Love Lost, Then Found Ch. 21byjerseyblue©
Hank settled into the seat of the rental car and headed out. He had some time to think about what he was going to say and do. It seemed like a good idea at the time to arrive unannounced at Amy's, just show up. Now he wasn't so sure. How could he explain he just decided to show up? He did email her to find out if she had any plans and she said no big plans. Carrie was involved in a softball tourney that was all. Hank thought he could use that as an excuse plus he really wanted to see Carrie play. It might help the two of them to grow closer. As far what he was going to say to Amy he wasn't sure. He wanted it to be perfect. The more he drove the more time he had to work out the different scenarios. He cursed out Brianna and her "what if she says no" comment. He had no answer for that one.
Amy was sitting at the table on the deck. She was working on some lesson plans. She couldn't believe how close it was to the start of school. This year might be a challenge as Carrie was going to the High School and all that entailed. She sat back and stretched. She was wearing her silk robe over her bathing suit. She knew she needed to change but she was just being lazy.
She reached quickly for her pen as it started to roll off the table. She felt a twinge in her wrist and it brought back memories of that day. Roger had really hurt her, both physically and mentally. Amy was so thankful that Carrie took it so well. As a matter of fact Carrie took it better than Amy did. It seemed like a load had been lifted from her. It started before she knew but she acted as it was great news. Carrie was concerned about Hank's reaction but it was here that she acted more like an optimistic teenage. She knew Hank would want to be her dad.
The doorbell rang. "Mom, someone's at the door!"
"Carrie, could you please get it?" Amy yelled back. She didn't want to answer the door dressed this way.
"Alright," Carrie replied. Amy could hear her sigh.
Amy could hear Carrie's voice and she seemed to be very excited. She was talking to someone but Amy couldn't hear the voice clearly.
"Mom, looks who's here?"
"Hi babe." Hank walked over and kissed her.
"Oh my God, what are you doing here?" Amy quickly tried to compose herself.
"I was in the area so I thought I stop by," Hank smiled.
"No, you said Carrie had a softball tourney this weekend so I thought I would like to see her play." He turned to Carrie. "If that is ok with you?"
Carrie smiled so hard it seemed to hurt. "That would be great!"
As Carrie went off to get ready, Amy stood up and hugged Hank. "I'm so glad you're here. I have missed you so much!"
Hank kissed her. "Boy, do you look great!"
Amy kissed him back. "He knows how to make me feel good," she thought.
"We need to talk but not right now. Ok?"
The three went to the game together. Carrie went off with her teammates as Hank had to suffer through the numerous introductions. He was happy the game started. Amy sat very close to him almost as if she couldn't get close enough. She entwined her hand through his arm and hand and held it there all game. She said very little.
Amy was so excited that she could burst. By just coming to the game, Hank had done something that meant more to Carrie than he could ever know. At that moment Amy was never more in love with Hank than at this time. Even though the team lost both Carrie and Amy didn't seem to care.
Since it was a tourney and double elimination, there was another game. This meant about a 90 minute wait. During that time Hank and Carrie talked about the game. He offered her suggestions about her batting stance and work with her on it. Amy sat in the shade and watched. They seemed so natural together.
Carrie's team lost the second game but Carrie got 3 hits, most on the team. Her coach congratulated her. After the game, she ran to Hank and gave him a big hug. "Thank you!" she said.
During the ride home Carrie couldn't stop talking she was so excited. She was still talking as they stopped the car in the drive way. She hopped out and ran to the house.
"Man, is she excited," Hank said turning to Amy.
He was caught by surprise as Amy kissed him. "Not as excited as I am," she whispered. She kissed him again. "Now why did you really come?"
"Look, there is something important that I would like to talk to you about and here in the car is not the place," Hank said seriously. "I would like to take you out for nice supper and talk there. Ok?"
Amy nodded. She was a little concerned about what he wanted to talk about. Did Roger have copies of those papers? Did he send them to Hank? She could feel a knot building in her stomach.
She agonized over what to wear. The little black dress was out but she didn't want to be too casual. She picked out a nice plain sleeveless summer dress. She took her time and made sure everything was as perfect as it could be.
There was a knock on the bedroom door. It was Carrie. "Can I come in?"
"What do you want, honey?"
Carrie sat down. "Do you think he knows?" She was picking her nails, a sure sign she was nervous.
"I don't know. I don't think so but I know it is serious. Remember I knew Hank before this and I know his moods. From the way he acted it's pretty important. How do you feel about it?"
"Today was one of greatest day ever. It was so great talking to him at the game. I wanted to call him dad right there. Mom, it felt so right."
