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When Destiny Calls

Chapter 23

He opened his eyes. Cold. He was cold. The blankets were all in place, but he was cold. That soft, sweet warmth was gone. He sniffed. Coffee and…coffee and waffles! He tossed back the covers, shivered as the cool air hit his naked body. He grabbed his sweats and a tee shirt, padded barefoot to the kitchen.

She'd unpacked her clothes; the sofa was covered with her things. She was wearing a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and a matching top that didn't quite reach her waist. She was pouring batter into the waffle iron, and then opened the oven door and sat a plate that held two waffles into its warmth.

"Morning," he said, standing and watching her for a minute.

Casey smiled at him. "Good morning Sweetheart. Go have a seat at the table, I'll bring your breakfast to you."

That smile was all he needed to make his day perfect. He glanced around the room. A woman's touch. That soft, woman's touch had changed it from a cold, merely functional room to a home. Home and hearth. That's what she'd brought him, created around him in just a few short hours. "I'll be right back."

He stopped and stared at the bathroom counter. A wooden jewelry box. Two other small ceramic boxes. Two bottles of lotion and the perfume he'd bought for her. A little basket filled with cosmetics. A small glass bowl that held an assortment of colorful clips and combs. His heart did a happy dance inside his chest at the array of feminine items. Yes! he thought happily. Never alone again!

Casey was standing behind him. She'd unpacked while he was asleep. She'd never had the room to 'spread out' before, and she'd worried that he'd find the clutter annoying. "I can put most of that in the cabinet," she said softly.

Daniel turned around. "Nope. I like it. Proves I have a woman living here."

It was her turn to stare as he walked to the toilet. The grin on his face had been one of sheer delight. She shook her head, went back to the kitchen. She couldn't stop smiling.

When he returned to the kitchen, Daniel grabbed the can of protein drink mix. Nope, not opened yet. He took the milk from the fridge, pulled the blender - brand new, thank you - from the cabinet and put it on the counter. He carefully read the directions. He poured the milk to the one-cup line, scooped the proper amount of the mix into the blender, put the lid on, gave it a couple of good pulses to mix it up well. Hoped like hell it would taste better than it smelled. Her pills were setting at the back of the counter by the sink. He took one from the bottle. Poured the shake into a glass. God, it smelled horrible!

Casey had been watching him, a tiny smile tugging at the corners of her lips. She'd been hoping he'd forget about that stuff. Obviously he was going to follow Janet's instructions to the letter. The warmth that spread over her was so new, so… special. He loved her! He really did!

"Here, babe." He handed her the glass and the pill.

She put the pill in her mouth. Took a drink of the foul smelling concoction. Barely resisted the urge to spit it onto the floor. She managed to swallow. "Oh, that is just awful!"

"I know, Angel, but you need the calories and the vitamins. Oh, yeah…" He found the vitamins, gave her one.

She shook her head, popped it into her mouth, reached for her cup of coffee. Daniel stopped her.

"Drink it. Please? For me?"

Oh, goddess, he was looking at her with sad little puppy dog eyes! She was never going to be able to resist that look! And it would be a cold day in hell before she ever admitted it! She took a deep breath, and managed to get most of the shake down. She only hoped it would stay down. He hugged her tightly when she finished it and rinsed the glass out. One eyebrow raised, she grabbed her cup of coffee, and rinsed that disgusting taste from her mouth. He just grinned at her.


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The promised storm failed to materialize, and by one p.m. the sun was shining. They'd spent the morning rearranging Daniel's clothes in the closet, moving his things to the chest of drawers, allowing her use of the dresser. The lack of hangers prevented her from hanging her dresses, skirts and blouses.

"Weren't we just here?" she giggled as they walked into the mall again.

"I seem to recognize it, yeah," he grinned.

Casey had been carefully keeping track of every penny Daniel had been spending on her. When he stopped in front of The Coat Rack, she hesitated. "Penney's or Sears might be a bit cheaper," she said softly.

"Casey, didn't we have this discussion yesterday?"

