Source: Pieces of Me (Short Story)
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Source: what we have, and what we need
Chapter 42. Packing
After the exhausting “Unwedding” in Las Vegas, partying with her never-was husband, he dropped her at home, where she sat in her apartment drinking coffee with her sister, Melanie.
The two Grants sat next to each other in the bay window of Kaylee’s apartment on a garage-sale special faux wicker loveseat. They had turned it around to create their own private space while they talked like sisters do.
‟It was amazing, we saw acrobats and a ballet that hung from the ceiling! Tom introduced me to the manager of the casino who let us go back and meet the circus group. A few of them knew Tom from his novels and movies.” Kaylee described with a wistful smile. ‟I’m sorry that you weren’t his sister-in-law for very long.”
Melanie held her sister’s hand.
‟You are on my spank-list for that, but you did the right thing. Glenn has asked about you a lot. He’s made it sound urgent and I know he said he had to go back early.” She nodded. ‟I bet he got an appointment somewhere and wants to take you with him to D.C. to meet everyone.”
‟What about going to school here? I can’t marry him until I graduate.”
‟You would be engaged in that time.” Melanie winked over the cup as she sipped the coffee that she had bought down the street. A ‟Shot in the dark”, black coffee with a shot of espresso that she sweetened with some sugar. ‟You don’t have to run off and get married. Even if you like to do that.” She nudged her sister as they sat and looked out the window.
Sisters, first and always. They knew each other’s secrets and stood by each other no matter what the world came at them with. They might fight with each other, but they were family.
Melanie looked out over at the bay where a large jet floated.
‟It seems strange seeing it from so far away.” Kayley whispered, almost to herself. ‟It’s bigger than most boats.” Her smile widened. ‟Hard to miss with those colors.”
‟Is he there now?”
‟No. He had to make arrangements to move the Sea Dragon. The FAA approved it for flight and Tom needed to have a check up on his arm. He heals fast I think, his fingers don’t tingle anymore and he has movement enough to type without me helping him. He was typing when I left the Wizard at the airport.”
‟So everything is all right there.”
‟Do you know he has so much money that he gets free rooms at casino’s?” Kaylee said wistfully. “That whole thing kind of made me mad.”
‟You told me that.” Melanie brushed the hair out of her sisters face.
‟I am still amazed.”
Melanie smiled. Her older sister had repeated things time and again for the last couple days while she packed to go back home and meet up with Glenn.
*Glenn.* Melanie’s future brother-in-law would be interesting to have around. He would spend a lot of time in the Maryland area as a congressional aide and possibly be elected. *I am not as excited about that as I was about Tom. Politics corrupts so many people with power, money, drugs, drink, parties with temptation everywhere. I have no trust in them, that kind of snake den would cause nothing but trouble.*
Melanie wanted her sister to avoid that kind of stress, and Glenn was good-looking enough to have a dozen girls on the side, and Washington was awash in pretty women and men.
Kaylee leaned on her sister, putting her head on Melanie ’s shoulder.
‟I miss him. I miss Tom.” She said. ‟I did the right thing, Mel, didn’t I?”
‟Yes.” Melanie put her arm around her older but smaller sister and kissed the top of her sister’s head. ‟Glenn is our generation, Tom is almost as old as mom. I looked it up.”
On the volleyball courts, they called Melanie “The Monster”. As the six-foot-tall captain of the volleyball team, she drove her team to back-to-back championships. But now she was a sister. Melanie the Monster loved Kaylee more than anyone else of her generation.
‟I’m taking a flight with Tom to go home. He has some business in Seattle and would drop me close to home, I could take a taxi on the cheap then and surprise everyone.”
‟What business does he have in Seattle?” Melanie ’s quizzical smile tickled Kaylee ’s soul.
‟A book event where he autographs works of his novels for people.” Kaylee got up and refreshed her cup of coffee. ‟He goes to those a lot, like twelve times a year, maybe more.”
‟Headed home in a private jet.” Melanie laughed. ‟You’re spoiled.”
‟Chartered.” Kaylee corrected. ‟Oy! He has taught me that habit. Sometimes, Tom makes me mad and he is not even here.”
Melanie laughed again, harder. Her sister’s tastes in things had changed in the five weeks of being married, rather, not-married according to the government, to Tom. She had become more complex, even her drawing and painting all night had been fast paced and prolific.
Twelve charcoals done in eight hours. Some surreal like Picasso and Salvador Dali. A Monet style drawing of Melanie as she napped on the couch during the night, among the many that she did.
All for her own pleasure.
*If it was pleasure?* She pondered.
*All passion for sure.*
Some art she created with bright colors and filled a heart with happiness.
Others, blue and sad, a cold pastel of a single heart, alone in a snowy field.
‟I need to get packed,” Kaylee said softly, got up and went to gather her clothes for her trip. “So I can fly with him.”
Melanie tossed back the last of her coffee and smiled.
‟You have a last ride on him?” Winking at her older sister.
‟No, that part’s done. Tom is just doing this as a favor because I am late and he is going north, too.”
‟When is the limo supposed to pick you up?”
‟Anytime, now. It’s a ninety-minute flight to Portland from here.”
‟That’s that Tom said.” Kaylee shrugged. ‟It will be the last time I see him for a month. My classes don’t start at the normal date, they are a later starting class this year. Professor Denton, who is teaching it is in France.”
‟You have Professor Denton? That is cool! She got married to her wife last spring and they are in France on a honeymoon.”
Kaylee stacked her luggage by the door.
‟Yeah, did you see who she married? It was in the paper, her wife is an artist downtown.”
‟Yup! Sculptures are amazing, she even has a bathtub sculpted out of soapstone.”
‟I saw that, shaped like a flower. They want thirty-thousand for it.”
‟I am not going to buy it. Not for that price.” Melanie laughed.
‟I won’t buy it for a tenth that price, it is too much.” Kaylee nodded as she put her toothbrush in the last small bag to take down.
‟You are traveling light.” Melanie noted. ‟You used to go home with almost everything.”
‟I’ve learned a few things this summer.”
A knock on the door and Kaylee answered it. A handsome older gentleman was there, wearing a drivers uniform. It was a driver that she had not met before.
‟Miss Grant?” He asked.
*Ouch.* A sharp pang in her heart when he used her maiden name. *I had gotten used to being a Harte.*
‟Yes, Just these bags, please.”
The trio walked down the stairs to the street, a midnight-blue limousine waited. It was not stretched like many were, it was more business and less party.
‟Give mom and dad hugs for me. I wish I could go but I need to set up for early starting classes. I’m supposed to have access to the school network, but I’m blocked from logging in.”
Kissing her sister good-bye, Kaylee got into the limousine and the driver clicked the door quietly, leaving Melanie waving on the sidewalk.
For one brief, shining moment, she wished she still wore a ring. A pale band on her skin of her ring-finger showed where she refused to take it off until the very end.
One last time, she looked at the bay, where sat the Pacific Wizard, just before they turned inland to the airport and lost sight of it.
In the front of the limousine, Gulstan the Chauffeur looked in the mirror at the young woman who appeared to weep. Professional that he was, he would never ask.
What happens in his limo, stays in his limo.
This is really good, read this is something that you should.
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Chapter 41. Afterglow and Tables
Candles, perfumed smoke of a cedar-wick that crackled on the far table wafted through the room with two exhausted lovers relaxed in the soft light.
Tom still had his shirt half-on, he was too drunk to take it off with one arm when they got home, the white material stained from when he fell into a fountain. .
Kaylee kissed Tom’s chest as he slept. Six hours of dance and drink and then home to the penthouse pushed him over the edge of exhaustion more than once, he drank too many cups of coffee to keep going.
Now, with his shoes removed, he was in a deep sleep, despite where he lay his recovering arm.
Small marks on his chest would take a few days to heal where she had bitten him during a slow dance, but between the ice-cubes she dropped down his shirt and kissing, he was sleeping with his arms around her. The pain of his wounded arm forgotten as was the wound in both their hearts while their bodies recovered from the intense celebration.
They were friends and even if her promise had to take them each on a separate path in life, she knew in time that he would relax more.
‟You know,” Tom said quietly, little more than a whisper. ‟If this is what it is like getting annulled from you, I want to do this once a week, at least.”
Kaylee laughed quietly, the sun was going down and they were about to wake up.
‟There is a private gaming table with our names on it?” She asked.
‟Now you mention it.” Tom snuffled. ‟We do.”
‟You said you like to play blackjack?” She asked and pressed her body against his, she was still in her silk party clothes, too tired the night before to undress. She wanted to remember what it felt like and she wanted to touch every inch of him for as long as she could.
All too soon, this journey of passion and party would be over and she would go back to the life that she had planned since before puberty.
Artist, student, possibly even the wife of a congressman. Elected officials had a more complex life while trying to do their jobs.
Glenn often said they had to make hard choices that might make them unpopular with the voters. So the right thing was the thing that would get them removed from office.
It was a wonderful, great time build a life.
If it wasn’t for Tom and this past few weeks of wonder and passion. An exciting summer of build-up to the wedding and the first years together with Glenn.
She lightly touched Tom’s chest. He twitched with a slightly hysterical giggle. His body was still tingled from the intense excitement of the impromptu party and dances she made him do while he drank expensive wines until his words slurred.
His smooth and, now, hairless chest. Her skill with argument, convincing him on this last night of the thrill and fun to have every hair on his body removed, every strand of stray hair. His control impressed her while the attendant wax his underarms and toes.
Even if he did squeak a couple of times.
*Well, maybe not fun for him, but I enjoyed watching it.* She smiled, on the knife-edge of laughing out loud.
The rewards of his clean-to-the-Nth-degree-body made for better dance-floor teases. She loved his bare, hair free chest.
*He will never forget any of this, I hope he still loves me for having his hair ripped out!*
She knew she would never forget.
Kissing his chest, his twitching making her smile. She stood up and pulled him to the edge of the bed.
‟Oh? What now?” She shut him up with a kiss.
‟Let’s not waste anymore time! Let’s go party gamble for our un-wedding.” She smiled and opened her bag and pulled out a small black dress.
‟What? Do you have a wardrobe in that thing?” He yawned, and made a quiet yelp of pain. “My armpits are sore! Woman, you said this was painless.”
‟Melanie ’s design. Whenever we travel, we keep nice clothes in a kit, I have another one for formal, it is slightly larger with a full length black dress and heels. It fits in a dresser drawer, and I can put it in a bag or purse in a second. She has wanted to market it, but some problems with one seam or another not lining up and we keep getting creases in the wrong places.” She smiled while she pulled the dress up, pulled her hair out and tucked herself in. Buttoning up the up to the top of her cleavage. ‟We are going to try to roll dresses in the next design in special tubes made for packing. It takes less room and, in theory, does not cause creases.”
‟Quite the invention.” Tom smiled as he pulled on a red-silk shirt.
‟We had plans of being famous designers and do art-level clothing that could be inexpensive, and recyclable. We could keep it as haute couture, with a fraction of the price.”
‟What has stopped you?”
‟Lack of funding and time. Dad is an IT tech and mom teaches accounting. It’s just enough to help us go through college, even with scholarships.”
‟Yes,” Tom took a deep breath let it out slowly and shook his head. ‟This state charges more for education with a high cost of living that prevents many students from going to higher education. It is a weakness in this country. No investments in education on a higher level.”
‟Well, whatever, but I am going to finish what I have started and have my Master’s in fine arts.”
‟Okay, I’m ready. Do you want to go gamble?”
‟Yeah!” She cheered. “Woot!”
‟I don’t know if I want to take you downstairs, there won’t be any eyes not looking at you.” Tom said. ‟I may become jealous.”
‟Yeah, right. You have one quirk. You are the most laid-back man I know.”
‟The most laid on his back, anyway.” Tom laughed. ‟Okay, to the elevator.”
Kaylee walked carefully in her high-heels, wearing the shoes, she was as tall as Tom.
‟You are beautiful.” Tom whispered.
Kaylee felt her cheeks flush.
‟Thank you. I wanted you to enjoy this date.”
‟I have. I’m just sorry it has to end.”
‟Tom, I want to go home to Portland when we get back. Glenn is waiting for me there, he has asked the family about me. Melanie says that he is going to ask the question.”
‟The big question?”
‟I hope so, if he asks me to borrow my car, I’m going to punch him.” She raised her fist. “Hard.”
They both laughed awkwardly.
The door of the elevator opened and the couple entered.
A direct ride to down, over twenty floors, to the one room with limited access.
Tom handed over his room key, scanned by a security guard who nodded and then they were in.
‟Let’s go here, you said you like the old-style dollar machines?”
‟Oh yeah, you have no idea.” Kaylee laughed and imitated the clinking of silver dollars falling.
‟Okay,” Tom smiled. ‟Let’s go over here.”
At a cage, Tom chatted a girl who knew him by sight.
‟Hi Tom!” She smiled, a brilliant grin that looked natural. Kaylee felt a pang of jealousy when she leaned in and kissed Tom on the cheek.
‟Five-thousand singles for this young woman here.” Tom said. ‟She wants to play the dollar slots.”
‟Yes, sir. Very good choice.” She smiled again and began to tap on a computer touch screen. ‟And your usual starting stake?”
‟Yes, please.” Tom nodded. ‟And if she comes back, fill her order at a thousand-chip increments, she can carry those without tipping over.”
The stack of chips were the size of silver dollars of the Eisenhower era.
‟If you go over there, you can play the giant machine and still watch me. I’ll be here on the table with blackjack.” Tom pointed to the empty table in the middle of a large room with very few people walking about.
‟Wow!” Kaylee boggled. ‟I never knew this place even existed.”
Tom smiled and sat on the stool. He was the only person there.
‟I don’t think this one is open, hun.” Kaylee kissed him. “Maybe we can raise our hands to attract attention?”
‟It’ll be open, give it a half-minute.” His eyes reflected the confident tone in his voice.
Kaylee laughed and went to the one-armed bandit and dropped in a few of the chips that clanged all the way in. Her first pull she won twenty back that clanged in the tray under the two images of cherries and a golden number seven.
An hour later, Kaylee dropped in her last dollar chip. Biting her fingernails she pulled the lever, then the jackpot hit on a minor score.
She won all but two-hundred dollars back in chips. The sound clinked nonstop while machine stayed in dispense mode for five minutes.
Gathering up her Casino treasure in a bucket, she went to see how Tom was doing and found him right where she left him, but now he sat with five other gamblers, plus the dealer. In front of him was a minor stack of chips, she noted, and it seemed smaller than when she had left him, and the chips were different colors.
*Lower denominations.* She tried to look over his shoulder.
‟Tom?” Caressing his shoulder. ‟I’m ready to go see the rest of the town.”
‟Hi, babe. Just a minute. I’ll finish this hand and we can go look at things.”
‟How much are you betting?” She was unfamiliar with the chip colors.
‟A hundred.” Tom did not take his eyes off the dealer’s hands.
‟That’s a lot of money to put down on a single bet.” She said while the dealer went down the line of players. ‟I could have a lot of fun with a hundred dollars than to blow it on a bet. I thought you would bet the regular amount.”
‟It’s not a hundred dollars.” Tom said with a crooked smile.
‟What is it?” She blinked. “Credits?”
Kaylee felt like she had been hit with a snap-kick in the chest and lost her brain-power to speak, her mouth opened and her lips just twitched.
‟Oh my god?” Tom asked. While he nodded. With a jack and a duece showing, he drew a king and lost the bet. ‟Okay, thank you.”
He rolled a token towards the dealer.
‟Thank you.” The tuxedo clad dealer smiled at the five-hundred-dollar chip given to him.
‟Tom!” Kaylee was able to get the word out. ‟Tom, you lost a bet! That could have bought a nice car, even.”
‟It wasn’t one bet. That was my third loss in a row, that is why it was time to quit.”
‟Wut?” Kaylee got dizzy and grabbed at Tom’s sleeve and looked in his eyes.
‟I lost three bets in a row, it was time to leave.”
‟You lost a hundred-thousand dollars on one bet? You were betting… A. Hundred.” Kaylee couldn’t breathe. “Thousand. Dollars.”
‟Yes. I was there, I know it was a hundred-k bet.”
‟You lost three-hundred thousand?”
‟No, only one-seventy five.”
‟Oh. TOM!” She was about to blow a gasket. Suddenly, she was angry.
‟I’m still up two-hundred twenty thousand.” He shrugged and continued walking.
‟Holy crap!” Kaylee sat down on a stool.
“Well, are you hungry? Let’s go get food.” Tom smiled.
“Now I know why they want your money back.” She got up to follow Tom, her legs still a little shaky. Kaylee was not sure if it was from the shock, dancing or wine.
“They always do.” Tom laughed.
Chapter 40. This Girl Loves Her Sharp Dressed Man
Smiling, Kaylee climbed out of the pool and padded around on the concrete walk, the water glistened on her bare skin. She spread out a towel and Stretched in the sun at Tom’s side, while he soaked his feet in the pool.
Sitting next to his left, she touched his bandaged arm.
‟You got this damp. We will need to change it before you get dressed and we go out.” She observed. Her skin puckered in the breeze that blew over the open area on the roof of the penthouse.
She helped Tom to his feet and they walked down the stairs to the breakfast nook where the bag with bandages sat.
Slowly unwrapping the arm, exposing the ugly suture line, Kaylee smiled softly.
‟The color is better than when we got to the hospital. How does it feel.” She stroked his hand with her fingers.
*She is caregiver who is breathtakingly beautiful, shy as a hammer and cares for me, a partner who can’t swim with her.* He moved his fingers. “It doesn’t hurt at all, at the moment.”
‟It is not leaking at all right now. The bandages are still clean underneath.”
Tom looked away, he did not want to look at it since the doctor cut off the bandages, the bluish color at the hospital had alarmed and frightened the author of books. In his head, he got too close to losing the arm.
‟That’s good. Just make sure its clean and cover it up, I don’t want to look at it at all, it makes me a little… Well, a lot… worried.”
Kissing his fingers, she looked in his eyes.
‟You feel that?”
‟Yes. How could I not?”
‟Sensation for soft touch is normal.” She smiled. Then biting his thumb lightly. ‟Feel that.”
‟Oh, yeah.” He gasped and his eyes got big. ‟This is a tease?”
‟You’ll never know.” She slowly wrapped his arm with a roll bandage wearing a slight smile.
‟What do you mean? “I’ll never know”.”
Her creative muse of art and sensation awoke, she stood up, reached in the bag and took out a blood-red short-sleeve silk cocktail-dress and pulled it over her head, laughing at Tom’s eyes.
‟Like I said, you will never know.”
‟Do you have anything in that for me?” Tom grinned. “Is this part of the surprise?”
‟Well, now. She turned on her phone and ordered a black tuxedo. We have the obvious out-of-the-way. I had the tux set up for my call.” She took his hand and pulled him to his feet.
