DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILER: Reference to "Lady Heather's Box".

Mother's Day
By Ann


Part 6

I consider making a joke out of the situation, but I don't think Catherine is in a joking mood. She is wound tighter than a spring, and the wrong approach will more than likely have me going to the mountains on my own. The one virtue Catherine places above all others is honesty, and if I plan to get out of this unscathed, it is the route I need to take.

Sitting on the other end of the couch, I turn toward Catherine and very carefully begin my explanation. "Catherine, it was an accident. I didn't realize how slippery the tiles were, and before I knew it, I was sliding toward the edge of the building. I would never do anything to put myself in jeopardy now that I have you and Lindsey. The minute we started to date was the minute I quit taking chances on the job. I promise you I will be vigilant of my surroundings from now on."

There's nothing left to do or say now so I sit quietly and await my fate. Catherine's angry expression hasn't changed one iota since I walked into the door. I brace myself for one of our classic war of words. Instead, Catherine springs toward me like a cat and grabs hold. Wow, she really was wound tight. She made the leap without even pushing off the floor. Maybe she is part feline after all.

Some progress is made as I now have a blubbering Catherine perched in my lap. It definitely beats a pissed off Catherine hands down. I hold her near and whisper how much I love her and how I will never leave her.

After some much needed cuddling, Catherine finally begins to calms down. She tells me she was having trouble sleeping so she called to talk to me, but my cell went to voicemail. She then called Greg who in turn filled her in on our case.

Evidently, Greg did not come right out and tell Catherine about my mishap, but he showed definite signs of nervousness. Catherine picked up on it and put her superior questioning skills into play or else she threatened him with something. It wouldn't have taken much since Greg pretty much jumps every time Catherine tells him to. Hell, so do I for that matter.

After about an hour, we have talked things through and Catherine has forgiven me for my potential life ending stunt. I'm still a bit confused as to why I had to apologize for something that was out of my control and frankly, scared the shit out of me, but as long as Catherine is happy so am I. She mentioned several things in our conversation that have given me even more incentive to make this weekend special.

I awake from my sleep around 2:00 p.m. refreshed and ready to set out on my errand. Catherine thinks it is a good idea to buy Ralph some toys so I head out for the pet store. I decide to get Ralph's shopping out of the way before I hit the jewelry stores. Knowing me, I'll get side-tracked and completely forget to go PetSmart.

Sixty bucks later, I'm walking out of the pet store when I spot a jewelry store around the corner. I deposit Ralph's toys into the Denali and head over to the jewelers. A very nice older woman introduces herself and offers her assistance as soon as I walk into the store. I explain the situation to Violet expecting to get the cold shoulder. Instead, she smiles at me and directs me to the far display case. She opens the case and pulls out the most exquisite necklace I've ever seen.

Violet describes the necklace as the Eternal Love Diamond that showcases 15 brilliant-cut diamonds in gracefully entwined bands of 14k gold. Violet holds up the necklace and says "When love is true and real, it is a sacred union of two souls and two hearts in perfect harmony. This necklace signifies such a union. My Hannah gave me one just like this on our fortieth anniversary." I smile and immediately pull out my credit card.

As I pull into the driveway, I realize I need to cool my jets before Catherine picks up on my giddiness and calls me on it. Here I was worried about Lindsey spilling the beans when I should have been concerned with my own ability to keep tight lipped.

I slip the box with the necklace into my pocket and carry Ralph's goodies inside where Catherine greets me with both a hug and a kiss. It's great to be me, but I do have to be careful not to let her grope me lest she find my gift. Fending off Catherine is definitely the ultimate sacrifice.

Lindsey comes rushing in and proceeds to pull my purchases out of the bag. I have never seen anyone so excited over dog toys. Maybe I should consider getting a dog for the family, but first things first. I need to officially make us a family, and hopefully, after this weekend, the foundation will be laid. I devilishly grin as I think of 'laying' Catherine as well. After all, everyone knows you need an ideal form before laying a foundation, and Catherine is as close to a perfect form as you can get.


