Dedicated to Mr. Jeffrey Dean Morgan
- For inspiring me to write the story in the first place.
Doctor Edward Marcase left the airport with a mixed feeling of fulfillment and utter restlessness. Cassian had sent him to Puerto Rico to help out on an investigation regarding the death of two American doctors who had been on some kind of fieldtrip, collecting samples of deadly diseases.
His job had been to gather all the samples in a safe manner, getting them ready for transport home and the job had been so easy he hadn't even broken a sweat.
And now he was back home and the feeling of fulfillment disappeared as soon as he got out into the open. It was raining, actually, it was poring down and the Nations capital was showing itself from its worst side.
As he walked to his car he couldn't quite figure out what had changed about it. Then suddenly he knew. When he'd parked the Caddy there eight days ago, he had left the top down, in blind faith to the Washington summertime weather. Now the top was up. When he leaned down and looked in through the passenger-side window, Michael smiled at him.
"What are you doing here?" he asked as he got in.
Michael smiled again.
"I figured you might need some cheering up, coming home to this."
"And you have taken it upon your shoulders to do so?"
looked at Michael:
"I appreciate it, but all I wanna do, is go home and go to bed."
Michael looked at him.
"No way. This is the first time I've ever heard you talk about bed after a fieldtrip. You really need some R&R. Besides, I got the wheel, I call the shots."
As Michael started the car, Edward leaned back in the seat. No point in arguing he thought. And somewhere deep down he didn't really want to anyway.
Michael had brought Edward to a small club he had only recently discovered himself. The guests were a mix of the people who worked in the capital, as well as lived there, lawyers, lobbyists, doctors, nurses and secretaries. Every group was represented which was rare in Washington.
had gotten them a couple of seats in a booth near a small stage. When
he looked at his watch for the third time, Edward leaned over to him:
"Is there somewhere else you have to be?"
Michael shook his head.
"No, I'm quite sure I'm in the right place. But she's not here."
"She? She who?"
Edward was about to get up saying something to Michael but the sound of his voice drowned in a sudden applause from the audience, followed by the soft sound from an old piano. Edward sat back down and turned his head to look at the stage.
His eyes met the eyes of a young woman. She was sitting on a stool next to the piano; in her hands she had a microphone. Edward couldn't take his eyes of her. She had dark-blond hair and the curls surrounded her face like a frame. It was obvious she liked colors. Her dress was red and the shawl over her shoulders was in a changing orange color. When she started singing, Edward couldn't do anything but let her sweep him of his feet. Michael smiled when he saw the anticipated effect reach Edwards face. He'd been right. She was exactly his type.
The performance lasted an hour then the young woman took a bow and walked from the stage to the bar. As far as Edward could see, the bartender poured her a glass of water.
Edward didn't even hear Michaels excuse, he didn't react until he got up.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Wait and see."
Michael was even more secretive than usual.
At first Edward thought Michael was just getting them another drink, but when he stopped to talk to the singer, he began to realize what was going on. And when Michael pointed towards him and the woman turned to follow his finger, Edward was actually able to mount a smile.
Then they started walking to the table and Edwards' heart froze.
"Edward, I'd like you to meet Danielle Campbell. Danielle, meet my friend Edward Marcase."
She stretched out her hand and he shook it.
"It's a pleasure to meet you doctor Marcase. Michael's told me all about you."
Edward stared at her.
"You know Michael?"
"It's not a long-term friendship if that's what you mean. We met here a week ago."
Edward looked at Michael with a smile.
"That sounds terribly interesting."
Danielle looked from Edward to Michael and back again.
"Don't you have somewhere to be?" Edward said and looked at Michael.
After a second's hesitance, he nodded.
"Of course I do."
He turned to Danielle.
"I'll see you soon."
Then he left.
Edward bid Danielle to sit down.
"Sorry about that," he said:
"It was kind of a private joke."
"I thought so."
They sat for a moment in silence. Edward spent the seconds absorbing every detail of her face.
"What?" she suddenly said and Edwards' eyes focused on hers immediately.
sorry," he said and smiled:
"I'm just trying to figure out why Michael suddenly felt an urge to throw a woman into my lap?"
Danielles smile faded.
"This was obviously a mistake. Goodbye doctor Marcase."
She was about to get up when Edward put his hand on hers.
"Would you let me finish? I was just about to compliment Michael on his great taste."
Danielle sat back down.
"You're not just saying that to avoid me making a scene?"
"I guess Michael failed to tell you that I'm a sucker for scenes. In fact, I'm quite good at creating scenes myself."
Now it was Danielle's turn to laugh.
For a second she just looked at him, smiling.
"Now what?" she asked.
Edward reached into his pocket and pulled out a card and a pen. While writing he said:
"To tell you the truth, all I can think of right now, is getting some sleep. I haven't slept in over 36 hours. But - I would like to see you again."
He looked her into the eyes, then he handed her the card.
"Meet me at this place tomorrow. We'll have dinner and see what happens, okay?"
"Okay," she whispered.
As he got up and put on his jacket, Edward looked at her again.
"Once again, I'm sorry, but I do need some sleep."
