Maryann

Romance

Two star crossed lovers meet at a very improbable place – work. Dave is her supervisor; she's the new hire by the area manager, who without realizing what she did assigned Maryann to the main facility where Dave worked.

1.

Dave Bennett was crossing the parking lot where he worked when his cell phone rang.

"Now what?" He pulled it from the belt pouch, doing a juggling act with a mug of coffee and note book, checked call ID, saw it was his supervisor. He clicked the phone on: "Dave."

"Dave – Michelle. Where are you?"

Dave had a comeback on the tip of his tongue but refrained from the comment. The trite comment would not have gone over with Michelle. He said: "Crossing the parking lot to the front entrance – and George Wilson is about to run me over if I don't get out of his way."

"Right. Listen, I got to be in Denver today and tomorrow. We've got a new girl coming in today – Mary something or other. Didn't have a chance to tell you about her after Bev left the other day. But you'll be in charge the rest of this week. Mary's security paper work is on the desk …"

Michelle gave him the full details and what time the security badging office opened, most of which he was already either aware of or knew who in security to ask if he needed help.

"Okay," he said as he approached the main entrance and the first of three levels of physical security. "Okay ..."

Clicking off his cell phone he badged through the first level and entered the second for inspection then walked to the lobby security desk.

"`Morning, Malcolm," he greeted the guard on duty.

Malcolm stood from his chair. "`Morning. Is Michelle going to be in today?"

"No, she'll be in Denver the rest of the week. So…" Dave drew out the word 'so' as Malcolm raised an arm pointing toward the sofa on the far side of the lobby. He followed the guard's gesture to the sofa. He stopped a moment as he looked at the lady to assure himself who it was. Then looked back at the registration form and saw the name among the guests who came in with her.

Dave felt a chill run down his spine. His heart did a flip in his chest. He never heard the rest of what Malcolm had to say. Dave looked back at the girl, they seemed to lock gazes. Neither said anything. The looks alone seemed to spell out their feelings toward each other.

In that instant despite all that happened over the years he still loved her.

Malcolm stopped talking looking from Dave Bennett to Maryann Gojmer. He sensed something between the two as they stared at each other.

The woman watched the man approach the lobby security desk and talk to the guard with an authority he never showed before.

I didn't know he worked here. Maryann could only watch from the sofa.

She knew she could not hide from him any longer; she could not run any longer, she had to face up to him after all those years and say: I am sorry for what I have done, Dave. But she knew without a doubt he would do the same; they would blame themselves for the breakup.

Maryann listened as Dave and the guard discussed her status. That much was clear from the guard's gestures. It seemed the guard talked with his hands in motion where Dave stood with his hands resting on the counter.

Satisfied with whatever Dave told him the guard gestured Dave to take charge of her. Dave turned to approach the sofa. Maryann stiffened as Dave approached her. I hope he doesn't lose his temper. What will he say to me?

Dave stopped two paces from the sofa. He considered that Maryann had changed. The beautiful long blonde hair was no more. Of course the dark rimmed glasses were replaced with gold rim ones. It seemed she lost the beautiful slender school girl image she once had even when he knew her and they were once lovers. But to Dave, Maryann was still beautiful.

They each instinctively looked at left hands. No rings.

Cold steel eyes gazed back at her for a breath. Dave had changed from what Maryann briefly remembered, but that was years ago. But that was ' …water under the bridge' as they say. A tear seemed to come to his eyes as Dave stared at her a moment savoring the site of this beauty before him. In that moment he only had eyes for her, nothing else seemed to matter in that time. After a moment he said:

"Maryann?"

Maryann nodded her head as Dave held his hand out to her.

"I – I didn't know you worked here, Dave."

"The past seven years." He gestured for her to stand and follow him. "Please – this way. We'll go to the office." She stood and he led her across the lobby to the third set of security entrances. "I take it you've been through preliminary security?"

"Yes. I don't know."

"That's Malcolm's job – visitor badging."

His voice changed, his mannerisms changed. He acted formal, but then he always was formal in all he did. He did not say anymore until they were at the security desk.

They approached the security station. Dave laid his valise and bag on the table opening it. The guard eyed Mary's temporary badge.

