Chapter 17

Kate prayed that morning wouldn't come but of course it did. She felt Jayson moving beside her and she opened her eyes to find that the morning light was peeking through the shades.

"Don't go," she pleaded, wanting to cry all over again.

"I've got to help," he said quietly, leaning over the bed and kissing her good morning. "You don't have to get up."

He left the bed and dressed and Kate found herself slipping out of the bed too, searching for her own discarded clothes.

"I'll help too," she said as she stood naked in front of him.

It had occurred to her that she had been naked in front of Jayson more this week than she had been naked in front of her ex in the last four years combined. By the end, her ex barely bothered to look at her (dressed or undressed) and when Jayson stopped what he was doing to longingly gaze at her nudeness she felt sexual and sensual anew.

They emerged from the cottage a few minutes later dressed in the same clothes as the previous day in time to see Crosby and Gabby returning from one last kayak ride. Jayson helped Crosby and Paul drag the crafts to Stan's pickup truck while Kate went into the cottage to help Gabby and Lisa with the cleanup. She could hear the washing machine running in the back room.

"Kate, you're the landlord, you don't have to be doing this," Gabby told her but Kate patted Gabby on the shoulder.

"I want to," she said in all sincerity. "I'd like to think I'm a Callahan too."

"You are," Gababy assured her.

Paul drove away in Stan's pickup truck to meet him at the boat ramp on the other side of the lake. Crosby and Jayson waved Stan off as he puttered the motor boat away from the dock one last time. Crosby, Jayson and Brandon dragged Kate's sailboat and canoe back to where they had been on the side of her cottage. They also dragged the three wind boards onto the yard as well as the canoe which they flipped over. They put all the stuff back where they found it under the porch storage area while Maggie gathered April's toys and packed her car.

Crosby started a fire to burn all the cardboard while Jayson and Brandon arranged the literally hundreds of beer bottles and cans and policed the yard for joint roaches, bottle caps and other clutter. Gabby and Lisa packed out the kitchen and cleaned while Kate volunteered to sweep and clean the second floor.

"That's not your responsibility," Gabby protested.

"I don't mind," she said with sincerity.

Jayson made an appearance on the second floor to gather his belongings still on the screen in balcony porch although he hadn't been out there in days. Kate stood in the doorway with a sad smile on her face watching him pack.

"This is always going to be Jayson's porch in my mind now," she said.

Jayson kissed her on the forehead, leaving her to finish her sweeping while he put his bag in his car and moved the vehicle to Kate's yard.

April was hard to contain (even with her Sprout Jr. on the computer) so once Maggie had her car loaded she reluctantly headed home with the toddler. With Stan and Paul gone too (it would be a slow ride for them tugging the boat and lugging the kayaks) there was now only a handful of Callahan's left – Gabby, Crosby, Brandon (with Lisa) and Jayson.

"Last Callahan's standing," Crosby joked.

Crosby, Brandon and Jayson loaded Gabby's car with the remaining food, luggage and other odds and ends and when Lisa had completed what was needed to be done in the kitchen, she and Brandon were the next to head out on Windy Williams Way, leaving only Gabby and Crosby behind.

The cleaning was done and the car was packed but there were still about four loads of sheets to be washed.

"Kate and I can take care of that," Jayson said. "Why don't you guys head out?"

"The cottage passes inspection," Kate said with a smile.

"You sure?" Gabby worried.

Kate nodded her head yes. Gabby gave both Kate and Jayson a meaningful hug.

"Thank you so much for everything," Gabby said.

"Hey, you're the one who pulls this off every year," Jayson reminded her.

"Well, this year was special with Kate and everything," Gabby said.

Crosby was unusually emotional in his goodbyes too, giving Kate a kiss on the cheek and smacking Jayson on the back.

"May the Spirit of the Lake and the Ghost of Windy Williams always be at your side," he said.

Kate and Jayson walked the two to Gabby's car and watched as they drove away, officially ending the Callahan vacation. Kate and Jayson stood in the middle of Windy Williams Way long after Gabby's car had disappeared from view. The cottage seemed strangely quiet and deserted with everybody gone.

"I just have to make up the beds once all the laundry is done," Kate said. "The Davenports should be here around three."

"I don't have to leave until tomorrow night," Jayson said.

"You don't have to stay," Kate said, her voice breaking. "I realize your family vacation is over."

"I'm staying," Jayson told her strongly. "I was thinking maybe we could go see another game at Beano Field tonight."

"That would be nice," Kate replied as they went inside Windy's cottage to check on the laundry.

"Do you know any of those Sergucis?" Jayson asked as they stood in the doorway of the laundry room. "Because of their connection with Windy so long ago?"

"Sure, I know some of the second and third generation," Kate revealed with a shrug. "I'm a league trustee in honor of Windy so I see some of them at meetings and stuff."

"Do you know any of the insurance Serguci's?" Jayson wondered.

Kate stared at Jayson with wonderment. "Yeah, I do," she disclosed.

"Do you think you could put in a good word for me?" He asked.

Kate smiled and fell against Jayson for a hug. They stood in the doorway for a long time without talking.

"I bet those Davenports will have nothing on the Callahan's," Jayson finally said.

"I'm sure you're right," Kate agreed, not wanting to let go of him.

He kissed the top of her head. "I can't believe I'm with the granddaughter of Windy Williams," he said.

"It's the Windy Williams Way," she replied with a grin.