Jaime jumped into her light blue Datsun 240Z and headed toward Steve’s ranch. She was finding it increasingly difficult to get her work done at home with thoughts of being with him flooding her head. One week had passed since Steve was discharged from the hospital. Both his family and friends were still surprised and thankful that he did not suffer any permanent brain damage from being shot in the head. Steve still did not remember the actual event but Jaime was still reeling over the circumstances of the incident. Chris Williams deliberately shot Steve while he was on assignment. She had recently broken off her engagement to Chris and still wondered if that was the reason he committed such a violent act. She and Steve resigned themselves to the fact that Chris took his reasons to his grave and they would never know for sure why he did what he did.
Steve and Jaime spoke of marriage while he was still in the hospital. It was odd but since returning home neither one had broached the subject. Jaime took Steve’s parent’s offer to occupy her old apartment over their barn, which she lived in when she first returned to Ojai years ago. Her former residence, the home she shared with Chris, became a crime scene after he resisted arrest and was fatally shot by OSI agents. It was much too painful for her to live there anymore. She still remembered how angry Steve was when he found out she returned to that home for a few hours to collect some of her belongings without telling him. He couldn’t understand her need to go there alone. She did it to exorcize some of the memories and feelings she had for a man she had once loved, a man who became a stranger in the end. It was the beginning of her healing process. Although Steve couldn’t understand her actions he still supported her. Jaime had spent everyday of the last week taking care of Steve during his recovery. Sometimes she spent 16 hours a day at his ranch. She occasionally would spend the night in a spare bedroom if the hour was too late to drive home. She loved it here with Steve at the ranch, especially now that all her memories had returned.
It was 11:00 a.m. when she finally arrived at her destination. She carried two sacks of groceries into the house while calling his name. She expected he would be wandering around the house looking for something to do. He wasn’t. She knew he was getting restless and frustrated that his recovery was taking longer than he wanted. She wondered if this was the reason for his emotional distance the past 2 days. It may have been longer she wasn’t sure. Lately she was distracted in her grief and confusion over Chris and Steve was engrossed in his physical recovery.
Walking out the back door she was hit with the intense heat of the afternoon and noticed him on the barn roof. He was clad only in faded, torn blue jeans, brown work boots and a tool belt. ‘Yes, he definitely was a very attractive man.’ She thought. She took a seat unnoticed on a shaded chaise lounge and watched him knowing there was no use in trying to get him to stop and rest as the doctor had ordered. Steve Austin was stubborn. She watched his movements intently and took in every inch of the man. His short brown hair was soaked with sweat. The sun had bronzed his face, arms, back and chest. Every muscle in his toned back could be seen as he drove the nails home. He looked like a man releasing frustration in the way he hammered each board. Every 10 minutes or so he would stop, stand erect with his hands on his hips and catch his breath. She wondered why he was pushing himself so hard. She felt it was more than just being restless, something was bothering him.
Jaime heard a car pull up and stood to greet their visitor, expecting Helen and Jim. She was surprised to see Rudy Wells exit the vehicle. She walked to him and offered a friendly hug.
“Hi Jaime, how are you?” the doctor asked.
“Fine. How are you doing?” She inquired.
“Good. I thought I would stop and see Steve before returning to Washington.”
Jaime couldn’t suppress the devilish smile that crossed her face. It was the same face she had as a child when she knew Steve was about to get caught doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing. She thoroughly enjoyed watching him try to wiggle himself out of trouble. She considered it a learning experience.
“Sure, come with me.” She directed as she walked to the back porch and stopped.
Rudy nearly bumped into her when she unexpectedly halted her steps instead of entering the house.
“What’s wrong? Is Steve inside?”
“No he’s not.” She nodded to the barn roof. Rudy’s eyes followed her stare and he was shocked at the sight of his patient sitting on the roof staring out over the corral.
“What in the hell is he doing up there?”
“Fixing the roof. I figured it was futile to try and stop him. Besides he’s been feeling much better lately.”
“Really.” The doctor strode over to the barn and looked up at his friend. Rudy, who was not very fond of heights, greeted Steve and requested his friend join him on the ground.
