise party with my closest friends was special. I'll never forget that. All the little things you do and you don't even realize it, Carter. THAT is special. Those things light up my life like nothing ever has before. I'm happier now than I've ever been - with you. You, Carter."
"Good," Carter smiles. "Because I feel the same way about you. Sometimes I just get scared, though."
"Losing you. And not just to Bobby," he cuts in before she can say otherwise. "We lost each other once before...now that I have you again, it's so incredible...that we found our way back, you know? I'm afraid that one day you're gonna wake up and realize that you do hate me. And yes, when I found out about Bobby it made it worse...but I think that's true for anyone in my position. It's not easy for a man to have competiton, honey."
"There is no competition," she coos. "Just stop, okay? This is silly. I could never hate you. And this theory about you losing me - you can just forget it. Consider us super-glued."
Carter laughs. "Super-glued, huh? I think I can live with that."
"Really. Whoa," he chuckles as Lindsay pushes him back, kissing him again and again, soon fumbling with the buttons of his shirt. Silly and sweet to hungry and deep...they take each other away to their own paradise.
"So, we're skipping the food, then?"
"Food?" she asks, sliding his shirt down his shoulders.
Kissing her neck, he explains. "Yeah - there's blueberry pancakes and bacon and scrambled eggs and -"
"Okay!" Lindsay exclaims, jumping from his arms and toward the foot of the bed.
"Come here, you!"
Lindsay squeals as Carter pounces forward, twisting her around and pushing her down. Laughing to a point where it hurts, she stops only when his kisses demand more.
Bobby yawns, the computer screen becoming somewhat blurred as he continues to stare at it, tired and annoyed at the very late hour he is presently working. Glancing at the clock on his desk, he groans. One seventeen on a Monday morning and he was here. This was his life. What a joke.
So the party hadn't gone bad. Minus a few cuddly moments with the doctor, Lindsay's birthday was great. She loved the gift. She smiled at him when opportunity presented itself. Friends. That wasn't such a horrible thing.... But that one moment...when their eyes locked across the way...as before, it was just them. Thinking back for the hundredth time since, he shudders at the electricity he knew was there, if only for a second. Was it wrong to hope? Or just a waste of time?
Cursing aloud, he throws his head back as the warning sound exits the speakers, the familiar box popping up with yet another error message. Any chance of Lindsay leaving his mind is erased as he recalls she would be just the person to fix this. Perhaps if he'd listened harder when she'd explained how to handle such an occurrence, he wouldn't feel the urge to open a window and chunk the machine onto the street below. Recalling every detail of the night with ease, he knows he wouldn't trade a minute of those memories for anything...
Everything had been fine at first, he remembers, as she'd merely been standing beside him, pointing at the screen, teaching him all the 'do's and don't's' of the computer system. But as he picked up on her increasingly uncomfortable position, he wrapped a hand around her hip and guided her onto his lap. He then rolled the chair closer to the screen and listened as she continued on. All of it quickly became jumbled nonsense, though, as he got a good whiff of her perfume, thrilling at the small, yet sexy smile she gave him in reaction to his faint moan of appreciation at having her so close to him.
Soon, it wasn't just his mind playing tricks on her lesson, though, as his hands and mouth became more out of control, causing her to pause at the end of words instead of sentences. First rounding her thighs, they trailed up to the buttons of her blouse, undoing them at a turtlish pace. Lindsay, of course, began a chant of mild protest, but with each kiss, lick and nibble at her ear, jaw and neck, she was soon broken down. Once she was wrapped around him, the desk was cleared and the simple definition of computer would have drawn a blank on both of them.
'Dammit,' he thinks, angrily. Why did everything always have to come back to her? Why was he torturing himself this way? They are friends - that's it. The end. He should be happy with that. But no matter how hard he tries, he can't be. He just can't.
Rustling his hair, he blows out a dreadful sigh, reaching for the plug. One fast motion and the screen goes black, Bobby dropping the cord onto the carpet before rising. Kicking his shoes off, he lies down on the couch, seeking a good five or six hours of sleep...if he was lucky.
Lindsay steps off the elevator around seven thirty, still feeling at her best, fresh off her unforgettable weekend with Carter. Stress free and ready to take on the world, the simple yet satisfying activities of lounging in the hammock and sunbathing combined with lovemaking was something she wasn't quite ready to give up. They'd even given the hot tub Helen found so intriguing a session before leaving for home. The only sore spot was Carter getting called into work the night before, when she had planned on staying at his place. And then she had a nosy Helen to deal with.
Reaching for the door knob, she is startled to find it locked. She was never the first one to arrive. Opening her purse, she finds her key and opens the door. After switching on the lights, she peaks through the open blinds of Bobby's office window, noticing the lamp on his desk is on. Walking in, her eyes immediately go to the person sleeping on the couch.