"It's okay. I'll see you tomorrow night."
Edward stood hesitant for one more minute, but when she smiled back at him, he finally found the strength, the courage or whatever, to leave the club. Her smile told him that she would surely turn up tomorrow. He was going to see her again.
Danielle walked home from the club that evening. It wasn't something she usually did, she had quite a long way home, but tonight she felt like she was floating on a cloud.
He was really nice.
A Yellow cab pulled up to the curve and Danielle got out. She paid the cabdriver and turned around. El Grande was the only Mexican restaurant in Washington that was actually run by Mexicans. She remembered an article she had read in the newspaper about the family business that employed three generations of immigrants. She stepped inside where she was received with a smile from a forty-something Mexican man.
"Good evening senorita, do you have reservations?"
not sure," Danielle answered:
"I'm supposed to meet someone here."
Her eyes searched the restaurant. She froze when her eyes met Edwards across the room. The waiter followed her glance and smiled.
"Oh, you're meeting Doctor Marcase. He is a very lucky man."
He smiled at her.
"Follow me please."
She followed him to the table where Edward got up to greet her.
"Hi," he said.
Somehow it was all he could think of to say. He noticed that she was dressed in red again, this time a darker red in a tight fitting long dress with long sleeves. She didn't wear any jewelry and still she outshined every woman in the restaurant. At least Edward thought she did.
He held her chair as she sat down and then he sat down opposite her. The waiter looked at them.
"What would you like to drink?"
Edward looked at Danielle.
"What are you drinking?"
"Icewater would be fine."
Edward looked at the waiter.
"Icewater for the lady and I'll have a beer."
"Any particular brand senor?"
Edward shook his head.
"Just make sure it's Mexican."
The waiter left them.
Edward looked at Danielle.
"Icewater huh? For the voice?"
"I just drink a lot of water."
She looked at Edward for a second.
"Michael told me you're a doctor. What's your area of expertise?"
For a second or two, Edward thought about lying. He had done it before to avoid scaring the attractive women away. But he didn't want to lie to Danielle. He wanted to be able to tell her everything.
"I'm a virologist," he suddenly said.
Danielle looked at him very calm. There was no air of fear in her eyes.
"Really? That means you work with viruses, right?"
then a little white lie slipped its way into the conversation:
"But it's mostly the flu virus I have been working with."
He smiled at her.
"Enough about me. What about you? Have you always been a singer?"
To Edwards' surprise she shook her head.
"Actually I've only been a singer for 10 days. I quit my other job two weeks ago."
"What did you do in this other job?"
"I managed a medical archive for a big, private corporation."
"A medical archive? Then our lines of work were almost related. Why did you quit?"
"I got tired of all the secrecy concerning the archive. I wasn't even allowed to know what were in the files."
"Scientific research notes no doubt."
They sat in silence for a moment.
"What's your educational background? Were you trained as a secretary?"
Danielle shook her head.
She looked at him.
"I'm not sure I want to tell you. You'll laugh."
Edward sent her his most winning smile.
"Me, laugh? Never."
She hesitated for a second, then she looked straight at him.
"I'm a librarian."
She couldn't quite figure out what reaction she saw in Edwards' face, then he smiled a smile that brought her to her knees.
sorry," he laughed:
"I know I promised."
He looked at her.
"It's just that I can't see you as a librarian. To me librarians are middle-aged women with thick glasses and hair pulled back into tight buns."
Danielle leaned forward.
"I was actually accepted at school to change that perception. They didn't even look at my high school scores."
She smiled and Edward smiled back.
"That was very good. You probably heard my argument before then?"
she said, still smiling:
"Maybe it's of consolation to you to know that I've always started a discussion about it. Always until now that is."
"Well, I'm honored. Does it mean something?"
"It means you're the first person not to make me furious by making that remark."
Edward smiled. The evening seemed destined to go well. As far as he could see, nothing could go wrong.
While they ate their dinner, they talked about family. Edward learned that Danielle's parents had been killed in a car crash when she was 18. She had no family left, except for an uncle in Canada, whom she never spoke to. Edward told her that his parents were dead as well, but he left out the Ebola part. No reason to go into that now. He wanted to see how the evening went before he went off the deep end and told her everything.
Then they talked about their homes. Danielle lived downtown in a small studio apartment, while Edward lived in the industrial area in an abandoned warehouse turned apartment building. They both lived alone.
When they started talking about Washington, it occurred to Edward that they went to many of the same places. The same supermarkets, clubs, clothes stores and so on. He couldn't believe that they hadn't met before. Not until Michael by coincidence came into a club and saw what he meant was the woman of Edwards' dreams.
He was right.
Edward couldn't help, while looking at Danielle, to wonder what it would be like to kiss her, to hold her in his arms. His dreams were so intense that he didn't even hear what Danielle said. Then he realized that her lips were moving.
"What?" he said while trying to shake the fantasies.
"I asked if you wanted to leave. It's a beautiful night outside and it's a shame to let it go to waste."
"Let me just get the check, then I'll drive you home."
