***Chapter Eleven***
Word Count: 6,013

He hadn't heard from her all week. He saw her a couple of times when he showed up at a couple of the things on her schedule. They'd agreed at her house on Sunday night that it would be better if she didn't know where or when he was going to show up. She wouldn't know when she was going to get her picture taken that way so there was less chance something would appear staged or planned.

So when Friday came and he hadn't heard from her he wasn't sure what to think. He'd left her house Monday morning after she'd cooked him breakfast. She'd joked that she couldn't cook very well and he kind of had to agree with her. If they were ever at her house like that again he'd offer to cook. She probably didn't have much reason to cook, though, where he'd been on his own for years now. Sure, when he first moved out of his parents' place and into an apartment he did the eat fast food and TV dinners every day routine, but it took him about six months of that to not just get tired of it but realize that he had to workout extra hard after eating so much crap every day.

"You look lost," Ronda said.

She was leaving for the day. She was by his office only because her last stop of the day was always the kitchen area to be sure her coffee pot was off. He tried to remember to look, too, but as he didn't drink the stuff it wasn't forefront on his mind at the end of the day.

"I do?"

"You look like you want to pick up the phone but aren't sure you should."

"Kind of," he admitted.


"I haven't heard from her all week."

She laughed softly at that.

"Why is that funny?"

"Oh, nothing, just thinking about how many women around Chicago have said that about you over the years."

"Well, exactly. I'm not sure how to take it. Is she waiting for me to call?"

"If I was her I would be."


"Because you're you. You spent the weekend with her, okay one full day and two nights of the weekend with her. For you that's a big deal and she probably knows that."

"It's not that big of a deal."

"Really? When was the last time – the last person, anyone you spent thirty-six hours with? Your parents?"

"Not even them."

"You see?"

"Not really. I asked her if she wanted to do something during the week and she said she'd let me know. I took her not calling as her letting me know her answer was no."

"John. What you know about women is next to nothing."

"Thank you."

"I'm not saying that to be insulting, but it's what I was getting at a while ago when we were talking about her. Well, you and relationships in general. You've never had one. So you have no idea what to do."

"I can admit that."

"No self-respecting woman is going to call you first."

"Why'd she say she would then?"

"Because saying no would mean she's not interested, clearly she is."

He rolled his eyes. "Why do you have to be so confusing?"

"To keep you boys on your toes."

"Yeah, well, so I'm supposed to what? Call her? Not call her? Show up at her house? Send her flowers? What?"

"Have you ever sent a woman flowers?"

"Uh, no. Well, you," he said.

He'd sent her flowers on her last couple of birthdays.

"Besides me since I don't count."

"Why don't you?"

"Because I'm not sleeping with you."

"We're both probably very lucky that's true."

"Why don't you want to call her?"

"Because I'm not sure it means anything."

"John, honey," she sighed. "If you don't call her and think she's going to show up at your place tomorrow. She's not. You can assume she'll take you not calling as indication you don't want her there."

"I told her I wanted her there. I wouldn't have invited her to come over if I didn't. I do have a job. She doesn't. She goes out every night. When am I supposed to call her?"

"I don't know. It's not like you're booked solid eight hours a day."

"Just what I want to do, call her from here."

"You're debating doing that now anyway, aren't you? Besides, people do that, you know? Pick up the phone and call the person they're thinking about and involved with just to say hi."

"God. Are you kidding me? I'm supposed to do that, too?"

She laughed. "No, I'm just saying, people do work and manage to not just sustain but form relationships while doing it despite working different hours."

"I am so not ready for this."

"Well, then I guess you've made up your mind. I think it might be nice if you told her that to her face, though."

"Why? Because of who she is?"

"Well, because of who she is to you, but you can take that however you mean it. She's not someone's calls I want to be fending off for you because you're too chicken to actually see something through for a change."

"I'm not going to blow her off. I'm still not ready for this, though. I figured I had a few more years before I would think of someone like that."

"Well, do you want to be?"

"I don't know."

"But you're thinking about her like that."

"Well, yes. I thought about her like that four years ago. I know the saying goes third time's a charm, but I don't think I'll get a third time with someone like her."

"Probably not," she agreed.

He glanced at the clock on the wall of his office.

"I really hate this, you know that?"

"I do, but you must think she's worth it or you wouldn't bother."

"She is. I just have no example to feed off. You know? I don't even know how my parents met. I just assume it was in a drunken stupor somewhere, she got knocked up, and they decided to live miserably together for the rest of their lives because of that."