"Bobby," she whispers his name, giving him a shake. "Bobby, wake up."
Jumping a little, Bobby comes to and looks almost shocked to see her. "Lindsay?"
"Yeah, it's me. Are you okay?"
"Yeah," he croaks, sitting up.
"You sure? You look like you didn't get a lot of sleep."
Bobby looks at her as she joins him. "I'm fine," he forces a smile. Grazing her chin with his knuckles, he sighs. "And you...look...happy."
"I am," Lindsay nods.
"Good," he says, sadly. "Do me a favor?"
"Stay that way...whatever that means...just...stay just like this. Promise me."
It kills her to see his pain, and she wishes like mad that she could take it away somehow. Placing her hand over his, she looks into his teary eyes of blue. "Okay, Bobby. I promise..."
And like only days ago - like countless times before - Lindsay's arms curl around his neck, Bobby holding her as close as he possibly can. Biting his lip to fight the rain, he silently prays for a day when he can see her with the same glow, knowing that he's the reason behind it.
"Oh my God!!"
Everyone rushes into the outer office as Lindsay's scream can be heard through the conference room door and beyond. Bobby's the line leader as they all rush to see what all the fuss is about. Swinging the door open, all eyes are on a grinning Lindsay.
"What's going on?!" Bobby demands.
"Oh nothing," Lindsay beams, gesturing toward the phone. "That was just Timothy Lyon."
"What?" Bobby looks at her puzzled.
"Timothy Lyon. He's doing a tobacco case -"
"Lyon as in Lyon and Perry of New York?!" Eugene steps up, intrigued.
"YES - and he wants US to do it!"
Ellenor moves closer to her. "US?!"
"Yes - well, he wants to talk to Bobby first, but -"
"In New York? We've never even met this guy. Why us?"
"Apparently, the firm was doing research on a potential firm to handle the case while they started the ground work. Our names came up and he was interested. Bobby, this is big."
"And he's just giving us the case?"
"Well, his firm is overloaded with another trial that's running long, and they needed to find someone good to take over. They want us. He wants to meet us."
"When's the trial?" Jimmy pipes in.
"And they're just now seeking new representation?"
"Bobby, why don't you just save all these questions for Mr. Lyon, okay? You guys don't even looked excited."
"Well, maybe we shouldn't jump the gun, Lindsay. They haven't even met us yet. Neither has the client. I'm assuming he or she will be coming, too?"
"Yes. Lucy, what time is the conference call?"
"I have a deposition at four," Bobby informs her.
"Not anymore. I moved it to tomorrow."
"Thanks, Lucy," Lindsay smiles. "Be ready, Bobby. And get excited. I have a good feeling about this one."
Lindsay practically bounces out the door, heading for her desk. Everyone looks at each other.
"How much coffee has she had this morning?" Ellenor shakes her head.
"It's not the coffee," Lucy teases. "She just had a really, really good weekend."
"What'd she say?" Bobby asks, not really wanting to know, but unable to stop himself.
"Nothing. She didn't have to. Besides, isn't it obvious?"
Ellenor, Rebecca and Lucy share a few giggles. Jimmy speaks up for the guys.
"What? What happened?"
"Lindsay got some M.D. ..." Lucy tells him, wincing as Bec swats her.
"All right, back to work," Bobby drones, sending the group back to their desks. He gives an oblivious Lindsay one final pathetic look as he escapes into his office.
Three weeks later, Lindsay is back in court with Bobby. The trial was much like the cockroach case, expected to last only a few days. But this time the civil matter was a battle between a now-struggling wedding planner and displeased newlyweds that refused to settle out of court. Lindsay stands and prepares to give her opening statement, per request of Judge Kittleson.
"Weddings are a big deal to most couples, especially the bride. She dreams of the perfect dress, the perfect scenery - she could probably tell you the flavor of the cake she picked out when she was twelve. And when something goes wrong, like defense counsel said, it can be devastating. It is, after all, the biggest day of your life. The defendant hired my client to plan her wedding, and the result wasn't what she'd hoped for. We all get pictures in our heads of what we want, and sometimes, when we see it - well, it's different. The young woman doesn't think she got what she paid for." Lindsay shrugs her shoulders. "To her, maybe she didn't. To my client, she did. But, that's another case. This case is about my client's business and reputation being tarnished by the published claims of the defendant. She wasn't happy, so, she went to the press and lashed out. My client went from being one of the most popular wedding planners, headed toward becoming a partner in the largest company in the state, and lost it all because of the defendant. Like them, she had dreams, too. Now, her career has a match held to it. It's up to you to help save what she worked her whole life for. It's up to you to make those people see who is really wrong in this matter."
