The Captain's Quarters
Linda Delaney & Jane Daffron
(Authors' notes; Friends, we finally did it. Since our worlds have meshed, we promised to write a story together. Well this is it! And we believe it is the first of many! We had a great deal of fun writing this, and hope that you all enjoy it!
Harriman Nelson waited impatiently while his wife talked with the Desk Clerk. He wasn’t used to waiting, much less being patient about it! They had come all the way to Chincoteague Island, for a weekend escape, and the damned clerk couldn’t find the key for the room!!!
Finally, Karen came over to him, smiling and holding the key in her hand. "Here it is, Harriman. They simply misplaced it." She grinned at him, and kissed him, long and lovingly, " And I can’t wait to try out the furnishings, Admiral!"
He finally smiled as his frustration slightly abated. "That, Mrs. Nelson, sounds like a plan!" he returned her kiss warmly, and then looked around, slightly embarrassed that he had been so public in his display of affection. Sighing, he slid an arm possessively around her waist, "I think, my dear, that we should retire to our ‘quarters’ before I can’t control myself any longer." He smiled slyly at her, and she returned the smile.
"Oh, yes, Harriman, Oh yes!’
They stood in front of the door to the Private Suite, and Nelson chuckled at the brass plate on the door. "The Captain’s Quarters, Karen?"
She grinned at him mischievously. "I thought that it was appropriate! It’s supposed to have a special tower at the top to look out at the night sky. I thought you’d enjoy that!"
"We came all the way to Virginia to look at the stars?" He asked her, with an innocent voice, and a twinkle in his eye. "Karen, we could have done that on the beach about five miles from the Institute."
"There is starlight, Admiral, and then there is starlight!" He took the key, slid it into the lock, and opened the door¼
"After you, Mrs. Nelson!" He swept his hat down and across his body in a chivalrous gesture, and held the door open. Karen walked slowly past him with a grin, her hand lightly grazing his face in loving attention and then proceeded on in with a seductive, suggestive wiggle to her hips .
"Anytime, sailor!" she winked, and then turning to the room stopped short in her tracks. He hadn’t looked and when he stood up and took a step into the room, he collided with her.
"What the Hell¼?"
She had looked around the room, and saw a number of items of discarded clothing strewn about. Some of the articles looked vaguely familiar.
Nelson was blustering behind her. "Karen, what the hell is going on here! What are these clothes doing in our room? What is this? Who’s here?"
Before Karen could say anything else, Nelson stormed around her, and charged, like a bull into the bedroom of the suite.
"Just what do you think you are¼" His bellow died in his throat in a strangled mass of unspoken words, as he stood staring at the scene in the bedroom. The brass bed was indeed occupied, by two very embarrassed individuals. Karen hurried into the room at the sound of Nelson ‘s bellow dying. She stood there, and a huge grin spread over her face.
"Caitlin?" she choked. "Lee¼?"
Lee Crane’s arm was wrapped protectively around Caitlin Davis. She had the sheets pulled up to cover her breasts.
"Mom ? HN ?' she choked as she looked into the face of both her mother and her stepfather. Caitlin then dissolved into a bundle of giggles. The explosive expression on Harriman Nelson's face was priceless. As much as she dearly loved her stepfather, his 'over protectiveness' was, at times, a little confining
"Lee¼" Nelson blustered, "What’s going on here?" This was a scene he never expected to be confronted with and he was enraged.
Lee looked Nelson square in the eye and slowly responded, "Admiral, if you don't know by now..."
Karen placed a hand on his shoulder, a huge smile on her face "Harriman, let's give them a minute..."
Nelson glared at his Captain, and at his step daughter. Karen gently pulled him from the room and closed the door behind her.
Nelson turned on her..."How could he?.. How could she?...How dare they...?"
"Harry, they are adults, we know that they've gotten close..." As she gazed into the storm cloud that was his face, she laid a gentle hand on his arm to calm him. "Harry, Lee and Caitlin are in love...You and I have done..."
"But Karen, 'our' daughter is just a child. Lee should know better! Why, he's older, and more experienced and..."
"And in love with Caitlin. ‘Our’ daughter is a grown woman, Harriman, with a mind of her own. She wouldn’t be here if she didn’t want to be! As I said, Harriman, we’ve been there¼"
At that moment, Lee Crane strolled into the outer room, barefoot, and clad only in his khaki trousers. Caitlin followed, wearing only Lee’s khaki shirt. Lee put an arm around her shoulders in a protective gesture.
