Series: Bagel Series #8
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 34030
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Jed Bartlet, Abbey Bartlet, Toby Ziegler, CJ Cregg, Charlie Young, Zoey Bartlet, Mallory O'Brien, Sam Seaborn, Ensemble
Pairing(s): Josh/Donna, Toby/CJ, Sam/Mallory, Jed/Abbey, Charlie/Zoey
Summary: The eighth installment in the Bagel Series
Author Notes: The eighth installment in the Bagel series
"Something Blue, something blue," Donnatella Jolie Moss fussed as she was wandering around the West Wing in a giant designer bridal gown
Off to Camp
By: Pat [SSbpMN@aol.com] and Lisa [LAB7417@aol.com
Note: This is the eighth in the series including A Bagel and a Beginning, Chili with a side of 'The Jackal', Dinner and Dancing, Darts and Dresses, Josh and Donna's Weekend Getaway, Would you hold me?, and Fajitas and Margaritas (All of these can be found on our web page Http://www.phantomroses.com/SarahRabb)
"Something Blue, something blue," Donnatella Jolie Moss fussed as she was wandering around the West Wing in a giant designer bridal gown. CJ and Caroline had hold of the train. Donna's gown was off the shoulders and at her neck was the beautiful necklace Josh had bought for her at Aruba. Carolyn and CJ both had on beautiful navy dresses that were backless and nothing but elegant. "Donna, Donna breathe," CJ reminded her for about the fourth time. She was exhausted just following the frantic bride around.
"You breathe, I don't have time" Donna sighed. "Well you'd better because if you get sick at the altar you're going to upset a lot of people including your husband to be" Mrs. Landingham scolded gently, following the bridal group. "Come here dear." Donna stopped and looked at the older woman. "I wanted to give you this before at your shower but they didn't have it ready." She held it up without the wrapping. It was a dark blue ribbon from which hung a small charm. The charm was a small gold D, and pasted to the back of the D, a J, the top and bottom of the letters entwined intricately. "Something blue" she smiled and kneeling down, tied the ribbon about her ankle. "I wish you and Josh all the best" she smiled. "This is like seeing my children marry."
For a moment the group was silent in reverence. Then they all made their way to Donna's white carriage and from there took a short ride to the rose garden. Caroline got into place and then CJ hugged Donna. "It's here Donna, these are going to be some of the greatest moments of your life, relax and enjoy every bit of it. You don't get another one." she smiled. Then she took her place just in front of Donna. Josh had not had time to help plan much of the wedding so most of it would be a surprise to him. Starting with the appearance of Chloe in a billowing gown of soft blue. It was a cross between a bridal gown and the looks of an angel. The music began and it was quickly clear why she was not at the back with the others as she opened her mouth and from this young woman poured the powerful voice of an angel singing Ave Maria reverently. Carol began up the aisle followed by Margaret, Caroline, finally CJ and then Donna appeared all walking very slowly up the long aisle midst the roses blooming in full glory.
Tucker's heart swelled with pride as he heard the music made by the woman he loved. Her sixteenth birthday was the following Friday and he had already made the plans for it. The formal dinner and dance she had requested and now as he listened to her, he allowed himself to think ahead to when he would stand in this very spot and take her for his bride.
Sam, Leo, and Toby watched as their women approached them, each locking eyes with the woman he loved.
In the first pew sat Charlie and Zoey, Charlie's arm protectively over her shoulders as she hugged him closely. She was only just now starting to move around on her own and tired extremely easily. Lucas and Gina sat on one side of them, leaning together as was their habit. On duty, and yet there for each other as well.
Finally Donna reached Josh, her long train pulled and arranged into place quickly and then she smiled to Josh. "I love you," she whispered quickly while Chloe took her place amongst the bridesmaids. "Who gives this woman away?" the priest asked. "I give this woman to this man," the President answered and lifting Donna's veil he kissed her quickly before adjusting it back into place and passing her to Josh. He took his seat with Charlie, Zoey, Abby, Lucas and Gina on the front. The priest opened and then intoned with a prayer. Then Ave Maria began to play softly in the background, as Donna began, "I Donatella Joliee Moss take you Joshua Lyman to be my partner on this earth and to spend eternity with me when our time here is finished. I promise to devote myself to this marriage and to love, honor, and cherish you, as you have inspired me to, all the days of our lives. I promise to walk with you down whatever paths we choose in life, good times of bad, sickness or health, to share your sorrows as well as your joys and never to forget these vows I make to you."
"My love, my deepest love" Joshua began after getting his emotions under control from her moving statement. "From this moment on I will take your life to be mine. Your joys and your sorrows, your successes and your failures, your triumphs and tragedies are now laid at my feet and I take them on gladly and with deep abiding love. You are the woman I was born on this planet to be with. God does nothing without a plan and His plan for me was to seek you out and make you my world. On this day that I do gladly and with deep abiding love. From this moment on your life and mine are entwined for all eternity."
Donna cried tears of joy softly as the priest continued the ceremony and then Belle and Brighton toddled up and brought two satin pillows with the rings securely tied to the center. The exchanging of the rings had everyone smiling and the priest continued on to the finish where he announced, "presenting Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Lyman. You may now kiss the bride."
"Thank you Father" Josh breathed, drawing her into his arms. "Long or short one?" he whispered, a mischievous smile on his face.
"Long," Donna replied with a light laugh and a new sparkle in her eyes.
"Long yes ma'am" Josh smiled and then moving exquisitely slowly took her face between his palms and brought her lips up to meet his coming down. This kiss began and showed no sign of ending.
"That was so beautiful" Gina sniffled, leaning more heavily on Lucas.
Lucas rubbed her back gently with a smile. He would have stroked her hair but it was up in an elaborate updo as were all the other women in the wedding party save CJ's.
Gina leaned back comfortably against Lucas again. Next weekend would be their time away as they would have three solid days off and could leave Thursday morning and not be due back until Sunday morning.
Tucker's eyes found Chloe's. "I love you" he mouthed.
"Love you," Chloe mouthed back and added a giant smile. Tucker had made her happier than she could imagine in the last two weeks and now that he could walk through the gate into her yard and spend all day with her their bond had only gotten stronger.
Tucker grinned and gave her a quick thumbs up in a teasing gesture. His love for the beautiful soon to be step-daughter of the chief of staff to the president of the United States was only growing stronger each day. They spent their days together swimming, minding the twins, reading, or any one of a dozen other activities.
Finally the President coughed loudly which excited laughter, broke the kissing newlyweds apart and ultimately started the music playing while the wedding party walked up the aisle. Afterwards there were at least forty formal wedding pictures taken and finally the wedding party took the white carriages to the blue room which had been set up for their very tiny invitation only reception which was only the wedding party and very close friends. However, CJ was walking to the Blue room to meet Toby at the party when she saw Danny leaned in her office doorway. She walked over and unlocked her office admitting them both. "Danny," she greeted and in the navy dress her baby mound could barely be seen where it was beginning to make its appearance, changing her body.
"CJ" Danny smiled, "thanks for the special credentials. That was awful nice of you. My specialty isn't in reporting for the women's pages but at the same time I can do a credible job I think." Danny closed the door behind them and walked over to her behind the desk. "So are you pretty happy there with the great stone face?" he asked and CJ realized he had been drinking. He was not drunk, but the smell of liquor was about him. She was staring at him when he reached out and ran his hand down the length of her arm. "Does he make you as happy as I might have?"
"Danny you're intoxicated," CJ pointed out calmly and she tried to move from him.
"Not yet, but hopefully soon" Danny sighed. "They're letting the champagne flow in there already and since none of you preggo's will be drinking it, I'm making up for it." He crowded her more back against the wall. "I've missed you CJ. Are you getting everything you need from that stuffed shirt? You never did let me show you how happy I could make you." He leaned in even closer, his mouth an inch from hers and she could smell the champagne on his breath.
Then his mouth came down forcefully on hers and CJ tried to struggle as he pressed her against a wall and unzipping the back of her dress he began to paw at her breasts. He muffled her voice by slamming his mouth down on hers as he continued his attentions.
"CJ are you trying to work in here when I'm trying to have a..." came Donna's plaintive voice as she opened the door, which Danny had neglected to lock behind him. "What the hell....get away from her." Donna quickly crossed the floor and grabbed Danny's arm. He froze and then panicked, flinging his arm back and knocking her back against the wall. Her head impacted with a sharp crack that left her stunned and Danny looked from her to CJ, finally realizing what he had done. His eyes wild with fear he sprinted from the room. Despite the dizziness that was quickly enveloping her, Donna took a deep breath and screamed Josh's name for all she was worth.
Josh panicked and looked around the room then he headed back towards the wing, this action brought Sam running as well. "CJ!" Josh gasped seeing her appearance and her state of being. Then he saw Donna. "Donna no!" he screamed very loudly going to her side, "Sam!" he yelped panicking and not having any idea what was going on or what to do.
"Josh get her up on the sofa" Sam directed and turned his attention to CJ who was in shock after what had been done to her and seeing what Danny had done to Donna. "Let's get you dressed back" he said softly, guiding her arms into the dress and pulling up the zipper, then taking her to the sofa where Josh was bending frantically over Donna. Sam sat CJ down and reached back on her desk for the water pitcher pouring two cups and handing one to Josh. Donna was staring hard at Josh, trying to focus and finally his face swam into view. "CJ OK?" she gasped, at the same time feeling Josh's face to get her bearings.
"She's okay sweetie, Sam's with her. Are you sure you're okay?" Josh begged. "Yeah, just a bump that shocked me, that's all. It wasn't too serious, probably just a headache and maybe a little tenderness or maybe nothing at all. I'm feeling better already. CJ's the one I'm worried about."
Meanwhile CJ was sitting stunned with Sam. She had her arms crossed over her and Sam could already see massive dark bruises in the shape of Danny's hands appearing on her soft flesh.
"Well I'm worried about you" Josh returned, his fingers probing her hair gently to check for injury. "What the hell happened in here?" He and Sam exchanged looks. The idea of an intruder did not cross their minds given the security of where they were. "Toby, please Toby" CJ whispered finally. "I'll get him" Sam nodded. "NO" CJ almost screamed. "I don't want him to see me. I'm so sorry. So ashamed."
"What happened?" Sam asked his face full of confusion. CJ put her head in one hand and sighed. "I gave Danny a press pass. He was upset I guess and he got into the champagne and then he wanted to show me what I was missing by being with Toby so he..." CJ choked on her words and then burst into sobs.
"Sam go get Toby" Josh ordered. "But she said...." Sam protested as he held to her. "I know what she said" Josh ground out, "but she needs him right now. And tell security to see if they can stop Concannon at the gate."
Sam nodded and took CJ's hand, pressing it into Josh's who was still hovering with Donna. "Baby are you all right, you're sure? He didn't hurt the baby?" CJ continued to sob softly as Sam hurried out.
"I don't think," CJ sniffled, "he didn't get that far. I just can't believe...Donna are you sure you're all right? He caught her on accident. I know he didn't mean to hurt her."
"He didn't" Donna spoke up. "I just was grabbing his arm and he tried to shake me off him that's all. My sense of balance isn't what it used to be and I fell back. I just have a headache. But I'm sure the baby's OK." Josh breathed a long sigh of relief and gathered her close as he continued to hold CJ's hand. A minute later Toby burst through the doors. "My god what's happening?" he demanded, "Sam wouldn't tell me except that you needed me, CJ." He dropped next to her and took her hands, pulling her arms away and the red imprints which would soon be bruises leaped out at him, along with the tears on her face. "Who?" he demanded again.
"Danny," CJ answered with a sigh. "He was intoxicated, he didn't know what he was thinking..."
Toby's face turned red with anger and he looked to Josh and then Donna. "He hurt her too?" Toby gasped. "I'm OK, he just pushed me" Donna assured him. "And he won't get off the grounds" Josh told him, "Sam's told security to pick him up. Before anyone could speak further Jed was at the door, followed by Abbey and then Caroline with Leo. "Sam told us what happened," he said quietly. "I wouldn't have believed that man could do something like this." He squeezed into the now crowded office and knelt with Josh and Toby in front of CJ and Donna. "And you're both OK?" "CJ's got some bad bruising starting and Donna's got a good lump," Josh pointed out, "but nothing more thankfully." "I'm going to kill him," Toby said in his quiet voice. "You can have what's left," Josh muttered. Both Donna and CJ looked distressed at those words. "Stop both of you," Jed ordered. "No one is killing anyone. Security will pick him up and charges filed." "I want to get back to the party" Donna spoke up and turned to CJ, "if you're OK that is. I don't think we should let this jerk spoil it for us." Jed turned around to the group in the door. "What am I selling tickets here--back to the party you all. Let's leave these four to recover a few minutes."
CJ readjusted her dress and then rose, "Come on Donna. What's a bridal reception without the bride and maid of honor?" she brought a small smile to her lips. Then she helped guide Donna in her beautiful gown to her feet. The group all returned to the blue room, CJ seeing the party for the first time. The room was beautifully decorated and all of their close friends were there. CJ grabbed a glass of juice from the bar and moved to a quiet area of the room calming herself for a minute and then, as was CJ's personality, she was soon in the middle of a lively conversation with Carol and Mrs. Landingham.
Sam frowned and hung up his phone. "No sign of Danny" he said quietly to Leo. "I don't see how he could have gotten off the grounds that quick though but they're looking for him." "It would be even scarier if some kind of intruder got onto the grounds that easily" Leo sighed with a long glance at Caroline.
Josh handed Donna a tall glass of juice and walked with her out onto the wide balcony. "You might have been really hurt tonight," he said softly, needing to get his fears and feelings into the open. "And I'm not through hugging on you yet. I love you Donnatella Jolie Lyman."
"Wow that sounds so strange to hear," Donna smiled, "Donna Lyman...I'm going to have to get used to hearing that, sounds like fun." Donna snuggled closer to Josh lovingly.
"I'll get you a name tag" Josh grinned. "Actually you are going to have to have your ID badge changed." He suddenly thought of something. "Unless you're keeping Moss for your professional career. We haven't talked about any of that, or even if you're going to keep on after the baby. I can't imagine you staying home all day alone, or more to the point, away from me."
Donna smiled and laughed lightly, "There's no place I would rather be than at your side and I can't imagine not being here in the White House. This is where I want to be Josh. As for my ID badge, you're right. I'll have to get a new one."
Meanwhile everyone was in the room enjoying the party when Danny Concannon entered. "CJ, CJ I want to say I'm very sorry," he spoke up, "I never meant to hurt you."
Toby froze, his anger building up and CJ's hand closed tightly around his in restraint. "Then why Danny?" she asked softly, staring at the man she was once close to, a man now sober enough to face up to what he had done.
"Here?" he asked gesturing to everyone present. All eyes were on them, even the presidents'. "Yes here Danny. This is as good a place as any," CJ replied calmly. "These women," Leo merely whispered to the President, amazed yet again at CJ's strength.
Movement inside the room caught Josh's eye and he drew his breath in sharply, seeing the red haired man for whom he had developed hatred in the last hour. "Danny" he whispered, gesturing.
"CJ's holding her own," Donna stroked his arm softly, "by tonight we'll be at the camp and it will all be forgotten."
"In our honeymoon cottage" he smiled. "They may not see us for the rest of the weekend." He drew her into a deep kiss. "That you chose me to love makes me the luckiest man on this planet."
"Oh I think we can spare some time to spend with our friends this weekend," Donna nudged him gently in play. "After all you've already gotten me pregnant so it would just be pleasure anyhow and my mother always told me too much of that when you had a baby could be bad for it."
The secret service was beginning to close about him and Jed waved them back. "We'd all like to hear what Danny has to say," he said calmly, in that voice that compelled people to do his bidding. "I want to know what made you feel you had to do that to me" CJ persisted. "I told you nothing could be between us long before Toby and I started seeing each other, and I was clear why, not that I needed to be since you knew full well."
"I love you CJ," Danny said, "and I just wanted to know, how you were doing and about the baby, if you liked your new life and then," he sighed, "everything got out of hand."
"Danny all you had to do was ask" CJ said softly. "I would have even made time to have lunch with you one day in my office and we could have talked. I told you that when I told you about Toby and I. What scares me is if Donna hadn't come in. I mean I would have been too afraid for the baby to fight you."
Danny dropped his head slightly, "I know CJ. I know and that's what bothers me the most of all, that I could have hurt your baby. You're a wonderful, strong, graceful, intelligent, beautiful woman and you're going to be a wonderful mother someday. You deserve this baby. All I can say is that I'm truly sorry...I never meant--"
"You're still a bastard" Toby spoke up, his anger not assuaged. "OK enough" CJ sighed. "Danny, you've fallen on your sword and that's all that needs to be done." She shot Toby a warning look. "Everyone of us in this room has done at least one thing in their life that they're not very proud of. Am I right?" She looked around the room for nods of confirmation. When she had received them she looked up again. "Would someone get Donna and Josh off the terrace please."
Leo stepped outside to where Donna and Josh were. "Better get in here, CJ requested you and I don't think at this particular time anyone wants to mess with her," Leo spoke quickly. Donna trembled slightly and held to Josh's arm as he led her back inside and they joined the group.
Danny gasped as he looked at Donna. "I think you have something to say to her as well" CJ said softly. "She's pregnant as well and you might have really hurt her too. You could have knocked her stomach against the table or something the way you threw her." Josh's protective arm went across Donna's shoulders and he stared at the man, sharing Toby's rage.
"CJ you know-" Danny began but CJ's relentless stare made him turn his attentions to Donna. "Ma'am it was never my intention that you should even have been involved in this at all. This never should have happened. When you grabbed my arm I reacted without thinking and the damage I could have caused horrifies me. I am not, nor have I ever been a violent person. I apologize and on your wedding day nonetheless." He sighed figuring that he would never again see CJ for whom he had a certain fondness. If nothing else he had hoped they could remain friends and he could admire her from afar. The rage on the faces of the two men protecting these women told him he might had better be ready to dodge a couple punches.
At that moment both Josh and Toby stepped forward. "OK that's enough right there" Jed spoke up, and moved between his friends and Danny. "There will not be fighting in my home, and certainly not two against one. You two should be ashamed of even considering it." He looked to Danny then. "Take out your press pass please." Danny frowned but removed the card admitting him to the White House from his wallet. "OK, now offer that to CJ. Your fate is in her hands. And I'm not even going to get involved in whether she presses charges, but if she does you're looking at hard time--assault on a federal employee on federal property."
Danny stood before CJ and offered her his badge. She took it from his hand and looked at it before handing it back. "This has nothing to do with the way you do your job. You are a good reporter. Today was a mistake and I won't compound it by taking action. Think very hard about your actions Danny, everyone should." She looked at Danny for a long minute and then walked over towards the buffet. "Come on everyone, it's time for the bride and groom to cut the cake!"
Donna smiled and quickly followed CJ, leaving Danny with Toby and Josh. "You're a very lucky man" Toby said quietly. "My wife has more integrity than I do." "Same" Josh put in, "and if you step out of line around either of them again, there won't be enough left of you for prison." Josh tugged at Toby's arm then. "Come on, let’s join our wives. This is over. For now." Danny somberly put his wallet back in his pants pocket, watching them for a long minute. "That could have been me" he said to himself as he saw Toby put his arms across CJ from the back, his hands resting on the barely protruding stomach. Finally he turned and under the escort of a WH police officer, left the building.
