Weekend Dad (by Adam’s Lover)

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Summary:  A modern day Adam Cartwright story, but all of the Cartwrights are also included throughout.

Rating:  MA  (93,000 words)

Weekend Dad Series:

Weekend Dad
Seasons of Change
When They Were Young – a prequel to Weekend Dad

 

Adam is a divorced father of two; Jason, 8 and Emily, 4. He still loves his ex-wife, Jessica, until he meets a young attractive widow who is a physician by the name of Rebecca.

When Adam is in a near fatal car wreck, Jessica realizes that she still love Adam, but is it too late to mend their broken marriage?

——

Author’s Chapter Notes:
A special thank you to Deborah Grand and Michele BE for being my beta readers for this story. If it hadn’t been for these two wonderful women, this story would not have been possible. Please enjoy!

 

Weekend Dad

Chapter One

It was five minutes to six, and Adam Cartwright was stuck in traffic. He was on his way to pick up Jason, now eight and Emily, four, his two reasons for living. Adam and his ex-wife, Jessica, had been divorced now for two years. It was still bitter between them, but they always remained civil when their kids were around. Now he was going to have to call her and tell her that he would not be there by the court ordered time of 6:00 p.m., and she would let him know what an inconvenience he was in her life.

Jessica Cartwright, a well toned young lady of thirty-five, was striking. She was 5’6” with thick, light brown shoulder length hair and blue eyes. Her dazzling smile was the first thing Adam noticed about her their first day in English class together, during their freshman year at Harvard University. She was so beautiful, he remembered. He got to know her through study groups, and when he finally had gotten up the nerve to ask her out on a date, it was the beginning of what he thought would be a wonderful life together. That life was good for five years, until it all started to fall apart.

Jessica and Adam had been married on the Ponderosa, the Cartwright family ranch. However, they decided because of Adam’s new position as CEO of Cartwright Incorporated and her job as a surgical nurse at Carson Tahoe Hospital, it was best that they live in town. Adam’s father, Ben, was not pleased with this but understood the two working professionals wanted to be near their work. They often would spend their weekends when both were off at the ranch. Adam, now a divorced father of two, had built a small three-bedroom country house on the Ponderosa for his two children and himself, so they could be close to their Poppy and two uncles when they came for their every other weekend visits.

The traffic was moving again, although stop and go, and Adam thought he’d better call Jessica to let her know it would be 6:15 p.m. before he would be at her house to get the children.

“Jess, its Adam. I’m stuck in traffic, but I should be there in about 15 minutes or so. I’m sorry for the delay.”

Jessica was very annoyed with Adam’s excuse that once again he was going to be late.

“Adam, one of these days, you’re going to learn when to put the work away for the weekend, and put your children ahead of everything else that’s commanding your attention at the office. You have very little time with them, and you should want to unlock the chains that bind you to that desk, and fly out the door to get your kids on Friday afternoon.”

“Jessica, I’m stuck in traffic. I left in plenty of time to be there by six tonight, so cut me some slack will you?” Adam announced calmly. “I can’t help traffic accidents and road construction. I’ll be there just as soon as I can.”

Adam had held onto a twinge of hope that maybe one day he and Jessica would resolve their differences and be able to be a whole family again, but that was looking dimmer every time they would talk.

Jessica had a great deal of unresolved anger when it came to Adam. She had spent the last three years of their marriage practically alone as a stay at home mom, raising the babies almost independently, as Adam was working late almost every night, and even some weekends. She always remained faithful to Adam, despite her feelings of abandonment, but after many attempts to make him see her hurt and frustration, she decided that the only solution open to her was to ask for a divorce. Adam, hesitant at first, didn’t want to separate, but eventually moved out at Jessica’s insistence and moved to the home he had built at the Ponderosa. For the next few years, they tried to work it out, but the damage had been done, and the pain and anger was too deep. Jessica filed for divorce, and they had been sharing custody of the children ever since. Once the divorce became final, Jessica once again became a full time nurse at the hospital, where she had been employed prior to her becoming a stay at home mother, after the birth of their firstborn, Jason.

The final nail into Adam’s heart was when Jessica met Clint Edwards. Clint, a general contractor, had come into the hospital ER when one of his foremen had been injured in a job-related accident. The hospital had been short staffed and Jessica had been helping out. Clint took an instant liking to Jessica, and he asked her out on a date and she accepted. They had now been dating steadily for almost a year, and Jessica really was starting to fall in love with Clint. He was good to the kids, and she was seeing a possible future with him.

“Daddy!” Jason and Emily squealed in unison when they saw Adam, as Jessica answered the door. Dressed in her nursing scrubs, she would soon be leaving for her night shift at the hospital.

“Hi kiddos! How’re daddy’s big boy and sweet girl doing today?”

“Daddy, I made a 100 on my spelling test today! Mommy helped me all week with it, and it was so easy,” Jason said as Adam knelt down to their eye level.

“Daddy?” Emily said, her big expressive blue eyes staring at the hero of her life. Adam’s loosened tie pulled down, she was pushing her pointer finger through his chest hair that was peaking through the opening of his shirt. “I wanna go see Poppy tonight. I made him a present.”

“Oh yeah? Well what is it, my princess?” Adam looked at Emily with a big surprised look as she straddled his knee.

“Mommy said Poppy had a birthday, so I made him a picture of Jason and me with Sport and Buck. You think he’ll like it, Daddy?”

“I know he will, princess, and we can stop by his house tonight on the way home, and you can give it to him, ok?”

“YEA!” Both of the children started to cheer as Adam’s eyes filled with joy over the two wonderful angels he had made with Jessica.

Jessica gave Adam the kids’ suitcases, and they headed down the walkway to Adam’s gunmetal gray Land Rover. Soon they were on their way toward the Ponderosa and home. Adam had a special weekend planned with his two children. He always loved having them at home on the ranch. He made sure that they learned and appreciated nature, and all that it had to offer. He had bought Jason a pony to ride the previous spring, and Emily rode double with Adam on Sport. They would ride into the meadow on Saturday, find a tree to camp out under, and enjoy a fine picnic lunch that Hop Sing would make for the three of them.

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“Daddy, I love Sport so much. I want a pony just like him when I get big enough to ride by myself,” Emily said with a big smile, as she sat in Adam’s lap, eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

“You can’t have a horse, Emmy. You are too little,” Jason’s authoritative voice came down on Emily, as he punched her in the arm, and Emily hit him back.

Adam had been noticing his son was becoming more and more like him everyday. His wavy hair and deep soulful eyes were the spitting image of what he had looked like as a child. Emily was more like her mother. Her hair was just a bit darker, but she had those same piercing blue eyes and the smile that would stop a speeding bullet.

“Princess, I will get you a pony when you are big enough to ride on your own. I will make that decision, ok? Besides, I know that Sport likes you riding him with me, and I do too,” Adam explained as he kissed her forehead.

“But, Daddy,” Emily got up and turned toward Adam, “when can I get my own horse like Jason? Why does he always get everything first? It’s not fair.” She sat down, and started to cry.

“Emmy, you are a big baby. You cry if you can’t have your way.” Jason started to tease his sister, shoving her, and making her fall over, which made her cry harder and louder.

“Jason, don’t tease your sister, and don’t push her down.” Adam commanded his son. “You are the man of the house when Daddy is not around, and you need to protect your sister, not upset her. Now I want you to apologize to her for being so hateful.”

“Ok Daddy. I’m sorry Emmy,” Jason said to Emily, as he put his head down in shame.

“I love you, Jason, and I love YOU, Daddy!” Emily said as she jumped back into Adam’s lap and threw her arms around his neck. She took him by surprise, and they slightly fell backward.

“Well, princess, I love you too! Jason, come here son. I love you also.” Jason came over to Adam, and he held both of his children in a tight hug, never wanting to let them go.

“Daddy, can we PLEASE go see Poppy today? I wanna give him his present!” Emily had been nagging Adam ever since they’d stopped by the ranch house Friday night, only to find that Ben had gone out for the evening. He had been on a date with his steady lady friend, Jeanie.

“Well, I’ll tell you what,” Adam said with a smile to his little girl. “Why don’t I dial the phone for you, and you can see if he’s home yourself?”

“Ok! Daddy! Can I please?” Emily reached down to Adam’s waist and grabbed his cell phone from its belt clip. “Hurry Daddy, call him!”

“Here you go, princess, it’s ringing.” Adam handed the phone to Emily to speak to Ben if he answered.

“Hello, Ben Cartwright.”

“Poppy! Can Jason, Daddy and me come see you? I have a surprise for you.” Emmy was beaming, as she talked to her Poppy.

Adam had a smile from ear to ear as he watched his daughter talk on the phone like a grown up. Emily adored Ben. Jessica’s father had passed away before Emily was born, so Ben was the only grandfather she knew.

“Why of course you can come see me, sweetheart. Where are you three right now?” Ben asked of his only granddaughter.

“Where are we, Daddy?” Emily asked with a quizzical look, still speaking right into the phone.

“Tell Poppy we are up on the bluff, overlooking the valley near the lake.” Adam gave the direction to Emily.

Emily repeated the instructions that Adam had given her. “Here, Daddy, Poppy wants to talk to you.” Emily gave the phone back to Adam and jumped off his lap to go jump on her older brother and wrestle with him.

“Yea, Dad, we came by your house last night, but Joe said you were out with Jeanie, so I thought we’d come by today. The kids and I are enjoying a nice leisurely ride on the grounds with Jake and Sport, so we’ll be there in a little while.” Adam hung up the phone and helped Jason mount Jake, and then picked up Emily to put her in the saddle on Sport. Adam mounted, and they started to head back to the ranch, house so the kids could see their Poppy.

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Poppy!” Both children squealed and jumped up and down as Ben answered the door.

“Well hello, Jason and Emmy. How are Poppy’s angels today?” Ben picked up Emily and held Jason’s hand as he brought them over to his big blue chair to sit down, and put them on his knee.

“I have a special present for you, Poppy. Mommy told me it’s your birthday, and I wanted to bring you your present, but Mommy said I would have to wait until I saw Daddy.” Emily turned to her Poppy, and looked at him with her big blue eyes and said, “Poppy, why does Daddy live here with you, and not with Mommy, Jason and me?” Emily held her present as if she would give it only if he answered her question.

“Emily, we will discuss that later.” Adam interrupted to save his father from the awkward question that his youngest child had asked so innocently. Adam and Ben shared a knowing smile. “You have something to give to Poppy, don’t you?” Adam changed the subject back to the picture.

Jessica had taken Emily to get a frame that her picture could be put into for Ben, and she had wrapped it for her as well. The birthday card was a very sweet and tender poem about the love grandchildren have for their grandfather. Jessica still thought fondly of Ben, and hated that their relationship would never be the same after she and Adam divorced. She vowed to never keep her kids away from Ben, because she felt that the kids needed to see their Poppy as much as they needed to see their Nana, her mother.

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“Dad, that was a good dinner. Thanks for inviting us to stay, but its getting late, and the kids have to take a bath and get to bed.”

“Daddy,” Jason complained, “I want to stay here and beat Uncle Hoss again at checkers.”

“That’s ok, little rascal. I think your Dad is right, and you need to get on home and take a bath,” Hoss said as Jason had just beaten him for the third time that evening.

“Daddy, can you put my baby’s clothes back on her before we go? She might get cold when we go outside.” Emily looked up at Adam with her big blues. She had been sitting in Adam’s lap since dinner had ended.

Adam gave Emily back her doll after dressing her. “Ok, sweetheart, there you go. She’s all dressed and ready to go out in the cool night air.”

“Thanks, Daddy, I love you!”

“I love you too, princess. Now, up you go.” Adam picked Emily up and headed for the door.

“Bye, Poppy, Uncle Hoss.” The kids kissed the two men, as Adam opened the backseat door to the Land Rover, for the short drive to Adam’s house. “Tell Uncle Joe I’ll beat him at checkers next time, Uncle Hoss.” Jason said smugly.

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“OK, you two, in the house, and upstairs. It’s time to take off your clothes and take a bath,” Adam announced as he parked his SUV in the garage. The kids ran into the house and up the stairs to their respective bedrooms. They undressed quickly as Adam ran Emily a bath, and Jason went into Adam’s room and took a shower.

“Emily, sweetheart, where is your towel? You’re dripping water everywhere!” Adam yelled as he looked up from his desk in his study to see his youngest, standing in the doorway, naked and wet. Adam stood up quickly, picked up his daughter, and took her back into the bathroom where Jason was brushing his teeth, after taking his shower.

“Jason hit me with his army men. Daddy. It hurt,” Emily explained.

“Jason, go to your room now.” Adam was becoming annoyed at his son’s mean streak toward his sister. “I will be in to talk to you in a few minutes.”

Jason knew Adam wasn’t happy with him. Adam let the water out of the tub, as Jason stomped out of the bathroom, into his room, and slammed the door behind him.

Adam grabbed a towel, and dried Emily. “All nice and dry, sweetheart. Now, run along and get your pj’s on, and I will be in to read you a bedtime story in a few minutes after I talk to your brother.” Emily gave Adam a big hug. He patted her on her bare bottom, and she ran to her bedroom.

Adam walked into Jason’s room and sat down on his bed next to him. He knew he was in trouble, and had been crying before Adam arrived. “Daddy, I’m sorry. Please don’t spank me.” Jason poured on the waterworks, hoping he would avoid corporal punishment from his father for his antics against his sister all day.

“Son, I don’t know what has gotten into you lately. It seems that the last few times you have come to stay with me, your behavior to your sister has been getting very ugly, and I am not going to stand for it any longer. Is there a problem that we need to talk about, father to son?” Adam put his arm around his son, speaking to him in a calm relaxed tone.

“I don’t want a sister anymore. Emmy gets all the attention, and I get yelled at all the time,” Jason said sadly, looking down at his hands. “I want you to move back home with Mommy, Emmy and me. I miss you, Daddy. I don’t want to be the big man of the house. I want you to be,” Jason said, as he turned to climb into Adam’s lap and hug him, and he started to cry again.

Adam’s heart was breaking. He and Jessica had torn apart their family. If only he had been a better husband, if only he had placed his wife and family ahead of the business. But his priorities had been wrong, and now it was Jason and Emily that were paying the price for his stupidity. He tried to explain to his son why he couldn’t live with him at Mommy’s house anymore.

“Son, I understand how you feel, and I am sad that I can’t live there with you, Emmy, and Mommy, but sometimes that is just the way it has to be. It’s better for everyone if Mommy and Daddy live apart, but it doesn’t mean that I love you any less. I understand if you don’t want to be the big man of the house when you are at Mommy’s, so when you can’t, you call me, and we we’ll talk about it. OK?”

“OK, Daddy. I’m sorry. I will try to be nice to Emmy from now on.” Jason looked into Adam’s eyes, and smiled at his father in appreciation.

“Son, I cannot let you hit your sister, or throw things at her, without some type of punishment. You know that. It hurts me as much as it hurts you, for me to spank you, but you must understand that you cannot throw things at your sister. You might hurt her. Now bend over my knee.” Jason bent down onto Adam’s knee, tears puddle in his eyes.

Adam proceeded to spank Jason, for throwing his action figures at Emily. He wailed as Adam spanked him four times. He took his son into his arms, until his crying calmed down. He whispered in his ear, assuring him that he still loved him, even though he had to spank him.

“Now, get under the covers, son.” Adam pulled the covers up over Jason, tucked him in, and gave him a kiss on the forehead. Then he turned out the light, and headed for Emily’s room to help her get into bed.

“Young lady, why are you sitting there naked? I thought I told you to come in here and get your pj’s on and get into bed. Do you want a bedtime story read to you?” Adam was fighting back the laughter at the sight of his daughter sitting on the floor, buck naked, playing with her dolls. To be so young and modesty not be an issue, he thought to himself. “Come here, silly. Let’s get your panties and pj’s on, and then you can get a book for me to read to you.

“Hey, Daddy?”

“Yes,q dear?” Adam was helping her put on her pajamas, ready for his daughter to ask one of her million questions of the day. He wasn’t quite prepared for what followed.

“Daddy, I saw Mommy and Clint in Mommy’s bed, and Mommy was makin’ some funny noises. I think he was hurtin’ her. I don’t like Clint anymore, Daddy.”

Adam was stunned. He didn’t know what to say to Emily. She was much too young to know what was really going on. His anger towards Jessica was infuriating his soul. When they were married, the nights that they’d made love, they always made sure that the door was locked and the kids were asleep. How she could be so careless, he thought to himself. Adam was somehow able to distract her from the question without having to make any real comment.

Adam helped Emily finish putting on her night clothes, and she selected Green Eggs and Ham as the book she wanted her Daddy to read to her. She snuggled up in his lap, and laid her head on his chest, as he started to read to her in his deep commanding voice. Before he could get half way through the short story, she was sound asleep. He closed the book, tucked his daughter into her bed, reached down, kissed her cheek, and closed the door behind him. He headed back to his study to work on some portfolios that needed to be finished before his meetings on Monday morning.

Adam was deep in concentration when his home phone rang. It was about 10:00 p.m. and the kids had been asleep for almost an hour. He couldn’t imagine who might be calling so late. He got up from his desk and answered the phone. “Hello.”

“Adam, it’s Jessica; I was just calling to check on the kids, wondering if they were ok.”

Adam found the phone call to be a bit strange as Jessica only called him when there was an emergency with the children or if she wanted something. She never called him on his weekends with the kids to just find out if they were all right. “Why are you calling at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday night to ask if the kids are ok?” He sounded annoyed at the late night disruption of his work.

“Adam, I am just concerned about the kids. Jason hasn’t been himself lately. He has been moody and disrespectful to Emmy, and I am not sure what is going on. I am just concerned like any mother would be. So how has he been this weekend with you?”

“He has been just like you said, disrespectful and downright mean to her.” Adam sat on the edge of the settee next to his desk, with his back to the door leading out into the hall. “We had a talk tonight. He threw his action figures at Emmy, while she was taking a bath, and had gone in to brush his teeth. I ordered him to his room, and I spanked him. He said that he is sad that we are not living together, and he wants me to come home and live with you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Adam. You caused the break-up of our marriage, and this could have all been avoided had you decided that your family was more important than your damn job at Cartwright Enterprises.” Jessica started to get defensive at Adam’s annoyed voice.

“Well that ‘damn job’ of mine helped keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. It allowed you to stay at home to be a full time mother, which is what you wanted when you got pregnant with Jason. So I don’t know what you were wanting from me. I provided for you and our children during our whole marriage. You and the children have never wanted for anything. But as usual, it’s entirely my fault, and you are not to blame for any of the breakdown in our marriage.”

“Adam, I’m not trying to pick a fight with you tonight. I’m just calling to see how my kids are doing. I’ve been worried about Jason for a few weeks now. He’s very moody, and it’s bothering me. Now I’m even more worried than ever about his comments to you today. What have you been telling him? I thought we agreed to never bad mouth each other to the children and always remain civil in front of them. What did you tell him?” she asked in an accusatory manner.

“Well there you go again; everything is my fault!” Adam’s volume was beginning to increase in proportion to his anger. “Listen, little prima donna, I work damn hard to make sure you are still well taken care of. You haven’t had to give up the lifestyle you were accustomed to when we were married. You and the kids have remained in our house, and I pay the mortgage, because I feel it’s important that the kids live in the house they’ve come to know. They shouldn’t be made to suffer for what WE did to them, by our marriage breaking up.” His volume continued to increase, until it rivaled his father. “Emmy asked me tonight as I put on her pajamas why Clint was in mommy’s bed hurting her! Do you have no shame Jessica? Can you not practice a little self control when OUR children are awake?”

“Daddy, who’re you talkin’ to? You’re scarin’ me.” Emily stood in the doorway of his office. She had been awakened by Adam’s loud voice.

Adam turned quickly around, stunned at the small voice that was hearing the very heated exchange between him and Jessica. “I have to go, Emily is awake.” He abruptly hung up the phone, and turned to his baby girl. “Princess, everything’s ok. Daddy was just having a discussion with someone, and everything’s ok now. Let’s go back to bed.” He picked up Emily and started to take her back to her bedroom, but she started to cry.

“Daddy, I’m scared, I wanna sleep with you tonight. Can I, please Daddy?”

“Well, sweetheart, I’m not ready to go to bed yet. How about if I put you in my bed and I will stay with you until you fall back asleep?”

Adam was caressing his daughters back, trying to sooth her tears. He knew his tirade at Jessica had scared her. Jessica always brought out the worst in him these days. He always tried to maintain control for the sake of the children, but tonight was different. He found out the woman he still loved deeply was sleeping with another man, and his daughter had seen it. Now he had scared his little girl when he’d lost control of his temper over the phone and awakened her. His guilt overwhelming the tight leash he kept on his emotions.

Emily looked up at him with her big blue eyes – her mother’s eyes. “Ok, Daddy, but promise me that you will come sleep with me later.” She put both of her hands on his cheeks as she made Adam promise.

“I promise I will. Daddy has to come to bed eventually, and I won’t move you. I know you got scared tonight when I was yelling and I’m sorry about that.”

Adam placed Emily in his bed, and tucked her back in under the covers. He left the lamp on, because she didn’t want to be in the dark. After Emily had drifted back to sleep, Adam went back to work in his office for a few more hours.

When he finally was too tired to think clearly, he turned off all the lights, walked into his room, and put on some pajama bottoms and a t-shirt, since his daughter was sleeping with him. He curled up next to her, and drifted off to sleep, holding her and protecting her from the demons he created in her mind with his careless act of anger towards her mother.

Chapter Two

Adam dreaded Sunday afternoons. He knew that in a few hours, he would be preparing to take Jason and Emily home to their mother, and he wouldn’t be seeing them again for another couple of weeks. This Sunday, he decided he was going to take the children down to the park after church. They would stop and buy some fried chicken for a picnic since it was going to be a warm sunny day in Carson City.

Rebecca Roberts, M.D., a petite, average looking woman thirty years of age, with auburn shoulder length hair and emerald green eyes, sat under her favorite tree reading Stephen Greenblatt ‘s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. She often came to the park on her days off from the hospital, where she was a pediatrician on staff. A widow of a year and a half, she enjoyed spending time with nature, as she and her late husband often went walking in the park, and enjoyed the outdoors together. She looked forward to her days off from the hospital, when she could go to the park to watch the kids play and run. She thought about the children she and her husband would never have together.

Adam and Emily were picking up the picnic leftovers and placing them back into the basket when Jason ran over to the swings a few feet away. As Adam poured a cup of soda for his daughter, Jason, mounted the swing, and began to swing.

“Daddy, look at me!” Jason yelled over to Adam, as he was flying high into the air on the swing.

“Be careful, Son, I don’t want you to fall off.”

Taking a break from reading, Rebecca looked up and smiled at all the children playing in the park. She sighed heavily, as she thought about how she and her husband had spoken about starting a family, shortly before he was tragically killed in a small plane crash. Adam and Emily caught her eye, as they continued to pack up the picnic basket after lunch; she smiled inwardly, and thought to herself, Look at that handsome man, with his daughter, having a picnic. What a precious sight. She shook her head and thought again, as she continued to study Adam with Emily. Daryl would have made a wonderful father, just like that man obviously is with his daughter. Tears started to well in her eyes, as she thought about the children that would never be, between her, and her late husband. She tried to look to the future, as he would have wanted her to. Some day, some day, I will have the children I have always wanted. She wiped away the tear that escaped down her cheek. She turned her thoughts back to Shakespeare, and started to read once more.

Adam had finished repacking the picnic basket when he heard his son scream. “JASON!” Adam yelled, as he took off running to where his son was lying on the ground.

Jason had tried to jump out of the swing, but his ankle buckled under him as he came crashing to earth. He fell onto his head, hitting a rock; he was unconscious. When Adam got to him, a crowd had started to gather around.

The commotion of people at the park broke Rebecca’s concentration, so she looked up from her book to see the gathering of people around the man she had been admiring. He was hovering down over a child lying on the ground, not moving.

Rebecca dropped her book, and ran to give aide to the injured child.

“I’m a doctor,” she explained, as she arrived on the scene to help.” Please don’t touch him. He could be seriously injured. Call 9-1-1. I’m going to run to my car and get my medical bag.”

Adam grabbed his cell phone off of his belt and called 9-1-1, and the operator dispatched an ambulance to the scene of the accident. Emily had been with Adam at the table when the accident happened. She had run behind him as the events had started to unfold. The stranger, who said she was a doctor, had returned back to the scene and immediately started to tend to Jason, as Adam sat there helpless, with great concern on his face. He held Emily in his arms, and tears filled her eyes.

“Daddy, is Jason gonna be OK?” She looked up at Adam, who still focused all his concentration on his son.

“I hope so,” he gently rubbed her back, and laid a gentle kiss on her curly locks. “The nice lady is trying to help him.”

The sound of the ambulance sirens could be heard in the distance. They started to grow louder as the woman called the Carson-Tahoe Hospital to alert the ER that she would be coming in with an unconscious boy. “This is Dr. Rebecca Roberts. I have a male victim, seven to nine years of age. He has taken a fall from a swing and is unconscious, but vitals are stable. We’ll be transporting via ambulance that is arriving now. ETA about seven minutes. Have trauma room and staff ready,” the soft, controlled voice ordered.

“Sir, my name is Dr. Roberts. I am going to ride with your son in the ambulance. I need you to listen to me for just a moment. I know you are in shock right now, but I am going to do everything I can to help your son. What is your son’s name?”

Adam replied, with a hint of worry in his tone. “My son’s name is Jason, Jason Cartwright.”

The ambulance arrived, and Rebecca instructed the paramedics on the medical attention her patient required for a safe transport to the hospital.

“Mr. Cartwright, Are you OK to drive?” Rebecca asked.

“Yes, that’s not a problem. I will meet you there.”

Adam put Emily on her feet, and called out to Rebecca, as she followed the paramedics and her patient to the ambulance.

“Doctor!”

“Yes, Mr. Cartwright?” Rebecca turned her attention back to him.

“Thank you. I’ll be right behind you.”

“Let’s go, Emily.” Adam grabbed the keys out of his pocket, and headed back towards the picnic table to grab the basket, and then to his Jeep Cherokee Laredo. On the way to the hospital, Adam tried to reach Jessica at home to advise her of the emergency, but only got the answering machine. He left a message, and then tried her cell phone, but only got her voice mail. “Jessica, Adam. Jason has fallen from the swing at the park. He’s being transported to Carson-Tahoe Hospital by ambulance. Call me ASAP. I’m headed there now.”

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“Where’s Jason?” Jessica said urgently to Adam, as she arrived with Clint at the hospital.

“He’s in the ER. A Dr. Roberts was at the park when the accident happened. She took control of Jason’s care, and she is with him now. She hasn’t come out since we arrived,” Adam replied and put his arm around Jessica, ignoring the tall handsome blonde man that accompanied her.

Rebecca came out to find Adam with Jessica, Clint, and Emily, who was coloring in a book at a nearby table in the waiting room. She walked over to give them the news of Jason’s condition.

“Doctor Roberts, this is Jason’s mother. How is Jason?”

“Hello, Mrs. Cartwright.” Rebecca shook her hand. “Your son is fine. I ordered an cat scan to make sure there were no internal injuries or head trauma, and everything checked out OK. However, he does have a broken leg, and we have set it. He is resting comfortably right now, and you can go back and see him. He will be able to go home in a few hours. I want to monitor him for a little while just to be sure he remains stable. You will need to keep an eye on him over the next twenty-four hours for any changes.”

“That should be no problem, Dr Roberts. I’m a critical care nurse here.” Jessica shook Rebecca’s hand again.

Jessica and Adam followed Rebecca into the room where Jason had been moved when he was released from trauma. He was resting on the bed with his foot propped up on several pillows, to keep it elevated above his heart. “Hey, Tiger, you gave Emmy and me a pretty good scare. How are you feeling?” Adam bent down and spoke to his son in a soothing relieved tone, as he stroked his forehead.

“Hi, Daddy, I’m sorry I fell from the swing.”

“Shhh, you’re OK, and that’s all that matters,” Adam continued to soothe his son’s apparent fears of being in the hospital for the first time since his birth.

“Adam, may I see you out in the hall please?” Jessica said, motioning to the door. “Jason, Mommy and Daddy will be back in just a minute.”

Adam turned and walked with Jessica out into the hall. He had a very annoyed look on his face because he knew that as soon as the door shut behind them, she was going to demand answers to her questions.

“What the hell happened today, Adam?” Jessica got in Adam’s face. “Why were you not watching my son better than you were? He could have been seriously hurt or even killed! Do I need to take you back to court to have supervised visits placed on you?”

Adam was seething inside, but he maintained a facade of composure. He spoke in a soft but matter of fact manner as he got back into Jessica’s face. “How dare you question my ability to be a good father! Don’t you ever threaten me!” He moved back, so as to not draw attention to their bitter but quiet discussion. “You take me back to court, and I will expose you for the harlot you are. And I will fight you until you never see your children again. I don’t want to take them from you, but I’m not going to have them exposed to your intimate relations with your boyfriend.”

“Go to Hell, Adam Cartwright,” Jessica said in a very hateful tone.

Adam calmly walked back into the room where Jason was resting, furious at Jessica’s threat to take shared custody from him. Jessica walked in behind him wearing a smile. She told her son that as soon as he was released, SHE would be taking him home and SHE would be looking after him.

Rebecca entered the room with Jason’s chart. “Well, young man, you are one tough little cookie. I think you are probably OK to go home now, but I want you to stay quiet for the rest of the day and evening. You get a good night’s sleep, and if you start to feel dizzy or sick to your stomach, be sure that you let your parents know, and they can contact me. OK?”

“He’ll be coming home with me, Doctor, and I will be sure to take him to our pediatrician tomorrow to be thoroughly checked over again. I thank you for being at his side today when this happened,” Jessica glared at Adam as she made her smug comment. Adam turned around as he was trying to remain calm at her disrespect for Rebecca’s help, and his abilities as a father.

Rebecca glanced at Jessica and then at Adam; she could feel the tension between the two, but her concern was for her young patient. “The nurse will be in shortly to give you a prescription for some pain medication and his discharge notes,” she commented reluctantly. “My answering service number is on there if you should need a doctor this evening. Mr. Cartwright, may I see you in the hallway for a minute please?”

Adam nodded in agreement, as he continued to stay leaning against the wall with his arms folded across his broad chest, and hands tucked under his arms. As Rebecca walked passed him toward the door, he grabbed the handle, and opened it, following behind her, still glaring at Jessica. As soon as the door shut, Adam began to speak.

“I’m really sorry for my ex-wife’s display of total disrespect, Dr. Roberts.” Adam placed his hand on Rebecca’s shoulder and looked down in embarrassment.

“No problem, Mr. Cartwright. It’s only natural that your ex-wife would like Jason’s own pediatrician to take over the case. Would you like to go have some coffee? It’s been a long afternoon. Besides,” and she smiled broadly up at Adam, “I need a ride back to the park. My car is still there. Would you mind?”

“I would love to have some coffee, and of course I will take you back to your car afterward as well.” Adam looked up and noticed her emerald green eyes for the first time. His eyes fixed on hers, as he stammered a bit. “But first, I need to take care of some business with my ex-wife.”

“Not a problem,” Rebecca smiled warmly. “I need to wrap up the paperwork on Jason, change out of these scrubs and back into my clothes. I should be done in about a half hour or so, OK?”

“Great, I will see you back out in the waiting area.”

Rebecca strolled up the hallway toward the nurse’s station. I can see why they are divorced. Rebecca thought to herself, shaking her head. Poor man, he has his hands full with an ex-wife like that.

“Jess, I need to see you outside again,” Adam cracked the door, to call Jessica back out for another private chat away from Jason’s ears.

“What do you want, Adam? I really need to be with our son right now,” she said in a low voice, as she walked out into the hallway, shutting the door behind her.

“I have to take Dr. Roberts, back to the park to get her car. She rode in the ambulance over with Jason while I followed behind with Emily. I suppose since you don’t see me fit to have the children in my personal care, you’re going to want to take Emily with you when you leave.”

“Oh, Adam, stop with your melodramatics! Yes, I might as well take Emily. It’s 4:00, and by the time we finish here, it will be almost time to bring her home anyway. You can just bring their suitcase by tomorrow after work. If you want, you can stay for dinner and spend some time with the children.” She paused a moment before adding, “I see you are awfully friendly with Dr. Roberts.”

Adam had not even looked at another woman since their divorce, and she knew that he still loved her. But now she wondered if his attention would be diverted by this average looking, petite, slightly buxom woman, who was intelligent and well educated. These were traits that Adam always admired in women he was attracted to.

“You know, Jessica, it really isn’t any of your business with whom I’m friendly,” Adam said coldly. “I’ll be by tomorrow night with the kid’s clothes, and yes, I will stay for dinner and spend some time with them. Now I’m going to go stay with Emily until they release Jason.” Adam turned and walked away.

Adam went into the main waiting room where Clint was sitting with Emily as she continued to color in her coloring book. She saw Adam come through the door, and got up and ran to him.” Daddy!” she grabbed him around the leg, and looked up at him with confusion in her big blue eyes. “Where’s Mommy and Jason, Daddy?”

Adam picked his daughter up, and held her in his arms. He sat down on the nearest chair, and sat her in his lap. He placed his finger under her chin, and turned her face toward his. He cocked his eyebrows as he admonished her, “Emily Elizabeth, this is a hospital, and you must speak quietly here. There are a lot of sick people trying to rest and get better. Do you understand?”

“Sorry, Daddy.” Emily rested her head on Adam’s chest.

“Mommy is with Jason right now.” He spoke softly to his daughter. “The doctor said he could go home, so you need to sit quietly until he can leave, OK? I’ll stay here with you until Mommy and Jason come out.”

Emily jumped down from Adam’s lap, and walked over to where she had been sitting with Clint, coloring in her book. She grabbed the book and crayons, and came back to sit in Adam’s lap. She showed him the pictures she had colored, and offered them to him, to take home.

When Jessica came out with Jason in a wheelchair, Emily jumped up, and headed to hug her mommy. “Hi Jason. What’s that on your leg?” She pointed at the neon blue cast that came up to Jason’s knee.

“It’s a cast, stupid. What do you think it is?” Jason said grumpily.

“Jason Benjamin Cartwright, don’t you ever call your sister stupid again!” Jessica scolded her son.

“Sorry, Mommy,” Jason said, as he looked down at his lap twiddling his thumbs.

“Adam, talk to your son, please?” Jessica said in an exasperated tone.

“Son,” Adam knelt down beside his wheelchair, and spoke in a stern tone; the tone that usually accompanied a spanking. “What did we talk about last night? Do I need to refresh your memory here in front of everyone?”

“No, Daddy, I said I was sorry.” Jason’s eyes began to well with tears.

“Jason, don’t cry, Son.” Adam ruffled his hair. “I know you don’t feel good right now. Mommy’s going to take you home, and I’ll come by after work tomorrow to see you and Emily, OK?”

“Promise, Daddy?” Jason looked up, and his eyes brightened, as he smiled a dimpled grin to his daddy.

“Yes, Tiger, I promise. Now, I want you to be nice to your sister, and mind Mommy. I don’t want to here any bad reports from her tomorrow when I come over; is that clear?”

“OK, Daddy, I will.”

Clint drove Jessica’s Infinity Q45 to the emergency room entrance, and the nurse wheeled Jason to the car. Adam picked him up, and placed him in the back seat, and buckled him in for the ride home.

“Daddy, help please,” Emily said with her arms raised to pick her up, and put her in her seat.

Adam strapped Emily in, gave her a kiss, and shut the door. He watched as the kids, Jessica and Clint headed towards Jessica’s home.

As Adam entered back into the hospital, Rebecca came through the doors, dressed back in her jeans and Ralph Lauren Polo shirt.

“Would you like to go to the cafeteria for coffee? Or do you prefer Starbucks just down the block?” Rebecca asked Adam as she put her hospital credentials into her purse.

“Whichever you prefer, Doctor.” He smiled.

“Well, the hospital has pretty good coffee actually, but I think I like Starbucks just a bit more.” She blushed.

“Starbucks it is then; let’s go.”

He took her arm, and escorted her to his car in the parking garage. They headed down to street to the Starbucks. She grabbed a small table for two on the sidewalk, while he went inside and ordered up a couple of tall coffees.

“Here you go, Doctor, one grande mocha latte,” Adam announced, as he sat Rebecca’s coffee down on the table in front of her, and he sat down in the chair across.

“I can’t thank you enough for coming to help my son today, Dr. Roberts. We were lucky you were there. Do you come to the park often?” He asked as he took a drink of his straight black coffee.

“Please, call me Rebecca, or Becky,” she smiled. “Yes, I do come to the park every chance I get. I spend such long days at the hospital. Some days it’s dark when I come to work, and dark when I leave for home. I enjoy nature, and being outdoors, so most Sundays, I’ll grab a good book, sit under a tree, and read for hours sometimes.”

“Becky,” Adam smiled in return. “Please, call me Adam. So, you like to read? I’m quite a reader myself. What type books do enjoy reading the most?” He asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Well Adam, I’m currently reading Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. I just bought it this past week. Shakespeare is one of my favorite writers, so when Mr. Greenblatt came out with this book, I knew it was one that I would want to get as soon as it hit the shelf.

Adam was impressed with her passion about Shakespeare. He shared his own ardor for Shakespeare, which made the two strangers want to see each other again, under more personal circumstances.

A few hours had past since they had arrived at Starbucks when she looked at her watch. “My goodness, it’s getting late, and I have some notes I need to look over before morning rounds tomorrow. I guess we should be heading back to the park, where my car is parked,” Rebecca said with real regret, for she had truly enjoyed their discussion.

“I suppose it’s getting late. I know I have some reports I need to look over as well. I’ve enjoyed today, Becky. I wished we could have met under better circumstances,” he smiled, as he reached out and touched her on the hand gently.

They both hopped back into his SUV, and headed back to the park, and continued with their conversation about the life and time of William Shakespeare.

When they approached the park entrance, she directed him to her car, which was sitting alone in the parking lot. He pulled up next to it, turned off the engine, got out, and walked over to open her door.

“Thank you, Adam,” she nodded with a smile, as she headed toward her dark green Saab convertible.

When she reached the driver’s door, she turned back to him and smiled broadly. “Thank you again, Adam, for the coffee, and the lovely conversation today. I really had a nice time.”

“Becky, I would really like to see you again. Maybe we could meet for dinner some night this next week?” He asked as he opened her door for her.

“I would love to. Call the hospital, and asked to be connected to my office. If I’m not at my desk, you can leave a message on my voice mail, and I’ll call you back.”

“Great, I’ll take a look at my calendar, and hopefully we can work something out for later in the week,” he winked at Rebecca, and she smiled.

“I look forward to your call, Adam. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight, Rebecca.”

He closed her door, and she drove away. He stood standing by his vehicle, until he saw her safely exit the park. He got back into his SUV, and thought about the day’s events. For the first time, in a long time, he felt happiness as he thought about Rebecca. He chuckled to himself, started his automobile, and headed back toward the Ponderosa.

 

 

Chapter 3 by Adams_lover

Chapter Three

Emily was pacing by the front door, when she saw her daddy walking up the front walk through the locked glass door. “Daddy! You’re here!” Emily squealed as she ran to the door to greet her hero. Jessica heard Emily’s delight, and came to the door to let him in. When Adam stepped in, Emily immediately raised her arms, to show her desire to be picked up for a hug.

Jessica smiled broadly, as she locked the glass door, and said to Adam, “I’ll be in the kitchen.”

He acknowledged her, and then turned his attention back to Emily. “Hi, Princess, I sure missed you. Did you have a good day?” he asked, as he held her tight, and placed a kiss on her forehead.

“Mommy said you stay for supper, Daddy?” She kissed his cheek. “Mommy make spaghetti, Daddy; it’s my favorite,” Emily said proudly.

“It is?” Adam grinned from ear to ear. “Its mine too, Princess! Now, where’s Jason? Daddy wants to see how’s he’s feeling.”

Emily wiggled to get down, as she said, “Jason’s watching TV, Daddy.” She ran into the kitchen squealing, “Mommy, Mommy, Daddy like spaghetti like Emmy!”

Jessica came out of the kitchen again, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel. She had heard Adam ask Emily about Jason, and came to talk to him about their son, before he went in to see him.

“He’s sore, Adam,” Jessica said. “He’s lying down on the couch in the family room watching TV. Can I take your jacket?”

Adam took off his jacket, handed it to Jessica. “Thanks,” he said, as he loosened his necktie and headed into the family room to see Jason. He was still upset at Jessica for the things she had said the previous day. He was trying to avoid being in the same room with her. Even though they had always agreed to be nice to one another when they were in the presence of the kids, it was especially difficult after the words that were exchanged at the hospital the previous day.

“Jason, how are you feeling, Son?” he asked, as he walked over to sit next to the child, as he watched The Cartoon Channel. Jason’s foot was propped up on several pillows, to help control the swelling within the cast.

“I’m OK, Daddy. My leg really hurts and the medicine makes me sick. I don’t like to take it, but Mommy makes me.” Jason’s lip stuck out in a pout, as he looked down at his comic book lying in his lap.

“It’s for your own good, Jason,” His father ruffled his hair. “Otherwise, you would really be in a lot of pain.” Adam stood up, and walked out to the covered patio, “I’ll see if there is anything we can do to keep you from getting sick.” He stepped out and called Rebecca, to find out if there was anything that Jason could take, to offset the sickness the pain killers were causing.

After speaking with Rebecca about Jason, he walked into the kitchen, where Jessica was putting the final touches on dinner. “I just spoke to Dr. Roberts. She said to make sure that you give Jason the pain medicine with food or milk, and that should help with the sickness he is feeling after taking the pain pills. She also said that giving him some Advil in between doses of the pain medication will help reduce the swelling, which will also help with the pain.”

“I know this, Adam, or have you forgotten I’m a nurse?” She spun around, and stood glaring at him, rolling her eyes. “I know how to take care of my injured son. He just doesn’t want to eat much of anything, and he’s not a milk drinker, but I have to make sure that he keeps the pain medication going so that he won’t be hurting.”

“I don’t doubt your qualities as a nurse, and certainly not as a mother, Jessica,” Adam threw up his hands in surrender. He walked out of the kitchen, leaving Jessica standing there with her hands on her hips, and a scowl on her face. He turned back around just before he turned the corner. “I was only trying to help with the care of our son.” He went and sat down in the formal living room, on the couch, and put his face in his hands. He was tired of fighting with Jessica, and being a weekend dad was really starting to take an emotional toll on him.

Emily had been playing in her room and came out to get her dolly that she had left in the family room. She saw Adam sitting in the dark, walked over to him, and patted him on the top of his head.

“Daddy, you sad?” The tiny voice said to him, as he uncovered his face, to see his little girl standing before him.

He picked her up, and sat her in his lap. He wanted to be able to tuck her into bed every night, instead of just every other Friday and Saturday night, and on holidays, and for a month in the summer. In his mind, he wished that he hadn’t been so oblivious to his wife’s and children’s needs when his marriage was falling apart. He knew his marriage couldn’t be revived, but he was going to take every chance he had to make things as right as he could with his children, building a bond with them, so that they would know they were the most important people in his life.

“No, Daddy’s not sad, Princess,” he reassured his daughter with a smile and a hug.

“Daddy, will you tuck me in, and read me a story tonight?” She looked at him, her big blue eyes beginning to fill with tears. “I miss you, Daddy,” she said, putting her head on Adam’s chest and her arms around his waist.

“Princess, I know, and I’m sorry I can’t be here every night to tuck you in. I’ll stay tonight, and make sure you get tucked in, and fall asleep. Daddy promises.”

Emily kissed him on the cheek, and ran back into the kitchen to tell her mommy that Daddy would be staying to tuck her in bed, and how happy it made her.

Jessica walked into the front room, and sat down in the recliner next to where Adam was sitting with his face back in his hands again. His heart was breaking with the knowledge that he was missing out on his children’s lives. He didn’t hear his ex-wife walk in, or sit down next to him. Jessica sat there a few minutes, and studied Adam’s obvious emotional pain.

“Adam, I’m sorry that we couldn’t make it work,” she started softly. He looked up at her sitting there, looking at him, with concern for his emotional state. “Emily said you were going to stay and tuck her in bed tonight?”

“I would like to, if it’s OK with you. She needs her father, Jess, and I can’t be here for her like she needs me, and it’s killing me. She and Jason are my life; you once were my life too.” Adam returned his face to his hands. The tears were welling in his eyes, and he wanted desperately to hide them from his ex-wife. He knew that there was no chance the two of them would reunite. Too much water was under the bridge now. He had to find balance for his children, and that was going to be difficult. It was something he would have to work on with Jessica. This was a problem they would both have to face together.

“Jessica, I screwed up. I was selfish putting my needs and wants with my job before you and the kids. I know that now.” He looked her in the face. “I know I can’t change things between us, but I still have time to make a difference in our kid’s lives. I’m their father, and nothing will ever change that. I want them to always know, that even though we couldn’t make our marriage work and I’m not here every night to tuck them in, to kiss their boo boo’s, to play catch, or have a tea party with them, I’m still their father, no matter what.”

“Adam, you know I would never deny you your children. I think we do a pretty good job raising them together, even though we live apart. Yes, it would have been so much easier had you put us first in your life. I tried and tried to get you to see that you were driving me away with your selfish acts. I just couldn’t ever get you to see it though. I had to resort to a divorce, before you finally opened your eyes. By then it was too late.”

“All I know to say, Jessica, is that I’m so sorry.” Adam placed his face back into his hands. His guilt of neglect in earlier years came flooding to the surface. He hid his face, to try and hide the obvious pain of this realization.

“Dinner’s almost finished, Adam, why don’t you come and help me set the table like old times,” Jessica offered, as she got up and headed back for the kitchen. After a few moments alone, he got up and headed into the kitchen with her.

After setting the table, Adam called down the hall to Emily’s room, where his daughter had decided to play until supper was ready. “Princess, dinner’s ready.”

Emily came bouncing out of her room. Adam stood at the end of the hallway, to wait for his daughter. She skipped, then ran and leaped into his arms, almost knocking him down. She squealed with laughter, and her daddy laughed with her. He stood still for a moment, and hugged his little girl tight. “I love you so much, Princess,” he whispered in her ear as he kissed her dark blonde curls.

She kissed his cheek, and replied, “I love you too, Daddy.”

After carrying Emily to the dining room, and placing her at her seat, he went into where Jason was still resting on the couch with his foot propped up. “Ready for supper, Tiger?” he asked, leaning down to pick up his son.

I want you to eat what your mommy puts on your plate, and then you can take a pain pill, and it won’t upset your tummy, OK?”

“Yes, Sir. Hey, Daddy?” Jason looked up at Adam, as he carried him to the dining room.

“Yes, son?”

“Can you spend the night tonight with me?”

Adam looked at his son in a quizzical look, but then realized, his son just enjoyed his daddy being with him. He sighed heavily and said, “No, Son, I wished that I could. We have discussed this before. You will be back at my house in a few weeks, and when your leg is all better, we’ll all go riding together again. OK?”

Jason put his head on his daddy’s shoulder. “OK, Dad,” he said, with a heavy sigh.

Adam placed Jason in his seat he used to occupy when he and Jessica were married; across from Emily and the four Cartwrights sat down to eat supper.

“Daddy, you’re sitting in Clint’s seat,” Emily announced, waiting patiently for Adam and Jason to get situated, before they all said grace.

“Emily Elizabeth Cartwright!” Jessica snapped at her daughter.

“It’s OK, Jessica,” he said in a smooth tone. “It’s OK. Let’s eat. I’m hungry.”

After saying grace, they enjoyed a meal together as they hadn’t since their family had split up two years earlier.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After tucking the children in bed, Adam looked at his watch, and noted that the hour was getting late, and he had an early morning meeting to attend.

“Thanks for dinner, Jess, it was really good, just like I remembered.” He bent down and gave her a slight hug.

Jessica returned his hug, and kissed his heavy whiskered cheek. “I’m glad that you decided to stay. It meant a lot to the kids. Maybe we should do this more often,” she smiled up at her ex-husband.

He smiled back down at her, and nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, that would be nice.” He paused for a minute, gazing into Jessica’s deep blue eyes, and then finished his sentence; “For the children.”

He returned the peck to Jessica’s cheek, and walked out the door toward his SUV. Jessica stood in the door, until Adam’s vehicle had disappeared down the road.

 

Chapter 4 by Adams_lover

Chapter Four

Rebecca arrived for a Thursday night intimate dinner at Adam’s home. “I thought that I would grill some steaks on the BBQ tonight. Hop Sing made a wonderful salad and some side dishes for us. I can manage to grill a mean steak or two,” Adam boasted. Rebecca laughed at his stance with the BBQ tools and apron that said, Kiss the cook, even if the food is not edible.

The two young professionals had spoken on the phone several times since their chance meeting at the park three Sundays earlier, and had really hit it off. They had been out to dinner a few times. Adam had promised to show off his culinary skills at the BBQ for Rebecca at their next get together at his home on the Ponderosa, and she gladly accepted. She looked forward to some time alone with him in an intimate setting.

“I’m really happy to be here, Adam. You have such a lovely and quaint house amid all this beautiful scenery.”

“Yes, we’re so lucky to have such beautiful land surrounding our homes. My father, Ben, my two brothers, Hoss, Joe, and I worked very hard to get the Ponderosa to what it is today. I would love to show you around some of the ranch. Would you like to go riding sometime?” he asked, as he handed her a glass of wine. As the smoke billowed from the massive grill set just off the redwood deck, Adam turned his attention back to the two thick steaks sizzling on the fire, grilling to a medium perfection.

“I would love to go riding with you, sometime,” she smiled. “I haven’t been riding in a very long time. I used to go riding a lot when I was a child.”

“I’ll be happy to help you, Rebecca. It would be wonderful to show you the Ponderosa via horseback. It’s the only way to see nature at its finest.”

Rebecca sat on her patio chair, drinking a glass of wine. She gazed into the sky watching the beautiful sun set into the mountains. Adam had lit candles on the patio and in the house. She pondered to herself, could it be that he’s thinking of getting romantic tonight?

When the steaks were finished, he took them back into the kitchen to rest on the island as he made the final preparations to the side dishes that were warming in the oven. Rebecca came in to ask if there was anything she could do to help with supper.

“Sure, why don’t you take the plates with the steaks and I will carry the veggies.” He smiled at her warmly.

Rebecca carried out the plates with the steaming steaks and twice baked potatoes and sat them on the glass patio table. Adam followed behind and sat Hop Sing’s delectable side dishes on the lazy susan and then dug into the evening’s culinary delights.

“Adam, this meal was delightful. You’re quite a cook. The steak was perfect and so tender,” Rebecca complimented as she ate the last of her steak and continued to sip her wine.

They had drunk two bottles of wine over the course of dinner and were both feeling the effects of the spirited elixir.

“It’s starting to get a bit chilly out here. Why don’t we move indoors and I’ll start a fire,” Adam suggested, as he stood up and walked over toward Rebecca to put his jacket around her. They cleared the table and put the dishes into the sink. “Would you like to go sit and talk in the living room?” Adam asked.

“Yes, I would like that very much,” Rebecca replied, with a twinkle in her eye.

When they arrived into the living room, Rebecca laid Adam’s jacket on the chair and sat on the adjacent love seat, across from the fireplace. Adam took a few logs from the stack he had sitting on the large stone fireplace, and stacked them neatly on the grate. As he added kindling to start the logs burning, Rebecca inquired, “With all the trees here on the Ponderosa, I’m sure you must have an abundance of firewood each season.”

“Yes, we do. My father, brothers, and I log our own wood at the end of each summer. We cut the logs to size so that they will fit in the fireplace with a chain saw, but we each split our own cords.”

“I’m impressed, Mr. Cartwright.” She winked. “I guess that is how you manage to keep in such great shape.”

Adam chuckled, “That’s one way.” He gave a flirtatious wink in return and struck a match to get the logs started.

After lighting the fire, Adam put a Celine Dion CD on low volume, then came and sat next to her, placing his arm around her shoulders; she was becoming quite dazzled by his chivalry. “Adam, I love Celine Dion. How did you know?” she mused.