He cleared his throat, "Admiral, I¼ that is we¼"
"You what, Captain? Just how do you intend to get out of this one?"
"Wait one minute, sir! You did bust in on us...sir!" Crane protested, pulling Caitlin in a bit closer
"You are in our room, Captain! And with my stepdaughter!"
"Oh no, sir! This is very much our room. Caitlin made the reservations last week¼sir."
"I also made reservations last week, Harriman," Karen quietly informed him, though he seemed not to hear.
Both women then looked at each other, realization dawning on them. "Under Davis, Mom?" Caitlin queried her mother.
"Yes, sweets, under Davis," Karen replied and then turned to Nelson. Gently laying her hand on his shoulder, she attempted to explain the obvious. "That’s how the key got lost, Harry!"
Nelson looked at his wife completely baffled.
"We both made the reservations for the same suite, for the same time, under the same name, Davis. I used my maiden name to keep this weekend as a surprise for you.," his wife explained.
Nelson snorted, "It’s a surprise, alright!"
Lee looked down at Caitlin, pulling her a little closer, and asking gently, "Are you ok?"
She smiled at the Seaview’s Captain. "I am if you are!" and she wrapped an arm around his lean waist.
Karen looked carefully at the two of them, noting the looks passed between the two lovers. At once they reminded her of two children caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and not at all upset that they’d been caught!
Lee and Caitlin had arrived at the Cedar Gables in a relaxed and happy mood. They had planned this getaway on a week’s notice, just after the boat had berthed and Lee had discovered that the way that the duty watch worked out, he would have a free weekend. After checking with his mother that 11 year-old Robert could stay with her, he told Caitlin, and she had gone ahead and made the plans.
The only person who knew where they were going was his secretary, Jenny. Even Angie hadn’t been told. They really wanted a weekend away from everyone! Since Lee had allowed his long denied feelings about Caitlin to surface, and be acknowledged, he found that he was rediscovering feelings that he’d kept well hidden for many years. Caitlin was making him laugh again, and enjoy many things in his life that he had come to dully accept without any emotion involved. He really hadn’t laughed, or been this happy since Cathy had died. He could think about Cathy now, and feel regret, but the sadness that overwhelmed him when he thought of her was gone, replaced by a lingering poignancy at his memory of their brief life together. He was even able to look at Robert, and see his son, the young man that the child was becoming, and not see Cathy in every gesture, and look. What a difference this young woman had made in his life! In truth, his only reluctance with their relationship was her youth, at least in comparison to his age. Fifteen years was a big age difference at least as far as he was concerned! But then again¼
Yet if he heard one more joke about ‘Robbing the Cradle’ He’d keelhaul the man on the spot! Why did it bother him and the same situation, not bother her stepfather, who was at least 10 years older than her mother?
Well, if the Admiral could handle it, so could he! He thought back over the years about his own friendship with Caitlin's mother, Karen. He had seen the relationship between her and Harriman Nelson grow and come to fruition....he was even Godfather to their son, Sean. However, for some reason, the possibility of a romantic relationship with Karen's daughter, had frightened him. He had tried many times to reason that it was because of the differences in age,...however, he had slowly come to realize that it was simply because he was afraid to let himself love again.
Caitlin’s sense of humor was remarkable, and she was able to find laughter, and enjoyment, in so many different things! In making this reservation, it had managed to surface once again! Their room was called the ‘Captain’s Quarters’. The twinkle of amusement in her eyes, when he saw the name on the door, held the promise of a great deal more to come. She had unlocked the door, and tugged at his arm.
"C’mon, Captain, I always wanted to have a private, personal tour of your quarters!"
He quirked a questioning eyebrow, and followed her into the large and sunny main room of the suite. He cast an appraising eye around, but before he could see too much, Caitlin’s arms were wrapped around his neck and she was pulling him into a very passionate, and promising kiss. He returned the kiss with equal affection, and they quickly began shedding their garments and making their way to the large brass bed in the bedroom¼
It was some time later when they became aware of voices in the outer room, and all hell broke loose when Admiral Harriman Nelson stormed into the room!
Lee didn’t know whether to be angry, embarrassed, or both. What the hell had happened to their idyllic weekend alone! The last thing that he wanted to do was to spend the time with Harriman Nelson and his wife. His lover’s mother and stepfather! His boss, friend, father-figure, and possible father-in-law!
Harriman Nelson was glowering at him with an expression on his face that Lee had never seen before. Why he was acting as if he was Caitlin’s father?! Karen didn’t appear upset at all; in fact, the silly grin that she was wearing when she looked at the two of them wasn’t at all disconcerting. It was almost accepting!