Steve, who had stopped for a short rest break, suddenly realized he was very tired. Glancing back at his work he decided he was at a good stopping point for the day responded, “Sure be right down.” He slowly stood, grabbed the few tools he had, and took a bionic leap off the roof. He landed near Rudy but instead of his usual graceful landing he knees buckled and he caught his forward fall with his hands. He returned to his full height quickly and greeted Rudy. “What’s up?” Rudy mentally noted the physical weakness not to mention the obvious weight loss.
“I need to fly back to Washington tonight. I thought I give you a quick check up before I leave.”
“Sure.” Steve was hopeful all restrictions would be lifted, not that he consistently followed them anyway. “How about some lunch while I get cleaned up? He offered. Maybe you can talk to Jaime.” Steve removed his heavy tool belt and laid it on his make-shift workbench.
“Jaime? What’s wrong with Jaime?”
“I don’t know, she hasn’t been opening up to me lately like she usually does. I know she is still trying to come to grips with the whole Chris thing.”
“I see. How about you? Any memories come back?”
“Nope it’s still a blank, which is fine with me you know?” Steve wiped his brow with the back of his hand.
“I understand. How are things going between you and Jaime?” The doctor was curious.
“Okay, I guess. We haven’t discussed anything about our relationship since I came home.”
Rudy couldn’t contain his surprise, “Really. That seems a bit odd don’t you think?”
“Not really. I told her I would give her as much time and support as she needed. I figure she will let me know when she’s ready to move on.”
“How are you handling that?” Rudy was concerned about Steve’s emotional state, knowing he didn’t need more stress during his recovery.
Steve turned his eyes toward the house and sighed heavily. “I’ll admit it’s hard, maybe harder than before. There are a few important things we need to work out before getting married.”
“Like what?” Rudy thought it was a sure thing.
“Well, besides her needing to work through her grief, there is still the issue of my 6 year contract with the OSI. She once told me she couldn’t handle having an OSI agent as a husband.” Rudy nodded his understanding. “Having her here has been great though, you know? We are together almost all the time and it’s relaxing.”
“Relaxing huh? So why did you spend the morning on the roof working yourself to exhaustion?” It was as close to chastising as Rudy planned to get.
Steve sighed heavily again, place his hands on his hips and eyed his work boots for a few seconds before looking up at his longtime friend and confidant. “Rudy do you have any idea how hard it is for me to be so physically close to Jaime on a daily, and sometimes nightly, basis and not….well….you know.’
”Know what?” Rudy played with him trying in vain to suppress a sly grin.
“Get physically closer!” Steve took a deep breath. “What am I supposed to do? Walking around the house twiddling my thumbs certainly wasn’t helping the situation so I figured I’d hammer some nails and work myself into exhaustion then maybe I could sleep without thinking of her.” He shrugged and looked at his friend sheepishly trying to justify going against the doctor’s direct orders.
Rudy couldn’t stifle his chuckle at his friend’s uncomfortable situation. He just nodded and escorted Steve towards the house.
Jaime was finishing preparing lunch in the kitchen. “I hope you’ll stay awhile Rudy and have some lunch.”
Rudy sat at the table. “Why not. It’s not often I get to eat a home cooked meal.” When Steve remained standing Jaime asked, “Steve are you joining us?”
“No. I think I’ll get cleaned up.” He turned and headed for the shower but not before giving Rudy a quick wink.
Jaime sat and stared at her food suddenly not very hungry. Rudy noticed her tense behavior and inquired, “Jaime aren’t you hungry?”
“I thought I was but I guess not.” She sighed. “So you’re heading back to the east coast huh?” She changed the subject.
“Yes but I wanted to see how you and Steve were doing before leaving.”
“Steve’s doing pretty well. Today was the first time he tried anything strenuous. I hope you didn’t chastise him too much. He really has been trying to take it easy.”
“I figured as much. So how are you doing?”
”Me? I’m okay why?”
“I just thought you might want to talk about everything that has happened over the past 2 ½ weeks.”
