Kate’s Friends Have a Pow-Wow

Kelly, Jen, and Spencer met for lunch on the Friday before Spencer had to leave for a couple week’s training in Colorado. They met at the bowling alley where they ordered the daily special which was a taco salad. They chatted at their table, while the line to order from the Spare Time Grille grew longer. They’d gotten there just before the lunch rush.

The three of them sat in purple plastic chairs pulled up to a square table, also purple, near the center lanes. Large bowling pin designs were on the walls and a bright blue carpet with geometric designs covered the floor. A small room opposite the lanes housed additional tables and chairs for meetings and a small shop offering bags, balls, and shoes was situated behind the register.

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Back to School…Back to Heir Force

Hello Readers!

Sorry it took me a little longer than I thought to write some new scenes. I always seem to be more hopeful than reality 🙂 Anyway, we survived our first day back to school today and it went pretty well. Now back to Heir Force!

Just a quick recap, Kate has found out she’s going to be the legal guardian of John’s daughter which leaves Kate in shock and unhappy. John’s gone now and Spencer feels ready to help Kate out, if she’ll let him. Kate is not handling things well and has put Sarah aside for now.  The next post will contain the next scene.

Thanks for all the follows and likes.  I hope you’re enjoying reading Heir Force as much as I’m enjoying writing it!

Michelle

Kate Considers Spencer’s View

Kate never gave Spencer’s situation a thought. She had only thought of herself. She swallowed her guilt and it was a minute before she could respond. “I’m sorry. I know it isn’t easy for you, either.” She wiped away fresh tears with her hand. She gestured back to the bathroom. “That’s not like me,” she whispered and started crying harder. She slid down the wall, plopping to the floor.

Spencer put Buttons down gently and sat next to Kate, wrapping his arm around her. Buttons tried licking her tears. Poor guy was as bewildered as they were. “I didn’t think so,” he said, tears running down his own face. “But I better not ever catch you doing anything that stupid ever again,” he said, his voice hoarse.

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Spencer and Kate in a Heated Discussion

Plopping into a chair in Kate’s dining room, Spencer considered what he should do. Ordinarily he knew he was supposed to report Kate’s suicide attempt to their first sergeant, but he didn’t know if it was necessary. He didn’t see Kate as suicidal, just lost. And highly vulnerable. He’d have to keep an eye on her. He slumped down at the dining room table, his head resting on his arms, clenching and unclenching his fists.

Buttons came in, whimpering. Spencer sat up and looked for him.  Buttons eyed Spencer with a nervous look. Spencer slowly lowered his hand and reached down for him. “Sorry, boy. Come here.” Buttons jumped on his lap and shuddered. “Sorry, life’s a little rough right now.” Spencer rubbed the puppy’s back, asking God what he was supposed to do now. If he was going to be any help to Kate, he had to keep himself together. He wiped away moisture from the corners of his eyes with his fingers. He didn’t hear Kate enter.

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Kate Mishandles the Situation

The next morning sunshine peeked in through the vinyl blinds of Kate’s living room and Spencer felt a chill. He realized he’d forgotten to shut and lock the patio door before Kate’s collapse. He rolled over and felt a bruise on his leg. He didn’t know where he was at first or why he felt so stiff. It had been a long time since he’d slept on a hard surface. He moaned and remembered why he was on the floor. Kate was still asleep and Buttons was curled up at their feet.

Spencer gingerly got up and walked around quietly, trying to get the kinks out. He bent his knees one at a time and waved his arms up and down over his head to get his joints to pop. Then he closed the door most of the way, but left the blinds partially open, turned the lamp off, and headed to the kitchen to see if Kate had any coffee. Normally he didn’t indulge, but he knew it would be a long day. Thank goodness it was Saturday.

Spencer found some coffee in a canister and started a pot in her small machine. He took out the eggs and turkey bacon and the pan he used last night. Before he started cooking, he opened her apartment door to check for a newspaper. He saw one, picked it up and unfolded it. The headline read, “Troops Pulling Out of Iraq”. He refolded it and tossed it in her recycle container under the sink. He knew troops were pulling out, bit by bit. But it was too late for John, and thus too late for Kate. She didn’t need the reminder.