"You don't need an example to know how to treat someone. Just treat her how you'd want to be treated by someone."

"I don't know that either. I haven't ever wanted anyone to treat me like anything special."

"Can I make a suggestion?"

"You're going to anyway."

"Don't call her."

"You just said…"

"Let me finish. Go to her house."

He sighed softly. "She's probably already gone."

"She is not and you know she's not. It's not even five o'clock. You were just sitting here thinking about calling her. It won't take you that long to get there if you left now. Maybe stop and get some flowers. That florist who dropped brochures off here a couple of weeks ago is open late."

"Yeah, so morons like me can have somewhere to sleep tonight."

"Maybe so."

"Don't flowers sort of mean…"

"That you like her? I guess if that's not the message you want to send then by all means forget the flowers."

He grabbed his wallet from the top drawer in his desk, sliding it into his pocket. He'd worn jeans today. Ronda could on Friday's, too, but she never did. He'd, in fact, never seen her in anything more casual than slacks. Once outside of work he saw her in shorts, but she'd had to drop something off for him that he forgot here and he'd been all the way in Mundelein.

"I swear to God if she throws them in my face I'm sending you the bill."

"You shouldn't have waited days to call her."

"I saw her Tuesday and Wednesday!"

"And actually spoke to her?"

"Well, no," he said. He'd wanted to, but he hadn't known how to get her alone. He'd have to work on that part of things he supposed because he hated seeing her and acting as if she didn't mean anything to him.

"I saw the pictures of her at the hospital. They were nice pictures."

"Thank you," he said.

Tuesday's pictures had shown up today. He wasn't sure when or if Wednesday's would. The guy he knew who worked at The Daily Herald probably thought he was developing some sort of celebrity crush on Claire.

"Seeing her under those circumstances is not seeing her."

"Yeah, yeah. Calling works both ways. Why does it have to be me who calls?"

"Because, going by how she was evidently raised based on what you've said it's what men in her world would do. And what women like her don't do. Did she ever call you in high school?"

Well, put like that. "No," he admitted. Never once during the brief time they hung out had she called him.

He followed her out the door, locking it behind him.

"I don't have to buy roses, do I?"

"That was your first thought?"

"Well, sure, isn't that what women like?"

"That may be a little more serious of a message than you're willing to convey, John. See what they have. If you go with roses, stick with pink or yellow."

"I like…"

"She'd love red, too, but a dozen red roses implies things I'm not sure you'd understand yet."

"So every woman who gets them thinks…"

"Pretty much, yes."

God, he loathed this idea. He knew Ronda wasn't setting him up to fail, though. She wouldn't do that. For whatever reason she liked him despite his flaws, or maybe because of them. He wondered some days if she saw him as some sort of project.

He stopped at the florist Ronda had mentioned. He'd forgotten it was even there to be honest because it was such a new business. They'd dropped off business cards and brochures because he did weddings. He had no problem helping a new business out. He'd been one himself and if it hadn't been for his friend he wasn't sure where he'd be today.

He browsed for far longer than seemed necessary for flowers. They were flowers. How difficult could it be? Evidently, for him, it was immensely difficult. He'd never even thought about buying flowers for a woman before. Ever.

"Can I use your phone?" he asked the clerk. She was being very patient with him despite probably thinking he was a complete loon. He'd asked her a million questions that were all probably not even relevant to what he was going to end up buying. It was really tempting to just leave empty-handed, but he suspected the young woman wouldn't be too thrilled with him if he did that.

"Sure," she said, looking confused. He couldn't blame her. She'd answered all of his questions capably and everything.

He'd taken long enough surely she'd be home by now. He dialed her number, hoping he got her and not her husband. He liked her husband, but just wanted to talk to her quickly and be on his way.

"Do lilies convey some sort of message I shouldn't be sending yet? They're used in weddings a lot." He had no idea what they'd been called until the clerk showed them to him. He saw them a lot when he was taking pictures. They were very nice and seemed simple, kind of a classic thing like roses. Evidently, though, roses weren't as simple as he thought they were. They meant something. Showed what he knew.

'Well, no, actually, they represent beauty. I think that's an acceptable message to send.'

"Yes. That applies. Thank you."

'Be sure to tip the nice clerk, John.'

"I'm sorry?"

He was supposed to tip the woman on top of paying for the flowers?