Jaime just shrugged, “I’m muddling through I guess. Steve’s been a great support for me.” She shot Rudy a weak smile.
“Are you planning your wedding?” He asked already knowing the answer.
“No we haven’t discussed it yet. In fact we don’t discuss any of it.” She forced a chuckle and tried to make light of the thought. “I’m beginning to think Steve is having second thoughts.”
“Jaime I don’t think Steve would ever have second thoughts on that subject. Maybe he’s waiting for you to deal with Chris’ memory. I think you need to talk with him about it.”
“But it’s hard for me to share my feelings about Chris with Steve…for obvious reasons. Besides that he’s been very distant towards me for the last few days and I don’t know why.”
“Jaime I really think you are making too much of the situation. You and Steve have always been good friends I would think you two could talk about anything, especially your relationship.”
“I guess so. You’d better eat.” She stood and moved to the sink.
Steve returned clean and dressed. He sat and politely declined Jaime’s offer of food. He decided to just drink some juice, rest and wait for Rudy to finish. Once done Rudy went to his car to retrieve his medical bag and returned to the air-conditioned house. He found Steve waiting for him in his home office. Rudy entered the small room taking in all the framed photographs adorning the paneled walls. It was a visual account of Steve’s career in the Air Force and NASA. There were also framed awards interspersed between the photos. Rudy had always been amazed at the number of Steve’s achievements early in his career before his plane crash. When Dr. Wells first took the position as Chief Flight Surgeon at Andrews AFB he had heard of who the higher ranks referred to as ‘the boy wonder’. Many thought the here-say was exaggerated regarding this young officer’s abilities in engineering and flying skills. It wasn’t long before Rudy actually got to meet Steve Austin and learned there were no exaggerations. There were very few things Steve Austin wasn’t good at.
“Well Doc where should we start?”
“How about unbuttoning that shirt.”
Steve did as instructed and Rudy listened to his heart and lungs, took his blood pressure and pulse. He then questioned his patient, “How often are you getting headaches?”
Steve shrugged, “Not very often, maybe once or twice a week.”
“That’s good. Are they lessening in intensity?”
“You could say that.”
“How’s you appetite? You look as if you’ve lost some weight.”
“It’s okay.” Steve buttoned his shirt after the doctor signaled he was finished.
“Well, you seem healthy. You can try to add some more strenuous activities to your schedule slowly but don’t overdue it. You hear me?”
“Yeah, I hear ya.” Steve gave him a tired smile, which Rudy returned.
“Okay. You know where you can reach me if you need me. Just make sure you talk with Jaime soon. The tension between you is thick enough to cut with a knife. Maybe if you two work this out you wouldn’t have any headaches.”
“Yes Dr. Wells.” Steve said in a patronizing tone as they walked out together.
Jaime served Steve’s favorite dinner, a rare steak and baked potato. She was disappointed with his lack of appetite. Since neither one of them was eating the food sitting in front of them and she could no longer tolerate the silence Jaime decided to break the ice with a question, “Steve why don’t we ever discuss the wedding?”
Steve continued to stare at his plate and answer in a quiet tone, “I figured you needed time.”
“Why did you think that?”
“Because you’ve been so quiet lately. Either that or you are having second thoughts.” He looked at her, holding his breath waiting for her response.
“No I’m not having second thoughts. I guess I’ve just been keeping my thoughts to myself so I wouldn’t upset you. I figured you don’t want to hear how much I loved Chris even though he was a much different person at the end. There’s also the fact that he almost killed you.” She took a deep breath, “Are you having second thoughts?”
“Well, you’ve been so distant and preoccupied lately. You hardly talk anymore and you spend a lot of time alone.”
“Jaime I don’t mind if you talk about Chris. If it bothered me I would tell you.” He thought he could just end it there.
“So why have you been so distant lately? Have I done something wrong?” She asked not letting him off the hook.
“No. No.” There was such a long silence that Jaime thought he wasn’t going to offer anymore information when he started again. “Jaime are you sure you want to be married to an OSI agent for the next 6 years?” He tried to read her face but couldn’t since she folded her arms and rested her elbows on the table, looking at her uneaten dinner. She sighed and tried to consolidate her thoughts.
