tagRomanceA New Beginning Ch. 02

A New Beginning Ch. 02

bythecelt©

A New Beginning-Part 2. Alex meets Marci and her daughter Mandy. He's very happy, but Fate had other ideas.

Edited by LadyCibelle


Marci

Over the next two years, Carl and I worked on several projects that took us out of town for extended periods of time. I liked it because it took me away and gave me something else to think about, but it was beginning to be hard on Carl since he had been dating a girl he seemed to be falling for hard. He said he had known her for some time but that lately, they seemed to be getting along so much better. He said all he wanted to do was be with her, and she seemed to feel the same about him. They had been sleeping together for a few months and Carl was ready to take the next step. He jokingly said that with my experience, he was being especially careful. But he swore his Carrie was the type of girl who would be faithful and he trusted her. I hoped he was right.

After Nichole, I just dated any girl who caught my fancy. I dated all kinds: loose, shy, prim and proper, and plain Jane's. Any girl that looked like she would be fun or just a challenge: I wasn't picky. Most were one time dates, some maybe two and all were possible sleepovers. I was careful, using protection and motels rather than my apartment. Nothing serious and nothing permanent! That way, I couldn't get hurt.

My typical date would start with me picking her up at her place. We would drive to an out of the way restaurant and have dinner or just a burger, depending on the girl. Then we would drive around, maybe park somewhere and make out or if she was ready and willing, I would find a cheap motel for the night. Usually took them home before dawn with a fake promise to call them. None seemed to really care and none seemed disappointed when I didn't call. I got what I wanted and so did they. One thing I did know was how to satisfy the ladies. Or so they told me. Nichole and Jennie both agreed on that, but wasn't it funny how they both decided to use other men for their own purposes, much as I was doing now with other women. There was no love in what I did now just as there was no love in what they did then. Something to think about.

I was asked to go on a double date with Carl and Carrie, my date being Carrie's maid of honor. Her name was Marci Wallace and she was a divorcé with a four year old daughter. I agreed to go out and when I met her, I was pleased I did. She was a short woman, with long brown hair worn in soft waves that framed her beautiful face. Her eyes were blue, a blue so deep I assumed it was enhanced with contacts; her breasts were full; and the rest of her figure from what I could see was pretty damned great! We shook hands, and I held hers as long as I could until, smiling, she pulled hers back.

The meal went great, we ended up back at the lounge where I first met Nichole and we danced, sharing partners. It was fun, I liked Carrie and I was delighted with Marci and the evening flew by. When it was time to end it, I took Marci aside and asked for her number and address. She gave it to me and reached up on her toes to give me a kiss that curled my toes. She whispered into my ear, "Call me soon, OK?" I nodded as I watched her leave with Carl and Carrie.

As soon as I was able, I called Marci and asked her out on a date. I suggested we go somewhere we could go with her daughter Mandy, since I wanted to meet her and I wanted Marci to know her daughter was not something I worried about. She was delighted and we made plans to go to the park on Saturday morning. I thought about her all week and by that Saturday I was ready to bust I was so eager.

I picked them up at ten that morning and we drove over to the city park where I got a picnic basket from the trunk along with a cooler full of fried chicken and macaroni salad I got from the local Deli. I had them fix the basket and the cooler, leaving it up to them what to fill it with and they did an outstanding job. We found a nice spot, set up our folding chairs and then took Mandy over to the play area and found a nice spot to sit and watch.

I spent the time getting to know more about Marci and Mandy. She was working as a paralegal in a law firm in town and liked her job. One of the senior partners was also her Uncle and that gave her some protection from all the young lawyers who continually hit on her. She said she would never date a lawyer for reasons better left unsaid. She told me her husband was killed in Afghanistan three years ago and she and Mandy had been trying to get over his loss. She said I was the first man that she had gone out with more than once and that Mandy was still shy and withdrawn around any man. She hoped that I could get her to respond and I promised to try.

