Semper Fi Pt. 03bycalibeachgirl©
Copyright by calibeachgirl and shuttlepilot
All rights reserved, 2011
Chapter 14 Our House...
A house is not a home unless you share it with the person you love or so he'd been told.
They wandered around the Zoo as Kelly tried to name the different animals. Frank finally sat down on a bench, needing a break. A four-year-old child somehow had more energy than any adult he had ever seen until she fell asleep.
"Disneyland?" he asked.
"Are you crazy?" she answered. "Disneyland? My God, she'll go..."
"Crazy? Sorry, I couldn't help it. When are we getting married, Caitlyn?"
"I had to make sure that you wouldn't freak out... you know... with her."
"Are you kidding? I've never had so much fun in my life." It was true. He had forgotten the simple pleasures of life, all these years... the joys of childhood... the joys he had once upon a time.
"Yeah, but Frank, life isn't all amusement parks and zoos. There's other things, too. Staying up all night with a sick child and kissing her hurts and worrying about her every second she's not in your sight and even then... and, she's just four. What happens when she's older and there's boys involved?"
"We've got guns."
"Frank, I'm being serious."
"So am I, Caitlyn. I love you and I love her and it's been long enough."
"Where will we live, Frank? I'm still in Oceanside and you're here in San Diego."
"As much as I like this apartment building, I'll move or we can buy something in-between or something, like Del Mar. We can work this out." We've got to make this work. I've got to make this work... for Kelly... for Caitlyn... for me.
"Are you sure?"
"As much as I have been about anything."
"Church or civil?"
"What do you want? Church would be nice. We've got a flower girl."
The real estate agent, in her yellow and white spotted dress, walked through the condo, pointing out the view from the front window. "You can see the ocean from here," she said, "and I'm sure you can agree that two-forty is quite reasonable." There were only a few condos left but the economy had hurt real estate, everywhere. This unit had been available for months and her Lexus lease payment was coming due... again.
"Only eight-hundred-and-fifty square feet, though," Frank said, wondering how Kelly would like living in such a small apartment. There didn't seem enough room for all the toys he wanted to buy her, let alone the Victorian dollhouse he planned to build. He got down on his knees and looked closely at the carpet, finally getting up after running his fingers through it over and over.
"Yes, that's true," said the agent, "but the beach is only five minutes away, the schools are excellent and there's the pool, don't forget." This sale was taking longer than she had hoped... maybe, they would go away empty-handed, like her other three clients. Time to think positive, she realized and determined to push a little harder.
He stood there, looking. There was no yard to play in but the beach WAS only five minutes away and there was a park... it had definite possibilities. Day care, though...
Frank walked through the condo, again. The two bedrooms were about normal for California, thirteen by eleven, which meant only a full sized bed would really fit. On the other hand, he thought...
He looked at Caitlyn. "Give us a little bit, please," he said to the agent.
"Of course," she said, walking outside, satisfied, now, they were going to buy.
"What do you think?" he asked, pacing the beige carpeted living room area. He wondered if there'd be room for another child. Probably not without moving...
"Well, it's only two-fifty and it is halfway..." she started to say, looking out the window at the pool three floors below, its blue water shimmering the reflection of the afternoon sunshine. Her apartment building didn't have a pool and she'd always been too busy to go to the beach.
"Do you want to look at something else?" he asked, wondering if there WAS anything else. The price was doable with plenty left over each month to live a good life together.
"What about Maria?" she asked.
"Oh, Jesus, I forgot. Does she even want to come? What are we going to do?"
"Yes, we've already spoken. Find something bigger, I guess."
"OK, then we'll see what else there is." Frank walked out the door to speak with the agent.
"Well..." she said, "there's two others in this complex, three bedrooms each, one at three-twenty five and the other at three-thirty."
"Fine, let's take a look."
Caitlyn turned slightly and gazed at the Pacific below the bluffs through the wide, white blind slats. "No, this is the fourth place we've looked at and everything else costs way too much and isn't much bigger."
"So, you're good?" For the first time in his life, home was going to be more than where he hung his hat... if he had a hat.
Caitlyn looked at Kelly sitting quietly on the floor, playing with her bear, giving it some 'tea'. God forbid, she thought, anything happens to that bear, Kelly takes it everywhere. "Kelly?"
