A Journey of Passion Ch. 08by_Lynn_©
Gabriela had been living with Seth for a few weeks and loved it. He was everything she thought and more. Her apartment in Indiana still had a couple of months to go on the lease and she decided dealing with it could wait. Now she only wanted to learn more about the gorgeous man that was sharing her life.
Back home she'd worked but here so far she didn't. Gabriela felt a bit odd letting Seth take care of her even though he liked having her home. He reminded her he could afford to support her as well. Just looking at his home made that obvious. Not ostentatious, it was elegant. The rooms were all bright and cheery, letting in as much of the outdoors as possible. She knew that before Seth's injury he'd gone on assorted missions quite often. His home provided the calm and peace he needed when he returned.
There was very little of a personal nature in it, though. Paintings, décor and other furnishings were all like thousands of others. Most days she spent her spare time in the pool, downstairs in the gym or walking the grounds. It was difficult to adjust to living in someone else's home, in her opinion. Gabriela wasn't sure what she dared do yet, so she stayed back for the most part. One evening Seth asked her about it.
"Is there anything you'd like to change in the house?"
"What do you mean?"
"Would you like different furniture, or accessories, paint, anything?" he asked.
"Seth, this is your ho—"
"No, baby, this is your home too. If you don't like something, tell me. Anything you want done, I'll see it gets taken care of."
She stared at him for the longest time as she tried to comprehend what he'd just said.
"But, you have things like you want them. If I changed anything you might not approve," she replied.
"Honey, if it makes you happy, then I'll like it. This is just a place. It's never really been a home and you made me see that."
She went into his arms and hugged him close. How she had ever been content before she met him she didn't know. So many things in her life were clearer now. She'd existed for so many years, telling herself she was happy. Friends and family didn't make up for the lack of a real love, though.
"I have some things in my apartment that would fit in here perfect."
"Then we'll get them here. In fact, I was thinking of that apartment just this morning," he said with a grin.
"You were? Why?"
"Unless you plan to go back to it, then there's no need to keep it."
Gabriela knew this was an important moment in their relationship. "I agree."
"Baby, I know we haven't been living together long. You're my life, my future, the light that I need to survive. Stay with me, close up your old place and never go back there."
"Before we met in person, I had all sorts of dreams. You know all the things we talked about doing together. But I had more, too. Some people might say they were selfish wishes, even. I never saw them as anything more than daydreams. You're making them come true, Seth. I'm not sure how to ever make you understand what that means to me, or even how important you are to me."
"Oh honey, you don't get it. I love you and only want to make you as happy as I am. The uncertainty of having your apartment back there makes me nervous, if you must know. I worry that you're keeping it as a way out if you get tired of me."
"No, that isn't it at all. I was afraid if I gave it up you'd think I was being too forward."
They looked at each other and laughed at how silly they'd been. Gabriela made plans the next morning to return to her apartment and close it up. She'd have to go alone since Seth had business. Neither of them looked forward to the separation.
Seth sat at his desk and stared out the window but saw nothing. He'd just returned from the airport and felt bereft without Gabriela. Closing up her apartment was something she needed to do but he still hated being apart from her.
A knock on his office door brought him back to the present.
"Hey boss, how you doing?"
Erik stood in the doorway and watched Seth. He knew Gabriela was gone for a while and hoped to distract his friend.
"Yeah Erik, you need something?"
It was obvious Seth hadn't paid attention to his question but Erik let it go. "Jessie and I thought you might want to join us for dinner tonight."
"Seth, you have to eat. I'm thinking that when Gabriela gets back you'll be using a lot of energy."
His exaggerated wink had Seth laughing. "I always need that with her. She's wild and loves "
"Whoa, I don't think I need to know that." Erik put up a hand as he interrupted his boss.
"Right, you don't. However, I intended to say she loves me."
"You're different since you came home, less restless, content and you smile more. A pretty blonde with blue eyes wouldn't be responsible for that would she?" Erik asked.
"You've respected my need for privacy even though I'm sure you had questions. I've said enough for you to have an idea of what I was doing when I left without any notice. My injuries were serious as you heard. I have you to thank for bringing her into my life, Erik. For that, I'm grateful. But, I owe her my life."
