In the Shadows
Ficawesome Gift Exchange- 3some
Title: In the Shadows
Written for: Ladi Ali fanfics
Written By: Rebadams7
Summary/Promptused:Twilight: Kate and Garrettor Emmett and Rose
Couple meet over summer vacation,
Couple meet in college
Couple meet during car crash, one saves the other
He stared at the brown leather wing back chair. It had sat here, with the tasseled red knit throw tossed over the back, in the exact same way since the first time he had visited the house, almost ten years ago. Then he'd had no idea what it had meant. Today he sat on the ottoman, much as she would. He placed the small bag on the seat. He knew he had only a few minutes, the excuse of using the restroom would only buy so much time. He knew this was herplace with him, so he plunged right in.
"This isn't the way I ever thought I'd be doing this, but from the first moment I knew, I knew I had to ask you …"
It had all began the summer she turned 16. Garrett had just completed his first year of college and had come home to a pretty good summer job. He'd gotten interested in community preparedness and emergency services when he worked on his Eagle project. It had led him to complete his EMT training just before he graduated and he was offered a part-time summer job with the local emergency service bureau, the call volume always growing higher with the influx of hikers and tourists during the summer. It paid well and maybe he'd get more hours next year. Over the school year he had picked up a few shifts in Williamsburg, but the lure of home and nearly full time hours had him crossing the country for the summer, the summer Kate was supposed to be learning to drive.
True to form, it was a rainy afternoon. The day had started out sunny, but the downpour was nothing new. This time the driver of the SUV was not in their element, from the visible Nevada plates. While his partner Peter checked on the driver, Garrett had moved over to the cluster of firefighters by the second car. It was a newer sedan, the airbags deployed but unable to mitigate all the damage. T-bones are nasty accidents and this was no exception. The driver of the second car and the back seat passenger were blanketed, sitting by the side of the road on the back of a rig. The cluster of coats parted and his heart sank. It was a teen, unconscious and crumpled by the door, held in place by her belt. It was evident that her small frame had absorbed quite a bit of the force of the crash. The impact had twisted the door past the point of an easy extraction.
"Lets get this door open, then I can stabilize the spine and get her out of here." Garrett called out his instructions as he took her vitals and gave her the best once over the limited access allowed. The mostly volunteer crew made short work of granting him access and in less than half an hour she was stabilized on the backboard and strapped to the gurney. He sat with her in the ambulance, her brother and grandmother, the driver; seated on the side. Her eyelids fluttered from time to time, but she did not regain consciousness until they were walking the gurney down the ER hall. Her eyes, blue and intensely scared scanned his face as he was calling off the report to the ER team.
"What?" Her voice was scratchy and thin as her eyes searched frantically.
"Miss, I'm Garrett, You're at the hospital. Your Grandmother and Brother are here." Her name had suddenly come to sit on the tip of his tongue, just out of reach. Dr. Cullen was in the treatment room as they entered and transfered her to the ER bed.
"Kate, you're here in the ER. You are in good hands, relax. We'll take care of you."
With little more than a nod, Garrett was dismissed to finish his paperwork and re-stock the rig. Usually the tasks were such that he was able to distance himself from his momentary patients. He tried not to grow too concerned, he'd brought in so many people over his first summer and this one was beating that pace by half as many more already. Often there was a note, to let the crew know the outcome on many of the cases. One trip in a hundred or less, a thank you card made it to the station bulletin board. That was supposed to be enough. This afternoon, for the first time, Garrett stopped to consider how she, the owner of those beautiful eyes, was getting on.
Professionalism decreed he'd hold his tongue and bide his curiosity. He closed the door of the rig with a little more force than usual. As much as he wanted to stay, he knew he had to get back to station. The bell would be tolling for some one else shortly.
It was a busy shift. Two more transfers to the hospital, an elderly gentleman with a probable broken pelvis after a short tumble from his front porch and an hour later, a rather stout middle aged man who'd thrown out his back throwing rolls of sod off the back of a pick up truck. Peter, his partner, decided it was time for coffee and conversation with Charlotte, one of the swing shift nurses; before they headed back to the station. Feeling the need for something besides coffee brought Garrett to the vending machines in the ER waiting area. While he studied the choices, debating between the Doritos or the Sun Chips to go with his Mountain Dew, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
"The Sun Chips are stale."