Well, Caitlin was 29 after all! They were lovers, but Lee knew in his heart that they were more than that¼Damn! He had plans for this weekend, too! Special plans! And he wasn’t about to share them with Harry and Karen Nelson!
Lee cleared his throat, and wrapped his arm a little more protectively around Caitlin, as if he was trying to protect her from Nelson’s ire.
"Admiral, I think that we had all better¼ah¼ talk about this somewhere other than here¼Perhaps down in the restaurant in, say, half an hour? Caitlin and I need some time to ¼well¼get cleaned up!" He was suddenly aware of their state of undress, and he was most uncomfortable with the distinct feeling of disadvantage it gave him when talking to Nelson.
Caitlin pulled herself in even closer to Lee, trying to hide her amusement at the situation. She thought the whole thing was hysterically funny and, apparently, so did her mother! The look on Lee’s face when HN came storming through the door! It had been priceless! And then there was HN. When had he become so¼so¼paternal!! He looked like he was about to have an apoplectic fit!! Good Lord!!! Poor Lee! He wasn’t happy at all, and the very idea of getting ‘caught in the act’ wasn’t something he finds easy to deal with! Still my tight-assed, hung-up Captain! Her grin got wider, if that was possible, and she had to fight within herself to control it and not let the humor of the situation explode!
Finally, she looked straight at Nelson and said softly, but simply, "Please?" Her blue eyes locked with his in a gently pleading stare. She knew he couldn’t deny her anything . . . he never had before.
Nelson ‘hurrumphed’ loudly, and cleared his throat. Caitlin’s gaze bore into him, making him feel extremely uncomfortable. "Well, um, ahh¼we’ll meet you in the ¼"
"Restaurant," Karen quickly interjected, knowing that in a public place, her husband would be much more discreet than in a more private place. He would be forced to restrain his unreasonable anger with Lee and Caitlin. Really! He should know better! They're both adults, after all! Besides, he's momentarily forgotten about our escapades in Williamsburg, the Prescott Inn, and on the beach! She led him out the door and softly closed it behind her.
Harriman Nelson turned quickly and stood facing his wife, his face almost red with rage. "Karen, Caitlin . . ."
"Caitlin IS a grown woman, Harriman, . . . with desires and feelings. What we just witnessed was no different than our time in Williamsburg or the Prescott Inn. Now, just calm down," she quietly told him. Leaning forward, she lightly kissed him, then put her finger to his lips. "Admiral Harriman Nelson, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. She's my daughter, remember? I gave birth to her. I was there with her father the moment she was conceived and if I'm not upset about this, neither should you be." Her eyes softened and she slightly grinned.
"Harry, she loves Lee . . . we've both known that for a very long time. She was the one who was instrumental in turning him around after the shooting.. And, by the way, to be perfectly honest here . . . I suspect he's had feelings for her for a very long time but would never admit it.."
"But she's a child!"
"Child my ass, Harry! She's no child!!! She's a grown woman. And he's a grown man!" Karen Nelson softly laughed. "I swear, Harry, if I didn't know you better, I'd think you've taken the 'father' role a bit too seriously here."
Nelson stared at his wife in total astonishment . . .
Why, she's not upset at all! I don't get it! I just don't get it! Caitlin's in bed with Lee Crane and she's not upset?
He shook his head in amazement and leaned back against the wall. Unbelievable! This whole situation was, without doubt, unbelievable. He had allowed himself to be lured away from a scientific conference in Washington for a romantic weekend with his wife. Helen Crane had volunteered to take care of Sean so Karen could come with him to the conference, since Caitlin had informed them that she had made prior plans.
Prior plans indeed! Now I know what those plans were.
Karen kept a watchful eye on her husband and was completely amused at his reaction to the events that had transpired. She knew what he obviously did not . . . .that Lee and Caitlin had been intimately involved for quite a while. Surely he had to have guessed it! The signs were so blatant. The looks passed between the two, the romantic dinners. Could Harriman Nelson be that blind?
Taking his hand, she gently said, "Let's go down to the restaurant and wait for them, ok? If I know my daughter, it's going to be a little bit." Then with an additional amused look, she added, "It always did take her forever to really get 'put together', so to speak."
Harriman shot his wife a pointed glare which she totally ignored as she gently pulled him along behind her.
Once downstairs and seated against a large picture window overlooking the bay, Nelson ordered a double scotch and Karen, a glass of white zinfandel wine. As they waited for their drinks to be served, he looked out over the still waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Well, This has turned out to be one helluva of a weekend!