Dave said: "Temporary until Alice gets in. I'll be her escort."

He filled out another form for the security desk. In the meantime the guard checked her bags. Dave noticed the meager lunch she was carrying.

What happened to her? He asked himself as the inner door swung open revealing a long white corridor that seemed to stretch on to forever.

He led her along the corridor, greeting people as he took her to the office. A couple stopped him to ask questions which he quickly answered or assured them he'd take care of them that day.

They reached the office Dave unlocked the door, flipping on the lights he pointed to a chair in front of the desk to sit in as he dropped his things on the corner of the desk. The phone rang a third time as he answered it.

"No she's not. You need to talk to her?" He read over Michelle's notes as he assured the other party Michelle was not in to the Colorado Springs area.

He sat down spun the paper work around for Mary to read and sign. He managed to take a sip of coffee from the large Thermos mug before the phone rang two more times. As Maryann read the paperwork she half listened to what Dave was telling the other parties. Dave hung up the phone.

"That's why I don't want the bosses' job. Luthron would be charging me for a destroyed phone."

Maryann smiled. No, he had not changed in that respect.

He looked up as a lady looked in the office. "Dave …!"

Dave smiled. "…`Morning, hone. Whatcha need?"

"Lights – Paul says he has two of them out in the vault."

Maryann chanced a look over her shoulder at the other. She noticed since Dave arrived he addressed most of the women as 'hone' which before he was always reserved in his addressing women either by name or ma'am.

"How soon does Paul need them done?" he asked making note of the request.

"This morning, if possible."

Dave made a face. "Wow. I'll have to bring Maryann with me. I'm escorting her until Alice gets in."

"Oh. I'll ask Mark if it's alright."

Lisa left and another lady with the same request took her place. Dave assured her he'd take care of her department after he finished with the other.

Maryann looked up at Dave with a weary smile. "You're popular."

He returned her smile with one of his own. "Sometimes too popular. I'll tell you a funny story later."

"Okay."

Lisa returned. "Mark said no problem as long as she is escorted."

Dave waved to Lisa. "Give me ten."

The lady left with a wave.

He used the telephone to call the other building to talk to the custodian there. Maryann listened as Dave discussed the situation with the other man then hung up the phone.

Dave looked over the paperwork and signed off on the forms for Michelle and took Maryann with him to the security office where he left the forms to be processed.

"Okay until Alice gets in to process your security pass, you're glued to me."

"When Alice gets here that's when I'm unglued?"

Dave wanted to give her a hug but refrained from it. Unprofessional, so they say.

"Yup and I can turn you loose on the unsuspecting people of Luthron."

They took care of the first request, Maryann looked around amazed as Dave stopped to trade comments with the people he knew; joked with a couple, assuring Maryann knew them also.

They took care of the second request then Dave showed Maryann around the building explaining its layout and the routine she's to follow. Maryann followed Dave around the buildings on his daily routine. People stopped him to ask him questions; he in turn asked people questions about things that bothered them. One lady heard him approach her work station. It wasn't hard with all the keys he had to carry.

"Dave, just the person I need…"

"`Morning, Marge, what do you need?"

"Got new people coming in next week…"

A simple request. Dave assured Maryann knew all the same people he did. He introduced her to managers, team leads, and key people in the division.

One frustrated lady called across her department: "Dave! Dave! Need ya!"

"Beth from contracting," he told Maryann as he was diverted to see what she needed.

"Darling … left my keys home."

"No problem." Dave selected the correct master-key, opened her office for her.

Maryann waited until they were in the central corridor to comment: "People seem to rely on you to you look after them."

Dave grinned. "In a way yes. Big brother, mentor, father figure, trouble shooter, the Shell Answer Man, father confessor; I'm it all at times."

2.

At nine precisely they were standing in Alice's badging office. Maryann was finger printed, photographed, she filled out more forms then Alice put the new badge together for her and twenty minutes later they were done.

They continued until eleven o'clock and Dave led her to the cafeteria by way of the office so she could pick up her lunch. Dave was still puzzled by what she was having for lunch. He believed in a light lunch but in his mind that was ridiculous.

