Chapter 7

The sun was just beginning to rise when Danny heard the commotion at the other side of the camp. The gates were being opened and a vehicle was driving down the row of cabins. He had been awake for the last hour watching Kate as she slept in his arms. The last 36 hours had been perfect. They had talked and laughed and made love. They were finally the family that everyone assumed them to be. Last night, after they had picked up Grace from the McKinley's, they had played together with an old ball. He had chased Grace as she played keep away with him, shrieking in delight. Kate had joined in too, and soon the were all tumbling on the dusty ground.

It had been perfect. And it was all about to end.

"Kate," Danny whispered, stroking her cheek. "Wake up."

Sleepily she stretched her body against his, his desire for her igniting again, as she obviously knew from her impish smile. It was amazing to him that they had managed to stay platonic for so long. Once Kate knew the power she had over him she had no problem wielding it. Had she been this confident and seductive after the first time they made love over a year ago, Victoria was right, they would have another child by now despite his best intentions.

He kissed her forehead. "Stop that, it's not going to work."

She smiled, her eyes still closed. "Sure it will," her hand brushed down his chest.

"Temptress."

Kate leaned up to kiss him, but stopped halfway. "What's going on?" she asked, finally hearing the engine noise coming closer.

"We need to talk," Danny said, looking at her with incredibly sad eyes.

Fear filled Kate's eyes as she pulled away from Danny. "What's wrong?" she demanded. "Danny, what is it? What's wrong?" her voice rising in panic.

Before Danny could say anything, a loud fist pounded on their door, causing them to jump. "Mrs. Helmsford! It's time to go."

Shocked, Kate turned to look at Danny, her face horrified. "You didn't...!" she whispered as tears began to fill her eyes. "You...tell me you didn't.." She leaped out of bed.

"Kate!" Danny reached out, the confusion evident on his face. "What? What's wrong? I didn't...."

Clutching the sheet to her chest, Kate reached out and slapped him. Both of them froze, shocked by her actions. A red hand print slowly formed on Danny's cheek. Kate's hand covered her mouth, unable to believe what she had just done. Tears began to stream down her face.

"You told them," she whispered. "You...."

Danny shooked his head emphatically. "No, no. I didn't tell anyone," he reassured her, trying to take her into his arms as she fought against him weakly. "Your father hired some lawyer to find you. He came to the hanger. I didn't tell him anything. He already knew."

Kate kept shaking her head, whispering 'no, no, no,' as Danny pulled her into his arms, her tears wetting his chest.

"Mrs. Helmsford!" the voice called again.

"Mama! Dandy!" Grace called out, the fear obvious in her eyes. Danny, kissed Kate and went over to pick up Grace.

"It's okay Gracie," he told her. "Kate, you have to get dressed." Walking over to the door he opened it.

"Mr Walker," the lawyer bowed slightly. Danny nodded. "The time has come. We need to leave."

"Can you give us a couple minutes?" Danny asked.

"I'm not going," Kate called shakily from inside the room.

The man looked shrewdly at Danny. "You have not told her."

Danny leaned down to kiss Grace's head, she was trembling with fear and confusion. "No. I didn't know how...." he stopped himself. "Give us 10 minutes, okay?"

"Five, no more," the man replied.

"Fine," Danny said as he closed the door. Turning he saw that Kate was now sitting on the bed, her arms wrapped around her middle as she silently rocked back and forth, tears streaming from her face. "Kate, you have to get dressed," he told her again.

"You're not coming, are you?" she asked quietly.

He squatted down in front of her, Grace still clinging to him, her eyes wide and scared. "No, I'm not," he told her honestly.

"Then I'm not going."

"Kate..."

"No Danny!" she interrupted. "I'm not going without you. We're in this together. I'm not going."

Danny looked at her for a moment, trying to control the sadness that was breaking his heart. "Yes, you are," he said harshly. "Now get up and get dressed." He stood up and grabbed her dress from a peg on the wall and handed it to her. Turning away he began to dress Grace. She was so stunned by what was going on between her parents that she didn't even protest as he put the shoes on her that were two sizes too big.

When Danny turned back he saw that Kate had dressed herself, so he grabbed his pants and put them on, foregoing a shirt. It wasn't worth the wasted time.

"I didn't tell them anything," he told her again. "Your father is looking for you. He thought you were dead, but...." He ran his hand through is hair in frustration. How could he convince her that she had to go when everything inside of him was screaming that she stay?

Looking up at him with wet eyes, Kate said softly, "This is what our fight was about wasn't it? - Grace's shoes, not being able to provide for us. This is....were you trying to distract me? Tell me you love me and then I won't notice when I'm being carted away...back to New York and Micheal and my parents?"