Part 7

Catherine joins Lindsey as the two open each and every one of Ralph's gifts. I take advantage of the perfect opportunity to sneak away into the master bedroom. Stepping into the closet, I place the necklace into my overnight bag. I give some thought to wrapping it, but decide the box itself is elegant enough. Besides, I think I should probably open the box when I present it to her. Hmm, I wonder if I should get down on one knee.

At dinner, Catherine and Lindsey are still talking about Ralph. You would think he was some sort of celebrity or something. Oh well, at least Catherine has no clue about the upcoming weekend. If talk of Ralph keeps her thinking we're staying home, I'll sing his praises as well.

Later that night, Nick and I are paired together on a DB in yet another alley while Catherine draws Greg. Greg has kept his distance from me ever since we arrived at work. I have forgiven him for his loose lips, but I haven't told him as much. I don't think I'm quite ready to let him off the hook. Maybe by the end of the shift, he'll have suffered enough.

When we get to the scene, the location of the dead body quickly becomes apparent. Nick and I both grimace as we realize how deep the dumpster is. We choose a game of rock, paper, and scissors to decide which one of us will get to be the lucky dumpster diver. The winner of the two out of three rounds gets to observe from the ground.

It doesn't take long for me to lose the first two rounds. My strategy of rock twice in a row sealed my fate. Who knew Nick would choose paper both times? He always over strategizes and changes his choice. Hell of a time for him to go out of character.

Gingerly, I climb into the disgusting dumpster. God, this is worse than the 'liquid man' smell. I am definitely burning these overalls in the trash bin over in the corner of the alley when I get out of here. After gagging a few times, I quickly and efficiently photograph the victim and remove any trace evidence.

I fall twice while trying to get out of the damn dumpster and pick up a couple of extra interesting odors. Nick stays at least ten feet of me the entire time we finish processing the scene even though I have removed my overalls. He even suggests I ride in the back of the Denali on the trip home. I start to protest until I get a good whiff of myself. We lay some plastic on the floorboard, and I crawl into the rear of the vehicle.

When we return to the lab, Nick offers to catalog the evidence and strongly recommends that I head to the showers. I make a beeline to the dressing rooms without any protest. Several people pass me along the way and immediately move to the far side of the corridor. Some of them even go so far as to hold their noses as I get near. If I didn't already know how badly I smelled, I think I would get some sort of complex.

As I enter the dressing area, I find Catherine changing her shirt. Oh, what good timing I have. I make my way toward her, and her head snaps up as I near. She wrinkles her nose in disgust and says "Sara Sidle, don't you take another step. What happened to you? You absolutely reek." I explain the situation as she reaches into a side locker and removes a bag of lemons.

Handing me the bag, she says "You are not touching me until you get rid of this disgusting odor. Now, get your ass in that shower and use every one of those lemons if you have to." I nod my head as I race into the shower stall.

Twenty minutes and a dozen lemons later, I step from the shower. The good news is I no longer smell like decomp. The bad news is I now smell like one of those deodorizers that you hang from a car mirror. The really bad news is that Catherine had to go back out to her crime scene.

Half-way through shift, I still reek of the lemon scent. I swear if one more person sings the "Lemon Tree" song, I'm going to shove a lemon up their ass. That ought to shut them up or at least make them think twice about messing with me again.

A half an hour later, my head starts to throb so I decide to head to 'my' lab for some peace and quiet. I don't know if the pain stems from the overwhelming lemon aroma or because I'm sick and tired of fending off all the lemon jokes. Maybe no one will miss me, and I can hide out for the rest of the shift.

I've done everything I can on both my current case and the one from last night. No one seems to want my help anyway so I may as well go into voluntary isolation. Feeling sorry for myself, I lay my head on the table and promptly fall asleep. My last thoughts centered on how long this scent would last because in about thirty six hours my dream weekend begins.

My nap is filled with visions of lemons. Everyone I know has a lemon body with their head, arms, and legs sticking out from the lemon shape. Even Ralph, the dog, has a lemon body with a continuously wagging tail. Catherine and I can't even hug because our arms aren't long enough to extend past our lemon torsos. I finally wake up with a start as my lemon body rolls off the roof of a building and splats on the ground with no one in sight to come to my lemon aid.