"Thanks," He turned and recognized the brother of the pretty girl from the T-boned car.
Before he could say anything else, the disheveled boy spoke.
"I'm Masen. Hey, you were the guy taking care of my sister, Kate!"
"Hi Masen, Yes I was. Is there someone here with you now?"
"My Nana will be here overnight, my Aunt and Uncle are in with her now and Grandpa Charlie is going to take me home as-soon-as he's done with his shift. Then they're going to Seattle to see Kate. They flew her there earlier."
Just then the Chief of Police, Charlie Swan, came up, and Masen wrapped his arms around him,
"Gramps, I'm so glad you are here."
"Sorry it took so long Masen, I got held up with a couple of yahoos caught breaking into some of the cabins up near the ridge." The chief put his arm around the boy's shoulders.
"You caught them, though? Right?"
"Then good. Nana Sue said not to worry, that she talked to you and didn't want you to rush on these roads." He nodded his head as his voice took on a repetitive sing song tone. "Nana Mesme and Mom went up to Seattle with Kate and she was so dopey I'm sure she'd not notice who was with her anyway. Hey, this is Garrett, he got Kate out of the car."
The Chief nodded and directed the pair over to the waiting room chairs. There was an open alcove off to the side, with a few seats that provided a little privacy. Garrett followed the Chief's direction and listened to Masen recount the accident and the rescue. He accepted the thanks and praise of the pair, promising to pass these sentiments on to the rest of the crew. The Chief motioned for him to stay while Masen then continued with what had happened at the hospital. Nana Sue, his wife was being kept for observation, her heart rate had remained too fast for too long, in Masen's explanation and Kate seemed to have something wrong with her back and legs. Grandpa Carlisle had her sent on to specialists in Seattle at Virginia Mason. He finished up by lamenting he'd only just gotten the flowers for tomorrow, they wouldn't get to be together, that he'd have to get more.
"Masen, your Dad of all people would understand. They'll be there from Father's day and they will be fine." The Chief just shook his head at his grandson's animated face.
All these comments puzzled Garrett just a bit, but it was family business. He hadn't realized who he'd been helping this afternoon. Services covered the entire county and he wasn't as familiar with all the citizens of Forks. He did know the Chief. Charlie held up his hand one more time to forestall Garrett's departure. Just then a couple came up and gave hugs to the pair.
"Aunt Alice, Uncle Jasper. This is Garrett. He got Kate out."
Again Garrett accepted their thanks. He was glad to hear the blue eyed girl, Kate was getting good care and everyone sounded positive. He gave his apologies on his quick departure, but duty called.
Over time, many things tickled at the edges of his memory from that conversation, from all the events of that day. They flared to the front of his mind often over the next years, each time he spotted clear blue eyes. Never her eyes though, never her eyes.
It was good to be home, even if home was now at Bella's all the time. Here, Kate had a first floor bedroom and bath, easily fixed for a wheelchair. No matter how long it took she was welcome to stay. It was a promise and a compromise. Bella had used that room as a study-slash-guest-room so it took little time to move things down from Kate's room upstairs. Nana Mesme had painted it a soft yellow. It was warm and welcoming, as the rest of the house had always felt to her, even after themostawful of days.
The biggest spot of comfort here was her father's leather chair and ottoman. When their house was being emptied before being sold, she and Bella had taken stock and packed away many things for her future. At five, Kate had all the normal concerns–where would her dolls and dollhouse go, who would read their books, but she also worried about her father's favorite cast iron frying pan and mug. Bella had packed with her, placing the favorites into a blue campaign chest that moved with her to her new room at Nana's
Kate had insisted on helping pack up her father's room. She took the throw that he had wrapped her in for comfort or when she'd been sick, placing it downstairs in the leather chair. She then brought Bella to the drawer that held her treasure, and the one she had picked out with her father months before.