"I know, baby. We just don't know but I'm going to tell him tonight. No matter what you need to stay home tonight. I don't know which way this is going to go but I need you to be here." Amy gave her daughter a hug and a kiss. "Oh well, here we go."
How Hank knew about this out of the way restaurant amazed Amy. It was quiet and cozy. The food was great and the wine wonderful. They sat in a corner a part of but away from the dining room. They made small talk mostly about Carrie and her playing. Hank did notice Amy's wrist but she claimed she fell, jamming it.
As they were waiting for dessert the talk turned serious.
"Remember we talked about the 4 options I thought we had?" Hank stated.
Amy nodded, dreading where this might be going.
"I've been thinking. Option 4 is no good and I think you agree."
"Yes," Amy agreed.
"Option 1 isn't fair to anybody especially Carrie. She needs to see her mom have permanence to her life. So that leaves Option 2 and 3."
Amy sat silently, her heart beating wildly. "Go on."
"Option 2 means uprooting and moving you and Carrie, finding a school for her, a new job for you. Not fair. So that leaves option 3. One of the reasons I'm here is because I can have the head job at the Lincoln Museum in Springfield if I want to."
"That's great, Hank," Amy said leaning forward and taking his hands.
"It is but it depends on one thing."
"What's that?" Amy asked with a perplexed look.
"I've known this for a long time, over 15 years. I love you and I think I always have. Fate brought us back together. So what I'm trying to say." Hank reached into his pocket and produced a little black box. He opened it. "Amy, will you marry me?"
The ring was gorgeous. She was taken by surprise by his question. She was so worried about the other problem that she didn't expect this. It was an answer to all her dreams...but was it? She looked at Hank and realized he was waiting for her answer. He looked confused.
"Hank, I love you too," she began slowly. "I want to marry you but I have not been truthful, fair, to you. I can't give you an answer until I have." Her eyes filled as she spoke.
Hank rocked back into seat, shocked. It took him a full minute to understand what she just said. "Are you saying no?"
"Right now, yes I am." Amy couldn't look at him.
Neither of them ate their dessert. Hank paid the bill and headed for the car. They drove home in silence. Amy wanted to say something but she waited. Hank parked the car in the driveway and walked around the car. As he opened the door he said, "I'll walk you to the door and then go find a motel room."
Amy spoke up, forcibly, "No, you won't. I told you I haven't told you the whole truth. You are not leaving until I do. You owe it to me, you and us. You are coming in now."
Hank didn't argue. He didn't feel like it. He followed her in.
"I'll fix you something to drink. Have a seat in the dining room." She walked to the base of the stairs and called up, "Carrie, please come down here. We need to talk."
Amy got the hot water started as Hank settled into the dining room. He was running with emotions. He confused, hurt, angry and he didn't want to be here. Carrie had come down. She had been upstairs and came down in her robe. They didn't talk. Amy came in with some tea.
The three looked at each other. No one spoke. You could cut the tenseness with a knife. Finally Amy spoke up. "Here I want you to read this." She slid a folded paper across to Hank. Carrie sat upright in her chair. She began to pick her fingernails.
Hank read the paper slowly and then reread it. He put it down. "So does mean what I think it means? I see the paper is dated 13 years ago. How long have you know?"
"Roger stopped by the other day and he brought those. First time I've ever seen them."
Hank fiddled with the papers. "So you're telling me you didn't know about this until a couple of days ago. I find that hard to believe."
"Hank, it is the truth."
Hank stood up and walked around the table. "15 years ago you gave birth to Carrie and you never had any idea that she might not be Roger's but mine! Now you decide to tell me! Unbelievable!"
"Even if I knew, how was I to tell you? You were out of my life. I didn't know where you were." Amy tried to remain calm. This was not going well.
"This is unbelievable." Hank threw up his hands. "Now you're telling me and you never knew before this?" He walked into the kitchen, out the doors and on to the deck. He sat down and placed his head in his hands. He needed time, time to think.
Carrie looked at her mother. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. "Mom?" she asked with a confused look.
Amy took her hands. "Don't worry. It will be fine. He just needs a little time. Things will work out," she said reassuringly. But inside behind the calm look, Amy wasn't so sure. At least he still here and didn't walk out.
Amy woke up with a start. "What time was it?" she asked herself. Rolling over she saw the clock which read 1:15. She hadn't been asleep long. She rolled on to her back. "What was she going to do? How could she see fix this?" She got up, threw on a robe and went down stairs to the kitchen. She stopped and looked out on the deck. There against all odds was Hank, still there. He had moved from one of the chairs to the lounge. Amy wondered if he was asleep. At least he is still here. That was a good sign. She waited and then watched him sit up. She decided to make some tea and bring it out to him. Sort of a peace offering. She didn't know exactly what to say but she needed to say something.