Marci's parents were both dead and she had a sister who lived in California. They talked together on the phone but hadn't seen each other in several years. She wanted Marci to move to California to be with her but Marci was happy where she was. Her uncle was all the family she had now and she lived with Mandy in a small apartment. She did well enough to have all she and Mandy needed and that was all she cared about.

Over the next several months, we dated as often as possible and I got along very well with Mandy. She came out of her shell with me and soon began to run to me when I came over. She called me uncle Alex and I called her my little pumpkin and she seemed to like that. I have to admit that I grew to love that little girl more than I ever expected. I guess, knowing that it was unlikely that I could have my own children; she became the child I wanted but couldn't conceive. That evoked a fleeting memory of another child, but I brutally stamped that one down. I tried never to think of that time.

As the three of us spent more time together, things got very relaxed and comfortable for me. We got on great and I began to consider Marci with more interest as a possible companion and maybe something more. She was a beautiful woman who seemed to return my affections and I knew she was someone I could trust not to do to me what the other women in my life had done. Maybe I was being foolish but I didn't think so.

We had been dating steady for six months when I finally asked her to marry me. I gave her an engagement ring which she loved and, gazing lovingly at me, she accepted. We made plans to marry in the fall but I asked her to move in with me right away. When I considered a future with Nichole, I had moved into a small house in the suburbs that was large enough for a family, one I hoped to have with Nichole. Marci had been there and knew it was large enough but she hesitated. She finally agreed when I assured her that Mandy would have her own room and I would fence in the back yard so she would have a place to play where she could be free to run and do whatever she wanted.

That was the beginning of a time of healing and love for me. Marci was all I wanted and Mandy was a delight every day. I looked forward to coming home after work and I wanted nothing more than to be with my 'family'. Marci and I married in my church with my Dad and Grandpa there to welcome her into our family. While I was unaware of it, Jennie came and sat with dad during the service. She must have left before the reception because I never saw her. Dad mentioned her to me and I felt the old pang of pain when he did but it was far less now that I was happy again.

We went on our honeymoon to Australia, someplace Marci always wanted to visit. I got us tickets first class all the way, a deluxe suite in Australia and we did everything she could think of to do. We had exciting days and wonderful nights, learning all there was to know about each other. Marci turned out to be quite willing to try almost anything in the bedroom and we learned what each other enjoyed. I woke each morning satisfied and relaxed and Marci seemed to have a smile all the time. I was satisfied I had made the right choice finally. Marci was all the woman I wanted or needed and she assured me she was happier than at any time in her life.

Back in the states, I continued to work at my job as an architect. Carl and I were the top men in the company now and I considered buying the company outright. No one knew about my inheritance and I had never bothered to explain it to Nichole or Marci. Jennie was gone before Grandma died so she would never have known about it. But I did take Carl aside and mentioned to him that I thought I could come up with enough to buy the company. He wanted to know why I would do that and I told him that I just wanted stability in my life. Since he knew about Jennie and Nichole, he understood but talked me out of it. After all, he said I didn't need to work so I didn't have to worry about being fired. We were their best anyway, so why mess with success.

It was some time later when I was watching Marci and Mandy as they walked around the yard and it seemed to me that Marci was limping a little. Mandy was pulling her by the hand and it was clear that Marci was in some distress. I walked out, picked Mandy up to whirl her around my head while Marci recovered. I nodded at her legs and she just grimaced, pretending it was nothing. I wasn't going to let it drop so I promised myself we would discuss it later.

After I put Mandy down for the night, I sat in her room, rocking in the big rocker we bought and thought back to my past. The day I saw Marci limping, I had begun to think seriously about my life and the things that had happened to me. Seeing her in pain had hit me hard and it reminded me of all I had lost. I remembered losing Jennie and my first marriage and all the promises we made to each other. That pain had dimmed over the years but had not disappeared completely. I doubted it ever would. I thought of her now with less anger and more sorrow. I had loved her with all my heart and I still missed her and probably always would. A love like that can't just go away, but it had been six years since we parted, so her baby must be close to six now. Alex Jr.

