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When Destiny Calls
Casey had never been able to eat much. There had been too many missed meals during her childhood…punishment for whatever sin she'd committed in the eyes of her adoptive mother that day. Later it was because she didn't have time to stop and eat, or lately because she was saving money to pay a bill, like insurance or electricity. So she usually ordered just a salad and a bowl of soup or clam chowder. Tonight she decided on the Grilled Shrimp Caesar Salad.
"Do you want an appetizer?" Daniel asked, when she gave her order to the waitress. If she hadn't had lunch, a salad just wasn't going to be enough.
She pulled her lip between her teeth. She really did like calamari…"If you do, I guess," she replied softly.
"Pick one," he said, smiling at her.
"The calamari and veggies?"
"Sounds good," Daniel replied. "And I'll have the grilled trout. Full." He had plans for tonight that required a great deal of…exercise. He wanted all his strength. He had a feeling he was going to need it. "Mashed potatoes."
"To drink?" the waitress asked.
Casey giggled when they answered the waitress at the same time, saying the same thing. Felt her heart doing flip-flops in her chest when Daniel reached across the table and took her hand. It hit her once again the speed with which this…relationship…was moving. "So fast," she whispered.
"I know," he replied softly. "Are you…afraid?"
She shook her head. "No. Well…maybe. A little bit."
"There's no need to be, I promise."
"What if I…" she dropped her eyes.
"If you what?" Daniel asked her gently.
"What if I disappoint you?"
He could barely hear the words, but could plainly see the worry in those green eyes. "That will never happen," he said firmly.
"How can you be so sure?"
Daniel smiled. "Because my heart tells me so."
She studied him. "Always listen to your heart," she said softly. "Grandma Rose taught me that. Listen to your heart, it will never lead you wrong."
The waitress brought two cups of coffee and a basket of cheddar biscuits, which Casey attacked almost before the woman had set them down. She hadn't realized how hungry she really was. She broke off a piece of the warm, fluffy biscuit, popped it into her mouth, and studied the man sitting across from her. "Tell me about you…about…" she cocked her head sideways again. "About…her."
Daniel was about to take a sip of coffee, jerked slightly. He grabbed a napkin and wiped up the few drops he'd spilled. "Where do you want me to start?"
"The beginning is usually a good place. You know, 'I was born in a humble cottage of hard working people, but managed to work my way up to become the oil magnate that you see before you', or, in your case, multi-degreed archaeologist," she replied, her eyes dancing.
He laughed. "Okay, I was born in Egypt. My parents were both archaeologists, and they were there working on a dig that had been going on for nearly two years. They came back to the States a few months later, my father did quite a bit of work on a dig in Arizona, then they went back to Egypt. I probably spent more time there than here during my first six years. They were…" he paused, took a sip of coffee, unaware that his pain was plainly visible. "They were killed when I was eight. They were putting together an exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. The chain holding a capstone that weighed several tons snapped. It fell, and it…" he paused again. Took comfort from the soft hands that squeezed his gently. "My grandfather abandoned me to the system, he was…is…an archaeologist as well. I lived in a series of foster homes. I guess I studied so much because I was so lonely. I could…hide…in books. I entered UCLA when I was sixteen. When I was twenty I started my undergraduate studies. By the time I was twenty-four I'd been on three major digs, and was working at the Oriental Institute in Chicago. I got a professorship there, and taught for two years. During that time Dr. Jordan, my mentor, had me helping him with several projects. Right after I went back to teaching I…I put out a theory, which made me a pariah, laughed at by the entire archaeological community. Six and a half years ago I was given an opportunity to work on a very important project. Which is how I wound up working for the Air Force in Colorado Springs."
She smiled. "You were right, weren't you?"
He grinned. Being married to a seer was going to be interesting. Whoa…married? He gave the thought a few seconds to bounce around in his brain. Discovered that he liked it…a lot! Yeah, married! He most definitely wanted to be married to this beautiful, incredible woman. "Yeah, I was," he said at last.