Glancing back at Karen, he still couldn't get over her lack of concern over Caitlin.
She’s the girl's mother¼I'm her stepfather, for crying out loud.
Then, suddenly, it slowly began to sink in . . .Had Karen known something that she hadn't told him about those two? Oh, he'd seen the looks. . .had even been present when Caitlin had openly flirted with Lee . . . but he never really thought it had gone this far.
Karen Nelson sat back and toyed with her wine as she watched her husband while he sat staring out at the water.
"Harriman Nelson, you need to lighten up!" she whispered, holding her glass up in a mock toast.
"Lighten up?!" he thundered. "Karen, I'm concerned about her, that's all. I mean. . .I know she's old enough to know her own mind and go her own way…but…Lee's so much…"
"Older? More worldly? More experienced? Come on, Harry, Caitlin's no child, and Lee Crane is in love with her. If you can't see that, you're blind," she countered. Leaning over the table to place her hand on his cheek, she continued, "Look, ever since his recovery, they've been very close. In fact, she told me about it, more or less, about 6 months ago. I never said anything because it wasn't my place to. It’s one of those ‘mother-daughter’ things, you know. Besides, it's quite obvious."
"Apparently to everyone but me. Damn! Karen, I just never figured to find them in ..."
"Bed together?" Karen's eyes held a tinge of amusement mixed with a hint of slight anger. Her tone of voice belied the same. "Excuse me, Admiral Nelson, sir, but how soon you forget that it was Caitlin that found you in my bed about 3 weeks before Christmas before we were ever married. Remember? The way I remember it, we weren't wearing very much either. And she didn't say a word to disturb us. So…let's not get hypocritical all of a sudden, shall we?" She set her drink down and leaned back into the chair. Karen Nelson had never backed down from her husband’s ire before and she certainly had no intention of starting now.
"Karen, all I meant was…"
"No, Harriman…what you meant was that as long as it wasn't Caitlin."
"Damn it, no, well, yes…oh, hell, Karen..."
Again leaning back into the table she flatly stated, "Harry, you cannot dictate to her how she should live her life. She won't stand for it, nor should she. I most certainly wouldn't and she's my daughter. Look, I know you love her as if she were your very own…as much as Sean…but the fact of the matter is, she is a grown woman with wants, desires, longings and a very healthy outlook on life. Now…if you can't handle that with her, what in God's name are you going to do when Sean becomes of age and becomes romantically involved with a young woman? Double standards do not exist here, Harriman!" She crossed her arms and glared back at him. "Look…I raised my daughter to believe that there should, hopefully, be only one man in her life that she should make love to. The man she loves. The one man she has always loved. That man is Lee Crane. Now . . . you can either accept that or suffer the consequences. The choice is yours to make, but be very cautious, Harriman. Lee is your captain and Caitlin is your 'daughter'." Her voice then softened a bit as she said, "Tread lightly, my love, or you could very well lose them both."
Nelson’s face clouded over as if his pride had been terminally wounded. He knew she was right; he just hated to have to admit it. Taking a sip of his drink, he cast a longing glance out over the water.
Blast!! Maybe we should just rent a boat and sail over to Tangier Island. Leave them to themselves. Somehow, I think that all three of them are going to win this one."
He glanced back at Karen, then reached out for her hand. No further words were said as she silently slipped it into his. He saw her eyes soften and take on a loving gaze.
God, how I love her…everything about her. It's just that, at times, she can be so infuriatingly right!
"Okay. so they've become involved. What now? Do I need to read him the fatherly 'riot act'?"
She hung her head down a bit and chuckled. "I think it's a bit late for a 'birds and the bees' talk, now don't you? Besides, I had that little chat with her when she was about Sean's age."
"So, what do I do here? I'm in the complete dark on this one."
"You don't do anything but give discreet advice only when asked, and not until. Harry, they're in love, can't you see that? Personally, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it doesn't get a whole lot serious."
"You don't think he'll…"
"Marry her? Wouldn't surprise me in the least," she gently replied.
Lee walked along side Nelson, onto the dock, hands in his pockets. He knew that he had to iron this out with his mentor, but it was going to be difficult. How could he explain to Harriman Nelson what had been going on? Part of him wanted to clear the air, and tell Nelson everything, and part of him didn’t think it was any of Harry’s damned business! After all, the Admiral was married to Caitlin’s mother, but Caitlin had already been too old for Nelson to do much fathering, when he became involved with Karen. In fact, Caitlin had been instrumental in bringing the two of them together! Nelson knew that!
