Diary Excerpts ~ Rebecca L. Fenton
November 2003

by TJ



November 23rd, 2003

Rebecca L. Fenton

Hello, my friend,

It’s Sunday… again.

Looking at the last entry, I see that's it's been a whole week since I sat down to record my world in you…

What a week…

Where to begin?

Last Sunday I was mystified by a man who has found his way into my life in such a short time. The night before I told him more than he ever wanted to know, I'm sure.

I let him in… let him kiss me…

And I kissed him back...

A week later I sit here mystified by that same man… a man who, at any given moment, I cannot really get a feel for, not a good understanding, anyway.

And yet… he's just a man…

And yet…

When he brought me home last night, he declined my invitation to come in. He just stood there on the veranda and stared at me. Not a rude stare, by any means, but an obscure look… a strange wonder in his eyes that told me simply, that he was happy.

And… that he was thinking… again!

Do you know what he said to me?

I still don't know what he meant by it. When I asked, he just smiled at me… Very annoying, I must say… Do you know what he said…

He asked me if I believe in fate.


Resigned to my convictions, I shook my head, No, and Mr. Sanchez merely grinned.

Oh… a very wicked grin, I might add.

I very much need to know what was going through his mind about then. I certainly didn't find out last night. He kissed my hand, bid me goodnight and walked back to his vehicle. Shooing me inside, he waited until the door was closed and locked before he drove away.

As I've said before… a very annoying man, indeed!


I cannot help but wonder what he meant by that… especially given the occurrences of this past week.

It started out rather ordinarily…

Monday morning found me having a rather long conversation on the telephone with Evie. I do believe I told Evelyn Travis to 'mind her own business'. Of course, she didn't listen to a word I said… not until I finally relented and gave her some 'details', that is.

I can't help but see the image of two teenage girls whispering 'boyfriend' information into the telephone so their parents can't hear them…

Silly, really. Mr. Sanchez isn't that much older than I am, or that much younger than Evie, really. But she just had to know the 'details'. I told her enough to appease her appetite… kept a few small morsels of information to myself.

The remainder of the day I spent around the house; trimmed back the two rose arbors and covered some of the more sensitive bushes. Not sure if this winter will prove as harsh as the last, but I plan to be prepared, anyway.

Later, I took Rusty and Brutus for a long walk. They seemed to enjoy it as much as I, greeting Johnny enthusiastically as we returned. He was busy in the barn, as per normal. I left the dogs and went to gather some refreshments.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I'm going to do once that young man is gone. I've never met anyone with an appetite like that and you should see the pout I get when his hot chocolate is lacking in a marshmallow…

As I said, the day wasn't much. The evening proved a little more productive as I was able to make final arrangements for the Children's Hospital Fundraiser. I have secured the final donation and can now get the raffle tickets produced. Distribution is where Evie comes in, I hope. She tells me she has an 'army' of volunteers ready, willing, and able to 'sell'. I don't think it should be that hard given the prizes I have lined up. I hope…

Mr. Sanchez capped off my evening with a telephone call, wanting to see how my day was and all the other 'normal' things that we could discuss. I was pleased that he did not mention too many details of his vocation, although I must find some way to listen when he has to 'talk'. Compromise is what makes a relationship stronger…

Good heavens! I sound as though we've actually made it official. Whatever does that mean?

So… Tuesday morning the telephone rang far too early. I was up, of course, but hadn't thought anyone else ventured out of their beds at that time of the morning… Johnny apologized quickly, saying he was late for class. It appears that he forgot to ask permission to bring a 'potential replacement' with him. Unfortunately, I knew I would not be around that afternoon and I informed him Wednesday would be better. He agreed and dashed off to his lecture. Poor boy, he works too hard.

I spent the morning laying out the requirements for the raffle tickets on the computer. Once I'd found the right balance, and after a quick lunch, I went to the printers and had them reproduce it. Finding an adequate background and a font that I liked, I approved the sample they created and ordered five thousand tickets in books of twenty-five.

I certainly hope they all sell before the draw date…

As I suspected, it was well after dark when I arrived home. Johnny had finished for the day and long gone.

