Disclaimer: This story is written for the private entertainment of fans.
The author makes no claims on the characters or their portrayal by the
creation of this story. Fraser, Vecchio, et.al. belong to Alliance;
the McKenzies and friends belong to S L Haas and Cat Madden belongs to
me. No infringement of any copyrights held by CBS, Alliance, CTV or
any other copyright holders of DUE SOUTH is intended. This story is
not published for profit, and the author does not give permission for
this story to be reproduced for profit.
Let This Story Have an
by Carol Trendall
I love you too much to ever start liking
so let's just let this story have an end.
I love you too much to ever start liking you
so don't expect me to be your friend. - Lobo
If he were quick, no one would notice his absence. It would
take only a few minutes to make the call, then he would return and no
one would know. Slipping silently away from the party, Ray made his
way to the room he was to share with his best friend, checking the corridor
for other team members before closing the door behind him.
Ray felt certain that in the next few hours events would be set in motion
that would change Benton Fraser's life forever regardless of whether
he and Phil McKenzie renewed their relationship of so long ago. He knew
that Fraser would soon learn of the child he had unknowingly fathered
and when that happened he would need the support of those who loved him
Fumbling with his electronic organiser in the dim glow from the desk
lamp, Ray pressed a few keys, trying to remember what he had filed the
number under. He smiled when he found it under C for Cat.
A ringing phone that wakes you from a deep sleeps often means bad news.
For an off duty police officer it almost certainly does. That thought
was uppermost in Sergeant Cathy Madden's mind as she disentangled herself
from the long-haired man sleeping beside her and reached a hand over
the side of the bed, grappling for the cordless phone she had dropped
there in the late afternoon several hours earlier.
Next to her, Lloyd Hope didn't even stir, but that was no surprise.
In the nine months they had been together he had grown used to phone
calls that took Cat away from what was already a limited amount of time
Accustomed to out of office hour phone calls and already guessing at
what this one meant, Cat didn't even bother to open her eyes as she answered.
"Cat?" A familiar voice said at the other end of the line,
surprised at her sleepy tone. "What are you doing in bed this early
wait I *don't* want to know."
At hearing Ray Vecchio's voice her eyes flew open and she was suddenly,
violently awake. She sat up, pulling the sheet off Lloyd.
"Ray? What's happened?" Why was Ray calling her? He was supposed
to be on vacation with Ben. All sorts of thoughts filled her mind.
Had something happened? "Aren't you supposed to be in the middle
of the Grand Canyon?" she whispered, panic creeping into her voice.
"Is Ben OK? What's wrong? Where are you?"
"Calm down, Cat," Ray fended off her questions with expertise.
"Everything is fine. I didn't mean to wake you."
"Fuck that, Ray. What's happened?"
"There's something I think you should know."
"What? What should I know?"
Lloyd stirred and rolled to face her, opening his eyes slightly to check
if she was OK. Cat mouthed an apology and kissed his forehead, nodding
to reassure him that she was fine. She told Ray to wait and then slipped
from the bed, laying a firm hand on Lloyd's arm, telling him to stay
put. With the phone cradled on her shoulder, she collected her robe
from the back of the door, slipped it on and headed out of the room.
In the hallway she resumed her conversation. "Sorry 'bout that,
Ray," she said as she headed down the stairs to the living room
where she could speak without fear of awakening Lloyd any further.
Ray chuckled. "Sorry about disturbing you. I didn't think you'd
be in bed I mean *asleep* this early."
Cat laughed, her panic of a moment ago forgotten. "So what is it
you think I need to know and why aren't you with Ben?"
"I am with Benny. Well, not right now. The canyon trip ended today
and we're back at the hotel. There's a farewell party going on downstairs
and I don't know what's going to happen but I thought you should hear
"What the hell does that mean, Ray?" If Ben was OK, did this
have something to do with Phil?
"Does the name Phil McKenzie mean anything to you?"
"Ray, if you're asking me like that then you know damn well it does."
So it did have something to do with Phil. But what? Did she and Ben
have some sort of confrontation? Did Ben know about Lindy? "Question
is, Ray," she said her calm voice giving away nothing of the turmoil
going on in her mind, "just what does it mean to you?"
"Oh, nothing much," Ray answered nonchalantly. "My best
friend's ex-fiance, mother of his child. A few things like that."
Cat went cold. She sat down suddenly. Ray knew far more than she would
ever have expected. "How did you find out about that?" Her
voice was tight and almost squeaked.
"Phil told me."
"*Phil* told you?" How did that happen? Cat knew how hard
it was for Phil to talk about Lindy. Just what exactly had happened
on this trip?
Ray waved her off with a professional tone she was sure he used on suspects.
"Long story. She didn't mean to tell me it was an accident.
Let's just say it was one of those moments." His tone gentled to
something Cat was more familiar with. "Jesus, Cat, I don't know
whether to be pissed at you for not telling me or feel sorry for you
for carrying this information around all this time." He took a
breath and lowered his voice until he sounded in pain. "I just
wish you had said something. I could have helped."
"How, Ray?" Cat ground out, running a hand through her hair
in frustration. "I nearly made myself sick trying to help."
"Yeah, well it makes a lot of sense about what was going on at Christmas.
I know Phil lives in Chicago."
Cat closed her eyes and lay back against the sofa, remembering Ray overhearing
her argument with Ben. He had seen the strain between her and Ben first
hand and now he knew why.
"You weren't supposed to get involved in this."
Ray's voice was loud in Cat's ear. "Benny's my best friend, I had
to get involved. I've been worried sick about him for months now. Fuck,
I'm stupid. All this time I thought he was screwed up because you wouldn't
marry him and now I find out it's because he's carried a torch for someone
else for twelve years." Ray's voice lost its shrillness and grew
sad. "And you knew."
"And you wouldn't know if fate hadn't conspired. Why do you think
Ben hasn't talked to you about this before?" She didn't wait for
his answer. "He's ashamed, Ray."
Cat heard Ray sigh at the other end of the line. "But he had a
child, Cat. A child he doesn't know about." His voice raised again.
"What the fuck am I supposed to do with that? How can I hide that
bit of information?"
"So you're going to tell him?" This time Cat's voice rose
to panic pitch.
"No. Phil swore me to secrecy. She said she would tell him when
the time was right."
Cat nodded in the dim evening light. Phil had said the same thing to
her. "Now you know how I've felt for the last year." She
took a deep breath and changed tack. "So what happened? Is Ben
"Look, he tells me he's fine." He took a long shuddery breath.
"But he's been screwed up for so long now, I've forgotten what 'OK'
is for him. I just wanted you to know that Phil was on the trip. Just
in case one of them really flips out."