Checking the clock on the wall, I am surprised to see an hour has past. I have never slept on the job before except when working a double or triple. This is totally out of character for me, not to mention irresponsible. A headache or hurt feelings are not good enough reasons for my behavior. Speaking of headaches, how could it be worse? Sleep usually helps. Oh no Sidle, no feeling sorry for yourself. There is no excuse for sleeping on the job.

As I am reading myself the riot act, Catherine walks into the lab looking very concerned. "Sweetie, are you okay? I had to go back out to my scene and am just getting back. The guys said they haven't seen you for quite some time."

I relate my past four hours to Catherine while keeping my distance. My emotions are right on the edge, and I don't think I could take it if she rejects me. She keeps moving closer and I continue to find different reasons to move away. I've straightened files, wiped off the table, and even moved a couple of pieces of furniture.

After explaining my immature behavior, I realize Catherine has walked me into a corner where the only escape is through her. She reaches for me, and I foolishly blurt out "Catherine, I have a headache."


Part 8

Catherine smirks and replies "Honey, I'm not planning on making love at work, but your headache is not going to keep me from my goal." She proceeds to place her hands on my hips and pull me forward kissing me deeply. I completely forget about my crappy night as I return the kiss with gusto.

As we break apart, Catherine adds "I think a good scrub in the shower will help eliminate the strong lemon smell. When we get home, I intend to offer my assistance. After all four hands are better than two." No kidding, especially when two of the hands belong to Catherine.

I check back with Nick to find out if the processed evidence turned up anything on our case. He shakes his head and then apologizes for teasing me earlier. I graciously accept his apology and leave to find Greg.

During my search for Greg, I pass many of the same staff from earlier. Every one of them makes it a point to apologize for their behavior. I return their smile and continue on my way. I do believe Catherine has been very busy since our earlier rendezvous in my lab.

Failing to find Greg, I come across Grissom instead. He informs me he sent Greg home early since he will be working tomorrow's shift instead of being off as originally scheduled. Curious, I ask whose place he will be taking. Grissom grins and says "Why yours, Sara. I thought you might need tomorrow to get things ready for your trip while Catherine is at work."

I take a step to hug Grissom but remember the fiasco from the other night. Instead, I put out my hand and offer my sincere thanks. I smile and add "No one would believe you are a true romantic, Grissom." He turns red as I turn to leave the room.

As Catherine and I are leaving the lab, we run into Nick, and I ask him to bring Ralph by before shift tonight. Catherine asks "Tonight? Why so early?" I hesitate before explaining that Greg is working for me tonight, and I thought it would be a good idea to get Ralph acclimated to his new surroundings. Catherine shrugs her shoulders and says "Okay." Whew, that was almost too easy.

After an hour in the shower with Catherine, I am feeling very sated. I don't know if the lemon smell is gone, but I find I no longer care. My headache seems to be gone as well. I think I may have found a new cure; however, it is going to be my little secret. There's no way I'm going to market Catherine as the ultimate remedy for whatever ails you.

Later in the afternoon, Lindsey comes in to check on the progress of the trip. I fill her in on all the details as well as my luck in being off for the night. I think she may have stopped paying attention when I mentioned Ralph is spending the night. She is disappointed when I point out when Nick brings Ralph over, she will be in bed asleep. I pacify her by promising to bring him into her room to sleep.

Catherine has finally left for the night as I begin to pack our things. Ralph has been following me around the entire time. Every chance he gets, he licks my hand. I finally figure out it is probably the lingering smell of the lemons that he is interested in. As long as he doesn't try to hump my leg, I can live with the licking.

An hour later, I still haven't made much progress. Ralph has tripped me on three separate occasions, and I'm lucky I haven't broken anything. The last trip sent me flying over the coffee table. Good thing the couch was on the other side.

Remembering his toys, I pick out two and present them to him. He really seems happy with the chewy toy and has stopped walking in my footsteps. Relieved, I begin to pack some non-perishable groceries and put them in the SUV. Two hours later, I have the vehicle packed, and I'm ready for bed.

I coax Ralph into Lindsey's room, and he sits on the floor at the end of the bed. He looks back and forth from Lindsey to me before deciding to jump on the bed and lie next to Lindsey. I quietly close the door and head for the bedroom.