"If we don't spend over three hundred dollars today, you'll still have enough left in your savings account to get a couple of CDs. It will at least mean you'll be getting enough interest to keep the account growing at a reasonable rate," she said.

"CDs?"  He was fairly sure she wasn't talking about music.

"Certificates of Deposit," she clarified.

"Casey, I have a retirement account. I have some money in a couple of mutual funds. I promise that we're okay."

She looked at him for a minute. "You've already spent so much! Daniel, you've spent more in the past week than I make - made - in a year! It just…it scares me! I don't want you to think that all I want from you are things! I don't! Your love is all I want, all I need!"

He smiled. "Honey, you have my love. And it's because I love you that I want to buy you things. Nothing I've gotten so far has been some wild extravagance. It's been a need."

She looked at her ring. "Yeah, I really needed this," she murmured.

"Yes, you did," he said firmly. "It lets all those men who watch you know that you're taken." When she looked up at him, the love in those green eyes nearly bowled him over.

"If I get this Eskimo parka that you insist I need, and the fleece lined boots that you insist that I need, can we go walk in the snow? We never have this much in Tacoma, and I've never…I just didn't have time…or the…well, I've never really played in it," she said shyly.

Or the warm clothes, he thought, finishing her sentence for her. He smiled. "I'll take you to Grant Park. They should have the sleds out."

Her eyes lit up. "Oh, that sounds like fun!"

"Can't go without the proper gear," he said, rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet.

"You are determined to win, aren't you?"

He grinned. "Yep."

She sighed. "It still scares me," she said softly.

"It's all right, Casey. Don't worry about it. Don't think about it." A sudden thought made his grin broader. "Besides, you'll be making considerably more than twenty-two five working for the SGC." The smile that lit her face was so beautiful that he stood momentarily breathless.

"I guess I will be, won't I?" She glanced into the store. "I have no idea what to even look for."

"Come on, I'll help you find just the right Eskimo parka."


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As soon as they'd completed their shopping, including several packages of hangers, they'd stopped by the apartment, where Daniel had donned thermal underwear beneath his jeans and sweater. Casey - who was now the proud owner of thermal underwear, thick wool socks, a pair of fleece-lined leather boots, a down filled parka with a hood, and fleece-lined gloves - pulled on the new gear and nearly ran to the parking garage in her excitement. He couldn't help but grin, her child-like zeal infecting him as well.

Grant Park was large, and situated almost in the center of Silver Springs. There were several hills, and it was to one of these that Daniel led Casey. She was looking around, her cheeks and nose pink from the cold, her eyes shining as brightly as the diamond on her finger.

A portable kiosk had been set up and half a dozen long plastic sleds were leaning against a bicycle rack. Daniel approached, rented one of the bright blue sleds, then led her up the hill. There were already at least two dozen people, mostly families, playing and sliding, laughing and yelling.

At the top of the hill, Daniel carefully positioned the sled. "Get in babe," he said. She sat down in the shallow plastic, he snuggled behind her. He put his arms around her, grabbed onto the nylon rope that was looped through two holes in the front of the sled. "Ready?"

She nodded.

He reached out with one gloved hand, gave a push. They began to slide, going faster as they neared the bottom of the hill. He tugged on the rope to keep the front of the sled up, although there was really no way of steering.

She was laughing by the time they came to a halt. "That was totally awesome!"

He couldn't help but grin. "Let's do it again."

When Casey noticed a little boy of perhaps ten, standing off to the side alone, watching all of the fun, she begged Daniel to let him ride with them. At first the boy - whose name was Josh, they learned - was hesitant to join them. Casey's smile won him over, and he agreed that a ride did look like fun.

The three of them settled into the sled, Daniel pushed them off. The laughter of the woman and the boy filled his ears, and for just a few seconds he could imagine doing this with her…and their son. His heart was pounding in his chest by the time they slid to a halt. And it had nothing to do with the ride down the hill.

Josh joined them four more times, then insisted that he had to go home. He thanked them again and again, shaking Daniel's hand, and then, with a shy smile, he hugged Casey tightly. He turned twice to wave at them before he disappeared around a curve in the sidewalk.