‟Follow me.” She took him by the hand, pulling Tom out of the kitchen chair.
‟Where are we…”
‟Shush and follow my lead, brat.”
‟Hush. Close your eyes.” She pulled him firmly. “We have something to fix before you get dressed. Follow.”
Playfully resisting, he followed her slowly across the suite, a pause as she picked up a bag tickled his imagination of what was about to happen.
Pushing him to a large, padded cushion, it took Tom a moment to realize he was sitting on a bed.
A big bed.
Tom bounced a bit, but no spring, it settled. Memory foam.
It was comfortable and somewhat firm. The bed felt large, king-sized.
A sound of a small ratchet echoed in his dark world, she had picked up something.
‟What…” He felt a metallic clamp on his right thumb.
‟Move to the head of the bed, lay down and let me lift your hands up over your head, so they are above your heart a little.”
Stretching out on the bed, he found a pillow, and she laughed lightly at his efforts. She knelt next to him and gently guided his wounded arm over his head.
The clicks of a ratchet sound and sensations of a clamp on his other thumb through the slats of the headboard alarmed him and he tugged at his arms.
He was trapped.
‟Kaylee ?” His eyes opened wide.
‟You will call me Mistress.”
Tom started to laugh and found that he had a most definite bound and helpless sensation, his hands held in place by the thumb-cuffs.
For the first time in his adult life, he was afraid of a woman in the bedroom.
Thomas Harte, writer of steam-pirate stories, survivor of near disasters and surgery gave a nervous giggle.
“Be gentle?” he whispered.
Kaylee gave the most wicked laugh she could muster.
For twenty-minutes while they waited for his tuxedo to arrive, she taught him the reason about why she was not an ex-wife.
Kaylee was pulling her dress back over her head when the doorbell rang and she left to answer it.
“Um. Thumbs?” Tom’s voice came out as a whine.
“Don’t go away.” Kaylee laughed when she left the room.
*Like I have a choice.* He tugged at the thumb-cuff. He could hear her talking with another woman at the door. *It sounds like she just gave my number to Erika.*
She returned to the bedroom with a black tuxedo, carefully hanging it on the bar in the closet.
“Now mister.” She turned to the helpless non-husband. “We dress you, cuz there isn’t any date I like better than have my men dressed in formal clothes. Tonight, you wear a stick-pin, cufflinks, and there are gloves, a hat and a cane at the door.”
“Silk shirt, hat, cane, gloves. Mister, then you’ll be one sharp dressed man.” She waved two brand-new mirror-shined black dress shoes for him to wear.
When they finished getting him dressed to the nines, they stood in front of the doors of the elevator.
She could not take her eyes from him and was humming a tune.
When the doors closed behind them, she whispered-sang in his ear while holding his hand and stepped off the elevator car to the stares of the staff women at the lobby desk.
“Every girl is crazy about a sharp dressed man.” And kissed him on the earlobe. “I love you in your tux and black tie.”
*I love you, too.* Floated through his mind.
comes from what is inside you it is part of you you cannot weave together a spell that you don’t believe in ♠
Chapter 39. Suite and Shower
Tom knew how to get to the hotel and told Kaylee not to follow the GPS.
‟That thing is taking you around the long way. I don’t know that route, and through a neighborhood?! That’s nuts. Take the next left, go to the highway on-ramp. Three exits, and left. It’s easy to find.”
‟You have been there before?” She said, after slowing for a slightly wobbly street person who walked across the street in the middle of the block and waved thanks at her.
‟He should know better,” She growled at the scraggly man. ‟That is a good way to die and that would just screw up my day.”
‟Well, deep breath. We have a nice room waiting for us.”
‟It’s just a room.”
‟You used the married name? My name?”
‟Well, yeah.” She nodded. ”I used the card you gave me.”
She thought a moment.
‟I suppose I should give it back to you.”
‟No, keep it. Let it expire in three years and use it for emergencies, getting married, paying rent.” Tom smiled. ‟Especially if you buy books. My books.”
‟Drumming up business, are you?” Kaylee laughed.
‟Well, that would be self-defeating. My, money buying my book? Then I’d pay commission, there is no profit in that.” Tom chuckled. ‟Consider it a gift if you buy one.”
‟I’d buy a bunch and give them away, try to drum up business for you.” Kaylee winked as she merged on to the highway.
A small smile crossed his lips, then a far away look settled in his eyes and Tom looked out the window and remained quiet for a few minutes.
‟I’ll miss you.” She said softly. ‟I know you are unhappy.”
‟You know me pretty well, already.” He said in a soft voice and turned back to look out the window. ‟You will go back to school this fall, probably with an engagement ring. Melanie will stop coming to my movies, she will stop buying books and hold a grudge. The world will end and I’ll drown my sorrows in an overdose of rum and painkillers and fly the Pacific Wizard to a bad landing on the ocean with no survivors.”
‟Kidding, just poking at the pity-pot for a moment.” Tom gave a crooked smile. But there was some truth that glinted in his eyes. A sadness that he didn’t cover up quickly enough for Kaylee to miss.
It was a horrid sadness of soul, a soul that she cared for.
‟On the subject of the hotel, have you been there before?” She changed the subject back.
‟A time or two for book-signings. They wanted me to play, too. I have a minor weakness for blackjack. I win more than I lose, as well. The casino is always interested in winning back some that I have taken from their tables. Roulette is good, too, but I lose more there.”
‟I like dollar machines.” She smiled. “I might ask you for a few rolls”
‟I bet.” Tom laughed at his own joke.
Kaylee gave him a sideways look.
‟That was terrible.” She said with a crooked smile shaking her head.
‟Made you grin.”
Guiding the electric SUV to a parking slot, she overshot the painted line of the parking stall and began to struggle slightly getting it straight.
Outside, a woman got out of her small hybrid and started to berate them though the glass of the Tesla.
‟You people need to get over your small penis envy! That car is an abomination, sucking down more gas than you are worth! This is what will wreck the world for us all in twenty years! Selfish, stupid whore.”
Kaylee got a look in her eye that Tom had seen once before.
He had seen the look when she stomped a man twice her size nearly to death, and this look was just the same, but this time, he saw it up close along with the white knuckles of the warrior woman.
‟NO! No, Kay! No!” He grabbed at her hand.
‟Lady, go into the casino where you belong. You no clue what you are talking about.” Kaylee’s temper was a nuclear furnace.
‟I do, you drive that gas-pig around and the rest of us pay for the global warming filth that you create, that movie showed it to us. Inconvenient isn’t it? You drive gas guzzler’s with all your careless abuse of fossil fuels.”
‟Lady,” Kaylee hissed. ‟You get in your fossil-fueled car, take your attitude and get the hell away from my husband…” Kaylee choked. ‟And me.”
‟My car is an all green hybrid. I get fifty-miles per gallon, how much does your pig get?”
‟I can’t tell you, it doesn’t take gas.”
‟Diesel! Foul, nasty, penis envy…”
‟It does not use any kind of oil. No diesel, no gas, no propane.” Tom said.
‟What?” The woman pronounced it ‟wut” and blinked in confusion.
‟It’s all electric, no hybrid. It gets an electric equivalent of over two-hundred miles per gallon.” Kaylee clenched her fists. She was an artist about to paint her version of Dante’s Inferno on this woman. ‟So. Kiss-off.”
Taken aback, the woman shook her head.
‟You lie. There is no such thing.” She looked at the back of the Model X.
‟No tailpipe, witch.” Kaylee called over her shoulder while they left her looking at the dark windowed car with the electric-car tag hanging on the mirror.
“I was this close,” Kaylee held up her thumb and forefinger. “She was about to have a problem.”
“Yeah, I know, she is still looking over the Tesla.” Tom laughed as they walked across the parking lot.
They made their way into the casino and to the check-in desk.
The clerk did not bother to look up when Kaylee stepped up to the counter.
‟Reservation for Harte.”
‟One moment please.”
Another voice from around the corner.
‟Harte? Kaylee and Thomas Harte?”
‟Yes.” Kaylee nodded.
‟Steve, go over there, I have this.” It was a dapper woman with a the air of Captain Watson, all professional.
‟Remember I said of the VIP coming in?”
‟Oh.” And moved off.
‟I apologize for that. I was watching for your limo to come in.”
‟We came by rental car. Miss…?”
‟I have this Kaylee .”
‟Erika, thank you for watching, but we are in a rental car this time. Might go driving later.”
‟Very good. Do you need the rental returned for you and we will arrange a limo for your use later, on the house.” Erika said.
‟That would be most excellent.” Tom nodded. ‟My usual company I use here?”
‟Desert Limo? I’m sorry, but they are out of business.”
‟Oh? Since when?”
‟About three weeks ago, IRS came in and shut them down, the tax-man took out a lot of limo companies. There are only two in town now. A few gypsy limos, but the two that stayed operating for the moment is Deviance Limousine and Gemini Limousine are still in business. Until the IRS gets to them.”
‟Why is the IRS involved?”
‟They are cleaning house around here. It is causing trouble for everyone.”
‟I can understand. In any event, we will be changing and heading out in a bit.”
‟A limo will be on standby for you, Mister Harte. A moment’s notice will be all that is all we will need.”
‟Very good, as you can see, I have a small problem with my arm. Could I get a porter?”
‟Right away.” Erika said, dialing a number. ‟Where are your bags now?”
‟Black Tesla rental, in the electric only parking stall.” Kaylee said.
‟Very good,” Erika nodded to a young man who was standing within earshot, who walked up and took the key from Kaylee and headed out to the car.
‟Your bags will be up at your suite momentarily.”
‟Thank you, Erika. We will wait for the bags in our room.”
‟I will trust you will find the lodgings to your pleasure. You have a panoramic view, the gaming table on the floor is available at any time. You also have access to our private gaming area as you see fit. And as always, this will be comp. Your VIP code was not entered when the clerk took the call, so I will deduct the reservation charges now.”
‟Mister Harte? This way, please.” It was an impeccably dressed man with a Mid-Atlantic accent wearing a name tag Gene Childs, Hotel Manager.
‟Tom. Please, call me Tom.” He smiled. ‟I ask you that every time I arrive.
‟Yes, sir. Tom.” The manager smiled. ‟It’s an old habit.”
Riding the elevator up, Kaylee looked over in front of Tom and tapped his hand.
‟We are going to the top?”
‟Yes, ma’am. This is Mister… er… Tom’s regular place when he stays. I can say that Tom does not bring his family members here often, we are always pleased to serve you in any wishes you might have.”
‟Tom’s family…” She thought for a moment and looked down.
The doors opened, there was no hallway. They stepped out directly into a frosted glass foyer with a wooden door.
‟The normal full security precautions, four-inch-thick glass and polycarbonate panels with electronic privacy. It converts from clear to frost with a press of a button on the remote control and at several panels around the room. The door is all but breach proof. The whole floor is a panic room.” Gene walked around and pointed the features. ‟Limited access to the elevator, staff and the key-holder for this floor only.”
‟Thank you, Gene.” Tom said as the elevator chimed and the young man walked in with their bags.
‟Of course, please call me directly if there is anything you need. Twenty-four hours.” Gene said as he handed Tom his card. ‟The number on the back is my direct line.”
‟Thank you, again.” Tom smiled.
Two hotel staff members stepped inside the elevator and the doors slid silently shut.
‟I thought they would never leave!” Kaylee said. ‟I’m *family*?”
‟He was being circumspect. He could have gone the other way and asked if you were a working girl.”
‟That’s just wrong to assume.”
‟Agreed. But you must admit, we are an odd couple. You are young, beautiful and vibrant. I’m OFU.”
‟Old, fat and ugly.” He said as he walked to the door and pressed the button on the key and unlocked the door to the suite.
She kicked Tom in the backside.
‟You stop that.” She started to make a growl then gasped. ‟Shut-up! This is not our room? Oh-my-gawd!”
The walls moved on command when Tom tapped the buttons on the remote control.
Three hundred-sixty degree views of Las Vegas and the surrounding mountains took her breath away.
‟Tom, I swear, I only wanted to get a nice room. I didn’t book a penthouse.”
‟You forget my name carries some influence. They may have thought you were just some any Kaylee Harte, and I wager they mulled that over, and did not clue on it.”
‟How many times have you been here?”
‟A few, I don’t count. Usually, I stay on the Pacific Wizard.” Tom said as he sat down in a sculpted leather chair that looked out over the landscape.
‟Is the bar open?”
‟Everything is. You heard Erika said that it was comp.” Tom said, grunting slightly as he moved his wounded arm to a comfortable position.”
‟Wow. Macallen whiskey!” Kaylee balked. “What? This one is thirty-years!”
‟They should have the full spectrum.” Tom nodded, looking out the window.
‟Holy crap! Do you know how much this is? I saw some in the locked case at the Tower of Liquor in Ocean Bay.” She turned it around in her hand slowly. ‟And I can open it?”
‟If you want. But if you open it, you better drink it. That is about three-hundred dollars you have in your hand.” He said as he kicked his shoes off.
‟I’m going to put it back, I have never held anything that expensive in a bottle.” She poked around in the refrigerator. “I can’t read this except for chocolate.”
“Oh, that would be the old world Luxemburg or German-made chocolates.” He chuckled. “Impossible to say, wonderful on the tongue. Except I don’t like chocolate.”
Kaylee laughed at that.
‟What are you up to, hun?” She asked while he pulled off his shirt.
‟Thinking about jumping into the pool.” Tom said.
‟There’s a pool?” She turned around, nearly dropping a full bottle of Pyrate Rum, with ‟Cask Special” on the label.
‟Let’s go swimming!”
‟You didn’t bring a suit. Remember?”
‟Skinny dip!” She yelled as she ran through the suite peeling off clothes. ”After that I am going to have a cuddle with you until you cry for a mommy!”
Tom watched her jump in the penthouse pool, her skin shimmered in the ripples of the clear pool water. He didn’t laugh, in fact, it saddened him on a deep level. Until a little while ago, she was his wife.
This troubled him on so many levels, he was not sure he could count them all.
But he was going to have one last night of love with a twenty-two-year-old art student and martial arts master with the moves of a gymnast.
‟You know, you’ll need a shower after this. This is a salt pool.”
‟I’ll give you a body shampoo, before we go to bed.” She yelled from the far end of the pool while he sat in the shallow end, with his arm perched above the water.
Tom chuckled, that was a plus. He had spots he could not reach.
It was a lesson about how important each of his hands were.
*A serious lesson.* He pulled at his earlobe with his good hand while he watched the young woman swim in the private pool forty stories in the air.
Chapter 38. Emergency Room Visit
“We will have to go back to get our bags when we have the car.” Kaylee, taking command of the situation. She had noticed that Tom look more pale, but was not saying anything.
Kaylee contorted herself to look through the tunnel that separated from the front to the patient compartment.
He definitely favored the arm and he rubbed the fingers lightly. The occasional yelp of pain was testament that his arm caused him more agony than before they left the plane.
“Tom, why don’t you admit something is wrong? You picked up that bag with that arm, did it hurt then?” Kaylee called back.
“No. But that is the only thing I did. I didn’t even think about it.” He admitted. Tom Looked at the medic. “I really didn’t feel anything was wrong after I picked up the bag.”
“I’m married, I am not about to get in the middle of an argument. You just stay cool, you can always argue later.” The medic shook his head with a wry grin.
“Yup. Big rule: Do not get involved with husband-wife spats.” The medic chuckled. “I always lose.”
“My arm hurts worse, I thought it was the plane and decompression.” Tom moaned.
“Is it throbbing or is it a steady pain?” The medic asked as he taped down an IV on Tom’s good arm. “Your blood pressure is lower than I would expect.”
Using pillows, the medic raised the arm above Tom’s heart.
“Oh, I had a bit of surgery on my arm and it started to hurt after I picked up a bag to carry. I shifted it to my good arm, but I think I pulled on something too much.” Tom said, his voice stronger, doing his best to hide his discomfort. “Actually, that makes it feel better.”
“Okay, it’s just a short trip to Mountain View hospital, just a couple of miles.” The medic said as he looked forward, his name was George, he looked like a man who had many miles in an ambulance. “How long have your fingers been cool like this?”
“Cool? They felt warm in the airplane.”
George pressed on Tom’s fingernails of his good hand.
“Uh-huh.” Then his fingers went to Tom’s pained hand. “Can you feel when I touch your fingers?”
“It tingles a bit.” Tom said. “That’s okay, it has been like that for a while.”
“Define a while?”
“Most of the day, but my fingers have stayed warm and red.”
Nodding, George let no concern show behind his brown eyes. He might as well been talking about the weather.
“Well,” George pressed on the bandage, leaving the bandage on his arm. “We will get the doctor to open this time-bomb carefully.”
“Why don’t you do it?”
“Ah yeah, no. What if I release the pressure and turn you into a firehose of blood?” George chuckled. “That would be a bad thing. I can see it leaking through the gauze now. This close to the ER, you are better off to have a surgical team look this over to release the pressure.”
Tom laughed nervously, unsure if he was joking.
Backing into the ambulance bay at the ER Entrance, Kaylee watched a conversation between George and an older woman in a white coat about surgery and sudden and increasing pain got the doctor’s attention while the medic crew rolled Tom in on a bright yellow ambulance gurney.
“Mister Harte? I am Doctor Octavia Guzman. Is it okay if I examine you and your arm.” The white coated woman smiled as a nurse walked close and started taking notes on a computer stand.
“Do your fingers tingle?” The doctor said
“Yes, a little.”
“Have they been cool or warm?” She asked touching them. Her raven-black hair was almost blue, the black eyes of a local native tribe. She had an air of professionalism mixed with deep caring. The crew rolled Tom to a separate room off to the side and moved him to a hospital bed.
“Cap-refill is greater than four-seconds. We need to get a view of his surgery site.” She directed to the nurse.
Giving orders for a host of tests, she sat down with Tom and Kaylee .
Answering all her questions, the original trauma and surgery to fix the wound.
“Donna?” He turned to the clerk. “Get me his surgeon on the phone.”
“Let’s open this bandage and see what the trouble with the arm is, shall we?” The Doctor trimmed away the white bandage, stained a slight-brown with the fluids soaking through from the suture line.
“You say you picked something up?”
“Yes,” Tom hissed in pain when the doctor pulled back on the layer of bandage she cut. “My other hand was full and I was just going to hang the bag on my good wrist. It wasn’t heavy. Maybe seven-kilos. My elbow popped, but it always pops after not using it much.”
“Hm. Fascinating.” While she trimmed more of the wrapping away. “This is rather tight, did you wrap your arm this tight to begin with?”
“Kaylee , my wife, she was in the other room when I started the wrap with one hand.”
