After Kate took a much needed nap, she and Spencer decided to get out of the hotel for a while and took the hotel shuttle to a nearby mall. Spencer held the door for Kate in his customary fashion and walked in behind her.
Spencer thought part of Kate’s problem was she was going stir crazy stuck at the hotel and her emotions were wrung out after worrying about him getting sick, the blizzard and the other stuff dealing with John’s death and Sarah. The days stuck in the hotel and not being able to get to Sarah had to be excruciating for her. Kate was a do-it-now kind of person and Spencer could tell she was nearly at the end of her rope.
Considering all that she was going through, Spencer thought Kate was doing pretty well. Though she cried at times, Spencer knew that was normal. Her strong-willed attitude was slowly crumbling and she was leaning on him more than he thought she would. Maybe that was a good thing. He knew she was strong and independent and handled most situations with ease, but this one seemed to be throwing her for a loop. Understandably so.
But he was more than willing to let her lean on him and help her anyway she needed him to. He hoped in time they could reach a mutual affection for each other. And he trusted her not to do anything foolish like that day at her apartment with the pills.
Spencer thanked God that night that he had been there before she took too many. She could have died and if that had happened, Spencer might never have forgiven himself.
But for right now, they would enjoy an afternoon of wandering through a mall in Kansas City and forget about a mountain of snow outside, at least for a few hours.
Kate wanted to search for a heavier jacket for the rest of the trip. She had a big coat at home, but could use a new jacket. Spencer wandered behind her wherever she went, like a puppy. After a while, Kate asked him, “Is there anything you want to look for?” She didn’t mind him being around, but didn’t want to deny him time to shop.
“Not really. If you want me to wander off though, I can.” He half heartedly offered to leave her alone, hoping she’d say no.
“No, no. I just didn’t know if you wanted to look for something.”
“My wardrobe is pretty simple; I’m good, thanks.” He had all he wanted right here in front of him. To distract himself, he pointed to a jacket in her hand and commented, “I like that one better if you can’t decide.”
Kate looked at the navy poplin jacket with hood attached and then at him. “You think so? Better than this one?” She pulled another choice off the rack in an olive green shade.
“Yes, it’s more your color.”
“I think you’re right. And it’s a few dollars cheaper. Thanks.” She folded it over her arm, but Spencer reached for it and asked, “May I hold it for you?”
“Sure. Mind looking at shoes?” she asked before heading toward the shoe department.
“Not at all.” As far as he was concerned, he would walk all over the mall with her.
After Kate found a new pair of low boots, and a new pair of slippers, they talked about where to eat dinner. For several of their lunches, they’d been eating their snacks and the food Spencer bought at the store the first night. They both wanted real food.
They found a barbeque joint attached to the mall that sounded appealing. They looked forward to a good meal before heading back to their temporary prison. They both ordered the burnt ends, which were small chunks of brisket smoked for several hours and then marinated in a tangy barbeque sauce. They both enjoyed their dinners, saying it was some of the best barbeque they’d ever eaten.
Kate seemed in better spirits, but Spencer sensed something still bothered her. They finished eating and Kate fidgeted with her cloth napkin on the table. The server brought their check and Kate snatched it up before Spencer could take it. “My turn,” she said. Earlier, Spencer had paid for their fast food lunch in the food court.
“Why?” Spencer asked.
“Why not?” Kate countered. She pulled out her wallet and put down the money including a generous tip for the great service.
Spencer tilted his head. He knew he couldn’t say because ‘he was the man’. Neither could he say because they were on a date, because she would balk at that idea. And he certainly couldn’t say, because he wished it were a date and it was his privilege to pay the bill. Finally, he answered, “You got me this time.”
“Spencer,” Kate’s voice was less forceful now, “do you realize that in the last two months,” she listed items on her fingers, “you have saved my life, kept my stupid mistake a secret, flown hundreds of miles to attend a funeral at your own expense, absorbed my anger more than once, traveled through a blizzard, and had your car towed,” when she mentioned the car, her voice cracked, “all for me?”
“Yes. And I would do it again.” Spencer looked her right in the eye. In a heartbeat. That’s just the way he was.
“Kate, what do you mean, why? We were both friends of John. That’s what friends do. I don’t understand why you’re asking.” Spencer almost seemed hurt.
“It’s more than that. Spencer, you have gone over the top in every way possible to help me through this mess. I don’t know how to thank you and simply paying for your dinner is never going to be enough.”
“Enough?” Spencer leaned in toward her. He spoke rapidly, “Kate, I’m hurt you even think you have to repay me. That’s not how friends operate. If we always expected payment from the human race, we’d either never do the right thing or be disappointed by not getting repaid. That’s no way to live.” Spencer was getting annoyed with her.
“I’m up to my eyeballs in debt to you, Spencer. Yes, I have to repay you.” Kate didn’t understand Spencer’s argument.
“Kate, you can never repay me. It’s a gift. They call it friendship.” Spencer swallowed hard, hoping for much more when the time was right. And he was wounded by her thinking she had to repay him. Ever.
“No, Spencer, it isn’t. It’s all too much,” and she wiped away sudden tears with her napkin. She sat in silence, tears running down her cheeks. Why was he being so difficult all of a sudden?
Spencer was crushed. He fell back against his chair, in disbelief, feeling helpless as he watched her cry. It never occurred to him that Kate would take things this way. How was he going to convince her no payment was expected without saying too much? He honestly knew that even without any desire or feelings for Kate, that he would have helped her anyway. With John gone, how could he not help her now? Maybe his assessment of her independence crumbling was wrong. Hurt and bewildered, he felt a headache coming on.
The server came by to get their payment and told them to have a good night. Spencer wasn’t sure either of them would.
Hope you enjoyed this episode! Kate and Spencer seem to butt heads a lot. Stay tuned!
Until next time,