Chapter 31

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Sam tugged her blouse loose from her trousers and unbuttoned it, letting it fall to the floor uncaring. She moved to unfasten the clasp on her trousers when her cell phone rang. She sighed heavily and walked over to her nightstand and without bothering to check the caller I.D. she hit the 'Talk' button and answered, "Spade."

The first sound she registered was loud music and glasses clinking before the familiar voice responded, "Hi, it's me. Can I come over?"

Sam hesitated for a beat, before softly answering, "Yes."

"I'll be there in half-an-hour." Martin simply said before ending the call.

Sam pressed the 'End' button on her phone and tossed it onto the bed. She had been anxious to talk to Martin but after the night she had she wasn't sure she was up for it. She was completely exhausted. She finished removing her pants and underwear as she headed to the bathroom to take a shower. She pulled her hair up in a French twist, secured it with a clip and stepped under the hot warm spray hoping that it would help rid her of the chill she felt right down to her bones.

Telling the Owens' that Jeremy was dead was incredibly difficult. They were both utterly devastated – just like any other parent would be but they had the added guilt knowing that their last moments with their only child were filled with contempt and denial. It was a draining experience.

She stepped out of the shower feeling a little bit warmer, toweled off and threw on a pair of trainers and a t-shirt before heading into the kitchen. She filled the tea kettle with water and placed it on the stove. She opened the cupboards, gathering items to make tea and began to formulate her thoughts on how to talk to Martin. She wanted him to understand that just because she didn't want marriage and kids it didn't mean that she didn't want a future with him.

There was a knock on the door and she walked slowly to go answer it, mentally psyching herself up as her stomach flip-flopped nervously. She turned the knob, pulled the door open and said with a smile, "Hi."

"Hey." Martin gave her a small smile.

"Come in." She stepped back allowing Martin to enter. He walked past her and into the living room when the kettle whistled.

"I'm making tea, would you like a cup?" Sam asked and Martin nodded his head.

They two of them headed to the kitchen and Martin leaned against the counter opposite Sam. Despite her air of casualness her hands were shaking as she grabbed another mug from the cupboard. She dropped a teabag into each of their cups, turned to look at Martin and asked, "So, Ken, do you want honey or sugar?"

"Ha. Ha. I'll take honey." Martin replied smiling.

"So, you're not fond of the doll jokes." Sam pulled out the plastic bear with the yellow cap hat. "I think it's kind of flattering."

"Of course you do. You get to be Barbie. She's an icon. I'm the anatomically incorrect boyfriend with plastic hair."

Sam gave a light laugh and finished making their tea, handed a cup to Martin and said, "So, shall we go to the living room?"

Martin stood up and followed Sam out. As they walked Martin gently asked, "How did it go with Jeremy's parents?"

"About as well as could be expected, they feel incredibly guilty and sad." Sam softly replied before asking, "How did it go at the Lounge?"

They both took a seat on the sofa as Martin replied, "Good. Paul and Mike are going to go see Adam tomorrow and tell him about Jeremy. They seem genuinely worried about him and want to become his support system."

"That's good." Sam said as she gripped her mug with both hands without taking a drink.

Martin lifted up his steaming mug and took a small sip as the two of them sat together in silence for a few moments. Sam saw him stick his tongue out and she knew he was concentrating on what he wanted to say. At last he softly asked, "Sam, what do you want?"

She considered his question and rather than over explain she opted for a simple, honest answer, "I want a relationship with you."

Martin looked at her and gave her a sad smile before he turned his focus down into his tea. "I mean….um, where do you see yourself in five years?"

"You sound like my high school guidance counselor." Martin set his jaw and looked up. Sam let out an exasperated sigh. She was in no mood for his evasive tactics so she said, "Martin, please stop posing these vague questions and just say what you want to say. We both know why we are sitting here."

Martin nodded slowly. "You're right, I'm sorry. I guess I just don't know how to talk about this."

Sam fiddled with the handle on her mug and gently said, "You know how I feel. Why don't you tell me what you want?"

Martin took a deep breath and began, "Whenever I imagined how my life would be in the future it was always the same: I was a father and a husband. I can't help it Sam, I want to get married and have kids. Get a dog. I want that damn white picket fence."

Sam was surprised by the determination in Martin's statement. She knew in her gut that when she told him how she felt it could very well ruin any chance she had with him. But she also knew she needed to tell him the truth, so she softly replied, "Martin, I just can't see myself living that kind of life."

"And I can't see myself not," Martin whispered. He stared into his cup and asked, "So where does that leave us?"

"Is that what you think it would have to be, an ultimatum?"

"No, that's just it. I know I don't want to have to force you to see it my way if it isn't the life you want but what is the point of us starting up again if we both want different things for the future. It isn't fair to either one of us." Martin put his cup down on the table and said, "I just can't afford to lose any more time hoping that one day you'll change your mind."

"So being with me is a waste of time?" Sam knew that wasn't what he meant but her sense of hurt and anger were rapidly taking over.

"No, never, but after everything that has happened in the last year I realize how important having family is and that tomorrow isn't guaranteed."

"So, your definition of family is a wife and two kids? Not all families are like that, Martin. What about those men from Rick's, Mike and Paul? Don't you consider them a family?"

"You're right, not all families are the same or even traditional. But it helps if both sides agree on what makes their family enough." Martin paused and licked his lips. "I know I am not going to change my mind and decide that I don't want kids. Do you know if you are going to change yours?"

"No." Sam replied as Martin turned and looked at her with sad eyes. Sam's throat tightened. "So that's it? There's no chance for us?"

Martin's looked at her with infinite sadness. He gently brushed an errant hair from her face as he leaned in and kissed her. Sam felt overwhelmed with his lips on hers. She moved his hands to hold his face as the kiss deepened. It was as if Martin put everything he had in his heart into that kiss and she never wanted it to end.

When he finally broke the kiss, he rested his forehead on hers and gently whispered, "I'm so sorry, Sam."

Sam looked at him in disbelief as Martin stood up and walked out of her apartment.

End Book III

To be continued in Book IV