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No Matter the Time, II...an Alternate Love Story
He didn’t know the area, so asked her where she wanted to eat, and then followed her directions to the nearby Olive Garden. There was a group of businessmen sitting in the bar who looked at her with interest, and unmasked lust, as they approached the hostess to be seated. Daniel couldn’t help but puff his chest out ever so slightly when her fingers wrapped around his hand as they were led to a nearby table. That’s right, he thought gleefully, this gorgeous woman is with me! She’s mine!
Casey had seen the men watching her, and felt that familiar panic rise inside. The moment her fingers came in contact with his, she felt safe, secure. The gentle squeeze he gave her hand was reassuring.
They were looking at the menu when the waiter approached and asked if they wanted anything to drink.
Daniel looked at her. "Whatever you want, babe," he said.
She smiled. Couldn’t help but smile. The endearment was…possessive, and she liked that, she liked it a lot! "A glass of Merlot?"
"Bring a bottle," Daniel told the waiter, returning her smile. A smile like that could reduce a man to a gibbering idiot, he thought. "So, tell me about…you."
She giggled. "Not much to tell. I was raised in Tacoma, went to college at Western U in Bellingham for two years, dropped out and went to Brown’s Business College, and now I work for Hightower Containers. We produce shipping containers in over a hundred sizes," she replied.
He shook his head. "I already know all of that," he replied. "Casey…the other Casey…told me," he said quickly at the questioning look that flashed through her eyes. "What I meant was…tell me about…you. What you like…what you wish for…" his voice trailed off, she was smiling again, and he had suddenly lost his train of thought as his mind went on a tangent of its own, wondering what she looked like naked, how she would feel in his arms.
"Okay, I like nachos. I like music, all kinds. Blue and yellow are my favorite colors. I love springtime. I like to dance. I shoot a pretty good game of pool. And I’m in love with a man I’ve known for barely an hour."
He jerked at her last comment. He thought he was the only one spiraling headlong into love with a virtual stranger. "At least I’m not in love alone," he said softly.
She reached across the table and put her fingers over his. "I have been wishing for someone, someone special, to come into my life for a very long time. I had no idea that the gods would be so generous as to send him knocking on my door. You realize this will make a great story to tell our grandchildren." Her eyes danced.
He couldn’t help but laugh. "Yeah, now that you mention it, it will be quite a story to tell."
"Now, what about you? I know absolutely nothing about you." She knew nothing about him. But she felt as if she had known him all of her life, sitting beside him felt as natural as breathing. Her heart knew this man, her soul knew this man, and that was good enough for her.
He frowned. "I’m an archaeologist, I also have degrees in philology and anthropology, I work for the Air Force, in Colorado, and until this very moment, never realized how actually boring I really am."
She laughed. "Oh, Daniel, you are the least boring man I have ever met. I guess-" she dropped her eyes, pulled her lip between her teeth.
"You guess?" he prompted gently, his thumb moving back and forth over her knuckles.
"I guess we have the rest of our lives to get to know one another," she whispered.
His fingers tightened around hers. "Yes, we do. Now, we’d better decide what we want…I’m starving!"
She smiled again. "That’s easy for me. The soup and salad special. I am absolutely addicted to their salads here!"
Daniel gave the waiter their order, then returned his attention to the beautiful woman sitting beside him. "Casey, about Colorado…you are willing to relocate there, right? I mean…if not, I can try to find work out here."
She was stunned that he would give up what she suspected, somehow knew, was an important position with the Air Force just to be with her. "I’ll give my two weeks notice first thing in the morning," she said, a bit breathlessly. "I don’t care where I live, as long as I’m with you." She looked at him, reached up and brushed his hair back from his face, then shook her head. "It’s so fast…it’s happening so fast!"