“Well, now I have looked a little deeper, you would do well to let her do it from now on. You wrapped it too tight and restricted the return circulation.” He pressed a fingernail, blanching it white. The color returned quickly. “You might be having more pain in the hand now?”
Tom moaned slightly.
“Yeah, it aches.”
“How long has it been since you changed the dressing? When did you wrap it so tightly?”
“Um.”Tom thought, looking at the clock on the wall. “About three-hours now.”
“Blood is returning, but I am still worried about the extensive surgery you had on this arm and the bandage being tight for so long. The popping sound you heard also bothers me. I’ll be talking with your surgeon and ask his opinion. I recommend you see him as soon as possible over this incident.”
The doctor looked at his fingers again, the color had returned to reasonable facsimile of normal and were warming up.
“I will get a vascular consult on this and make sure that no lasting damage resulted from the bandage.” She smiled at Tom. “I think you get to thank your wife for saving the arm. She told the nurse that you wanted to go to the hotel and instead she brought you here in the ambulance.”
“That’s true.” Tom said. “But I wanted to change the bandage at the hotel room, so we could have cured the problem.”
“Maybe. But you did not know. You had gone all the way around with the tape when you put your bandage on, the tape acted as a constricting band and cut off the return of the blood in your arm. ” With that, the Doctor walked out.
Two hours later, they were in a rental Tesla and driving towards the courthouse.
“Seriously, Tom.” Kaylee said in an irritated voice. “You wrapped that thing too tight. Doctor Tribbing told Doctor Guzman that you’ll be okay, but you need to let someone else dress your arm. It was lucky I paid attention when they said how to check the fingertips.”
“You are my hero.” Tom winked but winced when they hit a bump. “It’s still tender to bumps.”
“I will not have you behaving like an idiot teenager, you will hire a home-care person until your arm is fully healed.” Kaylee sounded threatening while wheeling the Tesla Model X into a parking spot set aside for electric cars.
“We need to get going.” Tom nodded. “I can arrange the home care in a blink.”
“Well, we are here. Let’s get this done and go party. We also have to check in to the hotel room.”
“Just one? Not two?”
“I plan to have one more night, I’ll party with someone who’s not my husband until you pass out.”
“I will drink some espresso, then.”
“I’ll make you some chamomile tea, instead. It’s healthier for you.”
“Maybe.” Tom said. “Ugh, arm is throbbing.”
Standing in line for five minutes, they discussed their party plans for the evening.
The clerk was slightly disbelieving to the intent and the friendliness of the couple. They paid cash for the forms, and followed the instructions on the printed paper. They finished in a short time.
Walking back out to the car, they found a citation on the windshield for parking in the electric-only car stall.
The parking enforcement officer was just getting back to his vehicle.
“What is this for?” Tom asked.
“You can’t park there, sir. Electric only.”
“This is electric.”
“Sorry, sir. I don’t it says four-wheel-drive on the back.”
“It’s all electric…”
“Bring it up in the courts, it’s not my call.” The young man said.
Kaylee sighed. An urge to kick someone was growing, like she not had kicked a man in the chest in a month.
“Let’s go to an un-wedding party of our own. Forget this place. We’re done with business here.” Tom suggested.
“Yeah! Let’s get out of here.” The wife-that-never-was agreed.
Climbing into the eSUV, Kaylee found the large tag that hung on the mirror which had a large blue lightning bolt emblazoned on it that would be visible from the sidewalk and have avoided the parking nazi from citing the rental.
“Kay, it’ll be interesting to have that conversation, but I will make sure it’s passed on to the rental company.” Tom smiled. “We were in a hurry and wanted to get me out of the ER. So if they told us, I don’t recall.”
“Neither do I. And I don’t remember getting a receipt.” Fishing through her purse. “But here it is.”
Reading the slip, she gasped.
“It says where the electric tag is. Ugh.”
“Nothing to worry about. It doesn’t go on anyone’s driving record.”
“Just annoys me,” Kaylee said as she tapped in their destination to the hotel in the GPS. “But I came here with a good time planned and I will not have anything distract me.”
“Oh? Want to lay out by the pool?” Tom said as he looked out the window. “It is a nice day, a bit hot. We can always go gambling.”
“Gambling is good, I didn’t bring my swimsuit or many clothes. Some nice pants and a top so we can have dinner out somewhere.”
“But you brought a bag that’s kind of heavy.”
“Tom, those are bandages and other supplies for things.”
“Other things? What do you mean… Ooh!” The meaning of what his ex- sank in…
Well, he couldn’t call her an ex-wife, in the eyes of the government, it never happened. So she has no ex- in relation to her other than as an ex-girlfriend.
Still! Oh, smoking crap on a cracker!
Jeeze. She was serious about this being a one last time to remember.
“Um, be gentle with me?” Tom asked.
Laughing cryptically, Kaylee just drove.
Chapter 37. Las Vegas, Declaring A Medical Emergency
The jet punched a hole in the air as it sped over the horizon, taking a direct line to the desert city, shining like a jewel in the barren land.
They had to get down, Tom’s arm was showing signs of decompression illness, a kind of compartment syndrome that blocked blood from circulating in his arm. If it was up to Captain Watson, she’d have an ambulance waiting for him to get him to the medical center emergency room.
Pushing the limits of the rated engine’s power until they could not go any faster, Captain Watson managed to shave a measurable amount of time off the trip. A planned orbit of the city that would give the passengers a view of the beauty of it, even during the daylight the view was glorious. The Captain skipped the flyover and they saved a half-hour to get him on the ground.
Captain Watson would never say it outside of the conversation with her first officer sitting to her right.
“The fool flew too soon.”
“Did he have medical clearance?”
“No, I would bet not.” Regina said as she got cleared for her approach, declaring a medical emergency and ordering a paramedic unit.
The wheels touched with a feather like control that Watson used. A fine pilot, she never bounced the passengers or her planes if it was humanly avoidable.
As they taxied to the private terminal, she heard Tom moan loudly with a profanity.
“We need to expedite this. That medical problem is growing worse back there, Captain.” Kevin spoke quietly.
“Check on EMS, be sure they’re cleared to meet us when we stop.” There was no room for questions. “I will speak with Thomas Harte and see what is going on with his arm.”
“Affirmative that.” Kevin nodded, patting his shirt, confirming the mobile phone that resided there was still in place.
Coming to a stop, Captain Watson stood and walked to the rear of the cabin where Kaylee and Tom sat.
“Everything alright?” The Captain could see it was not, Tom was pale, perspiration shined on his forehead.
“Just a bit of an ache.” He hissed through gritted teeth.
“His fingers have gotten darker red, but they are still warm.” Kaylee said.
“Would you let me call you an ambulance?”
“You can.” Tom moaned when he moved his arm. “But I will always be human. Just don’t call me late for dinner.”
Kaylee looked at Regina and sighed.
“I already ordered an ambulance before we stopped. It is coming now.” Captain Watson said.
“I should have let Kaylee carry the bag.” Tom winced.
“Is that is what is going on?” Regina raised an eyebrow. She observed a light pink stain on the bandages that covered surgical wound. “You have saturated the bandages. Look, I can have you back in San Francisco in under an hour.”
“No.” Tom grimaced. “We just need to change the dressings and take a look. I strained it when we packed and I moved the bag.”
“What did they do for you, Tom?”
“They had to graft a vein they took out of his butt.” Kaylee said.
Regina almost laughed, but no one in the world knew.
“I might have over-stressed it.” Tom admitted. “Maybe you can hold over the next few hours, I’ll pay extra.”
“We have another assignment, Tom. But I’ll see what I can do.” Captain Watson said.
“Okay, we can wait until the morning after we get clear of the courts.” Tom looked like he was feeling better.
“But your arm?” The Captain asked.
“We will change the dressing and see what it looks like…”
“It’s gross.” Kaylee nodded.
“But I have finger movement.” Tom said as he wiggled his fingers with obvious discomfort.
“Well, let’s get you somewhere to get the dressing changed.” Kaylee growled. “We have to get to a doctor where we can check that arm right away.”
“Do you know where you are going?” Captain Watson asked.
“I don’t. But we have a rental car here, somewhere.” Tom moaned slightly. Turning his head to look out the window, the paramedic ambulance was coming down the taxi-way.
“Let me give you a directive. You will go by ambulance to the ER straight away.” The Captain said and turned to the Co-Captain who nodded and dialed the tower.
“Thomas, you do not allow yourself to become a wreck. I have a seven-year-old nephew that loves your books. He even has a model of the flying yacht you have. It’s painted in the colors of the Pacific Wizard.” Her tone betrayed her normal professional façade.
“Seriously. I will come fly your jet for you if you need.” Kevin Nunez said. “I hear you have a twin-engine yacht.”
“With wings. And I’ll refuse service.” Tom added, trying to laugh, failing and moaned out a profanity instead.
“That does it, I’m taking him to the emergency room to get that checked out.” Kaylee said and stood up. “Come on, trouble. The ambulance is here.”
“I’m not trouble.” Tom with a strained grin, got up. “I just write it.”
“Yeah. Trying to lift stuff, you refuse to listen, over exert that wound that we spent a million dollars to put back together.” Kaylee growled.
“It wasn’t a million dollars.” Tom said.
“The final bill has not come in, they were charging forty-five bucks a pill for over-the-counter acetaminophen.” Kaylee grumbled. “And you took a lot of pills. It might be a million dollars in the end.”
Two uniformed people stepped on board, a man and woman, both with patches that said “Paramedic” on their chests and back, kneeled next to Tom and took report.
“Maybe. But that is what I have health insurance for.” Tom said in between questions as they escorted Tom from the chartered jet and he bid farewell to the pilots as they went about securing their race-car of the sky.
Tom sat on the ambulance gurney and Kaylee walked next to him while the medics wheeled their patient to the waiting EMS unit. The medic in charge motioned to the second with three fingers.
The EMT nodded without a word, got out of the ambulance before he finished his procedure and got into the driver’s seat.
It took a moment while he sat Kaylee in the front passenger’s seat and made sure she wore the seatbelt, then got in behind the wheel and made a radio report.
“Medic-27 enroute Med-center code 3, one passenger, one patient.”
The radio echoed his report and confirmed the destination.
“Okay, ma’am. Do not ever drive like I am about to do.” He winked and flipped an overhead switch, she could hear clicks of relays as navigated the ambulance around in a careful turn back the way they came. The EMT never used the siren until they got to the gate and out into traffic.
In the back, she could hear the medic describe the serious medical problem.
“ETA 4 minutes.” The medic in the back could have just told someone when lunch would arrive.
Chapter 36. Captain Watson
Without the approval from the Federal Aviation inspector to certify the jet as airworthy, the Sea Dragon was still grounded. A shrug from Tom and a few phone calls later, he sat with Kaylee, hand in hand while they rode in the limousine towards the parking lot of the charter jet service.
The jet sparkled with a coat of white paint and a stylized sun on the tail sat with the turbine blades slowly in the breeze that blew over the airport.
The muscular arms of Captain Watson were visible to Kaylee when the limo pulled up in front of the private entrance.
Lettie opened the door and let the couple out and touched Tom on the forearm.
‟You two make a good couple. Both of you are artists and compliment each other.” Lettie looked at them both. ‟If it costs me your business, I don’t care, I just had to say that.”
‟Lettie,” Kaylee smiled. ‟It is something I have to do. It’s a promise I have to keep.”
‟Lettie, you’re good.” Tom kissed her cheek. ‟You will always have my business when I am in Northern California.”
Nodding, Lettie told Tom that her number was always open and he could have any car he wanted in her inventory at any time, including a new MRAP-style limousine ready to go into service in the next few weeks.
‟That does not sound like something to take to a book-signing.” Tom laughed.
‟You’d be surprised what people think they like to ride in.” Lettie shook his hand. ‟I supply it so they don’t have to buy one or sign up for three years into the army.”
‟Thank you for your words, Lettie.” Kaylee hugged her. ‟I hope to see you again.”
‟You can find me on Google-plus. Facebook I don’t use anymore, they charge too much.” Lettie hugged tightly back.
‟Same name?” Kaylee asked.
‟Yeah. Or you can look up ‟sexy biker bitch”. That will get you to me.”
‟You bet I will.” Kaylee smiled.
Watching Lettie drive away in her limo, Tom and Kaylee walked inside, greeted by Captain Watson.
‟Hello Tom.” The tanned face of the retired military pilot smiled as the author of so many novels entered the building, followed by Kaylee .
‟And Missus Harte.” The Captain smiled warmly. The most emotion Kaylee had seen the professional pilot express.
‟Kaylee , please.” The younger woman asked.
‟Of course, Kaylee .”
‟Regina, my plans are to do business in Vegas and return by morning.” Tom said, in a matter of fact tone. He did not start with his usual small-talk.
‟Thank you, I learned it was you and where you said you wished to go. The Lear is ready to fly. I have just to file a flight plan. Kevin Nunez is my right-seat and he is on the plane now. Please see him and make yourself comfortable, I will be there in ten-minutes, we will be wheels-up in twenty.”
Kaylee and Tom nodded and walked out the door towards the Leer Jet holding hands.
‟I hear they are going to Vegas to get an annulment.” Another pilot mentioned to Watson. ‟They were talking about it when I was standing outside.”
Captain Watson stood up from the phone where she had filed the flight plan.
‟I have had worse.” She gave a heavy sigh. ‟Mister Harte is a regular customer.”
‟Don’t you know him?” The first pilot, a handsome twenty-something buzz-cut hairstyle co-pilot of mixed race.
‟Why do you use his last name?” The older cargo-pilot said. “He insists on first name.”
‟I use a formal addressing when talking in third-party conversations. It is respectful to Mister Harte and all he has done. I give him all the respect he is due, and when talking to me about others, I would expect the same.” Watson then turned on her heel and walked out.
‟Bitch.” The young cargo pilot muttered under his breath and received a punch in his shoulder by Buzz-cut.
On the jet, Captain Watson stepped into the cabin and smiled at the couple.
‟Tom, I have heard of your plans in Las Vegas. I must say that I could not disagree more with this trip.” The Captain said. “Kaylee here is the bandage to the scars on your heart and soul. You must know that I had to address that. You always have said to speak my mind, even if you don’t want to hear it.” She did not smile, but nodded in self-agreement, turned to make her way forward and sat in her seat. Captain Watson, after speaking her mind put on the headset for the radio and began her check off for startup procedures in the all glass cockpit.
One at a time, the engines spun up, giving Kaylee the thrill she had the last time of being in a race car of the sky.
‟Tom, this is exciting, I know why you like to fly. But why don’t you have something like this?”
‟Well, I don’t like to stay in one place for very long. The paparazzi start sniffing around, they have already started it with the long-range picture of us on top of the Pacific Wizard.” Tom looked out the window as they taxied to the runway. ‟When I go, I won’t tell anyone my destination. I can upload manuscripts over the internet from anywhere. There are a lot of places in the immediate area that I can put down on — not counting airports — and live there for a while.”
‟You were going to move away when I went back to school?”
‟You would have to learn how to drive a different route each time.” Tom chuckled. ‟I’m not much of an interest to those jackals at the moment, so hiding out is easy. Just moving from one place to another in the area, I have dozens of bodies of water and airports. They would spend too much time looking for me than they would be paid for.”
‟Until they’d find out about me.”
‟Then we would be fodder for the monsters of the tabloids.” Tom frowned. ‟They would hunt us to the grave like they did a princess.”
‟Oh, oh! The engines are wound up to take off!”
‟Wound up?” Tom chuckled.
‟Whatever they call it when they step on the gas pedal.”
‟Uh. There is no gas pedal.” Tom was looking at her sideways. ‟You sat up front with me in the Wizard.”
‟Well, yeah. I just wanted to make you laugh.”
‟You made me worried.” Tom laughed. ‟Early onset Alzheimer’s or some such.”
‟Well, it worked.” Kaylee blinked, the jet felt like it was a horse at a starting gate, anxious for speed. ‟Omy gawd! Here we go!”
The sleek jet began to roll with the brakes off. Gathering speed, the rakish plane with swept wings did not find the end of its acceleration like one would with a car. The faster it went, the faster it accelerated as it overcame its imprisonment of the earth and to the sky like a soul on fire.
Then, suddenly, it rotated up on its back landing gear and quit the earth while Kaylee made noises like a teapot on full boil.
‟I LOVE that!” She laughed hysterically with her eyes closed.
Tom laughed at her squeal while they gained altitude.
After several minutes, they leveled off and banked into a turn towards the southeast, towards Las Vegas.
‟I hope this is fast, my arm aches.” Tom moaned slightly.
‟How long as it been hurting?” Kaylee said, suddenly alarmed.
‟About ten-minutes. Just before we took off I think I bumped it.”
‟Tom. Damn. You cannot do this to yourself.” Kaylee touched his fingers, feeling the tips and making sure they were warm and the correct color, even if stained with the iodine-betadine ‟Bug Juice” (as one nurse called it and made her laugh.) that covered his arm.
Picking up the phone, as she learned to do on the last trip north from Ocean Bay.
‟Captain, can we see you back here, please?”
A moment later, Regina Watson appeared.
‟Yes? Tom?” She focused instantly on the pale writer.
‟It’s nothing, my arm aches a little.”
Captain Watson blinked.
‟How long?” The Captain asked.
‟A few minutes.” Tom was becoming pale from the pain.
‟Like a man.” Kaylee growled. ‟It began to hurt him right before we blasted off.”
Looking around, the Captain asked Tom.
‟What did your doctor say about flying? Maybe I should declare and emergency and put down.” She grimaced. ‟What kind of injury did you have, Tom?”
‟Nothing much, I got stuck with a shard of glass in my forearm.”
‟Say the truth. Regina, it cut his tendons and everything down to the bone. Even cut the bone.” Kaylee said. ‟But his fingers are warm and when I press on the nails, it returns to color fast.”
‟That is serious surgery for a man that makes his life with typing.” Captain Watson was sounding as serious as a sidewinder missile. ‟MISTER Harte.”
‟Kaylee , I am the all-seeing, all-knowing, unforgiving Queen of The Sky here and you will address me as Captain. But my first name, Regina, please feel free to use it when we are on land. You and I will get Tom back into shape.” Regina smiled. ‟What is causing you to go to Vegas to get divorced?”
‟Annulment.” Tom said helpfully, but then cringed when both women looked at him. ‟Crap on a cracker, sorry. I’ll just take the nearest exit.”
‟Just be quiet, Tom.” Regina said. ‟You are an injured party and not thinking clearly. This is obvious.”
‟Well, honestly.” Kaylee said quietly. ‟I have requested to get this annulled.”
‟If I may ask.” The Captain didn’t smile. “Why?”
*Does she ever smile?* Kaylee shuddered at Captain Watson’s intense air of authority.