I'm not feeling tired, but I know I need to get some sleep if I plan to be alert enough to drive in the morning. I toss and turn as my mind goes over all the details of the trip. I need to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.

Satisfied that I have completed all of my tasks, I close my eyes and relax into the mattress. I immediately sit up in the bed when I realize that Lindsey will be missing school tomorrow. Duh Sara, how could you have missed that particular little tidbit? Catherine never takes Lindsey out of school for any reason. Well, unless she's sick.

I lie in bed and stare at the ceiling wondering how Catherine will react to my decision to allow Lindsey to miss school without first consulting her. Maybe she will be so touched by my surprise weekend that she won't even realize it's a school day. Yeah right, Catherine who seems to always have a calendar imprinted in her brain is going to forget what day it is.

I finally nod off around 3 a.m. and don't wake until I feel Catherine snuggle up against me. Shit, I forgot to set the alarm. I wanted to greet Catherine at the door to tell her about my big surprise. Realizing I need to tell her what's going on before she falls asleep, I quickly sit up and pull her with me.

Dazed, she looks at me as if I've lost my mind as she says "Sara, I'm really tired. We had a rough night, and I just want to get some sleep. We can make love later, I promise." Grinning, I answer "I don't want to make love, Catherine." She gives me a doubtful look and says "Sure, Sara, as if I believe that. You always want to make love." Yep, I am definitely guilty as charged.

As I begin to tell her about the weekend, Lindsey and Ralph come running in and jump on the bed. Ralph heads straight for Catherine and begins to lick her face. I guess he likes sweet things too.

Catherine fends off the dog and says "Yuck just what I have always wanted, to be French kissed by a canine. Lindsey, please get this animal off of me." Lindsey promptly pulls a dejected Ralph off the bed.

Catherine glances at the clock and then back at Lindsey. "Lindsey Willows, why aren't you dressed for school?"

Lindsey and I look at her other and simultaneously mutter "Uh oh."


Part 9

Lindsey is the first to react as she says "I'm on my way, Mom. C'mon, Ralph, I have to get ready for school." Before I can blink an eye, Lindsey and Ralph have scampered out of the room leaving me alone with Catherine.

Is this 'leave Sara in the lurch week' or something? First, Grissom runs out of the room after I 'kissed' him, then Greg tells Catherine about my near skydiving attempt off the building and conveniently forgets to warn me about what he's done and now, Lindsey and Ralph have managed to escape possible trouble.

I turn to Catherine who is still looking at the empty doorway with a slightly confused expression. I guess now is as good a time as any to spring her surprise. "Catherine, I have been working on a surprise for this Mother's Day weekend. I wanted to take you and Lindsey somewhere special and I have booked a cabin in the mountains for us. I was hoping to leave this morning and stay until Sunday afternoon. I have arranged for us both to be off until Monday night. Um, I didn't quite think about Lindsey having school and I … er … that is, I sort of told her she didn't have to go today."

Catherine's expression is totally unreadable as she listens to my wonderful weekend plans. The first words out of her mouth are "What about our reservations at Olive's?"

Oh shit, this is so not a good sign. She was supposed to have said something along the lines of "Oh, how thoughtful of you, Sara. I can't wait to go."

I stutter out "I talked Lily into canceling them, and she in turn told Sam. He called me, and we discussed how difficult the reservations were to obtain. By the end of the conversation he was okay with it and agreed to put in a good word with the owner for us later." Well, those weren't his exact words, but we did part on good terms so maybe he will help us out.

Surprised, Catherine asks "You spoke with Sam?" I nod my head and start to reply when she holds her hand up stopping me and says "Let me get this straight. You made plans for a family weekend before my reservations, didn't you?" I again nod my head as she continues "So you cleared things with Sam and everything was fine until Ecklie decided to rain on your parade. Somehow you and Grissom made that problem go away as well, but I walk in on your 'thanks' to Grissom, and you are able to skate on thin ice once again."

Catherine shakes her head in disbelief as she says "How you managed to cover one of my shifts this weekend let alone two is just short of a miracle. Of course, you originally only had to cover one until I made that switch with Nick, then I offer to dog sit this weekend which added another wrench in your plan. And to top it all off, you had to deal with that bitch Julie, almost falling off a building, and the decomp smell."