Adam didn’t reply. He just sat next to her and gazed into the emerald jewels that were her eyes. As Celine sang softly in the background, Adam began to stroke her soft auburn hair and continued to stare into her eyes. Rebecca returned his stare, not able to say another word as she looked deeply into his twinkling amber eyes.

“God, I want to kiss you,” he announced as he moved in to meet her lips with his.

The two professionals were kissing as if they were young teenagers again, their desire for each other very apparent. His hands moved up under her sweater to unhook her bra, and then cup her breasts. Then, just as quickly as he started, he brought everything to an abrupt halt, pulling his hand from underneath her sweater.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, shaking his head back into reality. “That’s not like me to be so inconsiderate of a lady.” He took her hands into his. “Please forgive me. I got carried away in the moment.” He looked into her eyes, which were glazed with passion. “Your kisses are so tender and sweet. It’s been a long time since I have held a woman in my arms. You are so desirable, but I don’t want it to be like this. Please forgive me, Becky.”

“Adam, please don’t apologize.” She gave a slight squeeze of his hands around hers. “I could have stopped you, but I didn’t. It’s been a very long time for me as well,” she consoled, taking her hands from his, winding her arms under her sweater, to re-hook her bra. “We had the perfect set up tonight for both of us to fall into this. I’m not upset, Adam. My body came alive for the first time in a very long time and it felt good.” She blushed, feeling guilty for the pleasure she’d experienced. “Thank you for awaking what I thought might be dead.”

Adam took Rebecca back into his arms and hugged her tightly. He felt it must have been the first time she had been in a man’s arms since her husband’s death. She fought the tears that welled in her eyes; she felt guilty as if she were cheating on her late husband in some way. Neither said anything; they only allowed the other’s embrace.

“It’s getting late; I better be going. I have a long drive back home.” Rebecca broke the embrace of security that she didn’t want to let go, as she wiped the mist from her eyes.

“OK,” Adam whispered gazing into her eyes. Again, he was swept away by her deeply penetrating eye color, which was set off by the cream sweater that hugged her female curves.

“Let me walk you to your car.” Adam got up and held his hands out to help her up. Rebecca grabbed her purse by the front door and they walked out to her car, arm in arm. When they reached her car, Adam took her into his embrace once again and gently kissed her goodnight. She got into her car and he watched her drive away.

Tears streamed down her flushed cheeks as she thought back to Adam’s hands touching her breasts. “I know you want me to move on, Daryl. I just can’t get over this feeling of guilt,” she said aloud. She shook her head and wiped the tears from her wet cheeks. “No, this is silly, Becky. You know that Daryl would want this for you,” she continued out loud. “He wouldn’t expect you to live the rest of your life alone and unhappy. You need to get beyond this.”

Adam walked back into the house, rubbing his neck. He sat on the great stone hearth and poked at the dying flames of the fire. He sat lost in the glow and crackle of the logs, thinking about his very bold move toward Rebecca. You clod, he thought to himself. What Becky must think of you right now! She probably will never want to see you again after such a forward move. God, what was I thinking? He continued to himself. His mind drifted to his ex-wife. I haven’t touched a woman like that since Jessica. He closed his eyes, remembering the feel of her soft skin when they would make love. His body shook as he recalled the feel of Rebecca’s smooth skin against his palm. “She felt so good,” he said with a heavy sigh. “I sure hope I didn’t ruin things between us,” he continued talking to himself as he placed his elbow on his leg folded up on the hearth. He placed his chin in his hand and continued his thought, “She’s someone I could get used to.”

 

Chapter 5 by Adams_lover

Chapter Five

Friday had finally come after two long weeks for Adam. He was counting down the hours until he could hold his children in his arms again. He had been working feverishly to get everything he needed done, for he was not going to be working at home on a weekend when he had his children. His time with Jason and Emily was too little and too precious. His plans were to immerse himself in them this weekend.

“Daddy, I have missed you so much. Can we go to Chuck E. Cheese tonight?” Emily asked, with a flirtatious smile.

“That might be able to be arranged. Do you remember Dr. Roberts? I thought maybe we could call her and ask if she’d like to go, too.”

“YEA, DADDY, I tell Jason!” Emily ran back into the house to tell Jason the good news that they were going to get to spend the evening eating pizza and playing games.

“You and the good doctor are seeing a lot of each other suddenly,” Jessica commented. She wanted to ask more, but didn’t want to seem interested, although she was fuming inside.

“Why do you care? It’s really none of your concern,” Adam replied coolly.

“I’m just concerned about who is around my kids, Adam. I don’t want any bad influences on them as they are so impressionable at this age.” Jessica continued her personal attack on Adam’s new found friend.

“Jessica, I have never made any comments about Clint being a part of your life. I only asked you to secure your bedroom door when you plan to be intimate with him. Don’t you dare start attacking my friends, whom you don’t even know; I will not stand for it. If you want a fight, just keep it up.”

Jessica persisted despite Adam’s warning, “Funny how all of a sudden you seem to have plenty of time for your new lady, but you never did for me and the kids when we were married. You never cease to amaze me, Adam Cartwright.”

“Jess, I’m warning you; stay out of an area you know nothing about. Becky and I are friends only, and it’s not your concern. I would never put my children in harm’s way, so don’t ever insinuate again that I don’t know how to be a good father.”

Jason and Emily came to the door with their suitcases, ready for a fun weekend with Daddy. Jason had received a new cast with a walking boot so that he would not have to use crutches. Jessica kissed the children goodbye, as Adam took the suitcases, and they headed out the door. When he got the kids buckled in, and suitcases secured, Adam settled in the driver’s seat. Before departing, he called Rebecca on the phone to invite her to keep him company while the kids played at Chuck E. Cheese.

“Becky, its Adam. How about you meet us at Chuck E. Cheese at about 7:30. I have a little girl that talked me into pizza and games tonight. Thought you might like to join us.”

“Adam, that would be fun, I was just wondering what I was going to do for dinner tonight. I’ll meet you at the front door at 7:30. See you then, bye.”

Adam thought about the situation on the couch the previous Sunday. He felt his temperature rise, so he turned his mind to other things, notably the vicious comments that Jessica had made in regard to Rebecca. Who the hell does she think she is? Adam thought to himself, as he drove into the mountains toward home. Adam planned to spend more time with Rebecca and get to know her better over time. Jessica would not be able to stop the warm feelings he was starting to have for the young doctor.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It’s a beautiful day today, isn’t it?” Rebecca asked, as she lay back on her elbows under the big pine tree, where Adam had made a place for them to lie down and watch the children play.

“It sure is, and I can’t imagine a nicer person to spend it with either,” he replied as he looked over and gave her a quick wink.

Emily was playing in a sand box near the water’s edge, and Jason, in the true Cartwright fashion, was sitting under an adjacent pine tree, reading Gulliver’s Travels.

“So why don’t you tell me about yourself. I’d like to know more about you.” Adam moved in closer.

“What is there to tell? I’m 30 years old. I was married for four years to my high school sweetheart. We attended college and medical school together. We got married right out of medical school, when we found that we were accepted to the same hospital where we both interviewed. It was tough the first year as interns because our schedules were rarely the same. The second and third years of our residencies weren’t much better because he had decided to go into vascular surgery and I went into pediatrics. But the little bit of time we did have together was quality time. I finished up my last year, and was settled into private practice, when Daryl was killed in a plane crash.” She was beginning to choke up now. Reliving her husband’s death was very traumatic for her. She turned away for a few moments, trying to control the tears falling down her cheeks.

Adam sat up and laid his hands on her shoulders, whispering in her ear with a comforting voice, “Becky, I’m so sorry. If you don’t want to continue, I’ll understand. It wasn’t my intention to upset you.”

“No, it’s not that.” She wiped the tears from her eyes. “I just haven’t ever really talked about it with anyone since the accident, and I guess I just didn’t realize what memories it would bring back. Please forgive me.”

“There’s nothing to forgive, but if you want to stop, I’ll understand,” Adam assured her in the same soft voice.

“No, I need to continue. It’s the only way I’m going to heal and be able to move forward with my life. I know Daryl would have wanted it that way.” She dried her eyes again and turned back to Adam. “As I was saying, I got the call about two in the afternoon that his plane had disappeared from radar, and they feared the worst. They were looking for the plane around the area where it disappeared. I clung to hope the rest of the day and night, wondering if I would ever see him again.”

“About midnight the police were knocking at my door to advise me they had found the wreckage and he was dead. My neighbor and best friend, Bianca, was there with me when I got the news. I fell into her arms screaming. The whole next week, I was dealing with getting his body back to Carson City, and making funeral arrangements. I was on auto pilot. My friends and family rallied around me, and kept commenting on how well I was holding up. They didn’t understand how I was able to do it all. Inside, my world was crashing down around me. It was just a matter of time before I lost total control. That came after everyone had left my home the day of the funeral. I cried so hard until I was worn out, I fell asleep on the floor of my living room. I didn’t wake up until 1:00 p.m. the next day. My whole life was a fog for the next two to three months. I threw myself into my work. I sought counseling to help with the enormous grief I was feeling and the blame that I placed on Daryl for leaving me alone. Through the counseling and sheer determination to pull it together, I have come back to the living, but I didn’t think I could ever care for a man like that again, until I met you.” Rebecca looked away bashfully when she realized she had said those last four words.

“I understand your pain, Becky. I’ve had my share of loss in my life. My mother passed away shortly after giving birth to me. All I have are my father’s memories. My two brothers, Eric and Joe, are the product of my father’s two other wives who he later married and lost to premature accidental deaths. I was very close to Eric’s mother, Inger, my father’s second wife. She nurtured me as a young boy. She accepted me as her own son, and it was very difficult for me when she passed away. Hoss, that’s what we nicknamed Eric, was just a baby himself when Inger was tragically killed. My father, like you, slipped into a deep depression and at times, was incapable of taking care of a young child and baby, so I took on the responsibility of taking care of both of them. My father later met and married his third wife, Marie. They had Joe, and although Marie and I didn’t get along in the beginning, we later developed a close relationship when she taught me how to play the guitar.

Then the tragic day came when she was riding into the yard, and her horse tripped and threw her. She landed on her head, breaking her neck. My father was waiting there, and witnessed the whole thing. To this day, he doesn’t know that I witnessed the accident from the front door. It changed my life forever. I never was afforded a childhood like my two younger brothers.

I feel as if I’m doing the same to my son now. I married Jessica straight out of college, and we were living happily in Carson City. She was a nurse at the hospital, and I was working for my father at Cartwright, Incorporated. Things were going well, so we decided to start a family, and she got pregnant right away. Jessica had a tough pregnancy during the first several months. She would have terrible morning sickness, but hers would hit at night. There were times I would be up with her all night, and then go to work the next day with maybe an hour of sleep. Nine months later, when Jason was born, all those sleepless nights seemed worth it because my son was perfect in every way. Jessica quit her job and became a full time mother. We were so in love and everything was ideal. When Jason was four months old, Jess found out she was pregnant again. Pretty soon the sickness started again, but about three months into the pregnancy, Jess slipped on one of Jason’s toys. She fell on her stomach, and hit her head. She called me at work and told me what had happened, but other than a knot on her head, she felt and seemed OK. She told me not to worry. A few days passed, and she called me again at work, screaming in a panic. She was having heavy spotting and a lot of cramping. I raced home and took her to the hospital. She had a miscarriage that night. We were devastated. She wouldn’t even talk about having another child for several years. We started growing apart from the profound sadness of losing the baby and my frustration of wanting another child.

I wasn’t trying to replace our lost child, but I wanted a larger family. I knew deep down Jess did too, but she kept saying that she didn’t want to replace the baby she lost. When our marriage was all but over, and we were just living in the same house, she came to me one night and seduced me. We made love and she got pregnant. Things were still on shaky ground, but through the next nine months we started to grow together again. By the time Emily was born, our love was stronger than ever. Then, my father had a heart attack about a month after Emily was born, and had to retire. I took on the role of CEO. I had to work late nights and weekends to try and learn the ropes. I left Jessica to all but raise the children alone. Here she was with an infant and a toddler, and I was at work most of the time. I offered to get a nanny to help her out, but she wouldn’t hear of it. She demanded that I come home at night, and be home on the weekends.

Our marriage started to suffer again, and when Emily was one, she told me that if I didn’t leave, she would, and that I would never see the kids again. I moved out and tried to get my life in order. My brothers helped take on responsibilities at the office so that I could try and mend my marriage. Everything was moving back to normal, and I thought I might be coming home when all hell broke loose at the office. I spent the next six months working late nights and weekends, again trying to fix some major acquisitions that were in jeopardy of being lost. That’s when I was served with divorce papers. Jessica said she had enough of me putting my job before her and the children. So here I am, two years later, trying to be the best father I can be, but it frustrates me to not be there full time for my children. Jessica blames the break up all on me, and in some ways she is right, but I can’t help but think our marriage never did quite recover from when we almost split the first time. This was just the match to the kindling. I plan to spend the rest of my life making my children the most important part of my life.”

After Adam finished his story, he couldn’t even look at Rebecca. He just kept staring out across the water. He would look at Emily and then over to Jason, and felt deep regret and remorse for the pain he caused his children each and every day. Rebecca could sense the distance Adam had placed between himself and her. She didn’t say anything to him. She sat and watched Emily play in the sand box. She suspected that even if their friendship was to continue to develop, it would never grow into love.

The rest of the day was a bit awkward for both Rebecca, and Adam. They were both feeling emotionally drained from re-living their past loves and losses. Although he had been a bit distant, he had started to come back around on the way home, and he was telling her about his job as CEO of Cartwright, Incorporated. She responded in kind, telling him about the trials, tribulations, and rewards of being a doctor.

“I had a really nice time today. I hope we can do it again sometime soon,” Rebecca, said timidly, as she stood beside her car at Adam’s house.

“I had a really nice time today as well. I would like to do it again also.”

“Thank you, Adam. I know today was difficult for you, too.”

Adam smiled at Rebecca for her understanding, and wrapped his arms around her waist. He gave her a gentle kiss on the lips and a tight loving hug. Rebecca melted in his arms, as she fought back the tears. She was trying hard not to fall in love, but was finding it difficult.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Hi Mommy. We had a good time with Daddy today. We went to the lake and had a picnic. I got to play in the sandbox. Daddy made me take a bath before we came home. He wanted me to be pretty for you.” Emily spilled her day’s activities out to Jessica, as soon as they got home; and she greeted her mother with a big hug and kiss.

“That’s great, Honey. I’m so glad that you had a great time. Why don’t you run on to your room and put your things away. I want to talk to Daddy for a few minutes.”

Adam cringed at those words. He felt Jessica would probably start in with the twenty questions again about Rebecca. He didn’t want to hear it, but he braced himself for what was to come.

“Adam, you are spending a lot of time with this doctor. Do you want to see how the kids will get along with her, in case you should want to make things more permanent?” Jessica asked smugly.

Adam bit back harshly, “Jessica, don’t even start with me today. I have had an exhausting weekend, and I’m in no mood to argue with you about this.”

“Adam, they are my kids too, and whether you like it or not, I am their main caregiver. I have to answer their questions about you, and that woman when you are not around.” Jessica’s voice became angry, “And as their mother, and you their father, I feel I have every right to know what your plans are with her.”

“Look, Jessica,” Adam stared her down, “When and if there is something to tell you, I will. Until that time, my relationship with Rebecca, or any woman for that matter, is my business, and has nothing to do with you. So stay out!”

Adam had his fill of Jessica, and started to call for the kids so that he could tell them good-bye, when Jessica started in again with her assault on Adam’s and Rebecca’s relationship.

“So tell me Adam, when you two play doctor, who’s on top?” Her voice grew with contempt, “You, or Becky, Rebecca, whatever her name is?”

Adam glared at Jessica, and his mouth opened as if he wanted to say something very harsh in return. His fist balled from extreme anger at such disrespect to him and Rebecca. Instead, he turned and walked out of the house without saying another word. He didn’t kiss or say goodbye to the children. He felt that if he stayed one minute longer, he would raise a hand to Jessica’s mouth. He had never hit Jessica, or any woman, for that matter, but the snide remark almost brought Adam to the breaking point. He had decided he would call his children later, and apologize for leaving so abruptly. He had to make them understand, without telling them the real reason why he had left.

Deep inside, Adam still loved Jessica very much, and the comment hurt him deeply. He got back into his vehicle and started to drive. Tears welled in his eyes. He didn’t want to be alone, and Jessica’s statement kept running through his mind. He had almost taken Rebecca, the night at his house, and she was willing it seemed. He had just as much right to feel loved and wanted by another woman as Jessica did by another man. Adam wanted to see Rebecca, and he needed to see her tonight.

“Hi Becky, I just dropped off the kids and I was thinking about us and wanted to see you. Mind if I stop by?” Adam said, hiding the hurt and guilt he was feeling, over the horrible fight he had just had with Jessica, and for storming away without saying goodbye to his children.

“Sure! I was just getting ready to pour myself a glass of orange juice, and settle in with a movie. I would love to see you, Adam,” Rebecca responded playfully.

“Great! I’ll stop and buy a bottle of wine, and be right over. See you in a bit.”

“OK, bye.” Rebecca could hear the urgency in Adam’s voice, and wondered if he was OK. She went back to the kitchen and pulled the orange juice from the refrigerator and started to shake the pitcher, when the top flew off, and orange juice flew all over her clothes.

Adam hung up the phone and thought about how attracted he was to Rebecca. Could there be something brewing between them? Maybe he just needed to let his guard down a bit, and let things happen naturally. She wasn’t a raving beauty like Jessica. In fact, she had mentioned she could stand to lose about twenty pounds, but she was smart, and could carry on an intelligent conversation about almost anything. She had a lovely smile, and loved to read. They seemed to click on all cylinders. He decided he would tell her tonight that he wanted to take their relationship to a new level, be exclusive to each other if she wanted. Even though he wasn’t seeing any other women, he wanted to make his intentions known that he wanted her to be his lady.

Adam knocked on the door and Becky answered in her silk, hunter green robe. “Adam! I wasn’t expecting you so soon. Please forgive the way I’m dressed,” she went on to explain the mishap with the orange juice. “I had just started to change when you knocked. Please come in and excuse me while I go finish.”

“Becky, wait,” Adam commanded urgently.

She turned around surprised. “Yes, Adam?”

“Please don’t change. You are beautiful just the way you are. So natural, so laid back, I like the way you are dressed.”

“Yes…But…”

Adam walked over to Rebecca and put his hand over her mouth as he took her into his arms. “Please, for me.”

“OK, if you insist,” Rebecca answered in a mesmerized tone.

“I do.” He stroked her cheek, staring into her eyes. “Where are the wine glasses?”

“In here, Mr. Cartwright, follow me.”

Rebecca broke from Adam’s gaze and embrace to show him into the kitchen. Adam uncorked the wine, as Rebecca got a couple of wine glasses from the cabinet. Her hair was a striking contrast to the dark green silk sheath covering her body.

Adam poured the wine, and took her hand into his as he led her back into the living area. Pulling her down next to him, he snuggled next to her on the sofa. His mood had changed from one of anger, to one of contentment.

“Adam, is everything OK? You seemed a bit urgent on the phone when you called earlier.”

Adam gulped down his wine, and poured another glass. His thoughts driving over were confirmed. He wanted to pursue this woman. But would she want him? Without responding to her question he reached over and gently kissed her lips. He took her glass from her hand and put both of the glasses on the lamp table. Taking her into his arms, they fell into a tight embrace. His tongue danced into her wanting mouth.

Rebecca, remembering how Adam had reacted to her nails tracing his spine, drew her fingers over his back again. Adam let out a deep moan as she had touched on his obvious G-spot again.

“Oh baby, you are so soft, so beautiful.” His hand began to explore every inch of her face and neck, like an artist to his sculpture. “I want to kiss you all over.”

“Adam, I want you so…” Her voice trembled with pure desire.

But Adam no longer saw Rebecca. His mind had transported him back to a more intimate time with Jessica. “Oh, Jessica, baby. I love you. I want you.”

Rebecca, frozen by the words that Adam had whispered in her ear, pulled from his embrace.

“Adam?” She looked at him with confusion, hurt and devastation, but he did not notice. He was still lost in his world with Jessica.

He was startled back to reality, as Rebecca, pushed away from him. Tears filled her eyes as she saw he had realized his mistake.

“Rebecca, I’m so sorry. Please forgive me.”

“Adam, I think you should leave now. It seems that you have some un-resolved feelings where your ex-wife is concerned.” She said, as she got up from the couch and headed towards the door and opened it.

“Rebecca, it was an accident. I’m truly sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I’ll call you later,” Adam said as he walked out the door.

“Please don’t, Adam. I have nothing to say to you right now. We need to give each other some space. Take a step back and analyze what we both want.”

Rebecca closed the door. She leaned back and cried a silent rage within herself. The pain so great, the wounds of her emptiness raw and exposed; he had humiliated her, and she didn’t feel she could ever forgive him.

Adam drove home in shock. What had he done? He had torn his friend’s soul out of her being. He had wanted Rebecca. He had wanted to make her his lady. Or was it really Jessica, he wanted and needed?

Adam looked in his rear view mirror, and saw the flashing lights of the police car. He realized he was speeding. Adam mumbled a few curse words under his breath, as he pulled off on the side of the road.

“Good evening, Sir. Is there a reason you are going fifty-five in a forty?” The officer asked, as he shined the light in Adam’s raging eyes.

“No, Sir. Just a long day and I’m tired. I need to get home,” Adam replied to the officer’s question.

“Drivers license, insurance, and registration please. Have you been drinking tonight, Sir?”

“Just one glass of wine,” Adam said, as he pulled his drivers license from his wallet, along with his insurance and registration cards from the glove compartment.

“One moment, Sir, I’ll be right back.”

The officer returned to his car to check Adam’s driver’s license for any outstanding warrants or tickets. Adam was furious. Jessica was to blame for all of this, he thought to himself.

“Please sign here, Mr. Cartwright,” the police officer pointed to the speeding ticket where Adam needed to sign, acknowledging his offense. “Please drive directly home, Sir, and be careful.”

Adam, drove home without incident the rest of the way, took a shower, and went directly to bed.

 

Chapter 6 by Adams_lover

Chapter Six

Adam looked forward to the coming weekend with his children. Since his break-up with Rebecca, he had nobody to come home to, and his house felt cold and lonely. He found himself spending a lot of late nights at the office. Staying at the office was a good excuse to shut out the emptiness he felt in his life.

It was 5:00 p.m. and he wrapped business up and headed towards Jessica’s house. He had spoken to the kids earlier in the week, and they were excited to see him and spend a weekend on the ranch. Emily was especially looking forward to going for another ride into the country. She loved horses and nature, just like her father. She had asked Adam if he would ask Ben to come for a ride with them as well. Her Poppy was very special to her and she wanted to spend some time with him.

“Adam, Emmy has been feeling under the weather for the past few days,” Jessica stated, “so if you are planning on doing things with Rebecca this weekend, I would hold off because she is running a fever. I would rather she stay inside and rest.”

“What’s wrong with her?” His face turned to one of concern for his daughter’s condition.

“I took her to the doctor today. Brandy, her little friend down the street, has come down with the chicken pox. They played together at her house a few weeks ago before her mother knew she had them.” Jessica rubbed her neck from the fatigue she had been feeling from a sleepless night being up with Emily. “I’m thinking that she’s probably coming down with it. She’s showing early signs, but no break out as of yet. The doctor said just to keep her quiet and give her some Tylenol to keep the fever down, and to keep her comfortable. I told her that maybe she should stay at home this weekend with me, but she insisted that she wanted to come to your house,” Jessica said with hurt in her voice.

“She wants to be with you, Adam. If she gets to feeling too bad, you can bring her home, and I’ll take care of her. “

“I’m capable of taking care of Emmy when she’s not feeling well. I don’t have any plans with Rebecca this weekend; we are no longer seeing each other, Jess.”

Adam sighed deeply. He ran his long fingers through his wavy black locks, remembering it was Jessica’s name that he had called out when they shared an intimate moment together that had caused Rebecca’s hurt and their break-up.

“Well, your relationship with her didn’t last long, did it?” Jessica crossed her arms, as she shifted her weight to one hip. “Probably for the best anyway; it was too confusing for the children.” Jessica’s voice filled with satisfaction at the pain his face conveyed. She continued, “You don’t have much time with your children, and you didn’t need to be neglecting them to spend time with some woman you met at the playground.”

“For once, why can’t you be civil to me, Jessica? We once loved each other; we have two beautiful children together.” He looked at her with hurt and anger in his eyes. “I still care about you, as a person, because of the children we share together. Jason and Emmy have always come first. Becky knows that. I’m hoping we can work things out over time.” Adam rolled his eyes as he said, “Besides, you have Clint in your life, so why are you so concerned with who I spend my nights with?” His exasperation at her barrage continued. “Where are my kids?” He looked toward the hallway leading to their rooms. “We need to get going.” He walked down the hallway toward Emily’s room.

“Daddy, you’re here.” Emily’s face lit up, but her was voice weak. “I don’t feel good,” she continued, as she saw her tall, strong hero walk into her bedroom. She turned on her pitiful face, which always melted her daddy, right when she wanted him to.

Adam sat down next to Emily. She was in her Care Bear pajamas, and her hair was wet with sweat. “Are you sure that you are up to spending the weekend at the Ponderosa?” he asked softly, as he stroked the sweat beads from her forehead. “I want you to come, and I’ll take care of you, but you know you’ll have to stay in bed all weekend, at least until this fever breaks,” he continued, as he combed her wet hair behind her ears with his fingers to keep it out of her face.

“Daddy,” Emily started to whimper, “I wanna go…Miss you.”

“Oh, Princess, come here,” he stretched out his arms to his daughter, taking her into a tight hug. “I want you to come home with me too, I miss you so much,” he whispered into her ear, his eyes shut tight, holding in the tears as he rubbed his face against her silky ringlets. “I just don’t want you to get any sicker than you already are. It hurts Daddy to see you not feeling good. I tell you what,” he moved back, and looked down at Emily with his large masculine hands covering her petite shoulders. “You can come to the Ponderosa with, Daddy and Jason, but you have to stay in bed, and only get up when you have to go to the bathroom, OK?”

Emily looked up at Adam, and nodded in agreement, as she knew the look he was giving her was his ‘I mean business’ look.

Jason walked in. Adam turned his head toward the door and smiled, “Hi, Jason, how’s my big boy?” Adam outstretched his arm and wrapped it around him as he approached Emily’s bed.

“Hi, Daddy,” Jason plopped down next to Adam on Emily’s bed, “Emmy has the chicken pox, but I’ll help take care of her this weekend if you want me to,” he said as he laid his head on his daddy’s chest with a disappointed look on his face.

“Jason, my son,” Adam gave a slight squeeze to his shoulder, “you and Poppy will still be able to go riding this weekend as planned, but I’m afraid I’ll have to stay behind with Emmy. She has to stay in bed until her fever breaks. OK, guys, let’s go.” Adam patted Jason on the hip. “Hop Sing told me earlier in the week that he would have something special for us all waiting in the oven when we got home, so we’d better get moving.” Adam got up and clapped his hands toward Emily to get up so he could pick her up. “Son, why don’t you get both Emmy’s and your suitcases; can you carry both of them?”

Jason yelled out, as he walked out of Emily’s room, “Mommy, where’s our suitcases?”

“Jason, quit that screaming,” Jessica said as she came to the door of Emily’s room.

Jessica saw that Emily was getting into Adam’s arms to be carried to the car.

“Adam, I think that Emmy needs to put some clothes on before she goes outside.” Jessica turned to grab some clothes from Emily’s closet.

Adam rolled his eyes and sighed. “Jessica, we’re going straight home, and she’ll be getting into bed as soon as we finish having dinner. Just get her robe and slippers out, and we’ll be on our way.”

“Alright, alright, Adam, here.” Jessica’s tone was strained as she slipped Emily’s slippers on her feet, and draped her robe over her shoulders. Emily slipped her arms through the sleeves as Adam balanced her in his arms.

“Adam, Jessica’s happy now,” Emily said with a sarcastic tone in her voice, her eyes wide open as she placed her hands on Adam’s cheeks. “Let’s go!”

Adam looked at Emily with a look of surprise and disappointment in his face.

“First of all, young lady, my name is Adam, and your mother’s name is Jessica, but to you, and Jason, I’m Daddy, and she’s Mommy. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Daddy, but…”

Adam pulled one of his hands from around Emily’s waist and put his finger in between their faces. “I’m not finished talking, young lady.” Adam stared straight into her big blue eyes, with a very serious look on his face. “You need to give Mommy a kiss and hug, tell her you’re sorry for your behavior, tell her you love her, and will see her Sunday night.”

Emily wiggled out of Adam’s grasp, and went over to kiss Jessica goodbye. As she hugged her, her voice wobbled, “Sorry, Mommy. I love you.” Adam stood watching Emily with his arms folded around his chest, and his eye brow raised up on one side.

Jessica hugged her daughter back, “I love you too, Sweetie; you have a nice visit with Daddy this weekend and you do what he tells you to do. Call me if you don’t feel good, and want to come home. I’ll arrange to come and get you.”

Jason yelled from the front door with the suitcases in hand. “Daddy, Emmy, let’s go!”

“Jason,” Jessica laughed with Adam, “What am I going to do with him and that yelling?” She turned and threw her hands in the air. “Jason, stop yelling,” she said in a loud authoritative voice as she walked down the hall and around the corner to the front door.

Adam picked Emily up again, and the threesome headed to the front and out the door. Jessica leaned her head on the edge of the door, as they packed up the car and drove away. Tears pooled in her eyes as she thought about how their lives used to be as a loving family. Why couldn’t Adam be the loving devoted father he is now? Jessica thought to herself as she shut the door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Wake up, Emily, we’re home.” Adam shook his daughter to wake her up and carry her into the house. Her fever had spiked and she was burning up. He hadn’t noticed how flushed her face was because the sun had gone down, and it was dark in the car.

“Daddy, I’m hot. I don’t feel good,” she started to cry. Adam had woken her from her sleep, and the aches associated with the chicken pox had surfaced and were making Emily very cranky.

“I’m taking you straight to bed, young lady. I will get you some Tylenol for the fever, aches, and pains.”

He carried her up the stairs into his bedroom, sat her on the edge of the bed as he pulled down the covers. He patted the bed, saying, “Come here, get in, and Daddy will cover you up.”

Emily got under the covers and closed her eyes. Her face was red and hot from the fever. Adam’s concern for her health grew, as she seemed to be feeling worse since they had left Jessica’s. He started to have regrets about taking her from her bed at her mother’s, just to spend the weekend with him. I should have insisted that you stay home in your own bed, he thought to himself.

“Daddy, I’m thirsty, orange juice, please?” Emily opened her eyes to see Adam sitting next to her on the bed with his hand rubbing her tummy, his face filled with concern for her health.

“Yes, Princess, you can have some orange juice, and I have some Tylenol I want you to take also. Are you hungry? Do you want Daddy to make you some chicken noodle soup?”

“Just thirsty, Daddy, Emmy sleepy.” She turned over on her side facing away from him. He got up and headed down stairs to get the juice and Tylenol from the cabinet.

“Jason,” Adam called out as he walked down the hall toward the stairs.

“Yeah, Daddy?” Jason’s muffled voice came from behind the shut door of his room. He opened the door, and found his son sitting in the corner of his room, playing with his action figures.

“Come on downstairs; it’s time for dinner. I want you to get washed up while I get your sister some orange juice and Tylenol.”

The two Cartwright men walked down the stairs, but Jason dragged sluggishly behind. He stopped off at the half bath to wash his hands while Adam proceeded into the kitchen to pour a small glass of juice for his daughter. When he returned to his room, Emily was sound asleep. He hated to wake her, but when he took her temperature, it was reading 101 degrees. He knew he needed to wake her so that she could drink some fluids and get the Tylenol in her system.

“Emmy, wake up, Princess,” he whispered in her ear, and shook her gently. She stirred, but didn’t wake up right away. He shook her a little harder. He sat on the bed, and lifted her up into his arms. She opened her eyes, and smiled as she felt safe within her daddy’s embrace.

“Drink this,” he said as he put the glass of cool juice to her lips. Emily sucked the juice through a straw.

“Ouch, hurts, Daddy,” Emily said as she made a nasty face of disapproval. “It hurts my throat.”

“OK, Princess. I’ll empty it out, and put some water in the glass so that you can take these pills.”

Adam went to the sink in his bathroom, and poured out the orange juice and replaced it with water. Emily took the Tylenol, laid back down and drifted off to sleep. Adam pulled the covers up to her face, and went back downstairs to make dinner for him and Jason.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next morning Ben called to speak with Adam about a time that would be good for him to come pick up Jason, and take him for a day of riding.

“Dad, Jason is really looking forward to spending the day with you. I’m sorry that Emmy and I won’t be able to join you two, but she is still running a slight fever. She had a restless night.” Adam leaned back in his office chair, his body racked with exhaustion. The night had been a sleepless one. “She was awake most of the night, from being hot and not feeling well.”

“Son, I’m so sorry to hear that, I know she was looking forward to riding Buck today, but I’ll make it up to her in a few weeks. So, will Jason be ready to go in about a half hour or so?”

“Yeah, Dad, he’s ready now, so I know he’ll be glad to hear that you’ll be on your way shortly. We’ll see you when you get here.”

Adam went back to working on the reports he had brought home from work on Friday. The quarterly officer/director meeting was in a few weeks, and he had a lot of work to do to prepare for the meeting, so staying home with Emily sick in bed was somewhat of a blessing, although he would have rather she been well so that she could enjoy the day with her Poppy. Adam heard the two kids arguing in his room, although their voices were not loud enough to hear clearly what was being said. He got up to check out what the confrontation was all about.

“Poppy is going to come pick me up. We’re going riding, and we’re going to have a lot of fun,” Jason teased Emily. “You have to stay in bed because you’re sick.”

“I wanna go too!” Emily started to cry as Adam walked into the room.

“What’s going on in here?” he asked as he walked over and sat on the edge of the bed. “I could hear the commotion all the way down the hall.”

“I wanna go ridin’ with Jason and Poppy!” Emily began to cry. “Emmy wanna have fun, too.”

“I’m sorry, Princess, but you’re sick, and you‘re going to have to stay in bed. I can’t risk you getting sicker than you already are.”

The door bell rang as he tried to make her understand the importance of her staying in bed. “Jason, that’s probably Poppy. Emmy, I’ll be right back.” Her sobbing grew louder as Jason and Adam exited the room. Jason turned around, just as he was walking out, and stuck his tongue out at Emily. She screamed, “Daddy!” but he responded, “I’ll be right back, Emily Elizabeth.”

He spoke to his father for a few minutes, and then saw Jason and Ben out the door. When he came back upstairs to check on Emily, he found she had fallen back to sleep. Adam sat down beside her and brushed his fingers through her sandy blonde hair. She stirred a bit, but didn’t wake.

“I love you more than life itself, Princess,” he said as he looked adoringly down on his sleeping baby girl. He got up, and went back to work for the rest of the afternoon in his study, as Emily continued to sleep.

“DADDY!” A bloodcurdling scream came from down the hall. Adam leaped from his desk, and ran to his daughter’s side. The sheets where she had been laying were soaked and she was wrapped up in the covers shivering. “I’m cold, Daddy,” she cried. Sweat was pouring from her face, and her pajamas were soaked.

“Emily, the fever’s breaking, Princess. This is a good thing.” He took her into his arms and held her. He could hear her teeth chatter as she snuggled as close to his warm body as she could.

“Daddy, cover me more, I’m cold.”

“Sweetheart, I’m going to run you a warm bath. That should help.”

He wrapped her up in the blankets, and went into the bathroom to run warm water in his Jacuzzi garden tub. He reached into the linen closet to pull new sheets from the closet as his bed was soaked from the feverish sweat that had poured from her body.

He came back into the room, and helped her out of her pajamas, carried her into the bathroom, and set her into the warm bath water. “How’s that, sweetheart? Is it too warm?”

“No, Daddy.” She continued to shiver a bit, but then finally the warmth of the bath soothed her.

He changed the sheets on his bed, as she finished her bath. He helped her out of the bathtub, and started to dry her off when he noticed that the pox were starting to show up. She had a few on her tummy, one on her back and her tush. “Oh, Em, the chicken pox have started to come out now.” He continued to inspect her entire body for any other blisters. Emily puffed out her tummy to look at the three that were in the style of a triangle. She turned her head twisting her body to see the ones that her daddy had pointed out on her back and tushie. “It’s important that you don’t scratch these when they start to itch. They’ll leave scars if you break the blisters before they have a chance to heal. I’m going to call Mommy to see if the doctor prescribed anything for the itching. Go get some fresh pajamas out of your suitcase.”

Emily went into his bedroom, and got some clean pajamas. She brought them to Adam by the bed, as he was calling Jessica. “Jess, Emmy’s fever has finally broken, but the chicken pox have started to pop up. She has several on her stomach, and on her back.” Adam juggled the phone, as he assisted Emily with getting her clean pajamas and panties on. “Did the doctor give you any medication for her? You know that she’ll start itching and be miserable before long.”

“Yes, he did,” Jessica replied. “I put it in her suitcase just in case she did break out while she was at your house. I’m sorry; I thought I told you it was in there. The dosage is on the bottle. How is she feeling?”

“Get back in bed, Sweetie,” he said to his baby girl.

She climbed back into bed behind where he was sitting on the edge. He returned to his conversation with Jessica on the phone.

“She’s feeling better now that the fever has broken. She soaked the sheets, and I gave her a bath. When I was drying her off, I noticed the blisters.”

“May I speak to her, please? I just want to tell her I love her, and to do everything you tell her to do,” Jessica said.

“Sure, hang on.” He handed the phone to Emily. “Emmy, Mommy wants to talk to you.”

She sat up on the bed, and took the phone into her hand and placed it to her ear.

“Hi, Mommy, I didn’t feel good, and I slept with Daddy. He hugged me when I didn’t feel good. I love Daddy so much.”

“I know you do, Sweetie. Daddy said you feel a little better now?”

“Yes, Mommy; I wanna go ride with Poppy and Jason. Can I?”

“No, Sweetie, you can’t.”

Jessica’s heart was breaking. She knew that Emily would not understand, but tried to explain anyway.

“You’re still sick, even though you feel better, so you need to do everything that Daddy tells you to do because he loves you and wants to make sure you get better, OK?”

“OK, Mommy,” Emily sounded disappointed. “Here’s Daddy.”

“I love you, Emmy.”

“I love you too, Mommy.”

Emily returned the phone to Adam.

“Hey.” He said as he put the phone back to his ear.

“Just make sure that you give her that medication the way it’s prescribed. Do you have any Calamine lotion? You might need to put some on the spots to control the itching if the medicine doesn’t take care of it completely.”

“No, I don’t think so, but I’ll call down to the main house, and get Hop Sing or one of my brother’s to go pick some up at the drug store for me.”

“OK, I told her to mind you, and do everything you tell her to do…Adam? Thanks for calling me and letting me know she started to break out. I’m here if there is anything you need me to do.”

“Thanks, Jessica, I’ll talk to you later.”

He hung up the phone, and turned back to Emily, “OK, Baby Girl, you need to stay under the covers. Mommy sent some medicine for you, and I’m going to go get a spoon for you to take it with; are you hungry or thirsty?”

“Can I have a coke?” She looked up at him with her big blue eyes tugging at his heart strings. “No, you may not have a coke.” He bent down and dropped a kiss on her forehead. “I tell you what; I have to call Hop Sing, Uncle Hoss, or Uncle Joe to go get something from the store for me, so I’ll have them pick up some Sprite for you, OK? For now, how about if I get you some apple juice?”

“Yes please.” She curled back up underneath the covers. “Can I watch a movie, Daddy?” she asked with only her head and the tops of her fingers peaking out from under the covers, her little head buried in the big oversized pillow.

Adam looked down at his little girl, with a dimpled smile. “Yes you may. How about Alice in Wonderland?”

“YAY!” She said, clapping her hands.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ben and Jason rode out toward the lake, “Son, how is school these days? How are your grades?” Ben turned to Jason as they dismounted Buck and Jake to have a leisurely lunch underneath the tree near the shore.

“I’m doing really good, Poppy. We have just a few more weeks left, and we’ll be out for the summer. I’ve made hundreds on all my spelling and math tests,” his grandson boasted.

“That’s wonderful, Son, I’m very proud of you. Your father always excelled in school. You remind me so much of him when he was your age.” Ben looked up into the clear blue spring afternoon.

“Poppy, I wished that Mommy and Daddy would live together again. I miss my Daddy when I don’t get to see him. Why does he hate Mommy?” Jason asked, innocently.

“Son, your daddy doesn’t hate your mommy, and Mommy doesn’t hate Daddy.” Ben moved next to his grandson, and put his arm around him. “They just simply had some problems they couldn’t work out, and living apart, they felt, would be the best for you, Emmy, and the two of them.” He looked down at Jason with loving eyes. “It doesn’t mean they love you any less, or that I love you less, but sometimes, that’s how it has to be. When Daddy moved back to the Ponderosa, he made sure that he would get to spend as much time with you and Emmy as possible. He wants you to know your home is here with us as well as in Carson City.”

“He told me, Poppy, when he is not home, that I’m the man of the house.” Jason put his head down. “I don’t want to always be the man of the house.”

“Son, when your father was growing up, he helped me take care of Uncle Hoss, and Uncle Joe. You had three grandmothers who all died when your father was very young. His mother died shortly after he was born, and the only two mothers he ever knew died within just a few years of his getting to know and love them.” Ben reminisced about his three beautiful wives. “I trusted him to look after your uncles when I couldn’t be around, and I know he trusts you to look after your sister when he can’t be around.”

Ben hugged his grandson tightly. “He will always be there for you, and he is only a phone call away. I am too, for that matter.”

“Thank you, Poppy. Can I come stay the weekend with you sometime? Just us guys? I don’t want Emily around if that’s OK.”

“Of course, Son. We can do that some weekend, as long as it’s OK with your daddy and mommy.”

“Gee, you really mean it, Poppy?”

“Sure I do, Son. Now, it looks like there are a couple of horses over there that want to be ridden. How about we ride down to the lake?”

“Race ya, Poppy!” Jason leaped up and ran to Jake, mounted, and waited for Ben to catch up.

“Son, Poppy can’t run that fast anymore,” Ben said laughing as he trotted up to mount Buck. “But I can race you; how about you get a head start, and Buck and I will see if we can catch up.”

Jason took off, and Ben bent over, and laid his arm across Buck’s strong neck. He smiled at the enthusiasm his grandson had. I’m a lucky man, yes indeed. Ben said to himself as he clicked Buck, and they set out to catch up with Jason and Jake.

Ben offered to take both horses back to the barn so Jason went into Ben’s house to wait while he put the horses back into their stalls, fed, watered, and brushed them down for the night. When he returned to the house, Jason was sound asleep on the settee. Ben looked adoringly at his grandson. He remembered back to the many times he would find Adam lying on that same settee asleep with a book across his chest. Hoss came down the stairs and saw Ben staring at his grandson. “Hoss, can you pick Jason up, and place him in the truck? I need to get him on back down to Adam’s.”

“Sure thing, Dad,” Hoss said as he headed over to his sleeping nephew. He picked him up, and gently laid him in Ben’s Cadillac Escalade. Ben drove him down to Adam’s home.

The sun had started to set as they drove up to Adam’s house. Jason woke up as they pulled up into the driveway. “Here we are, Son, back at your daddy’s,” Ben said as he unbuckled Jason’s seat belt

Still sleepy, and rubbing his eyes, Jason replied, “Poppy, you going to ask Daddy if I can come stay the weekend with you sometime?”

“Of course I will, Son, but not tonight,” Ben chuckled. “It’s something that I’ll discuss with him in the next few days. Right now, you need to get on in the house and spend some time with your daddy.”

Jason leaned over and hugged Ben. “Thanks for a swell day, Poppy. I had a great time, just us guys.”

Ben walked Jason to the door, and Adam greeted them, “You have a good time, Son?”

“Yeah, I sure did, Daddy. Poppy’s the greatest,” Jason bragged as he talked about their day.

“Well, it sounds like you’ve had a busy day. Why don’t you give Poppy a hug and head on upstairs to take a bath. I’ll be there in just a minute.”

Jason tackled Ben with a hug, and ran up the stairs to his bedroom to prepare for his bath. Adam walked Ben to the door. “You have a fine son there, Adam. You and Jessica have raised him well.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Adam said proudly.

Ben left, and Adam went upstairs to find Jason sitting in the tub with his action figures, filling the tub with water. “Be sure you scrub nice and clean tonight. Are you hungry?”

“Yes, Daddy, is there any chicken left that Hop Sing made?”

“Yeah, I think that I could rustle up a piece or two for you. Finish your bath, put your pajamas on, and come on downstairs to eat. I should have it ready by then.”

Jason could barely keep his eyes open as he picked at the chicken leg, applesauce, and mixed vegetables that Adam warmed up for his supper.

“Jason, the quicker you eat, the quicker you can go to bed,” Adam said as he looked up from the book he was reading at the table.

Emily had been asleep for hours. The medicine her pediatrician had prescribed caused drowsiness, and it didn’t fail her. She had only woken one time since the first dose Adam had given her in the early afternoon. Once Jason was finished, Adam had planned to rinse the dishes and turn in early himself. His lack of sleep from the night before was catching up with him. He was ready for bed, too.

After the fourth time Jason had fallen asleep at the dinner table with a plate full of food, Adam ordered him to bed. There was no sense in trying to make him eat when he was more interested in sleeping. He would just fix him a bigger breakfast in the morning before church if he was hungrier than normal.

Adam headed to bed himself. He changed into some pajama pants, and then he woke Emily up before he turned in to give her another dose of medicine to ensure her comfort and un-interrupted sleep throughout the night.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jessica had called early on Sunday morning to alert Adam that she would not be home to accept the children because she was being called into work early. Betty, her babysitter, would be there to greet them when they came home. Adam was a bit grateful that he wouldn’t have to face Jessica and the anger she normally directed at him when he picked the children up or dropped them back off.

After dropping the children off at Jessica’s house Sunday evening, he decided to stop by the office for a few hours and get caught up on some work he had left on Friday afternoon when he left to pick up the children for the weekend.

About midnight, Adam began to feel sleepy. He shut off the lights to his office, and got into his car and headed home. Driving down a two lane highway, Adam saw the swerve of headlights come toward him in his lane. A drunk driver had veered into oncoming traffic and was headed straight toward Adam’s SUV. “What the…,” Adam yelled as he swerved to avoid hitting the oncoming vehicle, but the drunk driver swerved at the same time, hitting Adam head on.

The car behind Adam swerved to avoid the colliding cars. The driver then pulled over and called 9-1-1 emergency, requesting assistance.

Police and emergency personnel arrived on the scene shortly after being dispatched. The firefighters surveyed the horrific twisted metal that was once Adam’s SUV and the small economy car of the drunk driver. Adam’s lifeless body lay crumpled in his seatbelt. His airbags had deployed and his driver’s side window was shattered where his head had hit upon impact. Blood oozed from his mouth and nose. Cuts and bruises covered his exposed body. Firefighters were called in with the Jaws of Life to begin the delicate task of un-mangling Adam’s severely crushed driver’s side so he could be removed from the wreckage.

Adam felt his spirit leave his body. He watched from above as the firefighters worked frantically to free him from the bonds of his car. The noise of the urgent workers and heavy machines sounded distant and remote. Adam felt at peace. A cool, light breeze blew across his face. Was he dead? Was he in the midst of crossing over to the other side? The firefighters cut away at the mangled metal inch by inch. Finally, the paramedics were able to safely pull Adam’s bloodied body from the driver’s seat.

The yelling of orders from one paramedic to the other was far away. Adam wanted the urgency to stop. His life flashed before his eyes. The birth of his children had come into view and he felt profound sadness. He was leaving his children fatherless. His heart was torn into pieces at the thought of his children growing up without him. He thought about how he would not be there for them when they went out on their first date, drove their first cars, fell in love for the first time, graduated from high school, then college. He would not be there to hold his grandchildren. A part of him wanted to come back, but at the same time he felt so at peace, and he didn’t want to give that up.

Just then, Adam heard angelic voices that seemed strangely familiar. When he turned around, he saw the images of three women. Two were familiar to him, but the other was in the shadow.
.

“Adam, my son,” spoke the soft beautiful voice from the shadow. “You must not leave your children as I left you. They love you; they need you.”

“Mother?” Adam asked as the light shone bright on his face. The warmth was so inviting. He walked closer to see if the images were indeed the mothers he had lost so many years before.

Then, another voice was heard, one that was loving and familiar. “Adam, I loved you and nurtured you as a small boy. The grief you leave your children and your father, it will be unbearable to them. Adam, remember the grief you felt when I left you; it will be the same for your children. Adam, it is not your time, you must turn back.”
He tried to reason with the image of Inger. “I want to be here, with you. Here, I feel safe and free. I feel a peace I’ve never known before.”
“Adam, I understand,” Inger replied, “Think of how your death will traumatize your children. Their lives have already been torn apart by the divorce. They will not understand your death. Jason experienced death when Jessica’s father passed away, but he was too young to really understand; and then there is little Emily. She has never experienced death. You’re her father, her hero. If you die and leave her without a father to hug and kiss, she will feel pain as great as you felt when I had to leave you.”
“The thought of her crying each night, missing me, breaks my heart!” he said. “Yet how can I give up the peace, joy and love I feel radiating from you?”
Then the third voice, the soft, beautiful voice of Marie, spoke…
“Adam, remember the pain you felt when you saw me fall from my horse. The image lives with you daily. Imagine the pain your children will feel at the loss of their father. Ben, Joe, and Hoss will be devastated. Why would you want to inflict such pain on those whom you love the most, and the ones who love you? It is not your time, my son. Please understand. You must return to your life. Fight to survive. If not for yourself, then for those that love you, that need you.”

“He’s flat lined; begin CPR!” yelled a paramedic as he began mouth to mouth and monitored for a pulse. Another paramedic on the scene traded off CPR compressions and mouth to mouth with the other paramedic.

“NO!” Adam shouted, as he looked down and saw the paramedics working on him. He wanted the loud shouting and life saving measures to end. He craved the peace and serenity he had found, but his peace was soon shattered as his mind went black. The image of his birth mother and the images of the two mothers he had known as a child were gone, the peace faded.

“Stop CPR, I have a pulse!”, the paramedic yelled as he placed his stethoscope on Adam’s chest, to check for a heartbeat and breathing.

“We need to get him to trauma now!” the other paramedic responded.

Due to Adam’s grave injuries, the paramedics stabilized him as best they could, and drove hell bent for leather toward the hospital. Adam needed expert medical care from trained trauma specialists. As the ambulance sped down the highway toward Carson-Tahoe Hospital, the paramedics called ahead to alert of the incoming trauma.

“We have a Caucasian male, approximately thirty-five years old. Head on MVA, with multiple broken bones, contusions and possible skull fracture, ETA ten minutes,” the paramedics announced over the radio.

As the ambulance approached the emergency room entrance, a specialized team assembled to meet them. Adam went into cardiac arrest again as they started to transport him out of the emergency vehicle into the trauma unit. The team sprang into action. The doctors and nurses administered CPR and were able to gain a sporadic heartbeat again. As Adam’s bloodied, torn clothes were cut from his mangled body, the nurse in charge of contacting his next of kin, pulled his wallet from the pocket of his jeans. Adam Cartwright read the driver’s license. The nurse recognized the name as the ex-husband of Jessica Cartwright, a nurse she had worked with in the ER. She knew that Jessica worked the Surgical Intensive Care Unit, and called upstairs to see if she happened to be on duty that night.

“This is Francine in the ER. Can you tell me if Jessica Cartwright is on duty tonight?”

“Yes, just a moment. She’s tending to a by-pass patient; hang on and I’ll get her for you.”

“Jessica Cartwright. May I help you?”

Francine’s voice rang with an alarming tone when Jessica came on the line.

“Jessica, this is Francine in the ER. Isn’t Adam Cartwright related to you?”

“Yes, he’s my ex-husband. Why? Has something happened to him?” Jessica became alarmed.

“Jessica, he’s been in a head-on MVA. He’s in grave condition. He’s here in the trauma unit. I don’t know that he’ll make it. You need to get down here as quickly as you can.”

“I’m on my way.”