Damn! He certainly hadn’t been a monk in a cloister with Karen! I knew their relationship prior to their wedding. In fact, didn’t Caitlin walk into the apartment one night the Christmas before they were married, when he was there? Well, I haven’t been that secretive about Caitlin! Chip knows, and Karen¼what’s the Admiral’s problem anyhow? I just don’t broadcast my personal life! What’s wrong with that?
His reverie was broken by Nelson’s voice, asking him, "Lee, why don’t we sit here?"
There were two Adirondack chairs on the dock, and with the sun beginning to set the view was both spectacular, and soothing. Something about a sunset on the water always seemed to help the two of them smooth the way when there was rocky ground between them. Nelson fumbled in his pockets for a cigarette, and finding none, swore and then sat grumpily. Lee eased his long frame into the other chair. Neither man spoke for a long time, and finally, bringing his temper and natural affection for both Lee and Caitlin into some perspective, he asked Crane,
"Well, Lee, I guess I should ask you what your intentions are toward my stepdaughter."
He was smiling at Crane, and there was a distinct twinkle in his clear blue eyes.
Crane was a bit uneasy with Nelson’s intense scrutiny, but he had decided to be up front with this man that also meant a great deal to him.
"I intend to marry her, of course, sir. I ¼we ¼ well, damn, Admiral. I intended to propose to her this weekend! I have the ring, and well, after dinner tomorrow night¼"
Nelson laughed heartily, "…and Karen and I have moved in on your weekend with a vengeance! I am sorry, Lee!!!" He looked at his Captain, and shook his head, "But if you hadn’t been quite so secretive, maybe this wouldn’t have happened!"
"Secretive! Since when is my private life any of your business, sir?"
"When it concerns my stepdaughter!" quickly came the abrupt but amused reply.
"Admiral Nelson, Caitlin Davis is well above the age where either you or her mother have to be responsible for her actions! In fact, I believe that if it hadn’t been for some of her actions I wouldn’t be sitting here now with you at all. Some of her actions, and I will not indicate what ones, are directly responsible for my recovery in the last year! And yes, sir, I love her! I think I have for a long time, and I was afraid to admit it to myself, because, well, number one, she’s your stepdaughter, and number two, I was afraid¼" his voice softened, "I was afraid of being hurt again."
He became quiet and thoughtful for a while, and then he continued, "You, of all people, know what became of me when Cathy was killed. Looking back on that time now, I know I was unreasonable and selfish in the way I felt, and the way that I handled things. I was hurtful to a lot of people, those that were trying to help me the most. I pushed all of you away. I decided that if I kept you all out, then if something did happen, I couldn’t be hurt too badly by it! When I was shot by Gamma on the boat, I wanted to die. I really wanted it all to end right there. It was just a constant battle, one that I had been fighting for years, that I didn’t want to fight any more."
He shook his head in remembrance, "You see, I wanted to be with Cathy. I saw her, I could have gone with her. She was there! I remember hearing Jamie say that maybe I was too tired to go on. I was tired of it all…the fight to control what I was feeling¼ the fight to just go on day to day. I didn’t want to do it anymore!!! I was ready to let go!!!¼ And then I saw Robert¼ and I knew . . .I knew that if I did go, he would be alone¼all alone, if I left him. Admiral, the only time I haven’t been alone, in my life, was after I came to Seaview, and the Institute, and I finally felt that I had a real family, and then I had Cathy and Robert¼"
He paused ¼"and then Cathy was taken from me, and I felt all alone again. But you see, there was Robert, and I didn’t want Robert to ever be that alone, so I came back Caitlin and Karen¼ made me realize how much I had, and hadn’t been, or wanted to be aware of! Caitlin had been there all along, since she and Karen first came to the Institute. She’d been so good to Robert, been many things to him that a mother should be! My mother was there, but she’s not his mother. And Caitlin, well, that time, in the apartment, she showed me all of the possibilities that could have existed, even if I never got the use of my hands back!"
He stared at his hands for a few seconds. "Look at them, Admiral. You wouldn’t believe that less than a year ago, they hardly even looked like hands! And Caitlin showed me…how they looked, whether or not they worked, really didn’t matter¼"
He looked at Nelson with a vague look of astonishment, and asked him, "Did you know that Caitlin told me that she’s been in love with me for years, and that she was angry that I didn’t take any of her hints?"