"We can…if you’d rather…correspond for awhile…I can visit as often as possible…" he stammered, his heart constricting in his chest. Now that he'd found her, was sitting with her, he couldn’t imagine being away from her. But if she needed time…
Why did the thought of not being with him make her feel as if she couldn’t breathe? She shook her head again. "I…I don’t think I could stand that, Daniel. I…I’d really rather be with you."His smile lit his face, and warmed her heart.
He lifted her fingers to his lips. "Good. I don’t think I could take not being with you."
She giggled again. "This has got to be the strangest beginning for any relationship that I’ve ever heard of."
He had to laugh with her. She was right. But when had he done anything in his life the ‘normal way’? Hadn’t he always raced in, jumping headlong into every situation? "Uh, Casey, there’s something about me that you should know. I…uh…I tend to get wrapped up in my work. For days at a time. Nothing filters through to me when I’m working on a project."
She nodded her understanding. "Okay. If I get to feeling too neglected, I’m sure I can think of some way to get your attention," she said, her smile a bit seductive, and a lot wicked.
He started, his eyes seeing the other Casey, hearing what she had said...
"If I get too feeling neglected, I have ways of getting his attention."
He couldn’t stop the grin that spread across his face. "I’ll bet you will at that." He knew in the deepest reaches of his heart, that the cold loneliness that had haunted him from childhood, that still pricked at him when he was alone in his apartment, had just come forever to an end. "I promise, Casey, to be the best husband I can be."
"I promise to be the best wife I can be," she replied softly.
The salad was served, Casey opting to have her soup when Daniel’s Ravioli di Portobello was served.
"What kind of music do you like?" Daniel asked, watching her, smiling inwardly as she closed her eyes when she bit into her breadstick.
"All kinds. Depends on my mood. Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture is what I put on when I’m doing some serious house cleaning…the canons are my way of declaring war on dirt," she giggled.
He laughed. He loved her sense of humor.
"The Eagles and Foreigner and Journey and REO Speedwagon are some of the old classic groups that help me out when I’m feeling blue…or maybe a little hassled. I like Maroon 5 and The Cranberries and Black Eyed Peas; unlike my friends, I was never into those 'boy bands'. That music was just lame," she said flashing a smile. "I also enjoy the Rolling Stones, and The Who, and ZZ Top and Led Zepplin and Poison and Motley Crue and Guns&Roses and country artists like Tim McGraw and Randy Travis and pop singers like KD Lang and Curtis Stiegers and Harry Connick, Jr. …and soft jazz like Gerald Albright, and I like Joe Cocker and Bob Seeger and Eric Clapton. Then there’s INXS, and Boy Meets Girl, and Madonna, and geez, I can’t even think of all the groups and artist’s I have."
"Wow. I like the Stones, too, and the Beatles. I like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, too."
"I have a couple of Tom Petty cd’s. You know, I like to listen to The Boss but I don’t have one cd of his. I never realized that ‘til just now."
"You’ll have three," Daniel said with a quiet smile.
"Do you watch much television?" She asked. There was only one breadstick left, she tore it in half and handed the largest piece to him. He accepted it with a smile and a wink.
"Not really. I like the History Channel, but I’m usually working when I’m home. I guess I do that because I’m alone and don’t have anything else to do," he said, for the first time realizing why his work so consumed his life.
"I love the History Channel. I like the Discovery Channel, too, and HGTV…I like the decorating and cooking shows." Her eyes dropped to her empty plate, and she pulled at her lower lip with her teeth, not even aware that she was doing so.
"What’s wrong, babe?" he asked gently. He had learned in a few hours with the alternate Casey that this was a sign that something was bothering her. Apparently it was the same with…his…Casey.
"I…well…you’re highly degreed, pedigreed as my grandma would say…I have a diploma from a business school. Are you sure that I’m not too…uneducated…for you? I mean, you must know a lot of very intellectual people, and I would be horrified if I ever embarrassed you in any way. If…if that’s going to be a problem, and you need to…walk away… it’s okay, I’ll understand."
"Casey, that is the most ridiculous thing-" He shook his head. "How could you think that a few degrees make me any better, or smarter than you? You’re bright and funny and beautiful and I’m in love with you, and that’s all I need. There is no way I’m going to walk away from you. Ever."