The evening was quiet, filled with soft music and some writing.

Evie picked me up Wednesday and we stopped by the printers so I could show her the raffle ticket design and the prizes I managed to acquire. Business can be so generous when you promise a little advertising in exchange for donations.

Evie thought the dining Gift Certificate and the Spa Weekend were wonderful prizes. With a very big grin, she did mention that she knew more than a few people who will buy tickets in hope of winning the larger prizes as well. While the idea of a Surround Sound Entertainment System isn't really of interest to me, I think I should look into the purchase of a Hot Tub one of these days.

None of us are allowed to buy tickets, anyway… as the 'chair' and organizing personnel, it would be awful if any of us won something.

So… after lunch, we headed to the Federal Building to empty the collection boxes. A flash of recollection reminded me of the unfortunate 'snapping' incident two weeks ago and the apology just trickled from my lips.

Evie scolded me instantly and actually threatened to 'send' Josiah after me if I didn't forget the whole thing.

It's hard.

All that nervous energy and fear that developed in me when I was confronted with Team Seven's working environment… I'm so embarrassed. I mistakenly took it out on Evie, practically biting her head off for ever taking me there… I felt so bad after I calmed down.

So there I was apologizing again and this time, it was Evie that told me off.

I relented, yet again!

Evelyn Travis is such a dear friend. Whatever would I do without her?

We didn't stay long and she dropped me off at home in plenty of time. Johnny arrived about his usual time. I must say, I was extremely surprised to see a young lady with him. I greeted them pleasantly and Johnny introduced her as Mel. Curious name, but I didn't ask… although I had the strangest feeling that she was studying me fastidiously. Introductions made, I suggested Johnny show 'Mel' what she could look forward to if she were truly interested in the job. I watched as they wandered off and found myself curious about the young woman. Surely, she must have a 'real' name.

Knowing how Johnny works, I allowed him some time, and then a little extra, before heading out to the barn with some cinnamon buns and hot chocolate. That boy! I swear he ate two buns before 'Mel' had a chance to take her first bite. I made several inquires about her schooling, family, and schedule. It appears she keeps herself busy, even working at the Federal Building part time. She didn't elaborate, but I got the distinct impression she was looking for extra funds. She did mention her vehicle needs work. She appears quite a bright young lady, speaking fondly of her family and friends. I also took her address and telephone number for reference for future use, if I should need it. I must admit, letting Johnny go is going to be hard, yet I feel 'Mel' could fit in nicely. I certainly must inquire about another name though.

I don't think I can get used to calling her 'Mel'…

Mr. Sanchez called after dinner and I spent some time talking with him. The hours seemed to pass without mention and before I knew it, midnight had come and gone. I made my apologies and said goodnight. I will have to bid it in person, again… soon…

I was busy writing on Thursday morning when the telephone rang and a rather subdued Josiah said Hi! I knew immediately that something was amiss. The tone of his voice wasn't anywhere near normal, and his usual enthusiasm was absent, as well. He asked simply if he could come over after work. I agreed without hesitation, although, I didn't get much accomplished that day.

I did manage to write a few more pages, in between picking up the raffle tickets. Neither activity seems to muster a lot of excitement for me. I just couldn't seem to get Josiah's mood out of my mind.

Preparing a nice supper, I awaited his arrival. He apologized for being late, saying he had stopped by to see Mr. Larabee on the way. It didn't take long before he informed me of the why and explained his unusual behavior. A new employee at the Federal Building, Robyn Dartmoor, was killed in an aviation accident late Wednesday. I recall hearing it on the radio, but truthfully, I was engaged in conversation with Mr. Sanchez and really didn't pay much attention to the details.

Curious how these incidents take on a whole new meaning when someone you know is involved.

Well, I didn't know the young lady, but that doesn't make the accident any less tragic. My thoughts went immediately to Evie and Orin. I knew they wouldn't be dealing with the news very well at all. Josiah knew the lady casually. He and his teammates actually helped her move into her new apartment at the end of last month. He confirmed that's where Mr. Larabee had met Robyn and been immediately taken with her.

His recollections of the day were very touching. He said the introductions were so casual, he felt as though he knew her already.