Jessica hung up the phone, stunned by the unforeseen and horrifying news that was just delivered to her. The head nurse working the nurse’s station in the center of the ICU saw Jessica’s strained look and came over to hear the grim news.

“I have to go,” she said as hurried toward the doors leading to the corridor.

When Jessica arrived into the emergency unit, Francine met her outside of the trauma room. The doctors were still frantically working to stabilize Adam’s body before taking him to surgery. Francine filled Jessica in on all the details as she knew them.

“Your ex has multiple contusions to ninety percent of his body. When the airbag deployed, he suffered some minor burns to his arms and neck. He hit his head on the driver’s side window, which has caused a severe concussion and possible brain injury. He has a compound fracture to his left leg. Once the doctors get him stabilized, they’ll send him for a Cat Scan to get the full extent of his injuries, and take him to surgery to repair his leg. He arrested once at the scene, once in transit and once here in the trauma unit. Jessica, they don’t know if he’ll live through the night. Do you know who we need to call?”

Jessica stood silent, watching the doctor’s work on Adam’s seemingly lifeless body lying on the table with tubes and wires coming from every inch of him. “Ben Cartwright. Ben’s his father. I’ll call him, Francine. It should come from me.”

Jessica was weak from the devastating news that had been delivered to her. Francine accompanied her into the nurses’ lounge where she could sit and contact Ben to alert him of the grave condition his eldest son was in.

“Dad, this is Jessica,” she spoke into the receiver, trying desperately to remain calm for her ex-father-in-law’s sake. “Oh God, Dad, I don’t know how to tell you this, but Adam was hit head on by a drunk driver tonight. He’s here at the hospital and they don’t know if he’ll survive. You need to get here as soon as possible.”

“Oh dear God!” Ben’s voice registered in shock and devastation. “What? Jessica, what happened? The children, are they OK?”

“The children are at home safe. He must’ve been on his way home from the office or somewhere else when the accident happened. Dad, please come quickly. He’s in critical condition!”

“I’m on my way, Jessica. Try and stay strong, Sweetheart. Adam is a strong man. He’ll fight with everything he has; you know that.” Ben tried to remain calm and supportive.

Jessica hung up the phone, and headed to the chapel to pray. She stopped at the nurse’s station to alert them of her whereabouts in case there should be any change in Adam’s condition. When Ben arrived, they would know where he could find her. Jessica sat in the first row of the empty chapel and stared at the beautiful stained glass picture of Mary holding Jesus, as he lay in her arms after the crucifixion. She began to pray. “Dear Lord, please don’t take Adam from our children. They’ve been through so much with our divorce. You know how much my heart still loves him. I’m so sorry for all the pain and hurt I’ve caused him, my dear Lord. Please don’t take him from me, Jason, and Emily. We need him so much. Please put your loving arms around him, give him the will and strength to live. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Ben arrived at the hospital and was directed to the chapel where Jessica sat with her eyes closed, trying to recapture the more happy times in her’s and Adam’s life together; the first day they met at college, their first date, their wedding day, the birth of their two children. Adam really has always been a wonderful provider. He was a good husband and is an excellent father, she thought to herself. “I do still love him. GOD PLEASE don’t take him from me,” Jessica pleaded aloud, not knowing that Ben had come in and sat beside her.

Ben placed his hands over Jessica’s praying ones. “Jess, I’m here. We’ll make it through this together as a family.” Ben tried to comfort her.

She opened her eyes, and saw the gentle face of a man that was riddled with sadness and grief. “Dad, I don’t know what I’ll do if Adam doesn’t make it. How will I tell the children?” She broke down in Ben’s embrace.

“Adam is strong; we have to believe that God will see him through, and that he’ll have the will to live for Jason and Emily.”

“Mr. Cartwright, Jessica, I have some news regarding Adam,” Francine interrupted. “The doctors have stabilized him so they can perform a Cat Scan and get him to surgery. He’ll be in there for several hours, assuming he can withstand it all. It’s going to be a long night. If we need you, will you be in here?”

“Yes, if we should move, we’ll let you know,” Ben replied, as Jessica remained weeping in Ben’s arms.

The hours slowly passed. Ben and Jessica sat in silence praying to their God to send strength and love to their family and Adam during this crisis. Jessica had left for a short time to call her babysitter and alert her of the accident, and that she would not be home in the morning at her scheduled time. She made arrangements for the children to be picked up by Joe or Hoss. She asked that nothing be said to the children, that she would somehow try to explain it all to them when she was able to see them at the Ponderosa.

“He came through surgery, but not without some complications,” the surgeon announced as he sat next to Ben and Jessica. Both of their faces were haggard from lack of sleep and worry. “He arrested on the table twice, but we were able to bring him back quickly both times. He lost a considerable amount of blood which is why we had a hard time stabilizing him. He’s tough, with an iron will to live. I didn’t expect to be sitting here telling you he’s in ICU recovering, but he’s far from out of the woods. The next twenty-four to forty-eight hours will be critical to his survival. I suggest you continue to pray.”

“Thank you, Doctor, when can we see him?” Ben asked.

“I don’t want him to have any more stress than he has already had. I would prefer no visitors at this time. If he continues to show signs of improvement tomorrow, you can see him one at a time for just a few minutes only every four hours.” He has a long road ahead of him, if he survives. He has sustained a severe concussion, a ruptured spleen, and broken leg. He is still in a coma. He needs time to heal.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Days passed as Adam lie in a coma. Jessica took time away from work, to spend with Adam in the hospital. Jessica and Ben broke the news to the children about the horrible accident the best way they could. Jason didn’t show much emotion. He held his grief and sadness inside. Emily cried each night, afraid that if she fell asleep, her daddy would be taken to Heaven. Ben took the children in, as Jessica remained at Adam’s side almost day in and day out. She only left long enough to eat and go home for a shower and change clothes.

Rebecca had tried to come by when she heard of Adam’s admittance into the ICU, but Jessica refused to let her see him, and asked her to go away whenever she would stop by. Rebecca would come by and check on him when she knew that Jessica was not there. She wanted to keep updated on his progress in hopes he would regain consciousness. If Adam were to live, she wanted to try and work out the misunderstanding between them. She knew, however, that Jessica would stand in the way. She was always at Adam’s side, and Rebecca felt Jessica would put a road block in the way of Adam and her reuniting.

Early in the morning on the fourth day into Adam’s recovery, Jessica was curled up on the chair next to his bed as she had been the previous nights. She never let his hand go hoping he would feel her touch and not be tempted to cross over to the other side. The movement of Adam’s hand in hers woke her from a restless sleep.

“Adam, can you hear me?” Jessica stood over his semiconscious form. “I’m here, Adam, can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you understand what I’m saying to you.”

Adam gently moved his hand to try and squeeze Jessica’s. His eyes flickered as he tried to open them and focus in on Jessica’s exhausted face. She gently bent over to kiss his cheek. “I love you, Adam. Thank you for coming back to us.”

The whispers rang loudly through Adam’s head. Each word bounced off the other, and he found it hard to understand what she was saying. His hazel eyes now opened, he fixed them on Jessica’s face, still unable to speak. His stare was blank as if he didn’t recognize the woman who was the mother of his children.

The ICU nurse came in when Jessica rang the call button to alert them of his consciousness. The nurse checked over the monitors that recorded his vitals, which all were now reading stable and normal. “Hello, Mr. Cartwright, welcome back,” the smiling nurse said, as she looked at him to check his pupil reactions to light. He turned his head, the words of the voices still ringing loud and strong in his head.

“Adam, try and get some rest now. You’ve been through so much, and you need to regain your strength,” Jessica gently ordered, as he turned back to her voice.

He closed his eyes, and drifted back to sleep. A few hours later, he woke again, and saw Jessica sleeping in the chair. Her hand lay next to his, but she had loosened her grip when she had drifted off into a deep sleep. He was not able to speak loudly enough to waken her, but was able to grasp her hand and gently squeeze it, to arouse her from her slumber. She snapped awake and came to his side.

“What do you need, Sweetheart?” she asked as he tried to speak a little more loudly and clearly.

“Water. I’m thirsty.” His voice was weak and soft from the time spent in a coma.

She poured a glass of water for him, and placed a straw into the cup, gently placing the straw between his lips. He took several small sips, and turned away when he was finished. She returned the glass to the tray that was at the end of the bed and came back to him, brushing his hair off his forehead with her fingers. He continued to stare at Jessica, her face filled with warmth and love—a look Adam hadn’t seen since their divorce.

“Where am I? What happened to me?” His voice was barely a whisper after several days spent in a coma.

She began to explain the ordeal to him, with tears in her eyes. “You were hit head on by a drunk driver about four days ago. You have been in a coma ever since. There were times we didn’t know if you would make it, Adam. We were all very scared.”

He turned his head and tears ran down his cheeks. He turned back toward her, and whispered again, “Jason and Emily?”

“Adam, you’d be very proud of your kids. They’ve held up remarkably well. They’re staying with Ben so that I can be here with you. They made you get well cards, and they’re over on the counter. When you’re strong enough, I’ll let you read them. They miss you and want you home soon. I’ll call them and give them the good news that you’ve woken up from your sleep. I didn’t know how to explain a coma to them; they just know that God put you to sleep so that your body could heal without you moving around too much. They’ll be so happy to hear you’re awake.”

Adam grabbed Jessica’s wrist; he had a look of urgency on his face,
“I want to talk to them, see them.”

“Adam, they are not allowed in the ICU; they aren’t old enough. I’ll have Ben take a picture of them, to bring up here so that you can keep it next to your bed. When you are well enough, and in a regular room, they will be able to talk to you on the phone, but right now, you need your rest.”

Adam turned his head again, and closed his eyes in anguish. He needed the touch and love of his children. He wanted to just hold them in his arms, to feel the safety of their innocent love.

Jessica reached down and kissed Adam on the cheek. He turned his head and looked at her with a confused look on his face, but unable to form the words to ask why she was bestowing all this loving attention on him. His thoughts turned to Rebecca. Had she known he was in this horrific accident? Had she come by to check on his progress? He wanted to know, but Jessica interrupted his thoughts.

“I’m going to go call your father and the children to let them know the good news that you have come back to us. Adam, please do not move too much. You have a long road of recovery ahead of you still. I’ll be right back.”

She walked out of Adam’s room and down to the nurses’ station that was situated in the middle of the individual intensive care units. Rebecca came around the corner as Jessica approached the phone to call Ben.

“Jessica, how is Adam doing today?” Rebecca asked, wanting to check on his progress.

“He’s doing better. He’s conscious again, and asking for his children.” Jessica’s tone was irritated.

Rebecca’s face lit up with a huge smile, and a sigh of relief escaped her mouth, as she said, “Oh dear Jesus, what good news this is! I would like to see him.”

“I would prefer that you not, Dr. Roberts. Adam has been through a lot. He needs his family now, and that does not include you.

Rebecca kept her emotions in check to Jessica’s harsh words and said, “I’m happy he’s doing better and is out of danger. Thank you for telling me.”

Rebecca walked away and out of the ICU. When the doors closed behind her, she stopped and steadied herself on the wall, and broke down in tears. After a few moments of uncontrollable tears, she gathered her emotions, dried her eyes, and headed back toward her office to work on files that needed her attention. Adam was never far from her mind, but she decided it was time to move on without Adam being a part of her life.

One of the doctors in Rebecca’s practice had wanted to set her up with a physician in another practice. She had been putting him off for several days, hoping that Adam would recover, so she could see where their relationship stood. Now it seemed that it was time to think about taking her colleague’s advice and meet his friend. She called him and said she was free to meet the other doctor on a blind date.

“Dad, this is Jessica. Good news! Adam is out of the coma, and he’s asking for you and the children. He’s weak, and can only whisper, but he’s awake!” Jessica’s eyes filled with tears of joy, as she told Ben the wonderful news.

“Jessica, this is very good news indeed. I’ll tell the children immediately. Hop Sing can watch them, and I’ll be up to see him at the next visiting hour.”

“I know he’ll be happy to see you, Dad. He’s very weak still, so it’ll be best to limit the visit to just you for right now. I know Joe and Hoss will want to come, but it’s best if it’s just you for right now. I hope they’ll understand.”

“Jessica, I’ll let them know, and I’m sure that they’ll understand. Maybe they can alternate visiting times, so that Adam will not be overly tired by to many visitors at once.”

“I think that would be best Dad, and thank you for understanding.”

Jessica hung up the phone, and headed back toward Adam’s room. When she returned, Adam had his head turned looking at the monitors that were hooked up to his body.

Adam turned his head back toward the entrance to his room when he heard Jessica re-enter. “Adam, I just got off the phone with your father, and he was very pleased to hear you’re awake now. He’s going to let the kids know, and he said he’ll be up to see you at the next visiting hour.”

Adam’s voice was starting to regain strength as he again spoke to Jessica. “Rebecca. Could you call her for me? I would like to see her.”

Jessica sat in her chair, and with a very unemotional tone, replied, “Adam, when you were in the accident, I notified her of your condition, and she didn’t seem interested that you had been hurt. She doesn’t want to have anything to do with you.”

He turned his face to cover the anguish that was showing through at the revelation of Rebecca’s rejection. He had wanted to see Rebecca, apologize, and ask for her forgiveness in hopes that when he was well enough to be released, they would be able to start afresh. Jessica sat in her chair, and saw the devastation unfold through Adam’s body language. She knew her lies were hurting him, but she would risk the temporary anguish that she meted out on him in order to put her family back together again. She would stop at nothing to make it a reality for her children, if nothing else.

When Ben arrived later that afternoon, he was beaming at his son’s progress. He walked over to his bed and grabbed his hand. Adam turned and managed a weak smile for his father. “It’s good to see you again, Dad. How, are Jason and Emily?”

“The kids are fine Adam, just fine. They jumped for joy when I told them that you were awake asking for them. I’ve brought a picture of them so that you can keep it by your bed. Emily wanted to put on her prettiest dress for the picture.”

Ben handed the picture to Adam, and tears filled his eyes when he saw the two grins on his children’s faces. He held the picture to his heart. Thoughts of how he almost left them without a father took the breath away. “Thank you, Dad,” he managed to get out. “You don’t know how much this means to me. I look forward to the day I can hold them in my arms again.”

“They both send their love; they gave me kisses and hugs to bring you. Hop Sing sends his best wishes, too.”

“How are Hoss and Joe? Are they keeping up the business end at the office?”

“Son, don’t worry about the business; you just concern yourself with getting better. Your brothers are doing a fine job at keeping things running smoothly, and I’m there to help them out if things get a bit too much for them to handle.

Jessica chimed in, walking up next to Ben’s side at Adam’s bed. “Adam, your main concern should be getting plenty of rest and regaining your strength right now.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Adam continued to improve through physical and occupational therapy. Jessica stayed by his side the entire time. He was finally released from the ICU, and able to talk to Jason and Emily over the phone. The sound of their voices made his determination all that much stronger to work hard and regain his strength.

Four weeks into his recovery, the time drew near for him to be released from the hospital. Jessica had returned to work, but would come and check on Adam at every break she got. Adam still loved Jessica to some degree because she was the mother of his children, but the hurtful things she had said to him over the two years they had been divorced had finally taken what seemed an irreversible toll on him. Despite what she had told him Rebecca had said, he still wanted to see and talk to her, to see if things could not be worked out between them. Ben came for his daily visit and could tell that Adam was having a down day.

“What is it, Son? Is there something you need? Can I help?” Ben placed his hand on Adam’s arm.

Adam sat stoically for a few minutes, unable to look at Ben. His father knew him best. There was no hiding anything from him. As a younger boy, he tried to hide his feelings of pain and resentment for having to grow up so fast, and never being able to be a child. Ben, feeling guilty for the pressures he had put upon him at such an early age, had always tried to be there for his son as an adult. Adam appreciated his father’s comfort through the break-up of his marriage and eventual divorce. Adam and Ben now had a very close relationship, and Adam couldn’t hide too many things from his father. He found it comforting to have his father to talk to regarding issues so close to his heart.

“Dad, its Rebecca, the doctor that I met at the playground when Jason had his accident. We hit it off, and started to date. I made a terrible mistake one night when we were together. I tried numerous times to reach her and apologize, but she wouldn’t take my calls. She’s the first person I thought about after Jason and Emily when I woke up from my coma. I asked Jessica to call her for me, but she said when I was hurt, she did call her, and she told her she was not interested, and didn’t want to see me ever again. Dad, I just can’t believe she would be that cold. We didn’t have a serious relationship at the time of our break-up, but it was something that I had planned on talking to her about before my stupidity stepped in first.”

“Son, if you care for her as you obviously still do, I think you need to take matters into your own hands. I love Jessica; she is the mother of my grandchildren, and I know she still loves you. She admitted it to me the night you had your accident. I didn’t feel it was my place to bring it up to you. I knew that if she wanted you to know, she would tell you, but if you don’t love her anymore, and your feelings are for Rebecca, then you need to call her yourself. Don’t depend on Jessica to do the right thing by you and Rebecca. Not if she still loves you. Give Rebecca a call. If she turns you away, then you’ll be able to move forward knowing you gave it one last effort. If you don’t, then you’ll never know if her broken heart can be mended.”

“Thanks, Dad. Jessica has not told me she still loves me. That explains why she spent so much time by my side during my recovery. Why couldn’t she put that effort into our marriage when it was breaking up? She was so bitter. She’s caused me so much pain over these past two years, and my heart has hardened toward her. I’ll always love her as the mother of my children, but I’m conflicted on if I want to pursue trying to put our marriage back together again. As much as it kills me to not have a complete home for Jason and Emily, I’m not sure this is what I want right now. I’m conflicted. My feelings for Rebecca are very real. I do love Jessica, I always will, but I’m not sure I want to make a life long commitment with her again. What if we failed again? The damage to the kids would be too great. I’m not sure I want to put them at risk like that again.

Ben stood at Adam’s bedside listening intently to his son’s words. “You need to explain to Jessica, regardless of the outcome between you and Rebecca, what you’re feeling, why you’re confused.” Ben sat down on Adam’s bed, next to him, and stared him straight in the face. “Son, I’ll support you in any decisions you make. I’ll always love you. All I want is your happiness.”

“That happiness, Dad, lies with Jason and Emily.” Adam said with conviction in his voice. While I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Jessica, my heart is also telling me to follow my feelings for Rebecca.

Adam had wanted to tell Ben about his out of body experience and the conversations he’d had with his three mothers, but felt the story would be too shattering for Ben to hear, knowing what devastation and grief it would cause him and all of those he loved so dearly to know he had wanted to leave them. Adam chose to keep his life altering experience to himself, for now.

Upon Ben’s departure, Adam pondered over his conversation with his father. He trusted his father’s advice, even though they always didn’t see eye to eye. He knew Ben had had many life experiences, and would only give the advice he knew would be best for his son. Adam turned in his bed, and called to the nurse’s station.

“Yes, Mr. Cartwright? Is there something I can do for you?” The petite nurse smiled as she entered his room.

“There’s a doctor on staff at this hospital by the name of Rebecca Roberts. Do you know her?” Adam positioned his hands on his bed, to lift himself up in a more comfortable position.

“I’m sorry, sir; I’m not familiar with her. Do you know which department she works in?” The nurse came toward him to fluff his pillows, to make him more comfortable.

“I think she works in pediatrics, Anne,” Adam said as he looked at her hospital ID badge.

“If she works for the hospital, I can look her up online. Is she someone you know? Would you like me to call her for you?” Anne said with a smile, revealing a mouth full of braces.

Adam touched Anne’s arm, and winked at her. “Thank you. Yes, if you can find her, will you please let her know that I have inquired about her, and would like to see her if she’s willing?”

Anne reached over Adam’s body, and grabbed the nurse call button. “Yes, can I help you?” an older voice announced.

“Ethel, can you please look on the physician directory for a Dr. Rebecca Roberts. She would be in Peds,” Anne said as she smiled at Adam, and he again winked at her cheerful response to help.

“Yes, Anne, I do show a Rebecca Roberts.”

“Great, Ethel, thank you. I’ll be right there. Please keep her up on the screen for me.”

“Anne, thanks again for all your help.”

Anne winked back at Adam, and flashed her shining smile of metal at him.

“Anything for the best patient on the ward.”

She turned and walked out of the room, and he crossed his hands over his chest and smiled, looking at his children’s picture on his bed tray.

“Jason, Emily, I hope you’ll understand why Mommy and Daddy can’t live together. I don’t know if we ever will, but I’ll always love you, no matter what happens to Mommy and me.”

He sighed heavily, as he closed his eyes, and drifted back to sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rebecca was in her office reviewing patient charts when her beeper went off. She looked at the extension on her pager, and didn’t recognize the number as one of the usual extensions she received.

“Seventh Floor Nurses Station. Anne speaking, may I help you?”

“This is Dr. Roberts. I received a page for this number, but I think it may be a mistake.”

“No, Doctor, I did page you. We have a patient on this floor, Adam Cartwright, and he has asked that we get a hold of you. He would like to see you when you have a free moment. He’s in room 713.”

Rebecca felt the phone slip from her hands slightly at the mention of Adam’s name. “Thank you. I’ll try and get up there to see Mr. Cartwright at my earliest convenience.”

She hung the phone up, and rested her face in her hands. What does Adam want with me? I thought he didn’t want to see me anymore, and now all the sudden, he is calling for me? Rebecca thought to herself. She continued making notes in her patient charts, and pondered over when she might pay a visit to Adam’s room.

After finishing her afternoon rounds, Rebecca decided to walked up the stairs to visit Adam. She came to room 713. She hesitated at the door. She took a deep breath, straightened her physician’s coat, and knocked on the door.

“Come in,” the deep voice from the other side of the door announced.

Rebecca opened the door and walked in. Upon seeing his face, her heart melted and a slight grin came to her face.

Adam was lying back watching Fox Business Channel. When he turned to see that she had walked in the door, he turned off the TV, and greeted her with a warm smile and a friendly hello.

“Thank you for coming, Becky. I wasn’t sure if you would,” he announced, as she stopped at a safe distance from his bed.

“I was a bit surprised to hear that you wanted to see me, Adam. How are you feeling? I was very saddened when I heard about your accident. I’m glad that you appear to be doing better.”

Rebecca was taken back at the amount of weight that Adam had lost. His doctor had been in a short time before to check his healing injuries, and he had not put his gown back up. He sat in bed with his covers at his waist revealing the forest of curly black hair beginning to grow back in around his lower torso, where they had to shave him in preparation for surgery when he was first brought in.

”I’m doing better. The doc says that I’ll be able to go home in a few days. I’m ready to see my kids again. I’ve missed them very much. Becky, how are you?”

“I’m good, Adam, I’ve been keeping busy here at work, and I’ve been taking long walks in the park since the days are getting longer. I’ve also taken on some projects at home that keep me occupied when I’m not here at work, or enjoying myself in the park.”

He tried to rearrange himself in bed, and had a sharp stabbing pain shot through his abdomen as he moved. He let out a grunt of pain. Rebecca’s instinctive reaction set in. She rushed over and grabbed his arm with her right hand, and placed her left arm around his shoulders, grabbing the other arm to help him sit up. Their eyes locked on each other for a few seconds, neither saying a word. She let go of him once she knew he was sitting comfortably, and started to turn to walk away.

“I’m sorry, Adam, I must be going.” Her voice trembled with a slight whimper.

Adam grabbed Rebecca’s upper arm, with barely any strength. “Becky, please, may I call you when I get home?”

Rebecca turned around, and looked at Adam with surprise. “Sure. I would like that.” She turned and walked out of his room without turning back around.

When the door shut behind her, she stopped and took a deep breath, blinking briskly, so that the tears forming in her emerald green eyes would not overflow.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upon Adam’s returning home from his stay in the hospital, Jessica had insisted on his staying with her and the children while he recuperated. However, he’d felt it best if he stayed at the main house at the Ponderosa.

“I’m going to stay with, Dad and Hop Sing, Jessica, but I do appreciate the offer,” Adam announced as he was getting dressed to go home.

“Adam, I think you need to stay with someone that has professional medical training. You’re still so weak. You’ll need assistance with things you take for granted like bathing.” Jessica argued.

“Jess, I’ll be fine. I appreciate you wanting to help, but I’m a grown man.”

“OK Adam, I’m going to go, but if you need any medical attention, please don’t hesitate to call me. I’ll bring the kids over when you are feeling up to seeing them. I know you probably won’t be ready to have them on weekends for awhile, but when you’re ready for even just a day, I’ll bring them over.”

“Thanks, Jessica, I would like to see them tomorrow, after I get settled at dad’s house if you don’t mind bringing them up for a little while.”

“No, of course not, Adam. They’re your children, and they miss you as much as you miss them. They’ll be so excited to know that they are going to see you.”

As the weeks went by, Adam worked hard to regain his strength. His physical therapist came to the ranch three times a week to work with him on his upper body strength and strength in the leg that was still in a cast. The cast was due to come off in about a week and he would be mobile enough again to resume therapy at the rehab center in town.

On the weekends that Adam would have normally had the children, Ben or one of his brothers would drive him to Jessica’s house for the day, or she would bring the them to the ranch. Jessica enjoyed the time they spent together as a family, and her feelings grew stronger for Adam.

During the time she spent in the hospital while Adam was gravely ill, Clint and Jessica started having relationship problems. He didn’t understand why she needed to spend so much time by her ex-husband’s side. Their relationship ended soon after when Jessica told Clint she no longer wanted to be a part of his life. Her focus now was on Adam and trying to rebuild a future with him and their two children. While Adam enjoyed his time with Jessica and the children, his mind was never far from his thoughts about Rebecca. He was torn between the two women. He knew that Jessica was no longer seeing Clint, and that she was willing to try and re-build their relationship and in time, possibly be a whole family again. His feelings for Rebecca were very real, and he could not deny the hurt and anger that had broken him and Jessica apart, however, the thought of being a full time father to Jason and Emily was very tempting. His children were his number one priority and if he felt that he could, he would, make a go of it again with Jessica. He thought about giving it a try, but he couldn’t deny the many times Jessica put him down as a husband and father in the past. He also couldn’t deny the horrible things she had said about Rebecca, a woman he cared deeply about.

He and Rebecca talked almost daily on the phone and when her busy schedule would permit, she would drive to the ranch and spend an evening with Adam. Their relationship remained platonic so that his already clouded judgment would not become more muddled.

On the night before Adam was due to get his cast off, Rebecca stopped by the ranch and had dinner with Adam. Hop Sing had fixed a feast for a king and queen. Rebecca looked stunning in her pink linen crop pants and matching top with pintuck detail. She had been working out and had dropped the extra weight she had put on shortly after her late husband’s death.

“Your arms are becoming very defined. You must be very pleased with your workout regimen,” Adam commented as he was checking Rebecca out from behind as she pulled the dishes from the china cabinet to set the table.

“Yes, my trainer, Sandy, has been pushing me to the extreme. I have to admit it not only helps release the stress from work, but it also helps me keep my mind off of other negative things that try to derail my success,” she replied as she finished placing everything on the table.

Adam, quite mobile now, hobbled to the table with just the assistance of a cane and they sat down, and dug into the feast that Hop Sing had prepared.

“Adam,” Rebecca broke the awkward silence, “I know that you’ve been spending a lot of time with Jessica and the kids. We have talked about the possibility of you giving your relationship a go again with her for the sake of the children. You know how much I love you, and of course, there is nothing more that I want than for us to be together; however, I do recognize that your children need you, and if my being in your life is creating some doubt of where you need to be, I feel that it’s only right to step aside while you resolve the situation.” Rebecca held back her tears as much as she could. She could not look directly at Adam for if she did, she knew that she would not be able to hold her composure. She continued as she stared at the glass sitting in front of her, while Adam looked directly at her and slowly chewed the bite of meat he had placed in his mouth prior to her beginning her speech. “I’ve thought so much about this. I’ve spent many nights going back and fourth in my head on what I should do, where I should go. My heart tells me one way, but my head, another.

Adam, finishing his bite, interrupted, “What does your heart say to you, Becky?”

With tears glazing her green eyes, she looks up at Adam and said, “It says, fight for this man, because you love him, and he loves you.” She grabbed her napkin and dabbed her eyes so to not have her makeup run down her face.

Adam took his hand and gently stroked a rogue tear away from her cheek and then placed the same fingers under her chin and turned up her face to look at him and said, “I think you need to follow your heart. I can’t make you any promises at this moment, but I do know that I love you, and at this moment in time, I can’t let you go. My children mean the world to me, there is nothing more than I want to see them happy and fulfilled, but for me to be able to nurture them the way they need to be, I have to be happy and fulfilled in my life, too.”

Over run with emotion, Rebecca was able to choke out in a whisper, “I know, I know,” and grabbed Adam’s hand and held it tight.

He took her hand and dropped a kiss on the top of her fingers. “Don’t give up on me just yet. Please say you will continue where we left off, for just a little while longer. I don’t want to mislead you or break your heart, but these are big decisions that I have to make, and they will affect many people I love. I have to do what is right by me, by you, by Jessica, and most importantly, Jason and Emily.”

“I know and that is why…”

Adam placed his fingers on her lips and said, “Shhh, please, for me, for us.”

Rebecca’s tears were flowing like rain down her cheeks. Adam grabbed his napkin, stood up and grabbed Rebecca’s hands and pulled her up and pulled her to his chest. He wiped her tears and held her close. He could feel the trembling of Rebecca’s body as she tried to hold in the pain of possibly losing the only man she had loved since losing her husband. “I feel so safe in your arms, I never want to leave,” she said through her tears. Adam fought back tears as he listened to her pour out her love to him. His heart was beating fast, Rebecca could feel the pace against the side of her cheek.

Becoming choked up himself, Adam told her that he understood and to try and hang on, that his love for her ran deep. He felt his life was most likely meant to be with her. He needed to find a way to break the news to Jessica and more importantly, to the children.

 

 

 

Chapter 7 by Adams_lover

Chapter Seven

At his final visit to the doctor, Adam’s cast was removed and he was able to return to work full time. His doctor told him he needed to make sure he didn’t over do it for the first few months. Adam knew it would be a difficult task, but his doctor was only looking out for his health and well being. He remained in physical therapy to continue the strengthening of his leg that had been broken in the accident. Even the PT would come to an end in another month. Adam worked hard every day on his therapy so he could resume a normal life. He wanted to run and play with his children. He wanted to take them on nature hikes, and ride into the meadows with Emily on his mount and Jason by his side riding his horse, Jake. Even though Adam’s health had returned to 100%, he knew he had big decisions to make, decisions that would affect many lives, including his own. He and Rebecca continued to see each other throughout his recovery. She remained supportive of Adam while he pondered his future. He was amazed at how strong she was. Her love never wavered even though she knew that at any time, Adam could decide that he wanted to let her go and try to mend his broken marriage with Jessica.

Adam loved Jessica as the mother of his children, but he had come to realize he was no longer in love with her. He appreciated all she did for him when he was recovering in the hospital and even at home, but he had to find a way to tell Jessica he did not see a future for them. He knew it would break her heart.

He sat in his office at home late one night staring at the phone. He needed to call to make a date with Jessica to let her know his feelings in person. He picked up the phone and called her. The phone rang twice when it was answered by a young male voice.

“Hello?”

“Jason, it’s Daddy. Can I speak to Mommy?”

“Hi, Daddy! Mommy told us you are all better again and that we can come and visit with you just like before. I can’t wait to see you again, Daddy. I want to ride Jake! Can we, Daddy?” Jason said, with exuberance in his voice.

Adam sat and rubbed his face. His guilt was huge! He wanted to be with his children 24-7 but it just was not meant to be. His life as a weekend dad would continue as it had before the accident.

He finally found the strength to speak to his son without hinting that something was wrong. “Of course we can, Son. The next time you and Emily come for a visit, we will make a day of it. The summer’s coming to a close, so we’ll only be able to ride a few more times before it’s too cold. Besides, you’ll be starting school again shortly and our weekends will be filled with homework.”

With disappointment in his voice, Jason said, “Awe, Dad, why’d you have to go and mention school? I still have a whole month before I go back.”

“I have something very special planned next weekend, a weekend that you and your sister will really enjoy. Now, I need to speak to Mommy. Is she available?”

“Yeah, Daddy, just a sec.”

Jason put the phone on the table and yelled, “MOMMY! DADDY’S ON THE PHONE!”

Adam heard squeals of excitement from his little angel and the next thing he knew, she picked up the phone.

“Hi Daddy! When can I see you?”

“Hi, Princess! I’ll be coming to get you in five days, OK? You can count down the days with Mommy.”

“YEEEEEEEY!” His precious little one shouted with joy. She put the phone down and said to Jessica, who had now walked into the room to take Adam’s call, “Daddy said he’ll come get me in five days!”

“Yes, he is! We’ll mark on the calendar when he’s coming and X the days off each day until it’s Friday, OK, Sweetheart? Now run along and play while Mommy talks with Daddy.”

Emily started squealing again. Her squeals faded as she ran down the hall to Jason’s room to tell him about her countdown.

Jessica’s laughter could hardly be contained as she picked up the phone.

“Hi, Adam. Your little girl is really anxious to come and see you again. Jason is too.”

Adam smiled as he thought of him and the children being a happy family again, even if it was just once every other weekend. He knew he had to get serious. He needed to make plans to meet with Jessica. He had to tell her that he was not going to be moving back to Carson City to live with them to work on mending their broken marriage.

“Jess, I was wondering if you had any free evenings this week. Can you get a sitter for the kids and come up to the ranch for dinner? We need to talk.”

Jessica sensed the urgency in Adam’s voice. She told him Wednesday night would be a good night and she could probably get her neighbor from across the street to come and stay with the children for a few hours. She mentioned Emily had started dance classes on Wednesday afternoons, but after they returned home, she could get supper started for the her and Jason and be on her way to his home on the Ponderosa.

“Would 7:00 be OK with you, Adam?” Jessica asked.

“7:00 would be perfect, Jess. I’ll have Hop Sing make us some dinner and afterward, we can go for a walk and talk.”

“OK,” Jessica’s voice turned from happiness to one of concern. “I’ll see you around seven then. If you need to make any changes, give me a call. Otherwise, I’ll see you Wednesday.”

After the two exes hung up, Adam sat at his desk staring once again at the phone. How would he find the words to break it to Jessica that he was not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with her? His mind leaped back to happier days as he looked over at his bookshelf and saw his Harvard year books. He remembered their college days when life was much simpler. He and Jessica had fallen in love at Harvard. After graduation, Jessica had left her home in Connecticut and joined Adam out west to start a new life as a couple and eventually, parents. They had been through so much together: the birth of their two children, and the loss of another. They had seen each other through some very sad times as well, like the death of Jessica’s father, and Ben’s heart attack. So much water had washed under the bridge, both happiness and heartache. Now Adam had to find words to tell her they would maintain the status quo, but she would always be in his heart as the mother of his children.

Wednesday came and Adam had a busy schedule at work. He was working on new ventures that took a lot of his time. The clock was clicking down to 5:00 PM quickly. Adam’s goal was to leave the office at five so he could get home and have the meal Hop Sing made for them ready by the time Jessica arrived. He continued to keep his mind occupied on his work so he didn’t think about what he would say to Jessica later in the evening.

Five o’clock came and Gretchen, his administrative assistant, came to tell him he needed to put things down and head home. He wrapped up a few loose ends, turned off his computer, grabbed his suit jacket, and headed out the door. He was caught up in rush hour traffic, but it was moving so he knew even with the delay, he would make it home in time to shower, change, and have dinner ready for Jessica’s arrival.

When Adam entered the kitchen through the garage door, he smelt the wonderful casserole, Hop Sing had left in the oven just a short time before. He also had left vegetables in covered dishes on the stove. All Adam had to do was go to the wine cellar and choose a bottle of wine to go with the meal. Hop Sing had even set the table for him, which saved him time. Adam untied his already loosened tie as he headed toward the stairs that led to his bedroom. As he climbed the stairs, he unbuttoned his shirt and undid his belt. When he reached his room, he went into the closet to take off his suit. He hung it back on the hangar and put his dress shirt, undershirt, and boxers into the chute that led to the laundry room. While taking his shower, he started to think of how he would break the news to Jessica. He knew she would be devastated. Her devotion and love had grown over the last few months while he recuperated from his injuries. He again thought about happier days when they were young and so in love and thought they would be together forever. He wished he could regain those feelings, but his heart and love belonged to another woman now. He knew it was going to be an emotional night, but he had to find the strength from within to make Jessica understand how he was feeling.

After getting out of the shower, Adam wrapped a towel around his waist and stood staring at himself in the mirror. His five o’clock shadow evident; he felt the need to shave. He combed his hair and lathered up his face. He gave himself a clean shave, then walked into his bedroom, grabbed some clean boxers from the drawer, dropped his towel, and began to get dressed. He pulled out his favorite stone washed jeans and a polo shirt from the closet. Since he had planned to take a walk with Jessica after dinner, he also grabbed his sneakers. After putting his jeans on, he went back into the bathroom to brush his teeth. After brushing his teeth, he leaned on the counter and stared into the mirror. He searched his eyes for the words that he needed to say to Jessica. He pushed himself away and walked back into the bedroom, grabbed some socks from the chest of drawers and sat on his neatly made bed and began to put his shoes and socks on. He finished by putting on his polo shirt, tucking it in, and headed down to the wine cellar to choose a vintage fit for the evening’s meal.

Just as Adam emerged from the cellar, he heard the door bell ring. He placed the bottle of vino in the wine bucket and answered the door. Jessica’s smiling face was on the other side. She, too, had brought a bottle of wine as a good will gesture. She looked stunning, Adam noted. She was wearing a soft pastel pink summer sweater and blue jeans. Her hair had grown past her shoulders and was flowing with soft curls. Adam invited her in, gave her a hug, and dropped a light kiss on each of her cheeks.

“Come in, I have just retrieved a bottle of wine from the cellar. Would you like a glass while I get dinner ready?” He asked in an upbeat mood.

“Adam, why don’t you let me get dinner ready. You’ve been at the office all day. Pour us both a glass of wine, and if you will tell me where everything is at, I can finish dinner.”

“Thanks, Jess; that sounds like a great idea.”

Adam showed her where everything was and she quickly had dinner on the table. The two sat down at the table and they started to eat. Adam wanted to keep the conversation lighthearted and happy, so he asked about Jason’s new karate lessons and Emily’s dancing.

“Putting Jason in Karate was the best thing for him, Adam. He’s learning so much about discipline and self-defense. I’d like to enroll Emily in the school when she gets a bit older. I think it will do her a lot of good also.”

“Did you make sure they send the monthly bills here to the Ponderosa? I don’t want you to have be strapped with those expenses, Jess,” Adam said as he continued to eat his dinner and drink his wine.

“Adam, you shouldn’t feel obligated to pay for everything. I’m capable of sharing the burden of their extra-curricular activities.” Jessica replied, as she dished out more fresh green beans onto her plate.

“I know, but it’s the least I can do for the kids. I want them to be well adjusted and I don’t want you to feel that you have to work extra hours to pay for these things. I want you to be home with the kids as much as possible.”

Jessica smiled and put her hand on Adam’s. “Thank you. It’s been nice being able to cut back to part-time at the hospital. I want to be more of a stay at home mom again. I feel the kids are getting to the ages where they need me to be home with them more.”

“I agree 100%, Jessica.” Adam replied, as he finished the last of his food and wine.

As dinner wound down, the two cleared the table and put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. The first bottle of wine had been drunk and Adam corked the bottle that Jessica had brought with her.

The sun was setting so Adam asked Jessica if she would like to go for a walk. There was a bench just up over the hill under a tree where they could stop and sit. Adam would try to find the words to explain to Jessica where he wanted to take their future.

As they walked out the door, Jessica put her arm through Adam’s. He grabbed her hand and they walked arm and arm to the bench that had been there since they were college sweethearts. Jessica loved the bench and the view of the mountains with the sun setting under the horizon. As they reached the bench, Adam motioned for Jessica to sit down and he sat next to her. He grabbed her hands and looked at them, trying to find the words to start. He stared out into the sunset, squinting into the falling rays. He then turned back to Jessica, rubbing her hands and started to explain to her the words that would shatter her dreams.

“Jessica, after the wreck when you didn’t know if I would live or die, you stayed by my side. You told me how much you still loved me, and how you wished that we had never divorced. You continued to show your love and support during the entire journey of my recovery. I will never be able to repay you for the love and support you gave me. Jason and Emily have the most amazing mother. They’re incredibly blessed; I’m incredibly blessed.

I’ve thought long, hard, for many days and nights on how I wanted to proceed where you and I are concerned. I thought back to the days of our college years when life was a more simple time, when all we had to do was make sure we showed up for class and make good grades. I recalled the day we both graduated and how proud our parents were of us. I remember all the days during the summers when you would come for a visit, how we would run in the meadow and fall into each other’s arms in a passionate kiss. I remember the first time we made love in this same meadow.”

Jessica was smiling, recalling the beautiful history they shared.

“What happened to us? Where did we go wrong?” she wondered out loud.

“I don’t know. We got married, always thinking we would grow old together, watch our children graduate from college, fall in love, marry, and have children of their own. We got derailed somewhere along the way,” Adam replied as he once again stared out into the sunset.

“I want to re-capture those times again, Adam. I realized when you lay in critical condition how much I much I still love you, how my life would be lost if I didn’t have you anymore. Our children need you!” Jessica exclaimed as she squeezed Adam’s hands.

Adam broke their hand hold and placed his hands on Jessica’s shoulders and proceeded to find the words that would shatter her world. “I still love you, Jessica, I always will. You’re the mother of my children. You’ve given me the most precious gift a man could ever ask for, but, I’m not, in, love with you anymore. We’ll always be a part of each other’s lives, but we cannot be in each other’s lives. There’s been too much pain, too much hurt. Please understand where I’m coming from.”

“But I thought….?” Jessica started to cry.

“I wanted desperately to find my way back to you too, Jessica, but what I realized was that I wasn’t doing it for me, or for you. I was doing it for Jason and Emily. When I realized this, I knew it wouldn’t work and I can’t give the kids hope only to shatter their lives again. I can’t do it. I won’t do it.”

Jessica slapped Adam as she came to the realization that it had to be Rebecca who was keeping the two of them from reconciling.

“You love her. You love the doctor, don’t you.” Jessica demanded to know as tears welled in her eyes.

Adam tried to calm Jessica. He told her that Rebecca was not a part of the conversation, this had to do solely with the two of them and their future as a family with Jason and Emily.

“I wanted to start over, to show you that I could be a loving supportive wife to you and a fantastic mother to our kids. Please forgive me, but this hurts, it hurts so bad.” She said, as she continued to cry.

Adam sat and allowed Jessica to express her feelings out loud.
Jessica tried to control her tears. She could see the sadness in his eyes.

“I never stopped loving you. I want you to know that.” She said as she bowed her head trying to stop the flow of tears.

Adam could only say, “I know, I know.”

Jessica finally was able to regain her composure and said they should head back because the light was growing dim quickly. She needed to wash her face and think about getting home. Adam didn’t want her to leave so upset. He offered to send Ben, or one of his brothers to pick up the children and she could stay the night in the guest room. He didn’t want her driving so upset. She thanked him for the offer, but she said she would be OK, she just needed to wash her face.

“The kids should be in bed by the time I get home. They won’t know I’ve been crying.”

Adam held Jessica in his arms on the way back to the house. She did not return the hold, she continued to wipe away the falling tears with her hands. When they reached the house, Jessica went to the half bath downstairs, where she washed her face. Her eyes were red and swollen. Again, Adam offered for her to stay, but she declined. “I just want to get home to my own bed, and my babies,” she said, starting to cry again. Adam grabbed her several tissues. She thanked him as she wiped her eyes. He grabbed several more so that she could have fresh ones for the road.

He walked her to her car, and opened the door for her. He turned her around and told her, “Jess, I will always love you, don’t you ever forget that. It’s just that my heart is in a different place now. I do love you, I’m just not in love with you anymore. I’m sorry!”

Jessica just looked at Adam with no response. She got in her car and started the engine. Tears were still freely falling, but she was starting to gain composure for her drive home.

“Please call me the minute you get home, so that I’ll know you arrived safely,” Adam ordered, as she put her car into reverse.

“I will, I promise,” she replied as she let off the break.

Adam moved back so that she could safely back out of the drive way. She turned down the main road that led to the entrance of the Ponderosa. Tears fell heavily down her cheeks all the way back to Carson City.

When she arrived back home, she pulled into the garage and picked up her phone to call Adam. She let him know she had arrived safely home. She thanked him for dinner, and for his candor, but most of all, for his love. She apologized for throwing herself at him, confusing his feelings. He told her she hadn’t done anything inappropriate. She only wanted their family to be whole again. He exclaimed at one time he thought he had wanted the same thing but in the end, he realized that he would be a better father outside the home than to try and make a go of a re-marriage.

Jessica gathered herself before she walked into the house. She found her teenage neighbor whom she had gotten to sit the children; she was watching TV. The sitter could see Jessica had been crying, but didn’t ask any questions. She only showed compassion in her face. Jessica paid her for babysitting and watched her walk home across the street. She closed her door when she saw that her neighbor was in her house safe and sound.

Jessica peeked in on Jason, he was sound asleep. He had left his radio and desk lamp on, so Jessica went in and turned both off. He had kicked all of his covers off. She pulled the covers back over him, kissed her hand and placed it on his head. She whispered, “I love you,” and walked out quietly closing the door behind her.

She entered quietly into Emily’s room. She, too, was sound asleep. She was half naked with one leg hanging off her bed. Jessica gently moved Emily’s foot back on top of the mattress, covered her up and gave her a kiss on her forehead. Emily stirred, but did not wake up. She rolled over on her side, and Jessica watched her baby daughter sleep for a few more moments and then quietly walked out, closing the door behind her.

She walked into her room and began to undress for the night. She looked at the bed she once shared with Adam and tears puddled in her eyes. She put on her night gown, brushed her teeth and crawled into bed where she quietly wept until she fell asleep.

Adam sat in his office trying to concentrate on work. A desk lamp was the only light that illuminated the house. He looked at the clock, it was going on midnight. He would need to be up in six hours. He got up and headed toward his bedroom. He took off his shoes and shirt, placing his shoes back in the closet and tossing the shirt down the laundry chute. He hung his jeans back on the hanger. He went into his bathroom, brushed his teeth and then climbed in bed. It had been a most exhausting day and a new one would be on the horizon in just a few hours. In bed, Adam dreamed of the day he would one day share his bed with Rebecca. He wanted nothing more than to hold her and make love to her. He had now closed the door on his life with Jessica and was free to move forward with his new love. He looked at the picture of Jason and Emily he had by his bed and smiled as he paused and then turned out the light. The morning would bring a fresh start to the rest of his life.

 

Chapter 8 by Adams_lover

Chapter Eight

As five o’clock on Friday arrived, Adam cleared his desk and headed toward Jessica’s house to get the children for his weekend visit. It was the first weekend he would have his children alone since the accident. He had promised Jason a ride on the Ponderosa, and he looked forward to spending quality time again with his children.

It would also be the first time he would see Jessica since their talk. He spoken with her briefly one day when she had called to say she had an appointment with the pediatrician for children’s back to school check up. She was friendly during their call.

Adam was grateful to Jessica for all she had done for him in the weeks after his accident. She was still unaware that he had decided to pursue a relationship with Rebecca instead of with her. Adam felt when the time was right for her to know, he would tell her, but until that time, his relationship with Rebecca was none of her business.

He arrived at Jessica’s house shortly before six o’clock. She was in the front yard when she saw Adam drive up. She smiled and waved. As he parked and got out of the car, she walked over to greet him with a warm welcome.

“Hey, how was your first full week back at work?”

Adam smiled. It seemed his fears of her discomfort were unfounded. “Good! Good. A little tired, but it was good to be back in the saddle again. Joe and Hoss kept things running in my absence. Dad went into the office a few days a week for a half day to help out when needed, so everything was running normally when I returned. We have some hot irons in the fire at the moment, but they’ll all be worked out in the next week or so. How are the kids? How were Jason’s and Emily’s check-up?” he asked as they walked into the house together.

“Check-ups were fine. Jason wasn’t happy that he had to get a few boosters, so his arm and hip are a bit sore, but the nurse said he should be fine by tomorrow. You’ll just need to watch him for a fever tonight. Otherwise, it was a general check-up. Can you believe that Jason has grown another six inches since last year? It’s no wonder I’m always having to buy him new clothes. Our little boy is growing up, Adam.” Jessica said with a pout.

“I know. I can’t believe how big he’s getting and growing more mature as well. He’s turning into a fine young man. You’re doing a good job raising him, Jessica.”

“He has a great father too, Adam,” she said with an adoring smile.

Adam winked and smiled back at her.

Jessica yelled for the children to come and greet their daddy; it was time to go.

Squeals of laughter and joy came from up the hall as Adam held out his arms to greet his children. Emily came running and the more reserved Jason came walking behind.

“Daddy, Jason got a shot today. He was brave, he didn’t even cry. I don’t wanna shot, Daddy, OK?” Emily pleaded when she was lifted into her hero’s arms.

“Emily, the shots we sometimes have to get help keep us safe and healthy. Besides, if they hurt at all, it’s just for a second. Remember when Daddy was sick after his accident? I had a lot of shots and I’m standing here today holding you because those shots made me feel better.”

“Did it hurt, Daddy?” she asked with a sour look.

“No, not all of them. Some had a small sting but they made me feel better, so it was worth it,” he replied with a kiss to her forehead.

“Emily, when you have to get a shot, I bet you’ll cry like a big baby.” Jason said with a smartaleck tone.

“Jason!” Jessica snapped. “Why must you always antagonize your sister?” she said with a sigh in her voice.

“Because he’s stupid, Mommy.” Emily smarted back.

“I’m not!”

“Are too!”

Adam’s body language changed and he put Emily on the floor; she knew she was in trouble. He went and sat on the couch and told her to come to him and bend over his knee. She knew she was in for a spanking and immediately turned on the water works. She went to Jessica screaming, “No, Mommy! I don’t want a spanking!”

In a severe tone, Adam called his daughter again, “Emily Elizabeth, come here now. If I have to come get you, it will be worse for you. Come here NOW!”

Jessica, without any sympathy, took her by the hand and dragged her to her father. She was screaming the entire way. When she was within Adam’s reach, he took her by the arm and put her over his knee and gave her a much deserved four swats on her tush. Emily was screaming at the top of her lungs.

When he was finished, he stood her up and held her strong by both shoulders. He looked her in the eyes with a very disappointed look on his face and said, “Emily Elizabeth Cartwright, you will never call your brother, or anyone for that matter, stupid ever again! Do I make myself clear, young lady?”

Emily was very upset and her feelings were hurt by the spanking and she was’t listening or answering her father. Louder, Adam said to her, “Emily, do I make myself clear? Answer me!”

“YES!” she screamed back at him.

“YES?” Adam yelled back above her screams.

“YES, SIR!” she screamed back. She then threw herself on the floor and was screaming at the top of her lungs even stronger.

Jessica sent Jason to get both of their suitcases while she attempted to pick Emily up off the floor and defuse the child’s tantrum.

“Emily, stop crying, right now!” She demanded. “You’re not a baby, now quit acting like one.”

Adam sat on the couch with a very angry stare at his daughter being held in her mother’s arms. “I will not tolerate this kind of behavior from either of our children, Jessica,” he said as he watched her try to calm their daughter. Jessica just looked at Adam with an understanding agreement, but did not respond; she just nodded her head.

Emily was soon settled down and sat in her mother’s arms calmly. Jessica gently rocked her and continued to subdue the situation. Soon, Emily’s tirade had diminished to a few gasps with some whimpers in between.

“I think you owe your brother and Daddy an apology, young lady,” she said as she continued to rock her and speak to her sternly but quietly.

Adam got up and went to find Jason so that his sister could apologize to him. He found Jason sitting in his room on the edge of his bed. When he saw Adam walk in the room, he immediately started to cry thinking he, too, would get a spanking for the antagonizing that lead to Emily calling him stupid.

Still upset, Adam said to his son, “You are twice your sister’s age, Jason. Why do you continue to antagonize her the way you do?”

“I don’t know, Daddy!” he cried out in a loud wail, afraid that his punishment was imminent.

To Jason’s surprise, Adam just told him to stop crying and go into the living room where his mother and sister were; his sister was going to apologize, and he too, needed to apologize for calling her a baby.