"Thanks, Ray." There was no point in mentioning she already
knew about the trip, Ray would only want to know why she hadn't told
"So what do we do from here?"
"I think this is something they're going to have to sort out for
themselves. God knows, I've tried, but it's way past the point where
I can help." She hesitated before continuing, wondering if this
was the time to start with Ray about his situation with Casey. "And
I think there are other relationships you could be spending your emotional
Ray turned thoughtful and just a little sad. "Ah, Cat I
"You've seen what happened to Ben
Ray's sudden discomfort was impossible to hide. "Look, Cat, I gotta
get back to the party before Benny misses me
Well used to Ben's obfuscation over the years she heard Ray's ruse and
let him get away with it. There would be time to deal with that later.
"Thanks for clueing me in about the trip, Ray. I'm sorry you got
dragged into all this. I know it's not easy."
"Benny's my best friend."
There was nothing more to be said. Ray and Cat now shared a secret they
both had to carry, waiting for the fateful day it made itself known.
Until then they would remain united by their knowledge, ready to give
comfort when needed. They said their goodbyes. Cat pressed the disconnect
button and dropped the phone onto the sofa.
For a long time she stayed motionless on the sofa, staring into the shadows.
She had a feeling that things would get a lot worse for Ben before he
and Phil found their way back to each other. After a while she headed
upstairs. Lloyd was to catch a 6am flight home and it was suddenly important
that she didn't miss another moment with him.
After the heat of the Grand Canyon, early morning in Pincher Creek, Alberta
seemed chilly to Phil McKenzie. For a moment she regretted her hasty
departure, still clad as she was in the light pants and top she had worn
for the farewell party the night before. Twisting in her seat, she
reached behind and rummaged in her bag for a sweater, shrugging into
it without much thought as to whether it matched what she already wore.
A tinny voice sounded in Phil's ear. "Three Niner Five Echo Sierra,
you're cleared for an overnighter. Proceed to hangar C12. Enjoy your
She adjusted the headphones she had nudged getting into her cardigan.
"Thank you, Control. Over and out."
With deft movements she steered her small Cessna Centurion towards the
designated hangar, wondering for a moment if she was doing the right
thing. The decision to run to Pincher Creek and to Lloyd seemed like
a wise move when she had hurried from Ben's bed long before sunrise.
Now that she was here she wasn't so sure.
Lloyd Hope yawned and fumbled with his keys, dropping them twice before
finally unlocking the front door of the small cottage he called home.
Still yawning, he stepped inside leaving the front door open to let some
air in to the rooms that had been closed for the three days he had been
in Moose Jaw with Cathy Madden. He tossed his pack through the open
door of his bedroom then headed off to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee,
cursing the 6am flight that had dragged him from Cathy's bed earlier
than he cared for.
With the coffee finally brewing, Lloyd found a sunny spot on the back
verandah to wait for it. His early morning start and lack of sleep eventually
took its toll and before long his head dropped back against the wall
and he slipped into a deep sleep, his mouth dropping open to let out
a ragged snore. So deep was Lloyd's slumber he did not hear the coffee
maker's beep of completion, nor did he hear the car that pulled up behind
his jeep or the calls of the woman that travelled in it.
The front door was open, so Phil stepped inside calling out for Lloyd
as she went. There was no reply. In the hallway, she peered into his
bedroom, but the bed was not only empty, it was neatly made. The guest
bedroom opposite was empty also.
Still calling for Lloyd, she continued down the hall past the empty bathroom
finally coming into a large room the full width of the house that served
as kitchen, dining and living rooms all in one. Frowning, she moved
to the kitchen area, noting the freshly brewed pot of coffee. Lloyd
had to be nearby. Looking around, she saw the open back door and headed
through it. Lloyd's loud snores alerted her of his whereabouts before
she saw him.
Phil smiled lovingly at the man asleep on the verandah, his head leaned
back against the wall of the cottage. Not surprised that her calls of
greeting had not awakened him, she leaned forward and shook him gently,
stopping him in mid snore.
"Lloyd," she said quietly. "You can't possibly be comfortable
in that position."
The dark-skinned man slid abruptly into wakefulness, peering up at his
guest through sleepy eyes.
"Phil," he mumbled, struggling upright. "What the hell
are you doing here?"
Phil straightened and folded her arms over her chest. "What am
I doing here?" she repeated, nervously moistening her lips, suddenly
unsure what to tell her friend. "Question is, Lloyd Hope, just
what are you doing asleep on the back verandah at 8am?"
Sitting up now, Lloyd rested his elbows on his knees and his face in
his hands, stifling a yawn. "I just got home."
Phil raised an elegant eyebrow at him. "You just got home?"
"Don't look at me like that, Phil," he grinned, reaching out
to grab her. "I've been with Cathy for the last few days and I
caught a 6am flight home."
"Oh," she answered, letting Lloyd tug her onto his lap. "I
thought maybe you had taken to going to all night dance parties or something
"I'm too old for that," he said, hugging the long, lean woman
on his lap. "Now cut the crap and tell me why you're here. I know
you're supposed to be in the Grand Canyon and I know Ben Fraser was on
Phil sighed and leaned into his embrace. "How do you know that?"
"Cathy told me." Lloyd kissed her hair and stroked a hand
down her suddenly trembling back.
"Oh great." Phil pressed her face into Lloyd's chest. "And
how does Cat know?"
"By accident. She called to speak to you and Mark told her you
were leading the trip. She already knew Ben was on a BakTrak trip."
Phil pushed away and looked at Lloyd, a hint of anger showing in her
brown eyes. "Well why didn't she tell me?"
Lloyd shrugged. "I guess she figured you'd find out. It is
your company, Phil. And anyway, you'd left by the time she found out."
She pouted and rose to her feet, abruptly changing the subject. "Didn't
I see a pot of coffee in the kitchen?"
Lloyd nodded and Phil spun on her heels and went into the house. Lloyd
rose to his feet, stretched, yawned and followed her inside.
Phil busied herself with the coffee, automatically reaching for Lloyd's
favourite coffee cup, fine bone china with a hand painted design that
he had bought at a flea market for fifty cents. She remembered the first
time she saw it and how she had pointed out that it was, in fact, a teacup.
Lloyd had smiled patiently and poured himself a cup, then grinned at
her over the rim as he drank it. Even now, years later, it still amazed
her that such a big man, with such big hands, could comfortably drink
from such a fine cup. She filled the cup and turned to hand it to him.
He accepted it and waited while she poured her own. With steaming mug
in hand, Phil let Lloyd lead her outside onto the verandah once again.
"So do you want to talk about what happened with Ben?"
"No," Phil answered, waving off his concern. "It's
nothing to talk about."
"So what are you doing here?"