At that point, Mr. Sanchez looked me straight in the eye and said, 'the same way I felt about you.'

I was already a little unnerved at this point, old friend. I don't 'do' death. He and I are too familiar and I refuse his company, always…

Surprised and confounded, my feelings grew even more so when he edged closer on the sofa and curled me into his shoulder. He apologized for asking and then proceeded to request my company at a memorial service to be held the next day.

I think my heart skipped several beats before it became overburdened with my thoughts and anxieties. I had to back away very carefully, not knowing how I could possibly discuss the overwhelming feeling I had to flee the scene immediately.

I made it to the kitchen…

Several minutes later, Mr. Sanchez joined me and again apologized for asking. He said that he understood my apprehension, and only asked because he needed me there.

Honestly, I forgot my own feelings at that point. I was lost in his eyes. Lost in the depth of emotion that I felt in his heart and saw in his soul.

I don't know where my affirmative answer came from. I only know that is brought a gentle smile to Josiah's face…

A smile that I will treasure, always…

An hour later, Mr. Sanchez departed, much closer to the man he really is…. As I watched him drive away, I was struck with how important that was to me… that he be able to remain the man I've grown so fond of… I do believe that in a few hours, we had grown as a couple. Learned to trust… learned to give a little more of ourselves.

As I slipped below my sheets, I remember thinking how sincerely I hoped he could carry me through the next day. For as much as Josiah would need me… I needed him, too.

And I did…

Friday is a blur.

I remember consoling Evie. She was being strong for Orin, but I could tell she was feeling the pain of loss, too. It's a feeling we share… a feeling I wish on no other…

By the time Mr. Sanchez arrived, I was wound up tighter than a spinning top. We picked up Mr. Larabee on the way to the memorial service and I sat quietly in the back, allowing the gentleman to carry on what little there was of a conversation. All I kept thinking was how I wished I were somewhere else at that moment in time.

Funny! Almost as if he knew what I was thinking, Josiah glanced up into the rear view mirror and graced me with his smile.

He made a fine figure as he stepped to the pedestal to share his remembrance of Ms. Dartmoor. His words were very appropriate and very poignant. Through my apprehension and nervousness, I was comforted, if only mildly, knowing that I had Josiah by my side. As I listened to all who spoke, my attention was drawn to the shadows at the far side of the room. I recognized a figure hidden away there. I do believe it was the young lady Johnny had with him on Wednesday, 'Mel'. Strangely, I felt her discomfort above my own.

After the formal portion of the memorial, there were refreshments laid on for those that wished to mingle. Both Mr. Sanchez and Mr. Larabee did just that for a short while. I excused myself to a quiet corner and waited patiently for them. I took the opportunity to see if I could find 'Mel', but she was no where to be seen. I made a mental note and called her later, leaving a quick message on her answering machine.

We didn't stay long at the reception.


I invited Mr. Larabee back to the house but he declined, saying he needed to be alone. As Chris stepped from the truck, Josiah spoke my words for me, saying that I understood completely.

I do believe Mr. Larabee and I both frowned at the same time.

When Josiah suggested that we come over late Saturday morning, I was completely surprised. I looked at Josiah intently, yet no matter how deeply I sought an answer, none came.

Not from him, anyway.

I became aware of Mr. Larabee watching me and as I turned my head, he was smiling at Josiah. Chris looked me straight in the eye and said that he'd be around. With a gentle nod, he walked to his house and disappeared inside.

Josiah had a similar smile on his face all the way back to my

house. He saw me inside and kissed me softly, thanking me for being by his side. Saying he'd see me about ten, Mr. Sanchez left… that same mysterious grin still on his lips.

He was up to something, I just knew it… Yet, somehow, I didn't seem to mind…

So… Saturday morning arrived and I sat on the veranda in the cool morning light. Time passed as I enjoyed a slight respite from the previous day's tension. Yet, as I sat and wondered about Josiah's intent. I could see nothing but Mr. Larabee's expression when Josiah said, I understood completely…

I was back outside when Mr. Sanchez arrived, and I told him to sit. His frown was quite humorous, but he did as I asked. I stared at him for a moment, deciding that my question would be pointed and blunt. If he didn't answer me the same way then he would be visiting Mr. Larabee on his own. I informed him of that fact and he smiled, sitting back in his chair, as though making ready for an assault.