Jason’s crying deflated to a minimum when he realized that he was not due the same corporal punishment for his actions. Adam told him to move along so they could get going. Jason ran out of his room before his father could change his mind.

Jason’s overnight case was sitting next to his bed, so Adam grabbed it and walked across the hall to grab Emily’s bag. By the time he came back to the living room, Emily was sitting on the couch next to Jason giving him a hug. Adam smiled when he saw that brother and sister had made up.

“I think you have another apology to make, young lady,” Jessica ordered, as she saw Adam walk back into the room. Emily turned to see that he had returned, both overnight bags in hand. She slumped down into the couch with a frown. Tears welled in her eyes as she said, “I’m sorry, Daddy. I didn’t mean it.”

Adam put both suitcases down, bent down, and held out his arms. “Come here, Princess.” His tone and facial expressions had softened.

Emily ran to her father, and he gave her a hug.

“I love you. Do you know how much it hurts me to spank you? You have to understand that your behavior today was wrong and will not be tolerated, ever. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, Daddy.” She said with a slight whimper.

“Now give me a kiss, Princess,” Adam said with a smile.

Emily threw her arms around her father’s neck, puckered her lips and gave him a slobbering child’s kiss. Jason and Jessica laughed as Adam lost his balance and both he and Emily fell backward.

Jessica stood up and said, “I’m sure Daddy has a big weekend planned for you guys, so you should get moving.”

Adam stood up and grabbed Emily’s bag in one hand, and picked her up in the other. Jason got up and grabbed his bag. The Cartwright clan was soon on their way back to the Ponderosa for a fun filled weekend with Daddy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After an uneventful dinner, and dishes were in the dishwasher, the two small Cartwrights were in the bath playing and laughing. Adam brought their pajamas to the bathroom and told them they had about ten more minutes before it would be time for bed. The children through their laughter said, “OK, Daddy.”

Adam left the room and went to his office where he had a mound of paperwork he pulled from his briefcase. His plan was to work a few hours after the children were asleep. He stopped and gave Rebecca a call.

“Hello, Handsome,” Rebecca said as she answered her cell phone.

“Good evening, beautiful lady,” he said smiling and leaning back in his chair.

“Hi Adam,” she said with a blushing laugh as she laid back on her bed. “Don’t you have Jason and Emily this weekend?”

“Yeah, they’re in the tub now taking a bath. Jason received a couple of boosters for back-to-school today and he’s a bit sore. No temperature though, thank goodness.”

“Glad to hear it. If he should start to feel warm, you can give him some Children’s Motrin or Tylenol and that should kill the fever. I don’t expect he’ll run one this late if he hasn’t already.”

“That’s good to know,” he said with relief in his voice. “He’s really looking forward to going for a ride tomorrow. We haven’t been able to ride since my accident, so he’s quite excited. I’ve asked my father and Joe to join us. I’m keeping it a surprise. Jason really looks up to his grandfather and his two uncles. Hoss is going to Vegas for the weekend, so he can’t join us.”

“I know you’ll have a wonderful time. The weather’s supposed to be gorgeous tomorrow from what the weatherman says,” Rebecca said as she rolled over on her side.

“I was thinking,” Adam said as he sat back up straight in his chair, grabbing a pencil and making a few notes on a contract he had in front of him, “How’d you like to get together for dinner Sunday night after I drop the kids off at home?”

Rebecca sat back up in bed and began to rub her neck. “I’d love to have dinner with you, Adam.”

“Great! I’ll give you a call tomorrow night and we can talk more. I hear the kids arguing so I better go see what’s going on before they kill each other.” He laughed.

“I look forward to your call tomorrow, Adam.”

“Love you, Beck. Talk to you tomorrow.”

“Love you too, Hon. Bye!”

As Adam hung up the phone, he heard Jason scream out in a painful cry. He swiftly walked to the bathroom where he saw Jason crying and Emily saying, “I sorry, Jason, I sorry!”

“What’s going on in here?” He asked with a strong voice.

Emily said, “Nothing, Daddy,” and Jason exclaimed, “She hit me in the arm where I got my shot!”

“Out of the tub now, both of you!” he harshly ordered.

Emily sat in the tub. Afraid that she might receive another spanking for hitting her brother. Jason stepped out of the tub, and Adam handed him his towel. He wrapped himself up and stood stoically with his head hanging low.

“Emily, I’m giving you until the count of five to get out of the tub. One – two – three…”

Emily didn’t move. She just sat there and cried. She knew she’d been bad and was now afraid of what Adam might do to her, especially given her actions earlier in the day.

“Four, don’t make me get to five, Emily Elizabeth.” Adam waited a few seconds and she still didn’t move. When Adam reached five, she leaped up and started to get out of the tub. In her haste, she slipped and started to fall face first toward the faucet. Adam lunged forward and caught his little girl just before she fell and hurt herself.

Adam had his left arm around her waist and as he lifted her out of the tub, he gave her a swift swat on her bare behind, to which she started to cry even harder. He put her feet first onto the carpet next to the toilet. He sat down and put the towel around her. She stood there crying uncontrollably. Adam began to dry her small frame and told her to stop crying. His voice was strong and authoritative with his youngest child. Jason stood staring at Emily’s display as he continued drying himself.

“Emily, that’s enough! Now stop crying!” She knew her daddy meant business, so she slowed her cry to a whimper.

Adam handed Jason his pajamas and toothbrush and told him to go to his bathroom and brush his teeth, then go on to his room to finish dressing and get in bed; he would be in to kiss him goodnight after he dealt with Emily.

After he finished drying her off, Adam helped her get dressed for bed. She didn’t say a word, nor did Adam. She could tell he wasn’t happy with her, as his face was very tense. He brushed her teeth, and said, “Go to your room, young lady, I’ll be with you in a minute. I’m going to go tell your brother goodnight.”

Emily didn’t defy her father’s order this time. She turned and walked swiftly to her room and shut the door. She crawled into bed and hid under her covers with her doll.

Adam sat for a minute and collected himself. He was at his wits end with his daughter’s disrespect for his authority. Her constant whining was also causing his temper to run short as well. He needed a few moments away from her to defuse his anger.

He got up and walked into Jason’s room. Jason had pulled one of his newly beloved Hardy Boys Mystery books from the shelf and was reading it when his father walked in.

Adam had found a complete set of the mystery novels in mint condition and had given it to him for his eighth birthday. He had bought them from a book seller out of Boston he knew about from his days at Harvard. He’d paid a pretty penny for the set, but he knew his son would take good care of them because he was an avid reader and appreciated and cared for all of his book collections. Adam sat on the bed and felt his son’s forehead.

“You feeling OK, Tiger? You don’t seem to have any fever,” Adam said, as he tussled his son’s hair.

“I’m OK, Dad. It just hurts where Emily hit me.”

“Did you do anything to her to make her hit you, Son? Tell me the truth, I won’t be upset if you tell me the truth.”

Jason sat there for a moment, debating quickly in his head if he wanted to tell his father what made Emily hit him. “I wanted the toy she had, so I took it from her and she got mad. That’s when she hit me.”

Adam sighed deeply. “Jason, what did I say to you earlier today? You are eight, she is four. Do you think it’s fair to pick on someone that’s twice as young as you? I know she’s your sister, and there’s going to be sibling rivalry, I’m the oldest too, but for the love of Pete, can you please start exercising some control with Emily?”

“I’m sorry, Daddy!” Jason started to frown. “It’s just that she makes me so mad sometimes! She gets her way all the time! Every time she cries at home, Mommy always gets mad at me, and I don’t always pick on her. She sometimes does it to me because she knows Mommy will get mad at me.”

“I’ll talk to Mommy about it, OK? You’ve got to learn you cannot pick on your sister.” Now, give me a hug and a kiss. Time to put your book back on the shelf, and you can finish it tomorrow evening before dinner. We have a big day planned tomorrow. Poppy is going to go riding with us! Uncle Joe is going too! Would you like that?”

“Would I? Yeah, Dad! Uncle Joe! Cool!”

Jason could hardly contain his excitement. Adam smiled at his son’s happiness.

“I’m going to ask him if he’ll play checkers with me too! I’ll beat him at every game,” Jason boasted.

“I’ll leave the winning between the two of you, but I’m sure he would love to play a few games with you. It’s time for some shuteye, Son. We have to get an early start tomorrow, so off to bed you go.”

Adam put out his hand for Jason’s book. Jason put his book mark on the page he was reading and gave the book to his father. He laid down on his pillow and Adam covered him up. Jason was smiling from ear to ear.

“Goodnight, Dad. I love you.”

Smiling, Adam bent down, dropped a kiss on his son’s forehead and said, “Good night. I’ll see you in the morning, Tiger. I love you too.”

Adam put his book back on the shelf, opened the door, and turned back to see that Jason had already shut his eyes and was drifting off to sleep with the same smile on his face. He smiled, turned out the light, and quietly shut the door.

Adam stood at Jason’s door for a moment. His mood soon turned to disappointment because now he had to go deal with his daughter, whose attitude was in need of a sharp upturn. His anger toward her had diminished, but he needed to remain stern with her so that she would understand that her attitude, if continued, would not be tolerated.

Adam sighed deeply and headed down the hall to Emily’s room. He opened the door and saw a large lump laying beneath the covers. Not sure if she was asleep or not, he gently pulled the covers back and found her wide awake. She laid there motionless, holding her doll, looking straight up at him. He stood there for a moment and stared back at her, not saying a word.

Emily slowly sat up in bed still clutching her baby doll. She continued the staring contest with her father. Adam sat down on her bed and sighed deeply before beginning to speak.

“Emily, when I ask you to do something, I expect you to do it. I don’t want any whining or discussion. I expect you to mind me the first time around. We won’t ever have a repeat of what happened in the bathtub tonight. Is that clear?”

Feeling bad, she put her head down and said, “Yes, Daddy.”

“Why did you hit your brother on the arm where he got a shot today? r32;
Emily began to plead her case. “He wanted the toy and I was playing with it. He wouldn’t let go of it, and I had it first. You told me that if I had it first, it was mine.”

“I did tell you that, but I also told you sweet girls also share their toys with their brothers too. Do you remember?”

“Uh huh.”

“It’s time for bed now, so get up on your pillow and put your doll next to you.” Adam patted the pillow. Emily laid back down and her small head sunk into her pillow. He pulled her covers up to her shoulders. He dropped a kiss on his daughter’s forehead and whispered, “I love you, Princess.”

Emily smiled and closed her eyes. Adam turned toward the door and when he reached the door and shut the light out, Emily yelled, “DADDY!”

Adam turned back on the light and walked back to Emily’s bed. “What is it, Princess?”

She held up her arms, and said, “Hug, please.”

Adam bent down and gave his daughter a hug. In a muffled tone, he could hear his daughter say, “I love you, Daddy. Emmy not bad again.”

Adam pulled away and smiled. “I love you too, Princess. You know Mommy and Daddy love you, even when we are upset with you.”

Adam kissed Emily’s forehead again, and she laid her head down and closed her eyes for the rest of the night.

After he left Emily’s room, Adam walked to the end of the hall where his bedroom was, still dressed in the clothes he had wore to the office. He undid his shirt as he walked into his bedroom. When he entered his room, he found a text message on his iPhone, it was from Jessica. It read:

I didn’t want to disturb you or the children in case you were sleeping or busy. If you get this message in the next hour, give me a call. I just wanted to see how Jason is feeling.
Jess.

The message had been sent about twenty minutes earlier, so he gave her a call.

“Hey, it’s me. I just got your text message.” A big sigh escaped his lips. Jessica could tell he’d been busy.

“You sound exhausted, Adam.”

“I am. Emily has been horrible all evening and I’m at my wits end with her.

Adam proceeded to tell her about what had happened in the tub earlier in the evening.

“Adam! Is she OK?” Jessica worried.

“Yes, of course, she’s OK, Jess. Don’t you think I would have called you if she had been injured?” Adam sounded annoyed.

“Well, excuse me for being concerned about my child, Adam.” She replied back in a curt tone.

“I’m sorry, Jess, it’s just been a very long day, and I’m tired. I just got the children to bed, and I’m ready to go myself. Can we continue this conversation tomorrow?” Adam asked as he undressed.

“I was just calling to check on Jason. I was worried about him because of the possibility of his having a reaction to the boosters. I won’t call anymore this weekend.”

“No, it’s OK, Jess. He’s fine, I felt his forehead before he went to bed, and he didn’t feel warm or feverish. He hasn’t complained about feeling bad. I think he’ll be fine tomorrow.”

“I’m glad to know he’s not having any reactions to the boosters. You get some rest too, Adam. I know this has been a rough week for you. We should have waited until next week for you to take the kids, but I know you wanted to spend some time with them without me around.”

“It’s not that, Jess; don’t say it like that,” Adam sighed again. I just feel that we needed to get back to our normal routine as soon as possible. The accident shook them up badly and they needed to know that I was OK and that everything was going to be just like it had been before the accident.”

“I know, I understand,” she said with a twinge of sadness in her voice.

“I’ve really got to go, Jess. Have a good night.”

“Good night, Adam. We’ll see you on Sunday evening.”

“Yeah, good night.”

Adam hung up the phone and finished undressing. He slung his pants on the edge of his bed on top of his crumpled shirt. He pulled the comforter down and slid in between the sheets. He drifted off to sleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

The sun was barely over the horizon when Emily woke up and came into Jason’s room. He was still sound asleep when she whispered his name.

“Jason, Jason! You awake?”

Jason stirred a bit, but didn’t answer his little sister.

“Jason, you awake?” She asked again.

“Go away, Emmy! I’m tired, I wanna sleep.”

“I’m hungry,” she whined.

“Go ask Daddy to get you something. Leave me alone!” Jason demanded as he pulled his covers over his head.

“Bully!” Emily said as she left his room. She walked down the hall to where Adam’s room was. His doors were closed and she stood there for a moment, contemplating if she wanted to walk in without knocking or not. She elected not to at the moment.

She walked back to Jason’s room.

“Jason,” She whispered again.

“Go away, Emmy!” Jason demanded in a loud whisper.

“I’m hungry. Go wake up Daddy for me!”

“Do it yourself. I wanna sleep.”

Dejected, Emily left Jason’s room again and went back down the hall to Adam’s room. She quietly opened the door to find her father sleeping soundly on his side. She went to his side and whispered, “Daddy! Wake up! It’s Emily. I’m hungry!”

Exhausted from the previous day’s events, Adam didn’t hear his youngest child.

“Daddy!” Her whisper was a bit louder, but still no response.

Boldly, Emily dared to try to wake him again, but this time, using a name she knew she was not to use.

“Adam, wake up!” Luckily for her, he remained sleeping, but he did turn over and lay on his back.

Frustrated, she walked to the other side of the bed and climbed in bed with her daddy. Adam’s covers were down around his waste and Emily crawled over to where he was laying and poked him in the chest. At first, he didn’t respond, but with a harder poke, Adam woke up abruptly, startled to see that Emily was practically in his face.

When Adam was more conscience, Emily leaped onto his stomach and straddled his waist. She started to slap him on the chest as she said, “I’m hungry, Daddy!”

Adam grabbed his watch and noted the time: 6:30 AM!

“What are you doing up so early, Princess?”

Exasperated at this point, Emily rolled her eyes and said in a very matter a fact bossy tone, “Daddy, I’m HUNGRY!” She then laid her head on his chest.

Adam, amused at his daughter’s shenanigans, “You are such a drama queen, Emily.” He laughed as he kissed the top of her soft mess of curls.

Now more awake, Adam noticed that all Emily was wearing was her panties. “Where is your princess nightgown that you had on last night?” he asked.

“I got hot and I took it off,” she said.

“Well go put it back on, you can’t be running around the house half naked. Proper young ladies are not nudist.”

“What’s a nudist, Daddy?” Emily wanted to know this new word she had not heard before.

“A nudist is a person who runs around without clothes on, and it’s not proper for young ladies to run around without their clothes on.”

“But you and Jason sometimes don’t have shirt’s on, Daddy. Are you a nudists, too?”

Adam laughed, and tried to explain that sometimes men have to work without their shirts on, but it is more appropriate that they wear a shirt if they can.

“But you’re not wearing a shirt now, Daddy. Are you a nudist now?” The curious questions kept coming.

“Princess, you will understand when you get older. Daddys and boys sometimes sleep without shirts on. It’s just more comfortable.”

“Why can’t girls? I wanna be a nudist, Daddy,” she said with a confident grin.

“Emily,” Adam smiled large trying to retain his laughter, “proper young ladies, like yourself, wear princess night gowns to bed. It is not right for you to sleep without your nightgown on and NO! You cannot be a nudist! Now, go put your gown on and you can come back in here when you’re dressed. I’ll get you some yogurt, but we are going to Poppy’s for breakfast this morning.”

Emily’s eyes got wide with excitement. “YEEEEY!”

She started clapping with excitement and bouncing on Adam’s stomach, knocking the breath out of him with each bounce. He grabbed her by her hips and sat her next to him.

“We aren’t going downstairs until you go put your night gown and robe on, young lady, so move along and go do as I ask.”

Emily crawled out of bed and headed toward the door. When she left, she ran back to her room to put her nightgown and robe back on. Adam took this time to get out of bed, dress and perform his morning ritual. Emily returned while Adam was washing his hands. He finished and proceeded to brush his hair. Emily came into the bathroom and asked if he could brush her hair, too. He pulled her brush from the drawer and gently combed out the tangled curls until her hair was silky smooth with soft ringlets adorning her back. Adam picked her up so she could see herself in the mirror. She smiled and said, “Pretty, Daddy.”

Adam laughed and said, “Yes, you’re my beautiful princess.”

He sat her back on her feet and patted her shoulder and said, “Come on, let’s get you some yogurt. You said your were hungry.”

As they walked out of his bedroom, she noted that Adam was only wearing his jeans, but no shirt. She stopped and put her hands on her hips and said, “Daddy, are you being a nudist again?”

Adam tried to contain his laughter. “Yeah, I guess so. Now do you want yogurt or not?”

Emily jumped up and down and replied, “Yes!”

“Then let’s go get it, and let Daddy worry about being a nudist or not.”

The two headed downstairs to the kitchen where Emily sat at the table and waited for Adam to get her a cup of yogurt from the refrigerator.

While she was in the middle of eating her yogurt and Adam was pouring a cup from the coffee pot which had been programmed the night before to perk, Jason walked downstairs in his pajama pants and robe. His robe was untied, and Emily noticed he too did not have a shirt on.

“Daddy! Jason is a nudist, too!” She yelled pointing at her brother.

Jason stopped and looked down at himself, trying to figure out why Emily was calling him a nudist.

Adam stopped and turned his head. A grin peaked from ear to ear. After capturing his composure at his daughters great curiosity with nudists, he turned and said, “No, Emily, remember what I said about Daddys and brothers sometimes being more comfortable sleeping without a shirt? That goes for your brother, too.”

“Oh.” She took another spoonful of her yogurt and seemingly OK with the answer Adam had just given her.

Jason looked at Adam as if he was wanting to know what he had missed, and he just shook his head and waved his hand as to say, never mind. Jason seemed content and sat down at the table.

“We’re going to Poppy’s house for breakfast,” Emily announced to Jason excitedly.

Jason looked at Adam for confirmation of what Emily had just revealed, and he confirmed her story.

“Would you like some yogurt to hold you over, Tiger? We aren’t due there for another hour.”

“Yeah.” He answered.

Adam got him a yogurt from the refrigerator while Jason got up and got a spoon from the drawer. Adam pulled the orange juice pitcher out as well and poured each of the children a small glass of juice to go with their yogurt.

Adam poured himself another cup of coffee, sat down at the head of the table and opened the paper and began to read. The children were jabbering about mindlessly as they continued to eat their yogurt and drink their juice.

They finished and put the empty cups and glasses on the counter so that Adam could clean up after them.

Adam finished his cup of coffee, poured another and told the kids to head upstairs to get dressed. It would be soon time to leave for Poppy’s house to have breakfast and then go to the stables to tack their mounts for the day’s ride into the meadows with Poppy and Uncle Joe.

Jason and Emily ran upstairs squealing with excitement. Adam took the moment of privacy to call Rebecca to wish her a good morning.

“Hey, good morning,” a sleepy voice answered.

“Good morning, Sunshine, I didn’t mean to wake you up. It’s Adam.”

“Hi, Honey. It’s OK. I had a restless night. I’ve had a terrible headache since last night and I didn’t sleep well.”

Adam’s voice turned from one of contentment to one of concern for Rebecca’s heath.

“Do you need to make an appointment with your doctor or go to the minor emergency clinic?” Adam asked with growing concern in his voice.

“No, I’ll be fine.” Rebecca answered, stretching as she sat up in bed. “I’m just going to take it easy today and get some much needed rest. I’m sure I’ll be fine later. I think I’ve just been burning the candle at both ends lately and it’s starting to catch up with me now.

“Listen to me,” Adam’s voice became authoritative. “I want you to rest today. Don’t leave the house and stay in bed. I’ll give you a call this evening once the kids are in bed for the night, do you hear me?”

“Yes, Father, I hear you,” Rebecca laughed at Adam’s endearing overprotectiveness.

When he realized how intrusive he had just sounded, he apologized for being so bold.

Rebecca told him she found it very sweet and appreciated his concern and care. She promised to follow his orders to the letter. She knew he only wanted the best for her because he loved her.

Adam explained his days plans with his family and told her that he would be thinking about her through out the day. He would expect a full report of how she was feeling and the rest she received on their goodnight call later that evening. Adam took the stairs two at a time up to his bedroom to continue getting dressed. He put on a black long-sleeve cowboy shirt and his boots. He rolled the sleeves up to his elbows, and then went to see how his two kids were progressing with getting dressed for the day.

He went and checked on Jason first to make sure that he was putting on clothes that would be suitable for riding. He had put on his jeans and shirt and was putting on his socks and boots when Adam knocked at his door to check on him.

He then turned his attention to his daughter’s room where she was standing in just her panties pulling clothes from her dresser.

“What are you doing, Princess?” Adam asked as he came in and started picking up the pile of clothes that were splashed on the floor.

“I don’t know what to wear, Daddy!”

Adam laughed, because he had heard the same expression in the same manner from Jessica many times during their marriage when she would be standing in front of the dresser or in their closet dressed in only her panties. Like mother, like daughter, Adam thought to himself.

Adam pulled a pair of denim washed jeans and a green and pink cowgirl shirt from Emily’s drawer. “How about this, Princess?”

Emily jumped up and down and clapped her hands and said, “YEEEEY!”

Adam smiled and told Emily to climb on her bed so he could help her get dressed. After he got her dressed, he set her down on the ground and told her to go in her closet and grab her boots while he got her socks from the drawer. She came back swiftly, boots in hand, and sat on the bed. Adam put her socks on her feet, and she grabbed her first boot and attempted to put it on herself. When Adam tried to help, she pushed him away and said she wanted to do it herself. Adam smiled and advised her that she was trying to put the wrong boot on the wrong foot. Adam pointed to how she could tell which boot went on which foot. She tried to get her foot inside the boot, but could only get it so far before she got frustrated and wanted Adam’s help.

After getting her boots on, the three Cartwrights grabbed their cowboy hats and jumped in Adam’s new SUV, and headed down to Ben’s home for a big western breakfast and then a day of exploring the vast Ponderosa on horseback.

Adam and the children arrived at Ben’s house just a few minutes before 8:00 AM. Hoss answered the door. When Emily saw her favorite uncle, she squealed with delight.

“I thought you were headed to Vegas this morning with Justice?” Adam asked with a quizzical look on his face.

“No, sir, Adam. The trip is canceled because Justice’s father had a heart attack last night and is in ICU at Reno Tahoe Medical,” Hoss somberly answered.

“Oh, Hoss, I’m sorry to hear the news. Is the prognosis favorable?”

“Yeah, I spoke to Justice just a few minutes ago and his daddy is doing fine. They’ve stabilized his heart, and he’s resting comfortably. Might have to have a by-pass, though. They’re going to run more tests today and will know more after they get the results back.”

“Let Justice know that I’ll keep him and his father in my thoughts,” Adam said with care and concern.

“Will do, Older Brother, will do. Now, what two young critters did you drag in from the farm here?” Hoss said as he looked down on his niece and nephew.

“I’m not a critter, Uncle Hoss, I’m Emily!” she said with a big grin, jumping up and down.

Jason, also with a big grin, went to receive a big bear hug from his uncle.

“I thought I heard some small voices down here,” Joe spoke up as he came down the stairs into the great room.

Jason left Adam hanging the hats on the hat rack and Hoss flipping Emily up on his shoulders. He headed to his favorite uncle, Joe.

“You wanna try and beat me at checkers today, Uncle Joe?” Jason asked.

“Do I wanna try and beat you? I think you are going down today, buddy. Hear me? Going way down,” Joe teased as he rustled Jason’s hair and took him into a head lock.

“Yeah, that’s what you think! I know your strategy, and I’ve got it covered. No beating the checker king here, Uncle Joe.”

Ben came out from the kitchen where he had been helping Hop Sing prepare a feast fit for the Cartwright clan.

“Well, well, who do we have here? Hi, Adam, Emily, Jason!”

“Hi Dad,” Adam said with a big smile. He loved nothing more than spending time with his brothers and father. His children loved spending time with the elder Cartwright as well.

“Hop Sing has breakfast almost ready, so why don’t we all sit down and get some juice and coffee, and by then, everything should be ready.”

As the Cartwright clan came to the table, Hop Sing came out with a platter of eggs, bacon and ham as well as a basket full of piping hot, fluffy buttermilk biscuits.

“Oh, Hop Sing, my taste buds are already dancing from the smell of those pigs and their blankets.” Hoss commented as the aroma from the bacon, ham, and biscuits flavored the air.

“You can smell Hop Sing’s biscuits from anywhere in the world,” Adam laughed.

The family erupted in laughter at the banter between the two brothers.

The Cartwrights dug in to the massive feast Hop Sing had spent the last few hours preparing. Adam fixed Emily’s and Jason’s plates as they patiently sat and watched as all the grown men dig into the platters of food and baskets of bread and assorted pastries.

Once Hop Sing saw that everyone was enjoying breakfast, he stepped back into the kitchen to finish preparing the lunchtime picnic that they would carry with them for their day long family outing on the great land that was the Ponderosa.

As the men and the children headed toward the stables with picnic blankets and baskets in hand, Ben suggested to Adam that he grab his guitar and bring it with them. After lunch, they could sit back and listen to Adam sing songs from the old west. Jason always enjoyed singing with his father, joining in on the songs he knew and loved so well. Ben always remarked to his son how Jason’s voice reminded him of Adam’s voice at the same age. Adam hoped that one day Jason would sing to his future wife and their baby as he had with Jessica, him and his sister.

As the horses were being saddled and made ready to head out, Emily asked if she could ride with her Uncle Hoss. Adam was more than happy to share the extra passenger duty. Before the journey would be done, Emily was going to want to ride with all the Cartwright men for one reason or another, but her favorite horse would always be Sport, Adam’s mount.

After a few hours of riding along the great wide expanse, the family made their way down near the shores of Lake Tahoe. The water was a magnificent blue green and the smell of the pine trees scented the air. The weather was warm with no breeze, and a few puffy clouds dotted the sky.

After lunch, Jason and Joe headed to the nearest tree to start their checker tournament while Hoss and Emily sat on the lakes edge and watched the small waves roll in. Hoss looked forward to the next few years when Emily would be old enough to be taught the fine art of fishing. Until then, he had many stories of the Old West that Emily never grew tired of hearing. Hoss told the stories with animation which helped keep Emily’s attention. Ben and Adam sat back and watched everyone carry on with love and devotion. They were indeed two very blessed men.

Adam grabbed his guitar and started tuning the strings as he spoke to Ben about how he knew how Justice must be feeling, for it only seemed like yesterday that he and his brothers worried helplessly outside of the ICU when Ben had had his heart attack.

“Oren is a strong man, Adam. He’ll pull through. I just know he will. Justice will help keep his family together for Oren’s sake.”

“It’s times like these, that we remember how fragile life is, how we can be snapped up in a split second. You know all to well the tragedy of a great loss, Dad.”

“Yes, Son, I do. However, I wouldn’t trade it for anything because I have three grown sons that I’m mighty proud of. Mighty proud.” Ben smiled. “I’m truly thankful that God brought you back to us, Adam. It’s one thing to lose a wife not once, but three times, but it is quite another to lose a child. It’s not the natural order, no matter how old you are.

“It’s good to be back, Dad. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Adam had finished tuning his guitar and had been picking and strumming quietly as they had continued to talk. After they finished talking, Adam looked at all the tall pine trees that framed the family and started to sing, “In The Pines”.

As he started to sing, Hoss and Emily, Joe and Jason, all stopped their favorite past-times and walked back to the big blanket that Adam and Ben were sitting on. Adam’s voice was strong and smooth. At the refrain, all the Cartwright men joined in and even Emily tried to sing along where she knew a few words. The next few hours were filled with songs sung one after another. Each Cartwright got to choose their favorite song and Adam strummed the melody while everyone sang along.

As the sun came over the mountains in preparation to put to bed another day, the men gathered up all the supplies and packed them on the mule they had brought to carry everything.

Emily was growing tired and wanted to ride with her daddy on Sport. The short ride back to the stables would only take about a half hour, and not a minute too soon; for his youngest was getting quite tired and a little irritable.

As they reached the stables, Hank, the head foreman, was there to meet them. He took all the horses and told Ben he would see to it they were all watered, fed and put in their stalls for the night.

Adam carried Emily in his arms. She was unable to hold her eyes open any longer so she placed her head on her daddy’s strong chest and drifted off to sleep. Even Jason, who had won most of the checkers games he had challenged his Uncle Joe to was getting sleepy, so Hoss picked him up and he too, rested his weary head on Hoss’ big chest.

Joe opened the back door of Adam’s car, and Adam placed Emily in her car seat. She woke momentarily as he buckled her in for the short ride up the road to their home. When Hoss placed Jason in on the other side, he woke up and remained awake for the ride home.

Before Adam got in the drivers seat, he shook his father’s hand and thanked him for being such a supportive father.

“Thank you, Son.” Ben smiled. “We must do this again next summer. Next time, however, let’s not wait until so late in the year so that we can enjoy many times throughout the season.”

Hoss and Joe were in complete agreement. Even though his trip to Vegas with his best friend was canceled, Hoss was thankful that he was in town after all so that he could enjoy the fine day he had had with his brothers, father, niece and nephew.

“Hopefully, we’ll have some new wives to add to the mix before long.” Adam slapped both his brother’s backs as if to give them a gentle hint it was time for them to think about settling down.

Don’t go rushing things there, Older Brother!” Joe exclaimed with a big grin. “I still have a lot of livin’ to do with all of my, ahem, lady friends,” he said with a wink. “However, there is one that’s grabbing my attention for exclusivity. But I’ll elaborate when the picture becomes more clear.”

“Dagonnit, Little Brother, who is it? Is it Donna? Jo? Doreen?” Hoss was excited at the thought of his Casanova brother finally finding a woman who could settle his brother’s randy ways.

“I’m not sayin right now, you big lug. You’ll just have to wait and be surprised,” Joe teased Hoss.

Adam laughed at his two younger siblings. The years had never diminished how they loved playing each other. He always enjoyed egging each of them on when they were all younger boys. Now they knew the art of doing it to each other without the assistance of their dear older brother.

Adam got in his car and started the engine. “Hoss, be sure that you call and let me know how Oren is doing, OK?”

“Will do, Adam.”

Adam drove around the great circle drive and turned left back up the main road toward his home. The three Cartwright men waved as he drove out of sight.

When Adam and the kids reached home and Adam had parked in the garage for the night, Jason got out and headed into the house. Adam called Jason back to the car and asked him to carry their three hats in since he had to carry Emily who was still fast asleep in her car seat. Jason took the hats and laid them on the kitchen counter and headed upstairs to his room.

Adam took Emily to her room and put her princess night gown on her. She was semiconscious as he dressed her for bed. After using the bathroom and brushing her teeth, she climbed back into bed where she plopped down and went right back to sleep. Adam bent down to kiss her soft cheek. He walked to the door and turned around to watch his baby girl sleep for just a moment. He then turned out the light and shut the door behind him.

When he reached Jason’s room, he knocked and Jason invited him in. He walked in to find Jason in his PJ’s sitting on his bed reading his book where he had left off from the night before.

“Time to put the book away. You need to brush your teeth and get in bed. We have to get up early tomorrow because you will need to bathe before we go to church.” Adam ordered.

Jason, too tired to argue, closed his book, handed it to Adam and did as his father requested. When he returned, he got in bed and before he shut his eyes, he smiled at his hero and thanked him for the memorable day.

“You’re the best dad in the whole wide world.”

Adam was speechless. His son’s words came straight from the heart and they touched him deeply. His mind raced back to when he was with his three mothers and had thought about wanting to stay on “the other side”. He thanked God each day that he had come back to live another day, for had he not, he would have missed out on truly wonderful moments like this.

“Thanks, Son. We plan to do it again next year. Who knows? This might become a Cartwright family tradition.”

Adam dropped a kiss on his son’s head and Jason closed his eyes, but his smile remained just as bright. Adam turned and went to the door. He turned once last time and looked his son. He smiled and looking to Heaven he whispered, “Thank you, God. Thank you.” He turned out the light and walked back to his bedroom.

It was going on 9:00 PM and Adam was exhausted and ready for bed himself. He stripped down to his boxers and went in the bathroom to run a hot shower. He was just about to step into the shower when the phone rang. It was Rebecca.

“Hey, Sweetheart, I was just getting ready to take a shower and then I was going to call you. How are you feeling?”

“I don’t want to keep you if you are getting ready to take a shower. I was just going to leave you a message to let you know I was going to bed. I’m still not feeling well. I developed a cough and tickle in my throat. I think I’m coming down with something. I called my friend, George Leo, to take a look at me on Monday morning. I don’t know what I have, but I’m zapped of all my energy and now this nagging cough is driving me crazy.”

Adam turned off the shower and went and sat on the side of his garden tub while he listened with great concern over the deterioration in Rebecca’s health.

“Are you sure you don’t need to get medical attention tonight, Beck? I can call one of my brother’s to come and stay with the kids; and I can come get you and take you the hospital if you feel you need to see a doctor tonight.”

“No, Adam, you’ve had a long day and you sound like you need some sleep. I’ll reassess tomorrow and see how I’m feeling. George recommended something over the counter for tonight so that I could sleep. He won’t prescribe anything until he knows what’s wrong. He wanted me to be comfortable tonight.”

“OK, you’re a doctor, you know what is best for yourself, so I’m trusting you to make the right decision here, but if you start to feel worse throughout the night, you’d better call me and I’ll come and get you to take you to the hospital.”

“I promise, I will, but one thing you need to know: doctor’s make the worst patients.” Rebecca laughed and then coughed.

“That doesn’t sound good at all. I think you need some medical attention tonight.” Adam’s voice grew with concern.

“No! I’m fine. Take your shower and go to bed. I’ll call you in the morning. I promise.” Rebecca said, trying to hide her own concern for her failing health.

Unsure he wanted to accept her demand, Adam wanted to respect her wishes. So he wished her a restful night, told her he loved her. The two hung up and Adam resumed his shower.

After he got out of the shower, he wrapped his towel around his waist and was brushing his teeth when Emily, half awake walked in and said she was thirsty. Adam, not dressed appropriately to be in his daughter’s presence, grabbed his robe from the door quickly and put it on. She was half asleep, so he felt it useless to correct her on coming into his room without knocking first since the door was shut.

He picked her up and took her downstairs to the kitchen and got her a glass of water from the tap in the refrigerator door. Emily drank it and rested her head back on her father’s chest.

“I want you to try to use the toilet before you go back to bed,” Adam insisted.

“OK, Daddy. I sleep with you.”

“No, Princess, you need to sleep in your own room tonight. Daddy is getting ready to go to bed, too. We have to get up early tomorrow so that you can take a bath before church.”

Emily was too tired to give him any grief, and she allowed him to put her back in her bed after she did need to use the toilet. She was asleep soon after he laid her back down.

Adam went back into his room, removed his robe, finished getting ready for bed and soon was in bed sleeping himself. The new day would bring a start to the end of a wonderful weekend with his children once again. They would have a lot to be thankful for when they went to church services the next day.r32;
At 6:30 AM, the radio on Adam’s Bose Wave Radio quietly came on and raised the volume to the level he had his alarm set at. The jazz station he had it set to was playing one of his favorite Herb Albert classics.

Adam rolled out of bed, and went into his bathroom, turned on the shower to warm the water, and completed his first morning rituals.

The mornings were starting to cool off and it would be time soon to start using the small radiators in each room on low to keep the rooms from getting too chilly overnight.

After finishing his shower, Adam placed a towel around his waist and proceeded to shave. He hadn’t shaved on Saturday and had the makings of a beard.

After brushing his teeth, he went into his room and grabbed a fresh pair of boxers from the drawer and put on a pair of jeans. He went into his closet to get a fresh dress shirt, suit and tie to wear for church.

The time was now 7:00 AM and it was time to start running a bath in the main bathroom and start getting the children up so they would have enough time to bathe and eat breakfast before it was time to head out and make the 9:00 AM service at church. While the children bathed, Adam would get their clothes out to change into after breakfast. Since there was no time for them to play in the bathtub together, he had Jason take a shower in his room and Emily took a bath in the main bathroom upstairs.

He first entered Jason’s room to wake him. He had kicked his covers off overnight and was curled up in a ball down at the end of his bed.

“Jason, wake up, Son. It’s time to get ready for church.”

Jason was still able to be wakened pretty easily and this day was no different. He sat up in bed and wiped his eyes and scratched his head.

“What time is it, Dad?” He asked as he yawned widely.

It’s a little after seven, Tiger. I want you to go to my room and take a shower. We don’t have time for you and Emily to play in the bathtub this morning.” Adam said as he walked into Jason’s closet to get his suit out for him to change into after breakfast.

Adam handed his son his robe and underwear and without hesitation, Jason walked out of his room and down to Adam’s room for his shower.

Adam then walked into Emily’s room where he found her again sleeping without her nightgown on and one leg hanging off her bed, covers pushed to the edge of the bed. Adam smiled as he thought about their nudist talk the previous morning. Adam knew that she took after her mother who always complained that she was hot when she slept and often, even in the dead of winter, slept in only her panties or in a silk short and spaghetti strap top set when they were married.

“Emily, wake up, Princess. Time to get up and take a bath and get ready for church,” Adam said in a soft sweet voice as he shook his daughter’s shoulder.

Emily was a much deeper sleeper than Jason, so it was always more of a battle to wake his daughter than his son.

“Emily, time to get up. Come on, Princess,” Adam shook her a little stronger.

Emily stirred and whined a bit, but was still not waking up completely. Again, he shook her a little harder, his voice a little more strong and loud.

“Emily, come on, time to get up. You need to take a bath.”

Emily’s eyes finally opened and she focused on Adam’s face after a few quick blinks.

“Hi, Daddy!” Emily said, as she laid flat on her back.

“Good morning, Princess, it’s time to get in the tub.”

Emily rolled over and got out of bed. She walked over to the closet where Adam was now looking through her clothes deciding what dress to pull for Emily to wear. When he saw her walk in the closet he asked her which dress she wanted to wear.

“That one, Daddy,” she pointed to her soft pink chiffon and silk dress.

“OK, pretty choice, Princess. Now, go to the bathroom, I have the water running for you.”

Adam was right behind her. The garden tub had filled about 1/4 full. He checked to make sure the water would not be too warm for his daughters skin and it was perfectly luke warm.

Emily stripped to her birthday suit, and after her morning ritual, Adam picked her up and placed her in the bath.

“I need to wash your hair this morning, so stay standing for a minute,” Adam ordered while he opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled the children’s shampoo out.

He held the shower head attachment and turned the water on again.

“Shut your eyes, while I wet your hair.”

Emily complied with her father’s order and Adam quickly wet her hair and lathered her tangled curls.

“You always shake my head, Daddy,” she laughed as the lather foamed up.

“We have to make sure that we get your hair clean and shiny,” Princess, Adam said as he again turned the water on and rinsed her hair.

The tub was now filled with bubbles from the shampoo, and he helped his daughter sit down so she could bathe herself while he went and grabbed her robe and panties.

Emily played with the bubbles and wiped her arms and chest with them.

When Adam returned, he took the bar of soap and lathered up a wet wash rag and washed down her back and legs. He cleaned her face with paying careful attention to her eyes and mouth so that he would not get soap in either. When he got to her mouth, she closed her mouth and puckered like a fish.

“You look like a fish that Uncle Hoss catches in the lake when you do that, Princess.”

After Adam washed her body, he had her stand again so that he could rinse her off with the same hand shower that he had washed her hair with. He then pulled the plug to the tub, and lifted her out. He gave her a towel to wrap herself up in and then sprayed detangler spray to her hair, and gently combed her hair. He then pulled the blow-dryer from the linen closet and turned the dryer on a low setting and dried her hair. When he finished, her hair was soft and shiny with flowing curls down her back.

“Pretty! Daddy! I want a bow,” she said with a big smile.

Adam opened the side drawer and picked out a light pink bow and clipped a lock of hair back in the bow.

“Emmy pretty!”

“Yes, Princess, you are beautiful,” Adam agreed as he kissed her head and told her to go on back in her room and he would be there in just a moment after putting the shampoo and detangle conditioner away.

When Adam emerged from the main bathroom, Jason was coming out of his room. His hair was still wet. Adam told him that he had left the dryer sitting on the counter and he could dry his hair.

“Thanks, Dad,” Jason said as he walked by him into the bathroom.

Adam heard the dryer go on as he walked into Emily’s room.

“OK, Princess, let’s get your panties and robe on so that you can eat breakfast,” Adam said as he pulled some matching pink panties from her suitcase.

Adam helped her with her robe and panties.

“Cereal, Daddy,” she said as he tied the sash on her robe to keep it closed.

“OK, head on down to the kitchen, I’ll be there in just a minute.”

The sun now was up above the horizon and was shining into the house through the skylights and windows. The night lights that were strategically placed through the house had turned off when the light shined in.

Adam stopped by the bathroom and saw that Jason had finished drying his hair and was getting out his hair gel. Adam went in and squeezed out the gel into his hand and combed it through Jason’s hair and styled it with his fingers. Looking very handsome, Jason was ready and Adam told him to head down to the kitchen while he washed his hands.

When Adam got to the kitchen, Emily was sitting at the table and Jason was getting bowls and spoons for their cereal and glasses for their juice for both himself and Emily.

“I’m trying to help you, Dad,” Jason said with a grin.

“Thanks, Jason! You’ve been a big help!” Adam said as he entered the pantry to get the box of Rice Crispies. He filled both the children’s bowls, and then headed to the refrigerator and got the carton of milk and pitcher of OJ.

“I want apple juice, Daddy,” Emily told Adam.

“Sorry, Princess, but I’m out of apple juice; you’ll have to drink orange juice.”

“OK,” Emily pouted.

The children ate their cereal while Adam poured a cup of coffee that had already brewed from the self-timer he had set before going to bed the previous night. He toasted a few slices of bread and spread a thin layer of Hop Sing’s plumb preserves on them.

When they were finished, both children took their cups and bowls and placed them on the counter. Adam noted how Jason had started to help out without being ask to help.He was proud of his son, and he would make sure to praise Jason for his act of maturity. He knew it would give his son a confidence boost.

The children and Adam all headed back upstairs and each went to their respective bedrooms. Jason was able to dress himself, but still needed help with his neck tie. Adam quickly put his shirt and pants on and then headed to Emily’s room to help her with her dress. When he entered her room, she had taken off her robe and was sitting on the floor in just her panties feeding her baby doll a pretend bottle. Adam smiled as he saw her being so motherly to her doll.

“I’m feeding my baby her milk, Daddy. I don’t want her to get hungry while I’m at church,” she said very matter of factly.

“I see,” Adam said. You need to put her down just a minute so that I can help you dress.”

Emily laid her baby back in her rocking cradle that sat next to her bed, and laid the bottle next to her. “I’ll be right back to feed you some more milk, Baby,” she said.

Adam smiled and took Emily’s dress off its hanger. He held the dress up so he could put it over Emily’s head.

“Arms up, Princess,” Adam said as he placed the dress over her head. He thread her arms through the dress sleeves and buttoned it. When he was finished, he went back to the closet to get her shoes and socks from her drawer. She twirled making the skirt on her dress fly up in a circle. “Be careful, Princess, so you don’t get dizzy and fall down.”

Adam quickly walked out of her room to see how Jason was coming along with getting dressed. He was dressed except for his tie. Adam finished his tie and told him that he could read while he waited for him to finish dressing.

Adam went back in his room, tucking his shirt in his trousers as he was walking down the hall. He grabbed his tie and proceeded to tie it as he was walking into the closet to get his shoes. He grabbed his shoes and then socks from the drawer. He finished putting on his shoes and socks, opened both doors to Jason’s and Emily’s rooms and told them to come. The children came quickly and they all headed to the garage. Adam lifted Emily into her car seat and strapped her in, while Jason got in on the other side and buckled himself in. Running just a few minutes behind, the Cartwright clan was still on track to make it to the 9:00 AM service on time.

After church was over, Adam, Ben, Hoss, Joe, and the two younger Cartwrights went to a local restaurant to have lunch. While waiting for their food to arrive, Adam excused himself from the table and stepped outside to give Rebecca a quick call to see how she was feeling. The morning had been so busy getting everyone ready for church, he had not been able to stop and give her a call. He had thought about calling her when he first got up, but didn’t want to wake her up so early. This was his first opportunity to call her. He felt bad for excusing himself from the table, but he explained that he needed to call to Rebecca because she had not been feeling well the past few days and he was concerned. Ben told him not to worry and to take his time.

Adam went outside and called Rebecca.

Adam Cartwright – Mobile is what read on the screen of Rebecca’s phone. Happy to see it was him, she answered the call instead of letting it go to voice mail.

“Hey, Adam,” her voice was weak and quiet.

“How are you feeling, Sweetheart?” Adam asked with a concerned loving tone.

“I had a terrible night. The medicine is not helping very much and my chest is so tight. I really feel horrible,” Rebecca said as she started to cry.

Adam’s heart broke because he couldn’t be there to care for Rebecca.

“Did you call your doctor?” Adam inquired.

“No, not yet. I’ll be seeing him first thing in the morning. Until then, I’m just going to stay in bed and try to drink plenty of fluids”

“I don’t like you feeling so bad, Rebecca. I’m concerned. I think you should go to the emergency room to get looked at today.”

“I’ll be fine, Adam. I can hold out one more day. I just need to stay in bed,” she tried to reassure her man.

“If you’re up to it, I’ll stop by for a few minutes to check on you tonight when I drop off the kids. We’ll reschedule our dinner date.”

“Yeah, I would like that. Just come through the garage door, I’ll give you the code, so I don’t have to get out of bed.”

Rebecca gave Adam the code to open her garage door and told him where the key to the house she kept hidden was.

“Is there anything I can pick up for you before I stop by?” he asked.

“I haven’t eaten anything since Friday night. Could you bring me some soup? My throat is raw, so some broth or soft noodles would be great.”

“I’ll have Hop Sing fix up his famous chicken noodle soup and bring it with me.”

“Sounds good. I need to go. I really don’t feel good,” Rebecca said wanting to cut the call short.

Adam hung up and headed back to the table where the food had just been delivered. Joe had started to cut Jason’s meat, and Ben was cutting the chicken strips for Emily.

Ben asked how Rebecca was feeling, and Adam said she was quite ill; he said he was going to stop by and see her after dropping the children off at home with Jessica.

“Who’s Becka, Daddy?” Emily inquired, unable to clearly pronounce Rebecca’s full name, and not remembering her from the time Jason was hurt on the playground and the day she spent with them at the Ponderosa.

“Nobody to concern yourself with, Princess. Now eat your chicken,” Adam said as he cut a slice of his own meat and ate it.

Adam didn’t want to expose his children to his relationship with Rebecca just quite yet. He felt his children should be shielded from lovers in their parents lives until they were serious enough with their mates to consider the possibility of getting married again. He had conveyed this wish to Jessica when she started to date Clint, but she didn’t subscribe to his way of thinking and defied Adam when seeing Clint, even when she had the children. They often had heated arguments over Clint’s role in her life with the children around, but it was now no longer an issue since she had broken up with him. The children didn’t seem to be too upset that he was no longer around. While they liked Clint, and he was always good with them, they were just as happy to not have him around taking the attention of their mother when they wanted and needed her focus on them.

As lunch ended, the children gave their poppy, and uncles kisses and they all went their separate ways. The rest of the day would be spent at home on the Ponderosa reading or taking a nap. Adam had brought work home with him but he never went into his office to work during the children’s waking hours. He had planned to work on things after bedtime each night but found himself very tired and sleep was more inviting than work that could wait until Sunday night or Monday.

When the three Cartwrights returned home, the smell of cleanliness filled the air. Adam knew Mrs. Rojas had come by to do her weekly cleaning. A devout Catholic woman, Mrs. Rojas went to mass on Saturday night so that she could come to Adam’s house on Sunday morning to clean and do laundry while Adam was at church. Adam paid Mrs. Rojas extremely well, and she often brought her oldest daughter with her to help out so that she could get everything done in the four hours that Adam was in church and was having lunch, etc.

When Adam walked into his bedroom to take off his Sunday suit, he saw his dress shirts crisply starched hanging on the front of the closet door, and his tee-shirts and underwear neatly ironed and folded on his bed ready to be put away. His more casual chino pants and jeans were also ironed and hanging with his dress shirts. Adam rotated his suits and each Monday morning would drop them at the cleaners near his building and would pick them up later in the day or the next day. The children loved Mrs. Rojas. She always left them a small piece of chocolate or a lolly pop from her home country of the Dominican Republic. Once a month Mrs. Rojas, in true Dominican style, wanted to give Mr. Adam’s -as she liked to call him- house a thorough cleaning from top to bottom. This meant a whole day that Adam would need to be away from the house so that she could move furniture around to clean the floors, carpets, and baseboards. These days, she would bring her son and husband to help with the moving of the furniture since the solid mahogany furniture was quite heavy. Adam always doubled her salary on these cleaning days because she took great pride and attention to detail on not only her regular cleaning days but on her thorough cleanings as well.

Adam put away his clean clothes and changed into some stone washed jeans and a white button down cotton shirt. As Adam was putting on his shirt, Emily burst through the door without knocking.

“Daddy! Unbutton me, please.”

Adam sat on the bed and told Emily to come to him. She could tell he was not pleased and her face soured. She knew at that moment, she had forgotten to knock before she entered his room. “Sorry, Daddy, I forgot,” she said in a whimpering voice. “Please, no spank.”

Adam’s face softened. “I’m not going to spank you, Princess. I just want to speak to you about how rude it is to walk into someone’s bedroom when their door is shut. What has Mommy and Daddy taught you about this?” he questioned her.

“To knock first,” she answered with a pout still in her voice.

“That’s right. Sometimes we’re getting dressed or we need our privacy. When you get older, you’ll not want me, Mommy, or Jason to come into your room without knocking first, too.”

“But you don’t knock now, Daddy. Why do I have to?” she wanted to know.

“Because, Princess, you are only four years old, and I’m your Daddy, and you don’t need privacy yet, but in a few years, I’ll start to knock because it will be the right thing to do. But for now, you’re still my baby girl, aren’t you?” He smiled a big grin.

“I’m not a baby, Daddy! I’m Emmy, your princess!” Her pout changed to a smile and laughter.

Adam took her in a hug and said, “Yes, Princess, you are.”

“Sorry, Daddy, I forgot to knock.”

“I know you are, Emmy, but you need to work on remembering every time, OK?”

“OK.”

“Now go back to your bedroom and I’ll be with you in just a few minutes after I finish getting dressed.

Adam finished dressing into his shirt, jeans, socks and Italian leather loafers.

He headed to Emily’s room where she was looking through her books. When she saw Adam come in, she said, “Read me, Daddy?”

“Sure, Princess, but let’s get you out of your dress first.” Adam unbuttoned Emily’s dress and put it back on the hanger. Emily sat on the floor and pulled off her shoes. She walked into the closet and handed her shoes to Adam. He told her to go get some pants and shirt from her suitcase and he would help her get dressed.