"Now, tell me about her."
"We met on the first mission I ever went on. There was a small group of people, a tribe of nomads. When we first arrived, I was wearing a medallion...a good luck charm given to me by the woman who had pulled me into the Sta...the...um...project. Because of that, those people thought we were...um...gods. Sha're was sort of...well, she was...I guess you'd call her an offering. I didn't…take her…I mean, not like that. We found out the people were...slaves...and we helped them defeat their...um...the...uh...ones who claimed to own them. Helped them become free people once again. Jack and the others came home. But I stayed with those people because of her. We were married about two months later. I loved her very much. I was on Abydos a year with her. But she was taken um…hostage…I went back to work for the Air Force so I could search for her. She was killed three years later." Again his grief was visible in his eyes, in the features of his handsome face.
"I'm sorry," she said softly.
He shook himself mentally. Took note that the pain wasn't as sharp now. That it had dulled to a quiet ache. "What about you? Were you born in a humble cottage of hard working people?"
She smiled, although the action didn't light her eyes as it normally did, something he didn't miss. "No. At least I don't think so. I was abandoned on the steps of a church. I'm told that when the priest found me he didn't think I was more than a few hours old. Anyway, I spent the first five years of my life in an orphanage. Then I was adopted." She looked away, studied one of the prints on the wall, a photograph of an old fishing boat. "I grew up, went to college, or at least tried. Now I work for Hightower Containers."
There was a hell of a lot between 'I was adopted' and 'I grew up', and Daniel knew instinctively that those years had been hard on her. Full of pain, unhappiness. He could see that in her eyes. He wrapped his hands around hers, held tightly. Someday, they'd be able to share all of the painful details, heal one another's wounds.
The waitress returned with their appetizers, a promise of more coffee, then hurried away to wait on a rather rowdy group in the far corner of the room.
Casey put a few of the veggies and calamari on the small plate. Glanced up to watch Daniel for a few seconds. Felt her heart race at the sight of him eating. The man was sexy just standing and breathing, she decided. "How long will you be in Tacoma?"
"Until the end of the week."
She nodded. Then realized that at the end of the week, he'd be leaving, and she'd be left alone. That thought brought such a stabbing pain to her heart that she almost gasped out loud.
"Will that be enough time to get your things packed to move?"
Now it was her turn to jerk. She picked up the piece of calamari that had dropped onto the table. "Packed?"
Daniel grinned. "Yeah, it's easiest to move when everything is packed into boxes."
"You. Me. Colorado. Together. Remember?"
He really meant it! Was serious about taking her with him! She smiled. "I remember."
"It won't take long to pack. I don't have that much. Everything of Grandma Rose's is still in boxes," she replied.
He nodded. "Do you think you'll have time to do some sight-seeing? I've been up here a few times, but have never had time to go anywhere."
"I guess so. To be honest, I haven't seen much either. My parents…we never went anywhere. I've never had the time…or the money, to do much," she said softly.
"We'll see the sights together, then," he said, winking at her.
Their meals had arrived, and for a few minutes they simply ate, already comfortable in one another's presence. They watched one another surreptitiously. Two hearts pounded with excitement, with a love so new, so suddenly all-encompassing that both were startled at the depth.
Daniel smiled when she glanced up and found him looking at her. "You are so beautiful," he said softly.
She blushed, lowered her eyes. "I was just thinking the same thing about you," she replied.
His cheeks reddened slightly. He'd never thought of himself as overly handsome. The face he saw in the mirror every morning was…acceptable. That this incredibly beautiful woman thought that of him made his already rapidly beating heart speed up.
A sudden thought had her giggling.
He grinned. "What?"
She shook her head. "It's pretty silly actually."
"I like silly."
"I was just thinking…you see…" she shook her head again. "I never thought I'd find Mr. Right…find you. I was convinced that I was doomed to become the neighborhood 'cat lady'. You know - the bitter, lonely old woman who has about a hundred cats? Now I don't have to start buying cats."