Bobby gives her a nod of approval as she takes her seat. The judge announces a recess until after lunch, and the courtroom starts buzzing as people begin to chat and exit the courtroom. Lindsay grabs her briefcase and heads for the door, Bobby close behind. She stops abruptly upon seeing a familiar face just a few feet from the table.
"Carter! What are you doing here?"
"Oh, I just came to see my girl in action."
"You did, huh?"
"Yeah. Hey there, Bobby."
"Hi," Bobby greets him as warmly as he can. "Uh, Lindsay, I'm gonna head over to the deli. I'll see you in a bit."
"Okay..." Briefly watching as he leaves, Lindsay turns her attention back to Carter. "So, did you want to have lunch?"
"Yeah. I actually wanted to talk to you about something."
"Anything the matter?"
"No, no. It has to do with New York."
"This Friday, right?"
"No, not anymore. I'll explain when we get there."
"Oh, Lindsay, this has disaster written all over it. Your parents in the same room?"
"Thank you, Helen. I feel much better now."
"I'm sorry. Everything will be fine. This is obviously important to you, and that tends to make them better, right?"
"Helen, they got into a fight in the middle of our college graduation ceremony. Are you kidding me?"
Helen rubs her shoulder as Lindsay plops down next to her on the sofa. "It's sweet."
"Yes, it is. And it's not a bad idea. Both our parents think it's great that we're together. Carter got along with mine in the past very well. And he says that his can't wait to see me again."
"Great. So, call them. Make the date."
Lindsay takes the cordless phone from Helen's hand and dials her mother's number. "Hey Mom...No, everything's fine...Well, Carter and I were - yes, he's fine...yeah...anyway, we were talking and he said that his parents really want us to have dinner together...yes, dad, too...no, Wendy won't be invited...I'll tell him not to...okay...they live in New York...remember Carter gave me those tickets for my birthday...his parents got tickets to the same show two weeks from Saturday...yes, we're going with them...well, we can get you tickets, too...why don't we just meet for dinner then...you will...okay...good...thank you...I'll call you with the reservation...I love you, too."
Helen giggles as she teases her friend, watching as she dials again. "Hi Dad...good...he's great...I'm actually calling because of him...uh huh...his parents want to have dinner with us...us as in me, Carter, you and mom...I know...it's only one night, Daddy...I think it would be best if she didn't...I know Wendy's important to you, Dad, but you know what would happen...no, I'm not overreacting...I'm being realistic and you know it...there will be other dinners...no, I don't hate her...yes, it is...I know...okay...two weeks from Saturday...I don't know yet, but I'll call you as soon as I know more...alright...you, too...give Wendy my best...I love you...bye."
"Okay, now that that's over, let's watch the movie."
"Already," Helen shakes her head, handing over the bowl.
"What? I've got a lot to make up for."
"Yeah, I know. I barely see you anymore. When was the last time we did movie night?"
Lindsay shrugs. "I don't know. But you do realize you have only yourself to blame for this."
"I seem to remember a certain 'movie night' in which YOU told ME to go for it with Carter. You encouraged it. Now you have to take all that comes with."
"Ugh. I hate it when you're right," Helen groans, snatching the bowl from her.
"Well, I don't know if this will help, but -" Lindsay gets up and reaches for her purse. After retrieving a slip of paper, she sits back. "You remember that doctor I told you about?"
"This is from Carter."
Helen takes the paper and reads it as if its contents were destined to vanish. "Peter Morrison..." Turning her gaze to Lindsay, she begs for more. "Details?"
"Why don't you ask him? He's expecting your call."
"You gotta give me something."
"He has light brown hair and blue eyes...he's tall and works out. Uh, he's thirty two, been divorced for two years...and he has a five year old daughter."
"A daughter, huh?"
"He's a good catch, Helen. Trust me."
"Yeah, sounds like it." Tapping the paper, she looks at the TV, Lindsay knows carelessly. "So, are we gonna watch it or what?"
Giggling, Helen sets the popcorn on the table and starts for her room. Before she makes it too far, though, she stops and pulls Lindsay in for a quick hug. "Thanks, babe."
"Thank you so much, Mr. Lyon." Lindsay grins brightly, shaking his hand.
"No - thank you, Ms. Dole." The older man nods at her and then at the others before making his way toward the front door. "We'll see you in New York."
"I told you it went well yesterday," Rebecca laughs as Lindsay leans back against the door, sighing.
"Okay, everyone back in the conference room."
Bobby smiles secretly to himself as he can hear the girls giggle along the way, knowing they were probably hugging as well. Eugene sees this and does the same, letting him know it was okay to celebrate, too. Soon, everyone is seated.
"This is obviously going to be very time consuming, as the trial is starting so soon. Settling is of course our goal."
"Well, what if we can't? It could take months," Ellenor points out.