The sun was almost behind the mountains when Daniel turned in the sled. Another booth was open, and he bought her a large cup of hot chocolate.

"I’m hungry," he announced. Lunch had consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, neither of them really hungry after their breakfast of waffles.

"I could eat something," she said. "Let's go home and I'll fix a nice warm dinner."

No way was he going to argue with a home cooked meal! "Sounds good."


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Daniel leaned one hip against the counter as he watched her. Two boneless chicken breasts had come out of the freezer and went into the microwave. She moved with ease, grace…obviously familiar with the art of cooking. He wondered how many other things she could do that were just as impressive as her culinary skills. He grinned mentally. Added her lovemaking abilities to the list of 'things Casey can do that make me happy'.

She gathered the ingredients she needed, thankful that she'd memorized a few simple sauce recipes…her cookbooks were in the boxes on their way to Colorado…and started a rich marinara sauce. When it was simmering nicely she took the thawed chicken, put the meat on the cutting board between two sheets of plastic wrap, and began to pound them. When they were about a quarter inch thick, she mixed up flour, salt and pepper, dipped the cutlets into an egg and water mixture she had waiting, then into the flour mixture, followed by another egg and water dip, then into the seasoned bread crumbs she'd made with her brand new food processor. The cutlets went into the skillet, which she'd brushed lightly with olive oil, and each side was quickly browned. The lid went onto the skillet and she steamed them while she added spaghetti to the boiling water Daniel had started, at her request.

She opened a bag of salad greens, chopped up a tomato and cucumber, and tossed the ingredients together. "It's not a super salad, but it will do," she said, smiling at him.

"Super salad?"

"I'll make one tomorrow," she promised.

He sat down to homemade chicken parmesan, the freshly grated cheese melting into a gooey mess on the top of the sauce. He took a bite. Closed his eyes. "Oh, Casey, this is delicious!"

She beamed. "I'm glad you like it. I guess I should warn you, Grandma Rose was Italian. Grandpa Henry, I never met him, because he died before I came around, anyway, he was half-Italian on his mother's side. So I know how to cook a lot of American-Italian dishes. Grandma Rose said they're more American, but that's okay, since that's where we live."

He smiled. Sniffed the air. "Are those brownies I smell?"

"Oh hell!" She jumped up from the table and raced into the kitchen. Pulled the pan of brownies from the oven and put it on a cooling rack. "I hope you don't mind a mix."

"I never would have known," he admitted.

She smiled. "Maybe tomorrow I'll bake cookies. What kind do you like?"

"Chocolate walnut."

There was a small grocery store just around the corner. She could walk there and get walnuts, she was certain.

Once again he leaned back in his chair, his taste buds and stomach in absolute ecstasy. "How lucky can I be?" he asked, of nobody in particular.

"How's that?"

"My Wife is amazing…beautiful, and I do mean drop-dead gorgeous. She can cook, probably should have one of those cooking shows on TV. And she's psychic, the snakes won't stand a chance with her working at the SGC."

She blushed. "I don’t know about all of that. If you're happy, that's all that matters to me!"

He didn't get a chance to respond. The doorbell echoed around them. He stood, stretched slightly, and padded in his stocking feet to the door. Mrs. Trumball was standing there, trying desperately to see around him. "Hello, Mrs. Trumball."

"Hello, Daniel! Jerry said you had a woman in here!" she said, referring to the building doorman.

Daniel bit back his grin when the woman's wrinkled cheeks flushed red.

"I mean, he said that you had someone with you," she said. "Living here."

The old woman must have heard Casey last night, he thought, still struggling to keep from grinning. Otherwise she wouldn't have listened to Jerry, she didn't like him. Mostly because he didn't like her. Might as well get this over with, he thought. "Come in and meet my fiancée," he said politely.

"Fiancée? Oh, dear," the woman said, wringing her hands. "I told Margie that you'd be joining us for dinner tomorrow night. I stopped by this afternoon to ask you about it, but you weren't home." She followed him into the dining room. Her nose was busy working.