Emily looked in her suitcase and didn’t find any pants. She only found a matching green pair of shorts and top.

“No pants, Daddy.”

A bit annoyed that Jessica would not pack some pants or jeans with the weather getting cooler at night, Adam told her to get them; she would have to wear those. He thought to himself, If it’s too chilly, I’ll wrap her in a blanket or send her home with one of the sweaters I keep here. He planned to address this issue with Jessica the next time they could speak privately.

Once Adam had Emily dressed, he told her since it was warm enough to sit outside on the porch swing, he told her to go downstairs with her book and wait for him. He would read to her outside, something she loved to do during the summer.

Adam stopped off at Jason’s room. He knocked and Jason told him to come in. Adam opened the door and saw he had already changed out of his Sunday clothes and had them laying neatly on the bed. He had picked up his Hardy Boys book and was reading from where he had left off. Adam grabbed the hangers and started to put his clothes away.

“Are you enjoying your new books, Jason?” Adam inquired as he walked into the closet.

“Yes, Daddy. I can’t wait to read all of them. Can I take this one home with me?” Jason asked.

“These are very special books, Jason and I will allow you to take it home, but you need to make sure you bring it back with you in a couple of weeks.

“When I was your age, I read all the Hardy Boys books too. They were some of my favorite books growing up. I wanted you to have a set to read as well. Poppy bought me a set when I was your age, and I passed them down to Uncle Hoss and Uncle Joe,” Adam shared.

“Cool, Dad! You read all of these books?” Jason asked in amazement.

“I sure did. One summer, I finished all of them between my chores here on the ranch. I would stay up late and get up early so that I could read the adventures of Frank and Joe Hardy.”

“Which is your favorite book, Dad?” Jason asked with a interested tone of voice.

“Hm, let’s see. Adam looked at the collection. I would have to say my all time favorite is one of the original classics, The Tower Treasure. The Hardy Boys had a friend, Chet. You might know him from the book you are currently reading. Anyway, the Hardy Boys are almost hit by a mysterious man in a speeding car. When Chet’s car is stolen, they suspect he may be the one that stole it. There’s also a robbery of jewels and other valuables from a very rich family living in a mansion. The Hardys suspect this man is also involved in the robbery. So they set out, with the help of their father, to solve the mystery of the jewels stolen from the mansion. It’s a classic, I know you’ll enjoy it when you get to it.”

“I’ll read it after this one, Dad!” Jason said with great excitement.

Tired of waiting downstairs, Emily came back up to where she found Adam in Jason’s room talking about the books.

“Daddy, read me!” Emily said in quite a bossy tone.

“I’m coming, young lady. You need to learn some patience,” Adam told her in a very matter of fact tone.

“Do you want to come downstairs and lay in the hammock and read, Tiger? It’s a beautiful day.”

“Maybe later, Dad. I’m fine up here in my room,” Jason said not even looking up from his book that he had turned his attention back to.

Adam closed Jason’s door for his privacy, and Emily grabbed his hand and dragged him back down the stairs to the porch where she had left her book. She picked it up and handed it to Adam.

Green Eggs and Ham again, Princess?” Adam asked.

“Yep, it’s my favorite, Daddy.”

“Well, that’s pretty obvious, Princess. However, you will never know if you like another if you never let me read you another one. What about, Put Me In The Zoo? That was Daddy’s favorite Dr. Seuss book when I was your age.”

“Nope, Green Eggs and Ham, please,” Emily said jumping up and down.

“OK, Princess, hop up here into my lap.” Adam patted his lap for Emily to climb up in.

After Emily climbed into Adam’s lap, she laid her head down on his chest, resting her feet on the open space of the swing. Adam started gently swinging back and forth and began the book from the beginning again. By the time he was three quarters of the way through the book, Emily was sound asleep on his chest. He quietly closed the book, picked her up, took her upstairs, and laid her quietly on her bed. She had a handmade afghan that Mrs. Rojas had made her for her fourth birthday. It was a beautiful shell pattern of pink and white variegated yarn. Adam pulled it from the closet and placed it over his sleeping girl. He closed the shutters on her window to dim the bright sunshine that was blaring into the room. The room was a muted gray and Emily would sleep for several hours only waking shortly before it was time to go home.

With Jason reading in his room, Adam went into his office to call Hop Sing about making some chicken noodle soup for Rebecca.

“Cartwright residence, may I help you?”

“Hop Sing, it’s Adam. Do you have any of your famous chicken noodle soup made by chance?”

“Must be Mr. Adam’s lucky day! I made some with the left over roast chicken from the outing you had yesterday. It’s simmering on the stove now.”

“Excellent!” Adam said. I can’t believe my luck!” Can you put some in a container for a friend who is ill? I’ll stop by on my way to take the kids home.”

“Sure thing, Mr. Adam. I put it in the refrigerator and you help yourself to it when you stop by.”

“Thanks, Hop Sing.”

Adam hung up the phone and decided to take the quiet Sunday afternoon to go over some prospectus he had been reviewing for a meeting on Wednesday. He also opened up his laptop and sent an email to his administrative assistant, Gretchen, to let her know he would be coming in late on Monday because he had some personal business to attend to. He wanted to be available to take Rebecca to her doctor’s appointment if she was not feeling up to driving herself.

Shortly before 4:00 PM, Adam was deeply engrossed in work. Jason had come out once around 3:00 PM to ask for a glass of water, but soon disappeared back into his room to continue reading his book he was quite intrigued with. Emily came to the door leading into his office and called to get her daddy’s attention.

“Daddy,” She cried.

Adam looked up to see that Emily’s shorts were all wet. She had not used the toilet before falling asleep in his arms and because she was a heavy sleeper, wet her shorts and bed.

Anxiously she cried, “I’m sorry, Daddy, don’t be mad, don’t spank me.”

With a deep sigh, Adam told his baby girl he was not upset with her, and that he was not going to spank her. He knew it was an accident. He told her to go in the bathroom and take off her clothes, and that he would run the bath and get her a clean pair of clothes, but that he needed to get her comforter and sheets off the bed first.

When he returned to the bathroom, Emily had taken her clothes off and Adam ran a bath for her. He put some Mr. Bubbles in the water.

“Emily, why would think I would spank you? I know it was an accident.” Adam asked.

Emily still a bit distraught said with a frown, “Mommy spanked me when I tinkled in my bed.”

Adam was not happy that Jessica would spank Emily for an accident, and he made another mental note to discuss this with her.

I should’ve made sure you used the toilet before we started to read your book. You fell asleep and I didn’t want to wake you.”

Adam turned off the water and rolled up his sleeves and helped Emily take a quick bath to get clean again. He took her soiled clothes along with her bed linens and transferred them immediately to the washer. He knew they would not be ready when he was ready to take the kids back to Jessica, so he put her in some pants and a shirt from the clothes he kept at his home. He brushed her hair and asked her if she was hungry and if she wanted a snack. She did, so he went and knocked on Jason’s door and asked him if he wanted a snack before they left to go back to mommy’s house. Jason was keen on the idea, so he came from his room, and they all went downstairs to the kitchen.

Adam made a platter of fruit, cheese, and crackers. He made some fresh lemonade for the kids and poured himself a glass of wine. They all sat down and had a light snack and before they knew it, it was time to pack up and leave for their drive back home to Jessica’s.

Jason had already made sure his stuff was packed and in his suitcase. Adam packed Emily’s doll and the few toys she had brought. Once the packing was done, he grabbed both suitcases and put them in the back of his SUV.

Adam had both children use the toilet before they left so they wouldn’t have to stop along the way. Before leaving the Ponderosa on their way back to Carson City, Adam stopped off by the main house to pick up the chicken soup. Hop Sing had just packed it, so instead of having it in the refrigerator, he packed it in an insulated container that would keep it piping hot. Adam thanked Hop Sing and soon they were on their forty-five minute drive back to Carson City.

Both children fell asleep from the turns down the mountain and the soft jazz that played on the radio.

As Adam reached their home, Jason woke up. He felt the car come to a stop in front of Jessica’s house.

Jessica was in the front yard watering her garden when she saw Adam and the kids drive up. She turned off the water and went to meet them. Jason ran to his mother and gave her a big hug. She bent down to hug him and dropped a kiss on the top of his head. As Adam was unbuckling Emily, she woke up. She saw her mommy and her eyes lit up with excitement.

“Mommy!” she squealed. When Adam placed her on the sidewalk, she ran up the stairs to see her mother. Jessica picked her up and swung her around, hugging her tightly and kissing her on the cheek.

“I missed you guys. Did you have a good weekend with Daddy?” She asked her kids.

The kids both agreed they did and proceeded to tell her about their day on Saturday with their poppy and uncles. Adam came up the sidewalk with both suitcases in hand and handed them to Jason. He asked the children to go inside so that he could talk to their mom privately.

“I had to dress Emily in some of the clothes from my house because she wet her bed when she was taking a nap. There wasn’t enough time to wash her clothes and dress her back in them. I’ll make sure they get packed next time, which brings me to a couple of things I needed to discuss with you.”

Jessica’s body tensed. She could tell from Adam’s tone, whatever he had on his mind, that he was not pleased, and she was about to get a lecture.

“Jessica, what were you thinking packing shorts this time of year? You know that it’s starting to get cooler in the evenings. Emily should be dressed more appropriately for this time of year since it’s cool when I bring them home.”

“Adam, while it’s cooling off up where you live in the mountains, it’s still quite warm down here in the valley. Besides, she runs very hot and she doesn’t need warmer clothes for at least another 3-4 weeks. Why don’t you worry about the kids when you have them, and I’ll worry about them when I have them.”

“Jess, I worry about my children 24-7. I’m their father, it’s my job to make sure they’re well taken care of always.” Adam’s voice was getting more annoyed.

“Well, maybe you should’ve thought about that when you left us,” Jessica bit back.

“Left you? You asked me to leave, woman!” Adam felt his blood pressure rise. “Look, I’m not going to argue here in the front yard for all the neighbors to hear, but I’m not finished with you. I have another concern to deal with you about but it will have to wait when we can discuss this in a more private setting.”

“No, go ahead, Adam,” her voice began to get louder, “You seem to be doing quite well with questioning my parenting skills today. Hit me with your best shot. What else do you want to complain about?” Jessica asked, in a very angry voice.

Adam sighed deeply. It seemed the truce he thought they had was ending. Adam realized that he had made the right decision when he decided to not try to mend their marriage, and these times were a good example of why.

“What is it with you, Jessica?” He tried to keep his voice lowered but still very annoyed, “You can’t seem to take any criticism that I give you where the kids are concerned.”

“You know, Adam,” she said getting closer in his face, “when you win the father of the year award, maybe I’ll accept your criticism a little better, but until then, you worry about your own parenting skills and I’ll worry about mine.” She turned and walked away.

Feeling his blood start to boil, Adam took a deep breath to maintain his composure.

“I’m not done with you yet, Jessica.”

She turned around briskly and said, “Well I’m done with you.” And she walked into the house.

Adam followed her to the front door. He opened it and asked her to please step back outside so he could finish the conversation he needed to have with her.

Feeling the comfort of her home, her voice was raised a little more than outside. “Why? So you can finish me off like a prize kill? Go ahead, kick me a little more while I’m already down!” she shouted.

Startled by the commotion, Jason and Emily came out to see what was going on. Adam saw them hiding around the corner. He ordered them to go to their room, to which they both ran into Jason’s room without question.

“Do not order my kids in this house, Adam. You no longer live here, and this conversation is finished.”

“I’m their father, and it doesn’t matter where we are. If I need to them to do something, I’ll tell them, and this conversation is far from finished!” Adam’s tone was low and seething. He was trying to keep his voice down so the children would not hear him fighting with their mother.

“I want to know why you would spank our daughter for wetting her bed when it was an accident.” He demanded.

“Is that what she told you, Adam?” Well, let me set the record straight for you. The reason I spanked her that ONE time was because I had told her to go to the bathroom before she went to sleep that day. I asked her if she had, and she told me YES! When she woke up, she had peed in her bed. When I asked her how she could have done that if she had used the bathroom before going to take a nap, she confessed she had not gone to the bathroom as I had asked her too. I didn’t spank her because she had peed in her bed, Adam, I spanked her because she had lied to me. Now, next time you want to chastise me for spanking my kids, why don’t you get the entire story, OK? I need to finish getting dinner ready, is there anything else you want to barrage me about tonight? If not, you can leave.”

Without saying anything, he walked around Jessica and called the children to come from their room, that he was getting ready to leave. The door to Jason’s room opened slowly. The children came out with a frightened looks on their faces. Jessica and Adam tried very hard to always hide their arguments from the children, but this day was the exception where they had both failed miserably and it showed on both of their children’s faces.

Adam called them into the living room and sat them down on the couch. Both Jason and Emily did as their father asked without question.

“Your mommy and I owe you an apology. Sometimes grown ups have discussions and disagreements and when we do, our voices can get loud with each other. It’s not that we don’t love you any less when this happens, it’s just that we need to be more careful, and for that, we’re sorry if we scared you.”

Although Jessica was still extremely irritated and angry at Adam, she put on a united front so that her children’s worries could be calmed.

“Mommy got upset with Daddy, kind of like when you get upset with each other from time to time.” Jessica tried to explain it as if it were like when the children fought.

“We don’t want you to be frightened. We’re sorry.”

Jessica stretched out her arms and invited the children to come and hug her. They ran to her and she took them both into her arms. She looked up at Adam with ire in her eyes because she felt he was solely responsible for scaring them the way he had.

Jessica kissed each of their foreheads and told them to give their daddy a kiss because he needed to leave. The children turned to their father and he bent down to give them a hug and kiss.

“I’ll miss you, and I can’t wait to see you again,” he said to them in a softened voice.”

In unison, both children said, “I love you too, Daddy,” and they hugged him tightly. He kissed both again on their cheeks and told them how much he loved them, and released them from his grasp.

He stood up and Jessica walked him to the door. The children followed close behind. Adam walked out the door, and the children came and stood in front of Jessica. Adam blew them both a kiss and turned to walk down the sidewalk to his car. Jason went back to his room and Jessica turned her sights back to the kitchen where she started dinner, but Emily stood in the door way watching through the storm door glass as Adam got into his car. He sat for a moment to gather his composure. This was not the way he had wanted the weekend to end. Everything had been so perfect until that point. After a long sigh, Adam started his car and drove away. He saw Emily standing in the doorway watching her hero leave. He hoped that the argument they had witnessed would not be long remembered and that they would return to their happy, carefree attitude before he was out of their neighborhood.

Adam’s attention was now fixed on Rebecca. He had thought about calling her to let her know he was on his way, but elected to take the scenic route to her home so that he could regain his composure. The last thing she needed was to see Adam upset.

 

Chapter 9 by Adams_lover

Chapter Nine

After driving for an hour, Adam drove into the driveway of Rebecca’s home. Still somewhat upset over his confrontation with Jessica, his blood pressure had returned to normal and he felt that he could now turn his total attention to Rebecca.

He entered the code to the garage and found the hidden key to the door leading into the house and walked in. The house was quiet and dark. He walked up the staircase in the front of the house and made his way up to Rebecca’s suite at the top of the stairs. The doors were shut, but he did see a light shining from under the door. He knocked and let himself in.

Rebecca was laying in bed; she had been asleep and the knock on the door woke her slightly. When she saw Adam standing before the bed, she sat up slightly. Adam told her to lie back down, and he came and sat on the edge of the bed next to her.

“How are you feeling?” he asked as he sat and caressed her arm.

“Not good, Adam. It seems every hour that goes by I’m feeling worse instead of better,” she said with a sigh in her voice.

Adam could see with just the lamp light on she was quite flushed. He felt her forehead and she was very warm.

“You’re burning up. Have you taken your temperature today?” he asked with concern.

“I did this morning. It was 101. I’ve been sleeping off and on for the rest of the day. I’m so thirsty right now. Can you go over to the small fridge there in the corner and get me a bottle of water?” she asked as she placed the back of her hand on her forehead.

“I want to check your temperature first, Rebecca,” Adam said as he looked on her night stand and found the thermometer.

Adam placed the thermometer under Rebecca’s tongue. While he was waiting for her temperature to register, he got up and took a bottle of water from the refrigerator. He then went into the bathroom and took a wash cloth from the linen closet, soaked it down with water and brought it back into her bedroom and waited for the thermometer to register her temperature.

When the thermometer beeped, Adam read the reading. It was 102.2. Horrified by the high fever, he placed the cool rag on her head, took Tylenol from the bottle sitting on the night stand and gave her two tablets with the water.

“We need to get you to the hospital. Your temperature is very high. I’m going to put the soup in the refrigerator and we are going to go. No excuses.”

Rebecca knew she could not wait until morning and didn’t fight Adam’s demand to seek medical attention immediately.

“I’ll be right back. Do not get out of bed. I’ll help you get dressed when I return.”

Adam hurried down the stairs and placed the soup in the refrigerator away from other cold items so that it would not spoil them. He quickly walked back up to Rebecca’s room and she told him what clothes to get from her closet.

He helped her sit up in bed and get dressed. She stood to put on her jeans and the dizziness from the fever caused her to lose her balance. Adam caught her in his arms and helped her sit back on the bed. He slid her jeans up to her knees and then helped her stand again. He placed her hands around his neck to steady her balance so he could pull them up the rest of the way and fasten them. Rebecca placed her head on his shoulders; she was too weak to hold her head up.

After putting her shoes and socks on, Adam lifted Rebecca into his arms and headed downstairs to his SUV.

When they reached Adam’s SUV, he stood her on her feet, but had her place her arms around him while he opened the door. When she got in, she laid her head back against the head rest. Her head was spinning and she told Adam she thought she was going to be sick. Adam told her to turn out and he would support her if she felt she needed to be sick. After a few moments, the dizziness stopped and the nausea subsided. Adam put the seat belt around her and laid the seat completely back so she could rest comfortably. Rebecca clung to her bottle of water and Adam placed the wash cloth back on her forehead.

After a short fifteen minute drive to the hospital, Adam pulled up to the emergency entrance where a security guard was standing. He walked over to Adam’s car and asked if he had an emergency. Adam told him that Rebecca was a doctor at the hospital but that she was a patient this evening. The security guard told Adam to wait at the entrance and he would get a nurse.

A few minutes later, an orderly came out with a wheel chair and he helped Rebecca into it. The orderly wheeled her in to the triage unit to be assessed. Luckily for Rebecca, the ER was quiet and she was able to be seen by a triage nurse quickly. Adam parked his car in the hospital parking garage and met up with Rebecca in the ER.

“How long have you been running a temperature, Dr. Roberts?” the nurse asked as she passed the thermometer across her forehead and then took her pulse.

“It started out as a low grade fever yesterday morning. This morning it was 101 but tonight it spiked to 102.2.” Rebecca responded lethargically.

“Your blood pressure is a bit elevated as well; 130/92, probably because of your fever. Who is your regular doctor? Does he work here in the hospital, too? Do you want me to see if he’s here tonight?”

“My doctor is Dr. Leo, and he won’t be here until tomorrow morning. I can see the attending physician here tonight.” She said as she placed her head in her hands.

“I’m getting very dizzy, I think I’m going be sick,” she said in a urgent tone.

Adam grabbed the trash can and put it up to her face just as Rebecca began to get sick.

“Nurse, she needs to lie down!” Adam’s voice was demanding.

“I’ll be able to get her a bed in just a few minutes. I have a few more questions I need to ask before I can move her back.” She replied back to Adam.

The nurse finished up the last few questions she had on her admittance sheet. She put a wrist band around Rebecca’s wrist and walked out of the room. Adam knelt down next to the chair and gently rubbed Rebecca’s back and dropped a light kiss on her head.

A few minutes later, a doctor came in and introduced himself as Dr. Jeffrey Fox. “I’m one of the attending physician’s here in the ER. I see you are a pretty sick woman. We have a bed ready for you. Adam stood up and moved out of the way so that the nurse could unlock the wheels and wheel her to a room where she could lie down and be more comfortable. Adam followed the nurse into the room down the hall. She handed Rebecca a gown and asked her if she needed any assistance getting undressed.

“I’ll help her,” Adam answered.

“The doctor will be in shortly,” the nurse replied as she left the room.

When the nurse left, Adam helped Rebecca into her hospital gown. He helped her onto the bed and she laid down on the pillow. She thanked Adam for being there for her and helping her. Adam told her to not talk but to just lay down and rest.

The doctor knocked on the door and came in the room about ten minutes later. He was looking over the history of the past few days as he sat down at the desk next to the bed.

“Can you describe what’s been going on?” he asked as he began to write on Rebecca’s chart.

She explained her deteriorating health from the past few days as Adam looked on leaning against the wall. After the doctor finished writing, he stood up, took out his stethoscope and listened to her chest. He checked her eyes, ears, and throat as well.

“Nasty throat you have, how long has it been sore?” he asked as he sat back in his chair and wrote more notes on the chart.

“The sore throat started last night. I started feeling bad Friday night.” Rebecca replied.

“Well, I hear some fluid in your lungs, Doctor. I want to get a chest x-ray to know more. Hold tight and radiology should be down to get you in a little bit.”

The doctor helped Rebecca lay back down on the bed and wrote down a few more notes.

“Does she have pneumonia?” Adam asked.

“It appears she might,” the doctor said as he wrapped his stethoscope back around his neck, “but to what degree, I’m not sure. The x-ray will tell us how we need to proceed.”

Ninety minutes past and radiology came to get Rebecca for her chest x-ray.
The orderly from Radiology helped Rebecca get into a wheel chair and he rolled her out of the room. Adam took the time to walk out to the emergency entrance to give his father a call to let him know what was going on. Ben was saddened to hear that Rebecca had become so sick. He told Adam not to worry about the office, that Hoss and Joe could handle anything that arose the next day and to just concentrate on Rebecca’s health.

After he wrapped up his call to his father, he returned back to the room where Rebecca was staying while in the ER. It was not long afterward, when she was brought back in and the orderly from Radiology helped her back into bed.

Another hour passed and Dr. Fox came back with some news regarding Rebecca’s condition.

“Your lungs do have fluid in them, and I want to start you on an intravenous antibiotic. I’m going to admit you to the hospital for overnight observation because I want you to stay on the antibiotics. I also want to keep you on oxygen until we can get the lung fluid down.

Rebecca didn’t react to the news. She knew her admittance was imminent. Adam asked the questions that needed answers.

“How long will she need to stay, Doctor?”

“Depending on how well she responds to the antibiotics, at least a day, maybe two or three. I don’t see any more at the moment. I’m going to contact her doctor now. He’ll take over her case tomorrow and he’ll make the determination each day when he sees her. They’re making room for her in the ward right now, so when they’re ready for you, they’ll come and get you, OK?”

Rebecca nodded, and the doctor patted her on the arm. He told her the nurse would be in just a few minutes to get the IV started. Rebecca confirmed her allergies to a few antibiotics that she had noted to the triage nurse and the doctor left the room.

The nurse soon came in with the antibiotics. She started the intravenous line in Rebecca’s left hand and said, “When they’re ready for you in the ward, they’ll come and get you. She placed some warm blankets on her legs after she helped Rebecca take the rest of her clothes off and gave them to Adam to hold.

“Is this your immediate contact?” The nurse asked Rebecca.

“Yes, this is Adam Cartwright. He’s a friend of mine. You may put him down as my main emergency contact.”

The nurse went over to Adam and asked him to place his name and phone number in the highlighted spaces. Once he was finished, she then took the clipboard and pen to Rebecca and asked her to sign the paper stating that all information regarding her health during her stay in the hospital could be given to Adam.

After a few hours in the ER, Rebecca’s room was finally ready. The orderlies came to get her and took her to the third floor. Adam followed behind. The orderly asked Adam to stay in the ward waiting area while they got Rebecca situated in her room. Twenty minutes later, the nurse came and told Adam he could come to Rebecca’s room. The nurse’s aid was finishing Rebecca’s vitals check when Adam entered the room and walked over to her bed.

“Adam, you don’t have to stay. You should go home. It’s getting late.”

“Shhh, don’t worry about me. You work on getting better,” Adam told her.

“I don’t want you to get sick, too. You have your children to worry about,” Rebecca said weakly.

“I have everything under control, Rebecca. My focus and concern is on you at the moment. I want you to close your eyes and get some rest,” Adam ordered.

Rebecca closed her eyes and drifted off into a light sleep. Adam sat on the couch next to her bed and read some emails off his iPhone.

His reading was distracted when Rebecca had a sudden coughing attack. She was having a hard time catching her breath through the cough and she started to gag on the phloem she was coughing up. The nurse’s aid from the third shift was walking by and came in to assist her. She raised her bed to help stop the coughing.

“Can you give her something for the cough?” Adam asked.

“I’ll have to see if there are orders from the doctor. I’ll check her chart and if there are no orders, we can call him to see what he is willing to give her,” the nurse’s aid explained as she helped fluff up the pillows to give Rebecca’s head extra support.

“Are you more comfortable now, Dr. Roberts?” the nurse’s aid asked.

“Yes, thank you.”

“Call if you need anything,” the nurse’s aid said as she placed the call button on Rebecca’s lap.

When the nurse’s aid left the room, Adam walked back over to Rebecca’s bed and stroked her arm. He didn’t say anything, but his face showed great concern and compassion for his dear friend.

“Adam, you look exhausted. I’m sure the kids kept you busy this weekend. You need your rest. I’m not going anywhere. If I need you, I’ll call you, I promise. I really want you to go home and get some rest.” Rebecca said as her eyes grew heavy.

Adam bent down and kissed Rebecca on her forehead.

“I’m glad we came tonight. You’re in good hands now. Call me if you need me, even if it’s three in the morning. I’ll be here as fast as I can get here.”

Rebecca’s hand and caressed Adam’s face and looked into his eyes with an adoring look. She smiled and told him she would be just fine and to go home and get some sleep.

Adam dropped another kiss on her cheek and let go of her hand. He grabbed his phone from the couch and walked toward the door. When he reached the door, he looked back and saw that Rebecca had already closed her eyes and was drifting off to sleep. She looked peaceful laying in her bed sleeping, but he knew she was a very sick woman and his concern for her ran deep.

Adam reached his car and once inside, sat for a moment, put his hands on the steering wheel and let out a huge sigh. As he was getting ready to start the car, his phone rang. He grabbed it immediately thinking it was the hospital or Rebecca, but the caller ID and picture showed “Jessica”. Adam sighed as he answered the phone.

“Hey,” he said with a tired voice.

“Hi,” Jessica’s voice was soft.

“What’s up,” Adam’s voice replied in the same manner.

“You sound exhausted, Adam, are you OK?” Jessica inquired.

“Just a very long week. Why did you call?” He asked.

Jessica sat silent for a minute not saying anything.

“Jess, is something wrong?” Adam was concerned.

“Adam,” her voice was quiet and somber, “I’m sorry about my display earlier tonight. I got so defensive. I was out of line…”

“Jess,” Adam interrupted her confession with a sigh in his voice, “It’s OK. I’m not angry anymore. I should be the one apologizing to you. I was extremely critical and I was being unfair. I pushed you and you reacted. It’s OK, really.”

“I don’t want to keep you. You sound like you’re probably already in bed, but I just wanted to tell you I was sorry, and I want us to get along for the kids sake.”

“I’m not in bed, Jess. In fact, I’m still in Carson. I’m headed home now.”

“Why are you still in Carson? Never mind, it’s none of my business. Please be careful going home. I do worry about you still,” she said with much concern in her voice.

Adam smiled and thanked her for her concern but assured her that while he was extremely exhausted, he would be careful driving home.

“Jessica?” Adam said quietly.

“Yes, Adam?”

“Thanks for calling.”

Jessica fought her emotions she had for the father of her children and said, “You mean a lot to me and the kids. Thank you for being the fine upstanding man you are. We love you very much.”

Adam smiled in appreciation for the nice diversion from his current focus and replied, “Thanks, Jess. Good night.”

“Good night, Adam.”

Adam looked at his phone as he hung up. “Humph,” he said to himself in amazement on how sweet Jessica was. He placed his phone on the console, started his car, and headed out of the hospital parking garage, back toward his home on the Ponderosa.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The alarm clock music started up precisely at 6:00 AM Monday morning. Adam had been so tired from the night before, after taking off his clothes, he fell face first onto his bed without even taking down the bed covers. He was sleeping so soundly, he didn’t hear the music playing at the time he had set for the radio to come on. At 6:23 AM, the voice of the traffic reporter abruptly woke him.

A bit disoriented, he quickly gained his faculties and looked at the clock’s time. When he sat up, he noticed the bed was still made up although quite rumpled since he had been sleeping on it all night. He rubbed his face as he listened to the traffic reporter saying how the traffic was already starting to build on the freeways heading into Reno and Carson. Adam was glad he wasn’t expected in the office. He got out of bed and straightened his bed covers. He headed to the kitchen to turn on the coffee maker. While his coffee was brewing, he headed back upstairs to take a shower. He turned the water on hot and the steam began to billow in the stall as he completed his morning ritual. He stepped in and stood under the flowing water. His neck was tight from laying on his stomach all night.

As Adam started to rub his chest with shower gel, a serene image popped into his head of more happier times when he was married to Jessica. He smiled when he recalled an instance when running late to the office, he had jumped into the shower. Jessica had come in behind him and had started rubbing his chest in unison with his hands. The soap had lathered around her fingers as he entwined hers with his. He remembered her soft breasts pressing into his back. Suddenly, being late to work didn’t matter. Satisfying his woman and his own manly needs is what he had desired. A shiver ran up his spine when he recalled how in tune both sexually and emotionally she was with him when they were married. Adam tried to shake the image from his mind and continued his shower. He turned his attention back to Rebecca and wondered how she had slept through the night. He decided when he got out of the shower, he would give her a call to wish her a good morning and to see how she was feeling.

After drying off, Adam wrapped the towel around his waist, sat on his bed and called the direct number to Rebecca’s room. The phone rang several times before he heard it click and start ringing again. The phone had transferred to the nurses station where an elderly woman’s voice answered.

“Good morning. I’m trying to reach Rebecca Robert’s room.”

“Dr. Roberts has been sent to radiology for a chest x-ray and should be back shortly. May I give her a message?” the head shift nurse asked.

“Yes, this is Adam Cartwright, I was just calling to see how she’s doing.”

The nurse noticed Adam’s name was on her list for the emergency contact as well as authorization to give information to.

“Dr. Roberts slept very comfortably over night and her breathing is better this morning. Dr. Leo should be seeing her sometime today during his normal rounds to assess her condition. He’ll determine whether she goes home today or not. Would you like me to have Dr. Roberts call you when she returns?”

“No, I’m coming up in a little while. Do you know what time Dr. Leo will be in to see her?” Adam asked.

The nurse gave the information about Dr. Leo’s schedule for hospital rounds.

“OK,” Adam said, as he rubbed his bare chest. “Just let Dr. Roberts know I’ll be up to see her in a little while.”

“Will do, Mr. Cartwright. You have a pleasant day.”

Adam turned off the radio and tuned in to Fox Business Channel on TV and went back into the bathroom to shave and get ready for the day.

Once he was shaved, he headed into his closet where he stripped the towel away and sent it down the laundry chute. He took his jeans and a fresh button down shirt from his closet and laid them on the bed. He grabbed a fresh pair of boxers, put them on and headed back down stairs to get a cup of coffee.

As he was pouring his coffee, the image of him and Jessica in his shower popped into his thoughts again. For a moment, he was lost in the image of his ex-wife’s soapy hands on his body. Jessica was such a seductress, he remembered with a smile.

He was lost in the moment and his coffee ran over the cup burning his hand. Adam was frustrated at himself for allowing his mind to drift to more happier times with his ex-wife. He didn’t know why he couldn’t keep his mind off these happy memories of Jessica.

The top of his hand and long fingers were turning bright red. The pain from the burn had set in and the heat on his hand was intense. He ran his hand under cold water to kill the heat, but the damage was done. He would need some medical attention. He knew Hop Sing had an old Chinese herbal remedy that he used on him and his brothers when they were younger.

Adam wrapped his hand in a dish towel to keep it clean and protected. He called Hop Sing on the phone and told him about the burn. Hop Sing came down to the house and administered Chinese first aid and wrapped Adam’s hand in a bandage. By the time Hop Sing had finished, Adam’s hand was already feeling better. Hop Sing told him he would need to change the bandage a few times a day and to keep the burn covered for at least three days. He left his Chinese ointment and bandages with him. Adam appreciated him coming to get him bandaged up and he was able to put on his clothes without much pain afterward.

Before leaving the house, Adam grabbed a travel tumbler and filled it with black coffee. He emptied the rest of the pot into the sink, turned off the burner and went out the door to his Porsche 911 Targa 4 for the drive to visit Rebecca.

Adam stopped off at the florist to buy two dozen yellow roses to bring with him. He chose a sunshine happy face balloon that said, Get Well Soon!

By the time he reached the valley, traffic was at a stand still. One of many accidents were being attended to by the police and other emergency vehicles. He finally hit posted speed limits when he was within five miles of the hospital.

When he arrived at the ward, Rebecca’s door was shut. He knocked and heard a faint, “Come in” from inside. He opened the door and peeked in to make sure that she was presentable before opening the door to enter. Rebecca was sitting up in bed, IV still attached, but she looked much better than she had the night before. She was finishing breakfast when Adam entered the room.

“Good morning, Sunshine. You look so much better than last night,” Adam commented with a smile as he walked over and dropped a kiss on her cheek.

“I’m feeling a lot better, thanks.” Respiratory came in a few times during the night to assist me with some breathing treatments and the antibiotics are doing their job. Maxine told me that you had called while I was gone to X-ray.”

“Yeah, I called directly to the room but when you didn’t answer, it transferred to the nurses station. She’s a nice lady, very helpful.”

I brought you some flowers to cheer you up. I hope you like them.” Adam said, as he presented the flowers he had bought.

“Oh, Adam, they’re pretty! Thank you! I don’t know that I’ll be in here much past today, hopefully. It’ll depend on what Dr. Leo says and what the x-rays show.”

“Do you know when Dr. Leo will be coming to see you?”

“No, he had some morning appointments, so I’m sure it will be around lunch time.”

“I want to be here when he comes, so if you don’t mind, I’ll stay here with you. I want you to get more rest though. I brought my laptop so I could get some work done.”

“I’m actually feeling a whole lot better, I hope that Dr. Leo will let me go home. I want to get out of here.”

“You’ll stay here until the doctor says it’s safe for you to go home. Let’s just see what Dr. Leo says when he gets here, OK?”

Rebecca smiled lovingly at Adam as he stood next to her bed looking down on her. “I know you care and only want the best for me.”

Adam dropped a kiss on her forehead and brushed her bangs to the side. “I need you in my life.” He said to Rebecca.

Rebecca closed her eyes and smiled as Adam stroked her cheek until she fell asleep.

Once she was asleep, he pulled out his laptop to began working on it.

Adam was on the phone with his administrative assistant telling her about some reports he had just sent to her that needed immediate attention, when Dr. Leo entered the room with x-rays in hand shortly before 11:00 AM.

“I’ve got to go, the doctor is here now. I’ll call you back in a little while,” he said hanging up his iPhone, and standing up to meet Rebecca’s friend and doctor.

Dr. Leo walked over to Adam and extended his hand, “George Leo,” he said as he shook his hand.

“Adam Cartwright.”

“Well, Doc, you’re a pretty sick girl, aren’t you? You didn’t tell me how serious your symptoms were when I spoke to you the other day,” Dr. Leo commented as he was looking over her chart.

“George, it was the weekend. I wanted you to enjoy the time with your children and Angela,” Rebecca pleaded her case to no avail.

Dr. Leo closed her chart and looked at her very intently. “Becky, you’re very sick. It’s a good thing you came in last night when you did. Had you waited any longer, your stay here would probably be a lot longer than it’s going to be.”

Adam’s eyes widened when he heard just how sick Rebecca was. His face grew with great concern as he continued to listen to what Dr. Leo had to say.

“I’m going to keep you for at least another day, possibly two. Your chest x-ray today has little change from last night, but I suspect it will be better tomorrow.”

“Come on, George, I’m feeling a whole lot better today than I did all weekend. I think I’m well enough to rest at home.”

“Who’s the patient and who is the doctor here, Rebecca?” Adam asked with irritation in his voice.

Rebecca sighed deeply. She knew she was two against one. But she wasn’t finished with her argument.

“What if?…”

“Rebecca Roberts, you are not going anywhere. No what ifs.” Dr. Leo snapped. “Do you want to end up under an oxygen tent because you can barely breathe due to your lungs being so full?” He looked over at Adam, “Doctors make the worst patients!”

“Adam?” She looked at him with a pout.

“Don’t look at me for sympathy. I’m with Dr. Leo. I don’t understand why you’re not taking this more seriously than you are. This is your health, Rebecca. What is wrong with you?” Adam said with great disappointment in his voice.

“Fine, FINE!” Rebecca’s gagging cough fired up again.

“See why you need to stay here?” Dr. Leo said, as he helped her sit up to aid in allowing the coughing fit to calm down.

Once Rebecca stopped coughing, Dr. Leo went to the blinds and pulled them up so more light could shine into the room. He held up the x-ray of Rebecca’s lungs and pointed to the fluid that was causing her to feel so bad. He explained things in more detail for Adam’s information. Rebecca was amazed at how heavy her lungs were with fluid. The x-rays told the story of how sick she was and she understood now why Dr. Leo wanted her to remain in the hospital.

“OK, I get it. I won’t protest any longer.”

Adam smiled at Rebecca. He was happy that she finally realized that Dr. Leo knew what was best for her.

Dr. Leo took a quick listen to Rebecca’s lungs and after he was finished, he had her lay back and said that he would return the next day with the newest set of x-rays. This would help him determine if she could be able to go home or would require another day in the hospital.

“In the meanwhile, I will keep the IV antibiotics going. They seem to be doing some good. I’m going to continue with the breathing treatments as well.” He looked at Adam. “The breathing treatments will keep any further fluid from building in her lungs.

“Now, keep resting. Dr. Andrews has taken over your patients until you are ready to come back to work, so don’t worry about your case load, OK?”

“Thanks, George. Please tell Angela I said hello.”

“I will,” Dr. Leo said as he patted her on the arm.

“Mr. Cartwright, it was a pleasure meeting you,” Dr. Leo said as he extended his hand to shake Adam’s.

“You can call me Adam, Dr. Leo,” he said as he shook his hand.

As Dr. Leo left the room, the nurse’s aid came in to take Rebecca’s vital signs. “Would you like some lunch, Dr. Roberts?” she asked as she was attaching the blood pressure cuff to her arm.

“I’m not really hungry right now, but thank you anyway.” Rebecca responded.

“Becky, you need to eat to keep your strength up,” Adam interjected.

“Fine, I’ll have some fruit and yogurt. Will that be OK with you, Adam?” She sounded annoyed.

“I think you need to eat more than just some yogurt and fruit. You have hardly eaten anything in the last forty-eight hours,” Adam argued.

The nurse stood in between the two as they sparred, trying to act as if there wasn’t a riff in the room.

“Fine, Adam! Please bring me a complete lunch tray,” she said with a sigh in her voice.

Rebecca ate about half of her lunch, with Adam’s insistence. She laid back and slept most of the afternoon while Adam worked from his laptop and made several phone calls.

As the orderlies came around with the dinner tray, Adam closed his laptop and put everything in his briefcase. He came and looked at what the evening’s dinner menu brought. Rebecca’s tray included white fish, green beans, roasted potatoes, a green salad, apple pie for dessert, and hot tea.

“Mmmm, looks pretty good,” Adam said as he kissed Rebecca’s forehead. I have to get going now. Jessica asked me to come have dinner with the kids tonight, and I told her I would. I’ll call you when I’m on my way home, OK?”

A bit disappointed that Adam would be spending the evening with Jessica, Rebecca held her emotions inside and put on a happy face.

“Have a good time, Adam. Love you.”

Adam smiled back at her and gave her a gentle kiss on the lips, looked her in the eyes, and whispered, “I love you too.” He kissed her again and turned to grab his laptop and headed toward the door. He turned around and gazed back at his friend and gave her one last grin before walking out toward the exit. Rebecca sighed after the door closed. She was falling in love with Adam but knew it would be an uphill battle falling in love and possibly marrying a divorced man with children.

Adam found his sports car in the parking garage and drove to the attendant booth to pay the parking fee. Once out of the parking lot, he called Jessica and told her he was on his way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just as Adam arrived at Jessica’s home, he turned off the ignition, and sat for a few moments. He recalled the heated argument that had taken place the day before in the front yard. He also remembered the tender phone call he had received later in the night apologizing for everything. Jessica was indeed making headway on trying to be a better ex-wife than she had been in the past few years since her’s and Adam’s divorce. He smiled when he thought about having dinner with his children and hopefully staying to tuck them in bed and read them bedtime stories.

As Adam was walking up the sidewalk to the front porch, Jessica came outside to check the mail and saw Adam coming up the walk.

“Hi! Did you go home before coming over today?” Jessica noticed Adam’s very casual attire of jeans and a cotton button down shirt.

“No, I had personal business to take care of so I wasn’t in the office,” Adam said, not adding any information about being with Rebecca in the hospital.

“I see. Well, I came to check the mail. I think we have a new driver because the mail has been coming very late these past several days.”

Adam waited on the sidewalk while Jessica went and checked the box. When she returned, Adam gave her a hug and a gentle kiss on the cheek. Surprised at his kindness, Jessica looked at Adam with a quizzically.

“What was that for?” she inquired.

“Because you’re a good woman, Jessica. You’re a loving mother, and a great friend.”

“Thanks! I think,” she said, looking at him with a skeptical smile and laughing nervously.

Adam put his arm around her waist and said, “Come on, let’s go in the house. There’s a couple of kids I want to see.”

As they started walking again, Jessica informed Adam that she hadn’t told the children of his coming to dinner; she wanted to leave it as a surprise for them.

Once they were in the house, Jessica called the children to the living room.

“Jason, Emily, come see who’s here!”

Jason came first and when he came around the corner, he ran to his father when he saw him.

“Daddy! What are you doing here?” Jason asked as he gave his dad a strong hug around the waist.

“I came to see you, Tiger. Where’s your sister?” Adam asked as he dropped a kiss on top of Jason’s head.

“I don’t know, probably playing with her Barbies.”

Jessica called for Emily again, but she still didn’t answer. She went to check in her room, but Emily was not playing as Jason had thought. Jessica went into her room and found her in the bathroom in her make-up.

“Emily Elizabeth Cartwright! What are you doing in here?” Jessica yelled out in a demanding tone.

Adam walked back to what was once the bedroom he had shared with Jessica and saw her standing in the doorway of her master bath. He walked over and stood behind her and saw his little girl covered in make-up and lipstick.

Adam tried to hide his laughter at the site of his daughter’s face but Jessica found no amusement in the situation.

“Princess,” Adam tried to keep an authoritative tone, “Did Mommy give you permission to come into her room and play with her make-up?”

“No,” she said looking down at the floor with a whine and a pout.

“Emily, you’ve made a mess! There is make-up all over the floor and all over you! Why, Emily, Why?!” Jessica’s voice was raised and quite irritated.

Adam tried to defuse the situation a bit by rubbing Jessica’s back and whispering to her to try to relax. He told her it was make-up and it could be cleaned up. He walked into the bathroom and immediately headed to the garden tub across from the shower. He turned on the water and told his little girl to get up from the mess of make-up that had spilled on the bath mats and tile floor.

“I’m sorry, Daddy,” Emily said as Adam rolled up his sleeves and helped her to take her clothes off in preparation to give her a bath.

“I’m not the one you need to apologize to, young lady. You need to tell your mother you’re sorry for coming into her room when you were not invited and for getting into her make-up.”

Emily looked over at her mother trying to wipe up the several jars of make-up powder that had spilled onto the floor. She started to cry while apologizing to her mother.

“Just get in the bathtub, Emily,” Jessica said not even looking at her or acknowledging her daughter’s apology.

Once Adam had Emily in the tub, he went to a very exasperated Jessica and took the wet rag from her hands. She was almost in tears from the frustration and anger at her daughter. Adam took her hands and lifted her face to look at his. He quietly said to her, “I’ll handle this. You go back and finish dinner.”

“But!” she started to say in an angered tone.

“I’ll handle Emily and the mess. Please, just go into the kitchen. I’ll handle this.” he said again, in a cool level headed tone.

Jessica got up off her hands and knees and walked out of her bathroom. Jason had come to see what the commotion was all about. When he saw all of the make-up on the floor and Emily in the bathtub with a face full of lipstick and eye shadow he said, “Oh, Em, you’re in trouble now.”

Emily started to cry thinking that a spanking was imminent based on her brother’s comment.

Still very angry, Jessica, grabbed Jason by the arm and led him out of her room. “Daddy will handle your sister. Now, if you don’t want a spanking, I suggest you go to your room or watch TV.”

“What did I do?” Jason’s voice reacted to Jessica’s threats.

Jessica did not answer, and just continued on into the kitchen. Jason decided he’d better not push his luck with his mother and went into his room and shut the door.

Back in the master bath, Adam looked in the cabinet where Jessica kept the children’s bath gel, soaped up a washcloth and began to wipe Emily’s face. Because he was rubbing hard, she began to cry saying it hurt. Adam did not respond to her plea of wanting him to not rub so hard.

“You shouldn’t have been in your mother’s make-up. If you hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have to rub so hard to get it off,” he said to her in a very low, stern tone.

“STOP, DADDY!” She continued.

Adam stopped and looked his daughter with narrowed eyes. “Emily, you have this make-up all over your face, I have to rub hard to get it off, now quit your crying.” Adam said without compassion.

After he got all the make-up off her face, and bathed the rest of her body, he drained the water and got a towel for his little girl to wrap up in. She stood there with her towel wrapped around her while she watched Adam continue to wipe the floor with the wet rag.

“Go to your room and stay there until I’m finished!” he ordered.

Without hesitation, Emily ran to her room with a towel wrapped around her.

When Adam finished cleaning up the spilled make-up and threw away the empty jars of what was once eye shadows and blush, he gathered up the bath mats and wet rags and took them through the kitchen where Jessica was putting the final touches on dinner. Her body language was still very stiff because of her anger at their daughter’s latest stunt.

Without saying anything, Adam walked into the laundry room where he put the soiled bathmat and rags for washing. When he came back to the kitchen, he told Jessica the mess had been cleaned up and Emily had been bathed.

“I just can’t do this anymore, Adam. It’s so hard raising these kids on my own.”

“I’m sorry, Jessica. I don’t know what you want me to do.” He took her into his arms and gave her a hug.

She broke from Adam’s embrace and continued checking the progress of her roasting chicken in the oven and her veggies she had simmering on the stove.

Adam stood for a moment and watched Jessica. She didn’t say anymore to him and just continued to prepare their dinner.

“I’m going to get Emily dressed,” he said in a very mellow tone. Jessica didn’t answer, so Adam walked toward Emily’s bedroom.

When Adam arrived at her bedroom, he walked in to find his daughter sitting on the floor with the towel next to her. She was tucking her baby in for the night.

When she saw her father, she stood up and put her head down, but kept her eyes on him. Without saying anything, Adam walked to Emily’s dresser and got out a fresh pair of panties, shirt, and shorts. He sat on the bed, and called her over to him. She reluctantly came in fear that he might put her over his knee when she came within reaching distance. To her surprise, Adam held out her panties for her to get into. She held on to his knees and stepped into them. She kept her eyes on her father the entire time. Adam concentrated on making sure she stepped into them without falling. He then followed up with her shirt and shorts.

After she was dressed, he put his hands on her shoulders. Emily was looking at the ground in shame. She couldn’t look at her father because she could feel his disappointment.

Adam lifted her chin so that she would be looking at him when he spoke. “You need to go and apologize to your mother, young lady. You have been a very bad girl today,” he said with disappointment in his voice.

Emily started to cry.

“Stop the whining!” he said with a sharp tone. “You’re a big girl and big girls don’t whine. Now, go find your mother and tell her you are sorry for ruining her make-up.”

Emily marched out of her room in a huff. She went into the kitchen where Jessica was getting the plates from the cabinet.

Emily stopped and waited for her mother to acknowledge her. Jessica saw her daughter, so she put the plates on the counter and stood before her with her hands on her hips. She didn’t say anything and just looked at Emily.

Adam walked in and saw the stand off between mother and daughter. He wanted to laugh because Emily’s expression matched her mother’s.

“I believe you have something to say to Mommy?” He broke the silent stand off.

“I’m sorry, Mommy, I got your make-up. I’m bad Emmy.”

Jessica’s angry body language dissolved as she bent down, held out her arms and called her daughter to come give her a hug.

“Baby girl, I love you, but you are too young to wear make-up. If you want some lips, you know you just have to come and ask me and I’ll put some lips on you.”

“I know, Mommy, Emmy’s sorry.” she said as she started to cry.

“No whining. We’ve talked about this, now stop your crying,” Jessica said as she wiped away her daughter’s tears.

“Daddy came to have dinner with us tonight. Mommy wanted it to be a surprise for you and Jason.”

Emily turned to Adam who was leaning against one of the kitchen counters. Her tears were soon all smiles when she found out that her hero was staying for dinner.

Adam bent down and extended his arms for her to come and give him a hug.

“Love you, Daddy,” she said as she jumped into his arms.

“I love you too, Princess. Now why don’t you go find Jason or go play in your room while I help Mommy finish cooking dinner, OK?”

“OK!” she said as she gave Adam a big kiss on his lips and then ran back down the hall yelling Jason’s name.

Jessica’s demeanor had lightened up and she was smiling again. She handed Adam the plates. He set the table as Jessica pulled the chicken from the oven and placed it on the platter. Jessica handed the fork and knife to Adam and she grabbed the vegetables while Adam grabbed the platter holding the chicken and brought it to the table.

Jessica went and got the children and they came running in and took their places at the table. As Adam carved the chicken, Jessica prepared the children’s plates with small portions of vegetables. Adam placed a few slices of chicken on each of their plates and then carved pieces for his and Jessica’s plates. Jessica took Adam’s plate and placed vegetables on his and then on hers. They all enjoyed their dinner while they discussed the daily happenings. Adam’s mind was not too far from Rebecca and her being stuck in the hospital, but he did not let his distraction show. He was happy to be having dinner with his children.

After dinner was finished, the children wrestled with each other in the family room while Adam helped Jessica with the dishes. Half way through cleaning up, Jessica suggested that Adam go run a bath for Jason and help Emily get ready for bed. Adam finished rinsing off the last of the dishes and set them in the sink for her to load up in the dishwasher.

Adam walked into the family room and announced it was time for Jason to take a bath and get ready for bed. The children were saddened that they could not spend more time with their father, but Adam didn’t want to mess up their nightly routine, so he led Jason into the bathroom and got his bath started while Jason stripped down and got in with his bath toys. Since Emily had just taken a bath a few hours before, Adam led her to her room where she changed from her clothes into her night gown.

“Read me, Daddy?” Emily asked as she pulled a book from her shelf.

“Let me guess, Green Eggs, and Ham?” Adam said sarcastically.

“No, Daddy!” his little girl laughed. I want to read me, Madeline!”

“Oh! Miss Madeline gets the nod tonight. OK! Get up under the covers, Princess.”

Emily climbed into bed and under her covers. Adam sat at the head of her bed, and he Emily in his arms as he opened the book and began reading about the many adventures of Madeline. Before he reached the tenth page, Emily was sound asleep. He closed the book and gently laid her down on her pillow. He dropped a kiss on her forehead and brushed her soft curls from her face. He wanted to sit there all night and watch his princess sleep. His heart broke that he would have to leave her and not be there when she woke in the morning. His children were his life and he was missing out on so much of it because he was now a weekend dad.

When Adam left Emily’s room, he headed for the bathroom where Jason was finishing his bath. He had rinsed his toys and was putting them back in the basket. Adam grabbed his son a towel and wrapped him up and followed him to his room. Adam grabbed some boxers from his dresser and tossed them to his son to put on. Jason put his boxers on while Adam took down his comforter and prepared his bed for sleeping. Jason jumped in and climbed under the covers.

“Daddy, I finished my Hardy Boys book today. I really liked it. I can’t wait to get another one when I come to your house.