With the hot drinks in her hands she walked on to the deck.
"Here, I brought you some tea," she said offering to him.
"Thanks," he said taking it. He took a small sip. It was hot but she made it the way he liked it.
"We certainly have made a mess of things, haven't we?" Hank said looking up at the stars.
"Not you, I have," Amy replied.
"No. It takes two to fuck something up this bad."
For a minutes they sat there quietly, not talking just sipping their tea and gazing. Each afraid to speak for fear of making it worst. Amy decided to be bold.
"Hank, I want you to look at me," Amy demanded.
Hank turned and looked at her. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't deny it, she was beautiful. Her smile, her eyes, her laugh, her sense of humor. It was easy to be in love with her.
"I love you, really love you. I know I messed things up. I know I hurt you and I probably lost you for good but I have to tell you this. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to tell my family, my friends that I love you and I always have. If you get up and walk away, I understand. I will move on and make a life for Carrie and I. It's your choice. I love you. I want you. I want to be with you. Your daughter wants to be with you. Period. The choice is yours." She boldly stated.
She took a deep breath. "Ok, I'm done."
Hank sat there stunned. His mouth was dry and his brain didn't seem to work. Finally he spoke.
"Yes, Amy, you know I love you. But...
"No buts. I messed up. Perhaps I can't fix it but I need to know."
Hank didn't answer. How could he? There were a million thoughts running through his head. So many questions, not enough answers. How could he make a life changing decision in a blink of an eye? He had asked her to marry him and he knew that Carrie went along with it. Why was being told that Carrie was his causing him to be so confused? Amy said she didn't know. Is that it? Is she telling the truth? Why shouldn't she?
Amy suddenly stood up. "Look, it's up to you. If you're not here tomorrow morning, I'll know. I'll move on." With that she turned and walked away leaving Hank alone with his thoughts.
Amy felt like she never slept at all. She had tossed and turned, never fully asleep. As she lay there, she thought about what she said last night. Now she would have to live with that. She showered, trying not to think about what she find downstairs. She dressed slowly. As she started down the stairs, Carrie came around the corner. "He's gone, Mom. He left. What are we going to do?"
Amy's heart sank to her knees. She almost missed a step but she knew she had to remain strong for Carrie. "It will be alright. It will work out." She hugged her daughter.
"How, Mom? How can it?"
Amy didn't know. She could only hope. The two went to the kitchen but neither wanted to eat.
They heard a car enter the driveway. "Now who is it?" Amy said.
"Hey do you know there isn't a bakery anywhere near here?" Hank yelled. As he walked into the kitchen, "I got a variety of things. Hope you like them?"
Amy stood up and struck him in the arm. "Where have you been?"
"Hey that hurt!" Hank grabbed his arm and grimaced. "Sorry it took longer than I thought." He looked at Amy, then Carrie. "Oh God, I'm sorry. It wasn't supposed to take this long!"
Carrie looked at him skeptically. In typical teenage bluntness she asked, "So Hank, did you make up your mind?"
"Caroline, mind your manner," Amy scolded her.
"Yes I have and let's cut out the Hank. I would like you to call me Dad, if you want. I would like you to."
Carrie jumped from her seat and hugged him around the neck. "Oh yes I will, Dad."
Amy hugged him too. The mood of the room lighten immensely.
"Can I call Aunt Jesse?" Carrie asked not waiting for an answer. She ran from the room.
"So what made you stay? Was it my speech last night?"
"Yes and no. What I'm saying is, I love you. I have since the first day we met in college. I didn't know it then but I do now. You really hurt me when you married Roger. I'm not going to deny that but as bad as I felt then, letting you go now would be worst." Hank admitted.
"Hank, I'm so sorry for what I did. I knew it was wrong. So many nights I cried myself to sleep I hurt so bad," she said as the tears rolled down her cheeks. "If I could go back and change everything, I would. I do love you so much and I promise, if you let me I will spend the rest of my life making sure you never doubt it," she said between sobs.
"You know, I'm never letting you go again but there is one thing I wouldn't change."
"What's that?" Amy asked.
"Carrie. She is our child. You and I made her from our love. Now we have a chance to show her, to love her. I want her to know that." Hank kissed her.
The rest of the day was like a dream come true. Hank and Carrie swam in the pool together. They even got Amy to go in and play Marco Polo with them. Jesse called and was so excited that it took a few minutes to understand her. Later that afternoon as it quieted down, Amy sat next to Hank as he dozed on the lounge. She held his hand and smiled.