"You don't want me here?"
"Phil," he placated. "You're welcome in my home anytime,
you know that." He leaned forward and placed a hand over hers.
"I've known you for a long time and never have I known you to arrive
unannounced. Add that to what I know about the canyon trip and I can't
help but think there's something you might want to talk about."
"No, there's nothing," Phil answered, a little too quickly
to be convincing. "I just wanted to take some time out before I
went back to work. Two weeks in the Grand Canyon takes a lot out of
you and it's been a while since I led a trip, plus I had no time to prepare.
You know normally, I go into a bit of a training regime before I do a
trip, but this time, well this time I had no notice, I just had to fly
straight out there and take over. I didn't even get time to go over
the participant list before I got there, so I knew nothing about the
group and I had to learn about them as we went. It was all very stressful.
I didn't even have time to think about Ben, he was just another passenger
who had paid good money to do this trip and I had to make sure he had
a good time just like everyone else. It could have
" Lloyd interrupted her stream of consciousness.
"Why are you here?"
Her eyes widened. "Weren't you listening to what I just said?"
"What I heard was a lot of babbling. You weren't actually saying
Phil's mouth hung open for just a moment and then she flew to her feet
away from Lloyd's knowing eyes. She banged her mug onto the railing
and looked out across Lloyd's vegetable garden then over to the mountains
in the distance.
"I went to his room last night," she said eventually.
Angry with herself and frustrated with confusion she whirled to face
her friend. "I don't think you do, Lloyd. I don't think you understand
" he began, rising from his chair and stepping
Phil's raised palms stopped him. Her eyes blazed with something he could
not name, but suspected it might be fear.
"I seduced him, Lloyd. I climbed into his bed as bold as you can
be and I made love to him I let him make love to me. I wanted
it I wanted him." Her voice faltered.
Lloyd stood where she had stopped him, desperate to do something for
her. She turned away and spoke again so softly that it took a moment
for her words to register.
"I still want him."
"My sweet Walela," Lloyd whispered into her hair as he moved
behind her and wrapped his arms around her. "That's not bad. You
Phil spun in his arms and faced him with pained eyes. "I had planned
to accept Martin's proposal. He's over there in Cambodia
and I'm here doing
" her voice trailed
off and softly she began to cry.
Lloyd pulled her against him and pressed her cheek to his chest. "Ssh,
Walela, it's OK. You've done nothing wrong."
"I have, Lloyd," she sobbed into his shirt. "It might
not be official yet and I might not have a ring, but I am engaged to
be married to Martin."
"But you said yourself you haven't given him an answer yet. You
said he wanted you to think about it."
"I had made up my mind. I knew." Phil pulled away and leaned
against the railing, lowering her gaze she spoke quietly. "And
now it's all over."
Lloyd shifted around and settled against the railing beside her, staring
out into the distance. "So you and Ben
"I don't know." Phil pushed away from the railing and paced
to the other end of the verandah. "I just know that I can't marry
Martin. Even if nothing more happens between me and Ben, I can't marry
Martin. Not after this."
Lloyd said nothing. There was nothing to say. He had known that Phil
would never love Martin the way she had loved Ben the way she
probably still loved him. It was a relief that she made this discovery
before she married Martin. One day when all this had passed and was
but a distant memory, he would tell her how he thought it odd that no
one had ever met Martin Stevenson, but for now he would say nothing.
He would give her what she came for.
"If you don't love Martin then it's best if you don't marry him."
"I never said I didn't love Martin." Phil turned her back
to Lloyd and paced to the opposite end of the verandah. "Why is
that just when my life is getting back to normal, Ben Fraser appears
and throws it all up in the air. Why did he do this?"
A faint smile tugged at the corners of Lloyd's mouth. "I don't
think you can place all the blame on Ben. You told me yourself that
you seduced him."
"But why was he on the trip in the first place? I think he did
it deliberately. He must have known that BakTrak is my company."
"How's that? How could he know that? I know your name isn't on
"But it's on public record that I own the company. He could have
looked it up."
Lloyd nodded agreement. "Yes, he could. But not everyone checks
into the legal details of the companies they purchase goods and services
from. And," he struggled to hide his grin. "You weren't booked
to lead the trip anyway. Surely if he wanted to see you he would have
just come to your office."
"Well, yes, I guess you're right. After all, Cat did tell me that
she gave him my address and phone number nine months ago. "
Lloyd smiled and reached for Phil's coffee cup, abandoned on the verandah
railing. "How about I get us another cup of coffee, then I'll go
to work and you take a nap and we can talk when I get home." He
headed towards the kitchen and then hesitated. "You are planning
on staying the night, I presume?"
Phil nodded. "My plane is in the public hangar at the airport and
I picked up an el cheapo rental car. I was hoping I could stay a day
"Of course you can. Does anyone know you're here?"
"No and I'd like to leave it that way for a while. No one will
start to worry for a day or two."
Lloyd smiled in acknowledgment
and then leaned down and planted a gentle kiss on Phil's forehead before
going off to get the coffee.
It was curiosity, pure and simple, that had Ray up early and waiting
in the breakfast room long before Ben and Phil. He chose a table next
to the window so as not to be obvious, but then positioned himself so
that he would have a clear view of the happy couple as they arrived for
And happy they would be, Ray had no doubt. After all these years, finally
getting the chance to spend the night together how could they
As he ordered coffee and smiled at the bored waitress, Ray caught sight
of his reflection in the window and realised that his shit-eating grin
made it look almost as though he were the one who had spent the night
with a woman. That thought amused him so much that he didn't notice
Ben until he was almost across the room and at his table alone.
Concern wrinkled his forehead in a frown as Ben slid into the chair opposite,
but the Mountie's smile and cheery greeting as he reached for a menu
smoothed it again. Ray remembered that Phil had frequently been a late
riser during the trip and added to that the realisation that perhaps
she and Ben had chosen to come to breakfast separately for the sake of
"So how are you this morning, Benny boy?"
Ben looked up from the menu and the clear, open expression on his face
was one Ray thought he would never, ever see on his friend.
"Never better, Ray. Thank you for asking." He returned to
his perusal of the menu, leaving Ray staring.
'Well, well,' Ray thought to himself, 'Phil must be one hell
of a woman to put a smile like that on a man's face.' Unbidden,
thoughts of Casey came to mind and he realised just how long it had been
since he had awoken with such a smile. Saddened suddenly, he dropped
his eyes to the plaid tablecloth, only looking up when the waitress arrived
with his breakfast.
Ben did not notice Ray's mood shift, engrossed as he was in delivering
a large breakfast order to the same waitress.