Before I can nod for my trifecta, Catherine takes my hand and says "I love you, Sara Sidle, and I would love to go away with you and Lindsey to the mountains." I lean forward and seal her confirmation with a kiss.

We finally get the rest of our gear loaded and start our drive to the mountains. Ralph seems a little nervous about traveling, but calms down a bit when Lindsey starts to pet him. After all, it's only a forty five minute drive.

It takes us ninety minutes to reach our destination. We had to stop four different times for Ralph to go to the bathroom. Lindsey made it a point to apologize each and every time for giving Ralph so much water before we left. I'm just thankful she didn't feed him.

Catherine has stayed awake the entire trip, but she seems to be sinking fast. I lock the truck and suggest we take a look at the cabin before unloading. I unlock the door and step across the threshold. Warrick was right; this place is fantastic. We take a quick tour and find everything to our satisfaction. The master bedroom is absolutely perfect and the view from the balcony is breathtaking. I insist Catherine take a nap while Lindsey and I unload the car. She crawls into the king size bed and falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.

It takes Lindsey and me almost an hour to unload all of our things. I think I may just join Catherine and take a nap myself. Stepping into the cabin with the last load, I leave the door ajar until I can reach back to shut it. As I extend my hand to push the door closed, Ralph darts forward and shoots through the opening. By the time I can open the door to call him back; he has taken off down the trail. I quickly call Lindsey, and the chase is on with Ralph clearly in the lead.

An hour later, we have caught up with the wayward canine and are on our way back to the cabin. We were able to find the reason for the mad dash in the form of a tree squirrel. Ralph had finally treed him about a mile off the trail. The damn dog actually looked happy to see us. It was almost as if he expected us to help him in his quest.

We enter the cabin and quickly shut the door. The exhausted humans plop down on the couch while the still frisky dog looks on. Lindsey is going to have her work cut out for her this trip. Hmm, I wonder if they make doggie Prozac.

I pull myself off the couch and tell Lindsey that I'm going to take a quick shower and for her to call Catherine if she needs her. I limp to the master bedroom and grab some clean clothes before moving into the master bath. I think I may have used a few dormant muscles chasing after Ralph. I sure hope it doesn't interfere with any of the plans I have in mind for Catherine.

As I step into the bathroom, I spot perhaps the best attribute the cabin has to offer, a huge whirlpool bath. I smile, turn on the faucets, and adjust the water temperature. Satisfied, I strip and crawl into the tub. When the water reaches the desired level, I turn off the water and switch on the jets. I close my eyes and lean my head back while the water works its magic.

A short time later, another body joins me in the tub and quickly latches onto my lips. Several minutes later, Catherine pulls away and sits in front of me in the tub. I reach around and pull her close whispering "Where's Lindsey?" Catherine turns in my arms and answers "I checked in on her before I came in here. She's found a Playstation and is busy with her games." Grinning, I proceed to make love to Catherine over and over again.

We make our way into the den quite some time later. As expected, Lindsey is still engrossed in her game and Ralph is sleeping in front of the fireplace. We take a seat on the couch and watch Lindsey's progress. A few minutes later, she loses her current round and finally notices us sitting nearby.

"Wow, you guys look like prunes. What were you doing in the bathtub all that time?"


Part 10

I proceed to turn fifteen different shades of red beginning with cerise and alizarin and ending with scarlet. Catherine stays completely calm as she explains how the tub was so comfortable that we fell asleep. I wonder how she would account for all the water we splashed onto the floor. She'd probably chalk it up to swimming lessons. After all, I did have to hold my breath for quite some time when I was diving for Catherine's sunken treasure.

Lindsey seems to swallow Catherine's excuse hook, line, and sinker. Either that or she didn't want to know the real reason for our 'pruning' after all. I know I certainly don't want Lindsey to be aware of the details, and I must say I am definitely glad to know Warrick was correct in his analysis of the sound proof level of the master bedroom.