"Lyon says we can run it pretty much the same as Ray. If that doesn't work, some of us will have to stay. But we'll cross that bridge if and when we get to it." Pausing, he continues his instruction. "We have to get up to speed fast. Lyon wants us there in three weeks to do some research and meet with the clients again. Lucy, book the flights and hotel rooms. What's everybody's schedule look like?"
"Everybody's fine except Rebecca."
"Yeah, I have that rape trial."
"Hiller. Even if it wasn't, there's no way to move it. We've postponed twice already."
"Okay. The rest of us are going. You too, Lucy."
"Who's trying the case?" Eugene asks him, curious as to why it hadn't been addressed.
Bobby glances at Lindsay, then back at Eugene. "Lindsay will first chair. I"ll second." Lindsay's eyes grow wide. "Any objections?"
Satisfied with his decision, the table remains silent. "Meeting's over, then."
Bobby isn't in his office thirty seconds when someone knocks on his door. Before he can say anything, Lindsay walks in, clicking the door behind her.
"No - Yes - I don't know."
"Well, I'm glad you cleared that up."
Lindsay laughs. "Sorry." Taking a deep breath, she moves in front of him. "You making me first chair..."
"What about it?"
"Was it - was it because of ... you know ..."
"Of course not," he reassures her.
"It's not the first time, I suppose..."
"No, it's not. I picked you because I know you're right for the job. And yes, I know it's important to you, but I also know that'll only make you better. Not to mention the fact that Lyon contacted you and obviously took a liking to you. Now, is that enough or do you need more?"
"That'll do," she mumbles, embarrassed.
Clearing her throat, she walks over to the door. With a hand poised on the knob, she scrapes her teeth over her lip, looking down. Turning, she allows her emotions to run through. Jumping into his arms, she whispers. "Thank you, Bobby."
Smiling, he closes his eyes. "You're welcome, Lindsay..."
"What do you think?" Lindsay asks Helen, holding up her new red dress.
"Oh, it's beautiful. Carter's gonna love it."
"You think so?"
"Definitely. It puts mine to shame."
"It does not," Lindsay sighs. "You look great."
"I sure hope so. This is the first time I've ever spent more on a dress than on shoes."
"Well, this is the only date you've traveled out-of-state for. A first date at that."
"You'll knock Peter off his feet."
Helen looks herself up and down in the mirror and nods. "Yeah..."
"So you really like him, huh?"
"Yeah, I do. We've talked on the phone and now we just met and - there's something there...sparks.." Helen drifts off for a moment. "Thank you."
"For introducing us. For bringing me here with you. For bringing him here."
"Hey, that was all Carter."
"No..." she shakes her head. "I think you had a hand in it."
"AH so what if I did. What are best friends for?"
"I wanna do something for you."
"Okay...there is something..."
"Stop yapping and help me with my hair. We've gotta be in the lobby in twenty minutes!"
"Ugh - sit down," Helen snaps, pushing her down onto the chair.
Lindsay smiles as Helen begins taking the rollers out of her hair. Bending her arm, she touches the hand Helen has near her shoulder. They stare at each other in the mirror. "Helen?"
"I'm happy for you..."
Squeezing her hand a bit, she smiles. "Thanks, Linds..."
The limo comes to a halt in front of The Blue Palm, twenty minutes later than scheduled. Lindsay is in a panic as she knows both her parents are alone at their table, probably on a fast track to being escorted out. Carter has her arm, but she is pulling him along as the entrance seems a mile away.
"Honey, are you okay?"
"Mmm, fine. Just hungry."
Carter gives them their reservation and Lindsay takes up the same pace as the group is led to their table. Lindsay freezes when she sees her father and his fiancé seated, waiting for them.
"That's not your mother - is it?"
"No, Carter, it's not," Lindsay moans, suddenly feeling sick.
"Lindsay, sweetheart," her father stands, hugging her.
"Hi Daddy," she says loud enough for everyone to hear, then lowers her tone. "What's going on? Where's Mom?"
"She's late, too."
"Dad, I thought we talked about this..." Lindsay sighs, looking him in the eye.
"I know, but she wanted to be here. I wanted her here. And I think you do, too. Or am I wrong?"
"No," she smiles. "I'm glad you're here. Both of you."
Wendy stands and they hug.
"Hey, Mr. Dole."
"Carter," he chuckles, shaking his hand. "It's been a long time, son. How have you been?"
"About the same. These your folks?"
"Hi, Dale Bryant. Pleasure." They shake hands and he gestures toward his wife. "And this is Lisa."
"Wonderful to meet you, Mr. Dole."
"Please, call me Jim." Taking her hand, he smiles. "This is my fiancé, Wendy."
"Hi," a very shy Wendy blushes.
"Hello," Dale greets her warmly. "Lindsay, dear, I thought your mother was coming."
"Uh, she should be along soon. Never can get the time right."