Nelson laughed aloud. "Hints? Lord, lad, she was throwing you passes that a blind receiver could have caught, and you were walking away without even making an attempt to catch them!"
Crane laughed as well, "I guess it didn’t occur to her that I didn’t want to see her in a different light than Karen’s Little Girl!"
"Well, as her mother has not so politely informed me, she's no 'little girl’," Harry pointedly told him. Then, directing his gaze out over the stillness of the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, he softly stated, "Lee, she's headstrong, willful, determined . . .Think you can handle her?"
Crane hesitated before answering, then, with a hint of levity, replied, "Well, she is her mother's daughter…and you've handled the mother pretty well…"
Nelson grinned, and with a twinkle in his blue eyes, countered, "Ahh, but it has been a worthwhile challenge. One that keeps me constantly on my toes. So if you decided that she's the one…you'd better be prepared!"
"Admiral, you don’t know how prepared I am! I’m ready for the commitment, I’m willing to make it, and I believe that Caitlin is too. I guess I’ll know after dinner tomorrow evening¼" He then grinned at his mentor. "Aren’t you going to tell me it’s about time, for me as well as for Caitlin?"
Nelson grinned back, "I guess that I don’t have to tell you if you already know it, do I?" He rose from the chair, and laid a hand on Lee’s shoulder. "C’mon, Lad¼let’s go and see what the ladies have worked out¼" He looked at his Captain, "I don’t have to tell you how pleased I am, for you and Caitlin, Lee. It may be a bit premature, but I’m glad to really welcome you into the Nelson/Davis family¼son."
Lee rose from the chair, and held Nelson’s gaze. "Thank you, sir. That means more than you can possibly realize¼" A glimmer of mischievousness then crept into the Captain’s amber hazel eyes. "If Caitlin says ‘yes’, do I get to call you ‘Dad’?"
Nelson's blue eyes slightly flickered as he slowly responded, "Hmmmm, we'll see . . .we'll see."
Inside the Inn, Karen Nelson and Caitlin sat calmly waiting as they watched the two men in the distance. Mother and daughter had become closer as each had gotten older and each respected the other's privacy in certain delicate, intimate matters. As the two women sat drinking a glass of wine, they were both wondering the same thing. ‘What was going on out on that dock?’
"Well, it doesn't look like HN's too mad, Mom," Caitlin quietly spoke. "Although I don't know why he would be. Surely he understands . . ."
Her mother shifted her position in the chair and leaned forward just a bit as she glanced out toward the dock. "You know that Irish temper of his, Caitlin. Besides, he does feel a certain responsibility toward you, you know. However, I think I've kind of calmed that down a bit before you all got down here." Karen looked at her daughter and was amazed at the change in her. Not that she hadn't been aware of the attraction between her and Crane, but what they had witnessed brought everything into a new light. Suddenly, sitting before her was a younger version of herself…
"Mom, I, er, we have nothing to be apologetic for. Besides," Caitlin responded, then in a nonchalant tone, "…if I remember right, there was a certain night where I came home a day early and found someone in your bed and you both were, ah, shall I say, in a shade less than us, if that's possible."
Karen scrutinized her daughter for a moment before responding. "I'm more than aware of that, young lady. And I'm grateful for your discretion, as well as for your intervention during that time. However, as much as I sympathize with your plight, Harriman has never had to deal with this problem before. This is a whole new ballgame for him. Not that he won't face something similar when Sean starts to get interested in girls." She took a sip of her wine and continued, "So, my darling daughter, what are we going to do about a solution here?"
Caitlin eyed her mother suspiciously. "With regards to which problem, Mom? The room…or Lee and me?"
"Actually, both. Those two may be out there for a while. It's up to us to come up with the answer to at least part of this. So, what do you say? Want to flip a coin for the 'Captain's Quarters'?"
Caitlin glared at her mother and suddenly realized that she was smiling. She's got a weird sense of humor sometimes. "Not on your life, Mom. You know HN outranks Lee and he would pull rank. Nope. I'm staying put. Sorry. Besides, we did get here first."
Still watching the two men, Karen had a sense that all was well on the dock. She carefully watched the body language of both men. Wife to one and good friend to the other, she had learned to read both of them well over the years. Both presented a relaxed set to their bodies, and she was relieved to see that, at least until the next set-to, all appeared to be well.