“Steve I love you. Nothing will change that. I came to that realization somewhere between our flight to Ojai and your last assignment. It will be difficult but no marriage is perfect. Right?” She looked at him not expecting an answer. “As I recall I asked you once, in this same room in fact, what kind of a life would we have with each other, and you replied, “What kind of life will we have without each other?” They finished the sentence in unison and laughed. Jaime stood and walked to her handsome fiancé. As he watched her slide onto his lap his mind flashed back to another time when this discussion took place. ‘Oh God’, he thought.
Jaime looked into his eyes and said, “I guess what I’m trying to say is I’m willing to take the bad with the good. Besides life has no guarantees, either one of us could die tomorrow in a car accident, falling off a horse or whatever. And if anything can happen to either of us I think it’s all the more important that we make every moment together count. I think we’ve been apart long enough don’t you think?” She leaned in and her lips met his. Before it could progress any further Steve eased her off his lap and stood up quickly. Jaime was surprised by his behavior.
“Steve what’s wrong?”
He stood leaning forward on the countertop staring down at the kitchen sink as if it held the secret of the universe. “Jaime I’m not sure we should….I mean I want to…..”
“Want to what?” She couldn’t understand why he was having such a difficult time expressing himself.
“Jaime…I’ve been distant lately because everyday it gets more and more difficult not to….”
He spun around and looked at her, “to make love to you.”
She let a broad grin spread across her face. “Well why don’t you?”
“Chris only died 2 weeks ago. Right now you are in a delicate emotional state. I’m not the kind of guy who would take advantage of that.”
“I see.” She stood and walked towards him, sliding her arms around his narrow waist. “So you are assuming I haven’t had those same inclinations?”
“I don’t know, have you?”
“How could I not with that display on the roof today!”
“What are you talking about? I was fixing a leaky roof.”
“I’m talking about those faded jeans and bare chest.”
“Jaime it was 85 degrees in the shade today and probably over 100 on that roof! What should I have worn a turtleneck?” He stated defensively.
Jaime just stared at him with a smile until they both chuckled at the situation. Steve continued to feel her out, “So you think you’re ready to move on huh?” His arms slid around her.
“You’re forgetting things fell apart between Chris and me longer than 2 weeks ago. I broke off our engagement while you were on assignment. Yeah, I think I’m ready.” She kissed his lips hoping to entice him. Breaking off her advance he said, “Well not tonight. I’m very tired.” He kissed her forehead and released her to go to bed.
She frowned, watching him leave the room and asked, “Steve do you mind if I sleep here tonight?”
“Nope, not as long as you plan on sleeping!” He shouted over his shoulder.
By the time she got ready for bed and donned her pink nightgown he was already asleep, exhausted by his day’s activities. As she slid into the queen size bed next to him he stirred and mumbled, “I thought you were sleeping in the other room?” He slid over to make room for her without fully awakening.
“I wanted to sleep in here with you.” She cuddled close.
“No problem,” was his slurred reply as he quickly returned to a deeper state of slumber.
Jaime awoke at 7:30 a.m. but remained in bed enjoying Steve’s warm embrace. He was still sound asleep. A half hour later she finally slid quietly off the bed and out of the room. With the coffee pot gurgling she loosely fastened her robe and stared out the back window as a dewy haze enveloped the grass. With no immediate plans she absent-mindedly fixed her coffee and wandered toward the bedroom.
She stood leaning against the doorway sipping the fresh brew and stared at the sleeping man. He stirred and rolled onto his left side, facing her. Her breath caught in her throat at the sight before her. Her eyes burned every detail into her brain. His soft brown hair was disheveled and his tanned skin looked two shades darker against the bright white cotton sheets. His peaceful face displayed a prominent brow, long dark eyelashes, a long pointed nose and a strong jaw line. The soft light of the morning sunrise was drifting through the window creating delicate shadows throughout the bedroom.