‟This was not supposed to happen. I have someone at home I made a promise to. Tom is good enough to let me go, so all this is my fault.” Kaylee said. ‟Although I there is a lot of pressure on me to stay with Tom from all sides. Every one of his friends have stood up for him. But still, I have to keep my promise.”
‟I don’t agree.” Captain Watson said. ‟You made a promise with Tom.”
Tom raised his hand.
‟Can I say something?”
‟No!” The women answered in stereo. Then both women laughed while he cringed.
Captain R.M. Watson’s laugh was frightening, a sound like someone might make when shooting down an enemy.
‟I have a boy at home that believed me when I said I would marry him.” Kaylee explained. “When Tom and I did this, it was a kind of crazy party and I had a blackout night.”
‟Were you on drugs?” Regina looked at Tom who held up his hands.
‟Of my own hand. I like to smoke and drink. It makes party life that much more fun. I woke up married to Tom, so we never dated but the one night.”
‟Ah, okay. Princess Anna on a cane. You seriously married him on your first date? Drunk to the point of no memory of the evening?”
‟Yes.” Kaylee tried to look the Captain in her eye, but was unable.
Captain R. M. Watson was quiet for a moment.
Then she laughed.
‟I did the same thing with my first husband. Kaylee, at least you aren’t pregnant.” She pondered for a moment, pulling at her chin. ‟Are you?”
‟Not so far as we can tell.” Kaylee gave a timid laugh.
‟Okay, I understand, you started your contract with each other in the worst way. At least you are friendly to each other. With Tom hurting, I’ll pick the pace up a bit. We will make for maximum speed, it’ll save us some time.”
Nodding with a soft smile. She turned and made her way back to her seat in the front of the speeding jet.
Kaylee looked at Tom.
‟You have more friends that fight for you than any ten people, combined.” She stroked his face.
Tom smiled weakly, his arm was causing him more pain by the moment and he was not prepared to argue.
“Captain. He is getting worse.” She yelled to the cockpit. The Captain nodded as she answered.
“We just got clearance for our flight change.”
Kaylee did not think possible, but she felt the small jet accelerate.
Chapter 35. Familiar Face
Tom and Kaylee left the office and as soon as the door closed behind them, Kaylee spoke first.
“I don’t think that person was happy with you. She was quite upset about just filing the plan then she had cancel it.”
“She’ll recover.” Tom nodded. “Right now I have to call the exchange. Did you like the crew on the last flight?”
“Yes, what was her name.” Kaylee grumbled at her senior moment.”
“Watson?” Tom asked helpfully.
“YEAH! That’s her. Captain R. M. Watson.” Kaylee nodded her head.
“Good woman. She flew in Iraq and other places that I can’t recall. Multiple ratings. I request her a lot, the company knows my account number and gives me a list on who is available. She is the only woman on their staff that is multi-engine jet rated.” Tom described his history with the company.
“They only have one woman on staff?” Kaylee blinked, for a moment she felt that old urge to boycott.
“No, they have others,” Tom smiled as they walked, holding hand. “She is the only one rated for multi-engine jet.”
“Oh.” Kaylee laughed. “I was going to use another company if they didn’t hire women.”
“Oh no. Lettie, my NorCal Limo owner is a major investor. I would doubt that they’d make a glass ceiling. Could happen,” Tom pondered “But if Lettie found out? I’d run if I were them.”
“OH! I know Lettie! She picked me up from when we hit the birds.”
“Oh yes. That was a special favor, normally they don’t take limos off the pavement.” Tom smiled. “She is a rare one.”
“She said you helped them get a start?” Kaylee leaned her head on Tom’s shoulder for a moment while they walked.
“Not precisely. I just keep them on retainer and speed dial.” Tom said. “I direct business their way. They only have a few cars and I think only four drivers. Lettie and her cousins.”
“They have a post-grad psych major working for them. A guy named Kaikane.”
“He is. You get points for paying attention.”
“I don’t know Kaikane.”
“He knows you.”
“I get that a lot.”
“You are likeable.”
“Am not.” He argued.
“I’m going to slap you.” She growled at the lack of his self-confidence.
“Promise? We won’t have the chance for a mile-high fun time.”
“Seriously. You need to relax on yourself, you need someone to keep you…” She paused, looking for the words. “Well, not on your best you always seem at your best, but keep you from being so dark.”
“Your books will show that and if you are writing children’s stories, you need to keep them light.” Kaylee looked at him evenly with the soul of a woman who would protect the one she cared for, even from himself. “You write beautiful words like no one I know. Probably as good as any of the great writers. Even like Joyce and Steinbeck or Hemingway. But you don’t have to go all Edgar Allan Poe to do it.”
She paused and took a breath before pushing on with the thought.
“Tom,” She kissed his hand and looked into his eyes. “Don’t go back into that hole you locked yourself up into for a while.”
“What makes you think I am going back into anything?” Tom smiled. “You have given me light and passion. We are ending a contract in a way that protects you. I am not emotionally broken, I could have invested in it emotionally if I thought that you were sober and we spent some time together.”
He kissed her hand and smiled before he continued.
“Not baked, drunk and horny as you were. I can say I am fond of you, and that extends into friendship. And yes. I want you to stay, but not at the cost of a future.” His voice was soft, covering up a hidden emotion.
Kaylee thought a minute as they waited for Lettie to arrive with a limo. Tom’s speed dial rang her phone directly and he had told her of the situation.
“You are the best man I know, next to my dad.”
“I would like to meet him, someday.”
“Are you kidding? He would die to meet you. Steamland, if there is anything written by you on that series, he has it.”
“Heh, I bet he is almost my age.”
“I think you are older.”
“Oh. Um. Yikes!” Tom laughed. “He might greet me with a shotgun.”
“No, I think he’d be happy to have you in the family.” A twinkle in her eye showed her humor. “Even if you did corrupt his daughter.”
“TMI sweety.” Tom closed his eyes as if to block out the scene.
“Kidding.” Kaylee laughed.
A dark limo wheeled in. It was Lettie.
“Tom! Kaylee !” She seemed happy to see them. “It seems like we just left you both in the Sea Dragon.” She her smile was wide and bright.
“We need a ride to the Executive Airport to the private entrance.”
“Let’s go. Traffic is good, I can get you there in thirty minutes.”
“I will pay you for two hours. The plane won’t be ready until then, take us to The City to drive through the park and down the beach.”
“Hm. Tom, if I may suggest, from here? Let me take you to Half Moon Bay and then up along the coastal highway. We can pull in, then you and Kaylee can walk on the sand.”
“We…” Tom stopped for a moment as if something caught in his throat. “We are heading to Vegas to get an annulment.”
“WHAT? No…” Lettie caught herself and the professional woman came back to grips. “Sorry, Tom. But my opinion, she makes you smile. Kaylee , for a girl who was so mad at him a few days ago, you have a glorious soul that’s been touched by this gentle man.”
Motioning the couple into her limo, Lettie’s strained smile stayed frozen to her lips.
“That is all I will say on the subject. I apologize. Not my place and I’d fire anyone who did what I just did.” Lettie said. “One trip through Golden Gate Park, back to Executive. Do you have your transport taken care of?”
“Yes, thank you.” Tom smiled.
The Lettie close the door and got in the front of the stretched limousine.
“What was that all about?” Kaylee asked Tom.
“Lettie is kind of protective. But she has a point. I can switch companies if it would make you feel better.”
“No, actually, it makes me smile. Tom. Only someone special can evoke that kind of emotion in people, someone who people would stand up for. If I can come back and marry you?” Kaylee ’s eyes shined with tears. “I want to invite all your friends. From pilots, to writers, to limo drivers and everyone I can find that calls you by your first name.”
“Um. That is everyone I meet. I insist to dispense with formality. I am no better than anyone.”
“You are a great writer. Not many people can do that. PLUS!” Kaylee raised her index finger and touched the tip of his nose with it. “You do more for the fire fighters than just with your fleet of water bombers.”
“Water bombers? What… OH! Air tankers. How did you know about the tankers?” Tom blinked.
“I…” She bit her lip. “Well, I looked on your history in your computer back at the Pacific Wizard.”
“Ah. No.” A guilty laugh. “I was mad and curious and alone. You have internet on your computer at the Wizard and I logged into the guest accounts. Your name is all over the net.” Kaylee said.
“Ah. Yes.” Tom mimicked her.
“No problem. So you know about my aerial firefighting air-force that some states won’t use.” Tom smiled. “It works in most states, California is a bit more… Picky.”
“You have changed the subject. We need to talk and have this understood.”
“Well, technically, you changed the subject.” The quick mind of the writer did mental gymnastics around their conversation.
“Don’t change the changed subject.” Kaylee laughed. “The point is, you deserve more happiness than you have. And we can do it together if you and I start on a proper friendship and wedding.”
“Okay, I think we can do that. But you go take good and well care of Glenn. I’ll be your little secret.”
“Little? Little would be if you were an undergrad student of art, but you are a successful writer.” Kaylee shook her head, laughing. “AND, mister, you have two private flying yachts and your own personal air force and I don’t how many non-profit organizations that you have listed as getting support from you. So I would not call you little in any description.”
“Well, tell you what. We split the sheets on this and you decide that this accident was a good thing to happen. We’ll have that wedding for you.”
“Not for me. For you. You should be honored. My family and friends combined couldn’t fill four rows in a church. I tend towards the shy side.”
“Shy? You? Shy like a hurricane. Let me see,” Tom smiled. “You have skills in karate…”
“Yeah, that.” Tom smiled. “You like to lay naked on a beach, you are a bartender and you would not surrender in any meek way to a large man with a knife. And. If I recall he had at least a hundred pounds and a foot taller than you are and you still kicked the living poop out of him.”
“Heh!” Kaylee laughed. “Yeah, I did. It felt good, too. He wanted to hurt me, and I was in the proper mood to return the favor.”
“That is all too true, you are good.” Tom gave a quiet laugh at the memory. “I would have not ever missed that show for anything. It was fun to watch, shocking, but fun to watch.”
“You know, I might write about it someday.” He said more to himself than her.
“I would like to read that. Make me as an avenging angel.” Kaylee smiled.
“You can be sure.” Tom nodded. “I would make you that and more.”
The limousine pulled into the Golden Gate Park and drove around the green strip. Tom pointed out an archery range and a giant windmill as they drove by.
Talking happily with each other, two people enjoying their hearts and souls. Knowing that it would come to an all too soon end. They learned more about each other while Tom poured wine in glasses for the both of them and fed Kaylee dark chocolates from a crystal jar he purchased from a tiny, exclusive shop he made Lettie stop at in the Height-Ashbury district. Little more than a hole-in-the-wall near a Whole Foods store on Stanyon, he ran in and out in a minute, Tom’s wounded, but healing arm flapping painfully as he stepped hard off the curb.
It was an unplanned celebration.
Two people celebrating friendship and the strange path that brought them together.
After their second circuit of famous park, Tom leaned over to Kaylee and kissed her slowly with chocolate flavored lips from a San Francisco hidden candy-store.
“Let’s go get unmarried.” Tom whispered without conviction. “The time is now.”
“Okay.” She said, looking down into the glass of her wine, the sadness of the moment setting into her heart.
“This has been very enjoyable, Tom. You make it more difficult by being so nice.”
“You want to stay?”
“Yes. And no. I want my chance with Glenn.”
Tom stopped the conversation and toned Lettie to drive them to the airport with the phone from the back of the limousine.
“Time to go, thank you very much Lettie.”
They rode in awkward silence to the airport, the atmosphere in the limo becoming darker and increasingly tense.
“It will be okay.” Tom said, holding Kaylee ’s hand.
“Thank you.” She made a sad smile.
Together, two lovers and friends rode to the airport to fly to Las Vegas, to get “un-married”.
Chapter 34. Flight Plans
Kaylee finished dressing while Tom pulled on his clothes in awkward silence.
“Why are you mad at me?” Tom said as they walked across the tarmac to the flight control office.
“If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you.” Her words chilled the air.
Tom rolled his eyes in that way that drives women crazy and would turn Mother Theresa into a club wielding banshee if she had seen it.
Half-way from the office in the three-hundred meter hike, Kaylee started to laugh and took Tom’s hand.
“I’m sorry. But I kind of thought you would be a little heartbroken.” She smiled. “I was hurt you are just okay with it.”
“Kaylee, no, I’m not okay with it.” Tom said as they walked through the door. “But, if I trapped you here, what good would that do? You’d leave anyway and never return. My way, it stings like a slap, but you might decide that you like life on the Pacific Wizard and the need to renew your passport once-a-decade.”
“Renew my passport? What do you mean?”
“You can’t leave home without it. If we went anywhere, like the U.K. to watch Doctor Manga’s installation for example, you will need that silly-assed bit of paper and plastic.”
“Hm. I don’t know, Tom. You make me feel…”
The clerk walked in and Tom pulled a form from the slot and began to fill in the blanks.
They finished the paperwork in ten-minutes, filed with the person behind the desk and walked out, Kaylee felt a pang of sadness when Tom took her hand as they walked back to the Flying Sea Dragon.
“I’m serious, Kaylee. I don’t want to see you go. But there is an old poster about a butterfly or a bird or something, you let it go and if it returns, et-cetera.”
“Yeah. Who knows. Maybe Glenn needs to tell me he is gay and everything is off, because he is in love with some guy named Joe Young or something.”
“We talked about this, I don’t want to think I’m a consolation prize. You make me smile wide because you are my wife.” Tom smiled at her. “But I laugh because I am your husband.”
“What?” Kaylee blinked. “I don’t understand you, you are talking in riddles.”
“No riddle. I smile because I got such a great treasure, if I can count you as such, and in comparison, you got the joke prize. I got a better deal by far out of this whole situation than you did.”
Tom laughed out loud at this.
For a moment, Kaylee pondered what he had said.
Then she began to laugh.
“Tom, you are the treasure. Never say otherwise.” She kissed his hand and continued to swing it in hers.
“Yeah. Ain’t ever going to happen. I’m just a writer, I am not a treasure. You are the gem in this relationship. I’m a damaged diamond, a shattered sapphire, a pulverized pearl, a…”
“Okay, enough. And you are not.” Kaylee said pulling on his hand as they got close to the big jet. “You have had more sorrow than anyone should be allowed, but you are awesome. You make me draw and paint. You keep me turned on, creatively speaking.”
“I thought…” Tom was winking like a dirty old man in a bar.
“Shh. I am being serious and trying to tell you my heart, you are trying to make a joke.”
“Men are all alike.”
“Well. Yeah. We’re married at the moment, I’m supposed to act like that, it’s in the rule book.”
“You are changing the subject.” She growled at him. “Is this bothering you?”
“Yeah, you could say that.”
“Okay, well, I would like to go back to my old life, but it is not going to happen. You have already spoiled me.”
“That is a good job, spoiling you. Glenn will have to work that much harder.” Tom said as they approached the Sea Dragon.
“You have raised the bar high on that.”
“I hope so.”
“Where are we going now?” Kaylee asked as Tom walked past the steps going up to the door of the jet.
“Over here to the service office on the far side of the hanger. I need to do a couple of things. first is to make sure the payment for the services is complete and two, that the inspection by the FAA officer clears the Dragon for flight. I want to go over it together with him and make sure that nothing falls off the yacht while we are airborne, that would go into the bad column.”
“What if we took a commercial flight?”
“We could, but then we would be at the mercy of the commercial operators and TSA officers that are tasked with complex jobs that now take hours what used to take minutes when our grandparents traveled. Back in the day of Humphry Bogart and Casablanca.”
“I wish it would be like that. I could so make a charcoal of that.”
“How long would it take you?”
“I… I don’t know, why do you ask?”
“Well, I need to find that pain in my neck FAA agent or we have to charter a plane, or we have to buy tickets and wander over to the terminal and be tourists in Vegas. It may take hours to do that last part, just to leave on a commercial airline, so you might go do some drawing?”
“And leave the business to you while I entertain myself? Hardly, Mr. Harte. I am not just along for the ride, I will help you make this happen, even if it is my choice— right or wrong. I control my destiny.”
“One day, Missus Harte, you will be in charge of your own house of beauty, painting and sculpture. You will be an artist in demand.” Tom nodded. “You have the attitude.”
“Right? Just for now, I have to finish another year of college, get my business admin minor out of the way. Melanie will help me, we keep each other balanced with life’s challenges.”
“I would like to get to know Melanie better.” Tom smiled.
“Tom, do you plan to replace me, already?”
“Heh. No.” He back-pedaled quickly. “She just sounds like a good friend to have. And she likes my movie.”
“Oh, you don’t know the half of it. She is a true fan and in love with some of your characters. The airship pirates, some of the princes. Her costume for Halloween last year was the red-headed pirate princess, I can’t remember the character’s name.”
“Yeah! That’s it, Melanie makes a good Princess Aquila.”
“SteamLand is fun to write.”
“Is? It’s not finished?”
“Heck-no. There are lots of adventures for the Sky-Pirate empire to deal with.” Tom smiled with the memory of writing the novel series.
“I thought you liked to write children books now?”
“Yeah, that is fun, but SteamLand.” Tom smiled wide. “I really enjoy writing. So much fun with that. Roman times, airship pirates, steam-powered arrows, demi-gods. A lot of fun.”
“Oh. Ut-oh. Spoiler-alert.” Tom laughed. “Let’s go over here. This way we can talk without being distracted.
Together they went to cancel flight plans and charter an executive jet, instead of taking the yacht.
Chapter 33. I Smile Because You Are My Wife, I Laugh Because I Am Your Husband
‟Tom! This. I mean you…!” Kaylee paced the length of the jet, laughing hysterically holding her hands to her face. ‟I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t want to talk about this. We can’t be having this talk.”
She tried to make herself relax.
‟It can happen,” Tom said with a smirk. “It would be a simple mistake if it were a small thing, but you made an error like that? You’re stuck as my wife. I’m sorry but that makes me smile. It’s your issue to deal with right now. We can fix it, besides I don’t mind being married to you. It’s entertaining.”
‟Tom, it is my decision. A deeply personal decision! No one gets to tell me what my choice will be.” Kaylee stood for a moment. ‟I’m sorry. It is a frightening concept and, like you said, complicates matters.”
‟Well, I think you are jumping the gun a little. I am, and I always will be, a great supporter of your choices. First, you are my friend. I know I am not the first choice and we did do the deed and you had other plans. I accepted that fully, weeks ago.” Tom stood behind her and slid his arms around her, holding her back against his chest.
‟I hoped you would stay, and if you want, I will help you find your own life. I am old and I have a life of stories.” He said as she turned around in his arms and buried her face into his chest. “You need to build your own story, chapter by chapter. Child by child when you get there. For now, you make me smile and you are my muse.”
Tom chuckled when an a thought struck him.
“You make me smile, because you are a precious gem, and you are a treasure that anyone would crawl over broken glass to have in their life.” He smiled. “But I laugh because I am your husband and you cannot do much about it just now.”