Really, he should have expected the question. He probably did…

I cleared my throat and asked him to clarify what he mean by answering for me, 'she understands completely'?

As an answer, Josiah hung his head, took a deep breath and quietly informed me of the loss Mr. Larabee had suffered just over three years ago…

To say I was shocked is an understatement.

I'm not sure how or why… but any other questions I had simply disappeared… I silently gathered my coat and gloves, locked the door and seated myself in Josiah's vehicle.

When we arrived at Mr. Larabee's house, we sat in the truck for a few moments. Mr. Sanchez finally took up my hands and squeezed them gently. He smiled, asking if I was sure I wanted to go in. I turned only my head, asking if Chris was aware that we shared a similar past.

Josiah's pursed lips and then a gentle shake of his head were all I needed. Mr. Larabee had seen something in my eyes, and I in his… talking would happen, whether we were ready for it or not.

Josiah escorted me inside and I took the liberty of making some coffee while he went to the barn to see to his friend. I wandered the common areas of the house, noting the simplicity of its furnishing and adornments. The evidence of it being a bachelor's home was clear, and yet… there were little things. A small porcelain figurine on the mantle… a maiden holding her young child. Three tiny wooden toys displayed with reverence on a bookshelf… a loan painting on one wall, the depiction, that of a cowboy standing outside a small cabin, his wife and three children at his side.

I lost track of time, obviously…

Josiah's hand on my shoulder brought me back to reality. I greeted Mr. Larabee and once more, he insisted I call him Chris.

Both men had found the pot of coffee and we sat for a while, talking. Josiah spoke to his friend as though I was not there, or perhaps, as though I knew everything he knew of the man. It felt strange at first. I only became comfortable after Mr. Larabee insisted that I stay when I tried to excuse myself. He repeated Josiah's words of the previous evening, that I understood completely…

It didn't occur to me to be angry with Josiah. I didn't give much thought as to what he had shared with Chris about my life… and my tragedies.

Listening to them speak, I gained a deep insight into not only Mr. Larabee, but Mr. Sanchez, as well. Another thought hit me with too much reality… these men… both federal agents… the same federal officers I have been avoiding for some twelve years. They are just men. Men who do their job by day… and have lives, families, feelings… their own tragedies to survive.

It was late afternoon when Josiah said that he was hungry. I was about to stand, thinking it time to leave, but he stopped my ascent. Mr. Sanchez looked at Mr. Larabee and I and said simply, 'your turn'. With those words, he departed, heading for the kitchen.

Well, … I had no words. Josiah left me sitting in a stranger's living room, expecting me to 'talk' to a man I barely knew. Yet, on some strange level, I knew Mr. Larabee too well.

I made my ascent after a few minutes. Asked Chris if he cared for a walk. He joined me. We wandered his property for more than an hour. It took a while before he began to speak quietly of Robyn, how she had been so easy to talk to… so right for him. How he had let her in so quickly and could never regret a single moment they had spent together.

Mr. Larabee spoke highly and fondly of Ms. Dartmoor. Her sudden, unexpected demise had shocked Chris… yet I knew there was more. I told him so… I told him of my doubts and fear after Matthew's death, how long it had taken me to let someone in…

In a moment of anger, Mr. Larabee's voice rose and his low tone reiterated that I could never know how he felt... that his wife and child were murdered, most likely because of him. Stepping away from me, he hide his expression, repeating that I could never know…

My old friend, you know me. One-upmanship is not a game I play, but I could not allow Chris Larabee to wallow in his sorrow without at least trying to help. I countered with Matthew's murder. That I was the one who discovered his blood soaked body in our home. That I have it on good authority that he was murdered because of the criminal case he was prosecuting and that I suffered a miscarriage less than a month later, losing our twins.

Mr. Larabee stood and stared at me and I took the opportunity to point out that everyone suffers from loss in their lives. Those of us who are tested with tragedy, carry a heavier burden… yet, how we live after that loss is a testament to those lost, yet never forgotten.