They had lunch, Dave introduced her to Peggy the cafeteria manger and the ladies who worked for her. Peggy dished up an extra portion for Dave as Maryann used the microwave for her frozen lunch that was nearly thawed by lunch time.

"Like pork chop with apple sauce?" he asked sitting down beside her.

"Of course."

Dave surprised Maryann by pulling her dish toward his plate and putting one of the two pork chops on her dish.

"Dave, I can't."

Dave continued to watch one of the battery of cafeteria televisions. "Eat."

She looked at Dave as he continued to stare at the television. Yes, he had changed. He was much more self-assured; a take charge attitude. People respected him, relied on his expertise and judgment.

Maryann studied the pork chop a second. Dave was serious when he placed the pork

chop on her plate. She ate the chop. At precisely 1130 Dave picked up his tray, placed it in the tray window, motioned for her to follow him.

They left by way of the back door of the kitchen back to their closet and continue with their afternoon chores.

Maryann was back the next day.

She was waiting for him by the office door. Dave smiled t her as he unlocked the door. "You're making me look bad, you're beating me here."

"Old habits," she said following him into the office. "What do I do first?"

Dave gave her instructions, out lining her list of chores to lunch time. They exchanged cell phone numbers in case they needed to either talk or text message.

He gazed up at her as he finished the entry: "And don't worry, Maryann, I won't call or text you unless I have too. Or you give me permission."

He slipped the phone back in to its carrier.

Dave held his hand out to her and she went with him to the storage room where the equipment was kept.

Every morning Dave was worried Maryann would quit and he would have to start with another new person. Every afternoon at lunch Dave assured she got a portion of his lunch. She was always surprised at the gesture and ate whatever he placed in front of her.

"You're fattening me up," she said with a giggle as he spooned Peggy's version of beef stroganoff onto her plate.

"Don't worry the company nurses assure she serves only the best and healthiest food. Eat."

They smiled at each other then Maryann laid a hand on his. "Thank you."

Night after night the two dreamed about each other and their past as lovers. They carried on their love affair at "arm's length" until each met someone else and ended their affair. Yet, they each blamed themselves for what happened.

Near ten years later they looked at each other and cried in private regretting what came about. Maryann finally found out Dave's status—Widower. Dave slipped up, whether intentional or not, he made a passing remark about his late wife and her untimely passing. At least she thought, she had one piece of the puzzle on Dave.

The following week Michelle was back in the office to take charge of things for a while as area manager and manager of the Luthron contract. She was amazed at how the building was shaping up. Neither Dave nor Maryann told her about their past

relationship. Yet, Maryann could sense her old feelings for Dave returning; the floodgates of their past opened. But while they were at work Dave kept their connection quiet, as far as he was concerned it was nobody's business they were once lovers.

Friday of the third week Maryann and Dave were in the cafeteria at lunch, Dave watching the afternoon news cast, he quietly asked Maryann, "What are you doing tonight?"

Maryann smiled inwardly. She was waiting for him to ask her that question. She looked up at the television as she replied, "Nothing."

"Want to go out?"

"Sure."

At six pm that evening Dave was at Maryann's apartment. He felt a sadness as he looked over the building. There's gotta be better than this in town.

He went to her door to get her. He knocked, but not as loud as he does on a vault door at work. The door opened a crack, the length of the door chain. Maryann peered out at him.

"Just a minute." She closed the door to take the chain off the door.

When the door was opened Dave was treated to a different Maryann then he recalled.

"Is it alright if I whistle?"

She was in designer slacks, a white linen blouse and jacket.

Maryann smiled. "Of course."

It had been years since a man whistled at her. Dave used to enjoy her in dresses and nice slacks. In the days of their dating and the time when she was briefly engaged to Dave she would dress nicely just for him. A couple of times he took her into a women's boutique and told her to pick out a dress or skirt. They wouldn't leave until she did just that.

Dave led her down to the car, an older Chevrolet Impala opening the door for her.

Soon they were off, first to a restaurant of her choice. He named several that she was familiar with. She made her choice: a non-descript Mexican restaurant on the east side of town.

They ate quietly making small talk but Dave not asked her the obvious question which burned at his soul for the past three weeks. What happened?

Maryann sensed his anxiety to ask her how she ended up working as a custodian. Maryann once had her life mapped out – marriage at the time was almost last on her list of things to do.