Champagne and sparkling apple cider was being poured around the cake. "A toast" the president declared. "To Josh and Donna Lyman. Good friends, good people to work with, without whom I could not accomplish much of what I do. And so much in love, going back to the campaign days. I'm glad they finally came to realize what was in front of them all along." He held up his glass and the others joined him, everyone rising.
Donna smiled and laughed delightedly like the giddy bride she was. With all of their friends gathered around them they accepted the toast and everyone drank. Then they watched them cut the cake and soon everyone was eating. This was quickly followed by the announcement of the first dance. 'From this Moment' by Shania Twain came on as Josh and Donna took to the floor. As soon as the next song started Tucker and Chloe were on the floor as well, waltzing just like Josh and Donna and with Chloe's fluffy blue gown on she almost looked like a bride herself, her head tenderly laid against Tucker's shoulder during the following song when they merely slow danced.
"You're going to make a beautiful bride yourself someday" Tucker whispered, kissing her cheek lightly. "I just hope I'm the groom you picture yourself with."
Chloe smiled, "Wouldn't that be incredible, our wedding, with all of our friends there. I love you Tucker."
"It's a dream I'm going to make come true for us" Tucker vowed. "I love you Chloe and I want to spend my life with you."
Chloe lifted her head and kissed Tucker lovingly as they danced. "I love you Tucker Seaborn. I love you and I have a feeling I'm meant to love you for the rest of my life." She danced with him as her eyes sparkled.
"I think we were meant to be together. Fate, karma, pre-destination whatever. I like to think of it as God's plan" Tucker smiled and returned her kiss, this time under Caroline's watchful eye. "How's your mom with all this? She's taken notice of us at the moment. Maybe we should give her something to really see." He grinned mischievously and dipped her nearly to the floor, kissing her lips and then her throat.
In the company of friends, Lucas quietly slipped his arms around Gina much as Toby was doing to CJ and Jed caught his eye and smiled.
Meanwhile Gina looked to Lucas, "Seeing as this is the new millennium would you like to dance Lucas?" she asked offering him her hand.
"Since I trust you with my life I certainly would accept a dance offer from you" Lucas smiled and taking her hand let her lead him to the floor. "Any excuse to be in your arms. Someday I'll let myself get shot so you can hold me."
"You'd better not!" Gina protested, "I'll hold you without you having to go to those lengths!"
"I'm holding you to that" Lucas whispered, "especially next week in Atlantic City. We have reservations at the Ritz Atlantic, twenty fifth floor, ocean view with balcony." He stopped and looked embarrassed. "It's a single room, king size bed. OK?"
"Sounds wonderful," Gina smiled, "I have dibs on three-quarters of the closet space." she teased. "I can't wait Lucas. I'm pretty excited about having my first adult vacation."
"Our turn Charlie" Zoey said firmly. "I didn't get all dressed up just to sit here, much as I enjoy sitting with you."
"Zoey I really don't think you should..." Charlie protested concerned. "Look in a few months I'll be too big to do anything anyhow so why don't you just let me enjoy myself now," Zoey returned with a sigh.
"Good point" Charlie nodded. "I love you Zoey and I'm just concerned about you is all. I'm glad you're starting to be able to be up and around. Let's try this again. Zoey Abigail Young will you honor me with a dance?"
Zoey smiled, "Why Charlie, my darling husband, I'd be delighted." she replied and then couldn't help but laugh giddily. "It still feels kind of strange to think of myself as married. I'm loving it though and I certainly haven't had any complaints thus far."
Sam took Mallory away from the buffet table and out on to the dance floor. "Let's do this while I can still get my arms around you" he teased his rail thin fiancée, "plus they're not serving salsa and oreos tonight."
Mallory intentionally stepped on Sam's foot. "Oops...bad step." she smiled as they twirled onto the floor.
"Leo I think you're right" Caroline sighed, "parenting is for much younger people."
Leo smiled, "Are you having trouble watching your oldest daughter grow up? You know it had to happen. Tucker takes very good care of her and with Sam and us being such good friends the communication lines are always open."
"It's hard" Caroline admitted, "but I have the twins and this one to look forward to." She patted her stomach and his hand fell on top of hers. "If we do it right, we could get two in before Chloe makes us grandparents." She watched as Tucker kissed her daughter deeply again. "Or maybe not. Leo you don't think they're already....do you?"
"She's taking it great I think," Chloe answered with a smile, "she always asks how you are and she talks to you like you were a member of the family. She treats us really well. I think she's gotten fairly used to the idea."
"I know, but she still thinks of me as taking her first born away" Tucker sighed. "I love her to death you know. My own folks---well you know that story about not having time for me and having me late and all. Our children will be born when we're plenty young enough to enjoy them."
Chloe smiled, "You're already on kids?!" she laughed lightly, "maybe we'd better just work at the marriage part first love. After all we're not even old enough to vote yet."
"It's seeing all this family around me," Tucker admitted with a smile. "Makes me want my own, to do better by than my folks did."
Chloe smiled, "Well my family loves me but I know I want a family with you whenever we're married. I'm saying right out of high school. Although a baby would make going to college very difficult for me..." Chloe sighed, "maybe I'll take a year off and work at the White House."
"If I take a year off I'll look like a grandfather by the time I'm out of med school" Tucker sighed. "And that's what I want I think. College and med. school right here in DC and then I want to do trauma at DC General, right in the action." He kissed her again. "And of course I want to be with you. Babies are not a necessity, at least not right away. But being with you is." He lowered his voice then. "We're going to share the bed, or sleeping bag or whatever, at Camp David this weekend right?"
"You bet," Chloe returned with a smile as she kissed him again, "and it's not like a campgrounds Tucker. They have beds there..." Chloe laughed, "I think."
"If you want to know that sort of thing Caroline you'll have to ask your daughter," Leo replied diplomatically.
"I guess so" Caroline sighed, "but I'm afraid of the answer. Yet I know Tucker would never hurt her. That's very obvious."
Leo smiled, if Caroline only knew. He still hoped that Chloe would talk to her mother but he had seen evidence of why she was so reluctant. "I mean if she got pregnant right now..." Caroline began softly.
"If she got pregnant right now we would take care of her and her baby welcomed into our family" Leo finished for her. "It's not what I'd want for her, but it's not the end of the world. At least we have the resources to manage something like that. Not like we'd be dependent on taxpayer money."
"Yes I suppose so," Caroline sighed, "now my mind is just a going. I suppose I shouldn't worry but that would be just like a boy to take advantage of a beautiful girl like Chloe.
"If she was seeing anyone but Tucker I would be concerned" Leo sighed, "but she's seeing someone who cares deeply for her. Even loves her in the best way kids that age can. He's not going to let anything hurt her. Not even himself. Besides she's not going to let him take anything she's not willing to give. She's going to be sixteen in a few days. In the last century sixteen was a common age to be married and starting a family. At twenty one you'd be considered a spinster."
"Yes well," Caroline sighed, "I suppose if it happens it happens and I'll love them all the same but I hope that they don't intentionally set out to start a family. Anyhow, I suppose we'll cross that bridge if we come to it in the meantime let's enjoy this evening. I'm dancing in the arms of my extremely handsome fiancée and all I can do is complain and worry about our daughter."
"You're a mother, and I love you for that" Leo assured her. "You're warm and caring and compassionate and that's what makes you the woman I love. Of course you're concerned about her, as am I. But as a father who raised a daughter through the teenage years, let me assure you that we'll both survive it somehow."
The orchestra struck another romantic song and Josh took Donna onto the floor. "Happy Mrs. Lyman?" he whispered, "because I'm ecstatic right now thank you, and in a few hours I'll be making love to you for the first time as my wife"
Donna smiled, "That sounds so very nice. I'm happier than I ever thought I could be." She kissed Josh lovingly. "My husband."
"And baby makes three--or four" Josh added happily, stroking her stomach and then pulling away startled. "You are getting a bit of a pouch there Mrs. Probably Pregnant With Twins.
"I don't think that's necessarily baby. I think its fat, after all I'm just two months and a week but yeah..." Donna smiled, "If its twins I'll get larger than most. That's why I wanted to marry you while I could still wear a beautiful gown."
"Fat or baby--it's cute" Josh smiled, "and you are beautiful. Hey you know we're choppering up there. You're not going to be ill on me are you?"
"A helicopter?" Donna raised her brows, "I'll bring a bag just in case and someone remind CJ to get one. She may never have needed one before, but she wasn't pregnant before either."
"Yeah they decided the weather cleared enough to use the choppers" Josh nodded, "you know the secret service likes that better than the motorcade thing. I mentioned we were hauling pregnant women but they weren't impressed. Airsick bags will be provided."
"Looks like we're going to spend this weekend bunking together again" Lucas grinned. "They gave us a little room right off Charlie and Zoey's. I understand there's a screen between the beds for privacy. I don't think privacy is going to be a concern as long as the door locks."
"Think we can lay the screen under the mattresses to keep the box springs together and make a king?" Gina replied with a smile. "If the door doesn't lock we'll just make sure Charlie and Zoey know how to knock."
"Sounds like a plan" Lucas grinned. "I just know I sleep well with you and my insomnia kicks in without you."
The dancing continued on into the early afternoon and then they loaded up to head for Camp David. The ladies had fun getting changed out of their dresses and then they all appeared in the same blue sundress and loaded into the helicopters. "I don't know what this bag is for I don't get--" CJ said and then suddenly she was mildly ill, "airsick" fortunately it wasn't enough to really affect her but it proved Donna's earlier point.
Four Navy choppers were lined up on the south lawn. With a little jockeying everyone was distributed and the choppers took off into the starry DC night. "I thought they said the weather had cleared" Josh fretted as the chopper hit its first turbulence. "If this keeps up I'm going to need one of those bags" Toby agreed. "I wish I'd known this before that last meatball."
"Don't," CJ cautioned, urging them not to mention food. Then women all curled up against the love of their life and Caroline made sure the twins were strapped into their car seats well. The flight was a little bumpy but nothing unusual.
The choppers landed in perfect formation on the pads at Camp David. "OK CJ, Donna you can open your eyes now" Josh laughed, giddy with relief. "We're here finally." Jed bounded from the lead chopper, his usual jubilant self. "Hey what a great trip" he enthused as he turned around and helped Abbey down. Charlie hit the ground and reached back for Zoey, taking her into his arms at her first step. "I'll walk in" she said firmly. "OK thirty minutes to unpack and if anyone wants to change into something more comfortable" Jed announced, "then midnight breakfast will be served. Bacon, eggs, pancakes in the great room off the kitchen." He looked to Donna and Josh. "Of course the newlyweds may want to retire right away."
"No way I'm starved," Donna replied with a smile. Then she looked to Josh, "We're eating breakfast right sweetie? I've never had a midnight breakfast before."
"Midnight breakfast in your PJ's" CJ added and the others smiled thankfully for the most part. CJ changed into her silver with black pinstripes satin drawstring shorts and her black, with silver trim, nightshirt once they had reached their rooms.
Donna dressed in a white satin gown that could have just as easily been worn to a prom. The top and bottom hems were trimmed in white feathers, the confection had spaghetti straps and trained slightly in the back and she had a matching white boa to accompany it.
"Gina dear are we donning sleeping attire to the breakfast love" Lucas called in his best Thurston Howell voice.
"Yes," Gina replied appearing in a beautiful sea green silk pajama set with shorts and a top with spaghetti straps.
Lucas's pajamas were so dark blue they were almost black and provided a nice contrast to hers. "You're beautiful" he smiled and stood blocking the doorway. “You're not getting away from this room without this though." He held his arms to her and when she reached him he kissed her passionately, his hands sliding down her bare back.
Gina wrapped her arms around Lucas and kissed him passionately. "I love you Lucas, now can we go to breakfast?"
"I guess I can take you to breakfast after that love you" Lucas teased, "but next time let's try for one that doesn't involve holding food over your head."
"Oh Lucas, you know how I am when I'm hungry," Gina laughed, "besides after you feed me I might be more cuddly." She snuggled against him for the walk over.
"Zoey do you need any help?" Charlie called to her anxiously as she was holed up in the bathroom.
"Yeah I'm finished now and I think I'll wear out if I do anymore walking..." Zoey called back calmly. She was beginning to resign herself to allowing Charlie to care for her much more now. She was dressed in kitty cat pajamas, cats chasing mice and cheese on a soft pink background.
"Then it's just a question of my arms or your chair" Charlie said easily. "I'll never get tired of carrying you. I love you remember?"
Zoey smiled, "I know and if you can manage to carry me I think that would be the most fun way to travel."
"I could do this all day" Charlie assured her, lifting her easily into his strong arms and she hooked her arms around his neck laying her head on his shoulder. "Love you Zoey Young" he whispered, putting his lips to hers as they walked out the door.
They kissed until they had to stop so Charlie could see where he was going and they talked the rest of the way.
"Leo you go ahead" Caroline sighed, standing between the cribs provided for the twins and helping them to settle. "We can't take them. They're exhausted and I can't leave them here alone."
Leo brought a woman into the room. "This is Anna, she’s the camp secretary and she has volunteered to sit with the babies tonight until we want to come back," Leo introduced her. "I have a one year old at home and I promise I'll take the best care of them," Anna offered with a comforting smile.
"Oh bless you" Caroline actually sniffled her gratitude, not wanting to be left out. "Please make yourself home and I'm sure they'll sleep. They're totally exhausted."
"Now come along," Leo put his arm around her back and Carolyn walked with him in her coral crepe pajamas to the breakfast room.
Charlie and Zoey arrived first though all of the cabins were close so that no one would feel too isolated. They were quickly followed by Lucas and Gina, curled together. Leo and Caroline were next and CJ and Toby were in the door right behind them. Tucker was next with Chloe riding piggy-back on him and both of them laughing delightedly. Finally Josh and Donna made it to the breakfast room and everyone was present. "And now we eat!" Jed pronounced. "Seconded!" Josh joked and everyone laughed.
The Navy stewards began dishing up serving trays of breakfast food and everyone relaxed, enjoying the warmth and the friendship. "I'm still marveling at what Danny did tonight" Toby said softly, eyeing the marks that showed where CJ's pajamas didn't cover. "He'd been drinking" Donna sighed. "Not an excuse but certainly the cause."
CJ lowered her head and noticed the horrible marks on her chest. She wished that she and Danny had been able to speak like she wanted to. She sighed and returned to her breakfast plate which, like Donna's, was piled pretty high. "I'm just thankful you're alright," she told Donna.
"Well it could have been a lot worse, for both of us" Donna sighed. "Hey you really wanted to talk to him didn't you? But its better that things cool down first. When we come back pick a day when Toby is off doing whatever it is they do when they disappear and invite Danny for a pizza in your office."
CJ nodded, "That's a good idea Donna. Thank-you for the suggestion." she ate in silence for a few minutes, "Won't it be nice that the painters will be finished when we get back. Then we can furnish our new home."
"Oh yeah" Donna smiled at the thought. "Josh has been packing up his books and things like that. I don't have much since the fire--haven't accumulated back a bunch of stuff."
Zoey and Charlie, with Lucas and Gina, were comfortably seated at one small table, the group of four in friendship that they had become. "They gave you guys the little bedroom off ours" Charlie laughed. "Did you notice the sleeping arrangements?" "Only temporary" Lucas growled, keeping his voice down. When they got up to refill all four plates, Zoey leaned over to Gina. "You want to share if you and that gorgeous male agent are you know...how can I put this....uh...doing it?"
Gina flushed brilliantly and leaned over to Zoey, "we haven't yet but we might..." she whispered with obvious delight.
"I'm so happy for you" Zoey gushed. "He's a great guy, and not that hard on the eyes either. Obviously he works out--well he would for the job anyway, but I'll bet that's a beautiful chest under those pajamas." She blushed bright red herself then. "By the way the doctor said Charlie and I could so ignore any noise you hear from the bedroom tonight will you."
Gina smiled, "I'm not supposed to police you like a mother?" she teased, "okay...I won't tell if you won't." Gina flushed softly.
"OK what are you ladies talking about" Josh demanded, setting a plate of food in front of Donna. "Nothing we'd care to share" she retorted, "unless you want to hear about furniture." "Please no" Josh moaned and turned to CJ. "Do you know she made me sit on every sofa in the place; and then we moved to the mattress selection and it got worse." Donna and CJ both rolled their eyes. "Hey all" Sam greeted them. "Mallory is right behind me. Guess what, they have salsa out for the eggs, and she has Oreos in her pocket. Should I tell her to eat outside?"
"Are you sure she's not pregnant?" Donna asked, "I mean this is a recent new fad of hers, this salsa on everything." "That's true I heard Leo talking about how strange it was the--hello Mallory," CJ smiled. "Look salsa," Mallory smiled.
"It's for the eggs" Josh pointed out as she sat down and dipped an oreo. "And thankfully I'm done eating." "Funny you never liked that stuff until last month. Remember when we were at Josh's" Sam pointed out, "the night you took the pregnancy test that was negative you were gobbling it up then too. Now we have a jar of each brand in the fridge. From hot to mild, chunky to smooth. Food we don't have, but salsa we'll never run out of." He shook his head, "and then yesterday we're at Leo's and she's feeding this stuff to Brighton who eats anything. Belle fortunately has taste." "I'm ignoring him" Mallory told them as she continued to dip.
"Now I used to get strange cravings for three days every month," Donna replied, "but all month like this no...not until I was pregnant. There's a medical room here. I suggest we make her take a test." Mallory looked at Donna. "Sounds like a good idea to me," CJ said trying not to watch Mallory eat the oreos with the salsa because it was making her queasy and she was too hungry to be queasy at the moment.
"Wait, wait, all this pregnancy talk is making me queasy" Sam protested and put his hand on her cheek, drawing her eyes to his. "Mallory could you be pregnant? I mean has it been.....have you had......" "He means have you gotten your period yet" CJ supplied "honestly why do men have such a hard time with that? It's a totally normal healthy human happening and how do they think we get them babies anyway." "Well have you?" Sam demanded, shooting CJ a look of gratitude.
"No," Mallory answered softly, "I haven't."
"Well how late are you?" Donna asked.
"Three weeks," Mallory answered softly.
"Mallory" Sam's voice echoed through the dining hall and everyone stopped to look. "Uh no problem" Sam shook his head, now embarrassed. "Mallory" he tried again in a more mollified voice, taking her hands. "I don't think we need the test do we, unless something else......" With that thought he looked totally panic struck.
"Look what can be done about it tonight anyway" CJ reasoned. "Mallory, when we get back to town, promise me--and nervous Norvis here--that you'll either see your doctor or take the test OK. Sam, mostly likely she is. Let's look for the simple conclusions first remember. Now pass the grape jelly please."
Sam continued to hold fast to Mallory, staring at her as if she would break. "But we're still not quite ready are we?" he whispered so only she could hear.
"I think we can handle it Sam. If God sent us a baby then now's the right time to have one," Mallory whispered back before she dipped another oreo in salsa and savored it.