This made the tears that were welling up in her eyes turn into laughter.
‟Tom. You are the funniest man I know. I wanted an engagement ring from Glenn, ever since we were kids and you help me do that.”
‟Keeping you happy is my mandate.” Tom smiled. “I cannot keep you here and have you in misery. If I help you go, maybe you will return with all I have to offer.”
Sliding her arms around him, she pressed her breasts against his chest and kissed him.
‟Do not make me love you. You’d make me feel bad for all that has happened. But I promised…” Kaylee smiled softly.
‟Yes. The promise.” He smiled back, but it was a smile that did not reach in his eyes.
‟Don’t interrupt. That is rude and you will make me mad. But yes. I would like to get married and remember it.”
‟I understand.” Tom said as he laughed with a sad tone. ‟And we have had a good time this last month.”
“It is the weirdest month I’ve ever had.” Kaylee whispered.
*It’s been a summer to remember! I have seen both the good and bad sides of people. It’s as if some grand illusionist with a twisted imagination has written my life. A perfect storm of adventures and perverts. Days with drugs…*
*What if this was all a dream? Could I be still in early June? After being attacked, when I beat the crap out of that serial rapist, wanted on at least ten different crimes. Am I going to wake up in my bed, alone?*
‟No.” She said it into the hollow of Tom’s neck.
‟No? No what?” Tom sounded worried. ‟You have not had a good time?”
‟Oh yes. I said a thought out-loud. There was a moment where I thought this might all be a drug dream from the first night, or someone has written my life on a word processor.” She shook her head. “Like I am in control, but he or she makes my words come out.”
‟Now you’re inspired by something. As a writer, I know how the thoughts might come. Maybe I have written about you and you are just…”
‟Tom, do not trivialize my moment of insanity. Please.” She bit his chest lightly. ‟You did not write me into existence like some Twilight Zone movie.
‟Funny that you know about that show.” Tom chided. “You are older than you look.”
‟I study all the time. I like to get to know my husbands.” She wiped her nose on his chest and laughed at his reaction.
‟How many husbands have you had?” He looked down at her when he flinched. “Ack! Brat.”
‟Are we going to do pillow talk standing up or would you like to cuddle?”
Taking by the hand, she pulled him to their bed and pushed him down.
He smiled, she had opened up to him more in those few moments than she had in the weeks of his hospitalization.
‟Well, I don’t know about you,” Tom said quietly, laying on his back with Kaylee laying on top of him, gazing into his eyes. ‟But I appreciate the author of your life putting you on my chest. This is nice.”
‟I don’t know. Maybe they would put this all into a book- a series even.” She laughed. “I could go on adventures with you until we made the coastal cities complain, we could be a husband-wife crime solving movie series.”
‟Naw, I couldn’t take that. I’m sad enough that you want an annulment to go marry someone else.” The writer of heart and passion looked down. “Keep this going as a series? We’d have to roll the clock back and live an hour-by-hour book.”
‟That would be a long series.” She nodded. “And a lot of fun.”
‟Okay. So let’s put that fantastic fantasy away and live what life we have left together. To use the story-writer vernacular, when you leave, I’ll close this chapter and move on into the world.” Tom followed her thoughts and wrote the story in his mind, letting his mind think out loud. “I was only going to be on the west coast for the summer anyway, then the speech at Doctor Manga’s installation. I might stay there for a few months. I have a few book-signings to do there for the next installation of Steamland.”
‟Next? How many are there?” She smiled. The first time she heard of the sequels.
‟Five as of this summer. The movie is from book-three. ‟Steamland: Heat”. And it violates more Steam-punk rules than it follows.” He made a soft chuckle.
‟Yeah, I have wanted to ask you about that. No Victorian-Age, you used Rome as the base for your civilization.”
‟Well, book-one started with Heron of Alexandria improving on Ctesibius’ inventions, that were already two-hundred years in development.”
‟Heron and who?”
‟Read the books.” Tom laughed, the force of his humor bouncing her up on down on his chest where she used him as a body-pillow.
‟Human technology was so close to having steam-power thousands of years ago, it is not funny, really.” Tom winked.
“Missed the steam age by that much.” Tom held up his thumb and forefinger so that little more than a finger’s width showed. ‟No telling where we would be if someone built steam trains or such back then. Christ could have traveled the lands of Nazareth in an airplane.”
‟Tom, you’ve an imagination like no other.” Kaylee said smiling widely. ‟You are my muse in your own way. When you were in the hospital, I did a lot of drawing. I have much more to do, I have the itch and you are all in me, making me need to draw.”
‟I enjoy being in you.” Came the lecherous remark.
‟What? OH! Tom, I’m being serious.”
He stroked her back with his good hand, the splinted and wrapped wounded-arm carefully placed on the pillow beside them.
‟I’m just being honest.” He smiled. ‟Besides, not to move too far off the subject, but, we have to do a paper-chase to get the filings done. You need to head home to go be with Glenn.”
‟I get the feeling you are pushing me away.” Kaylee said.
Feeling suddenly unhappy, selfish, even a little unwanted. She took her head off Tom’s chest and got out of bed.
‟I think we should get going. You said you would be able to fly with your arm?”
‟Yes. I have feeling, the fingers are pink, I have a good pulse. I have taken my medications and we have redressed the injuries.” He ticked off the laundry list of things. “I have no numbness. I can type, slowly or hand write on the screens. I have multiple tablets I use for that. I cursive write on the screens all the time.”
‟It is my form of entertainment. It tickles me to see the computer read and transfer it into text.”
‟So what are you saying?”
‟We can fly the Sea Dragon there. No waiting.”
‟Oh. Okay. I will have to think about that.”
‟Why?” Tom got serious as he pulled on black jeans and a black polo-shirt that had a sleeve removed to accept his bandaged arm. ‟We can leave now and you are suddenly pulling back on going?”
‟Do you want to stay married to me or go be with Glenn?” Tom said gently and sat on the edge of the bed as Kaylee pulled on her shoes.
‟Two things. I care a great deal for you, Glenn would have never tolerated my quirks.” She said. “He would have blamed me for the Professor. And Glenn likes to keep me stoned. Loving him when we’re stoned is fun.”
‟When you can remember it. So according to him?” Tom winked.
‟I remember! Most of the time…” Blushing slightly, but Tom got closer to the truth than he knew. ‟Second thing is… I have really come to adore you. No. I don’t want to do it, but I made a promise and I don’t want to wake up in bed with you and keep saying ‟If only” even once.”
‟Do you say that now?” Tom sounded hurt.
‟Well, no. You have not given me the chance.” Kaylee held his hand. ‟Don’t be hurt. I would come back and marry you if my fantasy fails.”
‟So I am the consolation prize?”
Kaylee face-palmed, she did not mean it as an insult and an embarrassed laugh escaped her.
‟You weren’t any kind of prize. You are the kindest, bravest man I know to put up with me, my quirks and my promises.”
‟And the best friend you will ever have. I want to you go marry him. When you look out a window and see a jet fly by, think of me. When you have children, get them the Leonard Sea Dragon Series, and I’ll write about an artist in my Steamland books. I might even name her Kaylee with a sister named… Oh damn…” Tom had the look of a man who forgotten an important detail.
‟Yes! Melanie .” Tom laughed. ‟Melanie would not be overlooked in the stories if I put your name in it.”
‟She would like that.”
‟But that would be your connection with me as you write your own story in life’s book.” Tom said, serious again. ‟I have my own explores to do in the world.”
‟You find someone?” Kaylee said. ‟Please? You should not be alone.”
‟No. I can’t promise that. I won’t be untruthful to you.” A small smile played on his lips.
“I have been alone a long time, you were a surprise.” Tom said. ‟A pleasant, exciting, twisted, funny and chocolate-flavored,” He licked her lips. ‟Surprise.”
‟You are not upset?”
‟I am a little hurt, but I am not a teenager and life-is-over crushed.” Tom gave a sad smile. ‟I knew you did not want to be married and you could have had a divorce that next day, but you wanted it annulled instead. So, I am well prepared.”
“Okay.” She looked him with suspicion, then changed the subject. ‟We can fly now?”
‟Let’s file a flight plan, check with the crews to prepare the Dragon and we can leave in an hour.”
Source: New Comic Up!
Woot woot! I have pumpkins growing, corn stalks are turning brown. it’s coming!
Source: WITCHING HOUR is COMING
Chapter 31. First Night Home
Kaylee woke up the next morning, with stiff and tired muscles. Her thighs burned so bad that it was painful just to move her legs. She threw one leg across the sleeping Tom, making him snuffle when she moved. It was sweet to her ears and she smiled at the sound.
She had all but wore him out, he was weak and out of shape from being in a hospital bed for the previous two weeks and not allowed to move his arm.
Inside he heart she laughed, Kaylee enjoyed being stronger than Tom. She had pushed him down and made him enjoy himself equal to the number scenes of drama in their lives.
Just one thing tickled her mind and she was not sure if it pleased her or not. He kept whispering her name in absent-minded ways, sometimes he used her married name “Kaylee Harte”, as if he enjoyed the flavor of it.
At least it wasn’t some other woman’s name, although warmth on how he said the words caused sparks inside of her.
Pleasure or sadness she could not make up her mind. But if anything, she was not going to stay with Tom and prove Georgia correct that she stayed with him because of his money and fame. If anything, now it was a motivation to her to depart and go back to her old life. No one would insinuate or call her such vile names.
But, for now, she was happy that Tom held her in his heart — at least by name.
Kaylee kissed his chest and he, well he didn’t snore- precisely. But she disturbed him and the snort/snore echoed in the small room. He inspired her, and her inspiration wanted to draw.
Her inspiration? The author of such a children’s series of adventure-picture books with a moral in each story about sharing, hero decisions that even a child could make.
To stand up against authority if danger exists. The right and wrong choices of the fictional leafy sea dragon made were an adventure to children of all ages and sold well to his target audiences.
Then his creative works became movies of steampunk. Kaylee felt that he had a romantic soul in him for that genre, something that would let his pain out and make him smile with his heart as much as his face.
Since she had known him, she had felt that his heart was little more than a bleeding scar from the wounds inflicted by life.
And she put some of bloody scar there.
She remembered she hurt him. He never admitted it. But she hurt his heart and his soul.
Quietly, as she listened to his heart beat, a tear slipped out of her left eye when Kaylee wished she had not signed and sent off the papers.
Even an accident that it was, as a husband Tom showed himself as a higher quality of husband than any she could have dreamed of.
And he helped her to annul the relationship on her request.
So why did she cry?
Slowly, carefully, she disentangled herself from Tom. He mumbled something that sounded like her name, then slipped back into the fuzzy, comfortable arms of sleep.
The cool air of the flying boat made the stiff muscles in her legs ache as she walked the full length of the plane, in his pirate jammy-pants that hung down to her mid-calf and a skull and crossed pistol t-shirt that hung to past her thighs. If someone was in the right position to look into the front wind-screen of the jet, they would have seen her moving through the big jet wearing his clothes.
Although Tom was sleeping well, Kaylee wanted to eat something and softly padded on her bare feet into the galley.
Opening the small refrigerator she felt the chilled air spill over her feet like a flood. This made her grin, she was going to warm them up on Tom when she crawled back in bed.
Her thighs ached in fatigue in the dawn-twilight of the day and instead of bending her legs, she bent over and looked for a carrot or an apple to get a bite of.
Suddenly, she felt a hand on her back, with a swat on her (and sticking out, unprotected) backside.
Yipping and standing up suddenly, she hit her head on the handle of the overhead freezer.
‟TOM! You startled me.”
‟You think that was a surprise? You are lucky it was just my hand.” He grinned. ‟Besides, what you have is in my jammies and the skull and crossbones could to not be missed. I probably could bounce a coin off it from across the room.” Tom squeezed her around the waist in a firm hug.
‟Tom. Stop the fantasy, we are at breakfast.” She said, standing with a carton of milk.”
‟Okay, I guess I’ve already had dessert.”
‟You have had enough dessert for three men.” She laughed. ‟For now, I need some fuel for my engine.”
‟Come back to bed. We don’t have much time left.”
‟I’m going to eat, I can make you something. Some exotic art-college food perhaps?” Kaylee looked around. ‟Hm… red wine, chocolate, vanilla beans, vodka— why do you have vodka here? Coffee, pomegranates, how long have these been here? ‟
Kaylee picked one of the red fruits out of a basket slung under one of the cabinets.
‟Banana, apple… I have plenty to work with. Chocolate and red wine to start. Later, I am going to make a pomegranate-chocolate snack later.
‟That’s a lot of chocolate.”
‟I’ll show you things to do with chocolate that will change your mind. You’ll want more.”
‟I already want more.” Tom said, moving papers off the small table in the galley, taking them to his work-station. ‟Are these the papers you signed?”
‟Those are the copies. I sent the originals off. Please, Tom, put those away and let’s enjoy the last of our time as a married couple.” Kaylee said while she set the breakfast table.
‟Did you sign both sets?” Tom said as he was flipping through the annulment forms. ‟You signed this one.”
‟Yes, I signed them both the same way at the same time.
‟Same exact way?”
‟Same exact places, both sets, why?”
Tom coughed, then laughed.
‟You signed these papers in the wrong places.” He nodded as he flipped though the form. ‟Yup. The clerk of the court will reject this filing.”
Tom laughed at Kaylee ‘s jaw-drop moment.
“We are still married.” His crooked smile let her know he enjoyed this.
Kaylee could only facepalm and moan a cuss-word.
“This just became a lot more difficult.”
Chapter 30. Tears and Smiles
‟I’m glad you are out of the hospital, I couldn’t wait for us to get back to the Wizard.” Kaylee sat down on the floor, next to the chair he kept his arm on. ‟But, I signed the papers and sent them off when I was here. You had two sets, one to send and one to keep. I signed both sets so we can keep them on file here.”
With a sigh, he nodded.
‟So, we are no longer married as soon as the clerk of the court signs and stamps it. You did it how I told you to do it?”
‟I’m so sorry. But I have to get home outside of Portland, Glenn is asking for me. My sister says he is going to ask me to marry him.” Kaylee couldn’t help the tear that ran down her face as she sniffled.
‟Oh, poop.” She gave a sad laugh. “I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.”
‟Yeah.” Tom choked on the knot in his throat. ‟I knew this day would come. The month is up.”
Kaylee rested her chin on his knee.
‟If it makes you feel any better, I almost shredded the papers. You have been better than Glenn has ever been,” She took a big breath. “But I grew up with him and we have planned to marry each other as far back as I can remember. He asked me to marry him at my sixth birthday party. He wrote it in a birthday card, in crayon.”
Tom laughed. “Do you still have it?”
‟Don’t laugh. But yes.” Kaylee bit him gently on the knee. ‟It’s silly, I know. He has also been a bit of a butthead and stupid over all the years. Once he’d gotten drunk, fell into a pool, sank like a stone and I had to save him. We have history.”
‟And we don’t?” Tom sounded more harsh than he intended. ‟In the last month, we have set new records that even newlyweds everywhere would dream of.”
‟Not fair. You have an advantage. Not many men get married and fly away on their own jet plane. Fewer still can write a children’s series like you have.” Kaylee shook her head as she named off Tom’s points. ‟You have more than most college students, and that is what Glenn is, a college student. That’s what I am. And you are a rogue, an explorer. You are a pirate! A Steam-Punk King Pirate who has stolen my heart, but I have a promise to keep.”
‟You made that promise when you were all of six-years-old. I’m not so sure that might count.” Tom nodded.
‟Does a promise have a lower age limit?”
‟Uh. No, I suppose not.” Tom was not wanting to pick a fight like that. “A promise is a promise.”
‟No. My father always told me a promise is something to keep. Things change, say if Glenn was gay or I died in a plan crash.” Kaylee gave him a playful sock on the thigh. ‟Then that voids the promise. But we are still alive and I can assure you Glenn is hetero, fully hetero.”
‟Okay.” Tom slouched in the chair. The stress of the last eighteen-days exhausted him. ‟You have always been my first concern. I held on to the hope you would decide to give us more of a try. Even now, I see you are not sure.”
‟No… no. No, I’m not sure. You have made me mad a few times since the first morning. But it was an exciting mad. You are a maddening, wonderful, frustrating, crazy, super-smart guy that makes me want to pull out all your chest hair.” Kaylee and Tom laughed at the same time. ‟And I would love to stay here.”
‟But I have to at least try to keep my promise.”
‟Agreed.” Tom nodded. Upset as he was, it actually helped to talk to her.
Kaylee also nodded.
First and always she would be friends with Tom and she knew he put her first. She would always put him first, except for the promise she made Glenn.
The promise of a six-year-old girl to the boy she grew up with.
Taking Tom by his good arm, she pulled him to the bedroom in the back of the plane.
‟For now, however, I am STILL your wife and you have neglected me.”
‟Oh! Doctor Kaylee , I’ve been occupied. Perhaps you have heard of this minor wound I suffered. I had to take a stitch or three to get a smaller scar.”
‟Well, I have the cure for you to forget that ache for a while.” Winking and pulling him as she walked backwards.
In the last few days, she had not realized that the tension she had building in her was a jet engine about to blow a gasket.
Now that she thought of it, there was more than a gasket she was going to blow.
The night in the plane was somewhat louder than it had been in the last ten days.
The world would envy, and sometimes pity, the husband that night. Kaylee did things to Thomas Harrison Harte that became legend in his mind and illegal in forty states and Washington, D.C.
In the end, Kaylee laughed harder than she had in the last few days.
Chapter 29. Georgia Off His Mind
Lettie sat in the driver’s seat of the limousine, and explained that Kaikane was off the clock, by state law.
They rode in the limo quietly for a few minutes, while Tom looked out the window.
Finally he spoke.
‟First time I have ever fired someone.” He pulled at his earlobe as he thought. “Georgia has been with me for three years as an agent, she was assistant to Fred Granger for seven years before that.”
‟Why not call Fred and talk with him about being your agent.”
‟That’d be a long distance call.” Tom gave a wistful smile. ‟He passed away a few years ago. That’s how Georgia got my account. Originally, she called me her “minimal account” and rarely took my calls. She wanted little to do with me and getting events scheduled was difficult at best.”
‟Then the first of the children’s books were finally published at a startup Aussie book publisher and put in limited circulation in the south. They didn’t sell well in the first few months. Then Christmas hit.” Tom chuckled with the memory of it. “Someone’s grandmother or dad or maybe even a child picked one up in Melbourne and after that they vanished off shelves like bread-crumbs to ducks.”
“It was a good Christmas right at that point. The stats began to pick up before Thanksgiving.” He smiled.