I remember the quiet calm returning to Chris' heart after that. We walked some more, talking all the while. Just before we went inside, he took my arms, turning me to face him. With a deep sigh, he confided his deepest fear… that everyone he cares for will die… because of him.

I could only tell him that the thought was irrational, yet I knew that same fear well. Somehow, we came to an understanding that afternoon. Two strangers… bonded by common tragedy.

He's a hard man to all that observe; yet, for those who actually take the time to see Chris Larabee, there is a depth of emotion untapped and a wealth of feelings to be experienced.

I'm happy to say I have met two such men…

The other, being one Josiah Sanchez…

That man called us for dinner and served up a hearty beef stew. He complained that there weren't enough potatoes left and he'd had to make dumplings as well.

For all the conversation we had during the remainder of our stay, none of us touched on the reasons for our being there. We bid Chris a good night and he kissed my cheek. Staring into my eyes he smiled, saying it was like looking into a mirror… for more than one reason…

Josiah inquired about the remark as he took me home. Standing on the veranda, I told him he had a lot of gall. Inviting me to Mr. Larabee's residence probably knowing full well what would happen. He grinned so broadly, I smacked his shoulder, telling him he was a very naughty boy.

We both laughed.

He kissed me, thanked me for the last two days, and kissed me again.

That's when he said it, my friend. He stood back and took my hands in his, beamed that devastating smile he has, and asked me if I believed in fate.


And here I am the next day, still wondering what he meant.

Fate that we met… that we've grown together so well, so quickly… Or, maybe he meant simply about Mr. Larabee. Fate that he should know two people who share such similar tragedy in their lives and were able to understand that in one another's eyes.

I don't know that much about 'Fate', 'luck', or 'divine intervention', for that matter…. I only know that I have a newfound respect for Josiah and Chris… for their job… for myself, perhaps…

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

November 25th, 2003

Rebecca L. Fenton

Hello, my friend,

It would appear that things are starting to return to some form of normalcy.

Just in time for Thanksgiving and then Christmas…

Almost redundant at this time of year… normal routines, I


Oh, well… I will survive it, I'm sure…

Although, it does occur to me that I have someone else to consider this year. We are spending Thanksgiving with Josiah's teammates… only because Veronica and Richard are taking the children skiing. If they had not been, I'm sure I would have gone to them, as I always do… Of course, I normally spend Christmas with them, too.

Umm… Perhaps, I should discuss this dilemma with Mr. Sanchez… now, rather than later…

As far as Thanksgiving is concerned… I hope I can 'fit in'.

Most of Josiah's teammates are much younger than he. It only stands to reason that their significant others will be too.

Yes, I know… stop worrying about your age so much. I'll be 43 in February, not 83…

Evie and Orin will be there for a short time, anyway. I know Josiah will make the introductions, but I'm sure I will feel more comfortable with Evie there, at least for a little while.

I spoke with her yesterday. She is doing much better and she mentioned that their visit with Mr. Larabee on Sunday was quiet, and that he seemed to be at peace with Ms. Dartmoor's passing. Curious as to why she was telling me, I asked, and she alluded to the fact that Chris had thanked them for coming and said to Evie that she 'had some pretty special friends'.

Just writing that embarrasses me, old friend.

I believe Mr. Larabee is a very special man, yet… I see our discussion as…

Well, no… I don't suppose it was simply a discussion, after all. I…

Well, I'm just glad he was able to come to terms with his loss… and his doubts…

So… I also made arrangements with Evie for her to collect some of the raffle tickets from me on Thursday. She's going to take them to friends for distribution so I'll make a copy of the registration forms. Remember, if you sell them, you can't legally win a prize…

Oh, yes… Johnny asked me about Miss 'Mel' yesterday. I've given it some thought and suggested that if they wanted to work side-by-side until he leaves, Johnny could 'show her the ropes'. She could get some experience, and some extra cash. I think Johnny was agreeable to the idea, I think 'Mel' will be too…

Umm, almost forgot… I spoke with Josiah yesterday about taking something to the Thanksgiving celebration we are attending. He was supposed to ask, but with everything that happened last week, I guess he forgot. Anyway, this evening he telephoned me back with a response… 'bring whatever you feel you want to contribute, or nothing at all is fine, too'

Even more surprising, Rusty and Brutus are invited, too!