Lilyana Katherine had been engraved on the back of her necklace. It was a miniature of the one that Edward had presented to Bella. The other box was a treasure for Bella. She had helped him choose the perfect ring for her Miss "Bee."
Bella had wanted Kate to keep the ring, but even as a child, Kate was of a strong will and determined to do the right thing. The day her father had died, she'd informed everyone that Lilyana was for her father only. She would now be Kate. She was firm on this, answering only to Kate. With that same determination, she had put her necklace on and had put the ring on Bella's finger, pleading with her young eyes for her to wear it and not forget him, not forget her. Kate had then crawled up into her father's chair and slept away the rest of the day. The chair had first come to Nana's house, but on the day that Bella had told her she would have a brother, Kate had insisted the chair and ottoman go to Bella's home. She'd brought the mug and placed it in Masen's room shortly after he was born. When he'd been little and sick, she'd bring the throw over and tuck it in around them. With Masen beside her and the afghan around them, it had felt like her father's arms all over again. It was the closest she could bring them.
Now she slid over onto the chair, pulling the throw from the back of her wheelchair and letting out a huge sob. Masen came in and silently handed her a cup of tea, settled on the ottoman and waited with his own mug. He knew his sister better than he ever thought he would. If he'd been in the front seat things would have been very different. He was not one to dwell on a problem, he'd be working on a solution. Masen had been to see her every week while she was in Rehab, spending the night as often as he could. Masen knew she wanted to walk in time for her graduation, and he'd made sure she had every chance to keep up with her class.
"Sis, I have this all figured out. I have a perfect plan B. I'll put the spare chair on the other side of the stage, and you will just walk across. Ten, twelve steps. It will work." Masen placed his hand on his sister's knee with a little squeeze.
"Nice, but I'm only up to three or four steps now. With the bars I can do more but there are no bars on the stage."
"Kate, it's just February. It's not even Valentine's day yet. Oh and I am so glad you are here full time now. I think it will be good for me to see life with another woman," he quipped, as he sat back, enjoying her puzzled expression.
"Masen you are twelve. What do you mean by another woman?"
"Kate, I'm going to be a teenager soon and mom doesn't even date. I have to see what goes on somehow."
"Great. I haven't had a real date in a year and a half"
"What about Robert at the center?" Masen widened his eyes, questioning her memory.
"Robert was a buddy. We were closer in age than the rest of the folks there, and we hung out, but that was not what I would call a date. You were there half the time."
"I think he would have disagreed." Masen stood and stretched before he continued, "I thought he was nice to you."
Kate sat back in the chair, thinking a bit before she spoke. "He was nice," she drawled a bit before she continued, "there was just no spark and we both knew it. Bella said I should never settle."
"Spark huh? You think thatis the big reason why Mom doesn't date?"
"Masen, that wasn't just a spark for them. It was the whole damn 4th of July."
"I see. So, any sparks with anyone I know?"
"AndI am home with an annoying little brother at last. Why so curious about my lack of love life?"
"The posters went up for Prom. Casino Royale. You gonna go?"
"Yeah, a formal in in wheelchair. Super. What do you care?"
"I heard you on the phone with Rosalie."
"Masen, do I have to pull this out of you one word at a time? You are TWELVE for chrissakes!" Kate's face was reddening as she yelled and ground her hands and arms on the chair, even her feet thumped a little bit.
Masen smiled at the movements. His sister's spirit was still there, brighter now that she was home. "Emmett. Emmett McCarty is my assistant baseball coach."
Masen rolled his eyes as he noticed his mother had come to stand in the doorway, observing the scene. Really, this was their mother in every sense of the word, biology be dammed. Masen had met Bree one weekend at the center. She was a woman who would show up from time to time, the older doppelganger of his sister, nice but not motherly at all. Bree had filled a doorway like a painting, you just looked. Mom filled the doorway with her love radiating. It was clear to see she was thrilled to have the brother and sister together at last.