Jason told Adam all about the story with great excitement. When he saw that Jason was getting tired, Adam tousled his son’s hair and told him it was time to go to sleep. Jason laid down and Adam dropped a kiss on his forehead and shut out his light. When Adam turned to take one last look at his son before leaving his room, he noted the content look on his son’s face as he fell off to sleep.

When Adam came into the livingroom, Jessica was sitting with her bare feet curled up on the couch. She had poured herself a glass of wine from the bottle that was left over from dinner. Adam had a flashback again to happier times in their marriage when she would be curled on the couch, he would come sit next to her and she would cuddle in his arms. He sighed deeply as he walked over and sat down next to her.

“Care to join me in a glass?” Jessica asked sweetly.

Adam studied her face, then his eyes followed her body all the way to her feet. He smiled and said, “Yes, I would love one. Thanks.”

Jessica bounced up and went to grab a clean glass from the kitchen. She brought the glass and half bottle of wine with her. She handed the glass to Adam and filled it with the white vino. Adam sat back and took a sip as Jessica re-positioned herself on the couch to the way she had been when Adam walked in.

“I’m sorry about earlier, Adam. It’s just been a rough day. You would think that as the kids get older, they wouldn’t be such a handful, but Emily’s whining and Jason’s antagonizing takes its toll on me after awhile. I’m so ready for school to start!”

Adam rubbed Jessica’s arm and gave her a look of understanding and sat back into a relaxed position. “I know it’s tough on you. I have my moments when they are with me, too. I can only imagine how hard it is day in and day out.”

“You know? This is nice. Reminds me of when we were married. Remember when I was pregnant with both of the kids? We would sit her on the couch after dinner and you would rub vitamin E cream on my belly so that the stretch marks wouldn’t be so dark.”

Adam smiled at the remembrance. “You were more concerned with them than I was. I thought they were beautiful.”

“Yeah, but I had to live with them after the birth!” Jessica said laughing.

Adam looked at Jessica’s stomach, remembering her swollen belly and feeling the baby’s kicking at times when he would be rubbing her stomach. “Yeah, those were good times,” he said with a heavy sigh.

He looked up at Jessica and moved his hand to her hair. He took the tress of hair that had fallen from her up-do that she had made while fixing dinner and put it behind her ear. She looked back into his eyes with a loving smile. Her heart was racing. She wanted to pull him in to kiss him, but she kept her desire for him in check. She knew his heart was not with her anymore.

Adam looked at his watch and noted the time was 9:30 PM. He wanted to call Rebecca on his way home, and didn’t want to call too late and risk waking her up. He decided to call it a night.

“I’ve got to get going. I have a busy day at the office tomorrow,” he said as he got up and held out his hand to help Jessica up off the couch.

When Jessica stood up, he took her into his embrace and held her. “Thank you for inviting me to dinner, Jess. As usual, it was delicious.” He kissed her forehead and headed for the door.

“Feel free to come again. We would love to have you anytime you want to stop over. I know the kids would be ecstatic to see you.” She said with a smile.

Adam smiled at her and said, “Thanks, I might just take you up on that!”

He walked out to his car and when he reached the drivers door, he waved to Jessica. She waved back and tucked her arms around her waist as Adam got in his car and started the engine. He put the car in first gear and drove away.

Jessica stood in the doorway and looked at the empty spot where Adam’s car had been. A tear fell from her eye down her cheek. She knew she had fallen back in love with him. “Why couldn’t I love him when he loved me?” she asked herself softly as she shut the door. She picked up the glasses from the table and took them into the kitchen and placed them on the counter. She put the cork back into the bottle of leftover wine, placed it in the refrigerator, turned off the lights, and headed down the hall to the children’s bedrooms to check on them before she headed into her bedroom to watch some TV before going to sleep herself.

Adam got on the highway and headed back toward the mountains to his home on the Ponderosa. He clicked the hands free device in his car and called Rebecca in her room.

“Hello,” a sleepy voice answered.

“Hey, did I wake you?”

“No, I was just resting, thinking about shutting off the lights and getting some rest before my next breathing treatment in a few hours.”

“Just wanted to wish you a good night and tell you I’ll see you tomorrow after work.”

“Thanks, Adam. Have a good day tomorrow. I’ll give you a call after George stops by and let you know what he says. Hopefully I can come home tomorrow.”

“I think you might want to consider coming and staying with me for a few days after you get out of the hospital.”

“We’ll see, Adam. Right now, I just need to take it one day at a time. OK?”

“I understand. Well, I’m going to let you go so that you can get some rest. Call me if you need anything, even if you can’t sleep and just want to talk.”

“You need your rest, Hon. I’ll call you tomorrow, OK?”

Adam noted a bit of distance in Rebecca’s voice. He didn’t think much of it, only that it was probably because she was sick and didn’t want to be cooped up in the hospital.

“OK, sleep well, Sweetheart. Love you.”

“I love you too, Adam. Goodnight.”

The two hung up the phone and Adam finished his drive back to the Ponderosa.

 

 

Chapter 10 by Adams_lover

Chapter Ten

The summer had come to a close and school was back in session for Jason. He was starting the third grade and looked forward to a new year with a new teacher at his school, Educare Christian Academy. This year would be a new chapter in Jessica’s and Adam’s lives as Emily would be starting Pre-K there, too.

The children were excited about starting school the next day. Jessica had a hard time keeping them in bed so they could get a good night’s sleep. Jessica was particularly concerned about Emily, as she was used to a several hour nap everyday. Now she would be going to school and only getting a one hour nap. Jessica fought with the kids until almost midnight when they finally fell asleep until morning.

Having both children in school was going to be a big adjustment for Jessica. She would have the mornings free to herself to get the house cleaned, go shopping, or just have some time to pamper herself at the spa.

A few weeks before school started, the hospital had worked with her to where she would only be working the weekends when the children were with Adam. Jessica’s intentions were to quit her job all together so she could devote her full attention to the children’s schooling, but with the hospital became short staffed on the weekends, she was asked if she could work every other weekend until a replacement could be found for her.

Adam’s morning calendar was blocked off since he and Jessica always took Jason to school together on the first day so they could see his new classroom and meet his new teacher. This day would be even more special as they would be escorting Emily to her very first day of school.

As Jason and Emily sat down to breakfast, Adam arrived. Still in her bathrobe, Jessica answered the door to greet Adam who was dressed very handsomely in his suit.

“Good morning, Adam. Come on in.” Jessica said, as she frantically scurried about getting cereal and juice on the table for their children.

“Can I get you a cup of coffee or toast?” Jessica asked as she put bowls of cereal down for both Jason and Emily.

“Coffee would be great,” Adam said as he sat at the table with his children.

“Are you ready to start school today, Princess? You’re a big girl now, going to school, huh?” he said as he smiled watching his daughter eat her cereal.

“I get to go to the big school, Daddy!” she said excitedly.

“You’re just in Pre-K, Emily. That’s a baby school. I’m in third grade.” Jason said as he drank his apple juice.”

“I’m going to the big school, Jason. Mommy said so!”

“Jason,” Jessica said as she poured coffee for herself and Adam, “Emily is going to the same school you are so for her, it’s a big step. Don’t diminish this day for her.”

“Sorry, Mommy.”

“What about you, Tiger. Are you ready for a new year?”

“Yeah, Dad. I hear third grade is hard, but I think I can handle it.”

Adam noticed in the last few months his son had started calling him Dad more than Daddy, a sign that his son was starting to grow up and mature. He was proud of Jason and looked forward to helping him with homework and school projects throughout the year.

Jessica dropped off Adam’s coffee while he sat with the children as they ate breakfast. She hurried off to their rooms to get their school uniforms ready to put on after they finished eating. She first went into Emily’s room and took out a white button down blouse, plaid jumper, black Mary Jane shoes, and socks. She then headed to Jason’s room where she pulled out a light blue button down shirt, blue pants, black sneakers and socks.

As she came back into the kitchen, Adam was rinsing out the children’s cereal bowls and placing them in the dishwasher. Jessica told Jason his clothes were on his bed and to go brush his teeth and get dressed. Jessica helped Emily down from her booster seat at the table and took her into her room to help her get dressed.

Adam walked back to Emily’s room and told Jessica he would finish helping Emily get dressed so that she could get changed. Jessica thanked Adam for his help and hurried off to her bedroom.

Once Adam had Emily all dressed she looked at herself in the full length mirror in her room. She had a big grin on her face as she wore her new school uniform for the first time.

“Emily pretty, Daddy!” she said as she looked at herself in the mirror.

“Yes, Princess, you are! Now, let’s go in the bathroom and brush your hair and teeth.”

Father and daughter walked in the bathroom where Jason was finishing brushing his teeth. Adam told him to go wait in the living room or his bedroom and they would be out momentarily.

Jessica changed into her stone washed jeans, soft angora mint green sweater and loafers. Adam complimented her on how nice the color was against her face. She smiled and asked if he wanted her to finish up with Emily.

“No, I think we have it under control. Why don’t you get the camera ready so we can get the picture of everyone before we head out.”

Jessica smiled and hurried off to get the camera set up in the living room. It was a Cartwright family tradition that had started on Adam’s first day at school when he was just six. Ben took pictures of Adam and his brothers as they progressed through primary and secondary schools all the way through their senior year in high school. Adam wanted to continue the tradition and had done so since Jason’s first day as a Pre-K student. Now, Emily would be added to the picture.

Jessica fixed Jason’s and Emily’s collars and got the kids centered ready for Adam to snap the picture. As Adam told the children to smile, the realization that her children were growing up brought tears to Jessica’s eyes. She wiped the escaping tear as she came to look at the picture on the screen that Adam had just snapped.

“Perfect!” she exclaimed as she patted his left arm.

Jessica went and got into the picture with the kids so Adam could focus the camera on all three of them. He then set the timer and hurried to get in the picture before it snapped. Once the flash went off, the four Cartwrights gathered around the camera to look at the new family photo.

“Look at your smile, Emmy. You look silly,” Jessica laughed as she commented about Emily’s silly smile she gave for the camera.

Emily squealed with laughter at her picture. “Emmy’s funny.”

Jessica looked at her watch and noticed it was time to leave. She grabbed the keys to her car and tossed them to Adam.

“Can you get them settled in the car while I grab their backpacks and sweaters?”

Adam got the children settled in the back seat. He pulled the car from the garage and waited for Jessica to come out. She jumped in the car, and the Cartwrights were headed off to the school.

When they arrived, the parking lot was full of parents and students all making their way to the students’ classrooms. Adam helped Emily from her car seat and when she saw the school, she became stoic. Tears welled in her eyes as she realized that she was going to have to stay at school this year instead of going home with Mommy and Daddy.

“What’s the matter, Princess?” Adam asked when he saw his daughter stiffen up.

“I’m scared, Daddy. Emmy don’t wanna go to school.” She frowned.

“You were excited earlier. What’s changed?” He asked, knowing the reality was sinking in.

“Emmy want to stay with you!” She burst out into a full sob.

Adam bent down and gave his daughter a hug and tried to quiet her fears.

“Mommy and Daddy are going to walk you to your classroom. We’ll meet your teacher and you’ll have new boys and girls in your class to meet and become friends with. You’re going to have a good time and at the end of the day, Mommy will be here to pick you up!”

“Yes, Sweetie, I will! You can tell me all about your first day when I come to pick you up this afternoon!”

“I want Daddy to pick me up,” she said still whining.

Jessica looked at Adam and shrugged her shoulders.

“Daddy will be at work, Princess, but I tell you what, I’ll give you a call tonight, and you can tell me all about your first day, OK?”

This brought a smile back to Emily’s face and she hugged her daddy’s neck.

“You ready to go meet your teacher now?” Jessica asked.

“Yes, Mommy!” she said as she grabbed Adam’s hand trying to drag him through the parking lot.

“Hold up there, young lady. There are lots of cars and we have to watch out for them. Hold my and Mommy’s hand.”

Emily grabbed Jessica’s hand and the four Cartwrights walked into the school and down to Emily’s classroom.

As Adam, Jessica, Jason, and Emily reached the Pre-K class, a tall slender woman in her mid-20s was standing at the door greeting the students and parents. She was dressed in khaki slacks, a red polo shirt with the school’s logo on the left side of her chest, a lanyard with a faculty badge hanging around her neck and her hair pulled up in a pony tail with a red ribbon bow.

“Hi! I’m Miss Armstrong, and who do we have here?” She bent down to shake Emily’s hand.

“This is Emily Cartwright,” Adam announced.

Emily turned and hid her face on Adam’s leg. She wasn’t sure about this whole going to school thing.

“Emily,” Jessica said, “This is your new teacher. Aren’t you going to say hello?”

Emily turned her head back to the pretty young teacher and said, “Hi,” and hid her face back on Adam’s leg.

The teacher stood up again and patted Emily’s head. She extended her hand to Adam and Jessica and shook their hands.

“I’m Adam, this is Emily’s mother, Jessica.” Adam introduced both of them.

“Pleased to meet you both. I’m looking forward to working with Miss Emily, and getting to know you two as well.”

She knelt back down to Emily’s level where she now was just holding on tightly to Adam’s leg.

“Would you like to go into the classroom and play with the other students that have arrived? There’s toys in there and you can play until I have greeted all the students, OK?”

Adam and Jessica bent down to give Emily a kiss and hug before she entered the classroom for the first time.

When the time came for Emily to go into the classroom, she started to cry again. Adam took her into his arms and reminded her that Mommy would be there to pick her up after school and that he would call her later in the evening to find out how her first day went.

Miss Armstrong took Emily’s hand and led her into the classroom, but Emily was a bit hesitant. Her cry got louder as she walked her in. Miss Armstrong turned to Jessica and Adam and said, “She’ll be fine when you leave, I promise.”

Jessica’s eyes got misty as she saw her youngest child mingle with the other boys and girls in her class. Adam put his arm around her and gave her a squeeze.

“She’s growing up too fast.” Her voice broke.

“She’s going to be fine, Jess. Now, let’s get Jason to his classroom so Emily can get settled in with the other kids.”

The three turned around and walked down the next hall to find Jason’s new third grade classroom. They found Jason’s teacher who was a petite woman in her late-20s standing outside her classroom door. She was wearing the same red polo shirt with lanyard and faculty badge but wore blue pants. Her hair was dark brown shoulder-length.

“Hi! I’m Mrs. Dobbins, and what’s your name? she asked Jason.

“Jason Cartwright,” he answered.

“Welcome, Jason. Do you want to go in and find your seat? Just look for your name on the items that I have put on each desk.”

Jessica bent down to hug Jason and give him a kiss. “Aww, Mom, I’m a big boy now. Do you have to do that?”

The three adults laughed. Jessica replied as she gave him a big smooch on his cheek and hugged him, “You’ll always be my baby boy, and it’s my right.”

Adam tousled his son’s hair and wished him a good first day at school.

Once Jason was in his class looking for his desk, Adam extended his hand and introduced himself and Jessica.

“I look forward to getting to know Jason this year. Open house and Meet The Teachers night will be September 28th. I hope to see you that night so we can get to know each other better. I’ll be able to outline more what we’ll be learning this year and what to expect as the year unfolds.”

“We’ll mark our calendars, Mrs. Dobbins,” Jessica replied.

After waving goodbye to Jason who had found his desk, Adam and Jessica turned and headed toward the exit back out into the parking lot. Many parents were still filing into the school with their children. Adam held Jessica’s hand as they made their way through the maze of people.

Back at Jessica’s car, Adam opened the passenger door and waited for Jessica to get seated before shutting the door and getting in on the drivers side. Once in the car, Adam told Jessica he wanted to talk to her about some things when they returned home. Jessica nodded and said, “OK,” and they left the school.

During the short ride back home, Jessica talked about how having the two children in school now was going to be an adjustment for her. For the past almost nine years, she always had at least one of the kids at home all day. Now that they were both in school, she didn’t know what she was going to do with herself. She mentioned to Adam she would like to do volunteer work a few days a week. He thought it was a great idea.

Back at the house, Jessica offered a cup of coffee to Adam and he accepted. He sat down at the breakfast table and Jessica joined him with her cup of tea.

“What is it that you wanted to talk to me about?” she asked as she took a sip from her mug.

Adam sighed deeply as he broached the subject of his relationship with Rebecca.

“Because we share custody of the kids, I’m at a point in my life where I feel that I need to be up front with you about a few things where I’m concerned. As you know, I decided not to get back together with you again because there is someone else in my life and our relationship is starting to get more serious. I want to bring Jason and Emily into her life. She’s someone that I’ve been seeing for awhile and I want her to be a part of Jason and Emily’s life now as well.

Jessica put on a brave face but inside her heart was breaking.

“OK,” Jessica swallowed deeply. “Does this woman have a name?”

“It’s Rebecca, Jess.”

Jessica looked at Adam without saying anything at first. She thought their relationship had been long since over.

“When I asked you that night at the Ponderosa if you were seeing her, you told me no!” Jessica’s voice started to rise.

“No, Jess, I never said I wasn’t seeing her. You misunderstood.”

Jessica got up from the table and walked through the kitchen into the living room. Adam followed behind her.

“I don’t want that woman to be a part of my kids’ lives, Adam.”

“What’s your problem with her? I don’t understand your irrational behavior where she is concerned, Jess.”

“Irrational behavior, Adam? Sorry, but I’m not comfortable with her being in my kids’ lives right now. They’ve both just started school and they need to get adjusted and focus on their studies. You can have your little tryst with her on your own time.”

“You really don’t have a say in the matter. I’m coming to you as a courtesy to let you know we’re going to start spending time together while the kids are with me. I love her and I want to build a relationship with her and our kids. She’s more than a fling to me, Jessica.” Adam’s voice grew more annoyed.

“I never stood in the way of you and Clint spending time together when the kids were at home with you. I only had a problem with you sleeping with him when they were home. I felt it was in poor taste and sent the wrong message.”

“Please don’t lecture me again about what happened between me and Clint. I’m very discreet with my sex life where the kids are concerned,” she said with ire in her voice.

Adam started to laugh as his voice raised to a new level. “Discreet, Jessica? Your ‘discreetness’ practically traumatized Emmy when she walked in on you and Clint getting it on in the bed we used to share!”

“Like it never happened when we were married? I guess you forgot about the time Jason came upon us when we were in the throws of foreplay. How quick you forget, Adam! If I recall, it was YOU who forgot to lock the door that time!” Jessica yelled back.

“We were husband and wife then, Jess! A bit different, don’t you think? Besides, Jason was three, and half-asleep. I don’t think he even remembered any of it. I led him back to his room and he went right back to sleep. He never even mentioned it! Emily, on the other hand, was very awake. You didn’t even know she was standing there because Clint was on top of you and it scared her so much she was practically crying when she told me about it! She thought he was hurting you!”

“I guess you’re going to throw what happened with me and Clint in my face every chance you get!”

“Who you jump in bed with is none of my concern unless it involves the kids, Jessica.” Adam’s voice was seething.

“Oh, so now you think I just sleep around?” Jessica’s voice increased in volume.

Adam rolled his eyes. “That’s not what I said and you know it! Why do you twist my words all the time?”

“You were the one that left this family, Adam. You chose your job over us. You have nobody but yourself to blame for all of this mess.”

“Oh, here we go again. It’s all Adam’s fault. Why don’t you take some responsibility of your own instead of acting like the victim, Jess. It’s becoming old and unattractive.”

“Get out of my house NOW!” She screamed.

“I own this house in case you’ve forgotten, Jessica! I’ll leave when I’m finished. I have just one more thing to say to you.”

“WHAT NOW?”

“Who the hell do you think you are running interference where Becky and I are concerned?”

Jessica looked at him with a befuddled look on her face.

“What the hell are you talking about now, Adam? I have nothing to do with your doctor friend.”

“You don’t?” Adam came closer. “Why don’t you tell me about how you told her I wanted nothing to do with her when I came out of my coma and she wanted to see me. Who the hell do you think you are playing God with my life?”

Jessica stood motionless and shocked. Her dirty deed had been revealed.

“Yeah, it slipped out the other night when we were talking.” Adam’s exacerbated voice shook.

“In bed, no doubt, after you banged her good.” Jessica bit back.

Adam grabbed Jessica by the arm, got in her face and said, “Don’t you EVER speak about Rebecca in that manner again, do you understand me?”

“Let go of my arm, Adam, you’re hurting me!” Jessica demanded with tears in her eyes.

Adam immediately let go. His temper had reached a boiling point and he felt he had lost control, but he had to know why Jessica would be so cruel.

“I want to know why, and I demand to know now!” Adam’s voice was low and controlled.

“Because I love you! That’s why! There, are you happy now?” She screamed.

“Love Jessica? You lying to someone you know meant a lot to me is your definition of love? You never cease to amaze me.” Adam turned and went toward the window.

“I’m not going to stand here in my house and defend my actions, Adam. I had just spent the past four days with you in the ICU with barely any sleep, praying to God that he not take you! Your children needed you! I’m not going to apologize for trying to hold my family together.”

“I guess you’ve forgotten we’re divorced. A divorce you wanted, not me!” Adam turned his attention briefly from the window.

“What do you want me to do, Adam? Do you want me to get on my hands and knees and beg your forgiveness? What’s done is done. Apparently my actions didn’t stop the two of you from getting back together.”

“No, thank goodness, it didn’t. You, and you alone caused a lot of heartache for her. You should be ashamed of yourself. I never thought I could have been married to such a selfish woman.”

“Get off your high horse, Adam. You’re not a saint by any means.” Jessica’s pain turned to anger.

“I’ve tried.” Adam said, with his voice breaking from his frustration. “I’ve tried so hard to have a civil relationship with you, but you let me know how I screwed up every chance you get. You tore my heart out when you served me with divorce papers. You told me to leave or you would take the kids. So I left. You killed me with those words, ‘I want a divorce,’ Jessica. Despite it all, I forgave you. I’ve tried to build a life for me and the kids without you. You didn’t want to be a part of my family unit anymore. You wanted me out, so I left. I wasn’t going to fight you because it wasn’t worth damaging the kids’ emotionally. I’ve told you how much I regret ignoring the warning signs. I can’t take it back. You wanted a divorce, so I gave it to you. I’ve now found someone that I want to love but again, but you are selfishly trying to stop it. Why can’t you let me go?”

Jessica turned around and went back to sit at the table in the breakfast nook. She sat down and put her face in her hands. She knew everything Adam had just said was true, but since his accident, she had come to regret it all.

Adam stood quietly for a few moments. He then walked into the kitchen and came up behind her. He gently touched her back and tried to quiet the storm that was raging inside both of them. He gave thought to why he had let their argument get so out of hand.

“Jess.” His voice was more calm. She did not respond.

“Jess, look at me,” he requested.

“Just go, Adam. I need to be alone,” she said without looking up at him.

Adam stood behind her for a few more moments as he contemplated her request. He then patted her on the back and said, “As you wish.”

He turned and walked away. He looked back at Jessica still with her face in her hands, and a tear escaped his eye as he felt partially responsible for the argument. He grabbed his suit jacket and walked out the door. When Jessica heard the door shut, she continued to sit at the table and relive the entire argument in her head.

“Adam, I want you to be happy,” she said aloud to herself. “It’s just that I realize how much I still love you and it’s hard on me. I wished I could make you understand.” The hurt filled her heart as she thought about him loving another woman. She signed deeply and got up to go take a shower to release the stress that had built up insider her.

Adam needed space to breathe. He hadn’t wanted the joyous occasion of the children’s first day at school to end the way it did between him and Jessica.

Adam called Gretchen and told her he was going to work from home the rest of the day. If she needed him, she could reach him there.

Once home, Adam undid his tie and unbuttoned his collar. He immersed himself in his work trying to put the morning’s events behind him. About 3:00 PM, he found it hard to concentrate and decided he needed to take a run. He sent an email to Gretchen to let her know he would not be available for the rest of the day. If she needed anything from him, she was to send him an email. If it was something urgent, she could check with Joe or Hoss. He closed his laptop and headed to his bedroom to change into his sweats and running shoes.

Adam had just put on his Harvard sweat pants when he heard the door bell ring. He hurried downstairs to answer the door. When he opened the door, he was greeted by a diversion he desperately needed. It was Rebecca.

“What are you doing here in the middle of the afternoon?” he asked as he invited her in, giving her a hug and tender kiss on the lips.

“I should ask the same of you. Did I interrupt something?” she asked, looking at Adam only wearing sweat pants.

“I went to Jess’s house this morning; it was the first day of school for the kids. I decided to work from home afterward. I was changing to go for a run when you rang the bell.”

Adam didn’t want to burden Rebecca with the argument that ensued after he and his ex-wife returned to her house.

“Excuse me a minute while I go put a shirt on.”

Adam ran upstairs while Rebecca removed her coat and made herself comfortable on the couch. She was tense. She had a lot on her mind, and she needed to share her news with Adam.

Adam put on a T-shirt and came back downstairs to find Rebecca had made herself at home on the couch.

“Can I get you something to drink or eat?”

“No, I’m fine, thanks.”

Adam sat down next to her and asked what brought her all the way to the Ponderosa.

“I received some exciting news today, and I wanted to share it with you. When I called your office, Gretchen told me you were here so I just thought I would come and surprise you. I hope you don’t mind.”

Adam smiled and said, “You’re welcome here whenever you want, Rebecca.”

“So what’s up?” he inquired.

“I received a FedEx from Boston today.” Rebecca’s face lit up. “The Chief of Staff at Children’s Hospital Boston has requested that I accept the Chief of General Pediatrics position. A year ago, I applied for the position and didn’t get it. The physician who became chief has moved into the field of pediatric oncology and has taken the chief position in the oncology department, leaving general pediatrics open. I almost fainted when I opened the letter. When I spoke to him on the phone after receiving the letter, Dr. Baker told me he had been so impressed with my interview last year, he hoped that I would consider taking the position now since it reopened. Can you believe it?”

Adam was speechless. He was beaming with pride and happiness for this once in a lifetime chance for Rebecca, but his heart immediately knew that if she accepted this position, she would have to move to Boston. And where would it leave their relationship?

“WOW! What an amazing opportunity for you, Rebecca. Congratulations!” Adam exclaimed as he took her into his arms and gave her a tight embrace. “What are your plans?”

“That’s why I’m here. If this had been last year, there would have been no question. I would have accepted the position right away, moved to Boston, and never looked back. Now, everything has changed. You’re in my life now. You matter. You need to be in on my decision-making process.”

“This is an amazing offer, Rebecca. Helping children is in your blood, it’s who you are.” Adam held in his sadness as he thought about her leaving.

“I know. But you’re a big part of my life too. Your opinion matters to me. Yes, I want to take the job but I want you to come with me. There are several head hunters in Boston that could find you an amazing job. Maybe you could even consider teaching Engineering at Harvard or MIT.”

“Rebecca, I’m CEO of Cartwright, Inc. I can’t just up and leave. Besides, my kids are here. My life is here. I want to be selfish and say, ‘Don’t go,’ but I love you too much to hold you back,” Adam reasoned.

“Long distance relationships are so hard, Adam.” Rebecca argued.

“I know.” Adam looked down. “I can’t hold you here, though. Your life is medicine. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. You can’t turn this down. I won’t let you.”

“What about us?” Rebecca looked at Adam as her piercing green eyes started to glisten with tears.

“Rebecca,” Adam took her hands into his, “a long distance relationship can work, but most don’t. We both know this. Both of our jobs are demanding. If I asked you to stay because of me, because of us, you would live to regret it eventually; and it would affect our relationship down the line. I saw it happen with my roommate from college. A similar thing happened to him and his serious girlfriend not long ago. I love you too much not to see you fulfill your dreams.”

“I don’t know what to do, Adam,” Rebecca said as she laid her head on his chest.

“My heart wants to tell you to stay, but my head won’t allow my heart to dictate what I know is best. I love and respect you too much to do that to you.”

Rebecca looked up at Adam and thanked him for his candor. “I love you, Adam.”

“I love you, too.”

Adam held Rebecca in his arms not ever wanting to let her go. He wanted desperately to sweep her in his arms, make love to her, and ask her to stay. He knew he could not ask her to make such a sacrifice for him. He knew he loved her. He knew he would one day probably want to marry her, but he was not ready for a commitment of marriage at that point in their relationship. He had to let her go to live her once-in-a-lifetime dream.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After a few hours of talking about Rebecca’s new job opportunity and how they could possibly work out a long distance relationship, Adam and Rebecca were hungry and decided to leave for a bite to eat. Adam excused himself to take a quick shower and change. Neither Adam nor Rebecca had eaten all day and decided to continue their conversation over dinner.

Upon their return, Adam remembered his promise to Emily that he would call her to see how her first day at school had gone. He poured a glass of wine for Rebecca and excused himself as he went upstairs to call his daughter.

The hour was getting late, and the children had eaten dinner and were getting ready for bed when he called. Emily had been asking Jessica since being picked up from school when her Daddy was going to call. Concerned for her daughter’s angst at her father not calling as he had promised, Jessica had tried to call Adam’s house and his cell phone but both calls went to voice mail. Adam had forgotten his cell phone on his desk when he and Rebecca had left for dinner.

“Hello?” Jessica answered her home phone.

Still reeling from the morning’s events, Adam stiffened when he heard Jessica’s voice.

“Hey, it’s me. How was the kids first day?” He tried to put on a front as if nothing had happened between them earlier in the day.

“Glad you could finally find the time to call, Adam.” Jessica was annoyed.

“I’m sorry. Rebecca and I went out for dinner and I forgot my phone laying on my desk in the office.”

“Whatever. Your daughter has been asking for you since I picked her up. Let me get her for you.”

Jessica covered the receiver and called Emily and Jason to the phone. She told them their daddy wanted to talk to them.

“Hi, Daddy,” his daughter said with a tired voice.

“Hi, Princess. How was your first day at school? Did you make a lot of new friends?”

“I got to color and play. I sat next to a boy and his name is Adam, just like you! He’s my boyfriend. I like him, Daddy.”

“Your boyfriend, huh? Well, it seems you did a lot today in school. Do you like your teacher?”

“Yep! Here’s Jason!”

Surprised by the abrupt ending, Adam heard Jason’s voice.

“Hi, Tiger, how was your first day? Do you like your new teacher?”

“Hi, Dad. Yeah, she’s really nice but she already gave us homework,” Jason said with disappointment in his voice.

“What kind of homework, Son?” Adam asked.

“Math and social studies. She told us that we’re going to learn about a very important piece of history in Nevada. She called it the uh, uh. I don’t remember, something lode.”

“The Comstock Lode?” Adam asked.

“Yeah, that’s it, Dad. She said we’ll have to do a project for it, too. Mommy said you could help me with it.”

“Of course I’ll help you with it. Has she given you any instructions yet?”

“No, not yet. She said we’ll get those later this week when we start studying it. She said it’ll be due at the end of September. She wants to have them ready for open house.”

“I see. Well, there’s a ton of history with the big silver bonanza strike, Son. You’ll enjoy learning about it. Once we know what the details of the project are, we can get started on it, OK?”

“Gee thanks, Dad!”

“It’s getting late and I know you need to get to bed. You need your sleep. Let me talk to Mommy.”

Jason handed the phone back to Jessica. Before she returned her attention to Adam, he could hear her tell the children to head on to their rooms and she would be right there to tuck them in shortly.

“Yes?” Jessica’s tone was again curt.

“I’m sorry I called so late. Time just got away from me today.” Adam didn’t let on that he had spent the afternoon with Rebecca.

“Whatever, Adam. I’ll see you Friday night when you come to pick the kids up.” She hung up the phone abruptly without even saying goodbye.

Adam pressed the end button and went back down stairs to where Rebecca had taken her shoes off and curled her feet up on the love seat.

“How was their first day back at school?” She asked as she took a drink of wine.

Adam stopped off at the wet bar and made himself a Jack Daniels and soda water.

“Good!” He said, not letting on to Jessica’s irritable mood.

“Emily has a new boyfriend; his name is Adam.” He laughed. “Jason already has homework and he told me that he’s going to learn about the Comstock Lode. He’ll have to do a project on it for Open House at the end of the month and he wants my help. I’m looking forward to helping him with it.”

Adam joined Rebecca on the love seat and he placed his hand on her legs that were folded up underneath her.

“How exciting to learn about such an important piece of history. He’ll probably enjoy it.”

“Yeah, I think he will. I’m thinking of taking him on a walking tour of Virginia City. It would bring it all to life for him. Give him a first hand feel of what it was like to live back in the days of the silver strike.”

I’ve never been to Virginia City. I bet it’ll be fun and educational

“I know he’ll enjoy it. When do you think you will give Dr. Baker your final answer on the job offer in Boston? Adam asked, turning the subject back to Rebecca’s career aspirations.

“I have a few weeks before I have to give him my final decision. I have quite a bit of thinking to do.”

“I don’t want to muddy the water,” Adam said as he started to kiss Rebecca’s neck.

Rebecca smiled and melted into the cushions with Adam’s seducing nibbles on her neck.

“I love you. Whatever you decide, never forget that I love you.” He whispered in her ear as he continued to nibble on her neck.

Adam felt his manly desires start to take over and decided he needed to stop before he allowed things to get out of control and the two friends fall into something they may later regret. He sat back and took a large gulp of his cocktail and asked more questions about the timeline of Rebecca’s departure if she were to take the job in Boston.

“If you do take the position, when would you start?” Adam took another drink from his cocktail.

“Preferably the beginning of October, but he would give me until the middle of the month because he knows I need to sell my house and relocate if I do accept.”

Rebecca looked at her watch and noted the time was going on 10:00 PM. “I have an early morning tomorrow. I need to get going.”

Adam got up and helped Rebecca off the love seat. He held her in his embrace and thanked her for sharing her exciting news with him.

“I will support whatever decision you make,” he whispered in her ear.

“Thank you, Adam. Thank you for loving me and thank you for your candor and understanding about this decision I have to make.”

Adam walked Rebecca to her car and opened the door for her. When she was in and buckled up, he closed her door. She started the engine and rolled down the window. Adam leaned in and gave her a soft kiss on the lips.

“Love you. Drive safely.”

“Love you too. G’night.”

Adam walked back into the house and put their empty glasses in the kitchen to wash the next day.

He paused as his mind went back to the morning’s events at Jessica’s house. He ran his fingers through his hair as he leaned against the counter. He unbuttoned his shirt and went upstairs. He stopped off at his office to call Jessica back and apologize again for waiting so late to call the children about their first day at school.

“You’ve reached the home of Jessica Cartwright,” the sweet angelic voice spoke over the recorded greeting, “Please leave a message, and I’ll return your call as quickly as I can. Have a great day!” Beep.

“Hey, Jess, it’s me. I don’t like this tension between us. Give me a call.”

Adam pressed the end button and looked at Jessica’s picture as she faded away.

He took his cell phone with him and placed it on the charger next to his bed and started to undress. He was brushing his teeth when he heard the phone ring. He quickly rinsed his mouth and ran to grab the phone before it went to voice mail. He saw on the caller ID that it was Jessica returning his call.

“Hey,” Adam answered with a soft voice.

“I’m returning your call.” Jessica’s voice was still tense. “What do you want? I’m really tired. It’s been a long day.”

“Jess, I never meant for things to get so out of control this morning. I want to apologize for grabbing your arm and hurting you. I hope you know I would never purposely hurt you.”

“Apology accepted. Is there anything else?” Her voice was still cold.

“Come on, Jess, don’t be like this.”

“Be like what, Adam. I’m tired. What do you want me to say to you? Do you want me to be all loving and supportive? Sorry, but I’m still trying to digest everything you said to me. It’ll take some time. I know I can’t stop you from introducing your lady doctor into our children’s lives, but I wouldn’t be a good mother if I didn’t share my feelings with you regarding the subject. It’s late, I don’t want to start an argument over this again on the phone.”

“I’m not trying to initiate an argument with you, Jess.” Adam’s voice remained calm.

“I’m tired and I want to go to bed.” Jessica’s voice started to thaw a little.

“Will you meet me for lunch tomorrow? You’re a free woman now until 2:30.”

Adam could hear Jessica sigh and her voice mellowed even more.

“Sure, Adam, I’ll meet you. Where do you want to go, so I’ll know how to dress.”

“How about Adele’s. I’ll shoot Gretchen an email tonight so she can make reservations made when she gets in. Noon good for you?”

“Noon should be fine. I’m going for a facial, manicure, and pedicure in the morning after I drop off the kids off at school. Should give me enough time to go home and change. You want me to meet you at the office or restaurant?”

“Whichever is easiest for you.”

“Probably just meet you there. I’ll need to leave by 2:00 PM to go get the kids from school.”

“OK, see you then. Goodnight, Jess.”

“Goodnight, Adam.”

When they hung up, Adam sent an email from his phone to Gretchen to secure a reservation for two and to block off three hours from his schedule.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“I have a reservation at noon. The name’s Adam Cartwright.” Adam told the young hostess at Adele’s. He looked around and didn’t see Jessica. “I don’t believe the other half of my party is here yet.”

“Not a problem, Mr. Cartwright. Your table is ready if you would like to wait for them there. We can get you a cocktail and you can be looking over the menu.”

Adam smiled and noticed the young hostess’s name on her name badge. “Thanks, Gina. Sounds like a great idea.”

“Follow me.” She smiled as she grabbed two menus and a wine list. They headed into the dining room to a table for two next to the large window.

On the way to the table, Adam saw a business associate having lunch with a couple of colleagues.

“Adam, how you doing, Son?” Bob Beckel said as he looked up to shake Adam’s hand.

“Roy, Alan, this here’s Adam Cartwright, Ben Cartwright’s son. He’s now CEO of Cartwright, Inc. Me and Adam’s daddy go way back. I’ve bought beef from Ben for years now. No finer beef outside of Texas.”

Adam shook the hands of the other men. Gina waited patiently at Adam’s table holding the menus in her hand.

“Thanks, Bob. I’ll let my father know I saw you today.” Adam smiled at the other men with Bob. “Gentleman, nice to make your acquaintance, now if you’ll excuse me.”

Adam walked a few tables down where Gina handed Adam his menu after he sat down and placed the other next to the napkin of the empty seat.

“Layla will be your server today. She should be with you momentarily. May I ask the name of your party so I can show them back when they arrive?”

Adam looked up at Gina and smiled. “Jessica Cartwright. I’m sure she’ll be here shortly.”

“Very well, Mr. Cartwright. I’ll show her back the moment she arrives. Enjoy your lunch.”

“Thank you.” Adam smiled and winked and then turned his attention to the menu.

As Gina walked away, Layla came up and greeted Adam. “I see we have one more guest to join you?” She motioned to the empty seat.

“Yes, she should be along shortly.”

“May I get you a cocktail, coffee, or tea while you wait?” Layla inquired.

“Yes, I’ll have a Jack Daniel’s and club soda.”

“Coming right up. Layla left to enter in Adam’s drink order.

A few minutes passed and Adam noticed Gina walking toward his table with Jessica following behind. She looked stunning Adam noticed. She was wearing fitted designer winter white wool pants with a matching cashmere sweater that fit her like a glove showing off her female attributes. Her make-up was tastefully done and her hair was soft with flowing curls down her back. As she passed by Bob Beckel and company, all three men took notice of her beauty. Not knowing Bob’s long standing relationship with Adam, she smiled to acknowledge their stare.

As Gina and Jessica approached, Adam stood and gave Jessica a kiss on her cheek and pulled out her chair for her to sit down. She looked up at Adam and thanked him. She then turned her attention to Gina and thanked her for showing her to the table.

“Sorry I’m late. My regular manicurist is out sick today so they had someone else do my nails. She took a little longer than normal.”

“You look stunning, Jess. Is this a new outfit?”

“No, I’ve had it a few years but I’d put on about ten pounds and the pants were too snug last season. I love Ralph Lauren, but when you put on a few pounds, you know it in his clothes. I worked hard to get the extra pounds off this year. I tried both pieces on today and they fit. I thought they would be appropriate for lunch today.” She smiled.

Adam kept looking at Jessica with adoring eyes. “You look beautiful.”

“Thanks,” she said with a bashful smile as she opened up her menu.

Layla returned with Adam’s cocktail and welcomed Jessica to the restaurant and offered to get her a cocktail or something non-spirited to drink.

“I’ll have a cup of hot tea.” She smiled as she ordered.

“Great! I’ll get it for you in a minute. Now that you’re both here, I’ll quickly go over the chef’s recommendations. The appetizer is the House Smoked Salmon, our fresh catch is Ahi Tuna pan seared in a lemon and white wine reduction with a touch of butter for richness. If pork or beef is more to your liking, may I recommend our wonderful Petite Filet Mignon cooked to your specification. The Orange Marmalade Pork Chop is out of this world as well. “I’ll go get your tea and be back to take your order.”

Adam reached over and grabbed Jessica’s hand. “Thanks for meeting me for lunch today. I wanted to tell you again how sorry I am for yesterday.”

“Jessica smiled and said, “Let’s not go there and just enjoy lunch.” She turned her attention back to the menu.

Adam took a drink of his cocktail and changed the subject by asking how the children had done getting ready the second day of school.

“Jason was easy to get up as always. Our little girl,” Jessica nodded, “she just seems to be tired a lot lately. When we got home yesterday, she fell asleep on the couch. She felt a bit feverish, but not too warm. I’m sure it was just the excitement of the first day of school and not getting much sleep the night before and it wore her out. They get an hour nap after lunch but even with the nap, she still was tired. Of course when she got in the car, she wanted to call you, but I told her you were working and you would call her when you got home.”

Adam’s mind went back to the previous day at home with Rebecca. He thought about Rebecca and the tough decisions she was having to make and how they could affect their relationship.

He quickly turned his attention back to Jessica as she continued to voice her concern about Emily.

“Even with all the rest yesterday, she went to bed pretty easily. This morning, however, she was almost impossible to get up. She complained she was tired and her body ached. I’m thinking it’s just from sleeping too much yesterday.”

Layla returned with a pot of steaming water and presented the box of fine teas for Jessica to choose from. She made her selection and Layla opened the box and poured the loose leaves in the metal mesh container suspended in the hot water to steep.

She sat the box of teas off at a side table across from Adam and Jessica and took out her order pad. “Are we ready to order?” she asked.

“I’m ready, Jess, how about you?” Adam asked.

“Yes, I am. I’ll have your chef’s fish selection today; the Ahi Tuna. Can you ask the chef to not add the butter please?”

“Excellent choice and yes, the butter can be left out. For you, Sir?”

“Adam took a quick look across the menu again and made his order. “I think I’ll have the same but ask the chef to leave my butter in. I’m not watching my waist line.” He smiled and winked at Jessica.

Layla smiled and said, “Of course. Not a problem. Which sides can I get for you today, Ma’am?” She looked back to Jessica for the second round of ordering. She pointed to the top of the menu where Jessica could find the selection of sides to compliment her fish.

“I think I’ll have the steamed veggies and a tossed green salad with a light drizzle of oil and vinegar.” She smiled as she handed the menu back to Layla.

“Wonderful, and for you, Sir?” She looked back to Adam for his selection.

“The rice and tomato wedges are calling me, I think.” Adam smiled as he handed Layla his menu.

“I’ll turn in this order in now and be back shortly with some fresh hot bread.”

Before Layla left, she poured Jessica a cup of tea from her pot that had been steeping for a few minutes. As she poured the tea, Layla offered Adam the wine list to look over for a bottle or glass of wine to compliment their meals. Adam looked at Jessica and she nodded in agreement. Adam opened the wine list and looked over the selections of fine white wines available.

“I think we’ll have the Domaine Vocoret Chablis “Premier Cru”. “Adam said as he handed the wine list back to Layla.

“Excellent choice. I’ll be back with hot bread and whipped butter. The wine steward will be here shortly with your wine.”

Layla returned with a basket of warm fresh baked bread and butter. The wine steward followed close behind with a bucket filled with ice water and the wine Adam had ordered. After presenting the wine and giving Adam the cork to smell and a sip to taste, he poured Jessica a glass, filled Adam’s glass and placed the rest in the ice bucket.r32;

“Mmm, great selection, Adam,” Jessica complimented.

“Thanks. I wanted to talk to you about an idea I had for Jason since he’s going to be studying the Comstock Lode this semester. I’m thinking of taking him on a walking tour of Virginia City on one of my weekends with the kids. I don’t know if Emily will be up to it or not. I can take a stroller or if you wouldn’t mind, I could drop her back off at your place for the afternoon while Jason and I went. What do you think?”

“She might object to not being able to go with you, Adam, but if you don’t want to deal with her getting tired, sure, you can bring her back by the house and we can find something to do while the two of you go do your thing in Virginia City.

I think Jason would love to do a walking tour. You know how much he loves the old westerns on TV. He probably would love VC.”

“I wanted to wait until he got started studying about it. I just hope it doesn’t get cold too quickly to where we can’t go.”

“The weather man has been saying we are in for some very mild temperatures this winter. I’m all for a mild winter. I’m sure you are too.”

Adam laughed. “The day I see a mild winter up in the Sierra Nevadas will be the day I see life as we know end. We’ve already had a few mornings with frost.”

“Really?” It has been very mild here in the valley but the nights are getting more chilly.

“I need to take the kids to get flu shots. I’m not looking forward to Emily’s screaming.” Jessica sighed.

“Do you want me to take them instead?” Adam asked as he offered the bread basket to Jessica.

“No, thank you to the bread, but yes, I would LOVE for you to take them to get their flu shots.” Jessica smiled.

“No problem,” Adam said as he took a bite of the buttered hot bread he made for himself. “Mmm, this is really good, are you sure don’t want any?”

“Adam, I just told you I lost ten pounds. You want me to put them back on?” Jessica laughed.

“Sweetheart, you have a beautiful body. I doubt a piece of bread is going to cause you to gain ten pounds again.” He winked.

Jessica dropped her eyes and blushed. A small shiver went through her body as she recalled how Adam used to trace every inch of her body with his long fingers.

“Yes, but I can’t stop at just one piece. It’s better not to get started so I don’t have to stop!” She laughed.

Layla arrived with their lunch and placed each other’s plates before them. She wished them a good meal and said she would be back to check on them in a little bit.

Jessica cut a small piece of her tuna and ate it. “Oh, Adam, this is to die for!”

Adam took a small bite. He agreed that the fish was as fresh as it could be. “Would you like a small taste of it with the butter. It really adds a delicate richness to the sweetness of the fish.”

Jessica smiled and said bashfully, “Would you mind?”

Adam cut a small piece and gave it to Jessica. “Oh, Adam, my mouth is having an orgasm right now! You’re right, the butter does really add great depth to the fish.”

Jessica’s explicit comment caught Adam off guard and his laugh caused him to almost choke in laughter on his wine. He had to quickly place his napkin to his mouth so that he wouldn’t spray Jessica with his Chablis.

“You come up with some of the most inappropriate comments, Jessica.” He laughed.

“Yeah, and that is what you love the most about me, Sweetie.” She winked back at Adam and smiled.

Adam poured Jessica another glass of wine and the two continued to enjoy lunch and each other’s company.

Layla had come to check on the couple a few times during their meal and when their plates were cleared, she offered the dessert platter but both declined.

Layla presented the check to Adam and he pulled his black American Express card from his wallet and placed it in the check folio. Layla came to retrieve the payment, and Adam told her to add 25% for herself. She grinned, thanked him and said she would be right back with his receipt.

After Adam signed the check and placed his card back in his wallet, he got up and pulled Jessica’s chair out and took her hand so she could stand up. He continued holding her hand and escorted her to her car.

Jessica clicked the remote to unlock her car and turned leaning on her car to thank Adam for lunch. Adam put his hand on the door next to her face. He looked softly into her eyes and thanked her for joining him. He apologized again for his actions the previous day. Jessica stood and stared into the eyes she used to adoringly look into.

Adam was overcome by the sexiness of his ex-wife. Without thinking, he got lost in her deep blue eyes and felt the urge to kiss her. He placed his hand under her chin and and stroked her cheek. Jessica closed her eyes. She hadn’t felt such tenderness from Adam since their divorce.

Adam snapped back into reality and moved away from Jessica before he could do something inappropriate.

I think this is the most civil we’ve been to each other in two years. I really enjoyed myself today. Thanks again.” Adam opened Jessica’s door and got in. “I’ve got to get going. The kids will be getting out of school any time now.”

Jessica got in her car and turned on the ignition. Adam told her he would call the children when he got home later in the evening.

Adam was parked a few spaces down from Jessica and as he was getting into his Porsche, Jessica drove by and they waved at each other. Adam stood as he watched her drive out of the parking lot toward the school. He tried to shake off the warm feeling he was having. He felt a wave of guilt wash over him as he thought about Rebecca and his love for her. What the hell is wrong with you, Adam? He thought to himself as he recalled his inappropriate behavior toward Jessica at her car. He turned on the ignition and smiled as he thought about her walking to the table and how beautiful she looked.

 

 

Chapter 11 by Adams_lover

Author’s Notes:

Thank you, Martha Stroud for beta reading this chapter for me!

Chapter Eleven

The first week of school flew by and it was time to wrap up the week as Adam looked at his watch and prepared to leave the office and head to Jessica’s house to get the children.

A cold front had moved in from Canada and it was cold and raining. Adam had forgotten to grab his umbrella from the Porsche, so when he got to Jessica’s house he ran up to the front door trying not to get too wet.

“Come in before you get soaked!” she said as she answered the door in her nurse’s scrubs. Adam took off his raincoat and Jessica took it into the main bath and hung it on the bathtub rack to dry.

As she entered the bathroom she called the kids to come from their rooms and greet their father. Both came running up the hall.

“Daddy!” Emily squealed as she ran into her father’s arms.

“Hi, Princess, how was your first week at school?”

“I had fun. I like school. Your hair is wet, Daddy,” she said as she patted his wet hair.

“It’s raining outside, Princess.”

“Oh,” Emily said as she gave her daddy a kiss.

“Hi, Dad,” Jason said as Adam turned his attention to his son.

“How was your first week at school?”

“Lots of homework everyday,” Jason frowned.

“It only gets more intense the higher you go, Son, so you better get used to it,” Adam advised.

“I know, Dad. We got our assignment for our history project. Mrs. Dobbins had us pick from a hat on what we would do our project on. I got some guy named Phillip somebody. I can’t pronounce his last name. Mrs. Dobbins told me his name, but I forgot how to say it. It starts with a D.”

“Phillip Deidesheimer?” Adam asked.

“Yeah! That’s him, Dad. How’d you know?”

Adam laughed. “Well, I was once your age too, Son, and I had to study the Comstock Lode as well.”

“Well, that’s my assignment. I have to do something on him.”

“I tell you what, Tiger, it’s going to be a soggy weekend so it will be a good time for you to get on the Internet and start reading about Mr. Deidesheimer and the important role he played in our history. We’ll talk about what you want to do for your project and then I’ll talk to Mommy about coming over and helping you with you with it, OK?”

“Cool, Dad, thanks!”

When Jessica came back into the living room she invited Adam to stay a few minutes and have some coffee to warm up. He gladly accepted.

“Why don’t you kids go back to what you were doing so Daddy and I can talk,” Jessica told the children.

“Mom, can I go in the office and use your computer? I want to look up Phillip, uh uh, how do you say his name again, Dad?” Jason asked with a puzzled look on his face.

“Deidesheimer, Tiger.” Adam answered.

“Yeah, him. I want to get some information about him to take to Dad’s house this weekend so I can start on my project.”

“Sure, Sweetheart; it’s already on. I was doing some work in there before Daddy arrived. Just close out the program I was working in first.”

Jason hugged his mother and thanked her as he ran back to the office to get on the iMac to start finding all the information he could about Phillip Deidesheimer.

Emily followed behind him and decided she wanted to play on her Fisher Price laptop. She found the CD about letters and began using the interactive program.

Adam followed Jessica into the kitchen and he sat down at the table while she put a pot of coffee on to brew and a kettle of water for her tea.

“So are you going to introduce your lady doctor girlfriend to the kids this weekend?” She asked as she put the coffee grinds into the filter.

“Some things have changed with Rebecca and me since I last saw you,” Adam’s voice became somber.

“Oh?” Jessica’s interest was peaked.

“Rebecca has been offered a position as Chief of General Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital.”

Jessica turned to Adam with a surprised look on her face. “Wow! Did she accept?” She asked as she turned back to start the brew.