“A second printing went forward and it sold out in less than a week. I had the second book written and it sat in Georgia’s email for so long that the system purged the email. I had to send a second file and she said she never got it. I found it in her junk file folder when I helped her with a few files.” Tom smiled wryly. ‟I’m kind of adept at computer networks.”
‟She had me listed as junk and spam until the first check arrived with more than two figures on it.” Tom stroked Kaylee ’s hand as he walked her through his memories. “The first few checks were less than a c-note. The next? I think it was around two-grand, then she said I got lucky and not to get used to it.”
“But,” Tom laughed out loud. “The next book sold out again, same with the fourth and fifth. I suggested that we make a set, she resisted and I insisted.” Tom’s confession to the relationship was one of strain. ‟The sales were geometric, I expanded my scope of subjects — against her advice — and Steamland the movie is one of that results.”
“One subject I like to write about is steampunk. The other is the children’s books. So, it is time for her to depart,” Tom had a look of a beaten dog who had just been freed. “I didn’t realize I was so far under her control. I’ve assumed it was a kind of partnership and I was just one of many clients.”
‟Honey, you might be only one of a group, but she is the one that got you to this point. Good or bad.” Kaylee stroked a stray hair out of his face. ‟The reason I reacted, I didn’t know book agents got paid so well. I mean, she spends a few minutes a day on your business and you pay her thousands.”
“Well, she takes her cut, then pays me. She cashes the check.”
Kaylee thought a minute with her mouth hanging open.
“No, that is so not a good idea. She gets a check, cashes it and then pays you?‟ She tried to process this upside down information. “AND! If you sold more stories? She could make millions from you by only a few minutes work per day and you’d never know it. Who is to say she is not skimming more than she’s allowed? I’m saying she could be ripping you off.”
‟I don’t think that it works like that.”
‟Maybe not, business is not my major. Art is. But I can balance a checkbook. You should have a cap on the commission you pay, in my opinion.”
‟Like keep it below ten-percent?”
‟Like keep it to a flat fee. If an agent makes a quarter-million dollars a year from you, you could be their only client, exclusively.”
‟Well,” Tom slipped back into thought. “That’s all well and good, but honestly. You don’t know the business.”
‟No, I don’t.” Kaylee admitted with grumble under her breath. *That irritates me for him, and I’m irritated at him, too! He is paying out a huge amount of money and he is okay with it.* ‟Do you know how the business works?”
‟Not really. I have had a tax accountant handle that. Two years ago he suggested change agents or renegotiate the contract, anyway.” Tom said and shook his head. ‟That means I have to hire a lawyer or some such and I am not sure I want to deal with those people after my last run-in with them.”
‟I think you should call someone from all the friends you have made. Doctor Manga might even know a few good experts.” Kaylee the wife said in a thoughtful tone.
Tom pondered a moment as Lettie piloted the limo through the Bay Area traffic.
‟Lettie is driving, she owns the limo business here in the state.” Tom said. “Sometimes I talk to her, she has a lot of friends in Los Angeles that are attorneys. She has an uncle who is a judge in Sacramento.”
‟I have talked with Lettie, she has wisdom.” Kaylee smiled.
‟She has learned a lot from her contacts.” Tom nodded. ‟She was one of those that said it was time to change from Georgia a few months ago.”
‟She’s right.” Kaylee stroked his arm. ‟Tom, you can get like an advance before you finish. I have heard of that.”
‟Well, I figure it would come in time. It is not free money, it comes out of the back-end of royalties.”
‟Well, that comes to a lawyer then.” Kaylee nodded.
‟Right.” Tom nodded as they pulled into the parking area of the hanger. ‟Oh, it looks like they have finished working on the Dragon.”
“I had to ask someone to clean up where you got cut, honey.” Kaylee said. The term of endearment coming out without her meaning to say it. “You left quite a mess, it had all dried and turned black and glass. No one had gotten the idea to clean up where you bled. You lost a lot of blood.”
“Yikes, that had to be nasty, good idea for getting that clean-up ordered.”
Another limousine sat parked near the Sea Dragon, the tall Hawai’an Kaikane stood there with his arms crossed, waiting for them to arrive.
“I called ahead to help us get Tom settled in.” Lettie smiled. “Kaikane can help Tom get up the steps and into the plane, the more bodies to help, the better.”
“I can walk.” Tom protested weakly.
“She’s right.” Kaylee poked at her husband. “Right now, I bet my grandmother could push you down.”
“She’s right. You are in need of help this time, Tom. Just go with it.” Lettie nodded, standing by her sister of soul and spirit.
Tom was a little woozy still, getting out of limo and moved unsteadily to the jet with Kaikane helping Tom walk. For the first time, Kaylee noticed that Kaikane’s hands. Long fingers and finely boned like a musicians, but exerting a grip on Tom’s shoulders, he was not about to let Tom fall to the ground.
Sitting Tom at his desk, on the arm-rest of the seat, Kaikane let Tom lay his arm gently on the padded support.
‟Brudda, this works for you? You let me know what you need. You have done me well, and I always take care of ohana.”
From the door, Lettie leaned in and smiled.
‟Is this the spot where you got hurt?” Lettie asked, Kaylee nodding.
“It was hideous, there was blood caked on the floor and broken glass everywhere.” Kaylee pointed out the new flooring and carpet was.
“Well, at least he is home where he belongs.” Lettie nodded.
“He can get some work done.” Kaikane agreed. “Mister Tom, you are keeping my little sister eight-years-old at home in Kōloa, is excited with all the books. She tells me to call you ohana and if you come to the islands you must stop by for meals. So keep on writing, you have one fan that would miss it if you stopped.”
Tom grimaced as he tried to wiggle fingers.
‟No matter what, the fingers hurt and it will be a challenge to write.” Tom groaned.
‟I have access to voice to text, if you like.” Lettie said. ‟I used to date the coder for that program. He is still sweet on me, I bet I can get you his latest code.”
‟Maybe, I don’t work like that. I get lost in the sound of my voice, I like to pause my fingers. Even backspace is my best friend and gives me time to review what I was writing.” Tom smiled. “I sound like an idiot when dictating.”
‟I can type for you anytime, Brah. I have to type my papers all the time.” Kaikane said. ‟Plus you have your lady here to help you.”
*For a loner who traveled so much in his jet to avoid people, he draws a lot of attention from friends that will do things for him.* Kaylee laughed. *It is hard to think that Tom thinks of himself as unfriendly with so many friends that would go out of their way to help him out.*
Kaikane and Lettie bid their farewells, her black limousine followed by Kaikane’s blue limousine disappeared out the big doors of the hangar.
Kaylee closed the door of the big plane and sat down. Alone for the first time in weeks with the sparkling green-eyes that occupied such a large chunk of her summer.
‟Tom, do you want any pain-medication now? The discharge instructions read that you should take them as needed, but no more than every four-hours.”
‟No,” He sounded tired. ‟I’m okay for now. Just glad being home. But, you know what I would like? PIZZA!”
*They say hospital food was never as good as the real world. But this stay,* she noted, *The hospital food was not just good, but great. Chef-restaurant great. And then he goes and orders pizza for the entire floor, eight nurses stations, eight pizza’s each. I do not feel like arguing with him about his food choices. And now Tom wants a pizza, again. A San Francisco pizza from the Italian district.*
She started looking up pizza on her phone.
After she ordered the pizza delivery, Kaylee hung up the phone and turned, looking him in the eye.
‟Tom, I have to talk to you.”
‟Uh-oh. That sounds like THE TALK.”
‟Yeah. I guess I can talk about it now.” She sat and held his good hand, taking a deep breath.
She began to talk to her husband about annulment papers.
Chapter 28. Early Release
Back at the hospital, Kaikane opened the door for Kaylee , she talked with him one more minute before returning to her life, he gave her the breakdown of the famous Hawai’ian word that is commonly used.
“Ha is spirit, of breath and life. It is the divine breath that allows us all to seek our center. So, aloha Barb. Malama pono- take good care of yourself.” Kaikane smiled. “And you take care of Tom, he will take good care of you.”
A hug from the hot Hawaiian and she entered through the automatic doors and signed in as security Lt. Honey Stevens waved at her and buzzed Kaylee through.
The ride up the elevator was uneventful, rounds were over and the medical professionals, a few with MD on name tags some with RN, one with “Phlebotomist II”, color-coded tubes, tape and small square gauze pads filled the small, wheeled cart that he pushed.
She arrived at the floor where ICU housed Tom. Kaylee stepped out of the elevator, her mind on Kaikane’s words.
‟Passion of the heart, it is rare. It is like a wave on the water, sometimes you must hang-ten to keep on it. If you fall off, you get wiped out.” He smiled, saying the words of wisdom of his peers. “You have to wait and measure each one to find the perfect match to you, then ride the best one you can.”
She puzzled over that, in a way she kind of understood. It might make more sense to a surfer when she saw a group at the nurses station.
As she walked by, Kaylee caught snippets of conversation that included Tom’s name.
‟We want the story, who is this mystery woman who Thomas Harte was with? Did she cut him? Was it her?”
She pushed her way through and met Tom, finding him as he sat in a wheelchair with flowers and cards piled on top of him.
‟Why hello! They are discharging me! I’m out.” Tom looked cheerful.”I’m going home.”
Kaylee smiled wider than she had in days. It was a night…
*Ugh! This night is about be even worse, I have to tell him that I signed and mailed off the papers.*
Then Georgia stepped out from behind the door with more of Tom’s get-well cards in her hand.
‟Ah, Kaylee. I thought you might have left and went home.” She glared at Kaylee . ‟Business keeps going, but you would not be aware of that. You cannot even balance your own books, it seems. You were two-months behind on rent before you met Tom, failing a class and you couldn’t even finish the finals. I would venture a guess that you didn’t even have a job or a prospect for one when you met Tom.”
‟Now wait a minute. You dare…”
Georgia’s face split into a malicious smile.
‟Did you or did you not have yourself in a compromising position, nude with a professor? How many times has this gone on before you blew the whistle?” Georgia pressed the point harder when Kaylee’s shocked look told volumes. Her money well spent on the P.I. ‟I wonder if the professor will make his case for entrapment. Probably so. Then he will sue because he will never work in education again because of you.”
‟Georgia.” It was Tom as he rolled back towards them in the wheelchair, pushed by a nurse. ‟Is there a problem?”
‟No problem.” Georgia answered. ‟Just some girl talk. About gold in the area and the women prospectors that dig for it.”
‟Okay,” Tom missed the reference. “Well, there is a lot of stories around this area.” Tom nodded and smiled, oblivious to the shocked look that Kaylee had on her face.
The trio, plus nurse pushing the wheelchair, moved towards the elevators that Kaylee had just exited a few moments before.
‟Georgia, I have the next edition you need. We still have a week to edit it anyway, the adventure is a bit longer than previous. Nearly doubled the word-count. I am quite pleased with it, Kaylee here has helped by being my muse.” Tom smiled and kissed Kaylee’s hand.
‟Tom.” Georgia said softly. ‟We need to keep you on a regular schedule. The book signing I had set up for you had gotten postponed because of this little side-track into the hospital. You need to get back into the swing of things. I am sure your wife here would be interested in you continuing your career and keep an income to supply her with the attentions you have given her.”
Kaylee was at the brink of breaking, the thought of painting this woman as spider in her next work art . Georgia was certainly creepy enough, the older woman pulled on threads to make Kaylee flinch.
Kaylee spoke up.
“I need to speak with Tom, alone and we are returning to the Sea Dragon to have time alone and talk about some important items.”
‟I need the manuscript, Mrs. Harte.”
‟Georgia, I have it sent to your email just now.” Tom said with no room for argument. ‟This is why I have put this on the database so I can get access to it with my tablet.” He said holding the flat glass and plastic collection of electronics that bore a strong resemblance to a large mobile-phone.
‟With this, I have played a game called ‟Ingress” from my room.” Tom said with a laugh. “On the way home, drive slow, I want to do some gaming along the way.”
Kaylee and Georgia looked at each other for a moment, the animosity between them momentarily forgotten as the collective shrug between the women joined the rolling of the eyes.
*Boys and toys.* Made Kaylee smile inside. *It is nice to know that some parts of life never change.*
Then Kaylee became interested in the stories he described the city. He used it as a reason to walk the City by the Bay.
“You have the look of someone who has important news to talk about.”
She poured out her heart to him in a gush, at first, she was ready to get angry at him. She was sure that Tom would be defensive, even if she did what he told her to.
It he sounded as if he found a way in his heart to still be friends with her, even after she told him that she signed the papers and sent them off to the courts in Nevada.
They would be together at least one more night together before Georgia the Agent got her wish to have Kaylee out of Tom’s life and be his wife no more.
Tom told Kaylee the wicked witch of the children’s books had her investigated.
*Investigated!* She shook her head, trying to remember if she saw any kind of cloak and dagger person around her.
“Really, Georgia did this?” Forced out of her shock and asked the unbelievable.
Startled out of her world of indecision, sex and growing affection for Tom, with the words of Georgia insinuated that the only reason Kaylee married him was only for his money.
*Could it be true?* She doubted herself.
Could she have only stayed with him because of the glorious life that he lavished on her?
She didn’t care about what could have been, she was going home to Glenn.
Tom was awesome, but he was not what she had planned.
She was lost for a few minutes in her deepest thoughts. When she came to the here and now, Tom’s voice cut through her emotional storm with his own irritated voice.
‟… So we went for a day flight in the Sea Dragon. So, Georgia, she is not digging for gold. I made first contact, you can call off your investigation, I know more about her than you think.” Tom finished as Kaylee came back from an inward look on her own heart.
‟Tom, she is distracting you from your work.” Georgia said as she followed Tom and the nurse out the door of the elevator. ‟No offense Miss Grant, but Tom, there is no way you could be writing with her walking around naked in your winged-yacht.
‟I don’t walk around naked on his, whatever you called it.” Kaylee growled. Her right fist clenching, she could punch the woman in the sternum so hard she could separate it from the cartilage that attached it to her ribs. It would crackle and pop for the rest of her life, even after it healed.
*Control!* She had control.
‟Do you really want to go there, Miss Grant?”
‟Georgia, it is Missus. She is my wife.”
This made Kaylee cringe. She had signed the papers, Tom should have known that would have happened when she left last night. He gave her step-by-step directions on what to do.
‟Tom, you prove to me that you can write with her doing who-knows-what when you are alone for what reasons…”
‟Hello, I’m right here.” Kaylee looked at the agent.
‟She only knows.” Georgia shot a look at Kaylee . ‟You stay out of this. You are the cause for all this.”
‟Georgia, I have sold a few hundred-million dollars worth of books…”
‟One hundred-ninety eight million last year, after expenses.”
‟Yeah, and you get fifteen-percent of that.”
‟Whoa!” Kaylee ‘s eyes boggled. ‟Fifteen PERCENT? Of almost two-hundred million dollars in a year? Almost three-hundred thousand dollars for one client?”
Turning to Georgia, no longer looking belittled and beat down. She was now convinced where Georgia stood.
‟You called ME a gold-digger? And you suck over a quarter-million dollars a year just from Tom?” Kaylee was angry, verging on fury. Her knuckles were white, her fists were hard a stone. ‟You… You… hypocrite!”
‟Kaylee , just a moment.” Tom said. ‟Please let me finish.”
‟Georgia, you have been with me for a decade. Each year has been better than the last, but for as long as we have been together, you have been always pushing. You have chased off nearly every woman I have tried to start a relationship with, only Kaylee has remained. But you force me to choose, now. We must seek our separate lives from now on.”
‟You… I am fired?”
‟That is a bit harsh, but accurate.” Tom nodded. ‟It’s just time we parted, I hope amicably.”
“Tom…” but it was over.
Thomas Harte fired her.
Chapter 27. Kaikane
Less than a half-hour passed when the black limousine rolled around the corner.
Kaylee could see the broad shoulders of Kaikane in the driver’s seat, the smile matched his build when he saw it was Kaylee. He was a driver with enthusiasm for his clients.
He put on his hat as he got out, Kaikane looked professional and as fresh-pressed as if he came out of a tailor shop.
‟Missus Kaylee. Howzit? How is Tom’s arm?” Kaikane had such a happy soul, that Kaylee had to smile.
‟Oh, Kaikane, Tom is a fast healer. The glass cut down through the bone, the doctors put on some hardware attached to his arm to help the bone heal.” Kaylee looked down while she stepped up to the limousine while Kaikane held the door open.
Kaylee put her hand out on the open door.
‟Kaikane, I want to ride up front with you.”
‟Missus Kaylee , that’s not regular. All clients ride in the back.”
‟Kaikane, how long is the ride to the hospital?” She gave her best direct look at the Islander chauffeur. The effort nearly made her laugh. Kaikane was as kind as Lettie and closer to her age.
‟Missus Kaylee , it is all on the traffic, we will get there when we arrive, is all I can say.” In a philosophy that echoed his Hawaiian spirit.
‟That’s alright, I would like to take the long way, if we can.” Kaylee said.
“I would like to roll down the window and sit in front. Can we go around to west of the Golden Gate?” She asked.
‟’E’e,” His word sounded like he said ‟Aye” in his language. ‟For sure. T’wood ‘A‘ole pilikia Missus Kaylee .”
Then he smiled as she got in the passenger seat without taking her eyes from him.
‟What does that mean?” The words bounced around in her brain and could not find a place to fit.
‟It means “No problem.”” Kaikane said with a laugh as he closed the door.
She watched him while he walked around and then got into the driver’s seat. The limousine was not a large stretched version, but it was roomy in the back. The front – not so much. It was cozy in her opinion. Just a standard seat. Somehow she had thought it might be more plush.
‟Kaikane, can I tell you something?”
‟’E’e. Of course Missus Kaylee .”
‟First. Just call me Kaylee , even Kay would work.”
‟I’m not sure I can do that, but I will try.” Kaikane was polite to a fault. A credit to Lettie’s skills as a teacher and his cultural heritage.
‟Fair enough.” Kaylee smiled and then explained her entire month to the Hawaiian driver who made her feel comfortable with his smile and kind voice.
She found that he was a psych major at University of San Francisco, which was perfect for the dark – haired, smiling student.
‟Well, Missus…” She shot him a sideways look. ‟Ugh. Sorry, Kaylee . My Kapuna Wahane said that the matters of the heart are the strength of a woman. Men of a certain age are best for fishing and building and making happy times.”
Kaikane laughed and Kaylee would have sworn that he blushed.
They talked as he did a slow drive. He was six-months younger than she was, but he showed a wisdom that made her want to visit the islands of Hawaii.
Somewhere in his pidgin-surfer English and his wit, mixed with his grandmother – his Kapuna Wahane – Kaylee knew that there was a path she could take in her life.
She just had to go home to Glenn and answer the question that her childhood sweetheart was going to ask.