"Hi Mom." He looked over and gave a wave before he continued. "I'll get there Kate. See, Rose has picked me up from baseball a few times and Emmett has met her. He's a senior-a super guy and he can't play because he just transferred cause his dad left the military and he has a crush on her so far so he wants to be your friend and protector and take you to prom if it's okay because then he can at least be close to Rose and nice to you please?" Masen's eyes were big with lack of oxygen after his speech and he finished with a few big gulps of air.
"Woah!" Kate put up her hands. "Got this figured out? When do I meet this Emmett?"
"Uh, Mom?" Masen smiled and gave Bella his gooey eyes. "I asked him to come for dinner with us tonight."
"Ohh Masen!" both of Masen's favorite women groaned in harmony.
It had ended as a pleasant evening. Emmett was the big friend, big brother she'd never had. Frankly there was none of the famous spark, but a deep companionship began over meatloaf that night. He was a great ally as she transitioned back into high school and so, late in May she found herself sitting on the ottoman this time, in front of her father's chair at her brother's house. It would always be his and Bella's in her heart. Daddy's house had been sold and she preferred to keep the idea of home and her first name locked up tight. Still it felt right to be here.
"Daddy. I wish you could see me now. Aunt Alice fixed my hair and even Bree sent a great dress. Mom took me for shoes. I can stand for a while. Maybe I can dance. I remember when you put me on your feet and we'd dance in the living room. Mom, I mean Bella said you did that with her too. I know she would have been beautiful with you. Grampa C and Papa will be here soon. They want to see me 'off safely.'" She drew in a great breath to cover her sob as she continued. "I miss you Daddy. Especially tonight but I will be beautiful for you. I hope you can see me." Kate then whispered "Your Lilyana only Daddy." She kissed her fingers and pressed then into the worn leather on the back of the chair. Her spare chair was parked out near the curb, to be placed into the limo they were sharing with Rose and Royce. She doubted she would need the chair much, Emmett preferring to carry her more often than not over a short distance. With Charlie on one side and Carlisle on the other she made her way to Emmett at the Limo door.
Kate would remember that evening as more than special. Emmett had treated her like a real date, with beautiful flowers and a nice dinner with the four of them at the hotel where the prom was being held. He'd danced several times with her to favorite tunes. Even when things got weird he was able to help her best friend.
Royce got drunk. In truth, he was probably a little tipsy from the start of the evening, but he got ridiculous on the dance floor and grabbed onto Rose, nearly ripping off the bodice of her gown as he twisted her. Right in the center of the floor in front of everyone. In front of Emmett. Stupid. All it took was one swing. The chaperones let his parents take him out of the ballroom.
Rose had held Emmett's hand the whole rest of the night, including the ride to the after party at the bowling ally. They had taken a lane with a few guys from the baseball team and their dates. Jacob Newton was one of them, with Sarah. They'd laughed a lot. She had not felt deprived.
In fact, Kate was more than relieved when she was escorted back up to her house, with a goodnight peck on the cheek from Emmett. His true one was waiting in the Limo. She had seenthespark between them and tonight she was sure there would be more. Roman Candles and sparklers more.
Even better, they'd both been accepted at the same university. And she had walked fourteen steps twice tonight.
When she dreamed, she heard a strong voice call her name. She remembered concerned brown eyes and a soft touch. There was a spark out there for her.
At least in her dreams.
Off to university Freshman dorms, first floor. The trusty chair was still in residence, as the distances at William and Mary were way more than her walking could yet accommodate on a daily basis, but having one of her favorite therapists on the east coast had made her choice of schools easy. So far she had navigated orientation well and her two roommates. Claire was from Idaho and Louise was more local, going back would have to wait for Christmas, but by then Emmett and Rose would be back home too.
Ok,nowjustgetthroughthefirstsemesterandfigureoutamajor. Good goals. Good freshmen courses. Statistics, Composition and Thesis, Literature,Poetry–Impacts on English Society and Psychology 101. Challenging but not too much. It would be a good start for the beginning of the rest of her life.
