Robert Crane rushed into the kitchen. It was warm with the smell and feel of baking cookies. He smiled at his Grandmother. Helen Crane looked fondly at her only grandchild. At 11, Robert was looking more and more like his father, Lee Crane. While the boy had his mother's eyes, sparkling green and merry, his build and mannerisms were that of his father. Robert leaned against the counter.
She smiled, "Yes, dear. Valentine cookies. I thought you and your father deserved a treat."
He reached for the cookies on the baking sheet, and she gently tapped his hand with the spatula. "R.C., not yet. They're still hot!!"
He sighed and smiled. "Ok, Gran. I'll be back later." And the boy turned and ran out of the room.
Lee Crane sat at his desk in his cabin on the Seaview. He was staring absently at the calendar. Valentine's Day! The first time that he had thought of this day in pleasant terms in more than a decade. He laughed to himself... "I hope she got the flowers I wired from the boat. Don't think that she'll be expecting them!" He glanced at his watch, "I’ve got an hour to shower and change before I pick her up! Lee Crane, you’d better get moving!"
There was a sharp knock on the door.
"Lee, leaving now?" asked Chip Morton, the boat's XO.
Crane was rising from the chair. "Yep...Picking up Caitlin for dinner at 2000. You?"
"Matty and I have dinner reservations for 2100. Our regular sitter is busy!" he grinned at Crane. "Apparently she has a date with a certain Captain!"
"Chip...! Don't go there!" Crane warned.
"Hey…don't worry! Helen’s a brave soul. She's taking on the entire tribe! The Admiral and Karen are dropping off Sean, so we're going to have a full house! She'll have her hands full!!"
"Robert’s going to be with her. He'll help out!"
"Yeah, and she's bringing her famous cookies so that’ll help with the crowd control!"
Crane clapped his friend on the shoulder as they went out the door of the cabin, "Well, old buddy…I guess we'd better get moving...don't want to keep the ladies waiting!"
Caitlin Davis answered the bell to her apartment. Valentine's Day. The very first one she was spending with Lee. So much had happened in the last year! She took a deep breath and answered the bell. Seaview's Captain stood in the doorway, resplendent in his dress blues! Holding his hat under his arm, his amber-hazel eyes twinkling, he bowed slightly at the waist and said, "Are you ready, Ma'am?"
"Yes, sir!" she replied merrily and he extended an arm for her to take.
"You look beautiful, Caitlin."
She smiled and blushed slightly, aware of the closeness and very maleness of him. She had been looking forward to this evening since Lee had planned it several weeks ago. She looked up at him, "Thank you for the roses, Lee."
"My pleasure. I'm glad that you liked them. And now, to dinner!”
Half an hour later, they entered a very tiny and very romantic restaurant. Caitlin was impressed by the quiet elegance it offered. All that Lee had told here was that he would be taking her to dinner but he hadn't said where. She leaned over to him as the Maitre'd led them to a table, "This is quite a place, Captain!"
He grinned at her, "An Admiral I know recommended it! Said that it was very special place!"
They were seated and the Wine Steward approached the table, "May I offer you wine, sir?"
"Yes, please. Moet Chadeon." The man nodded differentially and left the table discreetly. Lee reached over and took Caitlin's hands in his. "I hope that you are gong to enjoy this evening...I just wanted to tell you how glad I am that you are part of my life. You have made such a difference in it in this last year. I... I don't know how I would have gotten through it if it hadn't been for you."
With out false modesty, she said, "I think you would have been fine, Lee. You just needed someone to be there. I happened to be the lucky one...at least I feel it was lucky!"
He took her hands to his lips and kissed them . She blushed furiously. The wine steward returned with the champagne and two flute glasses. He set them on the table and proceeded to open the bottle, pour a bit of the wine and give it to Lee to taste. After Crane nodded in the affirmative, the steward filled the two flute glasses and left the table. Lee lifted his glass to Caitlin's, "To our beginnings, Little Girl!"
"To our beginnings, Lee!"
They sipped the wine, and he reached into his pocket and took out a box, handing it to her. "This is for you, Caitlin. From the bottom of my heart!!"
She took the box with shaking hands, not knowing what to expect from this incredibly complex man that owned her heart! She opened it and gasped in surprise and delight! A Claddagh ring, of fine gold. And in the center of the heart, was a laser etching of the nose of the Seaview. Her windows were tiny diamonds. He took it from the box, and slid it on her right ring finger, the crown facing outward. She looked at him, a question on her face.
"Tradition says that if a 'lass' wears a claddagh with the crown out on her right hand, she'd 'spoken for'. Would you consider yourself 'spoken for', Caitlin?"
"Yes, Lee. Very spoken for. By a certain ship's Captain that has held my heart for a good many years."
"You know," he said, “This is the first time in a good many years that this day has meant anything to me."
She smiled softly at him...."Then I hope that it will be the first of many more, Lee. Many more..."
He smiled, took her hand and leaned forward and kissed her. "Yes, Caitlin, the first one many more.... Happy Valentine's Day!"
Robert Crane stood on the rise in the tiny cemetery. The eleven year old looked at the simple headstone.
CATHY CONNORS CRANE
BELOVED WIFE - LOVING MOTHER
This was all that the boy knew of his mother. He had been 6 months old when she died and the only way that he had known her was through the pictures and memories of those who loved her.... his father, grandmother and the others in his life that had tried so hard to compensate him for her loss. He had felt an empty space in his life in spite of all their efforts. At least, until the last year, when his father had let Caitlin Davis into his and their lives. Caitlin had been a good friend before, but since she and Lee had become closer, she had started to fill a space in Robert's life that he hadn't even know was an empty one! He had asked his grandmother to let him come to the little cemetery on the hill, today , Valentine's Day so that he could be here, with his mother and talk to her. He had begun to do that a little over a year ago. It had given him some comfort, to at least believe, even at his young age, the she was listening to him....
He bent down and placed a single red rose on the grave, and then began to talk...
"Mom, I got Gran to let me come here alone because I wanted to talk to you. I guess you know about Dad and Caitlin. She's really neat, and she's been good to him and to me. I like her. She makes Dad laugh, and I've never seen him this happy. You know it doesn't mean that he doesn't think of you. Gran says he always will because I look a lot like you, and that I have your eyes. But, Mom, I want him to be happy and I think that you do too. Gran says that you loved Dad a lot. I know how much he loved you! He's really missed you, all this time, and he was always sad. Caitlin makes him happy, Mom. I know that it's a little strange, but I really want you to like her Mom. She is good for us, and I hope that Dad marries her. He'll never forget you, I know that. But he does need to be happy again, Mom. I love him, Mom, and I want to be like him. I think that this is a good thing for him.... I just wish that I knew that you did too. They say the this is a day for love. I wanted you to know that Dad is letting himself love someone again. I wanted to let you know the it's okay with me, and I hope that it's ok with you. "
He ran his hand over the soft grass on the gravesite, and held it there for a moment. "I love you, Mom."
The breeze blew at that moment, and Robert felt a soft touch on his cheek, feather light, almost like a gentle kiss, and he knew that Cathy had heard him! His hand went to his cheek. "Thanks, Mom....Thanks. Happy Valentine's Day!"
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