"If you'd stopped by a little earlier, you could have joined us for dinner," Daniel said, watching the woman. "Casey made chicken parmesan. From scratch."

Watery brown eyes went wide. "Oh, my! Cooks does she?"

"Very well, as a matter of fact," Daniel replied. "Casey? I'd like for you to meet our downstairs neighbor, Mrs. Trumball."

Casey stood to her feet, offered her hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

The woman took the offered hand, noticed that the grip was firm, but still very feminine. Something Margie really needed to learn how to do, she thought distractedly. Then she noticed the ring. It must have cost a fortune! Well, wasn't that a pity! Margie should have been more aggressive! Such a little mousy bookworm. She'd thought, however, that with Daniel's love of books, evident by his large collection, that the two would have much in common. And now this…hussy…had moved in with him. Mrs. Trumball finally looked at her face. "My, you are a lovely young woman!"

She blushed, lowered her eyes, glanced sideways at Daniel. He was grinning ear to ear.

"Well, I can see you're in the middle of dinner, so I'll just be on my way. Lovely to meet you, dear. Congratulations, Daniel. Have a nice evening." The woman hurried down the hallway, slammed the door closed behind her.

Daniel began to laugh. "I think she's ticked."

"I picked that up," Casey giggled. "I take it that she had plans for you and Margie?"

"She's tried to set me up with one niece or another for the past year. It was easier when Sha're was still alive. I told her that my wife had been kidnapped, and that I wouldn't give up until I found her. After she was killed, and Mrs. Trumball found out that I was a grieving widower, she started sending them over."

"So how did Margie get so lucky?"

"I was stupid enough to locate a few books for her. Mrs. Trumball was certain a ring was next."

"Well, Margie will be picking herself up off the floor if she dares to mess with my man," Casey declared, her green eyes twinkling.

"You'd fight for me?" he teased, a little pleased at the thought.

"Yep. Just so you know, I've had a couple of karate classes. Ricky got them for me one Christmas."

"Ricky?" Why did he feel such a stab of jealousy?

"Kelley's older brother. Sort of my big brother, too."

He grinned. "Let's hope that Margie is smart enough to just leave me alone."

"Let's hope," she replied.

When the kitchen was cleaned up, Casey sat down on the floor beside the coffee table. "You play chess," she said softly.

Daniel sat down on the sofa. He'd planned on working a bit on one of the translations that needed to be finished by Monday morning. Was more than willing to let it wait. "Yep. Do you?"

"I know how the pieces move. That's about it."

"Would you like to learn?"

Her eyes smiled at him as much as her lips. "Very much!"

Daniel carefully explained the goal of the game, the uses for the various pieces, the strategies most favored. She listened carefully, asked questions before she made each move that let him know that she was learning very quickly.

By the third game she was making the moves on her own. She was studying the board carefully when a yawn over took her.

He reached over and brushed her hair back behind her shoulder. "Let's finish this game tomorrow," he suggested.

She looked up at him and smiled. "Afraid I'm going to beat you?"

"Afraid you're going to fall asleep face first into the board," he replied, teasing gently.

They were nearly finished with their nighttime routine when she reached out and shyly touched his arm. "I'm not too tired," she said softly.

"Too tired for what?"

"To make love," she said, her eyes dropping. "I just want you to know, I'll never turn you away."

She sounds just like Sha're, he thought. Wanting him to know that his wants, his desires came before even her own needs. "Angel, it's okay to be too tired. Or just simply not in the mood."

She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Not in the mood? All you have to do is touch me, and I need you. Kiss me and I’m on fire for you. I will never turn you away," she repeated.

He held her close, delighted to know that he had the same affect on her as she had on him. Knew that she wouldn't turn him away…ever. So it would be up to him to know when she needed rest more than he needed to make love to her. "Let's go to bed, Angel," he whispered. And knew in his heart that tonight he wouldn't turn her away either, because she was going to insist on making love. He taught her that night that making love could be a gentle, quiet thing just as easily as it could be wild and passionate. She fell asleep on top of him, wrapped in his arms. He could think of no better way to go to sleep.

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