As I watched Mandy suck on her thumb, I remembered Nichole. I had loved her, but never as much as I loved Jennie or Marci. I had her only a short time before it fell apart. Nichole was beautiful and fascinating but we never got close enough to forge the kind of bond that I had with the other two, and while Nichole was the most beautiful of the three, she was also the easiest to walk away from. Just then, I had the strangest thought: It was too bad Marci and Jennie couldn't be friends. They had so much in common and would probably like each other. Strange for me to think that.

I stood up, pulled the covers over Mandy and walked out of the room, wiping a few stray tears from my eyes. I loved this little girl with all my heart, the little girl I always hoped to have. I was glad I made the move to adopt her and Marci was delighted when I proposed it to her. Mandy called me daddy now.

I spoke with Marci about the limp but she assured me it was nothing. She said she tripped on one of the stairs at work and twisted her ankle. She said she was going to soak it in the tub and that would do the trick. We sat together and made some plans for the coming summer break. Marci always took a month off in the summer and I was going to match it. We planned on taking Mandy to the mountains. I had a cabin I bought several years earlier and we were going to spend two weeks there, swimming and hiking and enjoying ourselves. I had hired a full time nanny some time ago and she would go with us to keep Mandy occupied.

Just before we were scheduled to leave, Marci asked me to take a walk with her after dinner. Just the two of us. She seemed so serious when she asked me and I felt a little tremor of fear run up my back. Why so serious? I kissed her forehead telling her I would be delighted to take a walk with my wife. She did smile at that, but it was a brief one. I was uneasy through dinner and up till the time we had the nanny put Mandy to bed. She agreed to stay until we returned.

That walk was the worst time in my life. As we walked down the street between the lovely little houses that formed our block, she told me she was dying. The limp was just a reaction to the pain from the cancer that was eating at her pancreas. It was one of the most aggressive and virulent strains and it had metastasized. After having a PET scan, the doctors told her the cancer had spread to several of the other organs and compromised the lymph nodes in several places. She was told she had only six months to live. She had kept this from me as long as possible to spare me the pain of knowing she was going to die. As if that pain could be delayed!

I stopped dead in the middle of the street when she told me the news. I was stunned, the thought that I could lose my wife and the woman I loved was devastating. I couldn't; I wouldn't believe it! The first thought that came into my mind was that I had money: money I could spend to assure that the woman I loved didn't die. I shook my head in denial, telling Marci that I wouldn't accept this. We would fight it until we could fight no more. I told her than that I had more money than she knew about. I would use it all to save her life.

Marci watched me as I told her of my plans to save her. She listened carefully as I told her about the money I had and that it was there to save her. She smiled at me as I told her we were going to beat this cancer and she was going to live a long life as my wife and Mandy's mother. She listened until I finally wound down and stopped. She did all of that without a word, then she took my hand, raised it to her lips and kissed it.

"All the money in the world can't stop this from happening Alex. I love you for trying, for being willing to do anything to save me, but it's not possible. By the time I went to the doctor and he was able to diagnose me, it was already too late to do anything. He's spoken to all of the experts, all of the best doctors in this field. There's nothing he can do to stop it. All he can do is give me medicine to stop the worst of the pain.

"You have to accept it now my love. We have plans to make and things to arrange. I need your strength now more than ever. Your love is all I need to carry me through till the end. I know you'll be there for me, and afterwards, for Mandy. She's the one I worry most about. She's so young to lose her mother. You have to be strong for her and see her through the worst of it. I think God every day that I found you. I know you will be the rock I need and the father Mandy will need."

I listened to her as she had listened to me, but not with the strength she showed. I stood there, her rock, her strength, her trust clear on her face and cried like a baby. I was a broken man; the woman I loved and needed, dying. How could this be? How many times must my heart be broken before God would stop making me pay for something I must have done to offend him? Why did he have to make Marci pay so dearly for my transgressions? Why destroy her life to punish me?

