To Scotland With Love: Chapter 5: Romance is in the Air
Disclaimer: I do not own GI JOE. Thanks to Little Lady Hawk for the help!
Shana woke up first again. She sighed and stretched, wondering if Conrad had it right. Maybe they really could keep this up when they got back to base in a few days. They'd have to be a bit quieter of course, but that beat going back to sleeping alone-without him. The alone hadn't bothered her before but she knew that it would now.
Conrad stirred, eyeing her blearily before closing his eyes again and rolling over onto his stomach. She took a deep breath, curling her fingers to her palm in an effort to resist the urge to take her hand and run it down those gorgeous back muscles. Knowing if she stayed in bed she'd wake Conrad up she quietly slipped out of bed and dressed. She went through her morning martial arts silently, wanting to give Conrad a chance to catch up on his sleep. When she was done she flipped the curtain back to check the weather. She wrinkled her nose, cloudy and misting rain. Conrad had promised her a picnic today, making up for the one that hadn't ended so well earlier in the week. Oh, well. She'd better get her morning run in while she could.
By the time she got back from her run the temperature had dropped and snow had started to fall. Conrad greeted her at the door with a mug of hot coffee and a kiss.
"Hi," he said, handing her the mug.
"Thanks," she said, smiling, "I could get used to this."
He grinned, taking the mug for a sip, "Sorry to disappoint but Allie left us with a shopping list. Weather man says this is going to turn into a nasty storm before evening."
She frowned, "I guess I really will have to take a rain check on that picnic."
Conrad arched an eyebrow, "Oh, I don't know. We could probably work something out."
Shana laughed, "What, now you can control the weather?"
"It's been done before."
She laughed again, "I seem to recall the weather dominator being destroyed."
"I have my ways. Grab a quick shower; I'll whip up some breakfast."
She made it downstairs in record time. She'd discovered that Conrad could cook and cook well. Just as well as Allie. That made her the only one in their little group that couldn't. She could however, wash dishes. Good cooks were almost always willing to share their food if someone else cleaned up after them. She came up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, "Smells great…what is it?"
Conrad squeezed her hand before picking the spatula up, "The yellow you may recognize as eggs..."
She smacked him good naturedly on the back, "Duh…even I know that. I also know that eggs are a key ingredient in lots of stuff."
"Well this 'stuff' as you call it is going to be the best omelet you have ever tasted."
"Oh, yeah?" she asked, moving to his side to get a better look and steal his coffee. "What makes this omelet so special?"
"I made it."
She laughed, "So what, it's better than Roadblock's omelet?"
Conrad arched a brow, "Roadblock does not stoop to making omelets."
"I bet he would if someone asked."
"Shana, the man is a gourmet. He takes his food very seriously. Omelets are something anyone can cook."
"Anyone? Does that include me?"
He pulled her in front of him and wrapped one of her hands around the spatula and the other around the pan handle, "Anyone includes you so long as you actually pay attention to what you're doing." He proceeded to show her how to cook the omelet without burning it to a crisp.
After breakfast they grabbed the list and got ready to head to town. Shana took another glance at the sky as she got in the passenger seat, "It looks about the same as it did when I finished my run."
"See if you can get a weather update on the radio."
"…roads will be blocked. So make sure you're home and safe and snug before two pm when it really starts to come down. Thanks for listening to…" Shana turned the radio off.
"So," she asked, "what exactly is it that Allie wants us to pick up if they're getting food?"
"Mostly things from the hardware store. We'll meet up in a couple of hours for an early lunch."
They walked hand in hand through the hardware store, ordering what supplies they couldn't load in the car and having them sent up to the house.
They finished their errands and were on their way to the pub for lunch when Conrad pulled her into a shop. "Conrad, this is a florist shop."
He grinned, "Yes, it is."
Shana continued to look around in bewilderment, "What are we doing here? Surely Allie doesn't want us to pick up flowers just before a snow storm? I thought she'd hired a landscaper."
"She did. We're here for something else."
Shana took off her gloves, "Okay…like what?"
Conrad threw his head back and laughed, "It's generally considered a time honored tradition to buy your girl flowers. I thought a dozen red roses would be good but if you have some other preference we can get those."
"You're going to buy me flowers?"
He cupped her head and kissed her softly, "I'm buying you roses, a dozen long stem red roses. It's romantic."
She smiled, "Yeah, it is, I guess I just didn't expect it."
"That's the beauty of it. If you expect it, flowers won't be as special. When we get back I won't be able to buy you flowers or take you out to dinner on a regular basis. I'd like to spoil you now."
Shana laughed softly, "You've already done a good job of spoiling me."
"Good." He pulled her close and kissed her slow and deep until they were interrupted by a round of applause. Shana laughed, embarrassed and hid her face in Conrad's coat.
The clerk stepped forward, "A dozen red roses, you said?"
"Your best," Conrad replied.
"Very good then, right this way."
They picked out the roses and watched as the clerk pulled out a box.
"We'll need a vase as well."
They left the tall fluted vase in the car and carried the roses with them to lunch.