'I have no doubt you've already asked her this question and are now calling someone who isn't a florist to double check she – or he I suppose – wasn't lying to you. Give her a tip. It's Friday night.'

"More rules."

'No, it's not a rule. It's called being human and appreciating someone who goes above and beyond. And maybe compensating them for putting up with you being difficult. You've been there for going on thirty minutes. That's a long time in a florist.'

"There's no one else here!"

'And there's nothing you could do at the studio when someone takes their time selecting backgrounds or takes fifteen minutes to change pants?'

"Yeah, okay," he said. "Thanks."

'You're welcome.'

He could have gone with a vase, but he didn't have room in his car for a vase of flowers so he elected to get them boxed instead. He was glad the woman gave him that option because he'd been dreading driving around with a vase full of water. He paid an absolutely crazy amount for the lilies, shaking his head a little as he handed the woman extra for her time and taking the care to box them nicely. She could've just thrown them in there, though he supposed she wouldn't have done that. He'd identified himself as someone whose business they left information at. Not a real good way to impress someone who could potentially recommend your business by treating them sloppily.

He had to put the box in his trunk. The biggest pitfall of the car he had was that there was no room to put anything in it. It'd never been an issue really. He usually did his grocery shopping every couple of days rather than one big haul once a week or whatever. He bought what he was in the mood for, cooked it and then a couple days later when he'd eaten what he had a taste for he shopped again for whatever appealed to him then.

As it was close to one hundred degrees when he left work he had the top down. He'd left it down all day because there was practically no chance of rain for the day. He didn't need the local weatherman to tell him that wasn't going to happen today when he drove to work this morning.

He left the box in the trunk when he went to the front door. If she wasn't home he wasn't sure what he'd do with them, but leaving them here didn't seem the wisest thing to do. It was Friday, but it was early enough that he doubted she'd left to go downtown yet. People didn't typically do that until eight or nine o'clock.

Her mom answered the door. He had a vague recollection of her from school. He'd seen Claire get rides to and from school over the years from her parents before her brother was old enough to drop her at school later on when they were in junior high.

"Hi, is Claire home?"

She didn't look impressed, John could tell. He wasn't dressed like a slob or anything, but he wasn't in a suit either. It was the perk of having his own business. Certainly if an appointment was made that required formality he dressed for the situation, but overall he could get away with pants and a Polo shirt. He always wore nice shoes, though, even with jeans. It was the only rule he'd set for himself, no gym shoes.

He saw her regard the scars on John's arms. He wasn't as self-conscious about them as he used to be, but when he was being checked out by the likes of Emily Standish he wished he'd opted for a long-sleeved shirt today. Even if he would've sweated to death in the damned thing. He had air conditioning, sure, but in the studio where there were lights and he was moving to try and get the right shot in those lights. It made it hot. The bulk of the scars were what cops or doctors would probably label as defensive wounds from when he was trying to stop his dad from harming him elsewhere. There was no other body part to throw up to block someone from swinging a belt, a fist, or a foot so his arms and hands weren't so pretty.

"May I say who's here?"

"John," he said simply. She probably knew a million and one John's, but hopefully those other million wouldn't be showing up at her house on Friday night for no reason.

"Come in."

"Thank you, ma'am," he said, stepping inside. The air conditioning in her house had no problem keeping up with a day like today and he had to admit it felt nice to stand in the foyer. He'd been in her house a couple of times now, a few times in high school and then over the last weekend. He'd never seen her parents, though, before now. The times in high school her mom had been out doing whatever her mom did and her dad had been working. Her brother was in his last year of college by then, living off-campus.

Knowing her brother's secret as he did now, John couldn't help but wonder just who Christopher had been living with off-campus. It certainly wasn't abnormal for college guys to live together. Fraternities were still a popular thing (not that John understood the reason behind them). Had he continued living with someone after college that alerted their dad to his preference? John had no clue. He hadn't asked, not wanting to pry or to make Claire think that he was trying to gain information. He'd gone through high school seeing pictures of her brother on the walls at school. He'd been quite the athlete and pretty smart to boot. John couldn't think of anyone while he and Claire were in high school who could've gotten away with not just lettering in sports (he'd done football, basketball, baseball, and track) but also been on – and excelled at - the debate team. John hadn't put much stock or been impressed by people who did those things back then, but he could appreciate now that it was impressive to be accomplished at all of those things.

