Previously on HFN: Spencer Asks Kate to Lunch
When it was lunch time, Kate walked to Spencer’s area to find him. “Pasta Garden sound good?” He asked, his long legs slowing to match her shorter ones.
“We don’t have to go that fancy,” she replied, looking at him.
“We need someplace quiet.” He stopped walking and stilled his keys.
“We do?” Her heart skipped a beat. She wondered why they needed a quiet place, but she didn’t voice it aloud.
Suddenly it felt like there was a boxing match going on in her stomach. She gulped, trying to remain calm. Spencer beeped the locks to his sedan several feet away and rushed ahead to open the door for Kate. “Spence,” she started to protest. She used his shortened name, but in frustration, not friendliness this time.
“Kate.” Spencer looked down on her, a serious expression on his face.
“You don’t need to open my door,” she finished.
“I don’t mind, ladies first and all that.” He swept his arm toward the car.
“You’re quite the gentleman, as usual.”
“I try.” He waited for her to get in and shut the door.
Several minutes later they were seated across from each other in a quiet corner. She opened her cloth-wrapped silverware and draped the napkin across her lap. Kate sipped her water, trying not to appear nervous. She fidgeted with her purse strap.
She ordered a veggie lasagna, no extra cheese and he ordered a pasta trio.
“I’ll take half home for dinner.”
Kate raised an eyebrow, not sure he could leave half for later. “Did you email John this weekend?” she asked.
Spencer nodded. “I haven’t heard back yet.”
“Me either. I sent mine Friday afternoon.” Kate mentioned she’d like to get a Skype system set up. Spencer offered to install it for her.
Spencer saw Kate’s hesitation, and said, “You know I’m just helping while John’s away. He asked me to help you and keep an eye out for you.”
“He did?” Kate sat back against the leather seat, a little upset. This was news to her although she suspected as much. She thought that maybe John would ask Spencer to, but she didn’t know she needed ‘looking after’. She was a grown woman after all, in the Air Force, and fiercely independent according to others she’d worked with over the years. She just considered herself a woman of the new millennium, it didn’t seem anything unusual to her.
“Don’t act so surprised. We’ve been friends for years, longer than you’ve known him. We trust each other.” Spencer took a bite of his salad.
She admitted to herself that he was right. Sometimes she forgot that they had a longer history than she and John did.
He started to say something more and stopped.
She looked at him. “What? What aren’t you telling me?” She picked up her fork and turned it over and over.
“I shouldn’t be telling you this much, but if anything happens to him, he has a letter for you.”
“He does?” This wasn’t exactly a revelation that she liked. And she was hearing it from the wrong man. She felt something plummet in her stomach. She didn’t know if she could eat and set her fork down.
Spencer nodded. He looked like he was going to say more, but didn’t.
“What kind of letter? I’m sorry I never said I love you? What?”
“I can’t say anything else. Okay? Just know that he cares for you and he wants to return to you as soon as he can. I’m sorry I can’t say more.” Spencer sighed and looked away from Kate.
Kate absorbed this news, not too happily. She knew John had some sort of secret, because he acted like he wanted to tell her something many times, but always changed his mind. Kate figured he would tell her when he was ready. Then this latest deployment came up. She changed the subject. “So, he’s not going to mind? If you set up the Skype?”
“No. Not at all.”
She’d worry about John’s letter later. “Okay. How soon can you do it? What do you need to buy? Or I need to buy?”
“Possibly some gadgets from the electronics store, depending on your computer setup. We can go any afternoon this week except Wednesday.”
“Sure. We can go after work and get a bite after if you want.”
“How about if I cook?” The three of them got together often, but since John was gone, the two of them might as well.
Spencer perked up. “Really?”
She laughed for the first time in weeks. “Sure. I owe you one for your technical expertise.”
“You don’t; but I’m sure I’ll enjoy it all the same.” He gave her a wide grin.
“How about meatloaf?”
“Mashed potatoes and gravy?”
“You got it,” she gave him a weak smile. She took a sip of her tea and dug into her lasagna with more energy than she felt since John left. After work, she would stop at the commissary for beef, cheese and potatoes. She hadn’t cooked in weeks, not being all that hungry. She could use some comfort food herself, if anyone asked. She would pick up salad fixings and French bread, too. Maybe she could make a cheesecake from a package. She knew it was one of Spencer’s favorite desserts. It wouldn’t hurt to eat one meal not on her regular diet.
Spencer asked her about her computer model and Internet service and related questions which she answered as best she could. Technology wasn’t her thing. Spencer paid the check despite her protest to pay her for her own lunch and they walked out to his car. He opened the door for her again, but she didn’t protest this time.
A minute or so into the drive back to the base, Kate commented, “Thanks, Spence,” she said, leaning back. “I needed this.”
“I thought so. And the meeting was boring.”
Next time on HFN: Storms and Buying Skype Stuff