Kaikane wheeled the limo around the point where the Golden Gate Bridge foundation anchored to the southern side. Connecting the orange-colored suspension bridge to the Marin Headlands and Sausalito where people lived and looked at San Francisco’s skyline out the windows of their homes.
“Kaikane, how long have you been on the mainland?” Kaylee asked while looking out the window. “How does this area compare to your side of paradise?”
Kaikane gave a quiet laugh as he paused at a stop-sign to let another car take its turn.
“I’ve been here for three years. A ways down the coast there is a place called Mavericks beach, it has good surfing most of the time, but a few times of the year is world-class! I have competed all three years.”
“WOW! Have you won?”
“No.” Kaikane shrugged with a smile. “I can’t compete with some of the talent there. I have found I am afraid of Mavericks.”
“A surfer afraid to surf?” Kaylee looked at him. “How does that work?”
“Some waves are higher than two-story houses, there have been two world-class pros that have died there.” Kaikane smile faded into profound sadness for the first time. “I can feel their mana that stays there. They have not gone on, they surf the waters there still.”
Kaylee felt the need to paint. The things Kaikane talked about. Mana, soul, spirit and breath was inspirational to her. For the first time, she knew that the Hawaiian was deeply spiritual.
In that moment, Kaylee found that she had left mana in two places. Back home, where Glenn was and with Tom, where he lay in the hospital.
“Okay, Kaikane.” She said, coming out of her reverie of looking at the largest body of water in the world pass by as they drove south on Highway-1. “Take me back to the medical center. I’m ready to go back into that house of crazy people who wear white coats.”
“Yes Ma’am.” Kaikane smiled, then corrected himself with a wink. “Sorry, Kaylee .”
Turning left, Kaylee saw the San Francisco zoo as they drove past.
“I will take Tom there when he gets discharged from the hospital.” She told Kaikane. “I have never been there, and I would bet it would be Tom’s first time as well.”
“That would be a good day. It is a large area, be ready to spend a whole day there.” Kaikane said.
“Thank you for that warning. Note to self: comfortable shoes.”
She thought it might be fun to spend time with Tom at the zoo.
*After he’s discharged of course!* She reminded herself with a laugh.
Chapter 26. Papers
Kaylee left the medical center after they settled Tom back his room. He had been in a bit of pain as the nurses bathed him and gave medications to help him sleep.
She walked across the macadam surface of the airport to the hangar where the Flying Sea Dragon sat, she could barely keep from sobbing the trip from the hospital.
It hurt so much to even think of those papers that sat somewhere inside the plane, waiting.
She rode in silence in a taxi she caught at random to the airport, she did not want to ride with anyone who knew Tom, knew of Tom or had even heard about his books.
She had a serious need to sit and drink wine and smoke a bowl with her sister and talk.
She missed the afternoons with Melanie like they had in their teens. They had barely graduated from high school, but as the best of friends and the worst of enemies, they would be in a furious scream-fest fight for minutes, then would be the best of friends as they settled down for a toke.
But no outsider dare make either of them cry.
Woe be unto the person that faced the wrath of the Grant sisters. It would make for an epic bad day when both sisters would turn on the offending person with fury that only sisters, family, and those of the same heart and soul have.
As they grew older, and although they took different classes and their lives were on different paths, they became closer still.
Opening the door of the big jet, she looked down at the broken glass that still lay on the floor.
And blood! Everywhere, large black clots that cemented fibers of the carpet into a mat with choking copper-smell. It surprised her the amount that soaked into the carpet on the floor. A body-trail in the glass where he crawled to the door and yelled for help at the plane’s technicans and engineers.
She stepped past the gore and glass that almost ended Tom’s life and perhaps did end his life as a writer.
She sat at the chair and looked where the papers in the manila envelope waited, filed in the cubby-hole that Tom told her about.
She thought of Melanie and all the fights they had while she sat in the Flying Sea Dragon and held the annulment papers in her hands.
*Tom said I just had to sign on the lines in the document and mail it with…*
She slumped in the chair and a wept.
*It’s strange, this is just what I wanted four-weeks ago! Now I have a serious temptation to put it in the washing machine, somewhere on the plane. Except, damn, I’m not sure where it is, hidden behind some cabinet door.* Kaylee took a heavy breath, *I’m not sure if this is wise.*
Her hands trembled when she found the place to sign in the back of the document.
She slipped the papers into the manilla envelope they were paper-clipped to, she closed and sealed the package and walked out the door of the big flying yacht.
*The Flying Sea Dragon is not as big as the Pacific Wizard is inside, it’s more cluttered with furniture, bulky items to make it feel close. Still, a comfortable plane to live in.*
*A flying yacht.* She reminded herself as she walked across the airport to the main offices.
She nearly didn’t get to mail it, the woman behind the counter almost gave it back because of Kaylee ’s facial expressions and the slumped-sad way she carried herself.
“Miss, I don’t know what you have in this, and it’s not my place to say. But do you really want to send this?” She looked as if she might have known Ben Franklin when she started for the post-office. Not a trace of color in the great-grandmotherly hair.
With the postage stamped on the envelope, the woman gave Kaylee one more look, a last chance to change her mind, then slowly it into the slot behind her and it was in the US mail with a required a signature on delivery at the court.
Once the clerk of the court received and signed for the papers, in the eyes of the government, it never happened.
It would be as if she was never married.
While Kaylee walked out to the sidewalk she dialed the number on the business card that the Chauffeur Kaikane had given her and told her to call anytime she needed a ride. This time it would be to the hospital. She would tell Tom that she signed the papers, but she was not sure about how she felt.
After breaking the line with Kaikane and his peaceful voice, she hit speed-dial and called Melanie .
‟KAY!” Melanie was always excited to hear from her sister. ‟Where are you?”
‟San Francisco. Tom has had a good run of luck with the doctors since his accident.”
‟You need to come home quick as you can. Glenn is here and he has asked for you, he said it’s important.” Melanie said in a conspiratorial tone. ‟I think he is going to ask the question.”
‟Oh.” Her heart finished the phrase. *Damn.*
‟You don’t sound excited.” Melanie became quiet, shocked at the response. “This is what you have waited for since you were kids.”
‟I just signed the papers and sent them off to Nevada. I stop being married and never was according to the state once the papers arrive.”
‟Oh sis. But this is what you want, right?”
‟I don’t know. Tom needs me.” Kaylee was quiet as she waited for the limo. “You should see his eyes. Mellie, he is a good man, he cares for so many things and he’s in pain because of me.”
‟But he was alone before he met you, and it’s only been a month.” Melanie said helpfully. ‟And you said he nearly crashed the plane with you in it.”
‟He showed the wine country off to me from the plane.” She was defensive all of a sudden. “Melanie , it was beautiful, right up until we hit the birds, scared me so bad I think I nearly peed myself.”
At the other end, her best friend and sister laughed, knowing Kaylee the way she did, for her to say something like that was funny.
They talked as sisters do over the phone. Switching to video chat while she waited for the contract limousine to pick her up.
‟Why don’t you take a cab?” Melanie asked as Kaylee sat on a bench and waited in the shade of a tree.
‟No. If this is my last limo ride I don’t have to pay for, I want to enjoy it as much as I can. Besides, there is a hot Hawaiian that drives it. You’d love him. Surfer type, intelligent as any professor, knows more about sensemilla than a DEA cop.”
Melanie laughed so hard she snorted, then held her hand over the lens while she composed herself.
‟Stringbean? You know I can still hear you.” Kaylee took her turn of laughter, using the nickname that they worked out as children. This only made Melanie laugh that much harder.
Melanie Grant was the only person in the world that could make Kaylee laugh when things were at their darkest.
Kaylee hated her for that…
Which made her laugh all the harder, she loved her sister more than anyone else in her generation. They were, after all…
I want one!
Source: REAL LIFE SUPERPOWERS: FLIGHT
This comes from my favorite scribing simian.
Source: 6 Reasons Why We Write
Chapter 25. Month’s End
Kaylee walked slowly with Tom as while she pushed him in a wheelchair towards the ‟Garden of Healing”.
Reaching the trees, native redwoods that bounded the half-acre garden full of native coastal plants.
The garden grew rich with beautiful colors of life, a peaceful location in the middle of the huge facility of intense emotions where hearts and souls healed from having their bodies repaired from different trauma and illness.
The couple enjoyed the sunlight until they came to the natural ten-century old Cathedral Tree where Kaylee parked Tom in his wheelchair, talked and held hands like the lovers they had become.
The Cathedral Tree, a half-circle of redwood trees that grew in a large open area on the campus of the medical center. Kaylee smiled at the smells that reminded her of home. She could feel the power of the Earth that lived here. In the middle of the healing professionals, medicine and sterile atmosphere, the Gods of Old, of life and sky sat in watchful gaze over the modern lives that began, ended and healed in the nearby structures of doctors, nurses and patients.
Except for one stubborn area of his arm, Tom’s condition improved faster than predicted, he impressed the team of surgeons, one suggested that part of the healing was the hand holding by the young wife had a positive effect.
“Attitude accounts for much of the recovery.” A journeyman surgeon said during an exam of Tom’s arm while waiting for Doctor Tribbing.
Fortune had it that the wound made by the glass in the tissues was smoother than even they could do with their surgical steel scalpels. Even obsidian or diamond bladed edged instruments could not have performed a cleaner, smooth-edged incision.
The wound, they said after surgery, was perfect for them to repair. Flesh and even the ends of the bone that were cloven so smoothly that the ends matched up precisely.
The only failure was the annoying lack of healing in one deep area in his arm. A drainage kept coming from the tubes they put in to help his wounds to keep fluid from building up.
Tom had stopped eating for fear of gaining weight and lost weight, despite the IV that ran into his arm constantly. Kaylee nagged him to eat, and when he did, he would only eat the most minute of portions.
Once again she could not help but think of more than three weeks ago. The summer was an adventure in ways she had never dreamed.
They sat in the filtered sun of the Cathedral Tree. The perfume from the tree made Kaylee think of camps and a campfire, she took deep breaths and images of fire-roasted cornbread, and foil-wrapped baked potatoes danced in her head. She could feel the power of the earth coming from the ancient species of tree dance with her muse.
Even obnoxious, bored children that made noise and were under the constant shush of nurses and parents, whispered in the natural wood enclave saved by some genius architect. Such was the power of the Cathedral Tree.
Small crosses with names – people who committed to each other here – tucked in the small areas between the trunks of the trees. Momento’s of weddings and thanks for the peaceful place in the middle of a medical center.
It promised of a time she looked forward to when the hospital released Tom and they would spend an evening on the beach.
In the quiet of the shade, Tom had slipped into a soft sleep, caused by the residual effects of heavy medications. She sat and held his hand, waiting for him to drift awake again when they would talk more. A conversation between the husband and wife, lovers and friends that could continue after a nap as if it never stopped.
In this quiet moment, Kaylee ’s phone chimed an alert to a text message. As she read her phone, it was a class synopsis that her education mentor suggested for the upcoming year.
Scrolling through the pages, the mentor reduced her class schedule. The math showed she had enough extra credit she had done the year before. She could do one less class this year, two less in her senior year if her grades qualified.
*I might do post-grad credits before I graduate! I like extra credits.*
‟Kaylee ?” Tom was awake! ‟Damn, how long have I been sleeping?”
‟Tom! How do you feel?” It was her standard question. The arm would sometimes cause him in agony. Then she smiled and gave him a synopsis. “Oh. Today or total? You woke up for a half-hour this morning, but you have been pretty groggy the last seven days. They don’t want you to move the tendons just yet.”
‟It has been a week?.” Tom had lost time during his stay. It was a regular start to all his conversations of late.
‟Yeah, a lot has happened and everything has been on hold.”
‟Let me get my mind around this. I’m still fuzzy.”
The drugs they shot Tom up with during the last week faded quickly in the sunlight and redwood perfumed air.
*The nurse had said this would happen when they discontinued his medications that kept him from moving much.* She smiled.
Even in his induced sleep, he was incredibly uncomfortable. A stomach sleeper and the doctor wanted him to keep the arm above his heart.
‟We need the annulment papers signed. We can file them tomorrow or the next day. I’ll have Robin, my lawyer, do it. You just need to sign the papers, they are on the Flying Sea Dragon.” Tom said quietly. His voice much improved since the first night when the nurse said it was a side-effect of having a tube pushed past his vocal cords.
‟What about your signature?” She frowned. This moment took a sudden turn to the sad-side.
‟I signed the papers weeks ago, a night you were crying in your sleep.” Tom said quietly, a shot of pain ran across his face. ‟You whispered Glenn’s name in that dream.”
‟Omy god, I’m so sorry.” Kaylee doubted that the pain was from his arm.
‟Don’t be. You said from the beginning, we weren’t supposed to be married. And really, you did not have to come here, either. You are a good person, but I am almost twice your age, I have all I have, but I lack one thing.” Tom moved a bit and groaned in pain and whispered a profanity. ” A future.”
Tom looked up at the big tree and gave a big sigh.
‟Like this young tree, your future is still bright and lays ahead of you with your Glenn. Get the papers and walk them over to the offices at the airport. Send them registered mail so it’s a required signature. That way it is the soonest it will be over, and you won’t have to return from your days back home to here and deal with this mess.”
‟Tom, I…” She couldn’t talk, her throat had tightened up like a knot. It was what she had wanted all month, why was it that it seemed to hurt, now that the time was here.
When this mess started she wept for the loss of her single-ness.
She loved with him.
She had fought with him.
She raced to his side in his time of need.
She spoke with the doctor about him and his arm when they thought that they may have to amputate.
She had fought for him with that witchy-woman who would demand he write while he recovered from having his arm, his future, hung by a thread of flesh.
She still felt like he told her to abandon him.
‟Tom, I…” Damn, there goes that knot in her heart again. ‟I will stay until they send you home, there are days I can catch up.”
‟You have to sign up for the classes, I’ll be discharged to attend Doctor Manga’s installation and make a speech. I can do that with only one arm.”
‟Tom, Honey, maybe you and I can get together after you get back from, Cambridge is where it is?”
‟That would be nice, but when I get back from Cambridge I’ll head to other places for a while.”
‟You think you might move?”
‟I am never in one place for long, you know that.”
‟Well, I thought. I mean, I just assumed that you stayed there.”
‟No, I was in Ocean Bay to meet with Dr. Manga and make a few donations and write. I would have been long-gone if we never met.” Tom groaned as he shifted in the wheelchair. “I just couldn’t fly away.”
‟And how do you plan to fly with that arm.” Kaylee was a little taken aback at her effect on his life. She and Tom worked well as a team and she kind of wanted him to grieve. It stung her that he had planned on moving on already. ‟You should be with someone to help you heal.”
‟I’ll hire a nurse, if need. But I think I am okay with flying on a wide-body jet in first-class. I can even buy tickets for four seats so I can spread out.”
This was all twisted, she was about to get what she wanted and he acted all matter-of-fact about how he would return to the world that he lived in.
*It feels like he woke up only to stab my heart.* Her heart and soul had a hard time with this.
*No. This,* she made a choice, *Is an opportunity. My life can get back on track, I’ve had an adventure. Me and Melanie can share this and still be friends with Tom. I can still go live my life as I meant it to be.*
But why did she feel as if she was about to lose a piece of her heart. If Tom wasn’t so badly hurt, she’d break his arm.
*And I can do it, too.*
*Ugh!* She clenched her teeth.
Even if it was right, this was so wrong.
*So damned wrong.*
OOh..yeah, I keep forgetting I have 15,000 or so accounts, but I am loyal and make sure I log them in to tickle the soul. ~Dash
I think mine says 51,000 or so. I really have 10 readers and I think they have a lot of different accounts. I too am amazed at their deligence. -OM
Source: The subscriber number isn’t real
I liked the ’73 version. I would like to see the 2016 version. See how the two era’s compare. I like Ed Harris too. I was a fan of Yul Brynner’s. Even remember his last tv commercials about anti-smoking.
I wonder how closely the 2016 HBO series, Westworld, advertised as an hour-long, dark odyssey, will follow the Michael Crichton 1973 classic starring Yul Brynner and James Brolin? In Crichton’s film, robots flood the park and guests sin with no consequences. Within the complex theme park visited by the wealthy who choose to indulge their fantasies either in a toga lounging in Roman gardens; as a knight or lady cavorting in a medieval castle; or as a root’n – toot’n cowboy in the Old West, murder is permissible.
White-coat scientists and technicians monitor and repair the robots programmed with one command–to service the guests who live out their fantasies without moral or legal ramifications. To those who can afford the $7,000 a day price tag, they buy the freedom to indulge in the seven deadly sins with no worries. If this sounds like a…
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“Medicine Man” – http://wp.me/p2IgZS-aE1
Purrsday Poetry: Cats by Eleanor Farjeon – http://wp.me/p4q6GM-2AD
Perfect Imperfections – http://wp.me/p323bn-6v2
Silly Cow! – http://wp.me/p3alnc-1JF
My photo of the day challenge – Day 4 – http://wp.me/p3Gm62-143
Chapter 24. A Phone Call
‟Agent of Success” Her business card read. She had been Tom’s second agent after he got started selling his books out of the back of his closet and over the internet.
She stroked her cat, Bond, while she mulled the situation over.
*If it was not for me, he would have been just like the thousands of authors of talent who stayed in the pits of obscurity fighting over morsels. I am more of a wife to him than that… That… Bimbo… stealing my position and probably would cause Tom to change agents.*
*This is not acceptable!* Tom represented three-fourths of Georgia’s current income. If he knew just how much she got in commission, there would be an investigation. She — legally — charged for her various services with a contracted percentage over her base.
She had taken Tom on as a flat rate as she did with all her clients, but when she read one of the children’s books she was showing to a bookstore, she knew then that she could do a percentage and still Tom would make money, enough money to keep him from the thoughts there was another way.
When his books took off, they automatically renewed the contract as a shrug and handshake over drinks and a launch party.
Tom did not think of the amount of money involved, especially when she couched the terms in a positive light.
*In this case, ignorance is bliss.*
At least for the Georgia Hershey Agency.
Dialing an often used number from her early days, she called Trevor Charles, private investigator.
She had used his services for finding agents that were taking advantage of clients, then springing the information on the client in an engineered ‟casual” conversation.
‟Mister Charles. Georgia Hershey. Yes, it has been awhile. I’ve an assignment for you, there is this young woman I need to know everything about…”
Sarit is laughing, This music makes me happy. The music of soul.
Reblogged on WordPress.com
Source: The Walking Dead
This month’s Carnival is a monster: LOTS of great advice for nurses on self-care and success: Nurse Blog Carnival Self Care for Nurses – Marsha Battee
Reblogged on WordPress.com
Chapter 23. Realization
She sat in the window seat while Tom slept. It was a strange emotion. She felt empowered, Kaylee looked out the window while Tom slept. He was unaware of the conflict that had just happened between her and the publisher, she needed to tell him that his agent came in and she chased the woman and her broom out of the hospital.