"I can take anything that comes along" Sam declared nuzzling his face to hers, "just as long as you're with me and you're happy. But for the record, if you are pregnant, I am thrilled."
"Sam, there's a test in my luggage. I can take it when we get back to the room," Mallory finally admitted.
"I'd like that" Sam smiled softly. "Then we could celebrate; or I'll tell you I'm sorry but that I'm going to be with you all the way, whichever you'd like to hear--but I'm afraid I'm not going to be too good about pretending unhappiness."
"If I am I'll simply have to take a few months maternity leave in the spring," Mallory sighed, "a baby with you won't be a bad thing. I'll be happy, just maybe not enthusiastic at first."
"Happy I'll take" Sam grinned. "You know we have a wedding to think about too. If there is a baby, I guess we have to decide if it's to be early on, or to simply wait until after now."
"Tomorrow morning early I'm taking you riding" Tucker reminded Chloe as they walked on the porch and could see the bridal paths that criss crossed the grounds. "Mr. Bartlet said we could use any of the facilities here. You've ridden a lot haven't you? I'll bet you had your own horse at one time. Somehow you look like the horsy type."
Chloe smiled, "A solid white Arabian mare named Moonlight Sonata. I miss her terribly. I'd love to go riding with you Tucker," Chloe smiled, "never a dull moment with you." She cuddled against him happily.
"I just figure we may as well use all the stuff while we're here" Tucker grinned and lowered his voice. "We have to figure out the sleeping arrangements and then we'll be able to get up together and go easily enough to our riding date. What became of your horse? He sounds wonderful. I was on a jump team for a while when I was younger but it folded and without that that's when I started getting in with those older guys and of course that got me in trouble."
"She's stabled up in Vermont. I didn't have a trailer to bring her in and I didn't think I'd have anywhere to stable her but I sorely miss her," Chloe answered. "I'm a jumper, first in our equestrian pageant three years in a row." Chloe finished her toast and bacon and was smiling and obviously excited with the prospect of riding.
"Then we'll have to use the jump course" Tucker smiled. "It's been awhile but I still remember how. Not something you forget. I even don't mind mucking stalls. You know if you brought her down here we could stable her at Rock Creek and I'd help you with caring for her--in exchange for being allowed to ride her some of course, especially if you and I could share-ride."
"Oh that would be wonderful!" Chloe enthused, "maybe I can talk to Leo about it tomorrow. We'd have to take very good care of her though. She's a thoroughbred and only used to the best treatment. I guess kind of like me, spoiled brat that I am."
"Yes you are" Tucker agreed readily with a quick laugh and leaned down to kiss her. "But you're my spoiled brat and I love you. I think we could do well between us taking care of her. We're together mostly and when we can't be one or the other of us can take the responsibility."
"Donna I'm ready to start that honeymoon just about any time now" Josh smiled. "We have a loft bed awaiting us."
Donna smiled, "well...." she drawled and then she laughed as he scooped her into his arms and she waved good-bye to their friends as they all waved and laughed back. Then Donna and Josh disappeared for the night.
"Come on," Mallory urged once they'd finished eating, "let's go get this over with so we can stop speaking hypothetically." She drug him to the door and they bid the other goodnight.
CJ meanwhile had fallen deeply asleep against Toby, now full the baby was demanding rest.
"I think we're breaking up here" Jed announced. "Good night all. And welcome to the start of our Camp David Weekend."
Toby lifted CJ to her feet and held her closely as he helped her toward the stairs. "Can you make it here?" Jed asked, moving to take her other arm. CJ murmured something incoherent.
"Zoey angel you ready?" Charlie asked gently, rousing her with an arm across her back. "Let me help you" Lucas offered quickly.
It took Toby and Jed to get CJ up the stairs and into bed. She mumbled something else incoherent and then rolled over onto her stomach to sleep.
"Yes I'm ready," Zoey replied, "if you can't carry me you can get Lucas to help you." "Careful with her now," Gina cautioned the men.
"Oh Tucker you're wonderful!" Chloe exclaimed throwing her arms about him. "Come on everyone's leaving. Let's go catch up with mom and Dad." She drug Tucker along. "Hey Dad what room are Tucker and I supposed to be in?" she asked nonchalantly and then at her mother's gasp added, "we're not having sex, just sleeping together mom."
Caroline leaned back so weakly against him at this news that for a moment Leo was frightened. Finally she swallowed hard and stared at her daughter and at Tucker who for a moment looked like he wished the floor would open up but then bravely stood up straight. "Ma'am we do overnight together when we can, purely like that. We put a movie on, she lays in my arms and we fall asleep and that's that. We're waiting until we're married as strange as that seems in this day and age I guess; but then we don't plan to wait but another two years to be married so as long as we can be together like this, the sex part can wait." He put a long arm around Chloe. "I love her and I would die myself before I would let anything or anyone hurt her--even me."
Caroline slowly absorbed all that had been said and then seemed to recover and even smile softly, "well Leo, where are we going to put them? I don't even know where we're going." "Oh thank-you mother! I love you so much!" Chloe exclaimed hugging her mother tightly. "My little girl's growing up so fast," Caroline whispered to Chloe as she stroked her hair and two tears appeared on her cheeks. "I know mom, but I'll always love you and need you." Chloe replied when they parted and then everyone looked to Leo for directions.
"There's two single rooms on either side of ours" Leo pointed as they reached the upper level of the main house. "You can use either one. Just remember there's an old man and two toddlers sleeping on the other side of the wall. Good night." He leaned down and kissed Chloe's forehead. "Love you dear. Sleep well." "Thank you sir, ma'am" Tucker smiled. "Good night."
"You handled that very well" Leo assured her when they were in their own room. "I think the best way to insure that they keep their word is to let them have this much. I honestly believe that boy. He has his brother's integrity."
"So do I," Caroline agreed, "and I agree with your thoughts on letting them sleep together. If that's what they want to do then I suppose it's fine by me. They obviously are very devoted to one another." She was quiet for a few minutes as she laid the twins down and once she had dressed and got in bed she looked to him, "you knew about this didn't you?"
"Uh yeah" Leo stammered, "that's why I was so calm. You see Chloe confessed to me early on that they had slept together and....." He paused unsure whether to tell her the whole story and then much as he hated to hide anything from her, his conscience would not permit him to break Chloe's confidence. "And that she thought I should know before we found out some other way. Sweetheart I know it's a mother's duty to worry, but right now I think it's OK. They're devoted as you say, much in love, and I firmly believe they're going to be married as he says, when she's eighteen in two years. If we don't want them running off somewhere, lying about their ages or simply shacking up some place we'd best cut them as much slack as we comfortably can now."
Caroline nodded, "Again I agree with you. I mean if I didn't, I know Chloe's strong will. She'd run off and do as she pleased. She's a trial, if you give her freedom she reigns herself in. If you try to reign her in though she'll run like the wind and not look back." Caroline snuggled down into bed. "I'm sure they'll probably make love before their married too. I just hope they'll have the good sense to be safe about it." she sighed.
"Maybe so" Leo agreed, again torn whether to keep the information from her. "But the boy has me, and Sam, to ask about such things; and I hope Chloe can come to you. She also has Mallory, not to mention CJ and Donna. It might be that she would be afraid of letting you down that she wouldn't come to you. Of all people, she values your opinion of her most."
Caroline smiled, "My beautiful daughter...yesterday she was a little girl and now she's a young woman, all grown up. In some areas she's smarter than her mother and knows more of the world, in others she is so naive and requires my protection. It's a fine boundary for any parent-to know when to step in and when to not."
"Wow that went better than I had thought it would," Chloe smiled when they picked a room. "Now how do we work this?" she whispered softly.
"I'm going to pull down those wonderful looking warm covers and climb in" Tucker told her. "After all we're all dressed. Then you're going to select a movie either from the collection on that shelf or from HBO and climb in with me, letting yourself lay against me while I wrap my arms around you and then we're going to enjoy the movie and the being in each others arms until we fall asleep."
Chloe smiled at him and then remembered she was already in her pajamas, "Yeah right." She crawled into bed with him after putting on the movie and grabbing the remote and then she lay her head on his chest, kissing his neck softly when it appealed to her.
A smile came over Tucker's face each time she kissed him. "How did I get so lucky to meet up with you?" he finally murmured. "I love you Chloe Kathleen Murphy."
"I love you Tucker," Chloe smiled back, "I can't wait for tomorrow." Then she turned back to watching the movie, snuggled tightly against him.
"Me neither" Tucker responded. "I'll be giving you your riding lesson right after breakfast."
"Dream on Seaborn," Chloe teased back, "I'm going to show you how a real rider does it."
"You just try Ms. Murphy" Tucker laughed and tickled her lightly and then kissed her lovingly.
Lucas and Charlie carefully lay Zoey on the bed and she thanked them with a look from her deep eyes. "You guys know where we are if anything comes up" Lucas reminded them. "But of course you could get gold OUT of Ft. Knox easier than you could get ON to this compound. Good night." He walked into the small bedroom where Gina was studying the sleeping arrangements. "Push the beds together, or sleep you on top of me in the one?" he asked gleefully.
"Push the beds together," Gina said already beginning to move them and then holding them together a king-size sheet and some spare pillows. "Okay...one bed for us." She then looked at Lucas and suddenly ran and jumped into his arms before kissing him passionately.
"Nice move agent Toscano" Lucas approved, dropping onto the bed with her holding tightly to him. "And some people say they despise White House detail. I think it has a lot of perks." He maneuvered them so that her head was tucked into the crook of his neck, her hair falling gently over her shoulders. "You fit real well right there" he said softly, "like you were created for me."
Gina smiled at him lovingly, "we do fit together very well...perhaps in all ways." she said her voice turning husky and then she began to kiss him and unbutton his pajama top. Once that was gone her hand expertly found his nipples.
"Here?" Lucas questioned, undeniably thrilled, "not waiting for Atlantic City?" Her mouth coming to his gave him the answer and their tongues met each other half way.
Gina kissed down to play with his nipples and then she began to caress him sensually.
"Gina you're making me already crazy here" Lucas told her, his voice dark and low and he easily pushed aside her pajamas to make way for his mouth's assault on her breasts, feathering kisses on each one.
"That's good because I'm not big on foreplay," Gina returned, "I like romance and I don't mind sex but the idea of trying to combine the two has left every man I've ever known a bumbling idiot." she informed bluntly.
"Mallory staring at it isn't going to make it any different" Sam called from outside the bathroom door. "It's been twenty five minutes. Whatever change it's going to make, that ship has sailed."
Mallory emerged from the bathroom and handed him the perfectly positive test. "We're going to have a baby Sam. You're going to be a Daddy." She smiled at him from where she was propped up on her elbows on the bed.
"Thank you Jesus" Sam gasped, totally ecstatic at that moment. "Yes we are," he added, staring at the test stick. He literally threw himself onto the bed, jouncing her hard. "But the question is, are you happy?"
"It's a new step for me, for us. I think it's going to be exciting and I think, with all of the nurturing I do of my classroom children each day I don't really realize how nice it would be to have one of my own. You know Sam, I think I am." Mallory answered with a smile. "I'm having the child of the man I love. What could be more amazing and wonderful than that?"
"Oh Mallory thank you" Sam breathed, in awe of this beautiful woman who was now carrying part of him inside her. "I love you, now and forever." His mouth found hers, drawing her in, and a moment later they were feverishly undressing each other, not able to get to bare skin fast enough to suit either one. "I think pregnancy is good for you" he approved. "If this is a hormonal thing, I like it."
"Who cares, just go with it," Mallory returned before all talking ceased.
CJ was the first one up the next morning. She was out standing by the lake, wrapped in a blanket when Jed saw her from a distance.
Jed was doing a morning jog around the lake, his protectors keeping their distance when he spotted CJ. "When I told you it would be at least eighty here I forgot to mention the forty-five we have in the early morning" he panted, stopping and leaning his hands on his knees to catch his breath. "What's on your mind so early? Danny Concannon or something more mundane?"
"Well I was thinking about how peaceful and beautiful this lake is and how serene, but now that you've mentioned his name I guess Danny is on my mind," CJ said thoughtfully. She was quiet for a moment, "Toby's so upset he won't touch me, not that he could right now anyhow." The bruises Danny had left were very obvious today. "I just don't understand why it has to be this way sir. I set out to try and prevent a large upset and I got more of one than I ever bargained for and now if I so much as have lunch with Danny Toby is going to be up in arms."
Jed gave a small smile, thinking of Toby seething. "Toby was scared to death and outraged" he said softly. "That doesn't subside over night and not with him especially, but it will. He flares angry for a while, seethes for a couple days and then it's over." Jed gently moved the blanket just enough to see the outline of her bruises. "If I had been him I would not have touched you either--I would have been terrified of hurting you. It's not easy for a man to deal with another man who was important to his wife at one time."
"It was never-" CJ stopped, "He has no reason to feel like that. I love Toby sir. I will always love Toby and it's his child I'm carrying. Danny was intoxicated I cannot think of too many people who have not made a mistake under the influence..." she sighed. "It hurt me too...he could at least try to see that and be here for me." CJ broke down into tears.
Jed put his arm around her as they walked. "Of course he should be, but then you're out here aren't you? Right now if he wakes he doesn't even know where you are. Not to mention I know Toby, and now today his anger is gone and he's ready to look at the whole thing more calmly. He has an enormous heart--it may occur to him that Danny can even be forgiven. All of us have done things we're not proud of, drunk or sober. I'd tell you about mine, but we don't have three hours before breakfast."
CJ smiled softly, "thank-you sir. I think perhaps you're right. If you don't mind I'll let you finish your jog." She smiled to the president and then walked back to the suite she shared with Toby. She curled back into the bed without him waking and then lay on her back, looking at the ceiling and thinking.
"I hope I wasn't too much of a bumbling idiot last night" Lucas smiled as Gina came back from the bathroom and he held the covers for her, taking a moment to appreciate her body in the room's dim light. "I tried not to be." He wrapped an extra blanket around her as she climbed in, protection against the early morning chill.
"No," Gina smiled softly, "last night was wonderful and Lucas...I have something I need to tell you." Gina paused and took a deep breath, "I lied to you last night...I'd never been with anyone before. I'm sorry."
"I know" Lucas said softly. "I figured you had a reason for not telling me. I didn't know it of course until we did it and I was surprised and pleased and amazed and it made me love you all the more that you gave that to me. I didn't hurt you did I? I tried to be careful but it was almost too late by then."
"No, you didn't hurt me," Gina replied softly, "someone once told me a man couldn't tell. I guess they were wrong..." She kissed Lucas softly and curled against him. "They were up three times last night...let's hope they sleep in."
"Second that" Lucas said firmly and pushed some hair from her face. "I knew as soon as it happened--about you I mean--and I had this flash of fear that I was hurting you but you didn't seem like you wanted me to stop. You were wonderful you know--that's the only way I knew it was your first time, simply because you were so attentive and loving to me."
"Why? did I do something wrong? Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?" Gina asked.
Lucas smiled and held her close. "No angel, you did everything perfectly and I love you. Thing is I'm not an expert. I've only had one other and that's a long sad story better saved for another time. I just know that I love you, and I want you to be part of my life--hell I want you to be the biggest part of my life, along with the duty of course that's always going to be there."
Gina smiled and then kissed him, "I love you and thank-you for last night. It was wonderful. "How about a jog before breakfast?"
"You think we can leave them sleeping?" Lucas asked. "Because if so I'd love to beat you in a lap around the lake. It's four miles if you run the whole track you know."
"Oh...maybe I ought to run twice then," Gina teased. "I'm sure they'll be fine. Henderson and Owens are right outside." She jumped up and put on a pair of gray sweatshorts and a white tank top. "let's go Miller" she called as she headed for the door.
"Right behind you Toscano" Lucas laughed and caught up to her, grabbing her around her waist and lifting her easily aside so that he could run past her.
Gina grunted but kept her pace and eventually passed him. She kept on steadfast and it was effortless for her, obviously she did this every day.
Toby felt her presence and yawned sleepily, rolling so that he could drop an arm across her and pull her to him. Surprised to find her so stiff, he sat up on his elbow at once. "OK, what's wrong?" he asked gently, "and I don't want to hear 'nothing'. Please tell me. I know it's something we should be dealing with."
CJ had jumped when he had dropped his arm over her and hit the bruising slightly. "Danny, how he hurt me yesterday--" she opened the topic gently.
Toby drew in a deep breath. "I probably could have handled that a lot better" he sighed. "But my anger and my fear were running my logic last night. I should have let you have more of a role in handling it too; but honestly for a bit there I was afraid you were in shock. I was afraid period in fact. What would you like to do? If you want to try to make amends with him I promise I won't stand in the way. Of course I can't promise I won't try to kill him either. Kidding. No, I love you and I want what you want in this."
"I do want to make amends," CJ began. "I can't believe he hurt me like this," CJ looked at the bruising and again cried, "and what he might have done if Donna didn't come and what he did to Donna. It's like it wasn't even Danny." Her crying became worse.
"No it wasn't" Toby agreed, "not the Danny we know. Certainly not the Danny you thought at one time you could love." He drew her onto his chest and let her cry into his tee shirt. "Right now he's probably miserable, sick from the liquor and from what he did. You--or we if you'd prefer--can go to him when we go back and try to set things right."
CJ smiled, "Thank-you," she said softly, "I'd really appreciate that and I'm sorry about last night, about you not being able to touch me. It's still too sore, with the baby changes and all." She gingerly loosened her top of her pajamas and exposed to him her breasts, almost solid with the blue and purple prints.
Toby felt his anger toward Danny rise again and with a supreme effort, calmed himself. "I understand. For right now I'm just quite content to hold you. We do need to talk to Danny. Looking at you now I've come to the conclusion that if I don't, I'm going to bear hatred for this man every time I see him and that's not the way I live my life. We'll talk to him when we go back, both of us together, and see if we can't find a way to put it all behind us."
"I'd like that, thank-you," CJ answered softly and then she smiled at Toby and leaned in to kiss him.
"For another kiss like that only with a little more enthusiasm I'll let you invite the man for dinner" Toby teased, bringing his face to hers.
CJ kissed Toby passionately their mouths melding together until they were finally forced apart by the necessity of breathing.
"At this rate I'll be agreeing to let Danny move in with us" Toby gasped, going back for more as soon as each was breathing again. "Be careful now, I don't want to hurt you."
"I know," CJ gasped and she pulled from him. "We should go have breakfast now Toby."
"Yes ma'am" Toby smiled, pushing her hair back from her face and placing a gentle kiss on her lips. "Time to feed the baby. And the baby's father could use a little nourishment too. And later we're going to do some fishing in one of these mountain streams. I know they're putting that pig on to roast, but some fresh broiled trout would be good with that too. How are you at fish gutting?"
CJ's eyes went wide and she jumped from the bed and raced to the bathroom to be ill.
"You ready for your riding lesson?" Tucker nudged Chloe awake. "I'm ready to show you how it's done if you are."
"Oh yeah!" Chloe enthused. She slipped on a pair of short blue jean shorts and a pink stretch crop top and then she pulled her long hair up into a beautiful ponytail. "Ready when you are," she said as she pulled on some good shoes.