"That's a lot of food, even for you, Fraser," Ray said as she
walked away, thankful for any distraction that took him away from his
"I'm hungry, Ray," Ben said, simply, ending that line of conversation.
'I bet you are' Ray thought to himself, hiding his chuckle as
he tucked into his breakfast.
By the time Ben's breakfast was delivered, Phil had still not arrived.
The breakfast room slowly filled with the other members of their group
and Ray busied himself searching their faces, assuming that Phil had
slipped in unnoticed and he would find her amongst one of the other groups.
But he could not see her.
Ben looked up from his meal. "Yes, Ray?"
"Phil where is she?"
"She left." He returned to his eating.
"But what ... " Ray scratched his head and frowned. "I
mean ... "
Ben averted his gaze and spoke in a low voice. "I must thank you
for what you did last night, Ray."
"You mean with the rooms?"
"Yes." Ben lifted his head and met Ray's eyes again. "It
means a great deal that you would do that for me." He blushed and
dropped his gaze again. "Phil and I ... I think there is a chance
that things might work out ... it was a special night, Ray."
Ray scratched his head in confusion. "But you said she left."
Ben nodded. "Yes, she needed to go home and ... think."
"We'll talk soon." Ben reached for his coffee cup, his body
language signalling the end of the conversation.
Ray sat back in his chair and stared at his friend. The Mountie seemed
relaxed, almost carefree, a state he had not seen in recent times. He
had no idea what had taken place and it was obvious Ben would not tell
him, but given the difference in the other man's demeanour since leaving
Chicago, Ray just had to trust that things were improving. Before he
had a chance to think further, a voice from across the room roused him
from his thoughts.
"Ray! Ben! Good morning."
Travis Hunter made his way across the room towards them, holding Ben's
eyes long enough for Ray to see that the two men both knew something
Ben stared up at the man approaching the table he shared with Ray and
swallowed hard. He could tell instantly by the look in his eyes that
Travis knew what had taken place the night before. He watched helplessly
as the fair-haired man leaned casually on the back of an empty chair,
a grin on his face that was too close to smug for comfort.
"So how was your final night?" Travis asked, his innocuous
tone giving away nothing.
Ben glanced down at the remains of his breakfast, grateful when Ray interjected
and told Travis that he had slept like a baby.
"Glad to hear it. And you, Ben?"
"Very well, thank you for asking."
Still staring at Ben's bowed head, Travis told them both to make sure
they added their names and addresses to the contact list making its way
around the room and was about to say something else when a voice over
the intercom interrupted.
"Dr McKenzie, please contact reception, there is a long distance
call for you."
Ben's head jerked up and he met Travis' steady gaze.
"I'd best go tell them Phil left early this morning," Travis
said, holding Ben's eyes.
"Yes," Ben muttered softly, looking into his food again as
the fair-haired man strode off.
Ray looked from Travis' retreating form to the bowed head of his friend.
"So what was that all about, Benny?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all." He waved his head and made a strange
face. "I imagine that Travis drove Phil out to the airstrip this
Ray absorbed that piece of information, realising that Travis probably
knew far more about what had taken place between Ben and Phil than he
"You can talk to me you know, Benny. I *am* your friend."
"Yes, you are, Ray. You're my best friend," he confirmed,
"and when there is something I need to talk to you about, I can
assure you I will." Reaching for his coffee cup, Ben swallowed
the contents and smiled at Ray. He pushed back his chair and stood up.
"Now I think it's time we packed and got ready to go home. We have
a lot of people to say goodbye to."
After a momentary hesitation Ray stood also, muttering words of agreement.
He followed his friend through the breakfast room, wondering how he had
lost control of the conversation and how he could find out what was going
on. Looking at the strong, square shoulders of his friend, a thought
struck him. Cat would tell him.
Cat wiggled in her seat as she put the finishing touches to an all staff
memo about the carparking area. At that point in time it was the last
thing she cared about. Her fingers itched to pick up the phone and dial
the Canadian Consulate in Chicago, but she knew it was no use, Ben would
not be there for at least two more days. From what Ray had told her
the night before, she knew they would arrive home tonight. She would
call him then and see if he could tell her anything further about Ben
There was no point in calling TJ. He would know nothing until at least
that night when Phil returned to Chicago. But there was nothing stopping
her from calling and leaving a 'just touching base' message on Phil's
machine. She worked hard to keep the smug tone out of her voice when
"Shouldn't you call someone? TJ or Rob at least, and let him know
where you are?" Lloyd asked as he handed Phil her second cup of
She blew on her coffee before sipping it. "No, it's OK. I'm not
expected back in Chicago until tonight. No one will miss me until tomorrow.
Besides, I like the idea of being ex communicado today."
Lloyd shrugged and stepped off the verandah to wander amongst the rows
of vegetables planted in his garden.
"Whatever you think best, Phil." He sounded unconcerned.
She frowned at the tone in his voice and followed him into the garden.
"I won't be tricked into it, Lloyd."
Lloyd didn't answer. He squatted amid his beans and pulled several grubs
from the leaves, muttering at them under his breath.
"It's up to you, whatever you think best." Lloyd rose again
and headed back to the house. "I have to go to work."
"All right!" Phil called out to his retreating form. "I'll
check my messages and if there's anything urgent I'll call TJ."
"Whatever," Lloyd answered, his back to Phil so she wouldn't
see his smile of victory.
"Can I come with you?" Phil asked a little later when Lloyd
re-emerged in his Forest Ranger uniform and his hair hanging in a neat
braid down his back.
He laughed. "I think you'd be bored, Phil. I've got to do the
rounds of the fire platforms today. They have been looked at for a week."
"But I'd love to follow you around while you check fire platforms,
Lloyd. It's what I live for." Phil's cheeky grin was rewarded
with a mock stern look.
"You can only avoid this so long, Phil. Promise me that we'll talk
about this Ben issue tonight."
"After dinner?" She cocked her head and gave a coy smile.
Lloyd rolled his eyes. "OK, after dinner." He reached over
and whacked her rump playfully. "If you're coming with me, get
out of those fancy clothes and into something you can climb a tree in."
Phil laughed and dashed off to change.
"And don't forget your swimming costume," Lloyd called after
her. "There's a swimming hole out by Tower 6 where I usually take
a dip." He gathered his pack and headed out the front door. "I'll
wait in the truck."
When Phil joined him several minutes later she was dressed in shorts
and a sleeveless cotton shirt with a pair of sturdy leather boots on
her feet and a big grin on her face.
"You didn't call your brothers, did you?"
"You have to get to work. I didn't want to keep you waiting."
Lloyd shook his head affectionately and started the truck. He knew there
was little point in pressing her further.