Edward was behind the wheel of his cream-colored Cadillac. He had the top down; the cool wind caressed his face and the stars shone down on him. And Danielle was sitting beside him.
They had parked the car at Capitol, and were just sitting there, watching the moon and the stars. Danielle had scooted over, she had her head on his shoulder and he had his arm around her.
It was a warm night. Not uncomfortable, but just right. They sat there in silence for a long time, none of them wanted to spoil the moment by saying something. Finally, Danielle sighed deeply.
"It's so beautiful here. I can't believe I've never done this before."
Edward looked at her.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that I would have been here every night, had I known about the view from here. I mean, you can see as many stars from here as you can out in the countryside."
She heard Edward laugh and raised her head to look at him.
"What are you laughing about?"
"The view from here is temporary. Someone knocked out all the bulbs in the streetlights yesterday. It was on the front page this morning."
"Then I'm glad you read your morning paper. I wouldn't have missed this for the world."
She leaned her head back against his shoulder.
"This is nice," she whispered.
"I thought we had that covered already," Edward replied.
Danielle hit him lovingly on the chest.
"Not the sky. Us, here, together."
She was about to move her hand from his chest when Edward grabbed it and held on. She turned her head to look at him, but before she could utter a word, Edwards' lips touched hers. It was a brief kiss and still it took her breath away. She looked at him and there must have been something in her eyes that Edward couldn't quite read, because he started apologizing.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have…"
Danielle stopped him by pressing a finger against his lips.
"Don't say anything."
Edward looked puzzled.
Then Danielle leaned forward and pressed her lips against his and he understood. He put his arms around her waist and felt her fingers caressing his hair. The kiss got deeper and more heartfelt and they cling to each other as if they feared the other would disappear if they let go. Then Edward finally let go of her lips and looked at her.
"I think I better drive you home now."
"Really?" Danielle said teasingly.
"Really," Edward established.
He knew that if he didn't take Danielle home right now, something would happen. Well, not exactly something. The thing. He knew exactly what would happen and he didn't want to rush things. This wasn't one of his usual conquests. At least he didn't want it to be. He wanted the time to explore if this could go as far as he hoped it could. As he wished it could.
Edward parked the Caddy outside Danielles building, got out, walked around the car and held the door for Danielle as a true gentleman. She smiled at him when he followed her to the front door.
"This is actually quite nice too. Do you want to come up for a minute?"
Edward shook his head.
"Better not. I have a feeling that if I come with you now, I won't be able to make myself leave."
Danielle put her arms around his waist.
"Would that be so bad?" she asked.
Edward put his arms around her shoulders and hugged her.
"In my book, it would be."
Danielle had her head against his chest.
"What do you mean?"
"I want this to take the time it'll take, whatever that means."
Danielle raised her head and looked at him.
"I know what that means and I agree."
Edward bent down and kissed her gently, then he let go of her.
"Dinner tomorrow?" he asked.
"It can't be dinner, I have to work tomorrow night. How about lunch?"
"That sounds great. We could take a ride out of town."
"If you bring the car, I'll bring the food, okay?"
"I'll pick you up at noon tomorrow."
He got in the car.
Danielle stayed on the stairs until the Caddy was out of sight. This was almost too good to be true.
was in the shower the next morning when the phone rang. When she came
running into the living room in her kimono, she heard the beep
indicating that someone had just finished leaving a message on the
machine. She pressed the play button as she sat down. The message was
"Hi, it's Edward. I'm sorry I have to cancel our lunch today, but I have been called to work immediately. I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I'll call you as soon as I come home again. I'll see you. Bye."
Danielle leaned back in the sofa and stared at the phone. No lunch. No Edward. Hopefully he'd be home soon. She didn't know how she was going to make it without him. She had caught a bad case of love.
A week passed with no notable changes. Nothing out of the ordinary. Danielle did some extra performances at the club, she told the owner it was for the money, but it was really to help her pass the time until Edward came home again.
When she came home on the seventh night the light on the answering machine was blinking. She hurried to the phone and pressed play.
"Hi, it's Edward. You know, the nice guy you got set up with. Oh well, you've probably forgotten all about me after all this time. I just got back from work and I'm beat. I have barely slept in 72 hours, so if you don't mind, I think I'll get some sleep before I see you. Otherwise I might scare you off. I'll call you tomorrow afternoon. Hope you'll be home then. Goodnight."
Danielle smiled to herself. Edward was back – and he wanted to see her again.
Danielle tossed and turned in her sleep. She was having a nightmare, the same she'd had every night, the past three weeks. A blue Mercedes with dark windows was following her wherever she went.
She woke up, covered in sweat. The clock said 3.43. It was pitch-dark outside. She got out of bed, reached out to turn on the light and froze. No lights, a voice in her head said. In the dark she walked across the floor and, hidden behind the curtain, looked out the window. Across the street, a car was parked. A blue Mercedes with dark windows. She took a step back and walked into a table. She turned and saw the phone. A thought made her pick it up and dial 911. Just before the connection was established, there was a small, barely noticeable click on the line. The sound made Danielle hang up, just as she got through.
Someone was listening. She knew they were.