Her eyes continued their rewarding journey down his form. His right arm was bent across his bare torso and left arm was hidden under the pillow. His left leg was under him, tangled amidst the sheet while his right was bent slightly forward uncovered, exposing his right hip. The jumbled sheets traveled between his long legs and gathered at his groin hiding the object of her interest.
She didn’t know how long her eyes were locked on this sensual scene but her heart rate and breathing increased considerably. She was started out of her voyeurism by the ringing telephone. She spun and headed quickly toward the kitchen not wanting Steve to catch her watching him. She left the doorway swiftly, with her robe flowing behind her she didn’t see Steve cautiously open one eye and develop a wicked half-grin on his face. He rolled onto his back as he readjusted himself back under the covers.
Jaime grabbed the avocado colored phone receiver on the kitchen wall by the third ring. “Hello.”
“Jaime, its Rudy. I didn’t wake you did I?”
“Ah…no…”She stammered, still distracted by her thoughts of Steve. “No…ah you didn’t.” She took a deep cleansing breath.
“Jaime is everything alright?” Rudy noticed her broken speech pattern.
“Yes, everything is fine.” She stated quickly.
“Did you and Steve get a chance to talk?”
“Yes, yes we did.”
“Good. I was calling to see if Steve was experiencing any ill-affects from yesterday’s over-exertion. Is he awake yet?”
“Ah… no Rudy he’s not.” She couldn’t prevent a small smile from crossing her lips as she continued. “In fact I just looked in on him and he was still sound asleep. I know he was exhausted last night and went to bed at 8:30.”
“I see. Well that should teach him to increase his activities a little slower.”
“Don’t worry I’ll keep both eyes on him.” Her smile grew into a grin at her private joke.
“Okay, I’ll talk to you soon.”
“Okay. Bye Rudy.” Jaime paused after hanging up the phone deciding to go horseback riding and headed to the shower. In 30 minutes she was showered, dressed, primped and striding through the house. As she passed the bathroom door it suddenly swung open, startling her.
“Good morning!” He enthusiastically greeted her with a lop-sided smile.
She stood glued to the floor staring at him, speechless, as the sight of him made her brain shut down. His hair was still wet from the shower and random beads of water meandered down his neck and broad shoulders becoming entwined in the dark curly hair of his chest before traveling over his muscular stomach. He had a white bath towel wrapped around his waist. His voice finally invaded her thoughts.
“Jaime?” Steve was concerned at the look on her face. “Jaime? Are you okay? What’s the matter?”
“Ah… yes…um I ah… I’m fine.” She took a deep breath and turned her eyes to the floor and body toward the kitchen struggling to articulate her words. “I’m going riding.” She started down the hall trying to appear nonchalant but the subtle moves of her body told a different story. A confused Steve stepped into the hallway and grabbed her by the arm. “Jaime?”
She turned and looked into his azure eyes. “Don’t I get a kiss goodbye?” Regaining her composure she smiled and planted a quick kiss on his lips. She spun on her heels as he requested she return by noon for lunch. She threw an ‘ok’ over her shoulder on her way out the door not looking back again, once again missing the amused grin on Steve’s face.
He dressed quickly knowing he would only have these few hours to get his plan in place. He chuckled out loud as he reminded himself that he actually began his devious plan this morning. Looking out the bedroom window he watched Jaime ride out the back gate and knew the coast was clear. Opening the bi-fold doors he used his bionic strength to move a 4oo lb. box of bricks to the opposite side of the closet. He pulled up the pre-cut piece of beige shag carpet and began twirling the tumbler. Opening the fireproof steel box he reached in and retrieved his prize, a navy blue velvet box. He sat on the floor and slowly opened the box he hadn’t looked at in years. It was an exquisite gold diamond ring. A single 1 ½ carat round solitaire colorless stone was mounted in the center flanked by two ¼ carat round colorless stones on each side. All the stones were very close to flawless. It was one of the most expensive purchases Steve had ever made aside from his ranch and gold corvette. His wide grin shrunk as he recalled how this ring came back into his possession. The medical staff had given it to him with her personal affects just as she was rushed into the operating room after he had found her. He had chased her through the dark night and pouring rain, knowing she was in unbearable pain. He finally found her just as she collapsed into his arms. He watched her die that night, his heart shattered into a million pieces. He didn’t find out for over a month that she was revived but the damage was already done. Gone was his loving fiancé and in her place was a platonic friend without any memory of him. He watched in the shadows as she built her new life without him as her husband. He never imagined when he locked this ring away almost 4 years ago that he would ever be given the chance to offer it to her again. The butterflies in his stomach were beginning their assault.