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Spencer Eats a Late Dinner

An hour later, his stomach growled and still no sound came from the bedroom. He checked the kitchen for anything edible. He didn’t find anything but sour milk and some wilted carrots. “At least she’s been eating, huh, boy?” Buttons was sticking close to him, so he put him back on the leash and drove to the store. Since the commissary on base was now closed, he drove to the grocery store nearby.

Buttons barked when he left him in the car, but Spencer told him, “I’ll be right back, I promise.” He went inside and bought apples, bananas, carrots, mushrooms, green leaf lettuce, red potatoes, some soup, soy milk, eggs, and a few other items. He knew a little of the stuff Kate usually bought because of her half-vegan diet. She had told him once that she was trying to eat less processed stuff and cook more. Which he and John appreciated from her efforts. He walked back to the car, stowing the bags in the back seat while Buttons barked furiously. “See, I said I’d be right back.” He slid in the front seat and Buttons tried sitting on his lap. “Sorry, Bud, but not while I’m driving.” He scooted him over on to the passenger seat. “Stay.” Buttons whined, but he settled down.

Back at Kate’s, it took Spencer two trips to bring in the bags and then he unloaded everything, hoping he put most things where Kate liked them. “Now, how about an omelet for a late dinner?” Buttons seemed to know what Spencer was saying and didn’t let the human out of his sight.

As Spencer chopped mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers, he wondered if he should try and wake up Kate or not, but figured she might need the sleep, so let her be. He and Buttons shared the omelet and then Spencer washed up the few dishes and unloaded the dishwasher since it had finished its cycle.

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Kate Explodes

“Kate? Are you okay?” Spencer watched Kate, concerned. He gingerly moved next to her, waiting for the screaming, or something. It was now four weeks after the funeral. He didn’t think he could wait any longer, given the circumstances and knowing Sarah’s fate was in her hands.

Kate jumped up, startling him. “Am I okay!? Are you kidding? I’m now a mother of a little girl I know nothing about. A little girl I didn’t know existed until a few weeks after her father died. A little girl who I’m supposed to let know her father loves her, when he could never say that to me? Do you think I’m okay?!” She snatched up a cup of pens from the end table and threw it against the wall. Then she stormed off to her bedroom and slammed the door.

Spencer heard her yell through the door, “You can leave anytime!” And then something thrown at the door. He picked up the papers and folded them neatly back into the envelope and laid it on the table. Thanks, John. It’s going to be a long night. He took off his shoes and put them by the door, then opened the patio door wider to air out the place. He couldn’t quite place the odor, but it was bad.

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Kate Learns a Secret

Kate ripped open the envelope Spencer handed her and pulled out several sheets of paper, including one in John’s handwriting. Seeing his script again jolted her. She scanned the letter at first and then read it word for word.

 

Dear Kate,

If you’re reading this, you know I’m no longer living. I have always loved you, but I couldn’t say so. Because I had a secret. One that I was afraid you wouldn’t accept. I remember you saying more than once, you didn’t ever want to be a mother because yours left when you were young.

Kate, I have a daughter, Sarah, who’s living with her mother in Iowa. But Sarah’s mother is dying of cancer and she will become my responsibility unless something happens to me. Sarah will be your legal daughter if both her mother and I die. Enclosed you will find the necessary documents you need to find her. Only Spencer, the lawyer, and Beth, Sarah’s mother, know.   We were young and stupid, but Sarah is not a mistake. I know you will love her with every fiber of your being once you absorb the shock. Please allow Spencer to help you in getting her settled in and don’t blame him for keeping my secret as I’ve asked. Because Sarah will legally become a ward of the state before you adopt her, you will get a monthly stipend from the Iowa government to provide for her. There shouldn’t be any snags with the paperwork, but the attorney’s contact info is enclosed if you need any help or have any questions I haven’t answered in the paperwork or this letter. The legal office on base can assist you as well.

Kate, this was the hardest letter I’ve ever written. Please know that I love you, and I trust you with Sarah. Please love her as your own and tell her her daddy loved her.