Her mom showed him into the living room where he took a seat on the couch there while he waited. He and Claire hadn't ever come into this room so he looked around at the things in there. The painting on the wall was probably worth more than his house. The fireplace they had was huge. John had one, but it wasn't nearly as nice. It was a double one set between his kitchen and living room with a wood-burning stove installed in it. He imagined back in the forties it was probably the main heat source for the house. Today, though he didn't have to use it that way. A couple nights last fall when it wasn't cold enough for the furnace but there'd been a coolness in the air he'd used it to take the edge off in his house. It had been kind of neat. Supposedly the wood-burning stove helped keep it warmer longer.


"There's a John downstairs for you," Claire's mom said once Claire answered her bedroom door. Claire had known it was her mom because she was the only one home besides Claire. She'd just finished picking her outfit for the night out, setting it on her bed so she could change a little later. She'd showered and everything about an hour ago.

"He's here?"


"You let him in?"

"Yes," her mother said. "Was I not supposed to?"

"It's fine. He's in the living room?"

"He is. Who is he?"

"A friend."

"Claire," her mother said. It was a tone Claire knew well. She hadn't liked Claire's answer.


"I don't like strange men coming to our house looking for you."

"He's not strange. I went to school with him, Mom," she said.

She almost told her his last name, but didn't. Chances were Claire's mom would at the very least know of John's parents. They were one of those families that no one liked and wished would move out of Shermer. It was probably why they never moved, just to piss people off like her parents. Claire had no idea.

"Why is he here?"

"To see me?"

"Don't be flippant, Claire. Are you seeing him?"

"Mother. That's none of your business."

"It is too my business. As long as you're living under this roof and you are dependent on your father and me. Need I remind you it wasn't that long ago that Alistair had to call us while we were out of town because of a situation you got yourself into with one of your boyfriends?"

"No, you don't need to remind me," Claire said. She hated that her mom knew anything about what had happened with Pete. "We've gone out a couple of times."

That was a huge exaggeration. She'd bailed him out of jail, they'd had breakfast. They'd had lunch the day she'd visited him at work. He'd met her on campus one day and they'd had an early dinner, which he ended early by walking out on her. They'd had dinner and a movie together. Only the last one could actually be called a date.

Last weekend, though, she'd gone to his house knowing full well there would be no date. There'd be no flowers or dinner or music or anything other than going there for the express purpose of seeing him at one o'clock in the morning. She knew why he'd been inviting her to his house and she'd gone. Her friends thought she was crazy for going to someone's house so late. She'd known, though, that despite the kind of guy she was pretty sure he was that he wouldn't force her to do anything.

She'd never had a guy spend the night at her house before. Even when her parents were traveling she was hesitant to do anything like that. It was her parents' house, but she'd liked the idea of getting an entire day with him.

Then he hadn't called all week. She saw him Tuesday and Wednesday, but they hadn't talked. She'd waved and he'd given her a look he had no business giving her in public. A look she was pretty sure made her blush and stay blushing long after he'd left. She'd seen one set of pictures he'd taken in the paper today. They'd been nice. She was holding the hand of a patient she was reading to. John had taken great care, she noticed, to be sure the face of the patient was never clear enough to identify her. If her face was in the pictures at all. She was a nice lady who had no one to visit her so when she'd delivered some flowers to her from the gift shop and the woman started talking to Claire she'd stayed put and let her talk. She knew of Claire's grandfather and had some interesting stories to tell of some of the buildings her grandfather was responsible for in the area.

"I don't like the looks of him."

"You don't have to go out with him, I do."

"Claire. What will people think?"

"Of what? There's nothing wrong with him."

"Claire Marie, I know you know better."

"Then what? Date someone who has scars? Physical proof his life wasn't as easy as mine? I should not date him because of something beyond his control."

"People will…"

"I really don't care what people think."

"Obviously that's been the case for so long now I'm not even sure you realize the damage you could do to your father."

"Oh my God, Mother. Talk about laying it on a little thick. They're scars it's not herpes or the plague." She shook her head, heading out of her room. "Oh, and by the way," she said, tossing the paper at her mother. "Those pictures of me you commented on this morning and how well you liked them. He took them. And he still had the scars then when you liked them."

She smiled a little at John's reaction to her coming into the room. He stood, but only after a moment's thought as if he realized he should - not because it was inbred in him to do it. It was, honestly, a little refreshing. She was so tired of prim and proper people everywhere she turned it was nice to be around someone who was just normal.

Then she remembered he hadn't called her all week and she didn't feel like smiling anymore as much. He certainly didn't expect her to just be available tonight because he showed up here?

