Kate drove to the mall glad for a few hours by herself. Decorations hung from street lights throughout the area, different themes for the various towns on her route. The mall was also decked out, with huge displays inside, including a Santa for parents to get pictures with their kids while sharing what they wanted for Christmas, if they weren’t too shy. Kate stood watching a few minutes, thinking the parents were more embarrassing than the kids.
Kate left the rest of the decorations in the box, so that Sarah could help her put them out later when they had time. The remaining ornaments were made of wood or felt and Sarah wouldn’t be able to hurt them. Kate made a list of items she’d like to buy including some lights, stockings and gift wrap.
After picking up Sarah from Mrs. Pettigrew’s, they picked up dinner from Subway. Kate wasn’t in the mood for using her culinary skills. Though she felt less tense, she was still angry and upset she had to leave Sarah in a few weeks. They were still getting to know one another and the ‘rules’ of their relationship, and all that, which made her unhappy at the prospect of leaving and having to start over when she returned. But with so many troops stationed all around the world, she had to. After all, this is what she signed all those papers for.
Spencer’s heart sank. Oh, no. This will not be good. He continued on to his station, where he dropped into a chair and blew out his breath. Kate always put her heart into things full force but if you steer her where she doesn’t want to go, she’s like a raging bull.
Unfortunately the eased tension from the day before increased when Kate arrived at work. She was informed she had to leave over the holidays for two months. Kate’s stomach felt like a fighting match going on inside. Even though it was a short deployment, it was still too long for her. What in the world would she tell Sarah and how was she going to take it? It was a good thing she was young and didn’t really know how her daddy died. The last thing she needed was for the little girl to worry about Kate dying, not just being away.
The following Monday, as soon as she arrived at work, Kate sensed the tense atmosphere in the Security Forces offices and the squadron as a whole. More troops were being deployed overseas and the ramifications were felt across the whole base.
Everyone seemed tense and short with one another and she took a deep breath. She crossed her fingers and hoped she could get out of a deployment, but with staff so short everywhere already, it would be a miracle.
Spencer announced, “I want to talk.”
“What about?” Kate’s attention tuned into Spencer’s serious tone. She set her fork on her half-finished plate.
“Lots of things.” He reached across the table and held her hand, squeezing it gently. “I don’t want to rush you and I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit pushy lately. I don’t mean to be.”
The next morning, Kate woke up to find herself in Spencer’s embrace. She started to stretch out the kinks. A voice interrupted her movements.
“Good morning, Kate.”
She turned to Spencer. “Good morning. Sleep well?”
The more she thought about it, the more she realized that her relationship with John had mostly been on the surface, not very deep. John had never read her poetry, seldom cooked for her, and rarely hugged or kissed her. Yet, she thought he had been in love with her and she with him. They held hands at the movies or at the park, but that was about it. She wondered now, why she had held onto him as long as she had. She seemed to be in love deeper with Spencer than she had ever been with John, and she and Spencer weren’t even that close. She pondered this oddity until Spencer came back with his water. She actually looked forward to spending more time with him. Especially as compassionate and tender as he’d been so far.
After their delicious soup which was as good as advertised from the tantalizing smells earlier, Spencer played with Sarah in the tub while Kate cleaned up the dishes. Spencer squirted bath toys, stirred up the water to make more bubbles, and dumped water over Sarah’s head, much to her delight. “More! More!” she squealed.