Caitlin called her attention back to the conversation, "Mom, I’ve done some calling, and I’ve found a place here on the Island for you and HN to stay. I took the ‘liberty’" she said tongue in cheek, "of making the reservation. It’s a little more in the town than here, but well, it seems to be a nice place. It’s the Channel Bass Inn, the room is called the Ambleside Suite. The management here was more than willing to help me out, since in the end, it’s their fault that we had this ‘problem’ with the booking. They’re going to take care of the room for you and HN for the weekend."
"Well, sweets, what can I say? All I have to do now is convince Harriman, and I think that I can do that!" she smiled conspiratorially at her daughter.
Saturday evening came almost too quickly for the lovers. They knew that the next day they would have to come back to reality, to go back to Santa Barbara, to jobs and responsibilities. For Karen and Harriman Nelson, it also meant returning to a son that the two of them adored, and in spite of the idyllic nature of this place, a son that they did indeed miss heartily.
For Lee Crane and Caitlin Davis, it meant returning to a reality that her ‘parents’, as well as his boss and commanding officer, were now very much aware of. If Lee’s plans were fruitful, it would also mean returning to a reality that would include some kind of plans for a very significant event.
Lee shook his head as he waited in the bar for Caitlin to meet him. After the way the weekend had begun, he had originally thought that there would be no chance of salvaging it. Fortunately, cooler heads than his or the Admiral’s had prevailed, and the weekend was back on track, with a few additional, unplanned twists¼ For example, after dinner, he and Caitlin were meeting Nelson and Karen for drinks in town. He sighed, and reached into his jacket pocket and took out a ring box, then opened it. Looking at the ring nestled in the black velvet, he wondered what Caitlin would think of it. It definitely was a non-traditional engagement ring. Made of silver, titanium, and several precious stones, Lee had worked long hours with a jeweler on the design¼ But then again, this whole relationship had been rather non-traditional.
The ring itself was silver, with a band of titanium twisting around it, in the fashion of a wave. On the top, in chips of diamonds, rubies, and emeralds was a model of the boat, intertwined with a double strand of titanium and silver, in the shape of a heart. Definitely unconventional, and different. Caitlin knew and understood his connection to the boat, and their relationship was built on that connection as well as the deep love that they felt for each other¼the two were so tightly intertwined that he often couldn’t separate one from the other. Inside the ring, in delicate script was engraved ‘You hold my heart¼ Lee’
It was simple, yet it said it all, and he just hoped that this was what Caitlin wanted. He was still afraid of the commitment.
Yes, that’s it, Lee, old boy, you still are afraid¼of losing yet again! Well, what was it that Morton had said that you’d know that it was right, when it was! This sure as hell felt right!’
He closed the box and slid it into his jacket pocket, picked up the drink off the bar, and sipped it distractedly. He was musing, nursing his drink, when a gentle hand was laid on his shoulder. He turned and looked in the direction of the owner of the hand, and then smiled. Caitlin leaned over and kissed him gently on the cheek.
"Are you ready for dinner, Lee?"
He smiled back at her, "I think so, Little Girl. Shall we go?" Sitting his glass down on the bar, he stood up and offered her his arm.
"Where are we going, Captain?" she asked him lightly, while linking her arm in his.
"Someplace different, someplace that I have a reservation at, on the Island here," he replied rather mischievously.
"You’re not going to tell me, huh?"
He shook his head, "Nope" He laid a couple of dollars down on the bar as a tip and then started to lead her out.
"Alright, then, let’s go! I’m looking forward to this dinner."
"To the Coach, my lady!"
"Yes, my Lord!’ And she began to giggle again as he led her to the car.
The Maitre’D led them to a table at a window at the Chincoteague Inn Restaurant. The table offered a dramatic view of the Intercoastal Waterway. As the sun slowly sank toward the horizon, the sky turned brilliant shades of orange and blue and the vision it presented from their waterfront table was indeed fabulous.
"Oh, Lee…it’s beautiful. What a view!"
"That’s what was promised! Looks like they make good on their promises!" The waiter came by with a bottle of champagne, showed it to Lee for his approval, and then once gained, opened the bottle. Caitlin sat, smiling at the man that she loved, had loved for so long, with all of her being. And even after the past year, there was still so much of him that was a mystery to her. He was still silent and brooding when he was disturbed, or upset.
He looked over at her, her face framed by the soft glow of the candlelight in the restaurant, and the reflected glow of the sunlight from the setting sun.
God, I’m so lucky!! I never dreamed that I would find someone like Caitlin! And the idea that she cared for me for so long, and I never even suspected¼She was right¼I am slow on the uptake! Hopefully, I can make it up to her!¼
He reached out and took her hand into his. The waiter poured the champagne and placed a glass at each of their places. A nod from Lee, and he stepped away.