"Let's do it" Tucker laughed and caught her hand. "We'll make sure they give you a gentle mare to start out with."
Chloe laughed and rolled her eyes as she walked with Tucker out and to the stables. "They're beautiful," she commented of the horses and selected a beautiful black thoroughbred. She also, as Tucker discovered, rode English saddle. "and I could ride side-saddle if I wished though not doing equestrian." she effortlessly mounted the horse. "Ready when you are."
"I'd like to see you do that when you're six months pregnant" Lucas called after her, and then quickly looked around to make sure no one else was around. Not in time however as he realized the president was behind him on the circular track, though fortunately his detail was too far back to have heard. "Good morning sir" Lucas smiled. "Good morning Lucas. Agent Toscano, Agent Miller would like to see you run at six months pregnant. I think that's a vision we'd all enjoy."
"I could do it sir," Gina answered, "We've run with more than 50 pound sacks on us before. However, if I was six months pregnant which would be a phenomenal blessing I don't believe I would be doing that for the baby's health." She smiled.
"Good answer" Jed grinned. "And from what you said I'm guessing you wouldn't mind a baby in the near future. Would his handsome young Agent Miller be the prospective father?"
"Yes sir he would be however it is an honor to protect the president's daughter and I have promised Zoey that I would not leave her while she was at the White House. We have become each other's best friend and I couldn't think of anywhere else that I would be happy." Gina replied.
"I know" Jed nodded. "I'm glad she has such a friend. Living in the fishbowl doesn't always sit well with her. In fact I almost encouraged her to go to school out of state, but then selfish dad won out." He looked Lucas up and down. "Mr. Miller I hear nothing but good things about you. I know you like working with Gina, and protecting Charlie and Zoey, but I wouldn't mind having you on my detail any time."
"I've never tried side-saddle" Tucker admitted. "Might make the guys look at me strange. "Let's trot them out on the trail a ways and back so we can see what they're like, warm them up before we try the jump course." He easily pulled himself onto the small saddle atop the Palomino the stable attendant assured him was a good jumper. "At one time I had thoughts of going through the trials and attempting to make the Olympic equestrian team" he sighed as he caught up to her. "Big dreams for a kid who ended up at County."
"You should have not been afraid to follow your dreams. It was not following your dreams that led you down the wrong path," Chloe answered. She and the horse moved majestically as one. She was a wonderful rider and it was with effortless fluidity that she rode the horse.
"Tell me about it" Tucker sighed and urged his horse to keep up with hers. They rode to the end of the trail and turned around, cantering back to the jump course. "Good there's all heights" he observed, "from three to six. I've jumped six before, but I don't know if these horses have. They look like they can do it, but we should start them off short and see how they are. After you m'lady."
Chloe set up the jump for the horse and effortlessly cleared a three. "Yes! That was wonderful!" she cried out afterward having enjoyed it immensely.
"You're beautiful when you do that" Tucker was extremely impressed. He urged his horse to approach the shortest jump which he sailed over and Tucker brought him around for the next, a foot higher. The big Palomino made a smooth approach and Tucker got into position. Just as he was about to take off, the horse refused, planting his feet. Too late for Tucker to catch himself, he went flying over the horses head, landing on his back on the other side of the jump and for a heart stopping minute, felt that he could neither move nor breathe.
"Tucker!!!" Chloe screamed out in heart-wrenching anguish. She dismounted and sprinted to him. "Don't move!" she ordered, "Lie still, can you move your toes for me and your fingers? Don't lift your head!"
Tucker blinked several times as awareness slowly returned and Chloe's anxious face swam before his eyes. "I think I'm OK" he whispered, nonetheless keeping his head flat on the ground. He tentatively flexed his legs and arms and looked into her eyes. "Am I dead?"
Chloe finally smiled, "No but you'll probably be pretty bruised and sore after a while." Chloe helped him sit up. "You're okay I'm thankful. Would you like to continue riding?"
"Yeah I think so" Tucker nodded, flexing his arms further. "I'm not wanting to give up just because of a little spill. I was sure he was going to take the jump. I felt him abort and then it was too late. All I could think of was the Superman guy and how horrible it would be to live like that." He shook his head, trying to get rid of the ringing in his ears. "Good there's only two of you now. I think I'm ready."
"Two of me?" Chloe raised an eyebrow and laughed lightly, "no I think you're not quite ready yet if there are still two of me." She walked with him back to their horses and watched him remount before she did the same.
"Let's try it again" Tucker grinned, feeling his head clear as he mounted the Palomino. "I'm going to canter him around a couple times and then sneak up on the jump. I'm thinking he's not done this for a while and certainly never with me so he was just a little skittish. I'm just grateful it wasn't you. I can see me explaining to your mother and Leo. Not to mention..." he edged his horse close to hers and put his hand to her face. "I need you in my life Chloe Kathleen Murphy."
Chloe smiled, "I love you Tucker. Now come on..." She cantered her horse back around and effortlessly assailed the jump that had just caused him so much grief and then she followed it with a double jump before giving the horse a cantering break.
"See how easy that is boy" Tucker encouraged the prancing horse. "Now let's try." He made one more lap around the outer edge and pointed him toward the disastrous jump, this time feeling his powerful legs take off. "Wow that was great" he called when he landed. "He would have cleared five easy that time." He pulled to one side and stopped. "OK let's see you take the course--competition rules. Four faults for a knockdown, one for a touch." He took a deep breath. "Just be careful OK. I love you."
"I'll be fine. Watch a champion in action." Chloe looked over the course and decided the correct approach and line-ups. Then she cantered around a couple of times to really get the horse going. She jumped the first three foot with no problem and then a four. The double four after it gave her no problem whatsoever but she got a touch on the three with water. She came into a trot to take the next part of the course and the horse cleared the first five foot jump with amazing beauty. She jumped a triple four afterward and then another four with water which the horse got that time. She barely missed a touch on the second five but then sailed over the six foot jump with flying colors before cooling the horse down and coming to a stop. "One touch, not bad. You can beat it though easy," she smiled encouragingly as she brought her horse over to his.
He nodded solemnly and urged the Palomino around the course. He took the same one as she had easily, with no touches and sailed over the five footer with plenty to spare. Coming back around the water jump that was more width than height he felt the big horse begin to take off and then again as before stop short. He was prepared for that this time and dropped back into the saddle, not before the horse brought his head and neck up sharply, impacting his nose, and then skittering sideways. "Whoa hold up boy" he ordered, finally being able to slow him enough to dismount, feeling blood dripping from his nose.
"Oh CJ sorry" Toby gasped, but at the same time clapped his hand over his mouth to avoid laughing. "I guess I should never overestimate the power of suggestion where pregnant women are concerned. I know you like to fish though. No gutting, and no putting worms on if you can't." He crawled from the bed and went to the bathroom, soaking a cold cloth for her. "I am sorry" he whispered, putting the cloth to her face.
"You're forgiven but you're sentenced to a day of baiting hooks," CJ replied, "or well however long we're out there." She was thankful and moaned contentedly as he held the cloth to her forehead. She soon finished for there wasn't much in her. "You know in hindsight that was kind of funny," she admitted reluctantly.
"Come on let's go get some food in you" Toby urged. "Then I'm going to show our illustrious president that he's not the only one who can catch fish." He helped her up, holding to her as he took her back to bed and began to help her dress. "I would bait your hook any day my love."
CJ shook her head and laughed softly at Toby and once they had finished dressing they walked together down to breakfast.
"Good morning Mrs. Lyman" Josh woke his bride with a kiss. "And let me say that last night was wonderful. Married is better. I didn't wear you out too much did I?"
"Good morning my husband," Donna replied with a smile, "I'd have to agree with you, married is better. As for wearing me out...I hardly think so," she kissed him lovingly, "though I would appreciate some breakfast as would the baby."
"And how do you feel about fishing?" Josh asked. "You ready to show the president other people besides him can catch fish? I plan to mount a big one above my desk. Even if you have to catch it." He stood and pulled her from the bed, making sure she was steady. "Breakfast is next. I love you Donnatella Lyman."
Donna smiled, "That sounds so odd to hear my first name with another last name, but here we are and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I love you Josh." She kissed him lovingly. "Fishing sounds wonderful. Right after breakfast then? We'd better get down there and eat well so we'll have strength to pull in all those big ones we're going to catch."
Most everyone had gathered in the dining room listening to Jed give a discourse on the types of fish in the nearby streams. "I must have had a deprived childhood" Leo sighed. "No one ever taught me to fish."
"I'm sure we can teach you," Caroline smiled. "It's not hard," Donna added. CJ merely nodded her agreement.
Sam held Mallory's hand tightly as they walked into the big dining room. "So are we telling or not?" he whispered. "Maybe you want to save it for another time." Meanwhile the cry of Sam was echoed through the large room and Brighton hurried toward him. Moving quickly to shield Mallory from his onslaught, Sam stepped in front of her and then scooped the small boy to his shoulders. "I want one just like this" he whispered again.
"Well I'll be sure and tell that to the one that's growing in here," Mallory returned back rolling her eyes playfully at him. "I think we'll wait and tell them later," she whispered further, "I'll let you know when I'm ready."
"Oh Tucker!" Chloe once again cried out. She was to his side at once and led him over to the stables as she brought the horses back. The stable hand quickly got some tissue to try and help Tucker. "Do you think it's broken?" Chloe asked anxiously, concerned and upset.
"Let me take a look young man" the stable attendant smiled and touched it carefully. "Nope, just a good old fashioned nose bleed. You set yourself down here and pinch it closed and it should stop pretty quick. Maybe this pretty lady will kiss and make it better." "For one of her kisses I'd break anything" Tucker grinned, "Thanks."
Chloe sat with Tucker while he kept his head down letting the nose bleed stop and then she kissed him on his nose and on his mouth before walking him slowly to the breakfast house. "Tucker got thrown once and then the horse hit him in the nose another time," Chloe announced as they entered. "I think he's a little worse for wear so be nice and I'm really sorry Sam."
Sam took one look at his brother with the grass stains on the back of his shirt and the blood drips on the front and laughed good naturedly. "Sorry for what? Not your fault unless you were pounding on him. Of course he'd probably let you." He gave Tucker's hair an affectionate ruffle. "Hit the shower boy and then come back and eat. We'll take good care of Chloe while you're gone." "I think I will" Tucker decided, kissing Chloe. "You won't fall in love with anyone else while I'm gone will you?"
Chloe looked around the room, "Not a chance, besides it could be forfeit on my life. I think these women are bigger than me." Everyone laughed and she kissed Tucker and sent him off to the showers and then sighed as she sat down dreamily.
"She's got it bad," CJ commented to Donna with a soft smile.
"They're so young that it's so sweet and adorable" Donna sighed. "I'm afraid I don't believe that people that age are not able to know what love is. Those two do. We'll probably be attending their wedding in two years when she's eighteen, which will be the summer of the campaign. I think I'll be pregnant again so I can just watch from the porch."
Tucker returned shortly and made a beeline for Chloe first thing, looking much better sans blood. "Shall we see if we can get them to cook us an omelet?" he asked as he leaned down for her kiss.
"See cute" Donna whispered again. "And speaking of cute, have you seen Mallory this morning? I get the impression she got good news last night."
"No thank-you, I want eggs Benedict," Chloe replied, "two of them, and some grapes."
"Mmm..." CJ heard Donna and looked around the room finding Mallory's glowing face. "So 'fess up Mallory," CJ spoke up with a playful smile, "are you going to share with us what's got you grinning from ear to ear or is your fiancée who is likewise in disposition going to do it for you?"
"Can't a man just be happy with his fiancée and friends" Sam demanded playfully. "We're not in the White House now. Secrets are allowed. Besides a room full of friends, I work with the best president this country has known. What more could I want?" "Hmmm...a baby?" Toby offered and everyone laughed.
A long hour of conversation and Jed stood up. "Now who's ready for fishing?" he demanded.
There was a chorus of agreement and once they were ready they all headed out to the lake and found a good spot for fishing. CJ, Donna, Mallory and Chloe helped spread out a bunch of blankets for them and the men worked on baiting the hooks. They all managed to cast in. CJ, twenty minutes later, was the first one to get a bite. She began to reel it in. Finally, she pulled out a struggling two and a half pound bass.
"Whoa that's a keeper" Toby laughed, grabbing a net with one hand and her with the other to steady her as she landed the fish. "You did that great" he applauded. "And I can taste sautéed bass in butter already." "Oh I've got one" Leo yelped suddenly. "It's huge." "Let's see" Abbey urged as she stood near him. "And a fighter" Leo laughed as his rod bent. A minute later the fish broke the surface of the water, a six inch crappie. "Look Leo caught bait" Jed pointed, laughing loudly. "Pretty good for your first one" Sam assured him.
The fishing continued and Sam tossed one back and then caught a good sized perch. Donna brought in two large bass. Jed caught four bass and though he was just wonderful. "Woah! hey! Woah!" Chloe called out as her line was really being pulled and a large fish surfaced, unfortunately it was having more luck pulling Chloe towards the lake than she was having success reeling it in.
Chloe and Tucker had wandered downstream several yards from the others and Tucker had excused himself for a comfort visit to the woods when he heard her yelling. "Chloe what's wrong?" he helped, sprinting back to her from the trees. He saw at once that she was being pulled down the slippery bank toward the water, her tennis shoes sliding in the mud. For a moment he stopped, content to watch in amusement, and then saw how the bank dropped off sharply below her, knowing the water would go from one foot to many feet in depth with no warning. "Chloe drop the pole" he yelled, "you'll be pulled in and that water is deep."
"No...I'm not letting this fish get away..." she grunted and she kept pulling. She locked her knees and dug her feet in and through some miraculous occurrence began to reel the fish in. The fish, which neither could identify, weighed in at seven pounds. "See I told you I'd win!" Chloe replied with a laugh. Then she backed against a small rock, lost her balance and footing and fell over onto her behind with an 'oomph'.
Tucker reached her just in time to miss catching her by about a second as her rear hit the mud. "Hey you're not hurt are you?" he yelped, dropping beside her. Seeing that she was in one piece he laughed lightly and took hold of her arms. "You scared me here missy. That water runs deep and cold. You might have ended up in the lake before I could have caught you." He hugged her close and then as they pulled away he put dots of the soft mud on her nose and chin. "Now your front matches your back" he teased.
"Eww..." Chloe moaned, "please....help me get back to our room and cleaned up. She dropped her voice then, "I'll let you wash me...if you want."
"We haven't left yet?" Tucker whispered, his eyes shining. He lifted her carefully to her feet and walked her back toward the others. "Mr. McGarry I'm taking Chloe back to the house. She uh...she needs a change" he laughed, turning her so that her brown backside could be seen. That earned him a punch in the arm and he laughed again and hooked his arm across her neck. "Oh by the way, Chloe caught this." He held up the enormous fish. "We don't even know what it is."
"Wow," Jed exclaimed, "that has to be at least a seven pound bass. What a beauty!" They took the fish and Tucker and Chloe hurried back to the house.
Chloe put her things out for the staff to laundry and then she stepped into the bathroom and undressed stepping into the shower.
Tucker hung back outside the door in hesitation and then figured he had been invited, and the worst she could do was change her mind, so he dropped his clothes in a pile and followed her in. With his hand on the curtain he called softly, "you're sure there's room for me?"
Chloe jumped slightly, startled and laughed lightly, "you spooked me...I was wondering when you'd get here. It's a party shower, there's plenty of room and showerheads all around." She reached her hand out to bring him in with her.
With her assurance that he was welcome he eagerly joined her, taking an appreciative look at her body as she stood under the water, her hair streaming down with the mud now washing from it. He filled his hand with apricot scented liquid soap and came up behind her. "Do I have touching privileges" he whispered, "if so, I have the soap."
"Yes you have touching privileges," Chloe answered and she shivered slightly as she first felt his hands on her. "Your touch makes my body feel so alive...I love it," she gasped softly.
His hands were slicked by the soap and he began at her neck, sliding down along her arms before returning, and starting down again, this time across her back and around to her front, brushing lightly over her breasts without thinking. Her nipples responded at once to his palms and he dropped his hands. "I'm sorry--out of bounds there." At the same time he was willing her not to turn around, not to see what his body was thinking despite what his mind was telling it.
Chloe did turn around though. "I don't mind..." she responded and then she got some soap as well and with a smile she began to caress him lovingly.
Tucker's mouth dropped in surprise and then pleasure. "Chloe I love you" he gasped, his hands returning to her breasts and he gently pinched the nipples between his fingers, enlarging the reaction of before. Meanwhile he was doing some enlarging of his own and he took her mouth in a kiss, gentle at first and then more and more demanding as their tongues swept each other's.
Finally Chloe moved her hands to wash the rest of him and she moved his hands from her breasts as well. Once they were rinsed she handed him the shampoo for her hair. "Careful, girl's hair washes different from a guy's hair. You can't pile it all on top of my head. You have to run your hands down the length and try not to tangle it too much," she cautioned before handing the shampoo to him.
"I can handle that. Horses manes and tails remember" he smiled, pouring the sweet scented liquid into his hands and beginning slow gentle sweeps from her scalp to the ends, coating each strand with the shampoo. Once finished he parted the hair slightly from the back and placed a kiss at the top of her spinal cord, feeling her shiver in response to the tickle. "So how long have you been growing this beautiful stuff" he whispered when his hands returned to the job.
"It's been this way since I was ten so six years I guess," Chloe answered. "I love it long and since it's very thick and healthy long then I like to leave it this way. I can't imagine having it short." She was obviously enjoying his touch. "You're so very good with your hands dear."
"It's because I love what I'm touching" Tucker answered. "I love who I'm touching in fact." He tilted her head back to him and kissed her, careful to keep it gentle and light this time. "This is great, and next weekend is your birthday dinner don't forget--like either of us could. Turning sixteen is pretty special. Mine was in County. I got a card from mom and dad, just their signatures. Sam sent me a big box full of stuff. Cake and cookies and Kool-Aid mix and..well just stuff they didn't much have there."
"Oh Tucker that's awful," Chloe moaned, "no one should have to do that...I promise I'll try to make your seventeenth birthday very special. As for dinner, I have a dress that is going to blow your mind away I think and I'm going to have my hair done...it's going to be a dream come true."
"Where I'm taking you suits that" Tucker sighed. "Bless Sam's gold American Express and Sam for letting me say he was him when I made the arrangements. I'll owe him big time but it's going to be worth it. And my birthday is not for four months so don't concern yourself." He steadied her under the water and rinsed away the last traces of the shampoo, picking up the conditioner without being prompted and the wide toothed comb she had brought. Carefully he combed the thick liquid through her hair, letting the residue wash over him as well. "We're going to smell alike" he smiled.
"Won't that be nice," Chloe returned with a smile. She moaned softly with the careful attention he was paying her. They rinsed off and then dried one another before Chloe laid out on the bed, on her stomach, letting her hair hang over the side. "Blowdryer's on the counter," she said softly.
Tucker retrieved the dryer and sat Indian style next to her on the bed, drawing the comb through her hair and following it with the dryer, smoothing out as he went. "I swear if the guys at County were to see this" he laughed softly. "I'd end up as Benny's girlfriend for sure."