"Better late than never, darling."
Just like she wanted, her mother makes a grand entrance, the whole crew turning to face her. Lindsay hugs her, then takes her seat beside Helen. The introductions continue, but Lindsay rests uneasy in a fog, yearning for the first glass of wine. It was going to be a loooong night.
Midway through the meal, the air has become stiff as Lindsay's mother has made it a point to torture her father and his "bimbo" since the second she joined them. Insults kept coming and got worse as she ordered drink after drink. Lindsay had been embarrassed before, but nothing compared to this. She wanted so badly to slam her head on the table and sob. What had she done?
Strike number three comes and Lindsay stands. "Excuse me. Mother, could I talk to you for a minute?"
Lindsay stalks into the ladies room, her mother close behind. Bracing herself on the counter, she gathers up the courage to say what she's wanted to for years.
"What is the matter with you?"
"What do you mean?" Lindsay glares at her. "Oh, you mean your father. It's silly the things we do, angel. But that's what divorce does."
"No - divorce is supposed to END the fighting. And WE? Give me a break! It was all you in there, Mom, and you know it."
"I also know that my daughter promised me that she would keep her father's trash out of this gathering."
"So, what, you're punishing me?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Lindsay."
"How could you do this?! You KNEW how important this was to me. You KNEW it and you're using it to get back at Dad."
"And how exactly am I doing that?"
"You don't think I know how you operate? It's been years! You'll ruin this entire night for everyone, then twist it around and lay the blame on Dad."
"You always have to take his side, don't you? Remember, he left ME."
"Get over it, Mom! Find someone else! Dad did!"
"Oh, and what a prize he has," she bats her eye lashes, sarcastically.
"She IS a prize. You know why? Because they love each other. She makes him happy."
"She's a -"
"Don't. Don't you dare say another thing about her. She is kind, decent and I would rather have her at that table than -"
"Lindsay," Helen walks in, touching her shoulder. "Calm down."
"You'd rather have her than me?!"
"That's not what I was going to say. I just -" Tears fill her eyes. "I just needed you to act like my mother for one night. Not Jimmy Dole's ex. Can't you understand that?"
Her mother's face softens and she nods. "Yes. And I'm sorry...it's just...you build your whole life and dreams around one person...and suddenly they're gone. It's hard to start over. And sometimes it helps to think the pain can be eased by lashing out...even if that means hurting innocent people. Selfish, I know."
They hug. "So, is it okay if I go back in there with you? I promise, I'll be good."
"Yeah. I think The Bryants would like to meet Grace Dole."
"I think so, too," Helen chimes.
Both girls take an arm, walking out with Grace. Once they reach the table, she apologizes for her behavior. Everyone seated welcomes her back, even her red-headed 'enemy'.
"Hey, where'd Dad and Carter go?" Lindsay asks, instantly noticing that they're gone.
"Men's room," Peter informs her, helping Helen with her chair.
"And you didn't go, too?" Helen teases.
"No we leave that to you ladies," Mr. Bryant winks.
Carter and Jim rejoin the table as they laugh, looking curious as to how the mood changed.
"What's going on here? What'd we miss?"
"Nothing, Carter. We're just starting to enjoy ourselves a little more," Grace says, directing her eyes to her ex husband pointedly.
"Well, I think that calls for a toast," Jim replies, taking his seat.
"Absolutely," Carter agrees, putting an arm around Lindsay.
All the glasses are raised, clinking together upon the simple word 'cheers'.
"So Lindsay, tell us about being a lawyer," Mr. Bryant suggests, taking a sip of his water.
"Uh - Helen?" Lindsay laughs, attempting to shift the spotlight to her friend.
"Don't even get me started," she groans.
"You're a lawyer, too?"
"A.D.A," she nods.
"And Lindsay's a defense attorney?"
"And you're roommates?" he chuckles. "Wow. That's something. You girls oppose each other allot?"
"Yeah," Lindsay answers. "But we try not to bring work home."
"Try," Helen animates, causing another group laugh. "What to do to get her to switch sides?"
"Any chance of that?" Peter asks.
"I don't think so. It's rough sometimes, but I love my job. Someone once told me that it's the innocent clients that make it worth it. Make you feel good enough to take another and another."
"What about civil cases?" Mrs. Bryant speaks up.
"They're threaded in. Our firm doesn't do big ones too often, but when we do it's great. We're actually coming here to do one soon. A tobacco case."
"Yeah, and it's gonna take you away from me," Carter pouts, kissing her forehead.
"Only for a little while," she soothes him.
"Carter told us about that wedding planner case."
Lindsay smiles at Mrs. Bryant. "Yeah, that was interesting..."
"Interesting? You soaked a million bucks out of that couple for telling that lady what they had every right to!" Helen says, appalled.