Manipulating the fine piece jewelry between his thumb and index finger, eyeing it carefully, he suddenly became unsure whether Jaime would want this ring back or would prefer a different one. “Well I’m short on time today. If she doesn’t like it I’ll just replace it.” He said softly as he snapped the box shut and place it in a drawer.
Jaime allowed Phoenix to run full out for most of the ride. The wind on her face and in her hair felt wonderful. Time escaped her. Only when she stopped at a creek for a rest did she notice the time, 11:50. She remounted the ebony horse and headed home.
Their conversation last night had removed the intangible wall of tension that had been separating them the past few days. With the air much lighter Steve was whistling while finishing up lunch preparations when she entered. “Good, you’re home. Perfect timing.” He place two chef salads on the table. “How was your ride?”
“Wonderful. This looks great!”
“See I can at least chop vegetables and meat.” He said with a wink. “My parents called. They requested our presence at dinner tomorrow night.” Jaime nodded.
”Speaking of dinner,” he continued, “I was thinking of taking you out to dinner tonight. How about it?”
“Are you asking me for a date?”
“Yeah, if that’s what you want to call it.” He stabbed at the crisp greens with his fork.
“Where did you have in mind?” She wondered what he was up to.
“Some place quiet, romantic. Somewhere we won’t be bothered.”
Jaime laughed, “Did you forget we are in Ojai? Everywhere we go in this town people recognize us and want to talk to us. Now that we are back together they won’t be able to resist. You know how nosey people are in this town. Unless you have plans to fly me somewhere else for dinner.” She eyed him closely.
“No I’m not flying you anywhere. I’m grounded until Rudy certifies me fit to fly. No, we’ll be dining in Ojai. Trust me it will be great.” He stood to place his empty plate in the dishwasher.
Trying to get him to reveal more information she asked innocently, “So what should I wear?”
Knowing her true motive for such a question he stated simply, “Something dressy yet casual.” Steve would not provide any specifics.
Jaime decided to go shopping for a new dress for her date tonight. Steve knew she would be spending hours in town. He would need to be very careful not to be seen as he too would be running errands in town. He had told Jaime to be ready by 6:30 p.m. It was already 6:00 p.m. when he rushed through his parent’s back door.
“Steve you’re late! Here.” Helen handed him a large handled box and kissed his cheek. “Good luck and have fun!”
“I will Mom thanks. I really appreciate this on such short notice.” He gave her a peck on the cheek.
“That’s what mother’s are for.” She laughed and shooed him back out the door. She turned to her husband and rolled her eyes. They chuckled at their son’s unusual frantic behavior.
Jaime stood in front of the full length mirror dressed in a light blue, off-the-shoulder cotton sundress. She decided to skip the panty hose noting it was still hot and sticky out side. After admiring her new tan sandals she slipped them on. She was pulling her long sandy colored hair into a barrette when she heard the door slam. She went to the kitchen.
“Steve where were you?” She took in his harried, sweat covered face.
“I had some things to take care of. Don’t worry I’ll be ready in 15 minutes.” He took off toward the shower yelling back to her, “By the way you look great!!!”
Jaime was sitting on a couch in the living room absently flipping through an Aeronautical Engineering magazine she found on the coffee table. Steve entered and stared at her as she leapt to her feet.
“You know I made a mistake earlier. You don’t look great, you look stunning.”
She smiled, “And you sir clean up great.” She kissed his freshly shaven cheek. “And you smell good too.” They walked arm and arm to the car.