Chloe laughed at that. "You don't mind do you?" she asked after a minute. "I just think it's so loving and so sensual for you to do my hair."
"I would do anything in the world for you" Tucker sighed, "and this happens to be something I'm loving every second of." With his long sweeping strokes her hair became like piles of spun gold about her shoulders and finally when it was dry he gathered it loosely in his hands, and stretching out next to her, let it fall over both of them, their skin still slightly damp as he pulled her onto his chest, making slow circles on her back. "I love you Chloe angel" he sighed, "and on your birthday I'm going to show you how much."
"You show me all the time how much you love me," Chloe yawned out softly, before she fell asleep on Tucker's chest.
"I want to" Tucker sighed, and his own eyes closed as the two slept skin to skin, deeply in love.
"Josh I need to take a break here" Donna said quietly. "Too much standing I think. Will you come sit with me on the rocks for a while and we can just watch." She put her hand to her head, feeling both a headache and dizziness at that moment.
"Coming," Josh said at once moving to her side. He wrapped an arm protectively about her waist and gathered her to him as they walked before he helped her down on some rocks in the shade. "Better now?" he asked softly, always concerned about her.
'I'll be fine" Donna promised, touching his cheek and then drawing his face to hers for a long kiss. "Hey you two are not at the drive-in" Jed teased.
"They're newlyweds," Abby contradicted, "they can behave like that all they want."
"Thank you ma'am" Josh grinned and repeated her kiss, urging her upper body onto his lap and began to massage her temples. "Close your eyes and remember how much I love you" he whispered.
Donna closed her eyes and smiled softly, soon soft moans of enjoyment were escaping her with his attentions. They slipped away from the others then and went to spend their afternoon making love and enjoying their honeymoon.
"Charlie I've got one. Oh wow" Zoey yelled suddenly from where she had been lounging comfortably on the bank. Slowly on shaky legs she pulled herself to her feet, watching the rod bend double. "This is going to beat Chloe's you watch."
"Zoey you be careful!" Charlie exclaimed, rushing to her side at once to help her.
"Help me" Zoey screeched, her weakened legs not holding her up as well in the mud. The fish broke the surface, a big trout, and tried to shake off the bait. Charlie wrapped his arms around her middle, holding her firmly. "I've got you. Let's see if you can bring him in." "There's the trophy fish for the day" Jed declared from his spot. "That has to be a nine pounder."
It was definitely a nine pounder, no less when Charlie, holding up Zoey, finally brought the fish in. "Please be careful," he pleaded with her again, "precious cargo remember," he whispered then as he rubbed the spot under which their baby lie.
"At least" Zoey gasped feeling the weight of the fish in her arms. "Let me give you a hand there" Toby grinned, quickly netting it, "that's going to look great in your suite in the residence." "Now she needs a deer head to go with it" Abbey offered and Jed frowned. "Fishing is one thing, but hunting I can't......" "I know" Abbey nodded, "that's a discussion we've had numerous times." "Stephen hunted" Caroline mused thoughtfully, "always taking clients out west for elk or quail or something." Charlie gratefully sank down with the panting Zoey in his arms and kissed her. "You're amazing Mrs. Young."
"Why thank-you Mr. Young, I'm glad you of all people think so," she replied and everyone burst into laughter. Meanwhile CJ had spotted a wonderful hammock tucked away on the cove and it swung out over the lake gently as she lay idly in it. "Toby..." she called gently, "could I have your opinion on this?"
Leo wrapped his arms around Caroline, trying to protect her from the thoughts. "Are you hungry yet? need something to drink? It's my job to make sure you're taking care." He leaned down and kissed her, "and I love it."
"I would love a cold soda" Caroline assured him, "and I'm fine, but it feels so good to have you taking care of me I don't want to tell you not to. Your child is treating me well. I had an easy pregnancy with the twins too. Stephen was gone a lot and he didn't want to touch me pregnant which suited me just fine."
"Do you not want to be touched while you're pregnant?" Leo asked considerately after he retrieved a soda for her from the ice chest that had been brought to them.
"I didn't want that man touching me any place any time" Caroline declared in her soft voice. "He just took what he wanted, when he wanted it and when he was done he got up and walked away like I was some whore." Her eyes filled with tears then. "And for a long time I thought I had to take it. Only with you have I ever known gentleness. Now if nothing else, I know I won't be raped ever again."
"Oh Caroline," Leo said in a gruff voice, pulling her to him and folding her in his protective embrace, "no angel you never have to go through anything like that ever again. I'm so sorry love." He stroked her beautiful brown locks softly.
"You don't be sorry" Caroline sighed. "You're my savior in all this. If I'd had any courage at all I would have left him a long time ago--when I first found out about the twins at least. You could have been there for their births. Lord knows Stephen wasn't. He didn't even bring me home from the hospital. I had to call for our car."
Leo sighed. "I'm here now though," he said resolutely still holding her lovingly.
"And I'm never moving from you" Caroline vowed. "I love you and I want to be your wife. This baby is a McGarry and that's how I want him born."
Leo smiled, "Well I think we should have the wedding on the bridge over the pond in the backyard, just our group of friends here nothing large and strenuous on you. Whenever you're ready..."
"How's Monday looking for you?" Caroline teased. "Actually seriously Leo. Next weekend is Chloe's birthday and I don't want to take that away from her; but maybe the weekend after? Saturday afternoon, with a catered pot dinner to follow outside--like get one of those big party tents maybe, and a portable dance floor for the deck and a small band for dance music. And then this group here. That's all I want. I'll wear something simple, and ask the women to do the same."
"You're asking me if I want to marry you in two weeks?" Leo grinned. "Sounds like a plan to me. And I'll carefully arrange the President's schedule so we can accomplish that."
Caroline laughed. "I'm sure I can be persuaded to attend," Jed spoke up. "I don't want to miss it," Abby added.
Toby hurried to her side, catching the side of the hammock and leaning down to kiss her. "You want to know if you look beautiful lying there, the answer is yes. You want to know if I love you, the answer is hell yes. Next question?"
"Next question, join me for a nap in here?" CJ asked, "You know I'm not often on the asking end of the deal." she laughed lightly.
"It is hard for you to ask sometimes--for anything" Toby acknowledged, dropping next to her and then lifting her so she was mostly laying on his chest. "I love you Mrs. Tobias Ziegler. Hey do you realize when they do alpha order in school our child is always going to be last. I still have a complex about that."
"I was always near the front of the line, but most of my teachers did a-z one time and z-a the next." CJ answered. She laughed lightly then, "we could form the all Z school and only children whose last names started with Z could attend, then they'd never be at the end of the line again."
"And there would be about four students" Toby laughed. "Even amongst my Harvard graduation class there were only four Z's--two Zimmermans, a Zercher, and me. And by the time they got to our diplomas, the crowd had long since dispersed. Besides doing it from the other end doesn't help the kids with M's." He laughed again and nuzzled her soft neck, letting his beard tickle her. "In this life, you are loved by me."
"I love you Toby," CJ answered with a smile. "I never thought you and I would wind up together, but I wouldn't want it any other way." She kissed him. "Love you." she added once more before she closed her eyes for sleep.
"OK guys, the cavalry is here" Henderson told Lucas and Gina as he dropped on to the bank near Charlie and Zoey. "Go ahead" Donovan added her voice. "We're on them for the next hour." "YES" Lucas declared, taking Gina's hand and pulling her up. "Walk in the woods?"
"Wonderful," Gina replied with a smile. They rose and once they had cleared the group she took Lucas' hand for their walk. "Love you," she whispered softly with a smile.
"Love you very much" Lucas replied, and led Gina deep into the woods to a crystal clear cove. "The water is about sixty five I'd guess" he grinned. "Here's the challenge. Skinny dip, one who wimps out first gives the other an hour long back rub tonight."
"You're on!" Gina laughed lightly and pulled her clothes off, folding them and placing them in a safe hiding spot before she ran into the water, squealing and jumping when she was up to her shoulders. "It's freezing in here Miller!" She crossed her hands over her breasts, her nipples taut little rocks from the temperature.
Gina was still bouncing around, "I can't believe I let you talk me into this! This is crazy!" His gaze on her made her flush though. "The water's not feeling quite so bad anymore..." she said watching him stare at her. Then she moved away to swim.
Lucas followed her example, beginning vigorous laps around the edge of the pool. "Hey be careful now" he cautioned after a few minutes. "I don't want you getting sick just to win a bet, and if the water is starting to feel warm, that means your body temperature is dropping to match it."
"I can do this," Gina chattered, "I've b-been through s-surv-vival t-t-training before..." She said, shivering and teeth chattering.
Lucas stopped swimming and looked at her, seeing her mouth tinged with blue. Wordlessly he leaped from the water, allowing her to win. "I'm not going back and explain to the head of the detail that I let my partner freeze to death" he grinned, "now paddle over here and let me get you out of there. You lasted way longer than I would have bet you could anyway."
Gina came to him and drug herself out of the water. She began to frantically wring her hair out and soon as she had been in the hot air for a few minutes her shivers stopped. "You're crazy you know," she laughed at him, "you also owe me an hour worth of back massage." She kissed him.
"Yes ma'am" Lucas smiled. "I'll massage your back or anything else you'd like." He helped her with her hair and rubbed her arms up and down helping her to get warm. The warm air and breeze dried them off quickly and they redressed. "I'm glad Henderson and Donovan don't follow us" he laughed and rubbed his nose to hers. "I love you Agent Toscano."
"I love you," She checked her watch, "we've got 25 minutes left."
"And what does one do with twenty five minutes in the middle of the woods?" Lucas asked her softly, gathering her into his arms. "Or we can save that for tonight and play survival. I'll give you ten minutes to get away and then I come looking for you. Double or nothing on the back massage that I can trail you through here."
"Nope, not playing with my back massage..." Gina smiled and then she grabbed his hand and kissed him. She led him through the woods then as they wound their way back. "I love you," she whispered.
"Your back massage is safe" Lucas whispered just before they came in sight of the others. "With a little body oil for good measure and I love you. Tonight we'll sleep wrapped together like we did before. I could get awfully used to that."
Gina sighed, "So could I...so could I..." She stopped his walking then and kissed him lovingly. "Thank-you for caring so much for me Lucas."
"Gina Toscano I love you" Lucas vowed. "And I thank you, and God, that you chose to love me back."
Gina smiled at Lucas and then whispered in his ear, "Well you can thank me tonight then." She walked ahead of him and was thankful to be notified that Zoey and Charlie were now taking a nap before the barbecue.
"That's a promise I mean to keep" Lucas assured her, wanting for all the world to hurry to her side and take her hand and knowing it wasn't proper. At least around Charlie and Zoey they did not have to be afraid of their feelings.
Josh carefully adjusted himself under Donna as she stirred in his arms. "Hey sleepy" he whispered. "Feeling better? Would you like a cold drink?"
"Yes and some waffles too," Donna replied, "I'm famished."
Josh laughed at her waffle request and picked up the phone. "I'll ask someone from the kitchen to drop an Aunt Jemima in the toaster for you."
"Thank you." Josh hung up the phone. "OK they're able to make you a quick waffle and I'll pick it up in a few minutes. Room service they don't do unless your name is Bartlet."
Donna smiled and kissed him quickly, "Thank-you. I love you."
"Mark your calendars everyone" Leo ordered. "Two weeks from tomorrow my back yard. I've succeeded in begging this beautiful woman to be my wife."
"Marking calendar," Jed replied. "Ditto," Toby spoke up lazily where he was almost asleep with CJ.
"I think we're about ready to pack this in" Jed announced. "And if the staff followed orders the pig should be roasting." That mental image was too much for Mallory. "Sorry" she gasped, hand over her mouth, and turned and ran several feet down the bank before dropping to all fours and losing the contents of her stomach. "I think maybe the mothers to be aren't coping too well with the pig" Abbey told him.
"No I guess not," Jed replied. "What?!" Leo suddenly exclaimed looking from Abby to Sam and then down to Mallory. "Is it true?" Leo asked but he wouldn't get an answer from Sam at the moment because he had gone after Mallory, holding her gently. "I'm sorry," he spoke softly, "I'm not very good at this kind of thing, but if you teach me I'll do anything to help you."
"I'm only guessing" Abbey added quickly, "but ask Jed, she looks like I did all three times; fortunately only for the first few weeks each time."
"Nothing you can do" Mallory gasped, "that you're not already doing that is by just holding me and showing that it's not grossing you out that I'm doing this. Can we go back to the room and shower now? I think I need it."
"Of course we can," Sam answered, "you're ready now?" At a gentle nod from Mallory Sam ever so carefully lifted her into his arms and began to carry her towards their room. "Your carrying my baby does not in any way gross me. It makes me the happiest man on this earth. I only wish I could do more to help you. I'm sure it can't be pleasant to be ill like that."
"I can handle anything with you by my side" Mallory whispered. "I guess after this little display there's not much doubt about my condition" She relaxed in his arms and let him take her to their room. "I want to sink into a warm bath" she sighed, with lots of oil and....you. Can you fix that?"
Sam smiled and kissed her forehead, "that I can do. You lie right here and relax." He made sure she was okay and then hurried into the bathroom to get everything ready. He returned to her with the oils to make sure he picked one that would set well with her. Once he'd finished with the bath water he returned and undressed her gingerly before scooping her into his arms and then finally settling her gently into the tub. He quickly derobed and slipped in behind her before drawing her back to lie against him and with a sponge he squeezed warm water onto her breasts, letting it run over her to warm the parts not submersed in the deep tub.
"I wish you were pregnant so you'd know how good this feels" Mallory sighed, laying her hand up against the side of his face and then turning him to her for a long kiss. "I am being pampered to death and loving it I'm ashamed to say. I love you Samuel Jacob Seaborn." She turned slightly sideways so she could massage his chest as he held her, rubbing her face gently in the soft field of chest hairs.
"I love pampering you Mallory. You just haven't let me do it too much before now. I'm thinking this pregnancy could be a very, very good thing indeed." Sam laughed lightly then, "If men suddenly had to be pregnant and give birth the world population would come to a sudden and startling end."
"I know that's right" Mallory laughed, trailing her hands over his chest. His daily workouts kept him trim and his muscles taut, one of the first things she had noticed about him.
Tucker and Chloe began to awaken at the same time, moving within each other's grasp. "I love you angel" he whispered, kissing her awake more fully "and we'd probably better get dressed unless we're going to the barbecue like this."
"Wouldn't that be interesting?" Chloe suggested with a laugh. She leaned down and kissed him. "The moments I spend in your arms or your company are the happiest of my day. I love you Tucker Seaborn."
"Love you back" Tucker sighed, ''more than I'll ever be able to say I'm sure."
CJ and Toby showered quickly and then found Jed and Abbey on the broad veranda that over looked the Catoctin mountain valley below. "This is a great place" Toby smiled and helped CJ to sit on the glider, joining her there and then accepting two glasses from one of the Navy stewards. "A martini for Mr. Ziegler and a virgin daiquiri for the lady" the man smiled. "Cheers" Jed held his glass aloft. "CJ, I haven't seen you this relaxed in months" he smiled. "Marriage, pregnancy, and being out of DC does agree with you I think."
CJ smiled, "I think I'd have to agree with you there sir. Toby's baby makes sure I take things slower as does Toby. It's nice to have something to come home to at the end of the day and I find I don't throw myself quite so deeply into my work." "Though I'm not slacking and still understand the seriousness of my job," she hurriedly amended with worry.
"If anything you're even sharper than you were" Jed assured her, "but no you don't need to be married to that podium to do the job one hundred percent. I've never been anything but totally satisfied with the way you handle the press and even more so now." "And these would be the newlyweds" the president greeted Donna and Josh upon their arrival. "Yes sir" Josh grinned, flushing slightly, wondering if it was that obvious what they had been doing just before dressing.
Donna was walking along, still eating the waffle that Josh had gotten for her. "Mmm...I could really go for a mounds right now..." CJ spoke up with a smile to Toby.
"No problem" Toby nodded and got up, almost colliding with Caroline and Leo when they joined them, the twins shrieking ahead across the wide wooden floor. "Where are you off to?" Leo asked him with amusement. "Mounds run" he answered. "Hey you know a Snickers would be great right now" Caroline smiled. "Yes ma'am" Toby nodded, "Why don't I just bring an assortment."
"That sounds great!" Donna enthused and at a look from Josh wailed, "hey I'm hungry!" "So Caroline how do you and Leo pass the afternoon?" CJ asked, "if it's something that can be talked about. I slept most of mine away." "I didn't," Donna replied and then she blushed.
"We spent an hour reading to the twins to settle them" Leo sighed, "and after that we were too tired ourselves to do anything but nap with them. Where do they get that energy?" At that moment they were chasing each other up and down the length of the veranda, until Belle got the bright idea to climb on the top of the railing. "Leo get her" Caroline gasped, "if we yell we'll scare her. How far down is it over the side?"
"Six feet," Jed answered as he quietly snatched the toddler who then began to wail. "Have you ever thought of getting them a rubber room?" Josh suggested.
"Only every other minute" Leo smiled, "thank you Mr. President. Something for her memory book. Life saved by President."
"I'm also Uncle Jed," Jed replied with a smile, "I don't want to be too distant from these kids, after all we've been forty years I think we're due another forty..." "Wouldn't that be nice," Caroline smiled. "To friendship," CJ mock toasted.
"Amen" Josh nodded quickly, and looked to the others in the room. "And to friendship that turns to love" he added, leaning down for a long kiss shared with his new bride.
"Definitely seconded," CJ nodded.
"Lucas, Gina, you guys ready to go up to the big house?" Charlie called through the wall.
"Sure," Gina replied and she appeared a moment later in jean shorts and a red and white gingham shirt. She and Zoey froze for a moment before bursting into laughter when they realized they matched though Zoey had left her shirt untucked. "Jean shorts are a little snug," she explained.
"Hey it's Mary Kate and Ashley" Charlie laughed and pointed. "Good thing I'm not capable of jumping you just yet husband of mine" Zoey growled. "Come on I want to see if they've got any food out. It's been a long time since the snacks during fishing and even longer since breakfast." Charlie put an arm around her quickly. "You look cute with your shirt covering that little baby belly" he smiled and Gina's hand automatically went to her middle, as everyone looked at her.
"Lucas, go ahead and get her pregnant would you," Zoey teased, "and that's an order from the first daughter." Gina laughed lightly and smiled.
"Only if she were ready" Lucas smiled. "Besides I'm used to having her by my side and I don't want to give that up to her having a desk job. At the same time...." he shyly touched Zoey's baby mound, what little there was of it, "being a father, watching the woman you love grow big with your baby inside. That has to be one of the best feelings in the world." He looked to Charlie for confirmation.
"The best," Charlie replied placing his hands over Zoey's baby bulge from behind, "It's more amazing than you can imagine." Gina looked wistful, "such a shame you don't need a companion...that would be a pleasant job where I could keep all my promises."
"OK Agent Toscano, what kind of companion are we talking about?" Lucas accepted her challenge. Charlie began to escort Zoey from the room. "Freeze you two" Lucas ordered. "I may need witnesses." He wrapped his arms around Gina again. "Are we talking life companion here?" he asked softly, "as in someone who fall asleep and wake up with in your arms?"