Our hostess for the day sounds very easy-going and confident.

I do believe I am still very nervous about this whole event!

Josiah insisted we take the dogs, 'Sherri' has two, and they will 'keep each other company', according to Mr. Sanchez. I agreed… telling him he had to be responsible for them as well.

As for my contribution… well, it would feel completely inappropriate for us to attend without contributing. After all, this lady had invited us to her home to partake in the celebration. I must offer something in return… I will think some more on the subject… something others would not consider, perhaps.

Well, old friend. Time for me to turn in. Tomorrow is another day…

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~

November 29th, 2003

Rebecca L. Fenton

Hello, my friend,

… Isn't it amazing how quickly things can change in such a short period of time…

Mr. Sanchez and I spent a quiet day together yesterday. Recovering from Thursday, I think. It was very nice to spend Thanksgiving getting to know his friends better and, although thoroughly enjoyable, it proved to be a very busy day.

Today was another one!

Hosting the organizing committee to get these raffle tickets distributed took a few hours this afternoon. It's all done though, thank goodness. Now I just have to wait until the stubs and money start to filter back in…

I see it's been four days since I've found the time to write in your pages… And there I was thinking that having a man in my life again would make me come to you more often.

All those wicked little secrets… I suppose this entry might be classified as one of those…

I am happy to report that I appear to be well on my way to discarding one bad habit that has been around far too long.

As Evie whisked me away from Josiah's side last Thursday, I was hard pressed to know quite what I wanted.

Somehow, I desperately needed to be with Mr. Sanchez. In the mere four weeks since I have known him, we have become close, in the strangest way.

I'm drawn to him, somehow…

Josiah has such child-like qualities to him sometimes…

Honestly… he can go from completely mystifying me to thoroughly exasperating me in a matter of mere seconds… and yet… I still come back for more.

How is that possible?

It's an evil curse…

Well, until I come up with a more plausible explanation, that one will have to suffice…

So, where was I?

Oh yes…

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving.

As arranged previously, Mr. Sanchez picked up Mr. Larabee and then came to retrieve his, date!


Mr. Larabee seemed rather interested with the house. He said something about it being unusual to find an 'English Manor' in Colorado. I quickly pointed out that no 'manor house' I had ever heard of had an eight-foot wide veranda that ran the entire circumference of the building. Chris seemed quite speculative and with a questioning look, proceeded to walk the perimeter. Upon his return, he nodded, conceding the point. He said again how beautiful the house and property were and asked if it were all right if he 'took a look around' while I 'got ready'. Happily, he wandered off again after receiving my blessing.

Josiah and I smiled at each other. Although Mr. Larabee was probably quite interested in neighboring properties, I, for one, believe he felt like that 'third' in 'three's a crowd'.

I had a rather large box of raffle tickets by the door ready to pass to Evie. Mr. Sanchez carried it to his truck while I gathered the appetizer trays, my boots and coat. Handing off the trays, I set the alarm, secured the door, and called the dogs.

That's when it hit me!

I believe my eyes must have been as big as saucers. Josiah got this quizzical look on his face as he set the tray on the back seat. He acknowledged what I had just realized. Mr. Larabee was wandering my property… and Brutus and Rusty were, too…

Calling as we quickly made our way out back, we got as far as the pool area before we heard the low growls.

I must admit… I almost broke out in a fit of giggles when I saw Mr. Larabee on top of the pump house roof. It's situated near the shower and changing rooms that the children use when they come, but has a much lower roof of it.

Sitting with his arms crossed, Chris licked at his lips before pursing them. Doing my best to hide my amusement, I gave a quick whistle and the dogs were immediately seated at my side.

Mr. Sanchez helped Mr. Larabee to the ground and they approached me cautiously. I must say… I don't believe I've ever been 'glared at' quite like that before! Chris mumbled something about 'they sure are well trained!' and, dusting himself off, he headed for Josiah's vehicle.