They drove for a few minutes before turning back onto Steve’s property. Jaime looked at him confused. He was headed for an isolated U-shaped crop of trees at the forest’s edge in the northeast corner of his acreage. Jaime smiled as the sight came into view. A large plaid blanket and wicker picnic basket were laid out, a bottle of wine chilling in a silver ice bucket. Five foot high, unlit tiki lamps accented each corner of the blanket. She sighed, “It’s just beautiful.”
Steve jumped from the car, circled around, opened her door and offered his hand. She took it and held it tightly as they made their way to their ‘table’. The low intensity of the evening sun was their candlelight.
Jaime sat with her legs folded underneath her, her new sandals discarded on the lush grass. Steve removed his sport coat and reclined facing her propped on his right elbow. They enjoyed the meal lovingly prepared by the woman they both called mother. The white wine Steve selected complimented the meal perfectly. While eating the carefully prepared chocolate covered strawberries for dessert they sat in silence watching Mother Nature’s display. A large orange sun was disappearing over the horizon painting the sky a light pink.
“I must say this may have been the best date I’ve ever been on,” commented Jaime watching the sun sinking.
Steve shot her a dejected look, “Best date?! You mean it wasn’t perfect?”
“It was close.” She smiled at him teasingly, leaning in for a lingering kiss on his exaggerated pout. She whispered a thank you for his effort.
“You know I’ve been known over the years to be a perfectionist. I don’t think I can let this date end without trying to improve upon it.”
“What do you have in mind?”
Steve repositioned himself on his heels in front of her, his knees digging into the soft earth through the blanket. Reaching into his left pocket he covertly pulled out his gift with a shaky hand and kept it from her sight. Watching his unusual behavior she had no notion as to what was coming. Steve’s heart was thumping against his artificial ribs. Taking a deep breath he began.
“Jaime we’ve know each other for over 20 years.” His eyes were downcast trying to collect his thoughts. He brought them to hers before continuing, “I fell in love with you when you were eight years old. You are my best friend and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I don’t have much to offer except my undying love and support. You are my whole world Jaime.” He flipped the velvet box open and brought it into her view. “Jaime Lynn Sommers… will you marry me?”
Her hand covered her mouth but not before a gasp was heard. She recognized the ring instantly. Tears welled up in her eyes and she was speechless. She stared at the familiar engagement ring then into Steve’s soul through his beautiful blue eyes. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks as she nodded. Finally finding her voice she croaked out, “Yes…Oh Steve…” She flew into his strong arms and held the embrace. He held her tight as he blinked back tears of his own. She finally let go so he could return the ring to its former home.
“If you would rather have a different ring I would understand.”
“Absolutely not! It’s perfect. I can’t believe you still have it.”
She admired the sparkle coming from her shaky left hand while Steve stood and lit the tiki lamps to supplement the soft light coming from the large full moon. He swiftly returned to his bride-to-be’s side with a question, “So NOW is it the perfect date?” confident he had succeeded.
“Almost.” She stated simply.
“Almost?!” He was shocked and began listing the items on each of his fingers, “A beautiful sunset, a delicious picnic, fine wine, a full moon and diamonds. My God what more do you want???” He had no idea what else she could possibly want.
“You.” She said in a low and seductive voice as she slid next to him and planted a passionate kiss on his welcoming lips.
Each kiss became deeper and more intense as Jaime’s hands made quick work of Steve’s dress shirt and he released her hair from its restraint, allowing it to fall about her shoulders. Soon both were having difficulty catching their breath. Steve was able to slip his shoes and socks off from his sitting position without interrupting their sensual play. Jaime’s hands explored every flexing muscle in his back, chest and stomach as he laid his lean body down next to her. His mouth moved slowly over her neck and shoulders as a gentle familiar hand slid the light fabric from her chest only to replace it with his mouth. Her skin felt hot under his lips. His left hand wandered skillfully along her thigh, pushing her dress upward. Arriving at its destination Steve quickly removed the small piece of thin lace fabric while nibbling each pink bud.