"I was originally thinking a companion to Zoey so that I could give us a baby and keep my promise to be there for her, but if marriage would give me the same solution than it would be all the better." Gina replied with a brilliant smile.
"Excuse me for being too presumptuous" Lucas grinned. "But now that you mention it, if we got married and you went to inactive status should you get pregnant you could keep Zoey company at her request while I took care of the main protection on active duty." He laughed and held up his hands. "It's just a thought. Don't shoot me."
"I don't think I'll shoot you at all," Gina smiled, "I love you. I also think you might have a very good idea."
"You hold that thought" Lucas told her firmly, "because this is going to come up again." "Yeah we need to get out there. When dad says he wants all of us to be gathered, he's not just hearing himself talk." Zoey sighed.
Toby returned with a giant assortment of candy bars. "The vending machine didn't fall on you did it?" Donna teased CJ. They both shared the laughter. CJ made room for Toby and curled against him she began to enjoy her mounds.
"The smell of that barbecue is making me crazy" Donna sighed. "And I just ate a waffle too. I'm not a candy bar eater. In fact I've been off chocolate since I got pregnant I think."
"Donna's off chocolate? Now that's odd..." Caroline spoke up. "Nah, my big thing isn't chocolate, it's olives," CJ spoke up, "what about you Donna, what's your passion?"
"I was never a chocolate craver" Donna said "but I ate it if it was around. Now it's kind of turning my stomach. This afternoon I was craving a waffle; but all week I was keeping a can of cashews in my desk, which is better than dipping oreos in salsa like Mallory." "She's sure keeping a lid on whether she is or isn't" Leo sighed.
"Mmm...cashews," CJ enthused. "Oh Donna don't get her started," Josh cut in. "Looking for me?" Mallory smiled as she and Sam appeared. "Okay...here we are," Zoey, Charlie, Lucas and Gina appeared.
"Good we're all here" Jed smiled, "we could even get a little work done while we're waiting for them to holler dinner." "You wouldn't dare" Abbey warned. "Jed this is a weekend off that we said we were going to start taking more of. You have mid east talks all next weekend so I'll be damned if you're going to ruin this one excuse my French." "I was kidding" Jed laughed. "Besides we're not all here, there's no Chloe or Tucker." Caroline immediately looked to Leo.
"Tucker, Tucker we're going to be late," Chloe said kissing him once again. They hurried with putting their shoes on and raced to join the others. They stumbled in looking rather incriminating. "We're umm...late?" Chloe stumbled.
"Most people are on time when the President requests it" Sam grinned, lightly punching his brother. "But then it's not like you work for him." "Tucker have you thought about a career in government or politics?" Jed asked. "No sir, I'm going into trauma medicine." "Too bad he's not an OB" Donna sighed, shifting herself again.
"Are you okay?" CJ asked raising a brow and looking to Donna. "Someday he'll have plenty of experience," Chloe whispered in Tucker's ear.
"Unless you want to hear about my backache or how I need to pee again, I'm fine" Donna sighed. Josh gave her a quick kiss and hug and then immediately began to rub her back in the spot he knew bothered her. "The other I can't help you with but I will walk you to the bathroom."
Donna smiled and excused herself. "I can't believe she said it," CJ and Caroline both chorused and they headed to the bathroom as well. "So we're just sitting around waiting for dinner hmm?" Chloe asked after they had been sitting quietly a few minutes.
"No ma'am" Jed announced. "Now that we're all here, we're going to go work up an appetite. Volleyball. We've got enough to choose up sides for teams. I'm captaining one, Leo the other. Go ahead Leo pick your first player."
"CJ," Leo called out confidently. CJ moved to take position next to Leo. "You knew didn't you," she spoke to him, "I played in college." "You still can't work a treadmill," Josh teased.
"Josh take a good look in your bed tonight" CJ threatened. "Snakes have a way of crawling in under the sheets on chilly evenings."
"I've got Lucas" Leo announced. "Then I'll take Gina" Jed countered. "Charlie" Leo announced. "Donna" Jed pointed. "You take Donna over me" Josh sputtered. "I've seen you play" Jed reminded him.
"Sam" Leo called. "Sam over me!" Josh whimpered. "Toby" Jed called out. "Chloe," Leo called. "Josh," Jed finally decided. "Tucker," Leo nodded.
"I want to play" Zoey protested. "You're doing good to walk" Gina reminded her. "OK I've got Mallory" Jed said. "Caroline" Leo replied. "Abbey" from Jed. "And Zoey you can referee. Remember where your allowance comes from". "Not for two years daddy" Zoey sighed. "Let's do it" Jed rubbed his hands together and led the way down the back steps to the volleyball area. Leo took the twins to be watched and then hurried to catch up.
CJ served the ball and Josh returned well. Lucas countered and Mallory missed it. She exhaled loudly, "I'd forgotten how much energy it took to have fun in college."
Serve went over to Chloe and she punched it to Gina who sent it careening back to Chloe in a high return. Chloe leaped for it, and sent it to Donna who also jumped, missing it and falling forward in a total belly flop onto the sand, not moving. "Donna that's not cute" Josh warned, "because if you're trying to scare me it's working so knock it off and get up."
"I think she's serious," CJ said ominously before she hurried to Donna's side. "Just, lost, breath," the blonde managed to pant out, "babies okay, I think." "It's only sand, they should be fine," Caroline said softly, reassuringly.
Josh dropped next to her, rolling her onto his lap and even then her color and breath were returning. His eyes were wide with fear but he forced a calmness as he brushed sand from her face and then stood up, bringing her with him. She held to his shoulders while she got her breath and everyone watched anxiously. "You want a break?" he asked anxiously.
She shook her head, "No, no I'm fine," she finally answered, "on with the game!" "That's the spirit, easy now," Jed replied. "Toby served and CJ dropped to her knees to make a smashing return. Josh spiked it and Chloe who had turned to look at Tucker got it on the forehead. She burst into laughter, "hey where's the penalty box? I wanna see Josh sit in time out," she teased.
"I'd like to see Zoey make me" Josh teased back. "She needs an enforcer." "I'd be careful Lyman" Toby grinned, "Charlie probably knows karate or something. And I'd be more worried about Tucker anyway. It's his girl you just beaned."
Josh suddenly looked a little hesitant. "There's two Seaborns...I think I'll cut my losses." "Good idea," CJ returned and the game continued. Finally Leo's team won but everyone celebrated the victory. "And now we feast!" Toby cheered.
The Navy stewards had set up a massive outlay of food, complete with tableclothed picnic tables, flower arrangements and Japanese Lanterns burning citronella. Chloe stopped in her tracks, holding tightly to Tucker. "This is awesome" she breathed, "and smell the food. Oh Tucker we have my birthday next weekend and then Leo and Mom get married the weekend after that. This is so great."
"Not exactly the quiet getaway honeymoon I had originally envisioned, but are you having a good time anyway?" Josh whispered to Donna as they walked with the others.
"I'm having a wonderful time," Donna smiled laying her arms on his arms where they were wrapped around her from behind. "I'm with you and all our friends, what's not to love?"
"Yeah and it's only June," Tucker replied wrapping his arms around her from behind as he had seen Josh do. "Yeah June 17th," Chloe said dreamily, thinking of her birthday.
"Monkey see monkey do," CJ commented teasingly to Sam in reference to Josh and Tucker.
"Why not" Sam laughed, dropping a foot behind Mallory and catching her up as Tucker and Josh had done theirs. Toby had walked ahead to have a word with the president and Leo, leaving CJ several steps behind. "Boy I tell ya' " she called laughing, "you know you're an old married woman when your husband runs off to talk business." At the same time she stubbed her toe on a tree root and it was Josh's quick arm that kept her from falling as her laughter died in momentary fear for the baby. "Thanks I'm OK" she smiled, her voice quivering slightly.
"Careful CJ," several people called softly, gasping at her near accident. Toby, Leo and Jed all turned to see what had caused all of the commotion. "I think you're in the doghouse," Leo said softly to Toby.
Toby immediately dropped back to CJ's side. "Sorry honey. I got caught up" He held to her then, putting his arm across her back and feeling her tremble slightly and then she nodded to indicate she was all right. "I was pointing out to Leo that Senator Hartman wouldn't know a project worth funding if it kneed him in the groin." "Give the man a break" Leo returned. "Give us all a break and put a lid on it" Josh begged. "Honeymoon here remember." "And dinner in front of us" Jed pointed. "Presidential order, no work discussion for the rest of the night." Music began from the five piece string ensemble sent in by the Navy and wine was poured along with grape juice. Caroline looked over to see which Tucker and Chloe were having.
Chloe picked up the bottle of wine and poured herself and Tucker a glass. She swirled it around and then tasted it. Then she took a sip before walking over to their table.
Tucker took a long drink of his and wrinkled his nose. "You know what, I think the grape juice is better. Not to mention, I'd as soon a can of Mountain Dew from the cooler."
Caroline had started over to them and Leo put a hand on her arm. "You make it ten times more attractive by forbidding it before you need to" he advised quietly. "Let them make their own decision for right now. Tucker already said he doesn't drink."
CJ in the meantime looked longingly at the wine. "I'm not a drinker" she sighed, "but I do love a glass with dinner. You wouldn't think one glass could hurt now and then would you? I know my mom drank now and then pregnant with me. I bet all our moms did." "I don't think it's a chance I want to take" Mallory said softly.
"You're right," Chloe answered frowning, "what do people see in that stuff?" Chloe set her glass down and grabbed two cans of Mt. Dew from the cooler; she tossed one to Tucker and opened her own.
"Me either," CJ answered. "There, there you admitted it!" Donna called out to Mallory, "you are pregnant aren't you?" she asked, her face lighting up with joy.
Mallory's mouth dropped open and then her face took on a look of indignation. "Certainly not" she giggled. "I was just saying when the time comes I wouldn't tempt fate that's all. You guys quit putting words in my mouth." At the same time her furious blush belied her words.
Two hours later the group was groaning from the amount of food and were now in various stages of relaxation. Chloe and Tucker however were playing chase with the twins. Zoey and Gina were sharing a blanket, the men in their lives sitting behind them, letting them lean back against them. "Should we be doing this?" Gina asked softly, with an eye to the members of the main detail who were not even nearby, Camp David being the fortress it was.
"It's high time they knew," Lucas replied with a smile as he kissed the back of her neck, "I love you and I'm going to go on loving you."
Gina pressed a hand to his cheek, reaching behind her. "Thank you" she sniffled. "I love you too and you're right. People need to get used to the idea."
Lucas squeezed her a moment, "Yes, it will help when you have to announce you're going to have my baby," he whispered into her ear.
A sudden shiver passed through Gina at those words and her hand again went to her stomach as she pictured a baby boy with his dad's rugged good looks and slightly spiky hair. "Sounds like a plan to me" she whispered. "Maybe something we can work on as an ongoing project."
"I could handle that," he replied back and then doubtfully asked, "You're really serious? really, really? You'd have my baby Gina Toscano?"
Gina tilted her head back to look at the man in whose arms she was reclining. "In a heartbeat Lucas Miller" she answered simply.
"Excuse me?" Lucas reacted. "Zoey, Charlie, you're my witnesses now. Did this beautiful woman just tell me she was not opposed to having my child?"
"That's what I heard," Charlie spoke up and Zoey nodded. "Most definitely not opposed," Gina supplied with a smile.
"Sounds like a done deal to me" Lucas smiled happily and then rubbed Gina's belly lightly. "Maybe it already happened. Maybe right now there's little bitty cells dividing and growing inside you." He stopped and thought "and when you say it like that, it doesn't sound that attractive."
Gina laughed lightly, "actually what sounds attractive is another barbecue beef sandwich with plenty of barbecue sauce." "Oh yeah that does sound really good," Zoey spoke up. "Beef sandwich with sauce...Toby do you mind?" CJ asked while she was digging in the olive bowl with Caroline.
"Mal sweetie are you really going to make me a grandfather?" Leo whispered to her softly when they had a moment.
"Sometime in the next five or six years yes" Mallory laughed teasingly, keeping her voice low and then sobering. "Yes actually. I guess in about seven and a half months. Sam is thrilled....and I'm getting used to it. It's not what I had expected, but I do want this baby."
Leo smiled, "Thank-you...your secret's safe with me. Congratulations to you and Sam. I think motherhood will suit you." he whispered softly.
"Thanks Dad. Sam and I will be fine with it" Mallory sighed, "it's you I'm thrilled for. I wish you could see yourself when you look at Caroline, or when you play with the twins. You're a different man from just a few weeks ago. She's good for you and I can't wait to see you two married."
Leo smiled, "Thank-you Mallory, coming from you that means a lot. You're right though, Caroline, the twins, even Chloe, they're good for me. It's like having the chance to do things right with them, things I wish I'd been there for with you." He rubbed her hand. "You're going to make a beautiful mother Mallory. You already glow like one."
"I know dad. And I'm sure mom wishes you had been too, though she's hardly blameless in anything that happened. I'm sure you're going to be different. Not all of us get a second chance and this is yours. You're a lucky man. And Caroline plainly adores you. I'm sure she wishes she had gotten away from Stephen a long time ago as well."
"All in the past," Leo smiled, "now we're together and things are going to be better than we ever imagined." He hugged Mallory and then returned over to Caroline kissing her lovingly. "Well thank-you. It's good to see you and Mallory getting along so well. I hope that she doesn't feel hurt by our being together."
"No she doesn't" Leo sighed happily. "Possibly because she's with Sam, but more just that she's genuinely happy for us. Plus she loves Chloe and the twins, and is thrilled that I'm having another baby this late in life, even though I'm going to be mistaken for its grandfather all the time."
Caroline laughed, "Oh Leo honestly..." she hugged him, "besides who cares what people think so long as we're happy."
"What do I look like--I'm Toby and I'll be your waiter? I'm the White House communications director for crying out loud" he protested. "And very much in love with your wife and you want to please her and her friends" Charlie grinned. "But I'll give you a hand since mine is whining...I mean asking as well."
The men went and got all of the women more to eat. "My compliments to the chef," CJ said as she was getting messy eating her burger. "This is such a wonderful weekend I wish it wouldn't end," Donna said. "Seconded," CJ spoke up. "Thirded," Caroline agreed.
"Well the choppers won't be back until tomorrow night" Leo pointed out, "so we do have tomorrow to sleep in and swim and..." "Church" Jed spoke up and stood up. "Let me have your attention please. I've asked the Chaplain of the navy to chopper up here in the morning and do a non-denominational service for us in the morning. It's not 'til noon so sleeping late will be accommodated. I'd especially like it if everyone would come. This is..." He paused as his voice took on a slightly unsteady tone, "this is a group of friends that I cherish and I want us to be together for a long time. Worship is an important part of my life and I would like to share that with you all. I promise there will be no hell and damnation, and no one will ask for money."
CJ looked to Toby, things were always compromising between them concerning faith. He had consented to a catholic wedding and she had suggested that their first anniversary be a Jewish wedding. Neither wished to convert and had decided that they could agree with the other's wishes.
"Yes and I think Chloe should sing for us," Zoey suggested. Chloe smiled softly and actually blushed lightly at the praise.
"It'll be our first service to attend together married," Donna smiled to Josh.
"Chloe that's a great idea" Tucker enthused. "If you ask nice I'll join you. I was all state boys high school choir the year before I...I went away and I love to sing."
"Yes it will" Josh smiled back and hugged her, rubbing the baby as he did so.
Toby gave CJ a soft smile of understanding. "My God of Abraham is the same as your God of Matthew and Luke" he whispered in reminder. "The same being who brought us together."
"Now that that's settled, who's ready for a walk in the woods to work off this dinner, and then maybe a gathering around the pool--the indoor one of course--for drinks and cards, not to mention the movie screen down there" Jed offered.
"That's wonderful! We can do a duet!" Chloe enthused and then quickly kissed him, "you angel you. I had no idea you liked to sing!"
"Oh yeah perfect!" Zoey cheered and the others nodded. "Zoey are you sure you should go for a walk?" Gina asked. "Sure the doctor said I should be getting back on my feet and getting back to normal," Zoey replied.
"Besides that's what she's got Charlie and Lucas for, to take turns carrying her" Donna pointed out. "I'd offer Josh but he'll be busy carrying me if these swollen feet give out."
"I do a mean Amazing Grace" Tucker smiled. "Also Blessed Assurance, Rock of Ages, How Great Thou Art and so forth. I did the church choir for a while too. In fact there was a time when I thought about being a youth minister; about the same time as I thought about being an Olympic equestrian. Big dreams for a boy headed for jail."
"Shh!" Chloe hushed him, "Leo might know about that but mother's in the dark and I think I should keep her there for a while longer. The whole family adores you and I hardly think that will change but I hate to hear you talk bad about yourself. We're past that now." She kissed him, "I love you so much."
Tucker took a long breath. "I love you, I love you, I love you Chloe" he responded, returning her kiss with much enthusiasm. "Hey get a room" Sam screeched. "We have one" Tucker smiled, earning him a glance from Jed. "Too much information boy" Jed laughed. "Let's take that walk." He motioned to the head of his detail. "We'll need those flashlights and lanterns please."
The group set out on their walk, even Abby joined in at a nice slow leisurely pace. "It sure is beautiful through here," CJ commented. "I know...I can't wait to come back," Donna added. "Yes, sometime when I can enjoy the horses," Caroline said. "Oh they were wonderful!" Chloe enthused. "I thought you'd find time," Caroline smiled softly. "Now I think it's time to tell one of those really creepy campfire tales," Sam said shining the flashlight up on his face. "Oh no you don't!" Donna said quickly, "I have an overactive imagination and I don't want to be scared to death."
"Sam knock it off" Josh ordered sternly. "6AM comes awfully early, and even more so if I've been up half the night calming her, in addition to the other half that we're up.....well never mind that." "We're not all that far from the Blair Witch area" Jed reminded them. "Zoey saw that. Care to share Zoey?"
"It was lame," Zoey commented with a half laugh. "Totally, I laughed," Chloe added, "I can't stand scary movies either Donna." "I'm not much on them myself," CJ added. "I think I've seen almost all of the popular ones, even all of the Scream movies," Caroline contradicted.
"Well for godsake don't start acting them out in the middle of the night" Leo declared. "I don't want to wake up to you in a Jason mask with a hatchet or something." "There is a legend of a headless solder in these woods though, dating back to the civil war" Jed spoke up. "They say he raped a farmer's wife somewhere in the valley and the farmer and his brothers chased him into these mountains. They caught him and chopped off his....uh .....privates...and then they took care of him for good with his head. The legend goes that he's wandering these hills looking for his head and his......" "We get it Mr. President" Mallory cut in.
"We're glad he doesn't address the press," CJ spoke up. Toby agreed in grimace. Donna shivered, "Okay that's enough of that kind of talk. I think it's enough walking too, now how about that party with the pool and movies and food."
"The stewards are setting up food for midnight buffet" Jed reported. "OK an about face, and back to change into swimsuits for the water lilies amongst us and we'll meet at the pool at ten."