As we followed, Mr. Larabee glanced back over his shoulder as I apologized for overlooking the fact that the dogs were loose. After all, they were only protecting their property, as any well trained animals would do. As he had done when he over-reacted on their first meeting, Chris begrudgingly accepted again, that they were 'well trained' dogs.

He wasn't so understanding, however, when Josiah opened up the back for them to jump into the truck. Mr. Sanchez explained that the dogs were invited, too and Mr. Larabee's raised eyebrow caused me to lose my patience. How is it that a man who appears to have such a good understanding of the equine can be so unaccustomed to the canine?

Taking Mr. Larabee's hand, I stretched it to Brutus and Rusty. It wasn't quite an 'arm-wrestle', but it was an interesting struggle. Josiah's calm reassurance lent greatly to my success…

I quickly explained to Mr. Larabee that because 'I' had offered his hands to Brutus and Rusty, they would never 'caution' him again.

As we boarded the vehicle and departed, Mr. Sanchez forewarned 'unless, of course, you try to get close to Rebecca'. Somewhat calmed from my assurance, Chris raised his hands at that point, saying between Josiah and the dogs; he didn't stand a chance…

Seated in the middle, between my hounds and the gentlemen, I reached back and patted my two lovely companions, quietly considering the good-humored nature of the conversation. I had thought that to be the end of the discussion until Mr. Sanchez, having obviously considered the situation carefully, wondered aloud when 'I' would afford the same 'offering' for him.

Mr. Larabee's expression was priceless as he directed his grin back towards me. With as straight a face as I could muster, I informed Josiah that I thought his time would come… eventually!

That was just the beginning of a wonderful day, old friend. Although, I must admit, upon our arrival I was secured firmly to Josiah's arm. With Brutus and Rusty making fast friends with the hostess' dogs, Mr. Sanchez introduced Miss O'Brien. A very lovely young lady and the one who was opening her residence for the celebration... although, if I understood the conversations correctly, it will soon be home to both Sherri and her companion.

Mr. Standish is a colleague of Josiah's. He seems rather well mannered for a federal agent, but I refrained from saying so.

Honestly, I did my best to refrain from having any adverse reactions to my company that day. And that included my surprise at seeing the young man who quite accidentally knocked me over several weeks ago.

When Mr. Dunne realized it was Josiah's 'girl', he 'bowled over'; he was most apologetic, once more. It was at this point that Mr. Wilmington quite unceremoniously 'cuffed' the young man upside the head and told 'the kid' to watch where he was going when there were 'gorgeous grown-up's' around. Quite uninvited, yet amusingly, this man then proceeded to take my hand and plant a well-practiced kiss gently on its surface.

I have to tell you, old friend, when Mr. Sanchez cleared his throat, quite loudly, I was more than amused. Mr. Wilmington's companion showed her displeasure by telling 'Buck' to mind his manners. Standing with him at her back, she introduced herself to Josiah and I. Miss Harrison's composure is to be commended. Apparently, Mr. Wilmington's real name is Buck and evidently, he lives up to the connotations of the appellative every day…

Moving to the kitchen, I met with Evie and Orin. I was also introduced to Miss Spencer and her companion. Both of whom appear to be rather reserved individuals. Quiet, yet quite sociable, given their company. I recognized Mr. Tanner from that day in their office. His long hair is quite attractive on him, and 'hard to forget', shall we say.

The final introduction was made at the 'snack' table. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson were enjoying the puff pastries we had contributed. Rain complaining that Nathan was being 'too picky' and should just eat! Obviously, this wasn't a large problem as two of the three trays I brought were already partially empty…

I returned to the living room with Mr. Sanchez and observed the 'men' as they interacted. It was very interesting to see the dynamics of Orin's 'Team Seven' play out before me and I soon realized why this particular group provides him with so many mixed emotions. Sitting there quietly observing, it was plain to see so many personalities neatly woven into the patchwork of their make-shift 'family'.

Yes, old friend, they are indeed a 'family'. An intricate and delicate balance that provides both comfort and aggravation, I'm sure. Understanding that simple fact enabled me to slowly put Josiah's chosen vocation into full focus. For the first time in over twelve years, I felt relaxed around Federal Agents.