Erik wondered at what all the man in front of him had seen in his life. Maybe he didn't want to know, he decided on second thought.
"Both Jessie and I are looking forward to getting to know Gabriela better. She has to be something pretty special to bring down a man like you."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Seth asked.
"Come on, Seth, I'm sure you've had your choice of women over the years. I've seen a few hot numbers on your arm before."
"That's all they had going for them, Erik. I don't want someone shallow that worries only about having others see them in the right places. Gabriela is real. She cares about people, not things."
"Are you happy?" Erik could see he was but wanted to hear it.
"With her I'm alive. She brings joy to my days that I never realized I lacked until I met her. I think before I just went through life without thinking about it."
"You deserve it. I don't pretend to know much about your other life, but I can guess it wasn't pretty. Now it's time for some good things to happen and it looks like she's the one to do that for you."
"This is forever for me. I'm not letting her go," Seth replied.
"Good. Now about dinner ..."
Seth chuckled and nodded. He liked Jessie, Erik's new girlfriend. A short blonde just a bit overweight, she didn't appear to be Erik's type. He loved outdoor activities whereas she didn't understand any of them. Now he was teaching her the ones he thought she could do. Somehow, the couple meshed better than most he knew.
They set a time and place to meet that evening for dinner and both went back to work. Seth struggled to concentrate but clients had concerns that only he could answer. His cell phone rang mid-afternoon just as he checked the time.
"I made it, baby."
"Hi honey, I've been thinking of you," Seth said. "How was the flight?"
"Everything went fine, but I miss you already."
"Yeah, I feel the same. Whose dumb idea was it for you to leave anyway?"
"I guess we'll share the blame there," she replied with a laugh.
They talked about her plans while she was back at the apartment. Seth knew her daughter Nicole was helping her pack the items she wanted shipped back to Florida. Gabriela looked forward to spending some time with her only child, too. She missed Nicole now that she lived so far away.
He told her about his dinner plans with Erik and Jessie that evening. Gabriela encouraged him to invite the couple over when she returned so she could get to know them better. Neither wanted to hang up but Seth had a business call come through so he had to go. They both knew they would be on the phone often.
Music soothed her soul and gave her energy. Both would help after the restless night she had. Gabriela turned up the radio and went back into the bedroom. She started packing but wanted to ask Nicole if she would like a few of the items. Many of the extra things would go to her favorite charity.
She'd made a list on the plane of belongings she was keeping. Now Gabriela began to sort everything into separate areas. Friends teased her about how organized she was but it came in handy in situations like this.
Nicole showed up with a bag of bagels for them mid-morning. They sat with a cup of coffee and chatted first. Next, they went through the questionable pieces and soon the apartment had stacks of boxes all over.
"Mom, you look different," Nicole said during a short break.
"Well, you always looked great, but now, I don't know what it is."
"Seth has a gym and a pool so I'm getting lots of exercise. That hasn't hurt me for sure," Gabriela remarked.
"That's got to be rough, not working, just swimming or working out when you want to."
The two laughed but Gabriela knew she was fortunate. If Seth lived in a trailer, she'd still love him. The rest was just stuff. That didn't mean she wasn't going to enjoy it since he had it, though.
"You look happier than I've ever seen you, Mom."
"I wasn't looking for anyone, Nicole. Putting that ad on the dating site was a joke, really. You saw how many crazy replies I received. Seth is more than I ever thought I'd find in one man."
"He loves you very much," Nicole stated.
"Yes, and everything he does shows me that. Not a day goes by that he doesn't tell me. It works both ways. I love him with everything in me. There's nothing I won't do for him."
"I think you proved that when you stood by him all those months he was hurt. Not many women would do that, Mom."
"There was never a question for me. Seth and I already talked long enough on the computer and telephone that I felt he could be important in my life. Deserting him when he was hurt wasn't an option for me."
"You deserve to be happy. Maybe I'll find someone like that even."
"Of course you will, Nicole. Not all men are like David. You're young and have plenty of time."
"I can't believe I was so stupid to believe him. David used me right from the beginning and I never saw it."