Kaylee ’s heart raced with the adrenalin rush of the collision between her and the business woman who drove Tom to write while in bed and at all waking hours.
Between the machines that beeped and sterile smells, she realized that Tom would not come home from the hospital in time to sign the annulment, she would be married when she went home in the next two weeks.
*Maybe.* She shook her head. *Drat!*
*Why is it, it seems that the world wants me with Tom?* She bit her nails for a moment. Falling back on a bad habit. *In my dreams, I’ve always painted a life with Glenn, I imagined it with all the glitter and hues of happiness. A life of birds, forests, even nights were adventures. Now it is going to pieces faster than I can think, this past three weeks has been fun, but it has been a blur. I don’t know what else to do.*
She ran the memories through her head like a movie, looking for something that she had done right for a change.
All of the memories ended in a rough landing in a river, then Tom’s injury while he carried a large piece of glass out of the plane, alone like a foolish human male when service crews surrounded him after she left and went back to Ocean Bay. It became apparent that he was fortunate that people were there. If he had been alone?
*I could be his widow.* She blocked that out. *I don’t want to think about that.*
As soon as she found about his accident, she felt compelled to come be by his side, to answer questions and sign papers and protect him, this man who lived his life as a bachelor-hermit and would-be-hero.
She laughed even though she felt tears in hear heart. He was a hero.
All from that Friday. That one day that was the domino that caused other pieces to fall in a pattern that now made her focus on how she walked through her life.
Cut tires on her car, those could not be avoided and if it were not for Tom, her tires would still be flat. Then the attack on the beach later that same day.
*Then! OMG! That professor!* If ever she wanted to have a list of people she wanted to break, he was number one.
Kaylee longed for some peace and quiet.
*I just want to paint and have time to sculpt. This is a summer that tops all summers, even when I hitchhiked across Europe and lived in those hostels when I could afford it.*
That was a summer of adventure and excitement that she had sought out, this summer, all the adventure and craziness came at her.
Now, she sat in a hospital room with someone who was her husband with a serious injury, a man she did not know just a few weeks before.
And she was protective of him.
*Like a wife.*
That word again. Wife.
It haunted her, maybe even make her re-think her use of pharmaceuticals and mixing them all to party with people. Sometimes she did not know who she partied with.
She needed to finish college, that much was certain, two years left to go, plus grad school if dad would pay… At least part… of it.
Melanie , her sister and confidant would to go to school at the same time and their parents were always on the verge of not paying the bills. Tuition for school was expensive with the costs of two apartments, they groaned under the costs while running their businesses.
But as a wife, this would have consequences that she could not even dream of. Tom might help, he was that kind of person. But even if his hair was not gray, he was still older than she would normally date.
Covering her eyes in a flash of almost-laughing.
*Date? I’m was married to the man.*
He could even be a wife-beater like the tabloids said.
*No.* She shook her head. *If anything he is the most kind, gentle and generous person that ever tapped a keyboard. Tom is a man who someone could care about.*
He was someone who walked alone after the death of his family, some would say the his experiences broke him, but Tom healed with the writing children books and the novels of passion for the adults.
If anything Tom had, it was heart.
And a good one at that. Kaylee smiled softly to herself.
Slowly stroking his hand, Randy the Nurse came in and checked the pump next to Tom’s bed.
“Tom’s temperature has gone up a little, the Doctor has ordered an antibiotic in his IV pump.” Randy said it as if he it tickled him to do his job. “We got the pizza by the way, everyone did! It was amazing to see so many deliveries at the same time. Tom, thank you.”
Tom, heavily dosed a half-hour earlier mumbled then drifted away again into his narcotic dream world.
Randy leaned over to Kaylee .
“Would you like a slice of pizza? Mister Harte is sleeping, I’ll slip you some before he wakes up.”
“Pissa?” A mumbled voice from the bed. “I sshmeell peet- sa.”
“Shhh, Tom.” Kaylee whispered to his ear. “You need to rest.”
“Oh bull! Someone has pizza!” he was more awake now. “You are sneaky, I thought you were nice.”
“I have a permanent spot on Santa’s naughty list.”
Tom laughed, then moaned.
“Please, no jokes, it hurts when I laugh.”
Kaylee took her turn to laugh and left to get a slice of pizza.
“How long did it take to get here?” Tom asked Randy as the nurse tinkered around the room, setting up the IV pump on a strange-looking pole with wheels. Resembling a metal spider at the bottom with the eight-wheeled suspension that held up the chrome-plated T-topped pole.
“It took a little while, the pizza store called to verify that it was really you. A couple of hours after that, it took five delivery guys nearly an hour to bring it all in. They had to make ten trips!”
“More than 30 minutes, it’s free.” Tom tried to laugh, and groaned in pain again as he moved his wounded arm.
“I don’t think this counts.” Randy laughed as he went about his job.
“Can Tom have a slice of pizza?” Kaylee asked as she came back into the room.
“Yes, no problem about that, he has technically been eating since yesterday.” Randy nodded, a bit of marinara sauce on his upper lip, while he chewed. “Technically, I’m not supposed to eat outside of the back-room, but the Doctor insisted that we get this piggyback set up.”
“I’d buy him a pizza, too. Say, what is his office’s address?” Tom asked.
“They are closed by now, try it tomorrow if you like.” Randy said. “I”ll be back, I have to go to attend to another room.”
“Hey, naughty girl, would you give me a bite or three of that pizza slice?” Tom smiled, he was getting stronger, despite the drugs.
Not for the first time, as Kaylee chewed her pizza slice, Tom made her smile.
When the doctor released him, she would show him a new definition of naughty.
Chapter 22. Treatment Course
Richard Tribbing, MD, Microsurgeon, specialist in the field that saved both Tom’s life, his professional life and his arm walked in with the team of doctors who all worked to answer their calling as microsurgeons while they made their afternoon rounds.
Looking at Kaylee , he smiled as he and the seven other doctors and fellows entered and filled the room.
Describing the injuries,commenting that the wound was ‟Large shard of glass left the wound clean as if a large scalpel had cut through the soft-tissues leaving the wound with no appreciable tearing or avulsion mid-shaft radius. The weight of the glass was sufficient to cut through the bone without deflection. There were eight-slivers of glass removed during the procedure. Imaging did not reveal any other glass in the arm.”
Kaylee sat and listened, twice she tried to leave as the surgical team made notes, questioned, and spoke in terms that sounded like Greek to her.
Doctor Tribbing chuckled when they spoke later and she referred to the conversations.
‟So how long do you think it will be before he comes home?” Kaylee asked. ‟We live on a flying yacht, there is not much room for putting a hospital bed in the plane, he told me last week he has a deadline to finish writing for.”
‟Well, he won’t be going home until the danger of… ” The Doctor paused and pulled at his chin. “How should I put this? If anything should go sideways against any of our plans to get him home and whole and functioning.”
‟Depending on how his healing responds, probably two to three weeks, we have not had any problems thus far so maybe on the shorter side of that.”
‟Three weeks.” Kaylee said quietly, thanked Doctor Tribbing and sat next to the sleeping Tom and held his hand again while the Doctor left the room to continue his business.
‟Kaylee ?” It was Randy the nurse at the door. ‟There is someone who wants to see you in the waiting room.”
‟Me? Okay.” This puzzled her as no one of her friends or family knew she was at the hospital with Tom.
Kaylee walked out to the waiting room where sat a middle-aged woman with a quick eye who sat ramrod straight. She was the only one in the room.
‟I am Kaylee .”
‟You? You are Tom’s new wife?” She looked down and bit her lip in a grimace. ‟I am Georgia Hershey, Tom’s agent. I am the one that gets him published and I have been with him for the last decade. I don’t know you.”
She looked as if someone had spit on her.
“How did a young… lady… as yourself marry to Tom? That is so classic. How did you meet?” It was a near accusation tone of voice, followed with a sigh. “No no..never mind. I am here to check on him, there is an installment on the series due on the Weedy Sea Dragon, but you won’t know about that I’m sure. But I will ask anyway. Do you know if he has finished it?”
‟First, I am Tom’s wife. Second, I have heard about you and how you have pushed him to write, I’m not sure of his view of you gnawing on him to get things done.” Kaylee felt something inside of her, an anger that she last felt when she broke a man’s arm. “He has told me that you said it was due at the end of the month, but the contract I’ve read specifies no such deadline. It reads simply ‟As finished.” And third, he has one completed in the last month, I have read it and it is complete but unedited. It will get to you when it he finishes the edit.”
‟And I know that Leonard the Leafy SeaDragon is a series, your attempt to misdirect me is offensive.” Kaylee kept even voice, hiding her mounting rage.
‟I would like to see him.” Ms. Hershey said, matching Kaylee ’s tone.
‟The answer is no. He needs rest, he will contact you when he is ready and not before. He has endured a horrid injury and still might lose his arm. His access is limited while he is on polypharmecutical therapy and external fixation to hold the bones in the normal anatomic positions. ” Kaylee had to clench her fist on her drawing hand until the knuckles cracked. She chose her words with care to show the woman that she was not a simple girl. “You go back to your office, and tell the truth to who ever needs to hear it, Tom has been injured and is now with family in the intensive care department of the finest institution that can be found.” Kaylee felt heat building in her chest. “So you go back to your office or whatever crack you crawled out of and he will send it in.”
‟Well.” Ms. Hershey backed up a step. ‟Tell him to call when it is convenient, but please make it soon.”
The agent walked out amid scattered applause.
An RN smiled at Kaylee as she walked past.
‟That was awesome, she called when you and Tom were asleep, then came in and was treating us like trash. It was good to see her taken down a few notches.” The name badge said ‟Trish” on it. ‟She demanded entry. Then she told us she was Tom’s closest thing to family.” Trish frowned with the memory of the event. “We told her that security would escort her out.”
‟We got married earlier this month. Kind of a surprise for both of us.”
‟What does he write? You said something about a dragon?”
‟That’s a children’s book, he has written stories that have made it to the movies. ‟ Kaylee took a deep breath, she was suddenly cold, not realizing she had started to perspire during the confrontation. ‟His movie, Steamland that is in the theaters now.”
‟Oh? Oh WOW! I have seen that twice! It is a great movie, he wrote that?” Trish’s eyes widened.
‟Yup, he’s the author.”
‟Missus Harte, anything you need. No one will get in without your say-so.” Randy said from the door as he let both women in. Kaylee felt a bit like royalty after that. The young woman with an iron will who took no crap from anyone.
Kaylee smiled, returning to Tom’s side feeling accomplished. She had done something that she felt was worthy of the title of “Mrs. Tom”.
Chapter 21. Night in the ICU
The constant, subtle sounds made an undertone that kept Kaylee from a sound sleep. Tom constantly moaned in his drugged-sleep state which further kept her popping her eyes open to check on the wounded man she was growing fond of.
Even with the heavy-duty narcotics in his system, Tom’s sleep was without rest, the arm was kept elevated with external hardware that looked like scaffolding on a building. To help the wounds to heal, wrapped in multiple layers of surgical gauze, the room was too warm for his comfort which kept him from resting and the IV fluids went into his good arm kept him from turning over.
Kaylee was over-warm, too. She could have slept naked in the room and not wish for so much as a sheet. But the compassionate nurses brought a fan in that blew across her to keep her from overheating. She still felt sorry for her husband.
Tom, stuck in one place and, for an active sleeper this was a fresh hell to live through. Plus he slept on his stomach almost always.
She asked the night-shift nurse, a skin-and-bones woman who wore a sweater that had more acronyms and abbreviations on her name-badge than anyone she had met in the ICU, if they could turn the heat down a bit.
“I’m sorry, doctor’s orders, we don’t want patients to have cold-related problems with the injuries, so we keep it close to their body temp in here.” She smiled, the wrinkled face that had seen many shifts and had answered the same question a hundred times, lit up in a comic smile and her eyes sparkled as if she was about to reveal a secret. “I am still cold, even with it as warm as it is.”
The two women hit it off, Elda, was the nurses name, offered to get Kaylee anything she needed during the night, supplying pillows hand over fist and showed her how to inflate the vacuüm packed, plastic covered items without anyone watching.
Kaylee moved the reclining seat and make-shift bed that family members used for sleeping in the same room while loved ones recovered from what life-challenges they recovered from.
Now with the makeshift pile of blankets and pillows closer to Tom, she reached out and held his good hand while she dozed in the chair next to his bed. It was an awkward arrangement, but it seemed to settle the wounded husband and author of children’s books so that he had a quiet sleep.
As his sleep became restful, she would decide that was the best thing she could do, this was the connection he needed to heal.
Starting awake when a nurse came in to check on a misbehaving IV pump, although he slept, Kaylee did not get much rest that night.
*In and out of the room all night,* She shifted in her sleep-spot. *The nurses do their checks on Tom with their rounds and wake me up.*
Like practiced witches and wizards with their practiced motions over complex and arcane machines, the magic fluid that kept her Tom…
There it was again, ‟Her” Tom. What was this that he was to her? What was she to him?
It was almost funny, in a sad sort of way, she thought as she faded to sleep again for the countless time, so tired she missed the next round of checks by the silent ninja nurse.
Kaylee woke up next and the night outside the window had gone from black to a midnight-navy-blue, becoming lighter as she stared at a flock of pelicans, illuminated by the city lights, flew in a “V” formation towards some unknown destination.
Sunrise would be soon and Tom was still asleep, but his thumb was caressing her hand as he mumbled something in a dream.
Not about her, he mumbled a man’s name, and a tear leaked out of his eye. That was odd, why would he dream about a man so much as to mention his name and weep? Then it hit her— it was not a man’s name.
It was his dead son.
Tom was having a nightmare about the night his family died, she choked and thought she might cry for his agony.
She stood and leaned over, a gentle kiss him on the forehead and he took a deep breath and opened his bright eyes.
‟What are you doing awake?”
‟That’s funny you should say that, I think you were having a nightmare.”
‟I was? Yes, I guess so, but I can’t remember what it was about, but I think I’ve been crying, is all I remember.”
‟You were trying to speak, you were saying a name I could not make it out. It sounded like…”
‟No, please. If it was a nightmare and I can’t remember, let’s leave it there.” His hoarse whisper did not sound as ragged as a dozen hours before.
Kaylee gave a soft smile and nodded, he was right. Why make a nightmare more real in the midst of the current waking nightmare of tubes, wires and synthetic fluids that dripped into his arm?
As the sky outside slowly changed from venetian-blue to more azure-grey, the fog seemed to roll in more, fighting the light of the sunrise in a futile effort of resistance against the summer sun. Patches of the dark blues giving way to indigo that surrendered to the cool blues of the new day.
Kaylee would have thought it would be romantic if not for the soft hiss of the oxygen, beeps of the monitors and distant alarms of some demanding pump that had run its course or had an error.
And Tom’s snoring. He had dropped off again.
*Men! They don’t know when to watch something of beauty.*
Another graveyard nurse, Suzanne, a nurse from South Carolina came in and did a last check and smiled at her.
‟We will be going off duty now, we are giving report in fifteen minutes, your next nurse team is led by Randy, he took care of your husband yesterday.” She smiled. “Would you like some coffee? We have fresh made.”
‟Yes, thank you.” Kaylee smiled when the small, round smiling woman walked quickly and quietly out the door. Kaylee never knew anyone who could walk with such silent speed.
She had to get up and out of the way while the men and women in white coats poked, prodded, inflicted pain making Tom yelp and made him wiggle fingers that had swollen during the night. The swelling seemed to make the team of medical magicians worried.
Arcane questions and language were tossed around. Someone poked at Tom’s hand who yelped again and uttered a profanity.
Randy came in after reports had been given and doctors filed in and out.
‟We need to get you breakfast, how did the night go?”
‟Tom had a bad night. Some nightmares just before dawn.” Kaylee reported. “Then the doctors came in and hurt him.”
‟Yes, that happens, they keep to the first rule of medicine, to do no harm. But they can inflict as much pain as they deem necessary.” The nurse chuckled. “Sometimes they get carried away. I think they like test the limits of tolerance.”
“The drugs he gets are known to cause some sleep disturbances.” Randy said with a teacher’s wisdom. ‟Sleeping here, does not help, either. Strange bed, strange sounds, odd smells and pain. Not a good combination, like the old saying, there is no place like home.”
‟That reminds me, how long will he be here? What things do we need to buy to help him heal?”
‟That.” Randy smiled like a hospital’s own Santa, ‟Is the purview of the Doctor, I cannot say. Every time I do, they make a liar out of me and I get in trouble.”
‟When will we see him, again?”
‟Doctor Tribbing? He is making rounds now. You should see him again, maybe with his team in a few hours or so. Right now, we have to take another reading of Tom’s fingers to make sure of the circulation is still there, I can look and see that it is normal color, they left notations that the hand is swollen, and they want to document numbers. So I will be back in with another tool, it’s busy elsewhere at the moment. I read he did well during the night. They took a measurement and the numbers looked good, but his fingers were swollen slightly.”
‟I saw her do that, but I was half-asleep and didn’t ask.”
‟She would have loved to talk to you, she is a wonderful lady.”
‟You two are keeping me awake.” The voice from the bed was barely above a whisper. ‟You know what time it is?”
‟Good morning to you too.” Randy laughed. ‟And yes, I know, I just got here. Your wife is giving me a report on your night, she said it was kind of rough.”
‟Yeah, I couldn’t sleep, I’m a stomach sleeper and y’all don’t have me any kind of close to that.” Tom voice was stronger.
‟Well, talk to the doc. He is the master of this domain.”
‟Okay. And the pin-happy doctor who poked at me was not helping.” Tom took a deep breath. “I’m kind of hungry, too. Is there breakfast?”
‟Sure thing. The menu is on the TV control attached to your bed. Follow the prompts on the screen and the food will make it here as long as you order in the next twenty-minutes.”
‟Okay, I want a pizza from Alioto’s on the Wharf.”
‟Hah. Good luck with that, but our kitchen makes great food.”
‟I’ll buy pizza delivery for the entire floor today.” Tom croaked out.
‟That’s nice of you Mister Harte, but the Department, I think you mean.”
‟No, I mean the floor. And remember, my name is Tom.”
‟The floor has a dozen stations, you are talking a lot of pizza.”
‟Party hardy Marty. Pizza is coming, I need my phone.”
Laughing Randy left the room.
“I don’t think Randy did not believe I can do that.” He laughed. “He does not know Thomas Harte has both the resources and, even drugged as I am, the will to do it.”
“Kay, dial this number for me please?” His voice was stronger, the power of his soul danced in his eyes. She enjoyed looking into those emerald-green eyes of the writer.
She could see what he had in mind and it made her laugh.
*He has a surprise for everyone on this floor.*