HOLDING ON TO HOPE

 
 

By Carol Sandford

 
 

Chapter 10

 
 

"Let’s go fishing."

Deanna pulled away from his arms and looked up into his face. A face that still held the evidence of his tears, "Wh...what?"

"I said, let’s go fishing. Let’s pack up a picnic, hit the bank and catch us some dinner for tonight."

Deanna stared at him as though he’d gone mad. Kissing the tip of her nose, Will brushed his hands up and down her arms, wiping away a chill that didn’t exist, "We need some air and space and time to think about us. We also need dinner tonight before I take you into town and we hit the local club. I have a surprise for you."

"You do?"

"I do."

Deanna smiled, "Tell me."

Will laughed, it sounded good to laugh again and he did, pulling the woman he loved into his arms, not quite believing that she was here, at last, with him. "No, other wise it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it?"

She tickled him. He hated that. She tickled him some more. He captured her hands and kissed her. Deanna stopped long enough for Will to let her go and dive away from her before she snared him again. Her laughter ricoshayed around the room, but she ceded. For now.

Half an hour later, Deanna was squirming with displeasure as she watched Will manipulate a worm onto the sharp spike of his fishing hook. Half an hour after that they were both whooping with joy as he reeled in his first big catch of the day; an enormous trout that would do them both. But Deanna had caught the bug and by the end of the afternoon, between them, they had caught another four.

Hand in hand, they headed back to the lodge. Whilst Deanna washed up, Will got the barbecue going and gutted the fish. By the time Deanna had returned, the fat trout was basted and spitting like a wildcat on the hot coals, and it smelt divine.

This time when Deanna approached Will, it was her that slipped her hand into his. Dream-time was back again, only this time there were no demons lurking between them, only a man. One solitary man.

Deanna thought she had died and gone to heaven when she tasted the succulent fish. A replicator could never in a million years, capture the taste that lingered on her tongue until the bottle of Chablis washed it away. She thought dazedly that it even surpassed her favourite chocolate sundae. She would never forget it. Ever.

~*~

The club was filled to the gills when the couple stepped inside its doors. The heavy beat of the band upon the make-shift stage, thumped out song after song. Every patron sang along and those that didn’t sing, danced, whirling around the floor. No one escaped, including Deanna later on.

They’d spotted the Black Horse’s as soon as they’d entered the club. Not only Gary and Juanita, but the other members of the Black Horse clan too. Making their way over to their table, they were greeted like long lost family. And that was Deanna realised, just what they were. Not only to Will, but to her too now. The realisation rocked Deanna sideways. She could have what she’d always craved, and she could have it with the one man she truly loved.

Will must have understood her train of thought because in a quiet moment, his eyes had met hers and he had beckoned her into his arms and she had gone, willingly.

Once the evening had quieted down and the music had switched to the old love songs of times long past, things changed. Some people were huddled around their tables chattering away nine to the dozen, catching up on news from the surrounding areas. More were drunk and drowsy, content to just wallow and listen, none wanting to go home. Couples sat cradled within each others arms and let the lull of the music wash over them, evoking memories that they all cherished, one way or another.

Will and Deanna were one of the latter. Deanna sat on Will’s lap, her arms around his neck as his circled her waist, holding her as close as he dared without causing an uproar. It had been hard having her so close, so tipsy and pliant, and on his lap, when all he wanted to do was kiss her senseless, take her home and make love like they used to before it all went wrong.

They had been good days. They had been the best, and they both still remembered. It was there, between them, sizzling away like a bowl of popcorn waiting to let rip.

But they both knew that there were still something that needed to be dealt with; The solitary man.

It was now or never. The evening was winding down and Will needed to make his move before it was too late. Planting a chaste kiss to her lips, Will firmly moved Deanna from his lap, groaning as he did so, and walked away from her bemused face.

Stepping onto the stage, Will smiled coyly at the crowd that erupted into rapturous applause and caterwauls, and whistles. Deanna watched fascinated as Will bent and spoke to the band, then reached down behind the stage and brought out a trombone. His trombone.

Lifting his arms indicating that the crowd quieted down, Will approached the mike and cleared his throat.

"Thanks, folks, I’m sure you’ll regret that applause when I muck up big time in a few moments."

The crowd roared with laughter, including Deanna, but when he raised his arm again she fell quiet with the rest of them, waiting.

"Over the years, I’ve had a lot of time to perfect this song - in private. It's a song that is very special to not only me, but the woman that has waited patiently for the past twenty years for me to get it right. This is for you, Imzadi. Nightbird."

The room went deathly silent for an instant until Will began playing. This time there was no red alert to break the spell, or the Captain’s voice booming through, breaking the magical moment. Nor was there just the creatures of the forest to listen and judge his performance. For once in his life, Will had to get it right, he just had to.

It was beautiful. The note that always failed him before, passed by and Deanna knew he had conquered her most treasured song. Tears streamed down her face as the haunting tune reached her very soul, and along with that came her decision.

Will almost faltered when he watched Deanna stand and walk toward the pay phone. Surely she wasn’t going to ring Carstair’s now! Not in the middle of the most romantic moment of his life. Will was gutted.

Everything had changed and Deanna knew she could no longer put off talking to her fiance. Her fingers felt numb as she punched in the code, holding the antiquated ear piece against her ear, waiting for him to answer.

She was dismayed when the answer phone kicked in, and she heard his bland message begin. Clinging onto hope she spoke non-the-less. "Antony, if you’re there, pick up, it's me, Deanna."

She breathed a sigh of relief when he spoke to her in person, "Hey, babe, are you ready to hit civilisation yet? I’ve missed you."

Deanna’s heart thumped painfully, "Have you, Antony. Have you really missed me?"

His cheerful voice grated on her already sensitive nerves, "Sure I’ve missed you, honey-bunch!" he hesitated. "Oh, hang on, there’s another call coming in."

Deanna was incensed when his voice cut off abruptly and she got the monotonous drone of some damn music Antony’s holding line provided. As quickly as he’d gone, he returned, "Sorry about that, but it's long distance and it's business honey. Can I get back to you?"

It was all Deanna needed to hear, "Actually, no, it's not alright, Antony. I wanted to discuss us. I wanted you to shout and holler and demand that I came home. I wanted you to tell me that you loved me, and cared for me, but you’ve just told me everything I needed to know, Antony. I will not be put on hold in preference for a long distance call! Goodbye, Antony."

It was a miracle that she managed to replace the phone piece without slamming it home. She wanted to. By God, she wanted to, but she hadn’t and that in itself answered another of those little nagging doubts that swam around in the back of her mind. She didn’t care. She didn’t care that Antony didn’t love her enough, nor did she care about the plans they had made or the wedding dress that still hung in her living room back home. But she did care about losing her soon-to-be family, for she loved Antony’s family very much.

Turning around she found numerous sets of eyes watching her. Seven sets of eyes as dark as her own watched her intently from across the room along with a solitary pair of intense blue ones that held an enormous amount of fear and a tiny hint of hope.

She’d found her family, and as the man with the blue eyes approached her, the question in his eyes searched her soul and her heart. Deanna answered him with both. Her smile was tender when she slowly walked up to meet him halfway,

"Take me home, Will."

 
     
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