"Not HER, Helen - the world. And that poor woman was struggling. They had NO right to do what they did. I saw those documents!"
"And there it is," Mr. Bryant, chuckles. Lindsay and Helen shake their heads as they whole table laughs.
"Heeey, when's dessert gonna be here? Didn't we order like thirty minutes ago?"
"I don't think it's been that long," Lindsay laughs as he studies his watch.
"Yeah, what's the rush anyway?"
Carter looks at Helen. "No rush."
"Why are you acting weird?"
"I'm not acting weird, Helen."
"You are actually acting kind of weird, son," Mr. Bryant says.
Sighing, Carter rolls his eyes, rubbing his temple. "AH -"
"Yes, the dessert's here, so you can breathe now."
"Helen," Lindsay shoots her a look of warning.
The waiter passes out the dishes, a variety of sweets soon atop the table. Lindsay's stands out, though, as it is the only one with a silver lid.
"Is this the special or something?"
"They don't do specials on desserts, honey," Grace says.
"Oh well," Lindsay shrugs, grabbing the handle. As she lifts it, her mouth drops open. "Oh - my God."
"OH MY GOD!" Helen screeches, as if it was her cake that had been replaced with a ring box.
Now, everyone in the restaurant seems to be looking at them as Carter gets down on one knee. Lindsay can't speak, and instead looks at him in shock.
"Lindsay, I love you. And even though we haven't been back in each other's lives very long, I know that my heart has and always will be with you. You are the woman that I envision in every aspect of my future. When I look into your eyes, I see you walking down the aisle toward me...I see kids...I see us old and gray sitting on a porch swing watching our grandchildren play. I know, just like when we were kids, that you are the only person for me. And I swear I will spend every day of my life making sure you are safe and loved and happy." Smiling through tears, he goes on. "Lindsay Suzanne Dole, will you marry me?"
Lindsay's hand has since covered her mouth, her shock only rising. There knelt this beautiful man before her, and she couldn't bring herself to move or speak. Breathing becomes almost impossible, and her sharp intakes turn into screams, burning her ears until she can't take anymore. Digging her heels into the carpet, she jumps from her seat, running as fast as she can out the door. Her hand waves desperately as she sobs, the cabs passing her by one after the other.
"Go away, Helen," she yells, eying a nearing taxi.
"Are you crazy?! What's wrong?"
"Just leave me alone, okay?"
Helen can only watch as Lindsay scrambles into the car, slamming the door shut and ordering the driver to take off before she can get in. Luck would have it, though, as another cab stops. She was right behind her.
A disheveled Lindsay rushes down the hallway of her hotel room floor, plastic card key in hand. Once she finds her number, she slides the card in the slot again and again, fumbling with the door handle. 'Dammit!' she thinks. 'What ever happened to regular keys?' Finally, the blasted thing opens and she slams it shut, turning every available lock before turning to see a sight that made her want to cry even more.
Candles are the light of the room, standing tall and thin, colored white and filling the room with a heavenly scent. Red rose petals are scattered over the bedding...a long, delicate, silky nightgown of pearl lying over a nearby chair. It was perfectly stunning...like a dream...only she was alone...and probably has lost him forever.
"Lindsay!" Helen was back, now pounding on the door. "Let me in!"
"Nevermind, Helen, I'm fine."
"No, you're not fine! You just all but turned down Prince Charming! SOMETHING must be wrong and I wanna know what it is! Now, OPEN THE DAMNED -"
"Lindsay?" She now hears a calmer, yet fearful and sad voice through the door. "Baby, can I please come in?" Silence. "Lindsay, I need to see you."
The door squeaks open and both can see that she's been crying. Mascara has run down her cheeks and under her now red eyes. Her cheeks are flushed. Carter for once doesn't reach out to her, even when he wants to the most. Instead, he walks past her, listening as she forces Helen out.
"We need to be alone," Lindsay explains.
"Okay..." Helen sighs. "But if you need me -"
Closing the door, she carefully sits at the edge of the bed, watching as he stands at the window.
"It's beautiful," she comments, breaking the silence.
"Hmm," he laughs a little, moving next to her. "This was uh...what I had in mind for our first time...I thought tonight would be perfect to do this..." Carter sighs. "On the other hand..."
"I'm sorry...you just...surprised me..."
"That's not it, though, Lindsay," he shakes his head. "What are you so afraid of?"
"I'm not afraid," she lies, looking down.
"YES, you are." Throwing his hands up in the air, he looks clueless. "It can't be me. I've think I've made it very clear that I want you. That I love you."
"You have," she insists.
"Then what is it?"
"Jesus, Carter! You should know the answer to that!" Lindsay hisses, standing up. "You were there tonight."
"What?" Carter thinks a minute. "Your parents?"