“I don’t know, yet. I encouraged her to accept. It’s a once in a lifetime chance for her. Being a doctor is who she is. It’s her passion. I couldn’t ask her not to.”

As Jessica was getting the mugs from the cabinet, she said, “Where will this leave your relationship, Adam?” she asked with genuine concern.

“I don’t know, Jess. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I’ve decided to hold off on formally introducing her to the kids as my girlfriend until I know more about where our relationship is going to go. I don’t want to get them emotionally involved in her life and then have her leave and them not see her for a while.”

Adam was surprised at how calm Jessica was being during the whole conversation about Rebecca. Usually whenever her name came up, Adam would see Jessica bristle at just the mention of her name.

“I’ve done some deep soul searching this week, Adam, where your lady friend is concerned,” she said as she brought their cups to the table. “I’m just as much to blame for our breakup as you are. I can’t ask you to remain celibate for the rest of your life. While I might not care for your selection in women, I’ll try to be supportive for the kids’ sake.”

Adam grabbed Jessica’s hand and smiled at her, “Thanks, it really means a lot to me that you’re trying. I know it’s hard on you.”

“Oh, you have no idea,” She said with a shaky whisper, trying to hold back her emotions.

“Do you know when you want to go to Virginia City with Jason?” Jessica changed the subject.

“This would’ve been a good weekend to do it, but with the forecast is calling for rain all weekend, I think we’ll just spend the weekend inside doing homework and playing board games. I’m giving a lecture at UNLV in a few weeks so I need to finish up my notes and begin preparing for it.”

“Now that the kids are back in school, Adam, I would like you to keep them at their 8:30 bedtime schedule even on the weekends. They need to remain consistent on Friday and Saturday nights so they don’t have a hard time going to sleep on Sunday night.”

“Sure, no problem, Jess. I agree with you.”

As Adam finished his coffee, he took his mug and held out his hand for Jessica’s. She handed him her mug and he walked over to the dishwasher and opened the door.

“I haven’t emptied last night’s dishes yet. Just leave them on the counter and I’ll wash them later.”

“How much longer are you going to have to be working every other weekend, Jess?” Adam asked as he came back and sat down.

“I’m not sure. I know they have finished the interview process. I’m sure they’ll be making their selections soon. I really don’t mind working when the kids are away with you; it gets lonely when the house is so quiet. I might see if I can stay on, even if I have to go work in another area of the hospital. I don’t know. I’ll see what happens when they get fully staffed.”

“I don’t want you to feel like you have to work, Jess. I know you want to feel independent, but you are the mother of my kids and I’m prepared to do anything I have to do so that they always come first.”

“Oh, Adam, they do. You know nothing will come before my kids. I appreciate how generous you are financially with me. I just need to do something for myself, you know?”

Adam stood up and held out his hands. “Come’re,” he said smiling.

Jessica stood up and Adam took her into his embrace. Jessica was a bit hesitant, but put her arms around Adam, loosely.

“You’re the best mother I could’ve asked for for our kids. Thanks for being who you are, and thanks for understanding about my relationship with Rebecca. Now, we’ve got to get going. With the rain, the traffic is going to be a nightmare.”

Jessica broke the embrace and smiled at Adam. “I’ll go get your coat.”

As Jessica went to get Adam’s coat from the bathroom and the kids’ coats from the hall closet, Adam made a quick call to Rebecca to see if she wanted to stop by after he put the children to bed.

“Hi, Sweetheart, it’s me,” he said as he left her a voicemail, “Thought you might like to come over tonight if the rain lets up. Give me a call later. Love you.”

Adam was ending the call when Jessica came back with his coat. “The kids are ready to go. They’re waiting in the living room. I’ve got an extra umbrella you can borrow so you won’t get soaked going to the car.”

Adam got Emily situated in her car seat and Jason buckled up next to her and then waved at Jessica as she stood and watched from the glass door. Once they drove out of sight, she closed the door, grabbed her coat and headed out the door to go to work. She couldn’t help but smile at the thought of Rebecca moving to Boston. She hoped this would possibly renew her chances of reuniting with the man she loved.

On the way home, Jason told Adam all the interesting facts he had found on the Internet about Phillip Deidesheimer.

“He invented something called square set timbering, Dad. It helped the miners be able to mine deeper and more safely,” Jason said enthusiastically.

“That’s great, Tiger,” Adam replied as he kept his eyes on the road. “We can check the library to see if there are any books on Mr. Deidesheimer tomorrow if you’d like.”

“Cool, Dad!” Jason said.

Emily had fallen asleep almost before they were on the highway and Adam smiled at his baby girl sleeping so soundly. He knew her first week at school would be a tough adjustment for her as she was so used to taking mid-day naps.

The rest of the drive back up the mountain was spent with Jason reading interesting facts he had found on the Comstock Lode and his new person of interest, Phillip Deidesheimer.

After arriving home and having dinner, it was nearing 9:00 PM and Adam had the kids get ready for bed. He had started a fire in the living room and turned on the furnace upstairs so the children’s rooms would not be too cold. He dressed each of them in their flannel pajamas and they went to bed without hesitation.

“Do you want me to read you a story tonight, Princess?” Adam asked Emily as she climbed into bed.

Emily yawned and her eyes were heavy. “Emmy sleepy, Daddy,” she said as she plopped down on her pillow and closed her eyes.

Adam smiled and gave her a kiss on her forehead. “OK, Princess, happy sleep, good night.”

Adam started to exit her room, but she called back to him to turn on her nightlight. Adam switched it on and she turned over and was soon in dreamland.

Adam went back to Jason’s room where he was reading more of the information he had printed out regarding Phillip Deidesheimer.

“I can’t wait until we go to the library tomorrow, Dad,” he said as Adam took the papers from him and Jason climbed in bed.

“We can go after breakfast and a bath. OK, Tiger?”

“Cool, Dad. You’re the best!”

Adam smiled and dropped a kiss on his son’s forehead after he lay down, then switched off the light and closed his door.

Once the children were in bed, Adam changed into some jeans and a sweater and headed back downstairs. He had left his cell phone on the kitchen island and noticed he had a missed call and voicemail message waiting; they were both from Rebecca. She was on her way up and would be arriving about 10:00 PM.

Shortly before ten, Adam heard a light knock on the door; when he opened the door, it was Rebecca.

“Come in, let me take your coat,” Adam said as he kissed her cheek and closed the door.

Rebecca handed him her coat and she rubbed her hands together, “I should’ve worn my gloves. It’s really cold out tonight!”

“Go sit over by the fire while I put your coat away. Can I get you a cup of coffee or tea?” Adam asked as he put her coat in the closet.

“Tea would be great, with a squeeze of lemon if you have some.”

“I do; coming right up.”

Adam came back into the living room with a cup of coffee for himself and a cup of tea for Rebecca.

“Tea with lemon for my beautiful woman,” he said as he handed the warm mug to her.

“Thank you, Mr. Cartwright,” she said with a smile as she took it from Adam.

Adam sat down next to her and they began talking about their week. Because both professionals had been so busy, they had not seen each other since Monday’s encounter.

“After weighing everything out, I’ve decided to accept the position in Boston,” Rebecca told Adam. “You’re right. Medicine is in my blood. This is an amazing opportunity for me and I would be a fool to pass it up. I’m glad I have your full support.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way, Rebecca. As I told you, I would love to be selfish and ask you to stay here, but you wouldn’t be happy and it would only hurt our relationship down the line.”

Rebecca’s face became melancholy and she couldn’t even look at Adam anymore.
“Rebecca? What is it?” Adam asked as he brushed her hair back from her face.

Rebecca looked back at Adam and said, “I’ve accepted the job, and I leave next week.”

“What? I thought…” Adam said with shock in his voice.

“I know, I said it would be another month, but I found a buyer for my house already. One of the doctors at the hospital said he wanted to buy it. He arranged his financing; we close on Monday. The movers are coming Tuesday to pack up my house and I leave on Wednesday. This is why I wanted to come see you tonight. I wanted to tell you goodbye.”

“So this is how we end? Right here, right now, with a goodbye?” Adam’s voice was alarmed at the finality of how Rebecca was sounding.

Rebecca took Adam’s hands into hers. “Adam, you know how much I love you. I know how much you love me. You proved it to me on Monday when you encouraged me to take the position. I will take that day with me for the rest of my life. You showed me it was OK to love again after Daryl. You will always be special in my heart. We both know, however, that a long distance relationship can’t work. Besides, we both have demanding jobs and it would be impossible to fly back and forth for us to have any shot at making a go of it. Please understand I’m not breaking up because I don’t love you anymore, I’m letting you go so that you can begin anew.”

Adam sat speechless. He didn’t know what to say to the revelation that this might be the last time he would see the only woman he had ever loved since Jessica.

“Say something,” Rebecca said, looking at Adam. Her eyes were glistening in the firelight. Breaking the news to Adam was as hard on her as it was for him to hear it; she was trying to remain strong.

“I’m in shock. I had no idea you had made so many life-altering plans this week without even a mention of them to me when we would talk on the phone,” he wiped his eye quickly to grab an escaping tear.

“I want you to understand why I did it this way, Adam. I almost turned down the job at one point on Tuesday. I wanted to stay and see where our relationship headed, but then I thought about your friend so I picked up the phone as quickly as I could and accepted the job before I lost my nerve. Everything else just fell into place. When Vince heard I had accepted the job, he asked if I had put my house on the market yet. When I told him no, he asked me what I was going to list it for. I told him what the house was appraised for. He made me an offer; it was a decent offer and I accepted. It just all happened so fast. I was afraid if I started talking about it, I would start having regrets and I didn’t want that. I wanted us to end on a good note. I want to remain friends always. You are so special to me. I’ll never stop loving you, but I have to start loving you in a different way now. It’s what’s best for both of us.”

“So, I guess this is goodbye,” Adam turned his head and looked her in straight in the eyes.

“If this is the way you want it, I guess so.” Tears filled Rebecca’s eyes and dripped down her cheeks.

“I think it would be best,” his voice broke.

Rebecca swallowed hard, stood up, and headed toward the door. Adam stood up and grabbed her coat from the coat closet. He helped her put it on. The two stood for a moment and stared into each other’s water soaked eyes.

Rebecca grabbed Adam’s hands and held them tightly for a few moments before she spoke through her tears.

“You have given me so much, Adam. I’ll never forget you. I want you to be happy. You are a good man.”

She then threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. He wrapped his arms around her waist and held back the waterfall of tears that wanted to escape his eyes.

“Let me walk you to your car, Rebecca,” was all Adam could say. He was afraid if he didn’t let her go right then, he wouldn’t be able to hold his emotions inside any longer.

“It’s cold outside, it’s still misting. I don’t want you to get wet. Just stay inside where it’s warm, OK? Besides, I don’t know if I could let you go if you walked me to my car, so it’s better this way.”

“If that’s what you want,” Adam responded.

Rebecca embraced Adam one last time and whispered in his ear, “Be good to Jessica, Adam. You two need each other.”

She quickly broke the embrace and opened the door and ran to her car. Then she turned around and blew him a kiss.

“I love you, don’t ever forget it!” She yelled as she got in her car and exited before Adam could even respond.

Adam watched as the red taillights of her car grew faint in the distance. When Rebecca’s car was no longer in sight, he closed the door and thought about the last thing she had said to him before she walked out of his life: Be good to Jessica, Adam. You two need each other. “What did she mean by that?” He said aloud.

Still stunned by the abrupt ending to their relationship, Adam closed the fireplace doors, turned out the lights and headed upstairs to bed. He lay in bed and thought about what had just happened. He drifted to sleep trying to make sense of everything in his life, including Rebecca’s wish for him and Jessica.

As the weekend ended, Adam gathered up the children’s bags and placed them in the car and got their coats on in preparation for their ride back to Carson. When Adam came back in the house, he heard his home phone ringing. He quickly answered the extension in his kitchen.

“Hey, it’s me. If you don’t have any plans with your doctor girlfriend, would you like to stay for dinner tonight? I’m making a vegetable lasagna. I thought we could talk about plans for Emily’s birthday coming up, too.”

“Sure, Jess, sounds good,” Adam sounded preoccupied.

“Are you OK, Adam?” She asked with concern in her voice.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just trying to get everyone in the car so we can get back to your house by six.”

“OK, drive carefully. It’s still raining here. We’ll see you in a little bit.”

“Jessica?” Adam said, stopping for a moment after he gathered his thoughts.

“Yes, Adam?” She responded kindly.

“Nothing. I’ll see you when we get home. Talk to you then.”

“Are you sure everything’s OK, Adam? You seem distracted,” she inquired.

“I’m fine,” Adam said with a bit of annoyance.

“OK, OK. I’ll see you in about an hour.”

Adam hung up the phone and called the children down; it was time to go.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the hour ride down to Carson, Adam helped Emily from her car seat and Jason got out of the car on the sidewalk side of the car. Emily ran toward the sidewalk but couldn’t resist jumping in a big muddy puddle next to the curb while Adam was getting their overnight bags from the back. When Adam heard Jason yell, “Emily, don’t!” he saw his daughter splash mud all over herself and Jason.

“Why’d you do that, Emmy? You got me all dirty!”

“I sorry, Jason,” she said as she looked in Adam’s direction wondering if she was going to get in trouble.

Adam was furious when he saw the muddy mess Emily’s stunt had caused, but kept his reaction in check while outside.

He walked over to his two wet and dirty children, grabbed Emily’s hand, and walked up the sidewalk to the front door.

Seeing his father’s ire, Jason said, “I didn’t do anything, Dad.”

“I know, Jason. I’m not angry with you.”

“I sorry, Daddy,” Emily tried to soften Adam’s anger.

“I don’t want to hear a word out of you, Emily,” he said as they reached the front door and he rang the bell.

When Jessica answered the door, her smile immediately turned to a frown at the muddy mess both of her kids were in. When she unlocked and opened the glass door she said, “What in the world?…”

“Don’t ask,” Adam said with vexation in his voice and dragged his daughter to the bathroom, dropping their bags next to the door.

“What happened to you and Emily?” Jessica demanded to know from Jason.

“I didn’t do anything, Mommy, honest! Emily jumped in a mud puddle right next to the sidewalk and got us all dirty.”

“Go to my room and take a shower right now and get out of those wet dirty clothes. I’ll bring you some clean clothes in just a minute.”

Jessica walked into the bathroom where Adam was taking off Emily’s clothes. He remained calm, but Emily knew she was in big trouble. When she saw her mother, she started to cry.

“Stop your whining right now, Emily,” Adam said vehemently.

Jessica turned on the water to the bath so she could clean up her daughter.

Seeing Adam’s anger, Jessica told him that she would get her cleaned up and, if he wouldn’t mind, he could get clean clothes for Jason and then bring some in for Emily, too.

Adam got up and left the room without saying a word. Emily watched as her father left.

“Daddy spank Emmy, Mommy?” She asked as she got in the tub.

“I don’t know,” Jessica said as she soaped up a wet rag, “You deserve one though.”

Emily’s lip started to pout and tears welled in her eyes, but Jessica told her to stop the whining because she brought it all on herself. She continued to clean her body and then washed her hair.

Adam brought clothes to Jason in Jessica’s bathroom and waited for Jessica to finish Emily’s bath and drying her hair. When they walked into her room, they saw Adam sitting on her bed. Emily stood near her door to keep her distance from Adam. Jessica called her over to her dresser so that she could put her panties and clothes on. Once she was dressed, Adam called her over to him. She hesitated at first, but knew her father was not in a playing mood. She stood in front of him with her head hanging low.

Adam put his finger under her chin and lifted her face to look at his, “Why did you jump in the puddle, Emily?”

“I don’t know, Daddy,” she replied with a whimper.

“Not good enough. Now answer me, why did you jump in the puddle?”

Emily started to cry. She just knew she was in big trouble.

Adam thought about corporal punishment as a punishment for her behavior, but spankings didn’t seem to be having much of an effect on his daughter, so he decided to resort to something with more staying power.

Emily continued to cry even though Adam had told her to stop crying; she ignored his demand, so he just spoke over her screams.

“You stay in this room and do not come out until your mother or I call you to dinner, do I make myself clear?”

Emily just stood and cried without response.

“DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR, EMILY?” He yelled above her screams.

“YES!”

He got up from her bed and walked out without any further regard to his daughter’s screaming.

Jessica hesitated, but decided to allow her daughter to continue her tantrum in her room alone and walked out and closed the door.

Jessica found Adam standing in the living room looking out the window. He didn’t even notice her walk in. She stood in the room for a few moments and noticed Adam’s body language was tense and she could see that he had a lot going on his mind. When he didn’t say anything, she turned and let him be alone with his thoughts and went back to the kitchen to continue dinner.

Jason walked into the kitchen to tell his mother about the cool book he had found at the library on Saturday about Philip Deidesheimer. He started to tell her all that he had learned about the square sets that he had designed, but never put a patent on and how they became the industry standard throughout the Comstock Lode.

“It seems you have learned a lot about Mr. Deidesheimer this weekend, haven’t you, Jason?”

“Yeah, Dad said he would help me with making a square set for my project. Isn’t that cool?”

“Yes, it is! Do you want something to drink, Honey?” She asked when Jason closed his book.

“No, I’m fine, Mommy.”

“Well, help me put the dishes on the table then,” Jessica said as she took the plates from the cabinet.

As Jason walked out of the kitchen into the dining room to set the table, Adam walked in to see if he could help with the dinner preparations.

“What can I help you with?” he asked, still a bit distracted.

“Jason’s setting the table with the plates, you want to get the flatware from the drawer and bring it to him?” she asked as she put some garlic bread in the smaller of her two oven set.

As Adam was getting the flatware out of the drawer, Jessica walked over to him and put her hand on his, stopping him.

“Is everything OK? You look like you are in another world tonight.”

Adam sighed deeply. “I’m fine. We’ll talk about it later, after dinner when the kids are in bed.”

Jessica decided not to badger Adam any longer; when he was ready to talk, he would let her know.

As dinner came together, Jessica went to get Emily from her room, but she was sound asleep. She decided to let her sleep and if she woke up later, she could eat then. The three Cartwrights had dinner and talked more about Phillip Deidesheimer and how to continue with the project of constructing the square set.

Emily never woke up so Adam and Jessica allowed her to continue to sleep. When they kissed Jason goodnight, they walked into Emily’s room and covered her with a blanket and turned out her light.

Adam went and sat on the couch in the living room while Jessica went and grabbed some coffee for Adam and tea for herself. She came back into the living room and handed his mug to him and sat down next to him.

She could see Adam was a million miles away so she sat quietly and drank her tea, not saying anything. She knew how Adam was. When he needed to talk, he would.

After a few minutes, Adam finally broke the silence.

“She said goodbye.”

Jessica looked up at Adam, not understanding his statement.

“Excuse me? Who said goodbye?”

Adam looked at Jessica and said, “Rebecca, she said goodbye to me Friday night.”

“I’m sorry, Adam,” Jessica said quietly.

Adam continued, “She came over Friday night after the kids were in bed. She told me she accepted the job, she had sold her house, and she leaves on Wednesday. Just like that, we’re done. She said goodbye.”

He then turned to Jessica and said, “But what took me totally off guard was what she said to me right before she left. She said, ‘Be good to Jessica, Adam. You two need each other.’”

“What do you suppose she meant by that statement, Adam?”

Adam shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I don’t know. Maybe she wants me to get back together with you to ease her conscience about leaving me? Who knows?”

Jessica didn’t say anything and drank her tea. Adam didn’t reveal any more about what had transpired between him and Rebecca, so she didn’t pry.

After a few moments of quiet, Jessica turned to Adam and lightly touched him on his shoulder and said, “Adam, I’m really sorry. I know you cared for her and wanted things to work out between the two of you.”

Adam looked over at Jessica. He could see she meant what she had said.

“Thanks. I know you weren’t fond of her, but I believe you when you say that you’re sorry for what has happened.”

“It’s not a matter of if I was fond of her or not, Adam. I love you. I care about you. I want what you feel is best for you. If Rebecca was who you wanted to be with, and she made you happy, then I was going to try to accept it and be happy for you.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about her anymore. She’s no longer in my life. She wants me to be good to you.”

“You are good to me, Adam. You’re very generous. You always have been.”

Adam laughed, “If I had always been generous, I would’ve never neglected you to the point where you wanted a divorce, Jess.”

“Adam, don’t be so hard on yourself. You were trying your best back then. We were both selfish. I’m just as much to blame as you are. I’ve finally come to that realization. I know; it took me awhile, but I did.”

Adam stared at Jessica without saying anything. He then smiled at her and said, “You know, lately I’ve been having flashbacks of better times in our marriage and they bring a smile to my face.”

Adam confessed about the many flashbacks he had been having about Jessica and how attractive he still found her.

“Women are naturally very intuitive people, Adam. Maybe she felt you were not being totally honest with yourself where I was concerned or maybe she saw something in me when you were in the ICU.” Jessica explained.

“I’ll always love you, Jess. Nothing can change the fact that you were my wife and are the mother of my kids.”

“I know, Adam, but maybe you need to stop lying to yourself.”

Adam looked at Jessica with a furrowed brow, “What’s that supposed to mean?” he wanted to know.

“It’s a question only you can answer,” she said as she got up and took their mugs into the kitchen.

Jessica placed the mugs in the sink and leaned against the sink trying to hold back her emotions on the heavy conversation with the only man she had ever truly loved.

Adam came in behind her, but she was lost in her own world; she did not hear him come up behind her.

He put his hands on the curves of her waist and whispered in her ear, “You’re a good woman, Jess. Thanks for being a good friend.” He kissed her on the cheek.

Jessica blinked her eyes rapidly to stop the flood of tears trying to escape. She took a deep breath and changed the subject to Emily’s fifth birthday coming up in a few weeks.

“We’ve talked about getting Emily her own pony when she turned five. Do you still want to continue with this plan or do you feel she’s still too immature for one?” She dried her hands and walked over to the table in the breakfast nook.

Adam came and sat down next to her and leaned back. “I don’t know. We got Jason Jake when he was five; it only seems right to get Emmy one at five, too. She’s just so much more immature than he was at this age.”

Jessica got up and got a small glass of water to take her allergy pills and said, “This is your area of expertise. I’m leaving it up to you.”

“Thanks,” Adam laughed.

Adam noticed the prescription pills Jessica was taking and asked if she was OK.

“Just typical fall allergies kicking in. Getting a bit of a scratchy throat and watery eyes. The doctor gave me an allergy shot on Friday and gave me these two prescriptions to take.”

“I hope you get to feeling better,” Adam said as he came over and massaged Jessica’s shoulders.

Jessica closed her eyes and melted into Adam’s strong hands massaging her shoulders.

“What do you want to do about Emily’s birthday party? If you decide to get her a pony, do you want to still do her party here and wait until your weekend to give her the pony?”

Adam stopped rubbing Jessica’s shoulders and grabbed her hand to lead her back into the living room so they could sit on the couch and be more comfortable.

“I was thinking we could have it at my house this year if it was OK with you. You could come up to the ranch after school; we could give her the pony. You and I, the kids, Dad, Joe, and Hoss could go have dinner, and we could come back to my house for cake, ice cream and presents. What do you think?”

Jessica looked at Adam and said, “Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. Do you want me to go with you to choose a pony or is it something you prefer to do on your own?”

“Why don’t I take a look at my calendar next week and see if I have a few hours during the day where I can get away. You can meet me at the office, and we can go see Carl together.”

“OK, sounds good. Just give me a call or shoot me an email with what works best for you.”

Adam looked at his watch and it was getting late. Jessica grabbed his coat from the closet and helped Adam put it on.

She walked him to the door and, as he reached to open the door; he stopped, turned around, and wrapped his arms around Jessica’s waist and pulled her close.

Jessica laid her hands and head on his chest and closed her eyes.

After a few moments of holding her without saying anything, he took his right hand and pulled her face up to meet his and dropped a delicate kiss on her lips and whispered, “Thank you.”

Shivers ran down Jessica’s spine from the kiss. Adam had not kissed her so tenderly since before their divorce.

He opened the door and turned one last time toward Jessica and smiled. He stroked her cheek and turned back to walk outside.

“I’ll call you,” he said as he walked down the sidewalk to his car.

Jessica stood with her arms wrapped around her waist shivering in the night air. She didn’t notice her shaking because she was lost in the soft kiss Adam had just given her.

She waved as he drove away. She went back in the house, turned out the lights and headed to bed.

On his way home, Adam thought about the last request Rebecca had said to him about being good to Jessica. A smile curved his lips upward as he recalled the soft kiss before he left her house. A warm feeling came over his body as he could feel her soft curves in his hands. Before he knew it, he was home and his bed called his name.

 

Chapter 12 by Adams_lover

Chapter Twelve

A month had gone by since Rebecca and Adam had said goodbye to each other. Adam spent several weekdays working late at the office to avoid going home and being alone. He went to Jessica’s house in the beginning several nights a week, working with Jason on his square set project for school. It seemed like old times for the Cartwright family as Adam would come home to Jessica’s house after work. They would eat dinner, Adam and Jason would work on his school project, Adam would help bathe the children and read a story to Emily before her she went to bed. Before going home, Adam and Jessica would enjoy a nightcap together and talk about everything from the kids to current world events.

When the school had its Open House and Meet The Teachers night, Jason’s project was prominently featured in the classroom as one of the best projects on the Comstock Lode. After the Open House, it was put on display in the showcase in the school lobby. Adam and Jessica were very proud of their son’s accomplishment on his project. Jason worked on the design himself based on information he had read about and researched on the internet. Adam only assisted him with buying materials and construction.

Adam and Jessica took advantage of the children being in school and set an afternoon appointment to visit a local horse farm to purchase a pony for Emily’s fifth birthday gift from the two of them. Adam had bought Jake, Jason’s mount, at the same farm when he turned five. Now it was time for Emily to have her own pony and learn to ride.

October first arrived and it was Emily’s fifth birthday. She had talked about being five for several weeks and was looking forward to celebrating her birthday with her poppy, mom and dad, brother, and two uncles.

“Good morning, Birthday Girl.” Jessica said to Emily as she woke her from her that morning. “How does it feel to be five today?”

“Hi, Mommy! I’m five!”

“Yes, you are, Sweetheart! Daddy and I have a special evening planned for you. Daddy said he’s going to get off work early so he can pick you up from school! Poppy, Uncle Hoss and Uncle Joe are all coming over to celebrate Emily’s birthday tonight at Daddy’s house!”

“YAY!” Emily cheered and clapped her hands.

“Lets get up and eat breakfast so we can get you to school on time.”

After the children finished eating breakfast, they headed to their rooms to get dressed. The phone rang; it was Adam to wish his baby girl a happy birthday.

“Hello,” Jessica answered.

“Hey, it’s me. Is my birthday girl up yet?”

“Yes, she is. She’s really looking forward to you coming to pick her up from school today.”

“I’d like to talk with her and wish her a happy birthday,” Adam said as he drove into work early so that he could leave by 2PM.

“Hi, Daddy! Emmy’s five!”

“I know, Princess, and I called to wish you a happy birthday!”

“You come to get me at school? Can you come now?”

“No, Princess, I’m on my way to work right now. Mommy’s going to take you and Jason to school and I’ll come and pick you up later, OK?”

“Daddy!” Emily started to whine.

“What, Princess? Don’t cry. It’s your birthday and five year old girls don’t cry on their birthdays.”

“Come to Emmy’s house now, Daddy!”

“Emily, stop whining.” Adam got tough with his daughter. “I’ll pick you up from school this afternoon. Daddy has to work this morning but at 2pm, I’ll be all yours, OK? Now let me talk to Mommy.”

Emily handed the phone back to Jessica and ran back down the hall to tell Jason her daddy was going to come pick her up from school.

“Hey,” Jessica said as she put the phone to her ear.

“After I get the kids, we’ll swing by to get you and head up to the Ponderosa to show Emily her new pony. Dad, Joe, and Hoss will be home around five and we’ll all head out to dinner shortly after they get home. Hop Sing will have the cake ready by the time we get there this afternoon. Since it’s going to be late by the time we get back from dinner, have cake and open presents, why don’t you and the kids just plan on staying over tonight?”

“Yeah, I think it might work out best to stay over. I hate driving in the mountains late at night. I’ll have our bags packed when you get here so all we have to do is hop in the car and go. I’m sure Emily will want to spend some time with her pony before we go to dinner anyway.”

“OK, great. I’ll see you shortly after I pick them up from school. Talk to ya then.”

“Bye, Adam. Have a good day.”

After she hung up, Jessica finished getting Emily ready for school. Both children made it to their classrooms just before the tardy bell rang.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As 2:00 PM approached, Adam wound down his week and gathered the items he would take home to work with over the weekend.

He arrived at the school as the bell rang and the children were being let out of class. Jessica had told Jason to go to Emily’s classroom because Adam would be there to pick the two of them up.

“Hello, Mr. Cartwright. Emily told me this morning that you would be picking her up from school today because it’s her birthday! She has been so excited all day, she had a little trouble keeping her focus on her school work.”

Adam raised an eyebrow raised in dissatisfaction at the report Miss Armstrong gave him. Emily could see her father was not happy with her and she looked down with a pout.

“Her mother and I will discuss this behavior with her this weekend, Miss. Armstrong; you can be assured she will be a more focused student on Monday.” Adam said as he continued to look at Emily.

Miss Armstrong bent down to wish Emily a happy birthday and a good weekend. Emily continued to pout and did not respond to Miss Armstrong.

“Emily Cartwright, your teacher is speaking to you.” Adam’s voice grew more agitated.

“Thank you, Miss Armstrong. See you later.”

Miss Armstrong smiled and pat Emily’s tangled curls, stood up and smiled at Adam.

“Have a great weekend, Mr. Cartwright. Bye, Emily. See you Monday!”

“Bye, Miss Armstrong,” Emily said as she grabbed her father’s hand. The three Cartwrights headed for the front door. The children were still piling out of the classrooms so Adam picked his little girl up and Jason walked next to his father. When they got to the parking lot, Adam put Emily in her car seat while Jason buckled himself in next to her. The three headed to Jessica’s house where she was waiting for them. As they pulled up, she came out to grab their backpacks and put them in the house. She handed the overnight bag to Adam. She quickly ran back to the house to put the backpacks in the living room, lock the door and return to Adam’s SUV.

When they arrived at Adam’s house, Jessica helped Emily out of her car seat as Jason jumped out and ran into the house to go upstairs. He grabbed Hardy Boys books and begin reading. Adam grabbed the overnight bag and Jessica, Adam, and Emily all walked in the house together.

On the island in the kitchen sat Emily’s cake that Hop Sing had made, along with a present wrapped in Chinese wrapping paper with a card attached.

“Look here, Em!” Jessica said as she went and opened the lid on the box that held the cake.

Emily let out a gasp as she saw her special cake that Hop Sing had made specially for her. It was a flower shaped cake adorned with pink and white roses.

“Emmy want a piece!” She squealed with excitement.

“Not right now, Princess. We’ll have cake when we get home from dinner, OK? Why don’t you run upstairs and play for a few minutes while I get dressed; Daddy and Mommy have a special surprise for you!”

Emily’s eyes grew wide. She couldn’t imagine what her daddy meant so she ran upstairs and did what her father asked her to do without question.

“Come on, let me show you to the guest bedroom so that you can put your bag away.” Adam said as he untied his tie and started to unbutton his shirt.

Adam and Jessica headed upstairs together. He opened the door to the guest bedroom and placed the overnight bag on the bed.

“There’s a small private bath just beyond the closet where you can take a shower tonight before we go to dinner.” Adam said as he untucked his shirt. “Why don’t you get the kids dressed to go see the pony and I’ll be right out.”

Adam hurried to his room, taking off his shirt as he left the guest bedroom.

Jessica opened the overnight bag and got out the children’s clothes to wear to see the pony. She called them from their rooms and they came running into hers. She handed Jason his clothes. He went back into his room to change while Emily stayed in Jessica’s room and she helped her into her jeans and sweater. Jessica hung the clothes they would wear to dinner in the closet so they would not get wrinkled.

After everyone had finished dressing, they quickly jumped in the car and headed to the indoor corral where Hank was waiting with the new pony for Emily. When they walked in, he was leading the pony around the corral exercising him. Emily’s eyes lit up when she saw her new pony. She ran to the fence and Hank came over so that she could get a closer look at her new mount she would soon learn to ride.

Adam, Jessica, and Jason came up behind her. Adam picked Emily up and sat her on the top board of the fence so she could be at the same level as her new pony.

“What do you think, Emily?” Jessica asked, as her daughter stared at the pony in amazement.

“She’s pretty, Mommy! I love her so much.”

“Well, Princess, she’s a he.” Adam smiled.

“Emmy, you can learn to ride and we can ride together sometime, huh?” Jason said with a big grin on his face.

“It’ll be awhile, Tiger, before Emily is ready to ride on her own, and it will be several years before you two will be able to ride together without supervision,” Adam said as he patted the horse on his neck.

“Would you like to feed him some carrots and apples, Emily?” Hank asked.

Emily looked at Adam and Jessica for their approval.

“He’s your new mount, Princess, you’re going to have to share in the responsibility of taking care of him. Remember how I taught you to feed Sport? You’ll feed your new pony the same way.”

Hank put a bucket full of carrots and cored apple wedges on the fence and each of the Cartwrights handed the new equine addition some treats.

Adam then showed Emily how to pat the pony on the neck and she also leaned in to give him a light kiss.

“What do you want to name your new pony, Sweetheart?” Jessica asked excitedly.

“I want to call him Banana, Mommy!” She grinned and clapped. “His hair is yellow like a banana.”

“Well, Banana it is,” Adam said with a big smile. “Banana, this is Emily, Emily, this is Banana.”

“I wanna ride Banana, Daddy!” Emily bounced on the fence.

“Not today, Princess. We have to go to town and get you fitted for a saddle first. Once we get a saddle, Hank will work with you on proper mounting and dismounting.”

“Mommy!” Emily started to whine.

“Don’t, Mommy me, Emily! Daddy’s right. You have to be fitted for a saddle and learn the basics first.”

“Give Banana one more carrot and apple. We have to get going. Poppy, Uncle Hoss and Uncle Joe should be home from work shortly, and we’re all going to dinner to celebrate your birthday,” Adam announced.

Emily and Jason each gave Banana another carrot and apple. Emily kissed and pat her new pony again, told him goodbye and the four Cartwrights headed back to the house to get ready for dinner.

After the birthday dinner celebration at Lone Eagle Grille, the family Cartwright came back to Adam’s home and Emily opened her gifts from everyone including her maternal grandmother from Connecticut. Jessica’s mother had planned to come out for Emily’s birthday but had slipped and fallen a few days before her scheduled flight and broken her ankle. Emily and Jason had looked forward to seeing their Nana but understood she was not able to get around well enough to make the trip. She promised them she would come out in the spring. She would have come at Christmas, but she already had plans to go on a cruise with some of her other widowed friends at that time.

After the family sang Happy Birthday to Emily, she blew out her candles with the help of her brother. Adam took pictures while Jessica cut the cake. Emily squealed and began to cry; she didn’t want her pretty flower cake cut into.

“Emily, don’t be silly,” Jessica said to her daughter as she tried again to cut the cake. Emily screamed louder, “NO, MOMMY!”

Ben tried to calm his granddaughter’s sadness over cutting the cake.

“Why don’t you want your mommy to cut the cake, Sweetheart?” He asked as he rubbed her back.”

Through her tears, she told her poppy it was her cake and it was pretty.

“Yes, it’s very pretty and Hop Sing made it just for you so that we could all have a piece with ice cream and celebrate your birthday today. You are five, and girls that are five have pretty cakes for their birthdays so they can eat a piece and share with their famiies.”

Emily looked at her grandfather through her tear-soaked eyes. “OK, Poppy, you cut Emmy’s cake.”

“You want to cut it with me, Sweetheart?” Ben said taking a handkerchief from his coat pocket and drying Emily’s eyes.

“Uh huh,” she said between sniffles.

Ben and Emily cut the cake as Adam continued to take pictures and Jessica dished out ice cream onto each plate and handed plates them everyone. They stood around and ate cake and watched Emily eat her piece, getting more on her face than in her stomach.

“Aren’t you going to have a piece of cake and some ice cream, Jess?” Adam asked as he took a bite from his slice.

“No, I’m really trying to watch my weight, Adam. We’ve had this discussion before, remember?” She smiled remembering the lunch they had at Adele’s.

Adam rolled his eyes at Jessica’s anal attitude toward eating so healthy. “A small piece isn’t going to kill you, Jess. Here, at least have a bite.”

Adam cut a piece of his cake and added a small amount of ice cream to his fork and fed it to his ex-wife.

As the confection hit her taste buds, her eyes widened and she said, “Oh my gosh, that is so good! I had forgotten how wonderful Hop Sing’s cakes were,” she said, cleaning her lips with a napkin.

“Will you have a piece then? It really won’t kill you,” Adam said taking the last bite off his plate.

Jessica sighed. “Adam, once on the lips, forever on the hips, and butt, and thighs,” she laughed.

Adam gave her a gentle loving slap on her tush and said to her, “Nothing wrong with your sexy butt, Jess,” as he headed back and cut himself another slice. “If you don’t want yours, I’ll have it.”

The family laughed at the loving banter between the two parents.

“Hold up there, Older Brother, I can’t let you eat alone,” Hoss said as he took the knife from Adam and cut himself another piece.

The hour was getting late and Jessica could see the children’s eyes growing heavy. She cleaned up Emily’s face and instructed her son and daughter to give hugs and kisses goodnight to their father, grandfather, and uncles. She went with the children upstairs to get them ready for bed. When she came back downstairs, Ben and the boys were putting on their over coats to head back to the main house. They were thanking Adam for the fine dinner at Lone Eagle Grille. Jessica came to Adam’s side and gave her father-in-law and two brother-in-laws a hugs and kisses.

Adam saw his father and brothers to their cars, and wished them a good night as he watched them drive back down the road to the main house. When Adam walked back in, Jessica was in the kitchen rinsing off the dishes from the cake and ice cream celebration. He told her she didn’t need to worry about washing them as she was a guest in his home and he would clean up.

“Hey, it’s my daughter’s birthday today. You’ve been a gracious host. It’s the least I can do,” she said as she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. She turned her attention back to rinsing the plates and forks and loading them in the dishwasher. Adam came over and helped her finish up the last of the dishes and started the dishwasher.

“If you’re not too tired, would you care to join me in a nightcap?” Adam asked Jessica.

“I’d love one. Sherry?”

Adam tapped Jessica’s nose and said, “Coming up. Make yourself comfortable on the couch.”

Jessica walked back into the living room and sat on the sofa next to the roaring fire. Adam put on some soft background music on and shut out the lights in the kitchen. The only lights on were the lamps on each side of the couch. Jessica took off her heels and wrapped herself, covering up her knees with her dress. Adam took his tie off and tossed it over the wing back chair near the wet bar and made drinks for the two of them.

“I like this music. Is it a CD or the radio?”

“It’s a CD, Acoustic Alchemy; I really like their music. Very relaxing after a long day.”

Adam handed Jessica her cocktail and he sat down next to her and put his arm on the pillow behind her head. He lifted his glass to Jessica.

“To the best mother our kids could have.”

Jessica smiled and lifted her glass to Adam’s glass. “Thanks, Adam,” she said as she drank some of her nightcap.

She let out a deep sigh and laid her head back on the overstuffed pillow. “I can’t believe my baby’s five! Where has the time gone? It just seems like yesterday we were in college. I can still remember vividly our first day in English class at Harvard.” She turned to Adam, “Do you remember?”

Adam smiled as he took a sip from his sherry. “Do I remember?” Adam looked up at the ceiling recalling the first time he laid eyes on his future wife.

“I remember walking in to Professor Hathaway’s class and seeing you sitting there. You were so beautiful, I thought to myself. I knew I wanted to get to know you, so I chose to sit right behind you.”

“Oh my gosh, Professor Hathaway,” Jessica laughed, remembering him fondly. “He had such a passion for Shakespeare. Those were some good times.”

As the two enjoyed their nightcaps, they reminisced about their days at Harvard together, the friends they had both shared and how they had became boyfriend and girlfriend.

“I’ll never forget when I told Belinda that you had asked me out. She was so jealous! She really liked you a lot!”

Adam looked at Jessica with a surprise on his face. “You never told me your dorm mate had a crush on me!”

“That’s because I wanted you all to myself, Buster!” She laughed.

Adam recalled Jessica’s friend and dorm mate with a smile. “She was a looker; she had a killer body. Didn’t she go on to Harvard Medical School and become a doctor?” Adam asked.

“Yes, she did! She’s down in Miami now. She’s a neurosurgeon.”

Adam looked surprised at Belinda’s accomplishments. “Really? Wow! Good for her! Do you guys keep in touch still?”

“Yeah. It’s been awhile since I talked to her. We usually exchange Christmas cards. She was sad when she heard we had divorced. She just knew we would stay married forever.”

“Tell her I said hello the next time you talk to her,” Adam said as he finished his drink.

As he got up to fix himself another drink, he asked Jessica if he could refresh hers and she handed him her glass. After Adam returned, he resumed the same position and Jessica asked about his best friend from college, Steve.

“He’s good. He’s a senior partner and chief operating officer at a law firm in Dallas now. He and his long time girlfriend just split up. He made the same mistake I did by diving into work and not giving her or their daughter enough of his undivided attention. He gets to see his daughter quite often because his ex flies for American Airlines and when she’s working, the baby comes and stays with him.”

Jessica’s body language tensed when she heard another woman had made the same sacrifice as she did with Adam. She looked at her ex and said, “I’m really sorry to hear they split up, Adam. I know she and Steve had been together for a long time.”

Adam sighed as he remembered many conversations with Steve, trying to warn him not to fall into the same trap that he had fallen into.

“I’ve vowed to myself never to put the people I love behind my work ever again,” Adam said looking straight ahead and not able to look at Jessica. “Life is too short. Before you know it, your kids are grown and you don’t have precious memories of when they were little.”

Adam looked back at Jessica. “I’m really sorry I wasn’t there for you when you needed me most.”

Jessica smiled and tried to lighten the heavy moment. “At least you recognize it now. I’m glad. The kids will be better for it.”

She changed the subject back to their days at Harvard. “Do you remember the night when I was at your apartment and it seemed like out of nowhere it just started to snow like crazy?”

“Yeah, I think we were studying for our English exam on Romeo and Juliet.”

“You remember what we were doing? Wow, Adam, good memory.”

“Babe, I remember everything about that night.” Adam took Jessica’s glass and placed it on a coaster on the coffee table.

He put his arm around Jessica’s shoulders and pulled her into his embrace. She laid her head on his chest as he flashed back to that cold mid December night.

“I’ll never forget how beautiful you looked that night. We were laying on the floor next to the fire. It was so cold, I remember. You had your book open and I was laying across from you with mine.”

Jessica lifted her head and looked up at Adam, “Yeah, with the pizza box and two bottles of beer in the middle.”

Adam smiled as he remembered the scene so many years before.

“Your face glowed in the light of the flames. I remember getting lost in how you read the part of Juliet. You read it with such passion. The ending really affected you. The tears in your eyes when Juliet realized she and Romeo could not be together and her only solution was death.”

“It was the first time we made love.” Jessica said softly.

Adam looked down at Jessica and said in the same soft tone, “You remember.”

“I remember we started reading the lines. I was Juliet, you were Romeo. We got swept away in the roles and before we knew it, we wanted each other, we needed each other.”

Adam placed his hand softly under Jessica’s chin. “It was the night I knew I wanted to marry you.”

Jessica’s eyes widened and she said, “I never knew that. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because we were just freshman in college. We still had three and a half years left of school, but I knew you were the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was not sex for me that night. I made love to my future wife.”

Jessica stared into Adam’s eyes. She saw the same look in his eyes she had seen that night so many years before.

Adam traced Jessica’s face with his fingers. When he reached her mouth, he pulled her to him and laid a gentle kiss on her lips and whispered, “I want you now like I wanted you then.”

Jessica’s stomach was nervous with butterflies. She could feel her temperature rising as she felt her womanly desires awaken.

“What about the children?” Jessica whispered as Adam started to kiss her neck.

“What about them?” he asked between soft nibbles.

Jessica was lost in Adam’s seduction. She could no longer speak. Only soft sighs escaped her lips.

Adam started to unzip Jessica’s dress. Jessica dissolved into Adam’s chest. She unbuttoned his dress shirt, unbuckled his belt and trousers so that she could untuck his shirt and t-shirt. She placed her hands against his stomach and could feel the twitches of his skin as she ran her fingers along his stomach to his chest.

Adam took Jessica’s face and kissed her with passion. “I want you, Jess,” he whispered in her ear.

“I want you too, Adam,” she said breathlessly.

Adam broke their embrace and scooped her into his arms and took her upstairs, leaving the lights and music softly playing in the background.

When he reached his bedroom, Adam stood Jessica back on her feet, opened the door and invited her in. He closed the door behind him, locking the knob for privacy. He took Jessica back into his embrace and finished unzipping her dress allowing it to puddle on the floor. He stripped off his shirt and t-shirt and the two embraced recalling how they had undressed each other that cold night in Cambridge as Harvard freshman. Before they knew it, the two lovers were naked in bed making passionate love to each other for the first time since before their divorce.

Jessica laid in Adam’s embrace as her body twitched from the climatic ending of their love making.

“Thank you for tonight, Adam. You were so gentle. Just like when we were married.” Jessica murmured as she ran her fingers over his chest.

“It’s been so long for me. My only desire was to bring you together with me. Its just been so long. I’m sorry it was so quick.”

Jessica looked up at Adam and smiled. “You satisfied me in other ways, Darlin. I’m quite content, thanks,” she said as she laid her head back on Adam’s chest.

Adam turned Jessica over on her back and passionately kissed her as he ran his hands down the silhouette of her curves. The two kissed and held each other until they fell asleep in each other’s arms.

Around 4AM, there was a light knock on the door. Emily had been having a nightmare and was crying. She needed to feel the safety of her father’s arms.

Exhausted from their love making, neither parent heard the cries of their frightened daughter.

Jason woke to Emily’s pleas to be let in to her father’s room. He got up and sleepily went to his sister’s side. He hugged her and told her she was going to be OK and he would protect her. She didn’t want her brother, she wanted her daddy.

Jessica was the first to wake up when she realized she heard her daughter crying.

“Adam!” she whispered and tried to wake him. “Adam!” She shook him a bit harder.

Emily was frightened because she couldn’t get in to see her daddy. The darkness coupled with the nightmare had her almost in a panic. Jason continued to try and calm her fears but she only wanted a soothing cuddle from her daddy.

“Adam!” Jessica said in a louder whisper and hitting him on the back trying to wake him. He finally woke up and heard the desperate cries of his daughter.

Adam flew out of bed, grabbed his robe that was draped over the leather wing back chair near the fireplace and put it on. He grabbed his dress shirt from the floor and tossed it to Jessica to quickly put on before he opened the door.

When Adam opened the door, he found Emily sitting on the floor sobbing uncontrollably and Jason trying to calm her. Adam picked her up and brought her into his room and held her in his arms trying to comfort her.

“Emily, what’s the matter, Princess?” he asked as he stroked her back and rocked her gently while sitting on the edge of his bed.

Jessica finished buttoning Adam’s dress shirt and crawled across the bed and sat next to Adam. Jason stood in the doorway of Adam’s room and watched his parents console his sister.

“What’s wrong with my sweet Emily? Did you have a dream, Baby?” Jessica said in a loving tone.

“Emmy scared, Mommy.” she said through her sobs and climbed into her mother’s lap.

“What happened, Baby Girl?” she asked in the same gentle tone.

“I got lost and the monster wanted to get me,” she said as her sobs grew stronger.

“I’m right here, Sweetie. Mommy’s right here and so is Daddy! See? We’re here and you aren’t lost. It was just a dream.

Jessica was finally able to calm her daughter’s fears and her crying slowed to some sniffles.

“Emmy wants to sleep with Mommy.” She said through her tears.

Adam and Jessica looked at each other wondering what to do. They decided to allow her to sleep between them. Adam laid Emily in the middle of his king size bed while Jessica scurried to find her underwear and put them on before she got back into bed. Adam went into his closet to find some sweat pants to put on before getting back into bed himself.

Emily was soon back to sleep in the protection of both her parents. Adam and Jessica laid back down with Emily in the middle and drifted back to sleep.

The sun started to shine through the windows about 7:00 AM and Jason came to the door and knocked. Emily heard the knock and got up to let her brother into the room. Jessica and Adam were still sleeping soundly. More aware of the oddness of Jessica being in bed with Adam, he asked Emily why their mother was sleeping in the same bed as their father. The conversation woke Adam up, but Jessica being a heavy sleeper, was still sleeping.

“What are you doing in here?” Adam demanded to know from his son.

“I knocked and Emmy let me in,” he replied to his father’s question.

“What do you need, Son?” His barrage of questions kept coming.

“Why are Mommy and Emily sleeping in here, Daddy?” Jason’s curiosity was getting the better of him.

“It’s none of your business, now go back to your room or watch TV downstairs. Mommy and I will be down to fix breakfast shortly.

Adam sent his two children out of the room and they went downstairs and turned on the TV to watch Saturday morning cartoons.

Adam shut the door and went back to his bed and sat down next to where Jessica was sleeping soundly. He shook her awake and she, at first, was a bit startled because she wasn’t sure where she was. She then realized she was in Adam’s room and remembered the passionate night she had spent with him and smiled.

Adam rubbed her hip and leg and smiled. “Thanks for last night,” he said as he bent down and dropped a kiss on Jessica’s forehead.

“I should be the one thanking you, Adam. It has been so long since we’ve made love. We haven’t lost the magic between us though.”

“It was special for me too,” he said standing up. “We have a couple of kiddo’s downstairs who are hungry. How about we make a big breakfast, Ponderosa style?” He said as he put his hands out to help Jessica get out of bed.

As she stood up, Adam took her into his arms and kissed her lips tenderly. “Thanks again for the walk down memory lane.”

“I should stop off and get my robe, don’t you think?” Jessica asked Adam as they walked out of his room. He was dressed in just his sweat pants and she was still wearing his dress shirt.

Jessica stopped off at the guest bedroom and grabbed her slippers and robe, and the two parents went downstairs to discover the children sitting on the love seat together watching cartoons. Jason had turned off the stereo that had been left on all night.

“Who wants eggs, bacon, and biscuits?” Adam asked as he stopped and spoke to his children. Jessica continued on into the kitchen and started looking through the pantry and refrigerator to find everything she would need to make a big breakfast.

She could hear the squeals of delight from both of her children and Adam’s voice was happier than she had ever remembered it. A smile came to her face as she basked in the sounds of a complete family.

The three Cartwrights came into the kitchen where they found Jessica placing bacon on a rack to put into the oven. Adam came over and put his arms around Jessica’s waist and held her tightly. He started to nibble her neck and whisper sweet nothings in her ear.

“Mr. Cartwright, cut that out. How can I concentrate on making us breakfast with you nibbling my neck?”

Jason beamed with excitement. He had not seen his parents so loving to each other since he was six.

Adam gave Jessica a kiss on the cheek and slapped her tush. He said he was going to make coffee and asked if she wanted tea instead. She told him she would drink coffee with him.

Adam went to the refrigerator to get the coffee and put it on to brew.

Jason, still beaming from the happiness that filled the air, came and asked his mother if there was anything he could do to help her.

“Sure, Honey, you want to break the eggs for Mommy in that bowl for me?” she asked pointing to the glass bowl and egg carton sitting on the counter. Jason opened the carton and started to crack the eggs one by one into the bowl.

Adam grabbed the ziplock bag of fresh biscuit dough from the freezer. “Hop Sing always brings me a batch when he makes biscuits and leaves them in the freezer. They just have to be baked,” Adam said as he headed to the oven on the wall to turn it on to pre-heat.

“I’ve got the bacon in there right now, Adam. It should be finished shortly. You can put the biscuits in after the bacon comes out.” Jessica said as she turned her attention to Jason cracking the eggs.

“That’s enough eggs, Sweetheart. Do you know where Daddy keeps the whisk?” she asked.

Adam went over to the drawer and pulled out the whisk, and handed it to Jason. Jason started to beat the eggs.

“I want some juice!” Emily squealed jumping up and down.

