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When Destiny Calls
It had been a long day. Thoughts of quitting the job that became more stressful by the hour flashed through her mind. Were quickly pushed away. She couldn't afford to quit. She checked the answering machine. Four messages. All from him. No way, she wasn't talking to him. She erased them without hesitation. Something about him was making her…nervous. And for the past three days that little voice had told her to avoid him…that someone better was waiting… and that soon she'd meet her Mr. Right. That little voice had rarely been wrong. She sighed, pulled on her most comfortable pair of jeans and a tee shirt that didn't quite reach the waistband, all the while hoping that this wouldn’t be one of those rare times.
She sat down in the middle of the single bed that was hers, pulled warm fuzzy socks onto her feet, then leaned back against the wall. At almost twenty-seven years of age, Casey Webster was convinced that she was doomed to become a virginal, lonely, bitter old maid surrounded by hundreds of cats. She'd told her best friend and roommate Kelley that she was going to buy a cat, the better to get started, she'd declared.
It wasn't that she lacked for male attention. She had more than enough of that. What she lacked was self-confidence. What she had was a fear of becoming exactly what her adoptive mother had accused her of being, for as long as she could remember. She had no desire to be a slut, or a whore. And the only way to avoid that, she'd decided long ago, was to avoid becoming involved with men. Which meant that she rarely spoke to a man, unless she was within the safety of a group of friends. Which in turn meant that looking for that proverbial Mr. Right was damned difficult!
Then she'd met Kenny Vincent. He'd convinced her that he wasn’t interested in a relationship. All he wanted from her, he said, was friendship. And she'd enjoyed that friendship. Learned to shoot pool. Indulged her love of dancing. But all that had changed abruptly when he'd learned that she was a virgin. Suddenly he was different...more...attentive. Charming. Insistent. She shook her head. Between the increasing demands of her boss, the demands that Kenny was now making, and her own need...desire...for love - the real soul-shaking, heart-warming kind, not just the physical kind - her mind was spinning.
A vacation. She wanted a vacation. She'd never had one. Would love to know how it felt to just sit back and do nothing. Rest. Relax. Enjoy life. She shook her head. She'd been working since she was thirteen. Babysitting jobs at first, then a paper route as well. At sixteen she was working for the McDonald's near her home. By eighteen she was in Bellingham, attending Western Washington University on a scholarship. Working twelve hours a week in the university library. And twenty to thirty hours a week at the local steak house in an attempt to keep up with the cost of her education. Two years into her college career she was forced to quit. Her grades had suffered because of the number of hours she was required to work just to have enough money to live on. She'd found a technical school. Now had a 'degree' in business management. Which basically meant that she was trained to be an office manager. Although at the moment she was nothing more than a glorified secretary, doing the work of three people, getting the pay of one.
She glanced at her nightstand. The business card was still there. Given to her at the Blue Gull two nights ago by a man who worked as a bouncer at a strip club down by the piers. He'd told her that with her looks and body, she could make close to a thousand dollars a week dancing there. She shook her head. She knew exactly what she looked like. There was no way a man would pay to see her dance. Strip? Not hardly. She sighed. After talking to the man, well, listening actually, she'd come home, turned on the stereo, and tried doing a strip routine. Not that hard, actually. Okay, maybe having the tape that taught exotic dancing as a form of exercise that she and Kelley used on the weekends might have had something to do with that. She shook her head again. There was no way that she could get up on a stage and take off her clothes in a room full of strangers…having all those men stare at her. Nope. Not gonna happen.
If she couldn't have a vacation, maybe the Goddess would send her a miracle. Yeah, that's exactly what she needed. A miracle. One that would bring Mr. Right into her life, and take her away from Tacoma and all the bad memories. Away from the pain and hurt that were her childhood; the emptiness…the loneliness…that was her life.
"Yeah, like that's going to happen," she sighed. Nearly jumped out of her skin when the doorbell echoed through the tiny rooms of the apartment. If it was that group of Mormons, she was going to scream! How many times would she have to tell them she wasn't interested in joining their church? Maybe she should tell them she was a stripper. A Pagan stripper. Maybe that would get rid of them!