He manually teased her, feeling her squirm in frustration. He flashed her a wicked smile remembering exactly how and where she liked to be touched. He removed his hand and placed it on her orb, returning his lips to hers. She moaned at his ministrations fumbling with his belt, button and zipper. Both were beginning to sweat as their bodies over-heated in the warm summer night. Finally both were disrobed and aching to fulfill their long awaited desire under the soft moonlight. His tongue played with hers as he positioned himself gently on top of her. His hand made a return trip south confirming her readiness. He slowly slipped himself inside her warm welcoming embrace causing a moan to escape her soft lips. They made eye contact for a moment before he resumed his trail of kisses along her silky shoulders and neck. Her nails scraped up his back and he softly grunted his pleasure. He focused intently on her movements and breathing. Being such a skilled lover he needed no words to know when to adjust his movements. The non-verbal signs were extremely subtle but always there. He waited for them hoping they would appear soon as he was struggling to maintain his control. As Jaime’s legs tightened slightly around his hips, her breath coming in short pants, he quickened his pace.
Just as they cried out their release in unison Steve swiftly lifted Jaime up onto his lap as their one body spasmed in an elongated moment of pleasure. Their souls meshed together like two wispy clouds softly intertwining together in the summer sky. She had her arms and legs wrapped tightly around him. He could feel her rapid hot breath on his neck and their hearts, so close together, beat in harmony. When the quivering subsided he attempted to lift her off of him. She moaned and tightened her grip.
“No,” she whispered, “Not yet.”
Steve grinned, remaining silent for a few minutes trying to slow his breathing; the only sound that was heard was the crickets offering a symphony of music to the young lovers. He finally whispered in her ear, “Jaime the ride has come to a complete stop,” He chuckled, “At least for now.”
Jaime leaned back to face him and he took in her tears. “Jaime why are you crying?”
She took a deep breath and tried to explain her emotions, “Because of the 3 ½ years that were lost. Being here with you…it’s like…it’s like our souls… touched. It’s never been like that before with anyone else.” He nodded his complete understanding. “It just proves to me this is where I truly belong. I’m home.”
“We’re both home.” He said kissing her forehead and she sighed heavily. As she lay back on the blanket Steve grabbed an extra blanket to cover them. They lay satiated in each other’s arms staring at the starry sky.
“Steve what’s it like on the moon?”
He thought a minute, “It’s cold,… it’s dusty,… it’s quiet, and at least a 2 day trip from here. Why are you planning a honeymoon there?”
“Actually maybe we could live there then Oscar couldn’t contact you.” She looked up at his face as he chuckled.
“Oh yes he could and he has”.
They both sighed in their resignation at Steve’s commitment to the OSI and his inability to alter it.
They returned to the ranch around 2:00 a.m. too wired to sleep. They took their time getting prepared for bed. Dressed in her summer pajamas Jaime was sitting under the covers with her back supported by the large oak headboard beginning one of many wedding lists to come. Steve finally entered the bedroom dressed only in light blue cotton pajama bottoms.
Jaime was curious, “What are you doing?”
Steve followed her gaze to his lower half. “What?”
“What about them? I always wear pants to bed.” Steve suddenly realized his mistake and hoped Jaime missed it but she didn’t.
“But you…you didn’t have pants on this morning…wait…you…you planned that whole scene didn’t you!!!”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” He perched himself on the edge of the bed with his back to her trying hard to keep a serious tone.
“Oh yes you do!” She struck him on the head with a pillow. “You’re a liar.” He knew he was busted.
He turned to look at her, “I did not. I said I always wear pants to bed and last night I did. I just didn’t get out of bed with them on.” He gave her a devious grin and a wink.
“Steve Austin you are a big tease!!!”
“Maybe but that doesn’t make me a bad person.” He crawled under the sheet and leaned in to kiss her goodnight. “Besides soon that will make you Mrs. Big Tease!” His lips met hers as she smiled at his comment.
She reached and clicked off the bedside lamp and slid comfortably into his arms whispering, “Just so you know I’m onto you.” Steve kissed the top of her head as they both fell asleep knowing their dream of becoming husband and wife were only one step away…