“Yes, Ma’am, Miss Emily, coming up!” Adam said as he went to the cabinet to get a juice glass down. “Do you two want some juice?” he asked Jessica and Jason.

“I want some milk, Dad,” Jason replied. “None for me, Adam. I’ll just have coffee,” Jessica said as she was pulling the bacon from the oven and reducing the heat for the biscuits.

When everything was ready, the four Cartwrights sat down to a big breakfast. The children talked about everything from school to Emily’s new pony.

Adam announced that after breakfast and baths, they could all take a drive into town and look into getting Emily fitted for her saddle. The children squealed with delight.

When breakfast was finished and the dishes were done, Adam told Jason to head upstairs and get a bath drawn for him and Emily. Emily followed Jason upstairs and the two undressed and got into a bathtub full of bubbles and began to play as they bathed.

Jessica walked into Adam’s room to gather up her clothes that she had left sitting in the floor from the previous night. She had taken off her robe and was unbuttoning his shirt to leave it in his room and return to the guest bedroom for a shower and change. Adam came in and closed the door behind him. He gathered Jessica into his arms and held her tight around her waist. He stood and stared at her smiling.

She stared lovingly back into his eyes. After a few moments, she finally broke the silence and said as she laughed, “What?”

Adam just kept staring at her smiling. “Nothing, just basking in the sexiness of you wearing my shirt, that’s all.”

“Well, it’s getting ready to come off. I’ve got to take a shower,” she said as she broke free and finished unbuttoning it.

“Come here, you sex kitten,” Adam said as he grabbed Jessica’s hand and pulled her back next to him and started to unbutton his shirt exposing her naked body underneath.

“Want to shower together?” he asked as he pulled his shirt down exposing and kissing her bare shoulders.

“Is that all you want, Mr. Cartright?” she asked in a seductive voice.

“Well, I need a shower, you need a shower. I figure we could do our part to help with water conservation.” He laughed as he began to nibble on Jessica’s neck.

“Uh huh,” Jessica said leaning her head to the side to expose her neck to Adam’s soft lips. “I bet that’s all you want to do.”

Adam looked at Jessica with an impish grin. “Who me? Want anything more? Surely you jest!”

Standing naked in the middle of Adam’s room, she grabbed his hand and pulled him toward the bathroom. “Come on, I’m cold and my nipples are getting hard,” she laughed.

“Woman, I’ll keep those nipples hard,” he said as he grabbed her around the waist and picked her up into his arms.

Jessica squealed with delight as Adam carried her into the shower and turned on the hot water and then the cold to get it to a warm temperature.

After everyone was showered, bathed, and dressed, the four Cartwrights jumped in Adam’s SUV and drove into Carson to begin a family filled day of shopping.

Adam suggested that Jessica and the children stay the night at his house again and she accepted. They stopped at Jessica’s house to get changes of clothes for her and the kids to wear to church and afterwards. Adam would bring them home Sunday evening early so he could help Jason finish his homework that he hadn’t finish at school; and Jessica could get them ready to go back to school on Monday.

After having dinner in town on Sunday night, the Cartwrights returned to Jessica’s house where Adam ordered Jason directly to the office so they could get started on homework.

Jessica got the children’s school uniforms out of their closets and laid them out for the next morning. She drew a bath for Emily and while she was bathing, Jessica went into the kitchen to prepare Jason’s and Emily’s lunches for school.

Once Jason had finished his homework, he joined Emily in the bathtub. Adam went into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee.

“Care to join me?” he asked as he measured out the ground coffee to add to the filter.

“No, I think I’ll have some tea tonight,” Jessica said as she was putting Emily’s PB&J sandwich in the box.

Adam grabbed the tea kettle, and filled it with water and set it on the stove to heat up.

While Jessica finished making Jason’s lunch for school, Adam went and got the children out of the bath and into their pajamas and got them into bed. The time was pushing 9:30PM and Adam told Emily there would be no story as it was way past her bedtime. She was so tired from the weekend’s activities, she didn’t fight her father’s demand to get in bed.

He dropped a kiss on her cheek and, told her he loved her. She smiled, said she loved him too and rolled over and was almost asleep before Adam could even turn out the lights.

When Adam went to check on Jason, he found his light was already out and he, too, was sound asleep.

Adam joined Jessica back in the living room where she had Adam’s mug of coffee waiting for him. He sat next to her and smiled.

“This weekend has been wonderful, thank you,” he said, dropping a kiss on her head.

She took a sip from her hot tea and said, “Mmm, it has been,” as she stroked Adam’s cheek.

The two discussed Adam coming for dinner Wednesday night after work and staying for dinner on Friday night before taking the children for his weekend. As Adam finished his coffee, he looked at his watch and noticed the hour was going on 11:00 PM. He got up, put his and Jessica’s mugs in the kitchen and came back to help her up off the sofa. They headed to the door and stood embracing for several minutes. Adam pulled Jessica’s chin up to meet his face. He dropped a gentle kiss on her lips and mouthed, “Thank you.” She smiled and laid her head on his chest.

“I should be the one thanking you,” she said as she felt the strong beat of his heart against the side of her face. “I feel so complete when I’m in your arms like this.”

Adam kissed her head and agreed. “I’m not promising anything,” he said. “I would like to work on our relationship if you want to.”

Jessica looked up at Adam with mist in her ocean blue eyes. “I would like that very much, but we need to take it slowly. We’ve hurt each other a lot over the past few years. We have some mending to do.”

She laid her head back on Adam’s chest and he placed his chin on her head. “I agree,” he said. “I agree.”

After a few minutes, he broke their embrace and said he had to get going. He kissed her lips tenderly again and said he would call her on Monday evening after he got home from work. He walked out the door and blew her a kiss as he hurried down the steps.

Jessica stood in the doorway and watched Adam drive away. A tear escaped her eye and she allowed it roll down her cheek. She was being given a second chance with Adam and she was determined to never let him go again.

 

Chapter 13 by Adams_lover

Chapter Thirteen

The Monday before Christmas, Jessica got the kids up and ready for school. They only had a few days left before Christmas break would start and they wouldn’t be back in school until after the new year. Adam’s and Jessica’s relationship had taken a dramatic turn over the last few months and the two had become quite close again. Most weekends were spent with the kids either at Jessica’s home in Carson or at Adam’s on the Ponderosa.

Fearing she might be pregnant, while grocery shopping over the weekend, Jessica bought a home pregnancy test. She prayed that the test would come back negative and that her cycle was messed up by the changing weather and stress of the holidays.

She couldn’t ignore there was a real possibility of being pregnant, however, and worried about how Adam might react if she was. Because they were taking things slowly, their relationship was going well. Adam had not promised her they would ever get back together and the thought of raising three children on her own frightened Jessica. They had already disrupted two innocent lives with their selfishness. How could they have been so careless and now possibly be faced with bringing a third child into the mix?

Jessica went into her bathroom and pulled the home pregnancy test from under her sink. She stared at the box afraid to open it. She knew she couldn’t wait any longer, she had to know conclusively if she was again with child; Adam’s child.

She followed the instructions to the letter on the box of the pregnancy test. While it was calculating the results, she went and got the children up and fed them breakfast. After dressing Emily, she went back to her room to dress herself. She nervously walked into her bathroom and picked up the stick to see the results; the window showed a definitive “+” sign. Jessica was pregnant.

Feeling her legs go limp, she grabbed the sink and sat on the floor, dropping the pregnancy results between her legs and cried. There was no doubt about it, she was carrying her’s and Adam’s third child.

“Mommy? Are you OK?” Jason asked as he came into Jessica’s bathroom and found her sobbing on the floor.

Jessica looked up quickly and drying her eyes, demanded to know what Jason was doing in her room.

“I can’t find my book bag. I need to put my homework in it so I don’t forget it. I’m sorry, Mommy! Your door was open, I thought it was OK to come in!”

Jessica grabbed the pregnancy stick and tossed it in the trash can so Jason could not see why she had been crying. She apologized for being so abrupt with her son and told him she was not upset with him. She told him where he could find his bag and he left to put his homework in it. She closed her door, got dressed and took the children to school.

When she returned home, she called her doctor to see if she could get in for a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office to confirm her home test. They had just had a cancellation a few minutes prior and she was able to get in at 11:00 AM.

The lab ran another test and after about twenty minutes, the nurse came to the waiting area and called her back to the doctor’s office where he confirmed her home test. He led her into the examination room so he could give her a full physical and get her started on prenatal vitamins.

Jessica spent the remainder of her day alone at home, crying and wondering how she would break the news to Adam.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was Christmas Eve and the children were finishing their baths and Jessica was scurrying around getting pajamas ready for Jason and Emily so they could go to bed and wait for Santa Claus to come to see them while they slept. Adam had headed up to the main house after dinner to finish building Jason’s new bike and Emily’s doll house that would be coming from Santa. In true Cartwright tradition, Santa always brought the toys. He wrapped all of them except the one big major gift that would be left among their other wrapped gifts next to the tree.

Jessica didn’t have any problems getting the children out of the bath because they knew in just a few hours, the man in red with his eight reindeer with Rudolph leading the way would be landing on their front lawn, bringing toys they had asked for just a few weeks ago when they had paid their visit to Santa at the mall in Carson.

The night was picture post card. Snow was falling gently and gathering on the panes of the windows. Ben always let the ranch hands go home early on Christmas Eve to start the holidays with their families, but Hank always stayed behind to make sure the roads were passable by giving them a final plow for the evening before he headed home to be with his wife, Abby.

As Jessica came down the stairs, she heard Adam coming in from the garage. She met him in the kitchen where she had a kettle with water boiling to make some herbal tea.

“Everything is built and ready to go. Are the kids in bed?” he asked as he kissed her forehead.

“Yeah, I just put them down a few minutes ago so we need to wait a little bit before Santa makes his appearance. You know how Emily will sometimes get up because she wants something to drink or she’s had a dream. You want some coffee? I can put a pot on for you.”

“Yeah, some coffee would be great. It’s cold out there tonight!” Adam said as he was rubbing his hands together trying to warm them.

“Go tend to the fire. It could probably use another log before we decide to turn in for the night. I’ll get your coffee and bring it in to you.”

Adam headed to the living room where just a lamp light was on along with the glow from the twinkling colored lights on the tree and the burning logs in the fireplace.

As Adam finished getting the fire back to a crackling roar, Jessica came in with two hot mugs and handed Adam his as she sat down and folded her feet up under her on the couch, sipping while holding her mug in both hands. Adam sat down next to her and smiled as he put his free arm around her shoulders. She snuggled in next to him as she got lost in the flames.

“This is what dreams are made of,” Jessica said as she laid her head on Adam’s chest.

“Yes, it is, Jess. I’m so happy that you decided to spend Christmas here on the Ponderosa with me and the kids this year. I didn’t want you to have to spend it alone or with friends since your mom was going to be away this year.”

Jessica looked up and smiled at Adam. “Thanks for having me. It’ll be great to spend Christmas with the family like old times.”

The two sat silently for a few minutes. The sound of the chimes on the wall clock started to play the Westminster Chimes and bong twelve times; it was midnight.

Adam put his hand on Jessica’s cheek and turned it toward his face and said, “Merry Christmas, Sweetheart,” and gave her a gentle kiss on her lips.

“Mmm, Merry Christmas to you too, Adam.”

“Now that it’s officially Christmas Day, I wanted to tell you I met Santa on the way back to the house and he had a special delivery just for you.”

Jessica lifted her head off Adam’s chest. She sat up and turned to face him. “What’s is it?” she said with a smile, excited to see what Santa had given Adam for her.

Adam pulled a small red velvet box from behind the couch and opened it as he held in front of Jessica.

“Will you marry me again, Jessica?”

Jessica was speechless. Her pregnancy hormones were all over the place. Her plans to tell Adam about the baby had just been trumped. Tears welled in her eyes and soon she was in an uncontrollable sob, unable to speak.

“Jess?” Adam asked with a concern in his voice.

Emotions on overload, she was unable to stop crying long enough to even give Adam her answer.

Adam was becoming quite concerned with why Jessica was crying so hard. He put the ring down and rubbed her back.

Jessica, what’s the matter, Babe?” Adam’s voice was becoming more alarmed.

Jessica was finally able to recapture her emotions and wiped the tears from her eyes. She took Adam’s hands into her’s and started to share her news.

“Adam, I’m pregnant.”

“What?” he said with surprise and happiness in his voice.

“Yeah, I took a test several days ago. I’ve missed two periods and I wondered if I might be, so I did a home test and when it came back positive, I had a test done at the doctor’s office. He confirmed it several days ago,” she said as she wiped her nose with a tissue. “I wanted to wait for the kids to be in bed so that I could just share the news with you first. I wasn’t sure how you would feel.”

“How I would feel? Jess! We’re having a baby, how did you think I would feel?” he said as he took her into a tight embrace. “A baby!”

Continuing the embrace, she said, “Well, at the time I first found out, I wasn’t sure how you would feel. All I could think about was how I was going to raise three kids on my own, with you having them every other week. Then I thought about how hard was it going to be for you with the kids and a newborn. Things would change so much. Then I thought about nursing and the issues that went along with that on the weekends you would have the kids…”

Adam broke their embrace and smiled and said, “You’ve been doing a lot of thinking haven’t you?”

Jessica’s emotions got the better of her and she started to cry again. “I have to think about these things, Adam. This changes so many things. The kids are more independent now and you guys have so much fun together. An infant will slow you down.”

“So does this mean you are telling me no? That you won’t accept my proposal?” Adam asked.

Jessica’s eyes widened as she realized she hadn’t given him an answer to his marriage proposal. All the talk about the details of how they would raise an infant with Adam being a weekend dad was something she had thought about before knowing he wanted to remarry her.

“Oh my gosh, Adam! I’m so sorry!” She hugged his neck. “Of course I’ll marry you! YES!” She exclaimed as she passionately kissed him.

Adam grabbed the ring box and pulled the ring from the cushion that held it in place. He took Jessica’s left hand and placed the ring on her finger.

Jessica looked at the emerald and diamond platinum/18K gold ring. “Oh, Adam, it’s exquisite! Thank you!” She said as she again hugged his neck.

“I know how you adore Colombian emeralds and Michael was able to obtain this beautiful stone from a contact he has down in South America, so he fashioned this for you. It’s one of a kind. Nothing but the best for the mother of my three children.”

Jessica smiled. “Three children. Are you happy, Adam?”

Adam gently placed a kiss on Jessica’s lips and touched his nose to hers.

“I’m the luckiest guy on the planet right now. I’m in love with the mother of my two amazing kids, and now, she’s told me we’re pregnant with a third one. Oh yes, I’m happy.” He then kissed her gently again.

Jessica turned back and laid her head on Adam’s chest again. She stared down at her left ring finger and said, “I’m the luckiest woman alive tonight. I have two healthy, happy kids, a man who loves me, and I love him, and a new addition to our family on the way. I’m so blessed.”

“Sweetheart, we have some Santa Claus work to do,” Adam said as he got up from the couch, leaving Jessica to fall into the overstuffed pillows.

“Do you want me to go up into the attic and hand down the presents to you?” Jessica asked.

Adam looked at Jessica with a raised eyebrow. “You just told me you’re pregnant and now you ask me if I want you to go up in the attic?

Jessica laughed. “Oh yeah, I guess I’m not thinking straight am I?” she said laughing.

Adam started laughing as he nodded his head in agreement. He put his hand out and Jessica grabbed it and he pulled her up to her feet. The two lovers headed to the garage where Adam pulled the stairs down, went into the attic and handed down the smaller light-weight gifts. He left the heavier ones until the end and came down with them to where he could put them on the floor without Jessica’s help.

Once each side of the tree had the pile of presents from Santa, Adam went back to his car and got the bike, then the doll house and placed them by each pile of presents to signify which stack of presents was for which child. After everything was laid out, the two parents stepped back and took a look at the tree and the gifts Santa had brought.

“Just think, we’ll have a new stack to start next year, Adam.” Jessica said as she put her arm around him.

Adam put his arm around her and laid a kiss on her head. “Yeah, Santa’s going to be a busy man next year.” He smiled

“Ready for bed, Santa?” Jessica said with a yawn.

“Yeah, why don’t you head on up. I’ll close the fireplace doors and turn out the lights.”

Still yawning, Jessica left Adam’s embrace and started up the stairs. “See ya in a bit.”

When Adam was left to himself, he poked the last of the burning wood to just dying embers at the bottom of the grate. He smiled as he thought about the new addition to his family. His heart was overflowing with happiness and love. He couldn’t wait to share the good news with his family and children. He closed the doors to the fireplace and turned off the lamp light. The only light that showed was from the soft twinkles of the Christmas tree lights which stayed on all night Christmas Eve night. He went and grabbed the cookies and glass of milk that Emily had made for Santa. He drank the milk, broke off a few crumbs from the cookies and left the plate on the hearth of the fireplace. Santa had come and enjoyed his cookies and milk. Adam took the cookies up to Jessica who was waiting for him in bed. He would share the cookies with her as they turned in.

When he arrived in the bedroom, Jessica had changed into her warm flannel pajamas and was already asleep. A small grin was on her face and her ring was placed on the ring holder next to the bed. Adam smiled as he watched his lover sleep. He ate the cookies, undressed, put on his sweat pants and climbed into bed next to his soon-to-be wife. The kids would be up in a few hours and their sleep deprived day would begin with squeals of laughter and happiness as they would learn Santa had come to leave them toys and stuffed stockings.

Around 4 AM, Emily got up and went downstairs. The plethora of gifts and a new doll house greeted her eyes. She saw that the plate of cookies had been consumed as well as the glass of milk. Santa had come! She ran back upstairs and jumped on Jason’s bed.

“Santa came! Santa came! I got a doll house and you got a bike!” she said with much enthusiasm.

Still half asleep, he rolled over and got out of bed. Emily grabbed his hand and took him downstairs to see their gifts. When Jason saw his new shiny bicycle, his glee could hardly be contained. They knew that no gifts from Santa or the family could be opened without Mommy and Daddy.

They ran back upstairs and down the hall to Adam’s room. They knew they were not supposed to enter when the door was closed but they had been told that Christmas morning was always the exception. Jason opened the door and they both cautiously entered and saw both parents sleeping soundly. Jessica was curled up next to Adam.

Jason and Emily went over to Adam’s side of the bed and Jason tapped on their father’s shoulder.

“Dad, Dad! Santa Claus came!”

“Yeah, Daddy! Emmy got a doll house and Jason got a bike!” Emily whispered with great excitement.

Adam woke up to his children’s enthusiasm. When Emily saw Adam’s eyes open, she started to jump up and down.

“Come on, Daddy!” She pleaded for him to get up faster. Jessica was still sound asleep but Adam’s movement away from her stirred her slumber somewhat.

Emily went around to Jessica’s side of the bed and she grabbed her mother’s hand and began to pull it so that she would wake up. Adam was up and he was putting on a t-shirt when Jessica was finally awakened by her daughter.

When Emily saw Jessica’s eyes open, she could hardly contain her Christmas joy. She squealed, “Mommy! I got a doll house! Just like I wanted!”

As Jessica was sitting up, Adam brought her robe to her and Emily grabbed her daddy’s hand and told him to come and see all the new presents that had not been there the previous night when they went to bed.

Jessica looked at her white ceramic and diamond watch and noted the time. It was shortly after four in the morning and she let out a yawn. She put on her slippers and robe and headed downstairs.

Adam had started separating out the family gifts for the kids and had a stack sitting by the couch for himself and Jessica. Adam had set up the camcorder and had started filming the morning’s events. Jessica went into the kitchen and started the coffee pot for Adam. She filled her tea kettle with fresh water, turned on the stove and headed back into the living room to watch the kids as they tore into their gifts from Santa.

Emily received a new baby doll, clothes, and accessories for her baby. Jason received a new Apple iMac and board games. When Jessica heard the tea kettle whistle, she went and filled the Christmas themed tea pot with water and the carafe with coffee for Adam and brought them into the living room so that everyone could begin to open their family gifts. Emily was the first to open her gifts as she was the youngest. She had received several new dresses as well as a new snow outfit with matching boots, hat, and mittens. Her stocking from Santa had nuts, an orange, bracelets and hair bows along with a peppermint stick.

Jason was next and he too, had received some new clothes for the winter and a new snow suit to wear. His stocking had the same fruit and nuts but instead of bracelets and hair bows, he had baseball cards of his favorite Colorado Rockies players and a iPod Nano.

After Jessica and Adam opened their gifts, they picked up all of the wrapping paper that had been tossed about as the children had hurriedly opened all of their gifts. Adam and Jessica sat on the couch watching the children enjoy their new toys. Adam rubbed Jessica’s flat belly and smiled. Jessica placed her hand with her engagement ring on top of his. They both gave each other a loving smile.

“Merry Christmas, Babe” Jessica said to Adam.

“Merry Christmas to you too, Sweetheart.” Adam replied back with a soft kiss on her lips.

Emily brought her new doll over to Adam to take out of the box so she could play with it. While she was waiting patiently, Jessica asked Emily how she liked all of her toys that Santa had brought.

“Is Emmy happy with all the toys Santa brought her?”

Emily jumped up and down and clapped her hands with a big smile on her face. Jessica stretched her arms out and Emily leaped onto her lap.

“Easy, Em. Don’t jump on Mommy like that,” Adam said as he continued working to undo the secure ties that held the doll in place inside the box.

“Sorry, Mommy.” She said with a pout.

“Awe, Sweetie, I know you’re excited. You just have to be careful and not jump on people, you can hurt them by jumping on them in the wrong way.”

Adam finally broke the baby free from the box and handed it to Emily. She jumped back over to her place on the floor as she answered, “OK, Mommy!”

Jason was very excited that Santa had brought him a new bike and computer. He came over to Adam and asked when he could get his computer moved to his room. Adam advised him that he would make sure he got it set up before they left for Poppy’s house for dinner.

Jason wanted to put his snow suit on and go for a ride on his bike. But Adam told him it was too cold and there was too much snow on the ground, making it too treacherous to ride his bike on Christmas Day.

“When Hank returns tomorrow, he’ll have the roads plowed better and you can take your bike for a ride then. Today we need to concentrate on getting all of your new things to your room and put away. Mommy’s going to make breakfast. Who’s hungry?” Both children jumped up and down and wanted to help with the morning’s meal.

After breakfast was over, Adam had the children come and sit by the fire as he read, Twas the Night Before Christmas. Jason sat on the couch while Emily sat in Adam’s lap and helped turn the pages. When the story was done, Adam looked at Jessica and said, “Do you think we should tell them now?”

“Yeah, this is as good a time as any.” she replied.

Adam explained that he and their mommy had decided they wanted to give their marriage another try and he would be moving back to their home in Carson. He also explained they would be spending their summers as well as most weekends at their home on the Ponderosa. The children were elated to hear the news that Daddy was coming home for good and not just staying a day here and a night there.

“We have some other news to tell you about, too.” Adam continued.

“We are going to have a new addition to our family in about seven months. Mommy told me last night that she’s pregnant and is going to have a baby. What do you think about having a new baby sister or brother?”

Jason looked at Jessica and smiled. He then reached over and gave her a hug. “I want a brother, OK, Mommy?”

Jessica smiled at the innocence of her son. “I’ll put a special request in with the stork, but I can’t give you any guarantees. You have a 50/50 shot at having another sister.”

Curiosity overcame Emily and her string of questions started.

“Daddy, where does the baby come from?”

“It’s in Mommy’s tummy, Princess.”

Emily looked at Jessica’s stomach and noticed it looked the same as it always had in the past.

“It’s not in Mommy’s tummy, Daddy!” She laughed and protested loudly.

“Princess, it starts out very tiny and grows into a baby over nine months. Mommy’s tummy will grow as the baby grows. You were in Mommy’s tummy, too!”

“I was? How did I get out?”

“Mommy gave birth to you. That is why you have a birthday because it was the day you were born.”

Emily looked again at Jessica’s flat stomach and then looked at her own tummy. She raised up her pajama top and said, “My dolly didn’t come out of my tummy, Daddy. She was in the box.” She pouted because she didn’t understand.

“Baby Girl, come here and sit with me,” Jessica said as she tried to explain it on a more child like level. When Jessica was pregnant with Emily, Jason grasped right away how the baby would grow in his mother’s stomach and in nine months, he would have a sister or brother. But Emily was not as easy a sell.

“You know how when we baked the cookies for Santa yesterday they were just a small round pieces of dough, but when we put them in the oven, they grew into big cookies? It’s kind of the same thing with a baby. The baby, over time will grow and as it grows, Mommy’s tummy will grow with him or her. When the baby gets big enough and he or she starts to move around, you can put your hands on Mommy’s tummy and feel the baby kick. Would you like that?”

“The baby will kick you, Mommy?”

“Well, not really kick me, he or she will move around and you will be able to feel him or her moving.”

“I remember when you let me feel Emmy in your tummy, Mommy.”

“You did not, Jason!”

“Did so!”

“Yes, Baby girl, he did. When you were big enough to move around and be felt by Daddy and Jason, I would put their hands on my tummy and they could feel you rolling around inside. Daddy did the same when Jason was in my tummy.”

“Jason was in your tummy, too, Mommy?”

“He sure was, Baby Girl!”

“I wanna baby sister!” Emily jumped up and clapped.

“We’ll all know soon if you are going to have a sister or brother. Now, time to pick up your toys and take them to your rooms,” Adam ordered.

When the children had taken their smaller items upstairs, Jessica stopped Adam and told him she wanted to call her mother on the ship to wish her a Merry Christmas and tell her about the new grandchild coming. Adam agreed it would be a nice gift to give her mother and hoped they would find her in her cabin. Since it was still early, they thought she might still be there. Adam told Jessica where he had put her mother’s travel documents and instructions on how to reach the ship’s phone; so she went upstairs to the office and closed the door for privacy.

“Hello?” Jessica’s mother answered the phone, expecting it to be one of her travel mates.

“Hi, Mom, Merry Christmas!”

“Hi, Jessica! How are you, Darling? is everything OK?” Jessica’s mother worried why she was making such an expensive call to her.

“Yeah, Mom. We just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas and I have some news to share with you. How’s your trip so far?”

Jessica’s mother told her about how they had sung Christmas Carols in the foyer area of the ship the night before and how beautifully decorated the ship was. She said she and her travel mates were having a lovely time and they were expecting Santa to make a visit to the ship around lunch time.

“Mom, I have some news to share with you,” Jessica’s voice became a bit nervous. “Mom, Adam and I are going to have another baby.”

Jessica’s mother was stunned. She knew that Jessica and Adam were working things out but she didn’t realize they had become so close again. Her mother’s voice turned from holiday cheer to one of concern for her daughter’s happiness.

“Jessica, was this something you two planned or was it an accident?”

“I don’t want to say having a baby is an accident, Mom, but no, it was not planned.”

“If you two were going to be sexually active again, why wouldn’t you be more careful to prevent this from happening then?”

Feeling a bit awkward talking about her sexual life with Adam, Jessica told her mother, “What Adam and I do in the bedroom, Mother, isn’t really any of your concern. I wanted to tell you I’m having a baby and I hope you will be happy for us. Also, Adam has asked me to marry him again and I’ve said yes.”

“Is he marrying you because you are pregnant, Jessica?” Her mother was more worried that her son-in-law was marrying her daughter more out of guilt than want.

“Actually, Mother, Adam asked me to marry him again before I told him I was pregnant. So no, he’s marrying me again because he loves me and he wants our family to be whole again.” Jessica’s voice became annoyed and tears started to fill her eyes.

“I’m sorry, Honey. You know I love Adam with all my heart. I just can’t bare to see you get hurt again or see you go through what you went through when you broke up the last time.” Her mother’s voice softened.

Trying to hold back her tears, Jessica tried to put to rest her mother’s concerns.

“Mom, I have never stopped loving Adam. He loves me and wants to make a go of our marriage again. He has made a vow to not put his job before the kids and me ever again. I believe him when he says he will do this. I’ve grown up, too. I know there will be times when he will need to work late and go in early, leaving me to be both mom and dad, but I know his heart will be with us and he will make every effort to get back home to us when he can. I just want you to share in our happiness of your new grandchild who’s on the way.”

“Jess, of course I’m happy. I love you very much. Give Adam a big kiss and hug for me and tell him I’m very happy for the two of you. When I get home, we’ll make some arrangements for me to come out for a visit, OK? Have you told Ben yet?”

“No, Mom. I’m sure we’ll tell him today at dinner. I don’t know how he’ll react. I suspect probably the same way you did.”

“We love and care about you both, Dear. We saw what you went through before. We wouldn’t be good parents if we didn’t voice our concerns.”

“I know, Mom. Just know that Adam and I are grown up, we both are college educated and we would never do anything to bring more harm to our kids than we have already brought to them.”

“I know. Listen, I am very happy for you. I really am. If this is what you two want, then I’m one hundred percent behind you all the way. You know I have never stopped loving Adam as my own son. I’m thrilled to know you two are making a go of it again. Jason, Emily, and now the new baby can have an intact family again. Your father would be so pleased. He loved Adam so much.”

“I know, Mom. I miss Daddy so much.” Jessica started to cry. She had been so close to her father all her life and his death had come as a devastating blow. “Daddy meant everything to me. I see so much of him in Adam. Adam is Jason’s and Emily’s hero. I know he’s going to love this new baby as much as he loves them.”

Jessica’s mother heard a knock at her cabin door. “I’ve got to go, Jess. I’m really happy for you and Adam. Give him my love and tell him I’ll talk to him when I get home. Send everyone holiday cheer from me, OK?”

“OK, Mom. I love you! Merry Christmas to you, Jane, and Rita. Bye.”

“I love you, too, Sweetheart. Bye!”

Jessica hung up and sat at Adam’s desk and cried. She’d hoped that her mother’s reaction to the news would have been better but she understood her mother’s concerns. Jessica’s hormones and lack of sleep made her a bit more emotional than normal.

Adam came in to find Jessica sitting at his desk with her face in her hands. He came over to her and knelt down next to her and rubbed her back.

“What’s wrong, Jess?” Adam’s voice was soft.

“Mom’s happy for us, but she has her concerns too. I guess I wasn’t ready for her to react the way she did. I wanted her to be filled with as much joy as I am.”

“Jess, you have to give Mom some credit. I understand her reservations. Think about it. What if it were Emily and she called to give you the same type of news? Wouldn’t you be concerned as well?”

“Oh, Adam, our daughter is only five and you have her married, divorced, and pregnant out of wedlock. Nice going, Daddy,” Jessica laughed through her tears.

“Yeah, she doesn’t know it yet, but I’m going to keep her locked in her room until she’s thirty.” Adam laughed, trying to lighten the conversation.

Jessica got up and put her arms around Adam. “Hold me.”

“I’ll never let you go, Babe. I promise.” Adam said holding Jessica tightly.

“How do you think Dad will react?” Jessica inquired.

“I suspect the same if not with more reserve. You don’t know how hard he came down on me when you filed for divorce. I thought he would never stop lecturing me the night I broke the news to him. I’m a better man and father because of it. I’ll be a better husband this time because of it, too.”

“You never told me how hard he was on you!” Jessica pulled back from their embrace.

“And give you the satisfaction of knowing I was being kicked by my own father while I was down? I wasn’t going to give you the satisfaction, Sweetheart.” Adam laughed. “It all seems so long ago now. All I can say is that it was well worth it because I’m better for it.”

“If you’re happy, I’m happy.” Jessica said as she gave Adam a soft kiss on the lips.

“I have a loving wife who’s carrying my baby. What man can be happier? Now, let’s go get dressed. We have to be at Dad’s house in a few hours.”

“Did you get Jason’s computer set up for him?” Jessica asked.

“Why don’t you take a look for yourself. I’ve got to get Emily’s doll house moved to her room now. Why don’t you go take a shower after looking at Jason’s computer and while I’m setting up the doll house.”

Jessica stopped by Jason’s room and saw him making all kinds of creative designs on his new computer. He was so immersed in his new toy, he didn’t even hear his mother come in his room. She decided to let him enjoy his new gift and she stopped off at Emily’s room before heading to Adam’s room to take a shower. She saw Emily feeding her new doll her bottle and telling her other baby doll how she had a new sister. Jessica smiled and headed down the hall taking her robe off as she headed into Adam’s room, shutting the door behind her.

As she started to get into the shower, Jessica felt a wave of nausea come over her. She sat on the edge of the garden tub, hoping it would pass but she soon realized it was not meant to be she grabbed the trash can. Adam walked in and saw her sitting on the floor, just as she finished being sick.

“Are you OK, Jess?” Adam knelt down next to her.

“I’ll be in a few minutes. I was just getting ready to step into the shower when the morning sickness kicked in.” She let out a deep sigh. “I thought I might escape it this time around. I guess not.”

Adam helped her up off the floor and took her into his embrace. “Ouch, watch the breasts. They’re a bit tender right now.”

Jessica and Adam showered together. After his shave and dressing in his suit he would wear to his father’s house for dinner, he went and helped Emily get dressed in her holiday dress Jessica had bought for her.

“You look very pretty, Princess,” Adam said as he finished putting a red bow in her soft curly tresses. Emily wore a green, red, and black plaid taffeta skirt with a black velvet top, white opaque stockings and black patent leather shoes.

“Dad, I can’t get this tie straight, can you help me?” Jason said coming into the bathroom where Emily and Adam were. Adam finished Jason’s tie and told the kids to go downstairs and he and mommy would be down shortly.

Adam walked into the bathroom and saw Jessica fully dressed, but in the throes of morning sickness again.

“Do you feel up to going down to Dad’s house today?” Adam asked as he rubbed her back.

“I’ll be OK. I have some nausea medicine in my purse that Dr. McIntyre gave me when I went to see him last week. I’ll take one before we leave. Do you keep any ginger ale in the wet bar?”

“Yeah, I do. I’m sure Hop Sing has some at the main house, too. Do you think you are strong enough to get up?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

Adam gathered Jessica in his arms and helped her off the floor. He looked at her and smiled.

“You look beautiful in your new red velvet dress.”

“Thanks, Sweetheart. You’ve always had the best taste in clothes for me.” Jessica said as she gave Adam a kiss on his cheek.

Jessica stopped to comb her hair neatly again, and the two headed downstairs where Jason and Emily already had their coats on.

“You look beautiful, Mommy!” Jason said as Jessica and Adam made their way over to the coat closet.

“Thank you, Honey. You look very handsome yourself!” Jessica bent down and dropped a kiss on Jason’s cheek.

“Look at me, Mommy! Emmy pretty too!” Emily said jumping up and down.

“Yes, my baby girl, you are very pretty in your new dress,” she said as she bent down to give her daughter a hug and a kiss.

Adam took both of their coats from the closet. He helped Jessica put on her black leather full length coat with black mink collar on and then put his own black wool full length coat on and they all hopped in the car for the short ride down to Ben’s home.

“Merry Christmas!” Ben said as he opened the door to Adam and his family. Come on in, it’s cold out there.”

Ben shook Adam’s hand and gave Jessica a kiss on the cheek as he helped her with her coat. Hop Sing came from the kitchen to take their coats and put them in the bedroom just off the dining room. Joe and his new steady girlfriend, Donna, were enjoying a glass of wine in the great room near the fire place. Adam went over to shake his brother’s hand and he gave Donna a kiss on her cheek, wishing them both a Merry Christmas.

“Where’s Hoss?” Adam inquired.

“He went out back to gather some more wood. He’ll be right back,” Joe answered.

“Jess, come over and meet Donna, Joe’s girlfriend. I don’t think you two have ever met.”

Jessica came over and Adam introduced the two women. They shook hands and exchanged holiday greetings.

“Can I get you some eggnog, Jess? Dad makes the best!” Joe smiled.

“Oh, do I remember!” Jessica smiled. “I’m feeling a little under the weather today. I would prefer some ginger ale instead.”

Joe’s face turned more serious. “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well, Jess. Do you want to sit down?”

“Oh, no, I’m fine, Joe. My stomach’s had a little disagreement with me today, that’s all. Ginger ale should calm it down some.”

“Coming right up, Sister!”

Joe headed to the kitchen to get some ginger ale for Jessica while Adam ladled out some egg nog for himself.

Jessica and Donna hit it off immediately. Donna was finishing up her last year in nursing school and would be starting her student nursing just after the first of the year. She would get pinned in the spring. Jessica and she talked about what to expect during her student nursing rounds and the state exams. Jessica offered her assistance in the event Donna needed any help studying for her state boards. Adam sat and smiled as he watched his wife bond with his brother’s girlfriend.

When Adam saw Hoss enter the house with a stack of wood in his hands, he leaped up to help him carry in the load. They brought the wood to the roaring fireplace and placed a few extra logs on the fire. Soft Christmas carols played in the background and the grand tree stood majestically next to the fireplace all lit up in white lights adorned with red and green decorations and ribbons.

“Now that everyone is together, Donna and I have an announcement to make,” Joe said, taking Donna into his arms. “Last night, I asked Donna to be my wife, and she accepted. There’s going to be wedding bells at the Ponderosa again!”

The family erupted in cheers and well wishes for the couple. Ben, Adam, and Hoss kissed the new bride and shook hands with Joe congratulating them. Jessica hugged Donna and welcomed her to the family. She gave Joe a hug and a kiss and congratulated him on his settling down.

“It seems that this Christmas has brought Cupid to more than one Cartwright this year,” Adam announced. He took Jessica into his arms and announced they were planning to remarry. Everyone again erupted in cheers and congratulations. The family had never stopped loving Jessica despite the break-up between her and Adam. They were all thrilled to know the children would again have a complete family again.

Adam and Jessica held off on telling the family about the baby. They wanted to tell Ben first in privately as they knew it would not be as well accepted as the news of their re-marriage would be. They had decided earlier in the day they would wait until after dinner when they could pull him aside and break the news to him.

After opening gifts, the family came together at the table for their holiday feast of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and veggies. Hop Sing had outdone himself again for the holiday feast. Jessica and Adam fixed the children their plates while Hoss placed a napkin around Emily’s neck.

“Don’t want your pretty dress getting food on it, Little Lady,” he said with a smile.

Adam noticed that Jessica had not put much food on her plate. He leaned over to her and asked if her nausea was returning. She told him she was fine but she just wasn’t very hungry.

After the meal was eaten, everyone retreated to the great room. Jason and Joe took up their usual places at the checkers board and Donna joined them to cheer on her new fiance. Hoss sat on the couch with Emily in his lap and she showed him some of her new toys that Santa had brought to her.

Adam decided this was a good time to take Ben into his office and break the news about Jessica’s pregnancy.

“Dad, can we speak to you privately in your office?” Adam asked Ben.

“Sure, Son. Is everything OK?” Ben’s face drew with worry.

Adam smiled and said, “Yeah, Dad, we just want to speak with you privately about a matter before we make a public announcement.”

Adam, Jessica, and Ben stepped into Ben’s office and closed the door. Adam gestured to Jessica to sit down in one of the leather wing back chairs that sat in front of Ben’s desk.

Ben sat on the edge of his desk and asked his son and daughter-in-law what it was they wanted to talk to him about privately.

Adam’s body language became tense. He was trying to find a way to tell his father the news of Jessica’s pregnancy. He knew it would not come as pleasing news to Ben, but he would love and cherish his new grand-child even though the circumstances under which he or she was conceived was not in the best of circumstances.

“Dad, as you know, I asked Jessica to be my wife again earlier this morning and she said yes. What I didn’t know and what she told me after I had proposed was that she’s pregnant and we are going to have a baby.”

Ben sat stunned. His smile turned to one of amazement. “I don’t know what to say?” Ben got up and headed toward the window.

“Dad, I knew this would come as a shock. Believe me, it was not something either of us planned, it just happened. We’re happy, and we want you to be happy for us. The kids are thrilled of course.”

Jessica could feel a lecture coming on from her father-in-law so she tried to divert some of the disappointment that would be aimed at Adam and instead, tried to direct it at herself.

“Dad, we knew this would not come as pleasing news to you. It doesn’t set a good example for our kids that Mommy and Daddy would have a baby when they aren’t married. When this baby was conceived, it was conceived out of love and this is what really matters to us. We are planning to get re-married as soon as the holidays are over. We love each other, we are thrilled to be bringing another Cartwright into the family. We want you to be as happy as we are.”

Ben smiled as he looked at his daughter-in-law’s and son’s glowing faces. They were happy and so much in love. He knew that Adam had learned from the divorce, and he knew he would be a better father and husband the second time around.

Ben opened his arms to Jessica and she came over and he gave her a tight squeeze.

“I love you as my own flesh and blood daughter, Jessica. I only want the best for you, Adam, and my grand-children. If your happy, I’m happy.”

“I am, Dad. I’m so very happy to be marrying Adam again and I can’t wait to give him another son or daughter and you another grandchild!”

Ben kissed his daughter-in-law on the cheek and gave her another hug. “Well this is an extra special Christmas treat then isn’t it? A new Cartwright baby will be joining our growing family!”

Adam put his arm around Jessica and kissed her cheek. “I’m glad you are happy for us, Dad. Now we have to tell my brothers and new soon to be sister-in-law!”

Adam and Jessica started for the door to go back out and join the family. Ben called Adam back and asked if he could speak to him privately for just a moment. Adam gave Jessica a soft kiss on the lips and told her he would be right out. She left, closing the door behind her.

Ben walked over to his desk, pulled out the lap drawer, and took an envelope out.

“This came a few days ago. It was put in our mailbox by accident. When I saw who it was from, I wanted to wait until I could give it to you privately.”

Ben handed the red envelope to Adam; it was from Boston, MA.

Adam stared at the envelope with his name and then saw Rebecca’s name with Cambridge, MA. as the return address.

“It has not been opened, Son. I’ve only had it a few days. I wanted to give it to you privately. If you would like to be left alone to read it in here, I’ll let you be.”

Adam sat quietly for a moment. He then put the envelope in the inside pocket of his suit jacket and said, “No, Dad. It’s Christmas; this is family time. I want to be with my family. The letter from Rebecca can wait. Let’s go and join everyone else and tell them about the baby.”

The two elder Cartwrights joined the rest of the family in the great room. Hop Sing had made hot apple cider and brought a carafe and sat it on the coffee table along with cookies and candy. Jessica had poured a half mug for Jason and Hop Sing had brought out a spill proof cup with ice for Emily.

Adam and Ben came out just as Jessica was pouring a cup for Adam. She handed it to him. He asked her to stand up with him and asked the family for their attention.

“Jessica and I have another announcement to make. This morning, after I asked her to be my wife again, she gave me some even more exciting and happy news. Jessica is pregnant again. We’re having another baby next summer.”

“Well I’ll be dadburned, Older Brother! Congratulations!” Hoss said as he came over and shook Adam’s hand and gave Jessica a kiss on her cheek.

“Way to go there, Big Brother! Another baby! I couldn’t be more happy for you!” Joe then looked at Jessica, “I thought there was something different about you today. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I thought maybe it was just the beautiful dress you’re wearing was bringing out your radiant beauty but it’s your pregnancy! Congratulations, Sis!”

“Thanks, Joe. We’re so happy!”

Donna came and congratulated her new soon to be brother-in-law and sister-in-law on their joyous news.

“I’m going to be a big sister!” Emily exclaimed

“Yes you are, Peanut!” Hoss said as he grabbed her and turned her upside down to her squeals of laughter.

The day turned to early evening and everyone started to wind down from the day. Jason continued his winning streak in the checker tournament, Emily had fallen asleep in Hoss’ lap, and Jessica had dozed off as she rested her head on Adam’s chest while he, Ben, and Hoss talked about upcoming changes at Cartwright, Incorporated.

When the couple returned home and put their sleeping children to bed, Adam told Jessica to go on into the bedroom and he would be in shortly. He needed to do something in the office. He went in and turned on the light on the desk. He sat down and turned his chair toward the window. Adam took the letter from Rebecca from his pocket and stared at her beautiful handwriting. “Mr. Adam Cartwright, Ponderosa Ranch, Incline Village, Nevada” read the envelope.

He took the letter opener from his desk drawer and slit the top open and pulled the Christmas card from the envelope. It was a beautiful hand painted card with a typical holiday scene on the front. Inside, there was a hand-written note on holiday stationary folded up. Adam laid the card down and opened the holiday stationary that was folded. It read:

Dearest Adam,

I send you warm holiday greetings from Boston! I hope you and your family are having a wonderful holiday season and the new year will bring you health and happiness.

As I reflect back on this year, I smile because I have so many blessings to count. I met a wonderful man and made a lasting friendship. I learned that I could love again and that I could make tough decisions that were right for me, even if it meant disappointing those I loved most dearly.

I don’t regret my decision to move to Boston. The road has been tough. Being chief brings with it a lot of responsibility, and the decisions I make affect the lives of many. The job is challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dave, the physician whom I took this position from when he was promoted to chief of the oncology department, has been working closely with me while I learn the ropes. We’ve become close and have fallen in love. We are planning to marry in the spring. I know it seems so quick but I felt the same connection to him that I felt with Daryl when I first met him. I love him with all my heart and I have you to thank for unlocking the key that had closed off those feelings for so long after Daryl died. While it was not meant to be for you and me, I hope you will share in my joy, for you helped get me to where I am today.

You will always be special to me, Adam, and you will always hold a special place in my heart as a very special friend. I hope that if you ever find yourself in Boston, you will look me up. I would love nothing more than to spend time with you and introduce you to Dave. I know you would like him and he, you.

Please give my love to your father and brothers. I miss them very much. They always treated me as a member of the family. I will never forget their generosity.

I hope this letter finds you happy, and that Jason and Emily have a wonderful Christmas with you and your family. If things had been different, I would have loved to have known them better.

Take care, my friend. You are so special to me.

Fondly,
Rebecca

After reading the letter, he quietly folded the letter back and placed it back in the envelope. His eyes were misty and a lone tear fell down his cheek as he looked at the full moon glowing through the window and the soft gentle fall of the snow resting on the window panes.

Adam felt a small ache in his heart. Rebecca was now another man’s woman. He was happy for her, but couldn’t ignore the love he had once felt for her and the pain he felt when she said good-bye. He looked to Heaven and thanked God for bringing Rebecca into his life. If it wasn’t for her, he might not have found his way back to the woman he knew he was truly meant to be with. Adam was happy, he was content. His life was with Jessica and they now had a third baby on the way.

He placed the card and letter in the lap drawer of his desk. He turned off the light to his office and shut the door. He went into his room where he found the mother of his children sleeping peacefully in bed. He went into the closet, took off his suit and put on sweat pants and got into bed. He propped himself up and stared at Jessica sleeping. He smiled and dropped a gentle kiss on her cheek.

“I love you. I’ve always loved you. I’ll never stop loving you until my last breath on earth.” Adam’s eyes got misty again. “Thank you for loving me, and never giving up on me. I promise to never hurt you again,” he vowed to his sleeping Jessica.

Jessica continued to sleep quietly. Adam turned over and shut out the light. The moon shone in through the window as Adam snuggled next to the love of his life and drifted to sleep.

A weekend dad, Adam was no more.

 

Epilogue:

Adam and Jessica were married on New Year’s Eve at the Carson City Court House by the Justice of the Peace. Joe, Hoss, Ben, and the children were present for their marriage.

Throughout Jessica’s pregnancy, she continued to have severe bouts of morning sickness, which at one point, landed her in the hospital with dehydration. Adam was by her side the entire time.

In late June of the following year, Adam and Jessica welcomed the newest addition to the Cartwright family; Jillian Alexis Cartwright. Her eyes were big blue saucers like her mothers. Jason and Emily both adore their baby sister and keep a protective watch over her.

 

adam baby

Adam kept true to his word that he would never put work in front of his family again. There were times that being CEO of a large company kept him at work late or meant him going in early, but Jessica was supportive and proud of her husband and his accomplishments.

Next Story in the Weekend Dad Series:

Seasons of Change
When They Were Young – a prequel to Weekend Dad

 

16 thoughts on “Weekend Dad (by Adam’s Lover)”

  1. Just finished reading Weekend Dad. I enjoyed it so much. I have never read a modern day Bonanza story and wasn’t sure I would want to, but I jumped in with both feet and enjoyed it very very much. It was a very heart-felt love story and as much as I started out hating Jessica and loving Rebecca, I was surprised that I ended up really rooting for Adam and Jess’s marriage. Thanks for a great story.

  2. I reread it during the week-end, it was so pleasant. Each chapter, each line, each small moment is so well described. Emotions, smile, love, affection, anger, conflicts, wahoo, but that’s life, and especially for families torn by divorce. It’s a great story. Congratulations, and the second reading was better than the first.

    1. Hello, everyone! I’m happy to report “Seasons of Change” the follow-up story to “Weekend Dad” should be finished this weekend. With a little luck, I’ll be posting it to the library on Sunday! Keep your fingers crossed.

    2. Hi Mumu, I’m so happy you enjoyed it more the second time around! It’s a fun story and one I truly enjoyed writing. I love all of these characters so much, I’ve written a sequel to the story called, “Seasons of Change.” With any luck, I’ll have it finished this weekend and uploaded to the library for everyone’s ready enjoyment. I look forward to hearing you enjoyed it as much as “Weekend Dad”.

  3. Hello, everyone. I’m very happy to read you have all enjoyed Weekend Dad. I happy to report I’ve made more progress with Seasons of Change and it’s coming along. I would say I’m probably within 3-5 chapters of it being finished. Time is right now is not on my side. Next weekend I’ll be traveling but once I arrive on Saturday mid day, I’ll have until Sunday evening all by myself with just the dogs to really work on more of the story. Thanks for the wonderful comments about Weekend Dad and please stay tuned to Seasons of Change. 🙂

  4. This was a delightful story to read. Even though it is set in modern times, the Cartwright family rang true. It has been some time since I had time to read a longer story, and this one was perfect to immerse myself for a few hours. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. Thank you!

    1. Hello Chavel47, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed Weekend Dad. With a little luck, Seasons of Change will be finished and ready for upload to the library this weekend! It’s another long one so find a good lazy weekend to immerse yourself in fun reading. Hint…You’ll need a tissue for a couple of chapters…just sayin 😉 Thanks again and be looking for the sequel (with a little luck) this coming weekend! Marie

  5. pppppfffffffffff, I’m soooooooooo happy to have the story here. I’ve read it several times in Bonanza Hideway, I was so sad, because the site had disapeared. So it’s sooooooooooo great to have it here; It’s an amazing story, so touching…

  6. Looking forward to “Seasons of change” This has been a great story, just anxious for more. Hope you post soon!!

  7. Hi, I hope you don’t mind me asking again but do you have any idea when your next story the sequel to Weekend Dad…..”seasons of change” will be finished and posted on the site, and also whether it is going to be posted on here only I cannot wait to read it, you told me back in September that you were writing it, was just hoping it won’t be long before we see it, I hope you don’t mind me asking again and looking forward to hearing back from you.

    Thanks.

  8. I absolutely loved this story and have reviewed before and was rally hoping for that sequel you promised with the children and their new baby sister growing up with them and how they are all getting on being back together and dealing with everyday lives, and the pitfalls that come with it, from the school runs to raising Cartwright children and their antics and especially feisty little Emily she interested me as she was the most like her father and stubborn, I would love to know how she is as she grows up with that defiant feisty nature of hers pleeeeease another story to this one.

    1. Hi, Wever, thanks for your comments. I am writing a sequel to this story. It’s called “Seasons of Change”. It’s becoming a longer story than I had originally anticipated, however, it’s coming along. It’s set 10 years after this story so the kids are now teenagers. Jason’s off to college and Emily, she’s as feisty as ever! 🙂 I’ll be posting it as soon as I have it finished.

    2. Hi Weaver, you’ll be happy to know Seasons of Change is almost complete! I’m almost done with the editing and I’ll be writing the last part of the story and with edits, and a little luck, it’ll be ready to upload by Sunday. Thanks for your patience, I know it’s been awhile but I promise it’ll be well worth the wait. 🙂 Thanks again! Marie

  9. Good writing. The story flows easily from scene to scene. Angst in parts and happiness waits for all at the end. Looking forward to seeing more from you in the future.

    1. Thanks, Indy. I sure had a great time writing this story. I tried to make it as real as I could. I used real life stories from people I knew who were living the struggles of divorce and the children who were having to suffer living in a broken home. I always knew I wanted to bring them back together in the end, but I loved Rebecca so I had to find a way to have her exit but not with the Cartwright curse. 😉

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