"Hey," he said.

"Hi," she said.

She was completely mixed about her feelings right now. He was here. He'd shown up and yet it had taken him days to do it. That bothered her more than she wanted it to. She absolutely did not want to get her heart involved with him again. She'd managed to get out of being involved with him in high school unscathed. She wasn't sure that would be the case now because they weren't eighteen anymore and they really hadn't done anything involved back then beyond spend a few afternoons together after school.

"Can we go outside or something?" he asked.

"I guess," she said.

That couldn't be good if he didn't want to talk to her inside knowing her mom was around. She saw what her mom probably saw when she'd answered the door. She couldn't recall ever seeing him with a short sleeved shirt on before now. Ever. He did that intentionally in school. She glanced away, though, before he caught her staring.

He slid his keys into the pocket of his jeans and followed her toward the front door.

"What do you want, John?"

"To see you?" He sounded a little baffled by her question. He was heading toward his car. He wanted to leave?

"I'm not going anywhere with you."

"I didn't ask you to," he said, frowning. "Look, I'm sorry I didn't call when I guess I should've."

"Like days ago."

"You said you'd let me know when you were free."

"Like I'd do that!"

He rolled his eyes. He leaned against the trunk of his car, his keys in his hand again. He was fiddling with them, sliding the key ring over the tip of his finger. She blushed deeply remembering what he did with those fingers to her. "So I'm discovering. I don't speak female, Claire. I certainly don't speak rich female."

"Well, clearly I wasn't going to call you. You had to know that."

"How on earth would I know that?"

"You can't be serious."

"I am. I have no idea how I'd know that."

She scowled a bit. "You mean you've never had a woman not call you?"


"So, you just decided to come over?"

"I, uh, well, I was told that maybe a phone call wouldn't be enough being that it was Friday."

"You were told right."

"Wow, really? I asked you to come over tomorrow."

"Yeah, for sex."

"I did not! I wasn't expecting that to happen between us. I certainly am not assuming it will again."

"You're not?" That surprised her immensely. She assumed, well, she assumed he'd expect it all of the time now since they had.


"Why not?"

"Jesus. I can't win." He turned away from her then, opening his trunk and pulling out a long box. "Here. These are for you. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. Do you get that? I've never had a girlfriend. I've never wanted a girlfriend for a very good reason. I am so totally out of my element not to mention my area of comfort. I, uh, assumed you'd have a vase somewhere in your house to put them in."

She took the box, untying the beautifully done ribbon holding it closed. Oh God, lilies. She knew it as soon as she opened the box because their scent was so distinct. And they were absolutely gorgeous. Her father had given her mother some very nice flowers over the years, but she herself had never gotten flowers like this from anybody.

"Listen. I'll go. Evidently I fucked up by not reading your mind or knowing your code. I took you for your word that when you had free time you'd let me know. I have a job you don't yet so I sort of figured you'd let me know when you had time to fit me into your week. You know?"


"I know you didn't plan on what happened occurring so I was sort of letting you tell me what was going on. I don't know. I guess that was wrong. I spent the night here Sunday, so I assumed you realized I wasn't out to just fuck you and leave."


"And your mother I'm sure will be more than pleased to know I've successfully screwed up. I'm surprised she let me inside your house."

She settled the cover back on top of the box, though she didn't want to at all. She wanted to take them out and smell each and every one of them. He had to have spent a fortune on them. She knew an assortment of this many wasn't cheap. She wondered if he thought he had to spend that much on her. He'd probably never bought flowers for anyone before. The advantage someone could take over someone like him. She set the box on the ground next to her and leaned in to kiss him.

It took him a minute to kiss her back, surprised no doubt. She'd wanted to stay mad at him, make him suffer a bit as he sort of deserved to for not realizing she wasn't going to call him. He'd clearly realized he'd done the wrong thing, though.

"Your mom," he whispered as they took a breath.

"Let her freak out."

"You sure, Princess?"

"Yes. My mother doesn't have to live with me for the rest of my life."

He chuckled softly at that.

"No, I suppose not."

"And as much as she'd like to, she has absolutely no say in who I kiss."

"You were mad at me?"

"Not mad. Confused. Unsure."


"Because I know how you are, John."

"I wouldn't do that to you."

"Yeah, well, I wanted to believe that. I wasn't going to be one of those idiots though that can't take a hint."

"What if I'd thought you were giving me a hint?"