"Caitlin, I hope that you don’t mind, but I placed the order for dinner when I made the reservation. I think that you’ll like what I’ve planned." His eyes took on a deliberate gleam ¼ "Dessert is strawberries, and whipped cream."
"Here?" was the amused reply.
He simply continued to smile at her, leaving her question unanswered. "Lee¼?" she responded playfully but guardedly.
"We’ll see, Little Girl, we’ll see, won’t we?" he released his hold on her hand and picked up the champagne flute. She picked hers up as well and waited for him to begin. Somehow, deep within her heart, she knew this night would be special.
"A toast, Caitlin¼ to you¼ You hold my heart, Little Girl . . . Apparently, you have for a long time but I didn’t know it. So now, will you share the rest of my life with me?" He handed her the ring box. She set the glass of wine down and opened the box with trembling hands. The stones of the ring glittered in the candlelight. Catching her breath, she slowly removed it from the black velvet.
"Lee!" she said in a soft , awed voice. "It’s ¼ it’s exquisite! But . . . my claddagh¼there’s the tradition . . . you only had to ask me, I didn’t expect¼ this!" She held up the ring in the candlelight and he reached forward, taking it in his long, slender fingers¼
"You didn’t answer me, Caitlin¼" he said softly, "Will you marry this old submariner?"
"Yes¼oh, yes¼" she whispered. "I’ve waited for this moment since I was 18 years old, Lee Crane! Yes, I want to marry you, and be your wife! Your wife! That sounds so wonderful!!" He slid the ring onto her finger, and she practically beamed at him, her sense of humor coming once again to the fore¼ "This should make HN happy! I’ll be a ‘respectable’ woman!" The two of them burst out in laugher and then Lee leaned across the table and kissed her.
"Thank you, Caitlin. Thank you¼ I love you, Little Girl!" She ran her hand down the side of his face.
"And I love you, Captain!" They sat at the table, hands clasped, staring at the fading orange hues of sunset, pondering the commitment they had just made to one another.
Later that evening, at P.T. Pelican’s Deck Bar, they sat side by side in chairs at a table. They were waiting for the Nelsons to join them for drinks.
As Karen and the Admiral walked into the room, they saw the two heads bowed close together, talking earnestly. Karen touched her husband lightly on the arm, and he nodded as they approached the couple. Lee turned and saw them, and stood, indicating the other two chairs at the table.
He looks relaxed, and so very happy! I wonder¼? Karen thought. Nelson held the chair for her, and then sat himself, and then Crane sat down, as well. The waiter came and took orders for drinks, and left to fill them. Lee reached over and took Caitlin’s hand in his.
Nelson finally exploded, "Well, Lee, what was so important to bring us out at this time of night? This is our last night here! It’s 2300." Then, with a glance sideways toward Karen, he added, "We had some…other plans."
Caitlin placed a gentle hand on Lee’s arm, and then she leaned toward her mother and her stepfather, extending her left hand. The ring shone brightly in the soft light. Karen gasped at the beauty of the ring. Nelson smiled and then extended a warm hand to Crane.
"Congratulations, lad!!!" his blue eyes twinkled, "I’m glad to see that you’re making an honest woman out of my daughter!" he reached for Caitlin, and hugged her tightly. "Be happy, Caitlin!!"
Karen kissed her daughter, "Congratulation, sweets¼ I know this is what you wanted¼ Be happy!" To Lee, she said, simply, "Love her, Lee…that’s all I want for her. To be loved and cherished as I am." Nelson wrapped an arm around his wife’s waist, and he added, "Yes, lad. Love and cherish her as her mother is!" He kissed his wife warmly, and Lee and Caitlin smiled at one another, and at her ‘parents’.
"You don’t have to worry on that count, Karen, Admiral¼I intend to do that for the rest of my life!"
"Guess we have another wedding to plan, Mom!" Caitlin stated to her mother, as she slipped her arm around Lee’s.
In unison, Crane and Nelson looked at both women, grinned, and stated emphatically, "No dress whites!!!"
Both women laughed at their men. Nodding at the Seaview’s two most senior officers, Karen Davis Nelson, with a gesture of agreement from her daughter, said "Ok, guys. No dress whites. We’ll have to settle for dress blues¼"
Author’s note: The actual Captain's Quarters Suite is located at the Cedar Gables Inn in Chincoteague, Virginia. You can visit the site at Cedar Gables Seaside Inn, Chincoteague Island, Virginia
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