"Life has lessons for all of us. Not everything was great in my marriage to your father, either. I look at how blessed I am to have you and the bad is forgotten." Gabriela hoped her daughter would one day find someone that treated her right.
"Dad lost out when he left you," Nicole said.
"Honey, he gave up the world when he deserted you."
"Thanks Mom. I can't wait to meet this Seth of yours, you know. I want to give him a hug for making you so happy."
"You're going to like him, Nicole."
"Too bad he doesn't have a son then." Nicole laughed and winked.
Mother and daughter hugged and went back to packing. They talked all through the day and ordered a pizza in for dinner. Gabriela longed to hear Seth's voice but didn't want to push Nicole away either. She didn't know when they'd see each other again.
"Okay, Mom, I'm going home so you can call Seth. Tell him hello for me. I'll be back in the morning."
Gabriela smiled at her daughter. "Thank you for all your help today. I couldn't do this without you."
She looked at the clock while she dialed Seth's number as soon as she was alone.
"I missed you so much today," she said when he answered.
"Me too, baby. How's Nicole? Did you two have a good day?"
"She's a great help, Seth. I'm going to miss her again."
"You can invite her down to see you. We have plenty of space," Seth replied.
"I'll do that later, after ..."
"Yes?" he asked.
She looked at the ceiling and grinned. "Nicole can visit after we can control ourselves a little bit."
His laughter echoed through the phone. "So you're never asking her to come down?"
"That's probably about when we'll behave."
He loved the way she made him feel, even so far away. Seth wished he could hold her right that second and show her just what she did to him. They talked a few minutes longer before she began to yawn. He promised to call her in the morning before they hung up. Hours later, Seth still lay awake, missing her.
Gabriela was tired and needed Seth. It took her a week but her packing was finally finished and the movers were there. Nicole chose several pieces for her own apartment and they'd found some of her friends to haul them for her. Soon Gabriela's life in Indiana would be just a memory. She'd never been more ready to get on a plane than she was at that moment.
"Mom, where are you?"
"I'm in the dining room, Nicole."
Nicole popped into the room with a huge grin. "So, are you horny yet?"
"Come on, Mom, you've been away from Seth for a week already. There's no way I'll believe the two of you haven't been sleeping together. I mean, you don't move away from everything you know just to be a roommate."
Gabriela smiled at her daughter. "You're right, but it's not something I'm discussing with you."
"Come on, I'm an adult. Are you embarrassed?" Nicole winked at her mom.
"Nicole, there are just some things mothers don't share with their daughters. This is one of them."
"So you aren't going to tell me if he rocks your world or makes you see stars? I guess you won't say whether he's built or not, either."
Gabriela wasn't the type that blushed over sex talk, but this was her daughter. A light pink tint stained her cheeks before she turned away.
"I knew it! Go, Mom!" The cheer from Nicole had them both giggling like teenagers.
They chatted as they finished the last little bit of packing. Gabriela knew she'd miss her daughter but she looked forward to a new life with Seth.
"Nicole, will you be okay here alone?"
"Mom, isn't it a little late to ask me that now?"
"Yes, but I'm feeling a bit guilty now that it's almost time for me to go."
"If I found someone I loved and thought about moving away, would you want me to stay by you instead?" Nicole asked.
"Of course not, but that's different."
"Explain how it's okay for me to go but not you, then."
"I'm your mother and should be here for you. If I was responsible, I'd —"
"Stop, now. I don't want to hear anything more like that. You're thinking about that scumbag that dumped me, aren't you?"
"Are you going to be okay, really? I know how much David hurt you."
"You know, Mom, it did hurt then but you've made me see something important. David never loved me the way he should have. I ignored signs because I thought that after we got married he'd change. Then I heard how you talked about Seth and the way he treats you. I want what you have, Mom."
Gabriela looked at her daughter and knew then that she was right. Nicole would be okay.
"There's nothing like it," Gabriela told her daughter. "Seth means the world to me."
"He's very lucky to have you."
Gabriela couldn't wait to see Seth. Her home was with him now, not here in this apartment. A new life waited for her in Florida.