Dave drove toward the mountains and a place he knew that overlooked the city where they could just sit and stare at the city lights in peace for a while. They were quite for a short time just staring at the city lights. The burning question came up between them. Maryann was the first to venture the question.

"I know you've been wondering how I ended up there as a custodian?" She looked at Dave in the dark. He just stared ahead for another minute.

"Yes. What happened?" He turned his head to look at her. She presented a beautiful profile that he wished he could capture on film.

Maryann looked out the window not seeing Dave now but her own past. "After you let go of me, after you found another woman is when things would be better. They weren't.

"I met Richard right after that, we were married but not the way you and I planned our wedding. I was devastated. Our honeymoon was supposed to be joyous – it wasn't. I was married to him for twelve years. We had a son, Richard Jr. we lost him – he drowned. My life fell apart after that."

Maryann wept.

Dave slide across the seat to take her in his arms to comfort her. There was nothing he could say. He too wept with the one he loved.

He mustered the courage to ask her another question that was burning in his soul.

"Tell me, Mary, how come you ended up here?"

"Richard was transferred here by his company after Richard Jr.'s accident. That was three years ago. I was working as data entry for another company but the company folded. I tried telemarketing. Nothing."

"Rarely is but go on."

Maryann took a handkerchief out to wipe the tears away and nose.

"Richard in the meantime – I discovered was gambling at Cripple Creek and Central City. He lost everything, we lost everything. And I discovered too he had a girlfriend on the side. I could take no more, I had to get out of there. I divorced him last year."

The guy got rocks in his head? Guy stupid? He screws around on a beautiful girl like her? Guy is stupid.

"Not much better for me. I first lost my son to a traffic accident then Pat died of cervix cancer. I've had it rough too. I lost the one I loved to cancer. It wasn't a pretty sight."

Dave held onto Maryann letting her cry the stress and tension out. Twelve years of problems for her and very little joy. He wasn't sure how but he vowed he'd make it up to her.

He had an idea. Live with him. He said, "Maryann, I've got something to say here. And I know you'll say no, but hear me out. To put this bluntly I don't like where you're living."

"It's all I can afford."

"Come live with me. I have a pretty good sized house."

"But…but…"

"No but's. Let me show you; then I'll take you back to your place. Make up your mind, Yes, no, maybe so…" Dave started the car. "And I pray you say yes—for your own benefit – and safety."

Another strike. She thought he lived in an apartment too. But then he never said. She had to admit hers was kind of seedy. As she said, it was all she could afford. Dave was silent most of the trip back across town. That was strange, she recalled he usually entertained her with stories about where he came from, people he knew, and things he did.

3.

A short time later they arrived at his house just above an area of the city called Clear Creek. Dave pulled in to the driveway the outside lights light up. A couple lights inside at the front windows gave the house a warm feeling.

The house painfully reminded Maryann of the first years she was married to Richard. The house they had and enjoyed. Then after Richard Jr.'s untimely death everything in her life spiraled downhill.

Dave stopped turned the engine off. "Home."

"I don't know, Dave." The house brought back the pain of those memories.

"May I show you?"

The way Dave asked it was as if he were asking for her permission.

Maryann nodded her head. They got out and walked to the front door. Dave unlocked the door and opened it then to her surprise he scooped her off her feet to carry her across the threshold.

"Dave!"

"Your home."

He set her down. With a gesture he said, "The living room of course." He showed her the kitchen which was spacious and lots of counter space on which to work. Then he led her back to the bed rooms.

"Four bed rooms. Two on either side with a bathroom in between each room and a guest bathroom here."

He opened a door on the last bedroom on the right. "Your room if you want with your own bath and privacy as you want."

"Dave – this is all overwhelming" Maryann still had not gotten over her losses. She was overcome that Dave never got over his love for her despite that he was married to someone else.

"I'm asking you to be my companion…"

"Let me think about it."

Late that night there was a sudden commotion in the apartment next to her. There was shouting, screaming then shots. Maryann sat up putting her hands over her ears. She wanted to scream but didn't. Dave's words came back to her in an instant: To put this

bluntly I don't like where you're living. She got up and dressed as quickly as she could. Sirens could be heard as the police arrived at the apartments. All she could think of in that moment was the safe haven of Dave's house. A quiet neighborhood, nice people.