And, a room full of them, too…

It was about that point in my observations that Evie abducted me to the Kitchen, commenting something about 'men' being allowed to be 'boys'.

The ladies were busy talking as they completed dinner preparations. I think Evie waited until she knew I was relaxed before she and Orin had to leave. I must admit, I felt rather alone, but the hostess did her level best to keep me in the conversation. I believe she even noticed my uneasiness when the topic drifted to 'living with ATF agents' and getting used to their guns, gadgets and constantly being on call. Sherri casually changed the subject, asking about the raffle tickets that Josiah and Orin had exchanged between their vehicles.

It would appear that we are all involved with one charity or another. It was a wonderful discussion, making me feel very much at home in the company of these ladies. Sherri is a teacher and has offered to sell some tickets at her school. Erin works security at the Federal Building but also attends school. She would like to try to sell some tickets at both locations. Rain said she would be happy to sell some at the hospital where she works.

Making mental notes as to how many ticket booklets I would need to distribute this week, I was unaware of the entrance of the final guests. Two young ladies, one of whom I already knew. To my surprise, 'Mel' had arrived with a close friend.

We quickly worked around the introductions; both agreeing silently that it would be inappropriate for her to address me as Rebecca. She then tried 'Mrs. F' and I quickly informed her that wouldn't do either… She seemed very amused and slightly flustered. I must say, I was too. I took the opportunity to inquire about her name again, having noticed that Mr. Standish had addressed her as 'Mellow'. It would appear that this is her given name and, while equally unusual, I do believe I'll find it easier to address her by that name than 'Mel'.

The young lady that accompanied Mellow was very intriguing… very pretty and very confident about herself. She was introduced as Lynn, but it appears that she and Mellow have unusual nicknames for each other… apparently, cartoon monikers, and quite amusing.

Throughout the successive hours, I noticed Mellow and Lynn making quite a lot of eye contact with the two unaccompanied men in our group of fourteen. Mr. Larabee and Mr. Dunne did appear to notice, both gentlemen accepting a ride home with the ladies in a rented limousine at the end of our festivities.

The remainder of the day was most enjoyable. The dinner was served buffet style, everyone gathering their food from one table and seating at another. Mr. Sanchez delivered the blessing and then began a 'circle of thanks'. Squeezing my hand, he stated, in poetic style, that he was thankful for old friends and new… I reiterated his thoughts, along with several of the other guests.

The entire dinner was exquisite. An interesting mixture of vegetarian and regular dishes, too, as at least two of the ladies do not partake of meat.

Quite surprisingly, after dinner, the men took charge of the 'clean up' task, sending us 'women folk' out of the house for a rather enjoyable walk. Sherri called her dogs and Brutus and Rusty came plodding along behind them. The men had played with the dogs during intermissions from their football game and they looked rather worn out from all of the attention. They happily came along for the walk though, even mustering enough bravado to stare at Josiah when he slipped his arm around my waist. The men were able to catch up to us on the backside of the trails, enabling them to complete the walk, each pairing off with their mates.

It's funny, old friend. I write that word in context here and

it doesn't seem so strange. Except for the two sets of 'singles' at the celebration, everyone else was paired up. Josiah and I…

Well, while we have not gone as far as consummating our relationship, we truly have become… companions… and more…

Dropping me home that evening, Josiah held me tightly and kissed me… very passionately. Having his arms wrapped around me like that, I felt a desire rise so strongly in my soul… a feeling that has been long absent from my life… and my body… for far too long.

I don't know what came over me, old friend. I stood back, smiling gently at the sparkle in his gorgeous blue eyes. I invited him in…

I believe there was some hidden communication going on that night. The careful consideration in Josiah's expression was almost calculating. I could see him weighing my desire against his own… weighing the necessity of a moment against the desires of a lifetime...

And I understood completely when he declined my invitations. Honestly… there could have been no other answer…

I have made one determination, old friend… Josiah Sanchez is a man I will get to know… body and soul…

~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~ 7 ~~~~~~~


To Be Continued in December

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