With their luggage stowed in the bus that would take everyone to the
airport, Ben cast his eyes over the group with whom he had spent two
weeks. Travis chatted with the geologists, Carol and Ray talked about
food, Josie and Matt helped load the remainder of the luggage into the
bus and Terry and Kim handed out copies of the contact list collected
earlier that morning. An interesting and varied group, Ben told himself.
Amongst them were people he hoped to see again - the Hunter brothers
and their wives in particular, not to mention Phil McKenzie. But there
were others whose company he did not care for.
Mara Taylor chose that moment to appear in front of him, standing far
closer than was necessary. He never wanted her attention in the first
place and now, in the light of what had happened with Phil, it was even
less welcome than before.
"We haven't had any time alone, Ben," she said, looking up
at him through lowered lashes, "but how about a farewell hug?"
Ben shifted back slightly. He remembered Ray's advice to tell Mara to
'fuck off'. He knew he could never bring himself to say those words,
but now he was prepared to say something less polite than he normally
would. He took a deep breath and prepared his answer. Before the words
could leave his lips, Ray stepped in and swept Mara into his arms.
"I'm hurt, Mara. What about me? I'll gladly give you that hug."
He whirled the young woman around, ignoring her yelp of protest, giving
her some of her own medicine. He winked at Ben over her shoulder, then
slapped his hands onto her butt and squeezed. Mara squealed and Ray
let her go, laughing as the woman dashed off.
Before Ben could admonish him, a voice in his ear made him spin around
in surprise. It was Travis.
"I know it's none of my business, Ben, but if you hurt Phil I'll
come looking for you."
Ben opened his mouth to protest, but no sound would come.
Travis continued. "But all that macho stuff aside, it's been great
having you on this trip and I hope we get to see each other again soon."
Finally Ben was able to speak. "Thank you, Travis." He dropped
his head. "I can assure you that I have no intention of ..."
"Like I said, Ben. It's none of my business." Travis glanced
up at the bus driver, who was busy trying to get the attention of the
group. "Looks like it's time to go." Travis held out his
hand, smiling warmly at Ben.
Ben shook the proffered hand, trying to convey his intentions without
words. He hoped that Travis saw his sincerity. The other man just smiled
and wandered off to farewell the rest of the group.
After a final round of handshakes and hugs, everyone piled onto the bus
and set off to the airport, only do have another round of hugs and handshakes
as they separated for flights home. It wasn't until they were checked
in and waiting to board their own flight that Ben and Ray could really
"It was a great trip, Benny."
"Yes it was, Ray."
They both knew that this trip had changed their lives. The things they
had learned had brought them closer. With thoughts of Lindy in his head,
Ray knew the things that Ben still had to learn would put their friendship
to the test. His task now was to make sure he remained strong so that
when his friend learned of his child it would draw them even closer rather
than drive them apart. He knew, also, that he would need Cat's help
to do it.
"You think they'd give you air conditioned jeeps," Phil complained
as she climbed into the oven like interior of Lloyd's vehicle.
Lloyd scribbled some final notes into a book and tossed it onto the seat
between them. "That's why we're going for a swim." He started
the engine and steered the jeep onto the dirt track that would take them
to the swimming hole.
"About time, too." Phil fanned herself with her hat. "It
was hot in the Grand Canyon, but at least I wasn't trapped inside a metal
"Don't worry, Phil. A swim will fix it."
Before long they rolled to a stop in the shade of a large tree. Lloyd
pointed to a track that led between two large boulders. Dragging an
old towel from the back seat, he dashed out of the car with Phil on his
tail, keen to immerse himself in the cool water.
"This is lovely, Lloyd," Phil told her friend as they drew
level with the water hole nestled at the base of a tiny canyon.
It was a small swimming hole no more than 30 feet across, created by
what appeared to be a rockslide down a slope that had effectively dammed
the small creek that fed it.
"Yeah, it is and fortunately not too many people know about it."
Unbuttoning his shirt, Lloyd slipped it off and tossed it over a low
hanging branch. Settling on a rock, he leaned down to pull off his boots.
"Is that a love bite, Lloyd?"
Jerking upright again, he slapped a guilty hand to his throat. "Where?"
Phil's silver laughter filled the small canyon. "I'm only teasing.
But I love that guilty reaction."
Lloyd rose and reached for her in one graceful glide. "That deserves
Laughing again, Phil sidestepped her friend and shimmied out of her clothes
in a split second.
"No thanks, I'll do it on my own."
Before Lloyd could get to her, Phil climbed onto a rock and jumped into
the beckoning water. He laughed as she slipped below the water, emerging
a second later spluttering and yelling.
Lloyd laughed again. "It's good for you."
Phil muttered something unintelligible and tried to climb onto the rock
from which she had leapt. Her foot slipped and she fell back again,
to the sound of Lloyd's delighted laughter.
"Help me out, I'm cold!" she called to him.
Lloyd knelt down and held out his hand. Phil gripped it and he started
to pull her from the water, letting go of her just as she was about to
climb up beside him. When she emerged from the water again calling him
something he didn't catch he laughed again.
"Dammit, Lloyd," she cursed. "I'm cold, I want to get
At Phil's firm curse, Lloyd knew instantly that something was wrong.
As Phil trod water in the deep waterhole, he realised that the sounds
he had mistaken for laughter were, in fact, tears.
"Oh god, Phil," he said, leaping into the water beside her
and drawing her into his arms.
She gripped Lloyd's shoulders and pushed her face against his neck, sobbing
raggedly as he carried her from the water. Laying her on a sunwarmed
rock, Lloyd stroked a lock of hair from her forehead and settled beside
"What's this about, Phil? What happened?"
Phil sobbed against his shoulder and he rocked her until she was calm
enough to speak.
"I'm sorry. It's just the shock the water was so cold and
it scared me. I remembered a day in the Canyon when Ben nearly drowned.
The water was cold and I was terrified. I could have lost him for good."
"But you didn't and now you're here with me and you're safe
She pushed away from Lloyd and sat up again. "I'm sorry, Lloyd.
The shock of the cold water just scared me"
"You said that." He moved to sit beside her. "You're
just a bit emotional, Phil and it's OK. After all these years, this
is bound to be a tough time for you. Go easy on yourself and go easy
on Ben. The worst is yet to come. Don't forget there's something you've
had years to deal with and he hasn't."
Phil bowed her head and in a voice barely above a whisper said, "Lindy."
Lloyd nodded. "Stay with me as long as you need to, Phil, but know
that none of this will get better until you and Ben deal with the past
and finally, finally leave it there."
Phil said nothing. She rose and gathered the clothing she had abandoned
in haste, pulling it on over her wet swimming costume.
"What about Martin?" she asked eventually.
Lloyd sighed and twisted the silver bracelet he had worn since his teens.