"What? You can't take the honesty? I don't want to end up like that. I don't want to be alone and bitter and unable to pick up the pieces one day."
"Lindsay, you are NOT your mother."
"Maybe not, but really - why do it if all it does is hurt?"
"Is that what you think? Look at my parents. Look at your father and Wendy. They aren't hurting, are they? They're happy! We're happy!" Lindsay tries to walk away, but he grabs her arm, turning her back to him. "Lindsay, things go wrong. You can't change them. But you can't let what happened to your parents ruin the rest of your life!"
Dropping back onto the bed, she whispers. "I don't want it to..."
Carter kneels down in front of her. "Do you love me?"
"Then share your life with me...marry me..."
Caressing his cheeks, she asks, "You still want to marry me? Even after -"
He doesn't answer her with words, instead leaning up to give her the most passionate kiss he can muster.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'..." They laugh. Pausing a moment, she searches his eyes. "Yes."
"Yes! I'll marry you, Carter..."
They kiss, holding each other. It's soon, though, that they realize they're not alone, when 'whispers' can be heard outside the door. Teaming up, they go over to the door and yank it open, Helen stumbling forward onto their feet. The remainder of their party is crowded behind her, attempting to look as innocent as they possibly can.
"I tried to keep them away, honest!"
"Sure, Helen. I'm sure you were listening through the door and feeding it all to them...am I right?"
Helen cracks a smile. "You're engaged!"
"Yes," Carter pulls Lindsay close, smiling proudly. "We are."
"Uh - not quite," Lindsay's dad extends his hand. "She needs this first."
"Right," Carter agrees, taking the box from him. "Thanks, sir." Opening the box, he takes the ring out and slides it onto her finger. "Now, we're engaged."
Lindsay admires it. "Oh Carter, it's so beautiful..."
"It was my grandmother's..."
"I love it."
"I love you."
"I love you, too..."
This kiss is sweet as Lindsay giggles against his lips...amused by the coos that follow. Carter grunts and takes hold of Lindsay and the door. Swinging it closed, he waves.
Monday morning, Lindsay comes into work, sparkling once again due to another amazing weekend.
"Hi Lucy," she grins. "Any messages from Friday?"
"Oh, no..." Lucy giggles, noticing the glitter in her eyes.
"What?" Lindsay asks, bringing her hands to her face instinctively. "Do I -"
"OH MY GOD!!!"
Its like a replay of the Lindsay incident went everyone runs up to them.
"What now Lindsay?"
"Uh, it's not Lindsay, Bobby - it's Lucy," Ellenor corrects him.
"Look at this!" Lucy grabs Lindsay's hand, obviously referring to the ring.
"What?" Ellenor moves closer to them so she can see. "WOW!"
By this time, heads are knocking each other as they all try to squeeze in. Bobby looks, and the color drains from his face. It was a feeling like no other...like he'd taken a hard punch in the gut. He couldn't believe it. Lindsay sees this and tries to heal him with her eyes. But failure is returned, and her sorrow deepens as he quietly disappears into his office. Maybe she should go to him...but what was the point? What was there to say? It was a lose, lose situation.
How did this happen? Six people - three rooms, and who ends up in his? Lindsay! Damn it! And damn Lucy for not getting more rooms! Okay, so, he told her to get three. But Lindsay?! Of all people?! Stupid game. How the hell was he supposed to do this? And ONE bed?! Really! What had he done to deserve this? It was hard enough to be with her at work everyday, knowing that she was out of his reach forever - now she's here with him, in his room - in the SHOWER no less! And those so called friends - like Rebecca - who fed him some crap about fate upon refusing to switch rooms. They had some nerve. Heads up for an impossible situation.
This really sucked. It sucked BAD. Bobby?! Of all people?! This wasn't good. Not at all. Things would be too weird. She could see it plain as day: she'd get out of the shower, and he'd look at her all uncomfortable. And then, he'd offer to sleep on the floor or in the chair or in the bathtub or some other nonsense and she'd be nice and say 'we can do this', which they would, and then neither of them would sleep, and they have a really big meeting tomorrow! It was, after all, a total, one hundred percent, impossible situation.
Okay. So, it wasn't impossible. Sleeping pills did do wonders. He freaked a little when he woke up with Lindsay's arm draped over his chest, but it could have been worse. The meeting with the clients went well. Things always got done when they worked as a team. And Lindsay was brilliant. Stole the show. Was it possible to love her more?
They did it. They made it through the so-called impossible situation. Okay, it was only a day into it, but she's sure they can keep it straight. Right. Who was she kidding? This is the person that found his snoring adorable. The woman who stayed up half the night watching him, studying him...doing what exactly? Wondering? Wishing? Was it possible to love two people?
"What are you reading?" Bobby inquires, emerging from the bathroom.
Lindsay looks up from her place in bed. "The Runaway Jury."