I play a few video games with Lindsey while Catherine prepares a light lunch. I had argued that this was her special weekend so I should be the one doing the cooking. She responded that I had already made her quite happy earlier, and she was expecting more of the same later on. Resting suddenly became my top priority.

Catherine serves us our meal on the balcony outside of the den area. Even Ralph seems to enjoy the lovely view. I just hope he doesn't see a squirrel down in the trees below. Surely, he is smart enough not to take a flying leap off a balcony. I move to the den to retrieve his leash just in case.

The three of us eat our meal in the relaxed setting as a newly 'leashed' Ralph looks on. I can't remember the last time we have been able to simply enjoy each other's company without worrying about adhering to some sort of schedule. No work, no school, no meeting, and no pagers are truly making this trip exactly what I had envisioned. Just the three of us spending quality time together.

With Ralph's leash securely in Lindsey's hand, we begin our leisurely walk up the trail taking in the sights of nature. I have to admit this is much more enjoyable than chasing Ralph through the bushes. I quickly sneak a glance at Lindsey to be sure she has a firm hold of the leash. I smile when I notice how she occasionally grips it a little tighter. I have a feeling she doesn't want a repeat performance of our earlier fiasco either.

We stop and take a break about a mile and a half up the trail. I take off my backpack and hand Catherine and Lindsey each a bottle of water while Ralph and I quietly sit and wait for the two to finish. Catherine hands me her almost empty bottle and insists I take the last few sips. Remembering why I'm supposed to keep up my strength, I eagerly comply.

Finally, we reach the peak and immediately reap the benefits of our climb. I have never seen such a magnificent view in all my life. Pulling Catherine in front of me, I hug her close as we silently look out over the ridge.

Lindsey and Ralph have moved away from the edge and are resting near a rock face. I take the opportunity to whisper in Catherine's ear. "Catherine Willows, I absolutely love you." She leans back against me and returns the sentiment with a kiss.

The trek down is so much easier than the climb to the top, but we have to be careful to keep our pace steady. The steep incline almost causes us to move too fast. I look forward to the gentler slope where I have better control of my speed. Looking to my right, I find Catherine holding Lindsey's hand. I reach out and grasp Catherine's other hand to complete the connection.

We are almost to the bottom of the slope when I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Son of a bitch, there's another damn squirrel. I grab the leash from Lindsey as Ralph darts off the path. He makes it to the first tree before I finally gain control of the situation. Ralph barks loudly at the retreating squirrel, and it takes a few tugs of the leash to get him to follow me back to the path. Lindsey and Catherine desperately try to keep a straight face but lose it when we return to the trail. I leave the laughing hyenas behind as I lead Ralph back to the cabin.

I fill Ralph's water bowl, and he vigorously begins to lap it up. I think he is splashing more water on the floor than in his mouth. Shaking my head, I head for the master bath where I strip and crawl into the shower. I need to get these briar scratches cleaned before they get infected. Dumbass dog pulled me right through the bushes without even slowing down.

Cleaned and refreshed, I put on a pair of jogging shorts and a t-shirt before heading to the kitchen. Catherine is mixing up some lemonade while Lindsey sits at the table petting the enemy. I take a seat on the other side of the table and smile at the plate of cookies sitting in the middle. Catherine comes over and kisses me lightly before handing me a glass of lemonade. She jerks her head to the side, and Lindsey takes the hint leading Ralph out into the den.

The minute Lindsey has cleared the threshold; Catherine straddles my lap and proceeds to lay one on me. Not wanting to be outdone, I give as good as I get. I almost forget where I am for a few minutes as I contemplate which surface I plan to take her on. In a moment of clarity, I remember Lindsey is in the other room so I work to cool the intensity level. My body and mind continue a game of tug of war with each other until Catherine mediates between the two by pulling away first.

She leans her forehead against mine and says "Sara, we're sorry for laughing. We didn't mean to hurt your feelings. It just took us by surprise, and it was a bit comical to see you being pulled off the trail by Ralph. It looked like something out of the comics." Trying to reassure her I explain "I wasn't upset with you and Lindsey. I was pissed off at Ralph and I thought I should clean these briar cuts immediately." Catherine quickly jumps off my lap and begins to inspect my legs.