"That's not for me to say. Only you know how you feel."
She stuck out her lower lip and pouted as she only dared with Lloyd.
"You think this is easy?"
Lloyd rose and reached for his shirt and slipped it onto his shoulders,
not bothering to button it or tuck it into his wet pants.
"I know it's *not* easy and I'm trying to support you as best I
can." His voice softened and he pulled Phil into his arms once
again. "You've got to stop this. All of us who care for you can't
watch you go on like this forever. Let it end." He kissed the
top of her head and whispered against her hair. "Either marry Martin
or don't but let the Phil and Ben story have an end, Walela. Let it
Phil rubbed her cheek against the soft cotton of Lloyd's shirt and sighed.
She knew he was right and she knew what she had to do. As soon as Martin
came home she would tell him. In her heart she knew that no matter what
happened with Ben, she could not marry Martin.
"Come on, Walela, I'll take you home."
Phil let Lloyd lead her back to the jeep and drive her back to his cottage.
After a hasty lunch he left her there to rest while he returned to work.
The day went so slowly that Cat almost thought time had come to a complete
stop. After the hectic pace of the summer season, she knew the RCMP
should be pleased for the break, but these crimeless days were excruciatingly
slow. Plus, with nothing else to occupy her mind she became obsessed
with finding about what had happened between Ben and Phil after Ray's
phone call the night before. Sighing, she checked her watch. Ray wouldn't
be home for at least another three hours. She would just have to wait.
Through the half glass wall in her office she watched the activity in
the main part of the office. Constable Dixon was taking details from
an elderly woman who claimed to have had plants stolen from her front
lawn. His demeanour and obvious disinterest reminded her so much of
Ray Vecchio that she chuckled aloud. That chuckle became a full laugh
as Constable Marchand strode into view proudly carrying an armload of
old case files.
He had taken it upon himself to re-order the archive filing system and
had been at it solidly for three days now. When he had come to her requesting
permission to do so, Cat had been amazed. He had always reminded her
of Ben, but watching him now as he went cheerfully about a task that
she herself had avoided for many months, she wondered wickedly if Robert
Fraser had ever known Will Marchand's mother. She laughed even louder.
She was still laughing when her phone rang.
"What's so funny?" Lloyd asked as Cat got her greeting out
around a laugh.
"Oh nothing much," she answered, settling back in her chair
and lifting her feet onto the desk. "So you got home OK?"
"Yeah, I did. But I've got an unexpected visitor."
Curiosity made Cat's voice raise a notch. "Oh? Who?"
"Phil turned up this morning. She flew straight up from the canyon."
Cat dropped her feet to the floor and sat up straight. "Phil?
Why? What happened? Is she OK?"
"She's fine. Just a little bit spooked by whatever happened out
Cat whistled. "I bet she is. Did she tell you anything?"
Lloyd thought about how much he should tell Cat, but figured she would
find out anyway. "Not much. It seems she and Ben got to spend
a bit of time alone last night. I don't know what was said or what happened,
but she high tailed it out of there this morning and came straight here.
She's running scared."
Concern for her two friends softened Cat's voice. "Oh, Lloyd, that's
awful. I wish I could do something. She must be a mess."
"Yeah, she was pretty upset today, but she's at my place sleeping
now." Lloyd's protectiveness showed in his voice. "She said
she'll talk about it tonight."
"Let me know if I can do anything."
"I think maybe you should call Ben. He's probably a mess, too."
"I won't be able to reach him until he gets to the consulate tomorrow."
Lloyd took a moment before replying. "There's something else..."
Lloyd's tone unnerved Cat slightly and she leaned forward in her chair,
a little nervous about what she might learn. "What?"
He sighed before answering. "Phil's talking about calling off this
thing with Martin."
"Oh god, this *is* serious then."
"Sounds like it, doesn't it? I told Phil no matter what she decides
she has to put this story to rest."
"Yes. Yes, she does," Cat answered absently, her mind suddenly
racing, filling with possibilities of what she could do to speed things
along. "Can we do anything?"
Already anticipating Cat's thoughts, Lloyd spoke firmly. "No, I
think we have to leave them alone to sort it out themselves." His
voice softened. "But I think we both have to be prepared for this
to get worse before it gets better. Phil has always said she would tell
Ben about Lindy and I think that time is getting close."
The panic that had been with her for the last year rose again. She had
tried not to think about what would happen when Ben learned of his dead
child, but she knew she had to deal with it now and be strong for her
oldest friend. Her eyes filled with tears and her voice shook as she
spoke. "Oh, Lloyd, I've worried about this ever since Phil told
me about her daughter."
"It will be OK." Lloyd's voice was tender. He shared Cat's
concern. "You know they have to end this somehow sooner
"For both their sakes."
"Yes, for both of them."
It was late afternoon when Phil finally roused from the deep sleep she
had dropped into after her emotional outburst at the swimming hole.
Running a hand through her hair she wandered out to the kitchen to see
what food she could rustle up in Lloyd's cupboards. She hadn't cooked
for him in ages and the prospect of doing it now filled her with pleasure.
The cupboards were pretty bare, but Phil managed to toss together an
impressive pesto sauce. The garlic and basil came fresh from Lloyd's
garden but the pine nuts were a little old. She found them in a jar
at the back of the cupboard. 'No telling how long they've been there'
she thought to herself as she poured them into the blender, hoping they
would still taste OK.
When the sauce was finally blended and taste checked, Phil sealed it
into a jar and set it on the bench beside a pack of spaghetti also from
the back of the cupboard. She prepared a green salad, again with leaves
and tomatoes fresh from Lloyd's garden. When that was stowed in the
refrigerator, a quick look at her watch confirmed she had plenty of time
to take a shower before Lloyd returned.
Just as she was about to head off to the bathroom, it suddenly occurred
to her that she had not checked her messages. Unless she wanted to be
henpecked, she knew she would be wise to do so before Lloyd came home.
She reached for the kitchen wall phone, not at all sure she was ready
to make contact with the outside world.
Phil dialled the string of numbers that accessed her voicemail and waited
while the automated voice told her she had four messages.
The first was from Rob. His voice was calm and non-committal, asking
that she call as soon as she got home because he needed to talk to her.
His brotherly concern warmed her and she made a mental note to tell him
how much she appreciated him.
The second was from Cat. The barely contained curiosity in her voice
made Phil smile. Although Cat asserted she was just 'touching base',
Phil was in no doubt as to the purpose for her call. She knew she would
have to plan her comments carefully before she returned Cat's call.
The third call was a man's voice one she did not recognise. She
frowned at the New England accent.
"Philippe McKenzie?" the man said tentatively. "I've
been trying to reach you for days. This is most peculiar. I can't think
what sort of woman would go running off out of town at a time like this."