"Would you like to live here?"
The little girl looked around the condo as was quiet, again, thinking. "Daddy live with us, too?"
"Yes, Baby, we're all going to live together, forever."
She put up her arms to be held. "Good. Daddy, can I swim?"
"I'll teach you, Sweetheart. All right, then, I guess we're home." He took Caitlyn into his arms and kissed her, tenderly and once only. As much as he wanted to, there was Kelly to consider.
"New furniture?" she asked.
"Of course... and a gun safe."
The rest of the week was spent ordering furniture. Full size bed, two nightstands, two dressers... white tiled table and four chairs, sofa and love seat and coffee table and a 60 inch flat-screen... twin beds and dressers...
"Es muy bonito," said Maria, looking at the new kitchen. "Puedo cocinar mucho comidas de bien aquí." She walked over to the stove and opened the oven door. "Muchas enchiladas..."
"Well, she's happy," Frank remarked. "I guess we'll be eating pretty well."
"Don't think that doesn't mean you're not taking me out to dinner, every now and then." Caitlyn laughed.
"Breakfast in bed..."
"Shh... she'll hear you."
"Ha ha ha ha haaaa... that's too funny. Maria?"
"¿A qué hora es cena?"
"No hay nada aquí." She looked at Frank, wondering if he was loco.
"Maria, juego con te. C'mon, let's go out to dinner." He scooped up Kelly and held her close, tucking her in his arms. "Who's little girl are you?"
"Yours, Daddy... you're silly."
"Este el viernes, nosotros estamos en casa," said Maria, a huge smile on her face.
They drove toward the freeway to Bellisario's Pizzeria. After they walked in, the door stayed open and Frank went back to close it. On the walls were New York Giants and Yankees' jerseys which didn't surprise him... but he was becoming a Chargers' fan so he did make a comment about something or other.
He ordered a medium pepperoni and a Greek salad and was surprised when the woman came outside to yell their food was ready. Considering they were in Southern California, the attitude rankled him but the pizza made up for the rudeness. Maybe, they were taking the New York lifestyle just a bit too far, he thought. Definitely going to be a take-out place for them...
It took almost an hour to drive back to Oceanside but he kissed Caitlyn and Kelly goodnight and then made the long drive back to San Diego. The morning came early enough, as it was.
Caitlyn sat on the edge of the desk. "Garrett, I'd like you to, uh, give me away," she said. "You're the closest one I've got..."
"So, you finally woke up and let him catch you... or, is it the other way around?"
She blushed. "Does it matter?"
"No, not really, as long as it's for the right reasons. It's been five years and he still loves you. That's got to be a record. When?"
"As soon as possible. I've got plenty of time saved up and so does he... and we're caught up, here." She closed her files down and shut her laptop.
"I'd be glad to. Remember, I told you..."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. You were right."
Even with the death of the admiral's wife, lacking additional evidence and without any viable suspects, it soon became a cold case like all the others as Frank became more involved with the approaching wedding.
In the intervening weeks, Frank and Barbara caught a chief petty officer who embezzled seventy thousand dollars and a gang of gun runners who had infiltrated the Corps while Caitlyn and Garrett caught a liquor store robber-turned-killer and an attempted car-jacker who had shot a mother of two.
Chapter 15 M-I-C...K-E-Y... M-O-U...S-E
A sexy, winsome smile played at the corners of Garrett's mouth and set Barbara's heart on fire. As they walked along, he teased her, making her laugh.
"Laugh if you like," he said. Her attitude amused him.
"I'm not laughing at you, but you make me smile a lot," she admitted. She looked at him with a thoughtful expression. "Maybe, that's why I'm here."
"Maybe," he replied, his gaze still locked on hers.
When he looked at her, he made her feel warm. She couldn't look away and watched, mesmerized, as his gaze wandered over her face, studying her... liking what he saw... finally dropping to her lips.
"You know, you're very lovely. Beautiful, actually."
Men speaking about her looks always made her uncomfortable, mostly because she never could find herself believing them. She felt herself flush with embarrassment but he sounded like he meant what he said.