"Shit, Sara. Why didn't you say something? We need to put some antibacterial spray or gel on these. Wait here while I go get the first aid kit." Before I can utter a protest, she is out the door. I don't understand what the big fuss is about. I cleaned the cuts right away so there shouldn't be any problem. Besides, I think that stuff is going to sting like a mother.

Catherine returns with a can of Lanacane which I happen to know from personal experience burns like fire. I get up and move to the other side of the table from Catherine. As she moves toward me, I move away. After several minutes of rotating around the table, Catherine becomes frustrated and says "If you don't let me treat those cuts, you are sleeping on the couch for the rest of the weekend."

I quickly sit in the nearest chair and lift my legs to receive my treatment.


Part 11

We laze around the rest of the afternoon and evening watching Lindsey's movies. Most are typical teenage type stuff, but I am able to sit through them without a problem. Of course, lying on the couch with Catherine is quite the incentive. In fact, I think I would even be able to sit through an entire showing of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" without uttering any of my usual barbs. Hell, if critics viewed all movies in this position, there would never be another bad review. All movies would receive an enthusiastic two thumbs up.

Later in bed, I am rewarded numerous times for my good behavior as both a silent movie viewer and a model patient. I have to admit the only thing that kept me from screaming my fool head off when Catherine sprayed that liquid fire on my leg were thoughts of my possible reward. Man, am I ever glad I behaved myself.

The next morning I wake up with the same smile I went to sleep with. I quietly crawl out of bed and head for the kitchen to set up the coffeemaker with some of my newly acquired coffee. I came across a quaint little coffee shop the day before we left and picked up several new flavors. Almond amaretto is my choice for this morning. As I flip the switch for the coffee to brew, Ralph comes around the corner with his leash in his mouth.

I give him a stern look and say "You have got to be kidding me. Surely, you don't expect me to take you out after the stunt you pulled yesterday. My legs can't take another run through the briars."

Ralph proceeds to crouch down on the floor and 'crawl' toward me whining. When he looks up at me with those big brown sorrowful eyes, I know I'm whipped. "Okay, you big baby, you win. You had better take care of your business the minute we get outside." Ralph immediately sits up as I reach down to fasten the leash. I give him one more "I mean it" look before we head for the outdoors.

We return to a freshly brewed pot of coffee. Ralph was on his best behavior so I promised him another outing later in the day. I pour a mug for both myself and Catheriene before I make my way back to the bedroom. Sitting on the bed, I whisper Catherine's name. She smiles and stretches before opening her eyes. As her eyes rest on the mug, she says "Coffee in bed? You certainly know the way to my heart. Now, hand over the mug." I smile and obey.

I continue to woo Catherine by making her favorite breakfast of pancakes and orange juice. Lindsey seems pleased by my efforts as well. By the way the stack is quickly disappearing I don't think we will need lunch today. In fact, I think we may need to take another walk to work off the excess calories.

We decide to explore a different trail today. I have taken an extra precaution to keep Ralph from chasing after the squirrels. I found an extra leash and now both Catherine and I control his freedom. Judging by the pitiful looks we are getting, I'd say ol' Ralph is aware of our control as well. He should just be happy we didn't leave him behind in the cabin.

Several hours later, we spot a lake and decide to take a break. I walk Ralph down to the water's edge to get a drink while Catherine unpacks the snacks and water from the backpack. Ralph excitedly runs to the water with me trailing behind. When we reach the edge, he unexpectedly keeps going and I am pulled into the water behind him. It seems the damn leash is caught on my wrist, and I can't get it loose in time for my swim.

I sputter as I am finally able to crawl back to shore with Ralph in tow. I don't even bother looking over at Catherine and Lindsey because I can hear their laughter from here. Instead, I roll on my back and try to slow my breathing while Ralph stands over me and attempts to lick my face. I'm thinking that getting a dog for Lindsey may not be such a good idea after all.

After snacking and resting for awhile longer, we begin our trek back to the cabin. My clothes are slowly drying, and I am fairly certain my hair is sticking out in all directions since Catherine reaches out every now and then to try to 'comb' it down. I'm sure if we run across Bigfoot, he will take off in the other direction when he gets a good look at me.