Phil frowned harder, confused by the message. Who was this man and what
did he want?
"This is Dr William Stevenson, Martin's father. Really, this is
no way for a young woman to behave."
Martin's father? What did he want? Had something happened to Martin?
And what did he mean about her behaviour? Phil began to resent the patronising
tone in the man's voice.
"It really is essential that I speak with you. Call me immediately
you return from wherever it is you've tripped off to."
Phil wavered between anger at the implication that she was up to something
improper and concern for Martin. She scribbled down William Stevenson's
phone number and waited for the final message, not sure how worried she
The final message made up her mind. It was from Rob.
"Phil, goddammit, it's about time you got a cellphone. Call me
as soon as you get this message. It's urgent. And think about that
A wave of blind panic hit Phil. Something was wrong. Something had
happened to Martin. Her heart pounded and her hands shook as she took
up the handset and began to dial her brother's number.
"Oh dear, Ray," Ben said, his voice full of concern, "it
appears we've missed quite a bit of news in the two weeks we've been
in the Grand Canyon."
"Oh yeah?" Ray's eyes did not leave the Sports Illustrated
Swimsuit Edition. In fact, his eyes had not left the magazine since
he had yanked it from the hands of the flight attendant ten minutes earlier.
"Yes. There has been an energy crisis and electricity has been
rationed in some cities."
"Is that so?"
"Oh look, a group of American women is attempting the first all
female ascent of Mt Everest."
Ben tutted and shook his head. "Latest statistics show that three
out of every four households in Chicago have at least one hand gun."
"You don't say."
"My, how tragic. A former Australian Prime Minister, who is now
the head of the Australian branch of Care, is negotiating for the release
of two American doctors taken hostage by the Khmer Rouge."
Ray slapped his magazine down on his knee and jerked his head up.
"Look, Fraser, " he said a little too loudly, causing several
passengers to stare. "This flight is only so long and I have to
give this back at the end ... " he waved the magazine to emphasise
his point. "If you don't mind ..."
"Oh, yes, of course, Ray. Sorry."
"Thank you." Ray ostentatiously lowered his tray table and
spread the magazine out, smoothing it carefully and making soothing noises
at the creases.
Ben sneaked a glance at Ray's magazine, his eyes widening in shock at
the photo spread of scantily clad women. 'What does that have to
do with sport?' he wondered. After a moment he returned his attention
to his own newspaper, eager to learn what else had taken place during
"I don't understand, Rob." Phil's voice wavered as she tried
to make sense of what her brother had just told her. "How did this
"Sit down, Flip." Rob's voice was gentle as he told her again
what he knew. "The Care compound was ambushed by the Khmer Rouge
and three hostages were taken. One of them, a cook, was released after
a few hours but the other two are still being held. They've been moved
to Khmer headquarters."
"Martin," he confirmed.
"Dear God, no," she whispered, leaning heavily in the kitchen
bench as the magnitude of the situation finally hit her. "Oh no."
"I'm so sorry, Phil. I wish I didn't have to tell you over the
phone." Rob's voice was strained with emotion. "I've been
trying to reach you since this morning."
Silent sobs wracked her body. How could this have happened to Martin?
She opened her mouth to speak but could not find the words.
"I know you're probably thinking the worst, Flip, but there is hope."
Rob's swallow was audible over the long distance line. "This Australian
guy, Malcolm Fraser, is in negotiation as we speak. He's the head of
Care in Australia and he's negotiated several other hostage releases
with the Khmer Rouge before. Everyone is very positive."
Rob's words did nothing to allay her fears. She remembered vividly the
news images of Pol Pot's Killing Fields and knew exactly what the Khmer
Rouge was capable of.
"But, Rob," she whispered, "this is the Khmer Rouge ...
"I know, Flip, I know." Rob's voice shook. "We just
have to pray ..."
A sudden thought hit Phil like a blow and she gasped, pressing a hand
to her throat. She thought about her conversation with Lloyd earlier
that day. She had planned to tell Martin she couldn't marry him. This
was her punishment.
"It's my fault ..."
"Of course it's not your fault, Flip." Rob's voice took on
a note of disbelief. "How could you even think that? Martin knew
the risk he was taking."
"You don't understand it *is* my fault." A vivid image
from the night before filled her mind and she was instantly sick to the
stomach. "I have to go."
Rob suddenly forgotten, she slammed the phone back into its cradle and
raced for the bathroom, dropping to her knees in front of the toilet,
When the waves of nausea stopped, Phil struggled to her feet. Leaning
heavily on the basin she splashed cool water on her face. Lifting her
eyes she stared at her reflection.
"It's my fault," she told her image. "I was with Ben
when Martin was ... oh god ..." She pressed her hands to her face
Confusion reigned in Phil's mind. She didn't know what to do next.
Then she remembered the call from Martin's father. Maybe he could tell
her more. She splashed more water on her face and then ran back to the
living room where she had left Dr Stevenson's number.
With shaking fingers she dialled the number. When a very proper male
voice answered she introduced herself, aware that she sounded far more
composed than she felt at that moment.
"Ah, the very elusive Philippe McKenzie," Dr Stevenson's curt
voice sounded large and intimidating in her ear. "I've been trying
to reach you for days. Your office told me you were unreachable."
Phil's heart sank. She had been enjoying her trip with friends old and
new whilst Martin was in mortal danger. "Yes, I'm sorry. I was
on a rafting expedition in the Grand Canyon."
An audible snort caught Phil by surprise.
"My son is on the other side of the world risking his life and you're
taking a vacation!"
Startled again by the tone of the man on the other end of the line she
hesitated before answering.
"I wasn't on vacation, Dr Stevenson, I was actually leading a geological
Dr Stevenson snorted again. "It doesn't matter what you were doing.
You should have been at my son's side. A doctor as busy as Martin relies
on the support of a devoted woman."
"Dr Stevenson, I ... "
"You have no idea how embarrassed I was when I had to tell the media
that I didn't know where my son's fiance was. If you want to be a doctor's
wife you shouldn't trip off on your own flights of fancy. And what sort
of job is this for a woman, Miss McKenzie."
Phil was shocked. So far, Martin's father had made no mention of his
son's kidnapping. He seemed only to be concerned with the image he presented.
She disliked him instantly. And how dare he question her. Her anger
warred with her concern for Martin.
"It's *Dr* McKenzie and it's not a *job*, Dr Stevenson. It's my
*career* and my *business*, but I think it's a moot point when we really
should be concerned about Martin's wellbeing."
"Well, I never ... "
"I understand you're under pressure. It's a shock to me, too.
Please just tell me what you know and what I can do to help."