"No!" Danny exclaimed, grabbing her hands. Danny could feel his eyes beginning to sting. "That's the way it started, but everything I said was true. I love you. I want to marry you." Kate started shaking her head again. Danny squeezed her hands in response. "Can't you see that I don't have a choice? That you don't have a choice? Your father is paying this man a lot of money to get you home. I can't stop him. I thought I'd be noble and strong and send you away to safety, but God, Kate, I don't want you to leave. I feel like I'm tearing my heart out." A tear slowly fell down his cheek. "I don't want to lose you. Not now."

Kate reached out and caught his tear. Danny instinctively turned his face into her carress. "My father won't pay to have you released," she said tearfully, knowing that it was the truth. "He wouldn't want to upset the Helmsfords by bringing home his daughters flyboy lover. I bet Micheal filled them with stories about you." Her eyes widened. "Micheal," she said in sudden realization, her panic rising again. "I'm not going back, I can't. Danny, I'm not going back to that. They'll make me and I can't, Danny, I can't....."

"Sh, sh, sh," Danny whispered pulling her into his arms again. "Micheal's dead," he told her.

"Dead?" she whispered. "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

Kate began to sob. "Danny, I don't want to go. Please. Please. Don't let me go."

Danny tried to control his own emotions, his throat thick with tears. "You have to go." He pulled away, looking down into her eyes. "I need you to take care of Grace for me, okay? You have to think of Grace first. I'll be fine. Don't worry about me. You get Grace back to the States and then, when you can, I want you to find some way to get to Rafe, okay? You know where the farm is, right? I want you to go to Tennessee. Do you understand me?" He shook her slightly, trying to get the glazed look off her face.

"Yes."

"You get to Rafe and he'll take care of you. When I get out of here that's where I will go. Wait for me there. I promise, I'll come home to you."

"Like you promised Evelyn?" Kate asked, the pain and fear she was feeling evident in her eyes.

Danny closed his eyes in silent frustration. "I promise you, I will come home to you and Grace." Taking off his ring, he placed it in her hand, squeezing her fingers shut around it. "I'll come home and then we'll get married and we'll start on those half a dozen babies, okay?" Kate stared at her hand, feeling the ring cutting into her palm as she held it tightly. She simply nodded, unable to say anything more to him.

"Come on, Grace," she said, standing up slowly, her voice a hoarse whisper. "It's time to go." She held out her hand.

Grace, clutching Ramsey tightly in her hand, walked over and took her mother's hand. Looking back she reached out for Danny.

"Dandy?" she asked quietly.

Danny shook his head. "I...I'm going to stay here Gracie," he told her, his voice thick with tears and pain. "You be a good girl for, Mama, you hear me?" Grace nodded solemnly, her eyes wide. Squatting down, Danny carressed Graces hair. "I love you, Little One."

Standing, he reached a finger to Kate's face, tracing the tears that were silently falling. "I love you."

"I love you, too," Kate whispered. Danny's hand shifted behind her neck and pulled her close, kissing her with as much passion and love as he possessed. Kate reached up and carressed the cheek that she had marked.

Pulling away, Kate turned and walked out the door, Grace slowly following, her little feet dragging as she looked between her mother and Danny, her eyes getting wider and wider. When Kate tried to get Grace to enter the car, Grace seemed to finally understand what was going on.

"NO!" she screamed, running away from her mother and jumping into Danny's arms. "Dandy! Dandy!" Danny held her tightly, his tears streaming unchecked. Kate couldn't move from the side of the car, as the heart breaking scene unfurled in front of her. It felt as if her world was ending.

"You have to go with Mama, Gracie," he told her, prying her arms from around his neck.

"No!" she yelled again. "You come to, Dandy!"

"I can't Gracie," he told her. "You have to go. I love you."

Grace clung tightly to his leg. "I love you too," she sobbed.

One of the guards who had accompanied the lawyer, came around the car and began to pick up Grace. Neither Danny or Kate could move, their eyes locked onto each other. Grace kicked and screamed as she was carried to the car and put inside. Quickly, Kate got in, trying to reign in her small daughter who was pounding on the window yelling for Danny, her eyes streaming with tears.

The last thing Danny saw as the car pulled away was Grace's tear stained face as she screamed his name, begging him to 'come wif us!' Kate's head was bowed her hands over her face. She never looked back.

He stood there in the middle of the road outside their only home together, barefoot and barechested in the morning light, many of their neighbors staring at him and the departing car. He couldn't stop his tears from falling any more than he could stop his heart from breaking. Everything that meant anything to him was in that car, driving away from him.

End Smiling Back II