"You're not here just because of my looks, are you?" she timidly asked.
"To be honest, I didn't even pay that much attention to what you looked like when I met you." It sounded trite but she felt he was telling the truth. "Now that I have, let's just say that I'm overwhelmed." He gave her a toothy grin. "And... you blush when I tease you."
She opened her mouth to protest but before she could say a thing, he reached out and touched her cheek. He was about to kiss her, she knew it and her breath caught in her throat. He couldn't kiss her, not here, not now. She looked back at Caitlyn and Frank but couldn't move away from Garrett and as his hand stroked her cheek and his thumb swept over her full bottom lip, instead of moving away, she moved closer, so close she felt the heat of his breath on her skin and when his long fingers worked their way through her curly hair, urging her closer, she reached up to his face with her own hand and lightly touched him. His mouth covered hers... his lips were warm, his touch persuasive.
She thought to pull away but the sensation of his mouth on hers was too much. There was nothing hesitant in his kiss. His lips moved over hers, savoring her response and persuading her to give him more and more. His arms wrapped around her and his tongue slipped into her mouth and she heard herself give a small moan of pleasure, a sound that encouraged him even more.
She knew she had to stop... they were in the middle of Disneyland! but she couldn't stop herself. All her hesitations and doubts about him disappeared with her compelling attraction to him.
Their attraction had simmered below the surface from the day they had met and now had exploded in the Magic Kingdom like the fireworks that flew when the park closed.
Barbara couldn't reason, couldn't protest, couldn't stop kissing him or resist the pleasure of him kissing her. They had moved to another place and were separated from the real world around them even as so many tourists walked around them, watching and laughing.
She leaned her head back and felt him hold her shoulders. Her mouth opened under his and the kiss deepened, rising in intensity and hunger as her fingers glided across his chest, feeling the heat through the cloth of his shirt.
She pulled her mouth from his and her head dropped to his shoulder. She felt too weak to pull away from him but knew it was impossible to stand there as everyone walked around them. She was shocked and amazed it had gone as far as it had.
"Garrett seems to like your partner," said Caitlyn, watching her partner and Barbara finally walk along Main Street toward the Castle, oblivious to the world around them.
Frank, having learned his lesson at Sea World and the Zoo, was pushing Kelly in a stroller that seemed intent on pulling to the left. He had that strange feeling, caught between heaven and hell, of a man who had loved a woman and seeing her with someone else. If it worked, then good for her... and, Garrett. Why did he feel jealous? He felt confused as his face reddened, remembering the nights he had shared with Barbara.
"Uh, yes, I suppose he does," he said, quietly. Ever since he had returned to Caitlyn, his relationship with his partner had been strained. No matter what she did, no matter how professional she tried to act, it was always there...the way he held her gaze when she had smiled... the way he looked at her when he thought she wouldn't notice. He tried to think she didn't know how he had felt but couldn't bring that about.
Kelly's hand snuck up along the side of the stroller sunshade. "Daddy? Can I have some ice cream, please?"
"Sure, baby, just wait a minute, OK?"
Up ahead was a vendor and he bought ice cream bars for everyone before heading to Fantasyland. Peter Pan, Casey Jones, and the obligatory visit to the gift store for Mickey Mouse ears took up the next hour, followed by the even more obligatory ride on the obnoxiously sweet Small World boats. At least, it was cool and dark... and then they went to the maddening Toontown.
Frank thought back to when he had first gone to Disneyland in the early 80s with his parents. The park seemed so much more fun but now he was looking at it from an adult's eyes. He wondered if his parents had felt the same way when they took him around the park, themselves.
"You look cute, Frank," said Barbara, looking at his Donald Duck shirt. "It matches your personality."
"Uh, thanks, Barbie... Barbara." He didn't know whether to laugh or not and hoped that Garrett wouldn't break her heart like he had... he wondered if he HAD broken her heart. Probably not, he thought. She seemed happy enough with Garrett's attentions. He didn't know whether to be happy or sad about that revelation. His love life had always been a series of missed opportunities and 'what might have beens.'
Frank looked at Caitlyn and then his little girl, knowing where his future lay. Time to quit worrying about what might have been, he knew, and take care of what will be. He just wished he could shake his feelings about the situation.