He grinned, then chuckled. "Somehow, I don't think that ever would have happened. But I'm glad to know I saved you from such a horrible fate."
"If you hadn't rang my doorbell it would have happened," she insisted. "Although, now I suppose there are about a hundred cats that are going to need good homes."
He laughed out loud. Casey's sense of humor was just as delightful as the other Casey's had been. "I'm sure that Fate will see to it that they're all taken care of."
"I suppose," she sighed. "Although maybe we should think about taking in one or two of them. Do you like cats?"
"They're all right, I guess. I've never had pets; cats, dogs, fish, gerbils…none of the above."
Her smile turned to a wicked little grin. "Okay, so that means you need a cat, a dog, a gerbil and a fish. Well, maybe you can have more than one fish."
"I don't think my lease allows pets. I suppose I could have a fish tank," he replied, his blue eyes twinkling.
"It's a start." She glanced up at him again. "Has anyone ever told you that you have the most beautiful blue eyes? And this shy smile that just-" she broke off, blushed brightly.
"That what?" he asked, intrigued.
"Makes me weak in the knees," she murmured.
"Nope. Can't say that I have," he replied, his heart pounding.
"You're a smooth liar," she said, smiling again.
"Okay, I suppose I have heard comments about my eyes at one time or another. But never about the smile," he admitted shyly.
"Has anyone ever told you that you can be smugly annoying?"
He looked at her. Saw the laughter in her eyes. "On a daily basis."
She giggled. "I'd say he's right. Most of the time."
"He? How do you know it's a he?" Daniel asked. Knew that somehow her 'gift' was allowing her to 'see' more about him than he realized. Keeping secrets from this woman would be extremely difficult!
She shrugged. "I just see a man. Well two, actually. And a woman. Very close to you. Like…family."
He nodded. "The people I work with. Yeah, we are like family."
Casey looked down at her plate. She'd managed to eat all of the shrimp, and most of the salad. On top of the appetizers, she was absolutely stuffed! She picked up her coffee cup, sipped almost absently as she thought about what the rest of the night would bring. Began to tremble with anticipation, and a bit of trepidation. She and Kelley had a dozen books about making love. Had discussed the subject thoroughly. Had even practiced fellatio on large cucumbers and zucchini, Kelley insisting that it was better to know how to do it and not need to, as to need to know and not. The logic had made sense to Casey, and she'd agreed; and the two virgins had spent several Saturday's giggling, blushing and…practicing. She glanced up at the man she was with. What if she wasn't good enough? Pretty enough? What if she couldn't please him? She nearly moaned out loud. If Daniel left at the end of the week, without her, she'd just lay down and die. Follow your heart, she heard her Grandma Rose saying. It will never lead you wrong. Just follow your heart.
Daniel watched her. Watched the slight frown that wrinkled the skin between those perfectly arched blonde eyebrows. The worry that flooded those amazing green eyes. Had a feeling he knew what she was thinking about. Someone had broken down her self-confidence. Her self esteem. Left her feeling unworthy. A flash of insight let him know that someone had declared her unlovable. And she believed it all. He was well aware of the fact that not all of her hurts could be healed in one night. But by morning he intended for her to know just how beautiful, how desirable…how loveable she was. The thought of making love to her sent flames of desire up and down his spine, threatened to have him rising to full mast. He tempered his thoughts. "Casey?"
"Would you like dessert?" He was hoping she didn't. He wanted to get her to that room. Wanted to hold her. See all of the body that already thrilled him so. Wanted to make love to her. Down boy, he thought, willing his body to obey.
She shook her head. "No, thank you. I’m stuffed," she declared.
No lunch. Four pieces of calamari. About that many vegetables. Five jumbo shrimp. And about half of the salad. And she was stuffed. The woman did not eat enough! Maybe, his brain told him, she's nervous. Yeah, he thought, that has to be it. He nodded. Signaled the waitress.
"Please, if you want something…" she started.