"John Grisham? I thought you read romance novels?"
"Well, I do, but change is always good. I've read some of his books before."
"Yeah, he's pretty amazing."
Bobby sits down in the chair, folding his hands in his lap as things become awkward again. Lindsay gives him a funny look. "Bobby, you don't have to -"
She stops when the phone rings. "Hello? ... Hey, Lucy. ... The girls? ... Yeah, that sounds good ... I'll be down in fifteen minutes ... bye."
"Lucy and Ellenor want to go out for ice cream...look at a few shops and stuff."
"I'm gonna go change," Lindsay says, grabbing some clothes before moving into the bathroom.
"What did you buy - the store?" Bobby teases as Lindsay hurdles inside, bags hanging on her as if she were a rack of some kind.
"Funny," she wrinkles her nose, narrowing her eyes at him as he helps her.
"It's not everyday that you come to New York I guess."
"Exactly," she nods. Holding up a finger, she digs into one of the bags. "I got you something."
"Yeah...it's nothing special..." Lindsay tells him, setting the stuff down so she can get into it easier. "AH - here we go," she pulls out a blue sweater, and hands it to him.
"Hey, this is great. Thanks."
"Well, when I saw it...I..." she holds it up to his chest. "Yeah. I was right."
"It does bring out your eyes..."
They share a look, smiling fondly. "Kind of like the necklace does for you..."
Lindsay touches it, fiddling with it like she does a thousand times a day. "You think so?"
"Thank you. I mean, I know I've said it before, but...what you did, Bobby...sometimes...I have to wonder why..."
Touching her cheek, he swallows. "You know why..."
He couldn't say it again. He couldn't take the rejection he knew would follow. Instead, he changes the subject. "It's late."
"Yeah...I should probably get out of these clothes..."
Two years earlier, he could have made something out of that statement. But today...today all he can do is watch her walk away.
The thunder rolls, shaking the windows with every pulse. The sky lights up and the invisible rain appears, running in sheets rapidly, hard and fiercely against the howling winds. Lindsay lies stiffly on her back, wide awake, the storm robbing her of sleep. The body beside her appears to be doing just that, until it turns to face her.
"Go back to sleep."
"Mmmm...what time is it?"
"How long has it been?"
"A little over an hour. I think it's gonna stop soon, though." Just as she says it, the loudest strike of night hits and she groans. "Or not..." He laughs. "Why did you wake up? You always sleep like a baby during these things."
"Yeah...I guess something else woke me up..."
"Don't know...but I might as well stay awake now. Keep you company..."
"You don't have to..."
"I want to..." Looking around for the remote, he asks. "You check the TV?"
"Figures," he growls, resting on his elbow, facing her.
"You know we used to not have any problem finding something to do..."
"Are you making a proposition Ms. Dole?" Bobby jokes, surprising her a little.
"What do you have in mind?"
"Or we could just lay here..."
"There's always that..."
Lindsay sighs, rolling onto her side, grasping her pillow. The corners of Bobby's mouth have curved up and his eyes look to her, but she knows he's not all here.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Nothing," he fibs, unliking the fact that he'd been caught.
"Tell me," she whines, poking him in the chest.
"Tell me," she repeats, tickling him.
"No...hey..." They laugh as she keeps on and he tries to stop her. "Knock it off!"
"Not a chance!" Lindsay struggles, bubbling over with giggles as he takes hold of both of her wrists, pinning her down. "Oh no!"
Bobby's laughter subsides as he looks down at her, hair fanned out on the mattress...eyes dazzling even in the darkness. In that moment, his memory of the past seemed to be coming to life. The storm. The time. The playfulness. Their fingers thread and he knows that she knows exactly what he was thinking of: their first kiss.
"What are we doing?" He husks, running his thumb over her quivering bottom lip.
"I don't know..." She closes her lips, then her eyes. "I don't know..."
When they reopen, clouds of desire take away their shine, but leave him breathless. Memories of that night continue to flash in his mind...pictures of perfection...of the beginning of a love story. Thought doesn't go into it as Bobby's lips meet hers. The soft touch shakes her...the feelings rushing through her until right and wrong become strangers to her world. One hand still joined with his, she takes the other and runs it up his chest and to his cheek. A tear dares to mark her face, but his mouth catches it, trailing softly to her lips.
The cries of her heart flood her ears as he kisses her, and she allows them to guide her. Shifting her hand to the back of his neck, she pulls him closer and kisses him back. Moans leak out in-between kisses as their passion escalates to a fever pitch. All she could think of was how good it felt to be Bobby's arms again...the power of his actions seemingly erasing the truth that she belonged to someone else. Lost and caught up, she shivers as he slowly inches toward the next level...his fingers forming a hold on the hem of her nightshirt, taking the silky material up with them...
To be continued...
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