I'm asking you to be my companion…

She rushed out of the apartment past the police with his words echoing in her mind Paramedics, crying, police, two people handcuffed, none stopping her to ask questions. She got in her car and drove across town trying to recall how to get Dave's house. She had no idea what time it was, she didn't care at that point. She just wanted to get away from the apartments as fast and as far as she could go. A safe haven is all she thought of and Dave's was all she knew at that moment.

She arrived at Dave's house some time later. She stopped short of the garage door jumped out and ran to the door. Lights were still on in the house. She rang the doorbell and banged on the door.

Dave was in his study working as usual on a project. There was a ringing of the doorbell and then a banging on the door. He went down, looked out the peep hole. All he could make out was a blonde head.

"Maryann!" He unlocked the door opened it. Maryann nearly fell in to his arms sobbing. "Maryann. What happened?"

"Dave, let me stay with you. I'm scared …"

"Of course." He shut the door behind them, locked it then took Maryann to the sofa. "What happened, Maryann?"

Dave had never seen Maryann this scared before. He was worried about her as he held her; the woman shook in his arms as she cried.

"Just hold me," she wept holding onto his arm in a near death grip.

Dave got an arm around her holding her tightly letting her know through the gesture he was there for her. "What happened, hone. Tell me."

She sobbed. "There was a shooting in the apartment beside mine. The police and everyone showed up."

Dave silenced her sobs as he held her. Maryann leaned on his shoulder softly crying out the years of pent up frustrations. They held onto each other as they fell asleep.

Four-thirty in the morning Dave awoke with a stiff neck having slept after getting Maryann to settle down. She was lying across his lap, her head on a pillow. He almost hated disturbing her. He stirred and she woke up.

"What time is it?" she asked sitting up.

Dave looked at a wall clock. "Four-thirty."

"I don't ever want to go through that again."

"Live here? You're safe here. I don't want anything to happen to you."

Maryann sat back staring straight ahead. She knew she wanted to get out of the apartment she had. She had no other place to go. The women's shelter came to mind but that was only temporary. She reluctantly nodded her head.

"I guess you're right."

"As soon as I have a cup of coffee we'll go after your stuff."

The short time before they got underway back to her apartment Maryann had a few minutes to think. She still struggled with the idea of moving in with David. She knew she had no choice; either that or she could still live at the apartment and still risk something else happening. David was only looking out for her safety in his offer to live with him. It was not that she was married to him – yet that is.

4.

Maryann was silent as they drove across town in the early morning hour back to her apartment. The first thing that greeted them as they stopped at Maryann's apartment was the yellow police line tape and chain of custody forms taped to the door of the apartment beside her.

"That's why I don't like this place." Dave gestured to the tape and forms on the other apartment.

"Let's just get my stuff out of here." Maryann did not want the memory of last night or anything even before that.

After several trips up and down stairs to the truck, a 1978 Suburban, they had all Maryann's personnel things loaded. The sun was just breaking over the horizon when they started back across town to his place. They passed a Denny's that was open. Dave pulled in.

"A decent breakfast," he told her stopping in front of the restaurant. "And to celebrate our new beginning."

Maryann smiled wearily as she got out of the truck.

The hostess, as tired as they felt seated them, took the order for coffee and juice.

Maryann looked at Dave as he sampled the coffee. "How is it?"

"Eh, okay. It's passable."

"Not like yours I suppose."

They laughed a bit. Maryann sampled some of his lead weight coffee at work he brought from home. He laughed when she made a face. Michelle watched the two noticing they were getting closer. On occasion they shared things. Dave could not hide his love for her.

They talked about everything but their past and what happened the night before as they ate. Maryann started to feel better. Relaxing now that she was out of the apartment, she knew she was on her way to a new beginning. But why did she still feel a sense of reluctance about moving in with David. Her upbringing had a lot to do with her feelings of doubt and her recent divorce.

She glanced up at Dave from time to time wondering, not for the first time since meeting him again, what they did wrong. From that time a month ago she wondered what life would have been like if they had done everything right the first time and she married Dave rather than Richard. They would have had children and she would have had the house.