Garrett looked over his shoulder as he took his seat. This was a huge lecture class, 120 students in Psych 101 and he was pretty sure he was the only senior. Somehow it had never fit into his schedule of pre-med classes until this semester. His final semester and then, it would just depend on where he got accepted. It was good to be back in Virginia.
At last he felt at peace. He hadn't thought of Irina or Laurent, her French fiancee in months, and knowing that they had already come and gone added to his sense of comfort. Her blue eyes had called to him, but now in retrospect, they had never been, never felt exactly right. Still, he'd thought he was in love. Now, as he sat in the lecture hall, he again affirmed his decision. He had been in love, but only with the idea of being in love.
Garrett had grown tired of being alone. Maybe he had settled. It had seemed easy at first and as he turned the memories over in his mind, he grew comfortable with the truth. When he'd first gotten the letter at Christmas, he'd been shocked. Hurt. Slowly over time, relieved. He'd chosen to travel, to see more of the east, to his mother's family's ancestral home. He'd learned it was a major stop on the Underground Railway. It had long left the family and it struck him that his name was the converse of his worthy ancestor. He'd felt a certain pride in that fact but also he still felt broken, but for all the wrong reasons. He'd tried to come back, only to decide to cede the rest of the year as a "gap" Taking the semester off he'd worked a month at the mill and had picked up many shifts with the county services. His father was adamant that he not continue at the mill.
Gabriel Thomas still felt great guilt over surviving an accident over a dozen years ago. He'd taken a gift to the family of the man who saved him each year on his birthday. One year Garrett had accompanied his father and they'd had Cokes while his father and the widow talked. That empty feeling Gabriel had sensed from the widow during the visit had only fueled his determination to see his son in a career far from a dangerous shop floor.
Garrett settled in to wait out the quarter hour. He needed the time to fiddle with his new phone. Newterm,newstart,newtoy,newheart?Mah.That'sjusttoocorny.
There were rules according to her roommates: Sit in the front row of lecture classes, well rolling in own chair today. Better to be upfront with her temporary limitations; Kate felt it would be more positive to move from the chair to a walker or braces or whatever, than go backward. Next rule: know and claim your space. She'd stake out her territory and wait. Finally, always have spare pen and notebook, if not for you, for the cute guy in the next row. Asifanyonewillseepastmychromechariot! She rolled in from the lower front side door, the one that the professors used, because there was no ramp down from the atrium entry. She only longed alittleto be out there with the other freshmen, milling about and chatting before class. From the bottom level Kate looked up the row to be caught by a strangely familiar set of eyes. She stared. So familiar? So friendly. So caught!
Mortification. That emotion was always accompanied by the sensation of warmth running up Kate's face, alerting her to it's its probable rosy tone. Petrified by a moment of this mortification, Kate finally moved her head as to be enraptured by the book in her lap, using the edge of her vision to move her chair into a designated space. She sat back up, after parking, and stared at the blank board in the front, willing herself to not turn her head to be so obvious. Whatonearthwashappening?
Garrett was intrigued by the blonde beauty that slid her chair into the front seat. Something was so familiar about her, and so right. Such pretty blue eyes he'd seen for just a moment. He decided to move a little closer. He sat right behind her.
The first class of the year was all set up, the routines, the expectations, the syllabus and all of that. After so many advanced seminars, the constructs of a basic, entry level course caught Garrett as confining and the sea of faces were sapping his energy. Except for one thing. The girl in the front row.
After the session, before he'd decided to speak with her, she'd rolled away. Twenty minutes later if either had stood up and looked around in the commons, they might have spotted each other.
They wouldn't believe the coincidence if they'd realized it. So, like ships in the night they passed that first week of classes.
He saw the beautiful hair from the door at the back of the auditorium. It was always in the same spot, and always, taunting him with its wave. He'd never been shy around girls, always ready to talk, to joke a bit, dating had been easy. Even with her, it had simply seemed just the thing to do.