He held her pillow close and imagined Gabriela was there. It seemed like she'd been gone for months, not just a week. He longed to hold her and tell her how much she meant to him. Seth couldn't believe how his life had changed since he'd found her. It was a long time before he fell asleep but the dream started right away.
Angry voices shattered the silence. Seth crouched into the corner of the shed and tried to understand the words. His head still throbbed where someone hit him hours ago. Each breath he took reminded him of the punches they'd thrown. He was sure they broke a rib or two.
A sound caught his attention from his right. Positive he was alone before, he was on instant alert. He waited for further clues telling him if a human or animal shared his prison. Then again, out here, sometimes they were the same.
Minutes passed with more shouting nearby. Seth felt the sweat dripping down his back but didn't move. His training kicked in and his breathing slowed. A crack in the wall gave him a tiny strip of light as the clouds cleared. Dark eyes scanned the woods looking for any movement at all.
His legs cramped and his ribs screamed in pain but Seth didn't flinch. Seconds ticked by and the voices faded into the distance. Night sounds came back to claim the jungle once more.
"Follow me, Seth."
The voice that whispered in his ear was feminine yet commanding. He shifted his eyes to take in the vision and gasped.
"Yes, it's me, baby. I promised you I'd always be with you."
"Gabriela, how ..."
"Come, we must hurry. Take my hand and don't let go."
Seth stood and touched the soft fingers reaching out to him. Her energy and strength poured into him as they made their escape. In a short time, they came upon a soldier that only nodded to Gabriela. She smiled as hundreds more materialized to surround them.
"Thank you, my friends. You have my respect and loyalty forever," she told them.
"You saved me," Seth said to her.
Gabriela leaned into Seth and kissed him on the cheek. "I love you, Seth. It's that easy."
"I owe you my life. Without you, I wouldn't have made it."
"You're mine, Seth. No one else will ever have you."
Seth woke with his heart pounding and the images of the dream still in his head. A check of the time reassured him he wouldn't be waking Gabriela up.
"Honey, are you okay?" She heard the tension in his voice and worried.
"Gabriela, this dream I had ..."
"Feel me hugging you, Seth. Right this minute, my arms are around you."
He couldn't believe how she knew the dream had some bad memories attached to it. She was amazing and he couldn't wait until she got home.
"Yes, baby, you feel so good."
"I love you, Seth. Don't ever forget that. No matter what happens or where you are, I'm with you."
He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. His sweet Gabriela always knew what he needed. She had indeed saved him.
His heart pounded as he pictured her back in his bed. The weeklong separation taught him he'd never be apart from her again. Nothing was right without her. Shelby dropped in that evening to check on her dad.
"Why are you so grumpy?"
"I'm not," he said and turned away.
"You are, too. I only asked you a simple question on the phone earlier and you gave me a ten-minute lecture. If you were a girl I'd say you had PMS."
"Mind your own business, Shelby. I have a lot on my mind."
She looked at her father and saw the tension in him. "It's Gabriela."
"You really do love her," Shelby said in a quiet voice.
"She's everything to me. There's so much you don't know that happened between us."
"I'm listening, Dad. You can tell me anything you want."
"Shelby, you know of my other work. She and I were just making plans to meet in person when I got called away that last time."
"You were gone a long time, Dad. Something happened more than you said didn't it?" she asked.
"I was hurt worse than I told you, Shelby. When I could get to a computer, I contacted Gabriela. Maybe I should have come to you, but I needed her then. For weeks, she helped me forget the pain and get through therapy. She gave everything and asked for nothing. Her strength held me up when I was weak.
"We fell in love. I think we were close to it before. Daily we searched and explored deeper than most couples ever do over their entire lifetime. She's everything I need to complete me."
Shelby went over to her father and hugged him. "I love you, Dad. Gabriela is a very lucky woman to have you."
"No, I'm the lucky one. She's my forever, Shelby."
She nodded in understanding. "I'm happy for you, Daddy. You deserve someone good in your life."
"I'm sorry your life isn't going the way you hoped, Shelby. Never give up, though. Destiny brings us the love of our life in the oddest ways. I wasn't looking for love when Gabriela came into my life."