The walking line turned and it was then that Zoey sagged heavily. "I'm sorry" she gasped. "I guess I'm done for" and she sank to the cool ground, her legs folding under her.
"Zoey!" Charlie exclaimed and Lucas and Gina were immediately at her side. Charlie lifted her and with Lucas' help they made quickly back for camp. "Now I'm really thinking that piggyback joke earlier would be a good idea. My feet and ankles are killing me," Donna said. CJ seemed to be just fine walking along with Toby.
Josh stopped and squatted down. "OK. Climb on if you don't think I'll drop you" he laughed. "Toby give her a hand up will you--only watch where you're putting that hand thank you."
Gina trotted after Lucas and Charlie and supervised them as they reached their room and carefully dropped her on the bed. "Baby you're through walking for tonight" Charlie told her firmly. "I know they said you should take your muscles out for exercise but not at the point of exhausting yourself. You've done amazingly today."
Toby rolled his eyes and carefully assisted Donna onto Josh's back. "Are you sure this is okay? I'm so heavy, you be careful," Donna cautioned, all the same even Josh could see that her ankles weren't fairing well.
"I know," Zoey smiled softly with a hint of disappointment, "Can I still go to the party?" she asked hopefully. Gina felt bad for the lively and energetic young woman. "You did a good job Zoey, you're getting better," she offered hoping to help.
"Of course you can go to the party" Charlie laughed. "And if you're up to it we'll dance. I just want you to lay off the walking tonight; but Gina's right, you were great all day and tonight. You're getting much better."
"Someone is retaining a little fluid" Josh said softly, turning his head so he could kiss her. "Something else to talk to the doctor about. Don't we get to see the twins soon?"
"You mean get to see if we're having twins," Donna reminded him, "not this coming Tuesday but the Tuesday after that....I think, or was it this Tuesday? I know it's a Tuesday at eleven thirty. You don't think my retaining fluid is dangerous do you? or worse yet bad for the babies." Donna changed into her swimsuit when they reached the room and she put on a stylish cover-up over it. CJ wore only shorts over hers leaving the top of the swimsuit visible.
"I think it bears a question to the doctor" Josh told her, "but you might also ask Caroline. She's had experience in pregnancy, Abbey too."
Donna nodded, "Good idea. I think I will, especially Abbey might know." She took Josh's hands and walked with him down to the pool. "Hey Abbey, I hate to interrupt your vacation but could you take a look at my feet? They're swollen a little and I was wondering if this was normal or what I should do."
"Whoa pontoon boats" Abbey smiled kindly. "Sit dear. It is not normal but it does happen in warm weather especially. Sometimes it shows you've been overdoing, on your feet too much. When you do sit, you should put them up, elevated to the height of the rest of your body, which will look great in the office. And lay off the salt. Did I hear you're into cashews? Salt is very bad for that. I'm guessing your doctor will give you a mild water pill when you go next and you really should. I know in very rare cases, it can be that your kidneys aren't reacting well to the pregnancy. Now that wasn't to scare you, but to make you check on it first of the week."
Donna nodded, "I most certainly will. I want everything to go well for this pregnancy. Thanks for the advice and information. I guess I need to develop another craving."
"What?" Josh exclaimed. "I'm going to miss cashew breath." "Olive breath is no picnic" Toby called laughing, which ceased a moment later when CJ pushed him into the pool.
"Alright CJ!" Donna cheered. CJ sat down on the side of the pool. "Olive breath," she retorted to Toby when he surfaced. Donna gave Josh the 'don't even think about it' look.
Toby spluttered around in the pool and CJ dropped her shorts and joined him. "Forgive me for the olive breath" he smiled, and grabbed her around the waist. "CJ I swear you're getting a little puffy there and it's beautiful."
"I'm glad you think so," CJ smiled, "and yes I'm starting to get 'puffy' as you call it. I can't say that I'm complaining." She swam peacefully with Toby.
Chloe was laid on the bed waiting for Tucker to finish changing. She had on an electric blue bikini. "You don't by any chance know how to French braid do you?" she asked offhandedly.
"Of course I do" Tucker smiled. "Sit on the floor, which will help me keep my eyes off your body in that bikini, and I'll show you." He helped her to sit on the floor by the bed and he sat above her on the mattress, straddling her sides with his legs and brushed her hair out over his lap. "You just want one down the center?" he asked, being in no hurry to cease the stroking of her luxurious strands.
"However you want to do it, one down the center or two down the sides...it doesn't matter," Chloe replied, "I love the way you brush my hair love."
"I love your hair" Tucker responded. "And I love doing this for you. Someday you'll be large with my child and I'll be helping you with everything. This is good practice."
Chloe trembled slightly, "that's a very exciting thought you know. I think about being pregnant a lot, about having a baby... I can't wait until I can share that with you. In the meantime you can take care of my hair for me."
"I want that too" Tucker said quietly, "I love kids. They're so honest and refreshing. Look at your brother and sister. Every minute around them is an adventure." He leaned down and kissed her cheek. "And I love you."
"Yeah it is... I hope someday we have our own children made of love," Chloe smiled. "I love you so much Tucker, I've never felt like this before."
"Hey all our dreams will come true" Tucker said firmly, "we just have to let them happen in their own time. I'm not going anywhere, except to take you over to the pool party and midnight supper."
"Zoey you ready?" Charlie asked her gently. "And will you be piggybacking or you want to walk and lean on me?" "I wouldn't mind being carried either" Gina teased, "but it would look funny on duty. Mmmm...maybe we can do it later Lucas."
Zoey laughed, "you two are insatiable, oh there's one of those words my father thinks I don't learn at school!" she laughed. "Could I possibly take you up on that piggyback ride? I promise I'll be good and not bounce."
"Just don't kick my sides and yell giddyup" Charlie told her. "I was going to get her a riding crop" Lucas teased.
Zoey sighed and then got up on Charlie's back carefully, "this alright?" she asked politely. "I wanna see him do that in another three months," Lucas laughed. Gina shoved him down onto the bed and left him there.
"Well in three months there's going to be a baby bulge there" Lucas defended himself, "how is she going to get close enough--his arms will have to grow three feet." "Ignore him" Charlie laughed "and you're just fine. Let's go."
Chloe smiled and took Tucker's hand. They met up with Charlie and Zoey plus Lucas and Gina and the three couples entered the pool area at the same time. "Chloe your hair's so pretty, how on earth did you French braid all that yourself?" Donna asked. "I didn't, my talented boyfriend did," Chloe replied with a smile.
Charlie arrived with Zoey and she immediately pointed to the pool. With Lucas and Gina helping to support her, Charlie walked down the steps into the warm water and she floated off his back. At the same time Lucas sat on the ledge around the pool and held his hand to Gina to join him.
The musical group played Ruffles and Flourishes as Jed and Abbey arrived. "Knock it off" he ordered, "this is a social weekend." They switched to soft music and everyone slipped into the pool as the lights dimmed. "Water ballet" Caroline declared, melding into Leo's arms.
"ha! that would imply I had rhythm!" Sam joked. "Yeah it would," Donna added. Then everyone really laughed. They were enjoying themselves in the pool, especially Chloe who was piggybacking on Tucker with her head laid lazily on his shoulder.
Leo nudged Caroline and pointed. "This is not some teenage romance we're watching here" he said softly. "These two are genuinely in love and we're looking at the future. I'm not sure whether to bemoan that she's so young, or to be grateful the man she's picked is a Seaborn."
"I think we just got lucky," Caroline smiled softly, "because she's a Seaborn and our families are so close it will be okay that she's so young." Caroline smiled at them, "they are serious. I know that look...my Chloe is a lucky lady. I wonder if Sam is aware of this..."
"Sam has his hands full with Mallory and the.....well Mallory and all" Leo sighed. "But he does need to know that Tucker's plans for the future do include Chloe. I think it's going to be OK with them. They're very young, but very in love and I don't see that changing."
Caroline shook her head, "they don't even fight. I mean they sit and discuss things. They're very mature with one another. Sometimes it almost startles me."
As if to prove his words, Chloe gracefully swung down off his back and into his arms, now resting her head on his chest as he walked around the pool. Now and then they would whisper to each other. "Because I'm the President of the United States" Jed began as they passed him, "I can ask you two this. Is this a permanent arrangement with you two? My chief of staff is going to be the father in law of Sam Seaborn's brother?"
"Huh?" Sam looked up from Mallory startled and she laughed. "My fiancé is blind."
"Probably in a few years," Chloe answered shyly, "since you're the President, I'll say honestly the sooner the better for me. I'd like this to be pretty permanent."
"Blind?" Sam questioned, "okay what did I do or not do this time?"
"You and Leo are going to be related by marriage" Abbey laughed. "The houses of Seaborn and McGarry will come together."
"If you promise that you'll wait until you're eighteen, I'll do the honors myself" Jed told her softly. "I am still a court official, despite being president. I could share center stage with whatever clergy you want."
Chloe smiled, "you've got yourself a deal Mr. President. There's nothing I'd like better than to have you officiate. It would mean a lot to me."
"Wait woah hold it?" Sam fumbled, "are you saying Tucker and Chloe--are we really that serious?"
"Count on it" Jed smiled, dropping a hand on her head.
"Sam take your eyes off my daughter for a minute and look at what my other daughter and your brother are doing" Leo smiled. "Not only will I be your father in law, I'll be your brother's as well."
"Should we ask the president to do us?" Lucas murmured teasingly in Gina's ear, nibbling a bit as he spoke.
"Oh my goodness," Sam and Mallory both spoke.
"Oh wow won't that be wild," Chloe spoke overhearing, "I mean if it happens like that...I mean sometime in the future...when it...oh anyhow." Chloe flushed curling against Tucker. "you think they think we're ridiculous and just pretending?" she whispered in his ear.
"Only if he doesn't make us wait two years," Gina returned with a laugh.
Lucas looked horrified at that thought. "I'm not sure I want to wait two days" he whispered "but I can, as long as I have your love."
"I don't know" Tucker shook his head. "I can only speak for myself, how much I love you and how much I want you to be my wife when we can."
Chloe smiled and leaned in to kiss Tucker, "I love you and I'd like that too Tucker, very much."
"Do we know enough about each other to want to get married now?" Gina asked Lucas seriously.
Lucas looked genuinely perplexed. "No I guess we don't" he admitted, "what we want and what's actually the intelligent logical thing to do may not be the same thing. I just know I love you."
"I can't look into the future and not see us together" Tucker said firmly. "I see myself as the doctor I'm determined to be, but I see you with me, pursuing your own desires whatever that is, but with me all the same. Good grief, you could even do something with fashion or modeling."
"And I love you, the more I get to know about you the more I love. That's why we need to spend more time together and get to know one another."
Chloe smiled, "I'd like that. I want us together Tucker. I see us in the future together just as you do." She held his hand and then she kissed him lovingly on the lips and her arms wound round his neck and all the others could do was watch.
"OK I don't know about the rest of you but this love-in is making me hungry" Jed announced. "And yes I just dated myself. "Leo you know about love in's don't you?" "I was a virgin until I was thirty" Leo replied dryly. "OK right" Jed grinned and looked to the buffet table. "I'm out of here" he announced. "There's a ham sandwich over there with my name on it."
Josh cuddled Donna close to him. "You hungry love and what a dumb question that was."
Donna gave Josh a look. Everyone got out of the pool and gathered around the buffet table. Chloe grabbed a French dip sub and a salad. CJ got a taco salad and Donna grabbed up two slices of pizza. "This buffet is fabulous, why don't we have one of these at the White House?" Donna asked.
"Because we don't have Navy stewards and chefs serving the help" Jed smiled. "But you do have a point. I think once a week, on Friday when things tend to slow down a little anyway, we should have a buffet served up from the kitchen. We can call it a working lunch, and sit and talk about all kinds of concerns. Maybe we can tie it to an ethnic theme--Jewish one week, American Indian food the next and so forth." "Mr. President could you stop talking and let me reach the olives" CJ sighed.
It was a full and tired group that headed for bed a long two hours later. "Could I interest you in getting up early for a trail ride, and then we'll come back and get ready for church?" Tucker asked, "no jumping, just a ride through the woods."
"Sounds perfect," Chloe replied with a smile. In her satin pajamas she fell asleep in his arms. The next morning Tucker woke to the neighing of a horse. When he peered out the window Chloe was sitting gracefully, sidesaddle on a horse in a very fluffy blue gown. Her long golden tresses were in a beautiful intricate updo. She saw him in the window and smiled, waiting for him.
Tucker opened the window and shook his head in amazement. "You never cease to surprise me. I love you Chloe. Be right there." He took all of two minutes for him to dress and he was out the door. He stopped in front of her to take in the full beauty of her sitting astride the quiet animal. "Wow" was all he could get out.
"Dramatic n'est pas?" she inquired with a smile, playing with the silk flowers in the horse's mane. She handed him the reins to his horse and they quietly made for the trail. She rode effortlessly, like a perfect English lady atop the horse. "I wanted to go ahead and be ready for church before we went riding so they fresh blanketed her for me. It's beautiful out here isn't it?"
"It is amazing" Tucker declared. "Promise me when I'm a rich doctor and you're my beautiful wife we'll have a place in the country like this to come to. We'll have our horses, ponies for the kids, a big house and friends like all these people."
Chloe smiled, "I hope so Tucker, I really do." They continued to ride along and at a particularly beautiful spot Chloe had a photographer waiting. He took an entire roll of them in various poses with the horses. "I'm full of surprises I know," Chloe laughed lightly as they left the photographer and continued on their morning ride.
"I can't wait to see those pictures" Tucker grinned, urging his horse into a canter up the hill into a grassy meadow and stopped, jumping down and catching her in his arms. "You are beautiful" he smiled, "totally beautiful and I love you." The soft meadow grass was inviting and he pulled her down onto the carpet, stroking her back as she lay on his chest. "And this afternoon after the after-church meal, we chopper back to DC to the real world".
Chloe sighed, "I know...I'm just thankful we still have most of our summer ahead of us. I hear school here starts right after labor day. That's the same time as in Vermont, I've heard children in the south start like the middle of August...ick! Of course they get out before us though too," she sighed. "Thank goodness we only have two more years of high school left."
"Amen to that" he sighed. "And that reminds me, how are we going to fix it so we go to the same school? Didn't I hear your mom say you were going to that girl's school? Of course Sam wants me to go to Georgetown Prep that's all boys."
Chloe sighed, "I don't think we're going to be able to sway them on that. We should only fight the battles we can win. We can be together after school after all. That school Mom and Leo are wanting to send me to is the best opportunity for me Georgetown Prep will give you that extra boost you need to get into medical school right off."
"At least the Washington School for Girls is GP's partner for co-ed activities like dances" Tucker sighed as well "and I know we'll have a lot of together time. Hey this is better maybe. If you went to school with a bunch of good looking guys, you might find someone to replace me real easy."
Chloe gawked at him, wide-eyed and open mouthed, "not in a million years Tucker Seaborn. I love you and for your personality and your beliefs not your good looks. I am not that shallow."
"But I am that insecure" he laughed, pressing her lips to his. "You belong to me Chloe Murphy; but at the same time I'd never want you to not do things on your own, like a team sport or club at school, just because of me."
Chloe smiled, "good because I wasn't going to let you stand in the way of that. I'm presently looking for a gym so I can continue my gymnastics. I don't know if I'll join any school clubs besides perhaps French club. I plan to spend most of my outside school time with you at my house." She kissed him again. "Really Tucker, you have nothing to worry about. I love you and it's not just some childish thing, I really do and I'd be ready to spend my life with you tomorrow and be perfectly happy. I'm not going anywhere."
Tucker relaxed and smiled. "I was thinking I might get into music again. And speaking of that, we have to be sure the chaplain knows we're going to sing at this morning's service. But first.." He laughed and hugged her to him, then rolled them over and over in the sweet soft grass, tumbling down the hill until he stopped and she rolled back into his arms. "I love you Chloe, from the moment I first set eyes on you."
Chloe smiled, "I think I loved you almost that soon. By our second dip in the pool I know." She looked down and laughed. "You've now gotten my Sunday dress all dirty Tucker."
"I'm a bad boy" Tucker grinned, "and I'll take care of the cleaning. I'm sorry, but I couldn't help doing that. I'm just so happy when I'm with you that it makes me do funny things sometimes. Forgive me?"
"Of course," Chloe kissed him lovingly, "how could I not. I love you so much Tucker. Besides, it was fun," She laughed lightly.
Tucker helped her up. "Time to start back. So what are we going to sing?"
"I was thinking we could sing Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art and close with the Lord's Prayer. Sound good?" Chloe asked after they had mounted and started back.
Chloe and Tucker turned their mounts back in at the stable and he caught her hand to run across to the house. "Unless we're going to smell like horses at church I think a shower is called for" he laughed, tugging her along.
"We can share again," Chloe suggested and soon they were curled in the shower together. "Can you imagine, someday we'll be able to do this anytime we please."
Tucker carefully combed the shampoo through her hair once again, washing the traces of grass and dirt from the long tresses. "I will make love to you at least once a day then" he vowed. "You will be Chloe Catherine Seaborn and you'll have my child inside."
Chloe shivered again, "that sounds so perfect Tucker. I wish that was now. Two more years is going to seem like forever. I want to wear your ring and have your baby and be all grown up."
Zoey stretched and yawned in the bed she shared with Charlie and then pulled from his arms to walk on shaky legs to the bathroom. "OK baby, calm down now" she said softly to herself, rubbing her stomach. The baby however had other ideas, as if telling her last night's salami with sauerkraut sandwich was not the best choice.
"Oh no!" Zoey gasped then and she raced to the bathroom. "Oh no," Charlie echoed as he crawled from bed and then followed Zoey into the bathroom and got a towel to wipe her face. "I'm sorry baby."
"Not your fault" Zoey gasped, "well actually it's half your fault, but it's worth it to have your baby. Not sorry at all. And I'm not missing church. Could I have a can of ginger ale please while I'm in the bathtub."
Charlie nodded, "Love you." he went and got a can of soda and brought it to her. "I'm glad you're having my baby. I love you so much Zoey Young."
"I'm in love with you Charles Christopher Young" Zoey sighed, trailing the wash cloth from her breasts down to her barely protruding stomach, "and this little area is your baby. Your son Charlie. I'm going to have your son."
"Oh Zoey that would be so wonderful," Charlie gasped, "of course a beautiful little girl just like you would be wonderful too."
Zoey lay her hand along his cheek, stroking her fingers down to his chest as he knelt next to the tub. "No my love, we're having a boy first. We'll have plenty of time for a beautiful daughter; but for right now, I want to give you a son. Christopher Josiah Young."
Charlie smiled, "that's wonderful my love, just wonderful." He kissed her softly. "Come on now, you think you can get ready for church?"
"Good morning sweetness" Josh kissed Donna awake, running his fingers through her straight blonde hair, feeling the flaxen strands. "I love you and I want to sit by you in church services this morning with your hand in mine."
Donna smiled, "So do I. This will be my first service as a married woman. I can't wait, everything's so exciting and new now." She got up and dressed in a soft pink dress.
"I should have a pink tie to match" Josh grinned, standing back to take a look at her. He put his hand to her back and then lifted a pillow from the bed, pressing it to her middle. "You in seven months" he smiled, "and you'll be beautiful."