She nodded. "I’ll remind you of this if you ever get bored with me," she said, her eyes twinkling, a smile tugging at her lips.
He shook his head and grinned. "I’ll never get bored with you."
"I’ll remind you of that, too!"
He laughed out loud. "I love you, Casey Webster!" he declared.
Her eyes went wide, a flush rose to her cheeks, and a smile lit her face. "I love you, Doctor Daniel Jackson." She closed her eyes for a second, and burst into giggles.
He looked at her, felt his heart doing flip-flops in his chest. "What’s so funny?"
"I’m in love," she said, her eyes sparkling. "Crazy, head-over-heels in love! I never thought it would happen!"
He smiled again. "I’m right there with you, babe."
"Daniel, how long can you stay here in Tacoma?"
He frowned. "I have a flight out day after tomorrow. I have a…business trip…that I have to go on."
She nodded. "How long will your trip be?"
"I don’t know, probably not more than a week. Less if I’m lucky. I’ll be…out of communication range."
She nodded again. "I understand. Can you fly back out here after your trip?"
"Shouldn’t be a problem, why?"
"Well, I’d like to take my car, and I don’t have a lot, I…we…could just get one of those small trailers…U-Haul or Rider or something…and we can drive back to Colorado."
He frowned again. Wished that they could rent a trailer and load it and leave tomorrow.
"Unless you’d rather wait…" she said, a frown creasing her own brow now, her lip between her teeth. She was being presumptuous again. She chided herself. Slow down, girl! This love may be moving at the speed of light, but slow down, or you’ll have him running for the door!
He shook his head. "No, it’s not that. I’m just wishing that I didn’t have to leave you at all."
She smiled, relief flooding her green eyes. "You’re going to be on a business trip for at least a week. I’ll need time to…take care of things…here. By the way, just so I know when Kelley asks, where in Colorado am I moving to?"
"My roommate and best friend in the world."
"Silver Springs. About a half hour west of Colorado Springs."
"Okay. She is not even going to believe this. I can’t wait for her to meet you." Excitement filled her eyes.
"I’d like to meet her too."
"Oh, you will. But not tonight." Her eyes suddenly darkened, and for one brief second, raw desire flashed across their green depths.
His breath caught in his throat as he watched her. He couldn’t wait to be alone with her, in his motel room, to show her how much he already loved her. "No, not tonight,’ he agreed. His own eyes reflected his desire, his need for her.
The waiter brought out their food, and they began to eat. Daniel poured more wine, and conversation continued to flow. The need to be alone with her was growing by the second, and he was secretly hoping that she wouldn’t want dessert.
"No, thank you," she said sweetly to the waiter when he asked if there was anything else they needed.
"Just the check, thanks," Daniel replied.
"Daniel, could we stop back at the apartment…I just want to pack a few things for…overnight."
"No problem, babe."
She thrilled again at the endearment, hugging herself as she sat in her chair, watching him sign the credit card slip. Her heart began to hammer against her ribs as he led her outside to the car. Tonight she would make love to a man, be held in a man’s arms, for the very first time. Please, don’t let him be disappointed, she prayed to the gods. Let me please him!
He waited again in the small living room while she disappeared into the bedroom to pack for her stay. He didn’t have to wait long. He held her hand as he drove back to the hotel where he was staying, felt her fingers begin to tremble when he pulled into the parking lot. "Nothing happens tonight unless you want it to, Casey. Nothing. I can wait as long as you need me to." But please, he begged silently, don’t make me wait too long!
She smiled. "As long as I’m with you, I’m not afraid of anything."
His heart soared. Did she have any idea what her words, the look of love in her eyes, the faith she was putting in him, was doing to him?
He led her through the lobby and to the elevator, her overnight bag in his hand, his other arm around her waist. She leaned her head against his shoulder as they rode the elevator to the eighth floor.
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