I love you, Kate, and please forgive me.

Love always,

John

 

Kate dropped the letter and the other papers on the floor, her eyes focused on nothing and everything. She couldn’t read anymore. This couldn’t possibly be happening. There was no way she was going to be a mother. And especially to a stranger and to John’s flesh and blood who she’d have to look at every day. What on earth had he been thinking? How could he have kept this from her all this time? How could he possibly do this to her? All these questions and more swarmed around in her head.

She was now going to become a mother, her worst nightmare? And then she had to tell this daughter that John loved her? How could she possibly do that? He hadn’t had the nerve to ever use those words with her. The audacity of it all made her want to scream. No way! Not happening.

Why didn’t he tell her anyway, so she could wring his neck instead of Spencer’s?

****

Until next time,

Michelle

Spencer Visits Kate

Several days passed and Spencer hadn’t heard from Kate. He saw her at the office, but she ignored him and many others around her. She refused to join in any kind of banter and she no longer smiled. She focused on her work and left as soon as it was done. Kate seemed like a cardboard cutout of herself, very stiff and wooden.

Finally on Friday, Spencer drove to her apartment and rang the bell. He held the envelope in his hand, ready to pass it on. He felt he better inform Kate personally before some government agency or an attorney did.

But there was no answer. He didn’t hear Buttons barking either, so maybe they were on a walk. He decided to wait a minute. A neighbor came out into the hall from next door and said, “She ain’t home, man. She left yesterday with a bag.” The neighbor was holding an empty laundry basket.

“Oh. Thanks. I’ll come back later.” He wondered where she took off to. He didn’t know she had any leave coming, not that he knew every detail of Kate’s life. So much for getting this over with. He’d have to wait for her return.

For the next several days, Spencer went to work on auto pilot. He did what needed to be done and left early most days. He waited to hear from Kate, but she never called. Jen and Kelly didn’t even know where she took off to. Finally, two weeks later he heard thru the grapevine that she was back. Two Fridays after his first attempt, he drove directly to Kate’s right after work.

This time when he knocked, she opened the door and backed up. She looked awful. Her hair was a mess and her eyes were red. An odor drifted out to the hallway causing Spencer to wrinkle his nose. “Kate, you’ve got to-“

“Don’t preach to me, Spencer. You’re the one who came over uninvited.”

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Spencer Arrives Home

During the flight home Spencer considered all that had happened in the last week after he squished his tall frame in the tight seat, trying to keep his size twelve feet out of the aisle as best he could. At least it wasn’t a full flight and there would be less traffic in the aisle. He was very grateful for the conversation with Mrs. Kern and her understanding about Kate and Sarah. Spencer noticed Mr. Kern looked paler than the last time Spencer saw him and knew he had some sort of health problems, but seemed to be well enough at the funeral. They only spoke briefly. But any help he and Mrs. Kern offered with Sarah would help if Kate was agreeable.

But he wondered how much help she would need from him, or if she would even consider it. He knew Jen was a pretty good friend of Kate’s, and as quirky as Kelly was, she might help, but Kate had no family to speak of. How was Kate going to deal with sudden motherhood? After the death of John, this was going to hit her like a tazer.

All Spencer knew for sure was that Kate would definitely need help, which he was willing to offer. Single parenting was tough for those he knew in that situation, but this was going to be even harder. Add in Active Duty single parenthood and you had a triple whammy.

Back home after unpacking, he changed into gym shorts for a run. The locusts squawked in the trees and the leaves started to turn, falling in mini whirlwinds. Soon fall in southern Illinois would be in full swing. He felt the gust in his face and took off at a faster pace, feeling some of his stress blowing away with the breeze.

Later after showering, he called Kate and left a message. He needed to see her and talk about John. He did some laundry and prepared his uniforms for the following week. He checked patches for loose threads and polished his boots which were getting scuffed.

Finished with his errands, he picked up his phone and checked for messages. He had it charging while he was out running and doing his laundry. He had a text from Matt:

U home?

Spencer called him and they chatted about how the funeral went and decided to go see the movie showing that evening at the base theater.

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