All of this went through my head as I stood there in the middle of the street in that subdivision that meant safety and security to so many people. I looked at those houses where my neighbors, like Marci and I, lived our simple lives and wondered how we were supposed to deal with so much pain in our simple lives. I wondered and found an answer in the eyes of my wife. So trusting, so accepting, so sure I could be there for her and Mandy. Suddenly I knew I had no choice. This was my answer! We had no choice! We did what we did because we had no choice but to do so.

I dried my tears, took my wife's hand, nodded once to her, and we continued our walk around the neighborhood where we lived our simple life. I knew now that I could do and be what she needed.

We took our trip to the cabin and spent the time together without reference to her illness. She was able to do all she normally did so long as she took the pain medicine, and we put as much into the time as we could. Mandy was happy, spending her time in the water and exploring the woods and trails with her nanny. In the evening, we would grill outside and sit in peace while the sun went down and the fireflies lit the surrounding fields. It was a magical time for Marci and me, understanding that it was the last time we would do this together.

Back home, we began to make plans. Marci quit her job after talking to her Uncle. He was heartbroken and wanted to know what he could do to help, but Marci assured him we had it under control. We called Helga, our nanny and told her we had to let her go. We thanked her for her excellent service and I gave her a month's severance and a promise of recommendations. She was sad to leave our daughter but she was sure to find other work.

We were going to need a nurse eventually but for the time being, Marci wanted to spend all her free time with Mandy. I agreed and worried that her strength would be compromised but she assured me she felt fine still. I had little choice but to agree. I wanted to quit work myself but Marci would have none of it. She knew how much I loved my work and she knew that I would need the sanity of my job in the future. So wise was my wife.

I met with dad and Grandpa and told them of the news. Both were of great comfort to me, dad with his strength and wisdom and grandpa with his sage advice. Both had lost their mates and both knew what I was going through. Dad surprised me when he said that he would be glad to take some time off to care for Mandy. I knew he loved her as much as I did but I was surprised that he would do this. Marci and I spent a lot of time with dad and grandpa and Mandy loved both of them but this was still a surprise. I promised to take him up on it.

Needless to say, the next few weeks and months came and went much too quickly. Marci was doing all she could to keep up her spirits and to make me believe she wasn't in much pain, but I knew better. I held her at night, fearful to do too much, but she wanted to be held and loved and I did all I could to convince her that she was loved by me. We made physical love but only occasionally and then, very gently. It was real love, rather than sex. But it was all I wanted or needed and she felt the same.

When it got too much for Marci to stay up and care for Mandy, I began to let the nurse do more of the care giving. It made Marci sad when I had, so I pretended to be busy a lot. Mandy was not aware of much except that her mommy was not feeling good. I knew Marci had tried to explain to her that she would be going away soon but Mandy wouldn't accept it. To help in the transition to come, I began to take her to my dad's place more and more. He was willing and ready and together with grandpa, they made Mandy happy and willing to stay there more and more. I never asked how he did it, I simply accepted it happily. It gave me more time to spend with Marci.

So it was that Marci went to sleep one night, cuddled in my arms, and when I woke early the following morning, I could tell immediately that she had passed away. I still held her but she was no longer warm and relaxed. I lay her gently down on the pillow, kissed her forehead one last time and got out of bed to do what had to be done. I won't go into any detail of the last days and weeks. That was private and I'm not willing to share those precious times with anyone but my daughter. When she's older and able to understand it, I'll tell her. But not till then.

Fortunately, that night Mandy was with dad and grandpa and had been for the last two days at Marci's request. I called over to let them know and to tell Mandy I would be over later to get her. Dad told me not to bother that she was fine and could stay as long as necessary. I'm sorry to say I agreed with him to let her stay there. I couldn't face her now. Instead I began to make the calls I had listed as necessary and enlisted those people I needed. Marci had insisted I do all that prep work ahead of time, knowing how I fell apart at times like these. She laughed and told me she would never get buried right if I waited until the last minute. I laughed then; not now.

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bythecelt© 95 comments/ 79741 views/ 39 favorites

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