Allie's eyes popped out of her head when she saw them, "Wow! Somebody is in l-o-v-e! Those are gorgeous!"
Shana beamed, "Conrad just got them for me down the street."
Dash grinned, "Smooth, very smooth my friend. Now I'm gonna have to get Allie some."
"Damn right! You've haven't bought me flowers in a long time!"
Dash grinned, "I buy you other things."
Allie rolled her eyes, "Flowers, after lunch."
"Yes, ma'am," Dash made a smart salute.
They enjoyed lunch and made it back to the house before the snow blocked the roads. Conrad was sent to help Dash unload the hardware leaving Shana to help unload the groceries.
Allie grinned at the dreamy eyed, far off look in her friend's eyes. For somebody who a few days ago wouldn't so much as admit she was attracted to Conrad, Shana sure had done a 180. Work, work, work, had turned to play, play, play. Even when she was helping her normal efficiency was interrupted by long day dreams or even longer breaks where she'd come back a little more rumpled than she had been.
"So things are going well I take it?"
Shana's head snapped around at the sound of Allie's voice, "Huh? Did you say something?"
Allie nodded knowingly, "Yep, I'd say things are going very well with the two of you."
Shana blushed bright red, "Umm…uh…yeah. Things are good."
"Shana, honey, things were good before, now they're great."
Shana leaned her head back against a kitchen cabinet and sighed, "Okay so, yeah, they're great, really great. I mean, who knew Conrad was such a romantic. Maybe we can actually pull this off when we get back to base."
"Well duh, Dash and I have pulled it off; I don't see why you can't. Conrad is a hell of a lot more even tempered than Dash."
"Ha! Isn't that the truth? But you know Conrad is, when he sets his mind to something it happens. He wouldn't let me go without a fight. He thinks we can pull this off so I'm willing to give it a try."
"Good for you. I was beginning to worry you'd let him go without even trying to catch him."
Shana let out a mirthless laugh, the light going out of her face, "It seems like that's exactly what Sean is doing."
Allie put a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder, "Maybe he's just letting her cool down a bit before making his move."
"I hope so."
Shana reluctantly pulled herself out of her warm bath. She sighed, "How long does it take to put away hardware anyways?" Dash had pulled Conrad to help him unload hardware as soon as they'd gotten back to the house, which had been several hours ago. Allie had announced they'd be awhile and had headed for a nap in her bedroom. Shana had decided to take a soak in the tub, let the warm water take the chill out of her bones until Conrad got back. Well, she was finished with her bath and he still wasn't back. "Well, I guess I'll have to find him. It's almost dinner time."
She opened the bathroom door and stopped, stunned at the sight before her.
Conrad turned to her, "Wrinkled enough? I was beginning to wonder if you'd drowned."
She walked into the room, "How long have you been here?"
He shrugged, "A while. You let me sleep in this morning so I figured I'd let you enjoy your bath."
She stepped into his arms and kissed him softly as he wrapped his arms around her, "You could have joined me, you know."
He kissed her again and let her go, "Then I wouldn't have had time to set up your surprise."
"A picnic indoors?"
"It's the best kind, no ants and you have a roaring fire to keep you warm."
She laughed softly as he led her to the picnic blanket by the fire. The lights were down low with candles and the flames creating a soft light surrounding their blanket. With the pillows scattered around the edges it felt like they were in their own world. Shana toed off her slippers and sat down next to Conrad.
"Cozy. I think it's lovely, Conrad."
Conrad slid a loose lock of hair behind her ear, his gaze lingering, "Definitely lovely."
She blushed, still not used to the compliments and outright affection he had been showing her.
"So," she asked, "what are we eating tonight?"
Conrad reached behind him for a bottle of wine, "If madam approves?" He presented the bottle with a flourish for her approval.
She giggled, "Very nice, and for the main course?"
He reached into a basket by the fireplace and pulled out two plates, setting one down by Shana and another in front of himself before pulled out a covered casserole dish. "Voilà," he said, "Spaghetti with meatballs."
Shana's eyes went huge as she gasped, "Conrad! When? How?"
"While you were relaxing in the tub. You rarely venture into the kitchen before meal time so we thought it was a safe bet we'd have the time we needed to fix everything."
She reached over, took his face in her hands, and kissed him, "Thank you. This has been the best vacation of my life and I don't know what I did to deserve you but if I ever figure it out I'll do it again."
That got a laugh out of him, "Eat up while it's still hot."
Miles away Sean O'Hara sat at his desk and pondered life. He'd sent flowers, he'd talked to her apartment door, and he'd talked to her mom, her sisters, her brothers, nothing. He'd camped out on her doorstep and the studio the dance company was practicing at. She'd still managed to avoid him. He'd messed up, the biggest mistake of his life and two people were paying for it. Ashlynn said he'd broken her heart for the last time. Now that she was really gone he realized his heart was breaking too. He was out of ideas on where to find her.
His phone rang and out of habit he picked it up, "Sean O'Hara."
"Sean, this is Grace, Ash's friend. We're at Grady Hospital."
Sean's stomach dropped clear out of his body as he stood up, "What happened? Is she okay?"