This girl broke all his rules. It was not her situation, nor her chair. That he was certain of, from others on campus. It was her. Another class period spent in musing over her shoulder. Then he found himself with a coffee in his hand, as he sat with his study group for organic chemistry. HowdidIgethere?After class he mulled his situation as he looked around the table on the commons. He was startled to see a new face. He was soon introduced to Paul, someone's brother. Out on his campus tour, he was in line for a scholarship from the mill. Garrett only had half his brain on the conversations as a name rang in his head. The Edward Cullen Grant. The children set up the scholarship.
Kate and Masen
Kate Cullen. Kate Cullen was sitting in front of him twice a week.
Could it be? Could it really be her? Of all the places to meet. Three thousand. Three freaking thousand miles away.
His dad was a foreman at the mill. Her dad had been at the mill, worked the line even though he had been pre-med once. The big accident. He'd been young, but he remembered his father coming home that night. His dad lived. Hers, not so much. He pulled out his cell, stepping away from the table, to a quiet spot off the commons.
He learned he'd saved his dad's rescuer's daughter. He'd not remembered his father's request, as he'd left for school, to look out for "Lil Lily" He'd seen a class list when he was working on a group project LilyaneKatherine Masen He didn't have the heart to remind his father she'd chosen to be called by another name.
The job was not finished. Job, ha! This could never be considered a job. To tell her, right away? Hey,IthinkIpulledyououtofacar. Awesome pick up line, all cheese, hold the side of mayo. Soo not finished. He prayed for divine intervention, or perhaps … it was just dumb luck. They were placed in the same experiment group. Sometimes it just takes an angel unawares.
She languished in her chair, watching a classmate chat with her favorite Physical Therapist. When Mary had become engaged and decided to follow her fiance to the east coast, Kate had researched schools, desperate to get away from her very protective circle. Kate hung back in the shadows, in the hall, watching the two friends greet each other.
Several chairs lined the one wall and Garrett tossed his backpack onto one as he spied his former instructor Mary Clearwater move about the room. He'd come over to the clinic to attempt to sweet talk them out of a few items for his car kit. No matter if he was on duty or not, Garrett hated to be unprepared and it wasn't items he could pick up at Walgreen's or CVS. He'd given the diminutive tech a hug that ended in a lift.
"Garrett Thomas, of all the joints…"
"Yeah yeah, Mary. I'd heard you'd gone east but, right here?"
"First job I was offered and it worked well as a favorite patient decided to come here for school. Hey, there she is. Come on over Kate, I'm sure you know your rescuer."
Mary was not a devious person by nature, but she had seen his face light up as she had rolled out of the shadows.
The last semester of his undergrad career was so much faster than he'd imagined. It was marked by final papers milestones. A cane. A day without a chair
Time to dance again at last.
Her first semester at a real college, not just online courses, had been so much more than she had dared to hope.
The December snow had rendered some of the walkways treacherously slippery on the last day of finals. Garrett had gotten his placement and would be starting Medical School in the fall. It would be his big surprise for his folks. The other news might not have been as much of a surprise. He and Kate were driving home together.
He'd found a bed and breakfast close to the half way point in the drive, somewhere in Minnesota and figured it would be a welcome change from the typical college dates of dinners with the occasional movie thrown in. Yes, they'd gotten into a couple of bars to enjoy some of the local bands but this was his chance for real romance.
He literally caught her in his arms as she skidded toward his car. He didn't need much encouragement to find her lips. After all it was their preferred resting place. Kissing and holding hands was often all they could manage as they wanted private time just to relax sometimes, and with a pair of roommates for Kate and his senior suite wasn't exactly easily accessible. Sometimes she was willing to get an assist, sometimes she was stubborn and wanted to climb herself and there were even days she just sat on the stairs.
Three thousand miles alone together, well almost. They had a third driver with them up to Chicago. One of the fellows on his floor added his skills. It would still be wonderful to have all that time uninterrupted. They had pulled each other out of the shadows life had thrown them into. This trip was a chance to just be without all the work and worry of the school year.
The Bed and Breakfast was painted a robin's egg blue and the first floor suite had a fireplace with a plush settee. The fire was burning brightly and there was a tray of sandwiches and hot chocolate waiting for them. It was wonderful to be released from the car and the miles of snow. Driving in the upper midwest in December was almost assured to be an adventure.