Ralph has been the perfect pet since we have taken our dip in the lake. It's almost as though he knows he has screwed up royally in my eyes. He even makes it a point to lick my hand every now and then as if he's asking for forgiveness. If we make it back to the cabin in one piece and after I've washed this lake scum off of me, I might consider absolving him.

We are successful in returning to the cabin without any other incident. It has taken a little longer on the return leg since we took several needed breaks. I glance at Lindsey and Catherine and find two exhausted individuals. Even Ralph looks like he's ready for a good nap. I grin as I think of the perfect way to put Catherine to sleep.

My plan is foiled when Catherine falls asleep before I can return from my shower. I consider waking her, but decide to let her rest. Besides, we still have tonight.

Sighing, I lie down next to Catherine. Even in her sleep, she automatically nestles into my body as I hold her close and whisper how much I love her. I think tonight will be the perfect time to ask her to be mine forever.

I guess I must have dozed off because it appears to be late afternoon when I open my eyes. This mountain air sure has a yoyo effect on my body. One minute I'm excited and filled with energy and the next, I'm zapped. Well, I'm certainly refreshed now and precariously close to being downright frisky. I reach out for Catherine with the intention of releasing a bit of my newfound strength but am disappointed to find her missing.

Rising, I make my way to the master bath to brush my teeth before beginning my search for Catherine. It doesn't take long to find the object of my desire when the most wonderful aroma greets me as I walk toward the kitchen. Entering, I find Catherine standing at the stove stirring something and Lindsey seated at the table reading a book. What a lovely picture, my perfect family.

I kiss Lindsey on the top of the head before moving to kiss Catherine on the lips. Mm, she must have sampled whatever she's cooking and it sure tastes good. Looking over her shoulder, I spot two pots of stew, one with meat and one without.

I put my arms around her and say "Honey, this is supposed to be your special weekend. I was planning to do all the cooking." She smiles and replies "Well, since you were pulled through the briars and then dumped in the water by the very dog I agreed to dog sit for, I thought this was the least I could do especially after the week you've had." Okay, maybe I have earned this meal after all.

An hour later, we dine on the stew and discuss the coming week's events. Lindsey's calendar is full of end of school activities. It seems she is supposed to bring some sort of treat each day for a class party. I stupidly ask why all the classes can't get together and have one big party in the cafeteria. Lindsey informs me it's more fun to celebrate each day then to have just one party. Personally, I think she is just looking for an excuse to eat junk food everyday.

Lindsey gives Catherine an early Mother's Day present by allowing her mom to watch the movie of her choice. I keep myself from cringing as she chooses "Titanic." I guess I can sacrifice if it makes Catherine happy. I'm just glad we're not in the theater so I can go to the bathroom as often as I need to during the three hour drama.

I wake Lindsey at the movie's end, and she groggily heads for her bedroom with Ralph close behind. Catherine and I make our way to our room after turning out the lights in the rest of the cabin. I take her hand and lead her out on the balcony before retiring for the night. Asking Catherine to wait for me, I quickly go back into the bedroom to get the necklace as I decide now is the perfect time.

Returning, I immediately kneel down on one knee and take Catherine's hand in mine. Looking up at her, I say ""Catherine, on the eve of our first anniversary as a couple, I am asking you to make our relationship official in the eyes of our family and friends. You and Lindsey are the most important people in my life and I want to commit myself to both of you." I pause to open the jewelry box before asking "Catherine Willows, will you be my partner for the rest of my life?"

Catherine looks down at me with tears in her eyes and replies "Oh my God, Sara. There is nothing in this world I would love more than to be your life partner. I love you." I slowly stand and move to put the necklace around Catherine's neck. Looking down at it, she says "This is absolutely gorgeous. Where did you get it?" I quickly explain my encounter with Violet as well as the significance of the pendant.

I turn Catherine around to face me as I cup her face with my hands and look deeply into her eyes. "Catherine, you have made me the happiest woman on the face of the earth. I can't wait to have our commitment ceremony."

As the wind gently blows through the trees and the moonlight shines down on the balcony caressing us in its glow, I lean down and reverently kiss my soon to be princess bride.

The End

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