HOME - LIVING ROOM
"Gee, it's so quiet,"
Stephanie Lake laughed as she stood in the middle of the room and strained to
listen at the silence. "So, where are Todd and
"She took him out to the movies
and then a sundae," Patterson Monroe replied. "Seems that Todd
is quite the little fan of Shirley Temple."
"Easy to see why," she
grinned as she carefully walked around the room. Suddenly, her heart began
to flutter with the realization that they were all alone. Of course, it
wasn't like they'd never been alone together before, but this time seemed to be
different. There was so much more that hung in the air between them.
So much that was good and warm and tender. "Well...I guess that we
better go if we're going to make it out for dinner."
"Who said we were going out for
dinner?" he smiled with sly amusement.
"Paddy, you asked me over here
for dinner, remember?" She eyed him curiously, not able to believe
that he'd forgotten. Just then, a look of worried surprise appeared on her
face. "Oh...don't tell me that...."
"We're having dinner right
here," he explained as he took her by the hand and led her towards the
dining room, "just the two of us. No restaurants for us,
tonight. I wanted to be alone with you."
"Cook?" he laughed.
"Not on your life! I want this dinner to at least be edible.
Mrs. Oliver started dinner before she left and I just finished it up."
"How much finishing did you
do?" She eyed him suspiciously, clearly remembering the last attempt
at cooking he'd made. To say that it was less than edible would have been
"Don't worry," he
chuckled. "All I did was take the pots off the stove and put
everything into bowls. Mrs. Oliver did all of the major work."
"Oh, thank god," she
sighed in relief. "Honestly, Paddy, you're going to be the first
doctor in history who'll need directions on how to boil water!"
"Stephanie, I'm not that
"No, you're not," she
smiled warmly. "Not bad at all. Actually, you're
As she stepped into the dining room,
she immediately saw the lavish table adorned with a fine linen table cloth and
set with crisp china, brightly polished silver, and sparkling crystal. In
the center of the table were two, tall candles that Patterson began to
light. As the flames of the candles rose in the air, they cast a soft,
dreamy light on the room which intensified when he lowered the lights.
"You...went to a lot of
trouble," Stephanie stammered, taken a little aback by the lavish
display. "Or, rather, Mrs. Olivier did."
"True, she cooked dinner,"
he said as he held out her chair for her, "but the work on the table was
all my doing. I wanted tonight to be special. Just the two of
Stephanie eyed him curiously.
There was something different about him---a change in his voice, a subtle, yet
striking, expression on his face. He was clearly up to something, but she
wasn't sure what it could be. However, thinking of the various
possibilities was beginning to make her heart race.
"I can't believe that you
actually got Mrs. Oliver to go along with this," she commented as she
draped the fine linen napkin over her lap. "She doesn't really...like
me or approve of our...relationship."
"Oh, she just hasn't had a
chance to really get to know you." Patterson reached across the table
and took her hand. "Not like I do."
"I think she knows me about as
well as she'd like to," Stephanie sighed. "She really doesn't
I don't care who likes you are not." He rose from his seat slightly
and leaned across the table to place his index finger under her chin and lifted
her head so that their eyes met. "The only thing that matters to me
is that I like you. And I do like you, Stephanie. More than that,
"So...." Her voice
trailed off as she turned her head to hide the redness in her cheeks caused by
his comments. "So, why the big production tonight? Why did you
go to all the trouble of preparing this lavish dinner instead of going
"I wanted to be alone with
you. I wanted this to be a special night."
"Oh, Paddy, any night that I'm
with you is a special night."
The statement brought a warm glow to
his face as he returned to his chair, keeping his eyes focused on her the entire
time. "Well, then, I wanted it to be more than special. I
wanted it to be perfect."
"You're sounding rather
serious." She looked up at him again and took a deep breath.
There was clearly something on his mind, but she didn't have the slightest idea
what it could be.
"I'm very serious."
He paused and picked up the crystal goblet that sat beside his plate so that he
could take a sip of wine. "Stephanie, ever since you disappeared,
I've thought about nothing but you. Not knowing whether I'd ever see you
again made me face some very difficult truths that I'd been avoiding for a long
"I...know what you mean."
"It made me realize a lot of
things and it forced me to come to a very clear decision about the direction of
my life." Patterson clasped his hands tightly together in his lap in
an attempt to keep them shaking from nervousness. "Because of those
decisions, there's something that I want---no, need---to say to you.
Stephanie eyed him intently and
tried to speak, but discovered that she couldn't make a sound. Her own
voice had become lodged in her throat and all she could do was simply gaze into
his eyes. What decisions had he made about his life? What important
thing did he have to say? She wasn't sure, but the anticipation made her
heart race even faster.