Daniel smiled. He wanted something, all right. He wanted to be alone with the woman he loved. Wanted to make love to her until every doubt, every fear was gone. "I'll have my dessert in a little while."
His words, and the look of desire in his eyes, made her shiver with anticipation. Again the fear that she'd disappoint him flooded her mind. She tried to force the thought away.
There it was, that fear. It filled her eyes. "Casey?"
She looked up at him.
"Relax, honey. Everything will be fine. I promise."
She was startled to know that he seemed capable of reading her thoughts; didn't realize that what she was thinking reflected so clearly in her eyes. She managed to nod.
The waitress brought the bill. Casey wrapped her arms around her slender waist as she watched him sign the credit receipt. Felt his love wrap around her when he smiled at her. Couldn't help but cling to him as he led her to the parking lot.
The clerk at the desk inside the hotel assured Daniel that the additional guest would not be a problem. He grinned as he registered. 'Dr. and Mrs. Daniel Jackson' he signed, with a flourish. After all, his brain assured him, she would be Mrs. Daniel Jackson as soon as he could arrange it!
The room was typical hotel fare, although the queen-sized bed had both a headboard and a footboard. Casey looked around nervously while Daniel put their duffel bags on the dresser. This was it. She was in a hotel room with a man she'd known a little over two hours. Where was the panic she should be feeling? The sense that she was doing something wrong? She was nervous, afraid that she'd be unable to please a man as virile, as sexy as Daniel. All I can do is my best, she thought. And hope that it's good enough!
Daniel watched her for a few moments. Then crossed the room and pulled her into his arms. "We've got all night, Case. We'll take it slow. You won't be hurt, I promise." He could feel her trembling. "If you want to wait, we will. We can just sit and talk if you'd rather." It would be difficult...hell, it would be damned near impossible...to do nothing more than hold her like this, and spend the night talking; when what he wanted to do was touch every inch of her, taste every bit of her. Make love to her until she couldn't think, or move.
"Give me a few minutes," she said, looking up at him. Knew that he wanted her, to make love to her. And she wanted him to make love to her. She wanted to make love to him. "I'll be right back. Why don't you get…comfortable." She took off her coat, dropped it onto the chair beside the bed.
His heart nearly stopped beating at the softly spoken words. He didn't think she realized how seductive she sounded. He nodded. Watched as she opened her duffel. Took something and hid it against her side. Watched as she grabbed a hanger from the closet, then disappeared into the bathroom. He stood staring at that closed door for a few minutes, his thoughts racing...whirling; examining the love that he was feeling. Until his brain poked him into action. He pulled off his windbreaker, put it on one of the hangers. Kicked off his shoes. Took off his socks and shirt. He pulled back the bedspread and the blankets, pushed the pillows to the center of the headboard. The contents of his pant's pockets went on the small table, the Dockers onto the chair beside it. He stretched out on the bed, willed his heart to stop beating so hard and so fast.
Casey stared at her reflection. He was her Destiny. Everything she had hoped for, dreamed of, she was finding in Daniel. When he held her, there was no fear. Only safety…and warmth…and love. When she was in his arms, everything felt so right! Her eyes began to shine. She couldn't stop smiling. In his arms…everything was right! She turned loose of the doubts…the insecurities. Let them slip away. Somehow, in her heart of hearts, she knew that he'd guide her, teach her everything she needed to know so that she could please him. Understood that her own needs, desires, would also help her to make love to the man that she'd fallen head-over-heels in love with. She began to undress, the need to feel him hold her, feel him in her arms so strong it was a physical ache. She kicked off her heels, shimmied out of her skirt, put it on the hanger she'd grabbed from the closet. Took her blouse off and hung it carefully over the skirt. Her pantyhose were tossed onto the counter, she needed to rinse them out. Same for the panties and bra she took off and dropped to the floor. She pulled on the teddy, the silk and lace garment hiding very little of her body. She shivered slightly from anticipation, then opened the door and stepped into the room.
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