After a few additional remarks about Phil and her behaviour, Dr Stevenson
told her what he knew but was unable to give her any further news. He
launched into another tirade about her behaviour.
"Dr Stevenson," Phil interrupted. "What you think of
me and my business is of no interest to me at the moment. I need to
find out how I can help Martin. Please call me if you hear anything
further." For the second time that day she hung up on someone.
For a moment Phil floundered. In the face of what had happened to Martin,
all thoughts of Ben were gone from her mind. All she could think of
was helping Martin. She had no idea whom to contact for more information.
She had no idea what she could do to help. The only thing she did know
was that she could not sit around Lloyd's house waiting for someone to
do something. As she stood wavering in the middle of Lloyd's living
room, a thought occurred to her. There was a Cambodian High Commission
in Chicago. She had to go home.
Ray closed the taxi door behind him and turned to his friend. "So,
Benny, you sure you don't want to come home for dinner? You've got no
food in your rathole and you know Ma will have made lasagne."
"Thank you, Ray, but no. I really do need to get home and rest.
I have to prepare for work tomorrow. If you could just have the taxi
driver drop me off." Ben settled into his seat and secured the
Ray smiled affectionately. He knew his friend was keen to be alone.
He had much to think about. "Whatever you say, Benny."
Ray leaned forward and gave the directions to the taxi driver and the
taxi pulled into the Chicago traffic. It was late afternoon by the time
they came to a stop in West Racine.
Ben hauled his pack onto the pavement and shut the trunk of the taxi.
Leaning against the door he smiled at Ray, still sitting in the back
"I want to thank you, Ray. These two weeks have meant a great deal
to me and that you were there to share it well, it means a lot."
Ray stared into the earnest eyes of his friend and thought about what
he had learned from Phil. The past two weeks had allowed him to see
a side of Ben that he had never previously known about. He would carry
the secret Phil had shared and he would be there for Ben when he, too,
learned of his daughter. A lump formed in his throat and he shifted
his hand to squeeze Ben's where it rested on the door.
"Meant a lot to me, too, Benny."
Fraser nodded and stepped away. "I'll see you tomorrow, Ray."
Ray said goodbye and told the taxi driver his next destination. From
the sidewalk, Ben watched until the taxi disappeared around the corner.
When he turned to go into his apartment it was with a sense of lightness
and hope that he had not felt for many years.
There was, quite simply, no time to waste. Pushing aside her emotions,
Phil hastily tossed her clothes into her bag. She checked her watch.
Lloyd would be home in just over half an hour. She could not wait.
She dashed out a note on the back of an envelope and left it on the kitchen
table, then hauled her bag to the cheap rental car in the drive. Without
looking back, she took off for the airport, driving much faster than
she would normally.
At the airport, she spread her maps on the counter and hastily plotted
a course home, daring the operators there to refuse her. They approved
her flight plan instantly, only slightly troubled by the wild look they
saw in her eyes. As soon as she had her plan registered, Phil strode
off to refuel her aircraft and prepare for the journey back to Chicago.
In the privacy of his truck, Lloyd sang along to the Classic Hits radio
station he favoured. Phil and Cathy had teased him about his predilection
for 70's music, both women preferring their music less commercial. He
laughed out loud, looking forward to spending his evening with Phil.
They had a lot to talk about.
Turning into his street, Lloyd was surprised to see Phil's rental car
missing from his drive. He was confused when he saw the pesto sauce
and spaghetti in the bench. He was stunned when he found Phil's hastily
scribbled note on the table.
Something major came up. I have to go home and sort it out. Thanks
for everything, you know I love you.
There was no signature, but a rough drawing of a hummingbird sat below
Lloyd frowned, wondering if Phil had seized the opportunity to run home
and take care of business as a way of avoiding dealing with the Ben issue.
Then he spent several minutes wondering about her state of mind and whether
or not she should be flying. Then he gave up. Phil was a grown woman
and he had no reason to believe she was anything other than capable of
handling herself. He had to stop coddling her.
At least she had prepared food before she left. Still not sure whether
to be worried or not, Lloyd put a pot of water for the pasta on the stove
and then went to change out of his sweaty uniform.
The phone on the wall taunted Cat as she prepared a salad with the last
of the greens fresh from her garden. Summer was over and there would
be no more vegetables until the following spring. But it wasn't vegetables
that were uppermost in her mind. By now Ray and Ben would be back in
Chicago and so far she had heard nothing. Doubly frustrating was the
knowledge that Phil was with Lloyd and he knew how anxious she was to
learn what had taken place between Ben and Phil. Why didn't someone
Alone for the first time in two weeks, Ben took the opportunity to enjoy
a moment of peace before he collected Diefenbaker from Willy. When the
wolf came home they would have to have a long talk. But what would he
Until that moment he had not fully contemplated the reality of the situation
he found himself in. He had told Phil that she had to make a choice
all or nothing. Had he pushed her too far? What if she chose
to walk away from him? Could he handle that?
Sadly, Ben realised that he loved Phil far too much to be able to accept
anything other than a full commitment from her. If that was not what
she wanted, well, he had survived this long without her. Surely he could
manage the rest of his life? He knew that very soon, one way or another,
there would finally be and end to the Ben and Phil story.
Waiting in line in line for her turn to take off, Phil did the only thing
she could. She prayed. And she made a deal with God.
She thought about the promise she had made to Lloyd only a few hours
earlier. When she told him she would put an end to the Ben and Phil
story, she had meant something entirely different than she did now.
Now she made an entirely new promise to God.
"Please bring Martin home safely. I'll be a good wife."
The Ben and Phil story would end, but not as either of them had hoped.
Phil didn't notice the wetness on her cheeks until she was airborne.
To be continued ...
Copyright May 2000 by Carol Trendall
Comments welcome at email@example.com
(Book 3 of the Ben & Phil Saga)
- On a Collision CourseRedux by Cassandra Hope
- Second Chances by Cassandra Hope
- A Cop, a Mountie, and a Dory by Cassandra Hope
- Canyon Interlude by Carol Trendall
- Rhyme of a Not-so-Ancient Mariner by Cassandra Hope
- Down the Valley of the Shadow by Cassandra Hope
- The Heart Remembers by Cassandra Hope
- You Call This Lucky? by Cassandra Hope
- Ghost of a Chance by Cassandra Hope
- The Soul of a Friend by Cassandra Hope
- 'Spuds' McKenzie by Cassandra Hope
- A Taste of Paradise by Cassandra Hope
- Nemesis by Cassandra Hope
- By Day and Night by Cassandra Hope
- Crossroads by Cassandra Hope
- Letting Go by Cassandra Hope
- Let This Story Have an End by Carol Trendall