When Casey opened the door, her breath caught in her throat. Standing in front of her was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen in her life. He was tall, muscular; the black Dockers and black windbreaker couldn't disguise that fact. The blue polo shirt beneath the windbreaker was stretched over a wide chest. His sandy-blonde hair was cut short, and a few wisps managed to fall over his forehead. His stylish gold wire-rimmed glasses couldn't hide his incredible blue eyes. His hands were large - strong looking; with long, slender fingers. And his smile was enough to melt her brain. "May I help you?"
He took a deep breath. She was as beautiful as the Casey from that alternate reality. Her green eyes were focused on him, full of curiosity. He wanted to admonish her for opening the door to a stranger. Didn't she understand how dangerous that could be for a woman as gorgeous as she was? Good grief, does she realize what those jeans could do to a man? And the top…that doesn't cover that damned sexy little belly button, could make a man go crazy! He cleared his throat, tried to rein in his rampant thoughts about what lay beneath those jeans and that tee shirt. "Casey Webster?"
"Yes, that's me."
He pulled the letter from the pocket of his jacket. "I'm Daniel Jackson. Doctor Daniel Jackson. I'm an archaeologist …not that you…well, this is…Would you read this, please?" He moaned mentally. Smooth, Danny. Real tribute to your linguistic degree. Try not to give the woman the impression you're a complete idiot!
She hesitated, cocked her head to one side. "Is this some sort of a joke?"
Daniel smiled, shook his head. "It's no joke. Please, just read the letter. I promise, if you read it and want me to leave, I will."
She studied him for another minute; that poking at the back of her brain was becoming annoying. There was something…familiar…about this man. She accepted the envelope, opened it carefully, and withdrew several sheets of paper. "This could take a few minutes," she said softly.
"That's all right." Hurdle one crossed. She'd agreed to read the letter. His heart was hammering just as hard as if he were running. Now he could only hope that the words within it would convince her that he was her Destiny, and she was his.
She nodded, began to read. Her eyes grew wider as she moved from one page to the next. She glanced up at him several times, unable to read his expression. Finally, with shaking fingers, she put the pages back into the envelope. She held the door open. "Please come in."
He didn't know whether to heave a sigh of relief or jump up and down for joy. He nodded, smiled, and stepped into the modest apartment. He could smell something sweet…floral…vanilla…familiar…as he walked past her.
It hadn't been her intention to take a deep breath when he walked by her. But she had. Oh, Momma, he smelled as good as he looked! She looked at the letter in her hand. Knew in her heart of hearts that every word was true. There were things in it that no one knew about…absolutely no one…things that had happened to her, were said to her, thoughts she'd had…if this woman - her counterpart from another reality, something she was well aware could, and obviously did exist - said that this man was her Destiny, and that she was his…well, then it had to be. Besides, that little voice, the one that she'd learned to trust years ago, was screaming at her that he was The One!
She followed him into the room, stood awkwardly beside him for a moment. "Please, sit down. Can I get you something to drink?"
Okay, if nothing else could convince her, that simple request did. She couldn't function without coffee. And it had been her experience that anyone who requested coffee was as much an addict to the caffeinated beverage as she was. She smiled. "I can do that."
The kitchen was open to the tiny living room, and he watched as she moved around, filling the glass pot with water, pouring it into the reservoir of the coffeemaker, finding a filter, putting coffee into it. The jeans she was wearing hugged those slender hips and that firm ass, made him hard and needy. When she tossed her hair back over her shoulder as she turned to face him again, he thought it was the sexiest thing he'd ever seen. He watched as she wrapped her arms around a waist so narrow he was certain he could span it with his hands.
Those beautiful blue eyes were focused on her. She wondered briefly if he liked what he saw. Shook her head mentally. She was a far cry from beautiful, she knew that. Had been told that every day of her life. But maybe, just maybe he could love her anyway. They continued to stare at one another. Until the absurdity of the situation registered in her brain and she began to giggle.
That had to be the most amazing sound he'd ever heard. Like…bells, he thought, tinkling little bells. He grinned.
"This is certainly…weird," she said, her green eyes dancing, full of light and life and laughter.
"Yeah, it is," he admitted. God, he could drown in those pools of emerald green!
"So…what do we do now?"
"You realize I have no idea what was in that letter," he said.
"Yes you do," she replied softly. "Maybe not the exact words. But the…gist of it. The reason for it."
