Disclaimer: Still don't own them, still wish I did.
A/N: Yup, this one was also written before I learned the multiple POV thing is really annoying. Sorry. ;-)
This is part of a series that began with Under The Influence, and continued in Guilty and Innocent. While there are references to the previous stories in this one, I think you'll still be able to follow and understand it without having read them. Of course I do hope you'll go back and read them eventually… :-)
Dark haired, twenty-four year old Frank Hardy sat at the small table looking out onto the dance floor. The loud music and pulsating lights weren't exactly his thing, but this wasn't his night.
"Too bad American Bandstand got cancelled. They would have stolen the show."
Frank looked at his wife, Callie, and smiled. With her blonde hair, deep brown eyes and perfect figure she'd be a hit on the dance floor too, but like him, she preferred something a little quieter. Taking her hand, Frank leaned over and kissed her cheek.
"Thank you," he said, gratefully.
"For what?" she asked, confused.
"This." He waved his hand, encompassing the noisy, crowded club they were sitting in. "For suggesting Joe and Vanessa come along. Today could have been a nightmare for them and you turned it into a celebration," Frank replied, referring to his twenty-three year old brother Joe and his fiancée, Vanessa.
"It is a celebration – that Joe is free and they are both recovering."
Frank looked out at the dance floor once again. Joe and Vanessa had been dancing non-stop for forty-five minutes. Both of them tall and blonde, they were easily the best-looking couple out there. Frank had noticed people seemed transfixed by them at times, although Joe and Vanessa were oblivious to the attention. They seemed to be in their own little world where only the two of them existed.
Exactly one month ago today, Joe had been found not guilty of murdering the man who had raped Vanessa. The trial had brought back some traumatic memories Joe had kept buried for seventeen years. Since they resurfaced, Joe had been seeing a therapist regularly, as had Vanessa, and Frank was amazed at the progress they both had made.
With this date looming as a reminder of all the pain and horror they had endured, Frank had been afraid they both might take several steps back in their recoveries and had shared his fears with Callie. When Callie realized this date fell on the weekend she and Frank were taking her parents to New York City to see them off on a month-long cruise to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary, she suggested Joe and Vanessa come along. She had made all the arrangements and turned a day that could have been filled with bad memories into a celebration. The four of them were spending the weekend in New York City, doing all the things Joe and Vanessa loved.
Callie had gone to great lengths to keep them occupied and try to keep them focused on the positive outcome of the trial. Joe was free and he and Vanessa were once again planning what Callie was sure would turn out to be the wildest wedding Bayport had ever seen.
Suddenly Joe plopped down on to the chair next to his brother and pulled Vanessa down on his lap. They were both flushed and out of breath, but apparently having a wonderful time.
"Hey, I haven't seen you two out on the dance floor at all!" Vanessa said to Frank and Callie.
"That's what happens when you get married," Joe teased. "You get old and boring."
"We're just waiting for a slow song," Frank informed his younger brother.
As if on cue, a ballad began playing. Frank stood and offered Callie his hand.
"You coming?" she asked Joe and Vanessa as she stood up.
"Nah. We're going to sit this one out," Vanessa replied, staring into Joe's piercing blue eyes and running her fingers through his hair.
Callie smiled at them knowingly, and followed Frank out onto the dance floor. She let herself be swallowed up in his arms and enjoyed being so close to him. At one point she glanced towards their table and laughed softly.
"What?" Frank said simply. He was holding her close, eyes closed, enjoying the dance.
"I was just thinking what a shame it is they're so shy and introverted in public." Callie nudged Frank to look at his brother and Vanessa.
Looking in their direction, Frank sighed and rolled his eyes. Joe and Vanessa were engaged in a passionate kiss, once again oblivious to the fact that they were in a crowded club. He often chided his brother about the enthusiastic public displays of affection he and Vanessa shared, but tonight he didn't care one bit. He hadn't seen them this happy and relaxed in a long time and he wasn't about to do or say anything to put a damper on their high spirits.
Shaking his head slightly, he returned his attention to Callie, kissing her softly and burying his face in her neck.
From a booth nestled in a dark corner of the club, a lone man snapped photo after photo of Frank and Callie. Holding each other closely, swaying slowly to the music, occasionally exchanging a kiss or a tight embrace, the young couple was completely unaware of the voyeur who seemed so interested in photographing their every move.
As the song ended Frank held Callie close and kissed her deeply before returning to their table.
"It's almost last call. Why don't we head back to the hotel?" Frank said, tapping his brother on the shoulder.
"Fine with me," Joe responded, not taking his eyes off Vanessa.
"Come on, Van." Callie tugged on her friend's arm. "I need to use the restroom before we go."
"What is it with women?" Joe scowled, not wanting to release Vanessa. "Why can't you go to the bathroom alone?"
"It's a chick thing, honey. We always have to go in groups of two or more." Vanessa kissed Joe one more time before disentangling herself from him and following Callie to the back of the club.
"Women!" Joe muttered, reaching for his wallet.
"Uh-uh." Frank stopped him. "This one's on me."
"Frank, you've been saying that all weekend. You haven't let me pay for anything yet!" Joe protested.
"That's because you and Vanessa are our guests. Your money is no good."
"No," Frank said sternly, then smiled. "Save it and buy something nice for Vanessa."
"Thanks, bro," Joe smiled. 'You're the best!'
A few minutes later Callie and Vanessa returned to the table and the little group wound their way towards the exit, oblivious to the fact that they were being watched.
As the man in the booth observed the four young people make their way towards the door, his cell phone rang.
"Yes?" he answered. After listening for a moment, he spoke again.
"Yes, I got them. Don't worry, I took more than enough pictures. It will work. Frank Hardy set himself up perfectly."
Hanging up, he laid the phone on the table and watched as Frank held the door for Joe, Vanessa and Callie, and then followed them out. Raising his glass in a silent toast to Frank, the man smiled.