She sighed softly. "I don't know," she laughed. She drew away then, stooping down to pick up the box. "I should put these in water."

"All right," he said. "I'll…"

"You can come inside if you want. I wasn't dismissing you."

"Aren't you going out?"

"You could come with."


"This time I'm asking you to go out with me."

He arched an eyebrow at that, surprised by that she could tell.


"Yes." Did he not get it? Maybe not.

"All right," he said.


"Do I have to go home and change?"

"No, you look fine."


"Yes," she said. "Are you coming inside then?"


"Maybe I'll let you give me a ride in your car."

"Let me, huh?"

He chuckled.

"I think it might be a nice night for a ride with the top down," she said.

He'd used the Jeep last weekend since he worked and came straight home instead of stopping to switch vehicles on his way as he usually did during the summer. She knew that only because he'd told her while driving to her place Sunday. She kind of liked knowing that he'd gone right home instead of stopping somewhere first.

"So, they're all right," he said, gesturing to the box.

"All right? They're gorgeous and really too much."

"You wouldn't say that if I'd just bought you like two of them."

"Well, no, of course not, who wants just two?"

"So I went with more."

"You did. Thank you."

"You didn't just not call so I'd buy flowers did you?"

"A solid plan, but no I didn't."

"That makes me feel infinitely better."

"You realize coming out with me tonight…"

"Yes, I realize I'll be seen with you and my car doesn't exactly blend in either."

"Well, we don't have to take your car."

"No, it's fine."

"I wonder if I'm going to start getting even more hate mail."

"What?" he asked with a frown.

"You know, nasty letters people like to send just because they can send something like that anonymously. They'd never say the things they write in them to my face. I wonder how many more I'll get from women you've been with."

He grabbed her elbow, stopping her from going further.

"What?" she asked.

"You actually get letters like that?"

"Well, not from women you've been with, no."

"That's not what I meant and you know it. You get hate mail?"

"Well, sure. I have people sending me Bible passages and all sorts of stuff."

"Are you kidding me?"

"No," she said with a shrug. She'd dealt with it. "I don't open them anymore. Dad just takes them right to the attorney in case there's anything actually threatening in them."

"Has there ever been?"



"They eventually caught him."

"I see."

"Is that a problem?"

"Well, no, I mean, I just didn't realize you had to deal with that. I'm sorry."

She shrugged again. "My fault for living how I live."

"Yeah, but you've said part of the reason you do that is…"

"Yeah, I know."

"Does he know about the letters?"

"No," she said.

"Claire," he said with a shake of his head. "He wouldn't want you to put yourself in harm's way."

"Well, I'll have you with me now. I'll be fine. You'll protect me."

"I'd love to do that. You know that, but I can't be with you every second of every day."

"I know that. I'm fine. No one's ever hurt me or anything. I mean. I've found things on the hood of my car a couple of times but that's as personal as anyone's gotten."

"Threats are pretty personal."

"Are you rethinking getting involved with me?"

That really bothered her.

"No, that's not it. I just don't like the thought of people doing that to you."

"Something tells me you wouldn't like the thought of people doing that to anyone."

"Well, of course not."

"Can we go inside now?"

"Yeah, sure. Sorry. You just hadn't mentioned that part of things."

"I'm used to it."

"You don't suppose there's a chance your mom didn't see us kissing?"

"Not in hell."


"I think she knows someone was here with me last weekend, too."


"I don't know! She asked me if I had company. I said I had a few people over, but I could tell that wasn't what she was asking me. She's a mom, evidently there's some special power that's given to you when you've given birth that allows you to know everything your children do."

He chuckled at that.

"I suppose yours doesn't have that power?"

"No," John said. "Well, if you count knowing that everything I was doing was bad in her mind then sure she did. I wouldn't know now if she does or not."

"I suppose not."

"So, the next time you tell me you'll let me know when you're free am I supposed to call you?"

"That would probably be a good idea, yeah," she said.

"You weren't as mad as I thought you were going to be."

"I wanted to be madder! I wasn't expecting you to show up here, though, and with flowers."

"You really thought I'd just not call you again?"


"Okay, I guess I deserve that opinion."

"Yeah, you kind of do."

"Are you trying to make an honest guy out of me, Miss Standish?"

"Is that possible?"

"I kind of hope so."

"Then I guess I'll try until we find out it's not possible."

"And if we find out it is possible?"

"Then I guess I'm in luck."

"You'd think that was lucky?"

"I would, John, yes."

"All right then."

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