For Kate, the semester had exceeded her expectations, sure she'd hoped to be walking better, but kissing better was so over the top. The surprise of the room for tonight was almost too much. They found themselves almost shy after all the playful banter in the car. A number of late night phone calls with Rose had allayed some of her fears. Her chrome chariot had also fenced her in from so many typical teen experiences, a few decent first kisses and not much else before she found herself in the arms of a certainly more experienced man.
Garrett had come into the evening with no expectations. He viewed Kate as more than a girl or a date. In truth, he would love to shout it from the roof tops that he had found his lobster, his one; except for the fact he'd been fooled once before. He was also cognizant of the fact that he was her first in so many ways. It was not in his nature to assume that he would be enough for her. He wanted to believe it. Tonight he just wanted to kiss her.
She relaxed against the soft cushions, stretching her legs toward the flames, resting her head solidly against his chest as his arms encircled her, his hands drifting along her sides, granting her the most enticing feelings that ran from her sides to all parts of her body, including her very center. She twisted herself around and found his face and chest coming to cover hers.
The soft kisses and caresses grew more urgent and their hands worked softly and purposely. Touching as much of each other as possible and removing as much clothing as the warmth of the fire permitted. The heat on her skin was internal and external as she realized he was so toned, so strong beneath her fingers. He marveled at the way her skin glowed in the firelight. Their hands continued, hers grazing the evidence of his desires as his eyes closed and he drew shaky breaths. He wanted. He needed. He held himself stilled as he tried to communicate everything in his gaze. They were still too new to say it all in their faces, so they murmured against each other.
"Kate, I told you this is only what you want. What do? I mean …" he breathed into her ear as he kissed her neck and traced her collarbone with his fingers
"I lo, I need you. I want as much as you want to give me." The word was at the edge of her tongue, threatening to spill but she held it, the power of the feeling was all she could manage as she heard his words in her ear and against her lips
"I love you Kate. I love you and I don't want you to do what you aren't sure of"
"You? Too? I promise not to do what I don't want to, ever. I love you too. So much"
With a soft whoop against her lips, he swooped her into his arms and carried her over to the large four poster that they had pointedly ignored when they entered the room. The earlier exhaustion they had shared from hours behind the wheel was forgotten as the feathery bed gave them a soft warm playground to learn the most important game of their lives.
Sometime before the fire gave out, Garrett had rekindled his faith in his own heart's certainty and Kate was no longer broken in her mind. With their declarations, there were still miles to go before they could sleep, but they took comfort in the knowledge that this journey would be taken together.
Tonight would be the big welcome home, the families gathering to celebrate the graduations of the newly minted MD and the Master of Engineering. Kate had discovered a love of the system and finding improvements as she had worked through her own rehabilitation. Carlisle and Esme had wanted to host the party, so Kate had gotten ready in her room at Bella and Masen's. It had remained her base of operation on the west coast.
Garrett had spoken to both Charlie and Carlisle by phone. Masen had given his blessing several years earlier, warning him to get her a decent vegetable when the time came. The memory of the conversation brought a smile to his face as he leaned into the car, explaining he just needed a moment with the facilities before they made their grand entrance.
He went right to the large leather wing-back chair.
"I have to thank you first for saving my father's life. I don't know what would have happened to my family, to me without him. I have to thank you for Kate. She will always be your Lilyana. I promise to love her every day."
He picked up the bag and headed out the front door. He still had miles to go and promises to keep. He wanted everyone to know he would not be doing it alone.
Just one more question to ask.
Mark Garrett Thomas and Lilyana Katherine Cullen married the next summer, and the wing back chair remained at Bella's house.
She did take the cast iron skillet.
Special thanks to Mrs. Robward for allowing me to take inspiration from her work "It Might Have Been"
Also, Thomas Garrett was a stationmaster on the Underground Railway here in Delaware and worked closely with Harriet Tubman. A plaque detailing his history is just a few blocks from my apartment in Delaware. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy FAGE to all