Donna smiled, "I can't wait Josh. I want everyone to see your baby growing inside me. I love you so much."
Josh kissed her cheek and took her hand. "Shall we go to the Lord?" he whispered.
Donna smiled and nodded. They headed for the church and met Abbey in a navy suit to match Jed's navy suit. CJ was wearing a light blue dress and Toby had on black. Chloe and Tucker struggled to get her hair dry and styled on time and she wore a blue silk dress that went to tea length. They weren't the last ones to church though as Caroline and Leo entered she in white linen and he in navy. Then Charlie carried Zoey in, pristine in her knee-length black dress.
Charlie carefully settled her on the front pew next to her mother and then slid in next to her, his arm around her shoulders. "Love you" he whispered and her head went to his shoulder.
At a nod from the chaplain, Chloe and Tucker rose. "Amazing Grace how sweet the sound" she began, her soft clear voice echoing through the room. "That saved a wretch like me" Tucker answered and the song proceeded as they alternated the lines as the worshipers listened in open mouthed awe.
"Wow, they're good," CJ whispered to Toby. "Beautiful," Josh commented. Everyone was in awe even as the last strains of the song faded away. Chloe smiled, she loved to sing and singing with Tucker was even better.
As the last notes of her part faded, Tucker turned her towards him and with his hands on her shoulders leaned down to barely brush his lips to hers. "In addition to the Lord, this woman is my Grace" he said softly, just loud enough to be heard in the room, "and I love her."
Leo squeezed Caroline's hand. "The face of the future" he whispered.
Caroline smiled, "I know," she said finally realizing the inevitable and greeting it with gladness.
"I love you," Chloe returned and they moved to take their seats, Chloe's hand in Tucker's on her lap, as the minister came forward to begin the service.
The minister prayed for the safety of all present, and for the wisdom and guidance of the country's leaders, and then he paused and looked around the room. "Finally lord, bless these men and woman I see before me today. The love in this room is very real and very palpatable." His gaze dropped first to Chloe and Tucker, having seen them during the song and then rested on Gina and Lucas as they sat with Charlie and Zoey, Lucas's arm around Gina's neck, the back of his thumb grazing her cheek now and then. "And we have newlyweds here today." Josh and Donna both smiled and blushed.
"I guess that means we're not newlyweds anymore," CJ whispered to Toby in tease.
The minister gave his message and then Chloe and Tucker closed with an incredible rendition of The Lord's Prayer. The song left Chloe with tears on her cheek and there were few dry eyes in the rest of the room.
"Beautiful" Tucker whispered, "just like you." He leaned down and kissed her tears, wiping at a few of his own at the same time, and then pressed her head to his chest, stroking her hair. "You are my love" he whispered again.
A sudden round of applause went up for the singers and Tucker looked up from her. "Thank you all" he smiled. "It was our pleasure. Mine especially to sing with the one I love." Then he added with a quick grin, "we're also available for birthday parties, weddings and bar mitzvah's."
"Me and the baby are ready to eat on that note" CJ reminded Toby.
Jed and Abbey quickly made their way to Tucker and Chloe. "I know it's a ways off yet, but you know I plan to be reelected in two years. I want you two to plan to sing at my inauguration. Think you could handle the National Anthem? It would be just before the Navy does a fly over."
"The national anthem on television?" Chloe said. "Wow...I...I guess I could as long as I had Tucker there to do it with me. I'd be so nervous otherwise."
The group all made their way to the large lunch buffet where Chloe loaded up her plate. "Wow next Friday night is my birthday. Hey Leo, I'd really like a Firebird." Chloe called out, not thinking she'd get one at all.
Leo laughed and turned to Josh. "Make a note that I need to call the dealership tomorrow morning." He laughed again and shook his head. "Come on Leo I'll bet you got a car when you were sixteen" Jed prodded. "No when I was sixteen I got a job" Leo returned. "And then I got a car, an old Ford that I fixed up." Abbey leaned across to Caroline. "Have you thought of a party for her? If not, come have it at the White House. I know Tucker is wanting to have a private one with her, but I think it would be wonderful to have you all there Sunday afternoon, purely informal."
Caroline smiled, "Thank-you ma'am I think that would be wonderful. I know Chloe would love it. She adores being with this group and you all are very good to her. Of course we'll come, is there anything I need to do?"
Abbey shook her head. "Not a thing. Someone from my social staff will call you tomorrow and talk about food and decorations. It will be Jed's and my present to the girl. Not every day one turns sixteen; though it seems like just last year for Zoey, and now she's married and pregnant. And speaking of that, how does it feel to be pregnant again at your age? It certainly does become you. You look wonderful."
Caroline smiled and flushed softly, "Well fortunately it wasn't all that long ago that I had the twins and was pregnant so...I'm sure it won't be as easy as when I brought Chloe into the world but I can do it."
"At our age three years seems forever" Abbey smiled, "besides Leo surely thinks you and..." A sharp scream cut her off. "He's choking, help him" Zoey screamed again, pointing to Lucas who had his hands on his throat, his lips tinged with blue already. Gina wheeled from the buffet table where she was talking with Charlie upon hearing her charge's voice, to see that it was Lucas, his eyes large with fright now and silently begging for help. Zoey being the closest had her arms around him, but her strength was no match for the size of the agent.
"Oh Lord," Abbey exclaimed jumping up as the others were frozen in horror. Gina rushed to his side and tried to help him remain calm. Abbey placed her hands correctly and attempted a heimlich maneuver. Her first attempt was not successful, her second however dislodged the object from Lucas' throat. She immediately put his head between his knees. "Long slow deep breaths," she encouraged, herself panting from the activity. "Oh ma'am thank-you," Gina gasped out, immediately holding to Lucas and crying.
By this time the rest of the guests were pressed close, and Jed pushed his way through quickly, seeking Abbey. Abbey went into his arms, panting still from the exertion, as was Zoey from her failed attempt. "OK, let's give the man some air here" Jed encouraged, waving them back. "He's OK." A collective sigh of relief went up as the others returned to their table. "Thank you ma'am" Lucas choked out, his voice raspy. "Very welcome" Abbey smiled. "Can't have the man my daughter's agent loves choking to death in front of everyone." "Zoey you ok?" Charlie was holding her on his lap by now. Jed reached down with a napkin and picked up the piece of fajita steak Lucas had expelled. "Red meat kills" he grinned.
Everyone laughed at Jed's humorous remark. "Yeah, I'm fine," Zoey replied, "just sorry I couldn't do anything helpful." Gina meanwhile was clinging to Lucas and crying softly against his shirt. Abbey was drawing strength and comfort from her husband just as she always had.
"Lucas man you know how to stop a party" Charlie grinned, relief that his wife, and his friend, were both OK. Jed led Abbey back toward their table and kept his arm around her. "Not every day the first lady gets a chance to save a life" he whispered.
"I'm OK" Lucas told Gina, resting a firm hand on her hair, "but for a while I didn't think I was going to be. Everything was starting to go gray."
"I miss it sometimes," Abbey answered, "it's a sure way to know you're making a difference, though I can see your administration doing that as well."
"Don't, don't even say it," Gina gasped and moved away from him, she couldn't leave he post but she wanted to. "You know, this is never going to work," she suddenly gasped out, "I mean what if you were shot. I'll never be able to function like this, we just can't see each other. That's why agents aren't supposed to get involved, this very reason right here."
"Gina no" Lucas began to protest and then stopped, suddenly in thought. "You're totally right" he sighed miserably, backing her up from Charlie and Zoey, but still keeping them in close eye contact. "When you said that I flashed on a picture of you shot, and me supposed to ignore you and look out for Charlie and Zoey and I....I don't think that's going to happen while I'm in love with you. This is exactly right--exactly why agents who work on the same detail do not get involved."
"No, no what are you two saying?!" Zoey wailed, "you two love each other, you need each other. Besides you're not going to get shot. Don't do this, you're going to hate yourselves for the rest of your lives if you walk out on true love like this."
Lucas took a deep breath and walked over to Charlie and Zoey, bringing Gina with him. "Zoey, listen to me" he said softly. "If Charlie were lying wounded and bleeding, could you ignore him while you were tending to and protecting someone else? Well that's what we're supposed to do. Or put it this way, if I could save only Charlie or Gina, then I'd be honor bound to save him. Am I making sense here?" "Sometimes love means taking risks" Charlie spoke up, wrapping his hand around Zoey's, and the dark of his skin contrasted with her fairness, "am I making sense?"
Both agents looked at Charlie wide-eyed, waiting for him to finish. "I think he means," Gina said after a minute, "that maybe that's just a chance that we have to take but that we shouldn't stop loving one another just because of the possibility of a disaster." "Well what would make you feel worse," Zoey spoke next, "knowing that you were holding the person you loved and they had been shot doing their job, or knowing that you were holding a person who had been shot and you may not ever have the chance to tell them that you still love them. I think lost opportunities is a much worse pain."
Lucas took a deep breath, gaining some appreciation for the wiseness of this young woman. He put his hands on Gina's shoulders. "I love you, and I would rather have you now, and maybe have to give you up in some fuzzy future time, than not to have you at all. If nothing else, I would die happy, knowing that you love me"
Gina sniffled and began to cry again, curled against him. "I love you," she whispered. Zoey sighed, "I think it's going to be okay now. Meanwhile I worked up more of an appetite." She went over to the buffet and got more to eat.
"So then he asks me 'did I really assign something this long and boring'?" CJ recited a story from her college days and everyone burst into laughter at that table.
"I used to think I wanted to teach at a university" Josh said thoughtfully, hearing CJ's story and laughing heartily. "I still may when the Bartlet administration draws to a close in six years."
Lucas put long arms around Gina. "Are we back then?" his voice was teasing but the concern was there. "I think we may have broken up for about five minutes there. You honestly had me thinking, but I've come to my senses. I don't want to live my life in fear of what might happen; and in fact I don't want to live my life without you in it."
CJ sighed, "That's depressing, Josh you're not supposed to depress people at a party. I don't want to think about us all splitting up and not seeing each other in six years."
"I don't know Lucas..." Gina hesitated, "Yes, yes we're back together." she finally answered and then she kissed him.
"Thank you" Lucas gasped, "what a relief. I just saw the best thing I've ever had in my life evaporating and I was afraid--more afraid than I was when I was choking in fact."
"Yes thank you" Donna said firmly, pinching the back of Josh's hand. "Maybe one of us should run for president. We could have a whole other eight years. CJ you'd be good at it. Or Leo?" "Money" Josh sighed, "in our country it takes money, though Leo seems to be pretty well..." "What's Leo got?" Leo asked as he returned from the buffet table, "besides heartburn from the chili dip?"
"I don't want to see this group of people split up in six years, we need to come up with a good way to keep that from happening," CJ spoke up, "it will be the worst thing that's ever happened to me if I lose close touch with any of you." "Oh don't even mention it," Caroline said getting teary-eyed. Even Abbey looked upset at the thought.
"We could get a constitutional amendment passed to throw out term limits and then Jed can run for a third term" Toby said, not totally in kidding. He then put his arm around CJ. "No one said anything about losing touch" he said softly. "Maybe we'll open up one huge law practice--like DC needs another one." "There's always a lobbyist outfit or some kind of research Josh offered. "Well we don't have to decide today" Sam spoke up. "It's enough that we resolve we want to stay together." "You and I will be married in six years" Tucker whispered to Chloe, hearing the conversation, "probably with a little boy and a baby daughter."
Chloe smiled, "that seems totally weird. Definitely great though. I can't even imagine." She kissed Tucker, "I love you and it's going to be great to get to celebrate my sixteenth birthday with you." "Yes we should all stay together," Caroline decided.
"Sounds like a plan to me" Josh smiled. "Of course CJ, Toby--Donna and I are practically living with you guys."
"Your birthday is going to be one of the highlights of your life" Tucker promised. "First our celebration and then the party at the White House, with press coverage likely."
"True and Leo's not far away for now, but I don't want anyone getting any ideas," CJ answered.
"What? Party at the White House? Tucker what are you talking about?" Chloe asked confused and curious.
"Your mom told me I could surprise you" Tucker grinned. "Mrs. Bartlet invited her to have a birthday dinner in the Blue Room for you on Sunday. I think. Of course that's secondary to our own celebration on Friday night." He leaned over and kissed her. "Going to be a big weekend, and then the weekend after your mom and Leo's wedding. Are we--or you--going to sing then? I really liked singing with you this morning by the way. It was like I was telling you how much I love you in music."
"We need a pact that no one is ever leaving DC" Donna said quietly, and then suddenly the tears came. "Donna" Leo tried to warn her, but it was too late. "I don't want anyone going anywhere" Mallory wailed.
"What's she crying for she's not pregnant," CJ spoke of Mallory, "well at least not that she'll admit."
"Oh that sounds wonderful," Chloe smiled a buzz of excitement, "yes I'm going to sing at mom and dad's wedding. Would you sing with me? I'm supposed to do 'Love will find a way' and 'Because you loved me' I think. Oh also Ave Maria but that's my gift to my mother..."
"I'd follow you to Antarctica like Mulder did Scully" Tucker grinned, ''so of course I'll sing with you. Hey that means getting together to practice. What a shame--I'll have to bear up somehow."
"Mallory stop crying" Sam smiled tolerantly, handing her a napkin. "She's having sympathy hormones." "Right" Donna smiled.
Chloe laughed and then suddenly lost her balance and fell backwards off the bench she was sitting on. This made her laugh harder. She managed to get back up. "You're too funny," she told Tucker, still giggling.
"Okay I'm pre-pre-....pregnant, there I've said it," Mallory finally choked out nervously and then buried her face against Sam and continued weeping.
"Hey it's nothing to cry about" Josh said quickly, squeezing her hand. "We're thrilled for you, all of us. And it's OK to cry. Donna has shed enough water in a month to launch a battleship."
Tucker quickly helped her back onto her chair. "It's going to be fun. Maybe Leo will let me play that beautiful piano he has. I'm very rusty, but I don't think it's something you forget."
"Congratulations Mallory," Jed was the first to offer and Abbey immediately echoed his sentiments. "Welcome to the club," CJ said warmly.
"You play too?" Chloe asked, "wow, we really do have a lot in common! I play also...I'm sure Leo would let you use the grand, so long as you're careful with it. What kinds of things do you play?"
'Music" Tucker smiled. "All kinds. Show tunes, classical, country, gospel, hymns, some pop. I just like music. If my ambition to be a doctor wasn't so overwhelming, I'd probably do something with music. What I was wondering was if you'd like to sing while I played for one."
"You're carrying my step grandchild" Caroline smiled, "and I'm so pleased. Leo used to tell me about his wonderful daughter and I'm so pleased to know you, and to be part of your family."
"We can do that for 'Because you Loved me' since it's not a duet and then sing 'Love will find a way together. You're more than welcome to play Ave Maria if you can." Chloe looked at him with admiration.
Mallory smiled back, "thank-you, I'm happy that you're a part of my family and that you make my father so happy. It's also pretty nice to have Chloe and the twins around as well. I'm counting on you to quell my fears, all of you, since you have more experience than I."
"We'll all help you Mallory" Abbey assured her, "though back when I was pregnant, drinking was allowed. Which might explain....." She laughed and gestured to where Zoey was now laughing hysterically with Gina and the guys.
"If it's got sheet music I can play it, at least after a fashion" Tucker assured her. "But I will need some practice. It's been a long time. If I had suggested in County that I could play piano and sing...well I had enough to defend thank you."
Chloe sighed and picked at her food from there on out until finally she left the table and went to a nearby couch to curl up and look at the lake out the window.
"I hardly think there's anything wrong with Zoey," Donna returned, "I think you just got lucky...it's too risky now with all that we know and that's why I'm going to have no alcohol for the duration of my pregnancy, for the baby's sake." CJ nodded her agreement.
"I can't believe it's almost time to leave. We've been having so much fun I was hoping it wouldn't end," Zoey commented.
Mallory excused herself and went to sit with Chloe. "Hey little sister" she said softly. "We haven't had much time to talk. You and Tucker are so good together. And no, I don't think it's some teen age thing. I've seen those before--hell I had about twenty of them; but this is so obviously different."
"No reason you and Charlie, and me and Lucas, can't come up here for a week sometime" Gina smiled to Zoey. "In fact that would be great I think. A week away from DC. Lots of good food and fresh air--good for you getting your strength back. Of course it wouldn't be the same without everyone but it could still be fun. What's great of course is how secure it is. Lucas and I can relax some too."
Chloe smiled and looked hopefully at her, "You don't think it is either? That's wonderful." she sighed then, "yes I'm sitting over here all alone because I'm having a problem. Tucker, well...he went to a county home for a while last year. He didn't do anything but he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyhow, I've accepted that and it doesn't really bother me except he mentions it all the time and I...I guess I'm afraid to react because I don't know how to react and I don't want to hurt him. I love him too much."
"You two could use that!" Zoey replied laughing.
"Sweetie I think he mentions it because it had a profound effect on him" Mallory said thoughtfully. "He screwed up bad once and he doesn't want to repeat it. Plus it may be his way of dealing with the experiences he had there. Healthier for him to talk than shut down about it. Maybe he had a bad experience there he'd like to let you know about and is afraid to tell you."
"I wouldn't mind" Lucas admitted, drawing Gina into a huge hug. "This is nothing like being in DC. That reminds me Charlie, when you start your classes I'm going to not just watch you but I'm going to be taking them along with you. I dropped out of college after my freshman year and did a stint with the Marines, and now I want those credits that I missed out on."
"Oh no, you don't think..." Chloe began, "well then what do I do to help him?"
Gina smiled admiringly. "Way to go Lucas! Let me tell you the math ones stink!" Zoey put in.
"That's one of the things that drove me away the first time" Lucas smiled. "That and being an eighteen year old kid who watched a big country invade a small one in the desert and decide I wanted to be part of the force that stopped them."
"I wouldn't do anything" Mallory advised, "except be there for him. He may someday want to tell you what he experienced there and then you'll get your chance to listen, but even then you can't do anything but let him talk."
Chloe sighed, "Do you think? Do you think I can handle this Mallory? I don't want to lose him and I worry a lot that I might do something immature and end the whole thing and that's one of my worst fears because I love him so much it hurts sometimes."
"Well just pretend that math is something that also has to be conquered and defeated," Gina encouraged and Zoey nodded. "We can do it together," Charlie offered with a smile.
"And I'm always glad to help" Gina smiled. "The Marines helped me get my degree. Gave me duty time to go to class and the money of course. I wouldn't have without that for sure. My parents were .....never mind" she shook her head, "except to say they were no help at all."
Mallory laughed and ruffled Chloe's curls. "My dear, that man is like gum on your shoe. You are never going to get rid of him. He's hopelessly in love with you. Lose him? Not in this lifetime."
"Start wrapping it up" Leo called. "Choppers are sixty out."
Chloe hugged Mallory gleefully. "Thanks, you're the best big sister anyone could ask for. I love you much Mallory." They heard Leo's announcement then and everyone began to make sure their luggage was together. Soon they were all loaded onto the choppers and their weekend at camp was concluded.