"I'm not sure if Ash would want me to call you or not but I can't find her cell and I forgot the name of her mom's bakery."
"Grace, just tell me what happened!"
"There was an accident. She's mostly okay but…"
She was killing him, didn't she know that? He wiped the sweat off his brow, "Mostly okay but…?"
"But they think her foot's broken. And well…"
"You can't dance on a broken foot."
"Not so much, no."
"My brother's an Orthopedic, I'll have him come by and take a look."
"Okay…great. I'm sure she'd appreciate it. So, um, can you give me her mom's number? They've taken her to get x-rays but I can't hang around for long."
"I'll call her mom from the car. I'm on my way."
"Oh, uh, okay. We're still in emergency. I don't know if they'll let you in…"
"I'll get in."
"Okay. I'll wait as long as I can."
He broke every speed limit between the paper and the hospital. He'd 911 texted Brian to meet him at Grady's ER. He didn't have the time to explain. Hell, he didn't even know what happened other than there had been an accident. A car accident would explain why they were at Grady.
Luckily for him, his childhood neighbor was on duty at the desk and took him straight back to Ashlynn without a fuss. He flew around the curtain, "Ash?"
She looked up, sniffling, "Sean? What are you doing here?"
He nodded to Grace as she got up, grabbed her bag and left. "Grace called me; she said you'd been in an accident."
Ash buried her face in her hands and started crying. Sean sat on the bed and pulled her close, "Hey, it'll be okay, we'll get through this, you're gonna be fine."
"What 'we'? You aren't even supposed to be here. We broke up. Where's my mom?"
"She's on her way and so is Brian."
"We start touring in three weeks! If I'm not better they'll cut me from the show!"
Sean took a deep breath, "You'd better tell me what happened."
"I tripped, well Sarah tripped and knocked into Damien and Damien was about to lift me up and so he dropped me and I fell off stage!"
Sean shook his head, he supposed if it weren't Ash laying here worried about her career being over the whole situation would be comical. "So what, you broke your leg?"
"Okay. What did the doctor say?"
"He hasn't brought the x-ray back yet."
"He hasn't but I've got them!" Brian stepped into the room, "How ya doing kiddo, hanging in there?"
She shrugged her shoulders as if her entire life didn't depend on the x-rays he was waving around.
Brian laughed it off, "I was actually here checking up on a little leaguer when our boy here called. So, to cut to the chase, it's not broken."
She gasped, "It's not?"
Brian shook his head, "Nope, sprain. That's the good news."
Sean rolled his eyes, "So what's the bad news?"
"It'll take longer to heal up."
"How much longer and when can she start dancing again?"
Brian looked at Ash and then at Sean, when she nodded he went on, "You'll be in a brace, possibly a boot for a few weeks, after that physical therapy. You'll be walking around in two to three weeks but I wouldn't recommend your kind of dancing. If I remember right you're doing a "Riverdance" kind of thing?"
"Something like that, yes."
"So jumping, stomping, jigs, reels, that kind of stuff?"
She nodded again. He shrugged his shoulders, "If it were anyone other than you I'd say six weeks but you heal fast, you're in good health, and you know how important it is to do your rehab exercises. I'll give you four weeks but you may not be up to dancing every night by then."
Ash bit her lip, "So there's really no way I'm going to be able to tour out of the country in three weeks, is there?"
Sean stood up, "Yes, there is. I'll come with you. I'll carry your luggage, I'll help you get from place to place, I'll carry and fetch."
Ash looked stunned and overwhelmed. Brian just said, "Huh, well, it's about time. Good luck," as he walked out.
Sean knelt by the bed, "Look Ash, I messed up and I'm sorry. I ruined a good thing and I take full responsibility for that now. I'm not asking for you to take me back. Okay, I'm asking that you think about giving us another chance because this time I really am ready to commit. But this isn't about that, this is about you needing help and me being able to provide that help."
"But Sean, even if I get approval we've already book rooms, two people to a room, we've got our tickets and everything."
Sean shook his head, "We'll make it work. I'll take a leave of absence or use up my vacation and sick leave. I'll get my own room; I'm not asking to share. I'll call Shana; she'll get me on any flight I need to get on."
Ash swallowed, "Are you sure?"
Sean nodded, "I'm completely sure."
Thousands of miles away, Shana dreamed of a ringing. She snuggled deeper into Conrad's arms. It was warm under the blankets, warm and so nice to be wrapped in his arms. She really wished the ringing would stop. More out of habit than design she reached for the phone on the nightstand, "Hello?"
"Sean? What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, I just need a favor."
He explained everything and Shana was more than happy to pull whatever strings needed to be pulled to pave Sean's way.
She hung with a smile and snuggled back into Conrad's arms, "What is it this time?" he mumbled.
She kissed his chest before putting her head down, "I think everything is finally going right."
"Huh. Good to hear. Tell me tomorrow?"
"Sure." As she drifted off to sleep she felt a weight lifted from her shoulders, Sean was making things right with Ashlynn. If he could pull that off she could certainly pull off a relationship with Conrad. Everything really was right with her world.