When they arrived at the house Dave backed the truck into the garage to unload Maryann's things. Within an hour they had everything in the room and Maryann was putting her things away. She noticed Dave quietly left closing the door behind him to let her have privacy in putting her things away.

She now wondered how this arrangement would affect their relationship. Only time would tell.

Maryann finally had her things hung up or placed in the dresser. What few things she had in the way of knick-knacks were placed on top of the dresser. She had the last photograph of her late-son placed by the mirror. Drawing in a breath her next order of business was a shower and change. Laundry was next order of business after that, but that could wait until tomorrow.

As she showered she wondered how she would approach Dave on rent. She knew for a fact he'd pass on it. That's the way he was with her. Nothing in return. But for her own peace of mind she would ask him anyway.

Maryann looked around for Dave wondering where he was. She went down to the garage where she found him tinkering with the truck.

"Dave?" She saw a pair of feet poking out from under the truck. "Dave, we need to talk."

"Under the truck, hone." Dave rolled out on a mechanic's roll-away. He sat up to see she had changed from the scared woman of last night. He smiled when he saw her. "Beautiful."

Maryann smiled at the compliment. "Thank you. There's something we need to discuss."

"Such as?" he asked pulling himself up from the roll-away leaning against the truck.

"Rent."

"What about it?"

Maryann knew that would be Dave's answer. But she had to ask anyway.

"You want me to live here for free?"

"Yes. Just be my companion is all I ask." She started to speak. He put his fingers over her mouth. "But to make you feel better. Groceries will be enough. I'm tired of my own cooking and I'm on the preferred customer list for the Chinese takeout, the pizzeria, and KFC. Tell you anything?"

She looked up in to his tired eyes. She saw a desperate man pleading with her. "You need someone to take care of you as much as I do."

"We'll take care of each other." He put his arms around her careful not to touch her with his dirty hands, Dave hugged her.

Maryann could help not herself, she hugged him like she never did before. "You're too good to me. I don't deserve this."

Dave hugged her. He felt himself starting to cry as he held onto her like a drowning person hangs onto a life preserver. "You're a beautiful and desirable woman, Maryann. Is it too late for us to start over and pick up the pieces where we left off?"

Maryann looked up at him through tear filled eyes. She was crying too. He could not help himself. He kissed her then their tongues did a tango of love they had kept suppressed for the past month.

She broke the kiss long enough to ask: "What can I do to help?"

Dave knew what she meant. She still felt guilty about giving him even a nominal rent on the room.

"Groceries. Like I said, I have preferred customer status at a couple take out places nearby."

"Then we'll go shopping today."

It was early afternoon as they wound their way through the Wal-Mart supercenter grocery section picking out food items. Dave felt a certain pride as he pushed the shopping cart and Maryann selected each item. If he picked up something not on her list of –To Get she frowned at him. No they were not married – yet, it just looked that way.

Maryann was enjoying herself for the first time is a couple years.

Night found Dave kissing Maryann goodnight as they went to separate rooms. But they each knew the other was "so close, yet so far" from the other. Dave tried reading an historical book; Maryann, on the other hand lay in bed with the lights out but her mind was across the hall. She wanted Dave, but she did not know how to go about asking him without being forward about the question. That was not her nature. After all these years she was still not the one to make the first move on a man.

Dave's mind felt like it was going a hundred miles an hour. He read a few sentences but his mind was working on paragraphs as he thought about Maryann across the hall. He did not want to spoil the relationship by making any "moves" on her. The time just was not right for that. She was probably still shaken by what happened at the apartment last night.

Maryann turned on the bedside light and sat up. She looked at herself. She was wearing her thin worn cotton nightgown; her "don't touch me" nightgown when she did not want Richard touching her, especially in the final months of their marriage when she discovered what he was really like. The final year their marriage had become a sham.

Sitting on the edge of the bed she felt the start of tears at her eyes. It took everything she had to muster to agree to Dave's offer but she knew she had no other choice. She got up going to the dresser.

"The hell with convention and what's right and what's wrong. There's nothing left in my life and I'll have what I want. I need Dave and want him."