"I don't know about you but I need some real food in me and soon," said Barbara, "and none of this fast food junk here in the park. Let's take the Monorail over to the hotel and eat there."
"All right," said Caitlyn, feeling the same way, knowing full well how little girls became cranky once their stomachs started demanding attention.
Garrett looked at Barbara. He wanted to kiss her, to taste her, to savor the way she would kiss him back, her lips soft and warm beneath his, her tongue slipping with his. He wanted to feel her body against his.
Garrett smiled. He never double-dated before and was enjoying himself immensely. He wondered, though, why Frank kept watching them as he had. Maybe he was being protective of his partner, just as he was about Caitlyn.
In Caitlyn's case, though, the existence of Kelly put a completely different spin on the situation. He hoped it would work out, this time. Caitlyn had made such a bad mistake, last time.
"Garrett?" said Barbara.
"Huh? I'm sorry, I must have zoned out for a second."
She pulled him over to the side, near the steamboat. "Let's have dinner at the Blue Bayou... you and me. We can meet them later, somewhere."
"Uh, yeah, sure. That would be nice."
She took his hand and tugged him in the direction of New Orleans Square and eventually they were seated just a short distance from the small white boats floating toward the pirates down below. Surrounding them were the twinkling 'fireflies' and the sounds of crickets and frogs from the twilight swamp.
"What would you like, Barbara?" Frank asked, looking at the menu. My God, he thought, the prices in this place!
Barbara was looking at her menu. She didn't realize the restaurant would be so expensive. "I guess," she answered, "it takes a lot to keep Mickey in business. Why don't you choose, Frank?"
Frank looked at her and made a decision as the waiter approached. "Two surf and turfs, please," thinking it had been a while since he'd had lobster for dinner. Besides, why would he want to be that way with her? What difference would twenty bucks make, anyway?
"How would madam like her filet?" asked the waiter.
"Medium rare, please," Barbara replied. She handed the menu to him and sipped her iced tea just a bit. "Thank you, Garrett," she said, her voice sultry and almost in a whisper. She batted her eyes for a moment, making him think of what they used to call 'bedroom eyes.'
"You know," Garrett said, as the waiter walked away, "I've really enjoyed myself today and..."
"And, I'd like to see you again, that is, if you'd like." He realized, finally, that living alone was destroying him and the hurt his ex-wife had given him was needing to be put away, as far as possible. It had been almost twenty years, he recognized, and his life had been so empty for what? For nothing...
She looked at him and made a decision. "Yes, I'd like that very much." She put her hand out across the table and he took it in his, putting his other over hers and slowly, gently caressing her long fingers. "I like your hair," he said, filling the silence that had descended between them. God, he thought, I sound like a schoolboy.
With her other hand, she touched her hair. "Thank you. My friends told me I needed to be 'out there' a little more."
"I think it's wonderful." He kept her hand in his, not wanting to let her go. A little older than she, he was thinking of wanting someone to spend the rest of his life with. Barbara, he thought, was quiet yet funny and intelligent and pretty for her age. He fantasized coming home to her in the evening and having dinner and then going to bed with her. He colored crimson, feeling himself becoming aroused at that sight in his mind.
"Yes," he declared, "I think it's wonderful."
Their food arrived and although he glanced up and smiled at her, they became quiet, wondering if what they had agreed to was the best idea they ever had or a disaster waiting to happen.
They both started to talk at once.
"No," Garrett said, laughing, "ladies, first."
"Are you planning on staying with the department?"
"I've got a couple more years and then I can retire. It gets old, after a while and it's so depressing."
"I see," she said. "NCIS is at least full of surprises. We cover so many different things. Have you ever thought of maybe... changing?"
He was silent for a moment. "Not until just this second... don't they have rules about... you know?"
He dipped another piece of lobster into the butter and then, on a whim, offered it to her. She opened her mouth and sensuously closed her lips around his fork, taking the delicacy from him. She made a wide smile.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
"I was thinking of something else."
Dinner went its inevitable way and Garrett was seriously considering getting a room at the hotel, even if just for an hour but he wanted their relationship, if there was indeed going to be one, to be built on more than just a wild time beneath the sheets.