He frowned. "All I know is that she said she'd explain…that you'd understand…" he shook his head. To say it out loud would make it sound too…bizarre.
"I'm your Destiny. You're mine," Casey said simply.
Somehow, it didn't sound bizarre at all. "Do you believe that?"
She smiled. "Let's just say that I don’t doubt it." A frown flickered over her delicate features. "Do you believe it?"
"Without a doubt," he replied softly. No, he had absolutely no doubts about this. Not after all that he'd witnessed...had survived over the years. Not when his soul was already reaching out to this woman, recognizing her as the one woman in all of the universe meant to be with him.
She cocked her head sideways. "You have suffered so much," she said, her voice barely above a whisper. She moved to sit down beside him on the couch. Took one of his hands in both of hers, tried to ignore the rush of excitement that washed over her as his skin came into contact with hers, examined it carefully. Was barely able to hide her surprise when she found a lifeline as long as her own, with the same points, in exactly the same places. Oh, god, he was her Destiny, it said as much in his hand! "So much," she whispered. "So much pain…loneliness…"
His skin tingled where hers touched him. Made his already racing pulse beat that much faster. He was sure that she could feel the rapid beat of his heart. He reached out with his free hand, brushed her hair back over her shoulder. "You're a seer," he said softly.
She shrugged. "I've been able to…'see' things...since I was about eleven. My Grandma Rose had a neighbor who was a seer. Miss Eloise helped me to understand what my gift was, what it meant, how to use it."
"Have dinner with me," he said abruptly.
She looked up into his eyes. "I'd like that," she replied. "Coffee's ready. Mugs are in the cupboard by the sink, help yourself. It won't take me long to get ready." She started to stand up.
Before he could change his mind, allow the thought to fade…the need to diminish…his courage to fail him, Daniel tugged gently on the hand he still held, pulled her back down to sit beside him. Leaned over and gently kissed her lips. Felt as if he'd been electrocuted. The touch of her lips against his was enough to send his soul soaring, his body reacted ardently. So damned sweet!
Casey had kissed only one other man. A couple of boys. Never had she felt anything like this before! She could feel the electricity move up and down her spine. Her body responded to him in a way she'd never before experienced. She wanted this man. In the very carnal sense. She needed him! She pulled away slowly.
"Wow," he said softly, licking his lips, tasting the sweetness of hers. He moved his hand through her hair. Like silk, his mind told him, as his fingers made their way to the nape of her neck. He held her still, leaned in and kissed her again. Another jolt of electricity ran from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, then focused in his rising cock. Better back away now, his mind told him. He moved his lips to her cheek, her jaw, then slowly released her.
"Wow," she replied. She felt as if she'd just awakened, every sense intensified. As if she were, for the very first time, truly alive. "I'll be right back. If I can walk."
He grinned. "I'll be right here." He watched her walk into what appeared to be a bedroom. The sway of her hips hypnotized him. His body was still reeling from the…power…of the kisses he'd just shared with her. Still grinning, he stood up and went into the kitchen, found a mug and poured himself a cup of coffee. He blew gently, took a sip. Damn! She made incredible coffee. He chuckled. Great kisser. Good coffee. Yep, she was the perfect woman!
She leaned against the counter in the narrow bathroom. Was she out of her mind? She'd just kissed a man she'd known for a total of fifteen minutes! What must he think of her? But oh, god…what a kiss! No, kisses, her mind pointed out. If he could do that to her with just a kiss, what would happen when they made love? When? She turned around and examined her reflection. Her eyes were sparkling. Her full lips looked the tiniest bit swollen, certainly they were redder than their normal dark pink. She looked like she'd just been kissed. She felt like she'd just been kissed. Oh yeah! When they made love. It was going to happen! Her heart was beating a tattoo against her ribs. No denying it now, her mind told her. That man is your Destiny, the one you've waited for all of your life.
He stood and watched out the window, sipping on the coffee. He'd kissed his fair share of women. Had never felt anything like that before in his life. Not even with Sha're had there been the...connection...he felt with Casey. If she could make him feel like that with just a kiss, what would she do to him when she made love to him? He thought about the room that waited for him in a hotel somewhere in downtown Tacoma. Would she go with him tonight? Could he spend the night alone, knowing that the woman that his heart...his soul...had been waiting for was here? That his Destiny was right here?
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