Their third wedding anniversary but never wore. Her now ex- was too drunk to know what he was doing that night.

"Dave will be thrilled to see me in this."

She pulled the cotton T-shirt night gown and panty off tossing them in the trash can "good riddance" and slipped on the black baby doll. Fixing her hair, she opened the door a crack to see the sliver of light under Dave's door.

Smiling she crossed to Dave's room tapping on the door she opened the door.

Dave turned as the door opened. Only one person would do that. Maryann.

Maryann stood in the open door leaning against the door frame, her figure accented by the black silk and lace. Closing the door Maryann crossed the room to the bed. Circling the bed with the grace of a cat on the prowl she kept her eyes on David seeing he liked what he saw. She pulled the covers back slipping in to bed beside Dave.

"I am yours tonight, David."

"I am yours – for all time, Maryann."

The two once lovers were lovers once more as they spent the night in love and making love.

Dave looked down on Maryann. She gazed up at her lover. Dave leaned over to kiss her asking, his lips close to hers: "Marry me, Maryann."

There was no hesitation in her voice. Maryann instantly answered: "Yes." Then she said tears coming back to her eyes: "This time I am not taking the ring off my finger."

5.

Monday morning they arrived at the Luthron parking lot 2, Dave parked just up from Michelle's designated parking place. Dave helped Maryann out of the truck and they walked across the parking lot. Their boss Michelle had arrived behind them and was getting out of the company van. Maryann waved to her, the morning sun glinting off the ring in a suggestive manner. Michelle's jaw opened in surprise.

Dave waved to Michelle with a satisfied smile.

Michelle hurried to catch up with them. "When?"

"Yesterday," they answered together.

The two women stopped to hug each other. Michelle whispered in her ear: "Keep him out of trouble for me, Maryann. Eh?"

"I will. He's a keeper."

They passed through security, Dave's old friend and former Air Force pilot was on security check point. He stopped as Maryann opened her bags for him. Malcolm's jaw dropped open as he checked out the ring on Maryann's finger.

"Um, congratulations, guys."

Word spread around the Luthron facility like wild fire that day. The next to congratulate him was the Oreo Sisters. The three girls popped up from what they were doing.

"Congratulations," they said in unison.

"Dave," said the blonde of the trio, "take care of her. You're all she has now."

Dave reached up to the top of the cubes to touch their hands. "Thank you, girls. There's a lot that hasn't been told to you. Maryann and I both have had rough lives and have come full cycle in this affair. Now we have a lot to make up for together."

Teresa, one of the two brunettes of the trio said, "We're behind you, Dave."

"You three are invited to the wedding."

The Oreo sisters threw a wedding shower for Maryann in the company cafeteria that even surpassed some retirement parties. It was up to Dave to keep her away as they prepared for the shower. Then on cue Jennifer went to the enclosed lab where she was working just to be busy at that moment. Jennifer took to her to the cafeteria on the pretense of "something happened." When she entered the cafeteria there was a loud Congratulations, Maryann!

The wedding took place on a Friday afternoon; nearly all Luthron and their friends were invited to the wedding.

6.

The tree branches reached toward the stark gray sky of late winter like skeletons seeking revenge on the living. Fresh fallen snow coated everything as far as the eye could see. Days such as this Maryann was lucky she and Dave did not have to make the long drive north to the Luthron facility. Its days like this she just enjoyed the opportunity to stay home in front of the hearth with her new husband. In the living room on the hearth a log fire burned brilliant hues of red and orange. She enjoyed the time to just sit watch the logs burn giving off heat and relaxation, cuddling up with her husband, the feel of their baby maturing inside her womb.

Maryann stood at the kitchen window overlooking the driveway below. Her husband now of six months was plowing the driveway with the garden tractor. He was nearly finished. She patted her stomach and the baby within her womb, their baby. "Daddy will be back in in a moment, little one."

The garden tractor disappeared into the garage. Within a few minutes Dave appeared at the top of the stairs from the garage pulling his coat off. Maryann turned to him with a smile as they approached each other across the kitchen to kiss.

Gently Dave placed a hand on the bulge that was the child within Maryann. "How's the little one acting?"

"Wants to come out in to the world now."

"Soon we'll be three."

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