- Part 2
- When they awoke the next morning,
Rachel found Harry watching her. Self concious under that intent
blue gaze, she smiled. "What?"
- "You're beautiful when you
sleep," he told her, lowering his head to kiss her lightly.
- She looked around, surprised to
find the rest of the bed empty. "Where-"
- "They're in the other room,"
he told her. "The laundry delivered our clothes- such as
they are- and then room service brought breakfast-"
- "I slept through all of that?"
- "Apparently." She noticed
he was dressed- and he was right. His clothes were certainly
the worse for wear. She dreaded to think of the shape hers might
- "There's some coffee,"
he told her.
- "Just coffee," he said,
smiling. He sat up and went to get her a cup. "I've already
called the office in Vancouver. I'm going to submit a report
about Dante's Peak in writing, and then I can start my vacation."
- "What time are you supposed
to be at the doctor?" She took a sip of the coffee and found
it suprisingly good.
- "Oh, we didn't set a definate
time- this afternoon will do, I'm sure. I need to get to my place
as soon as possible."
- "What about the reporters?"
- "We'll just have to risk it.
I think we're all a little more up to facing them this morning."
- "I mentioned something to Lauren
and Graham that I had to go out for a few minutes- neither of
them took it very well, I'm afraid."
- "Maybe we ought to find a counselor
- "They'll be fine, Rachel,"
he assured her. "Just give them some time. You're feeling
the same way yourself, I think, you just haven't given yourself
a chance to realize it."
- "What do you mean?"
- "Your childhood home, your
friends, your livelihood, all gone in just a few hours. You have
to be - worried about the future- about what's going to happen."
He sat beside her again. "And if you'll admit it, the thought
of my going anywhere out of your sight terrifies you as much
as it does Lauren. Am I right?"
- She remembered the way she had followed
him into the bathroom last night, and had to admit that he had
a point. Her support structure, a structure she had worked so
hard to build, was gone, lost in a mountain of volcanic ash and
pyroclastic clouds. The only thing that was left was her children-
and Harry. Harry, who had risked his own life to save her children
and her, when he could just as easily given up, let the volcano
finally claim him. "You're not being very fair."
- "I can't afford to be,"
he told her. "Not when it concerns something this important."
He kissed her, bracing himself on his good arm. "Can you
type?" he asked at last, and Rachel laughed.
- "Yes. Why?"
- "Because I'm going to need
someone to type up my report once it's finished- and with this
- The connecting door opened, and
Lauren peeked through the opening. "Mom! Graham! Mom's awake!"
She came bounding into the room and jumped onto the bed between
Rachel and Harry. Graham entered a minute later, and then Ruffie
appeared in the doorway.
- Harry shook his head, laughing.
"Come on, Ruffie. Might as well join the rest of the family."
The dog barked once, then leapt into Harry's lap.
- They left the room an hour later,
cleaner than when they arrived, but still looking scraggly. Harry
led them to a cab again and gave the driver his address. Even
before the cab stopped, Harry could see there was a TV news crew
parked on the curb, waiting. "Get ready, kids," he
told them. When he opened the door, a reporter stepped up. "Dr.
- "Yes." Rachel, Lauren
and Graham got out, the children trying not to look at the lights
that the crew turned on them.
- "Alex Porter of KVEW-TV,"
the man said. "I'd like to ask you a few questions about
your miraculous rescue last night-" He smiled at Rachel.
"And you're Rachel Wando? Mayor of Dante's Peak?"
- "Former mayor," she said.
"In order to be a mayor, there has to be a town. And there's
not much left up there," she told him.
- "Some of the other survivors
have said that they didn't recieve enough warning to evacuate
the town," Porter said. "What are your feelings on
- Harry held his breath. He knew that
the town hadn't received enough warning- not through any action
of his, but he didn't want Paul Dreyfus' good name dragged through
the media- or the USGS, for that matter. He released his breath
when Rachel said, "I think we were given as much notice
as possible, considering the circumstances. I'm sure Dr. Dalton
would agree that the experts that were with him saw no sign of
an imminent eruption. It was only less than twenty four hours
before the thing blew its head off that any real evidence was
found. After that, we moved as quickly as we possibly could to
evacuate. Only, the mountain had other ideas."
- "How did all of you end up
trapped in that mine?"
- Rachel sighed, smiling her little
crooked smile as Harry stood back, Lauren's hand in his. "Well,
my ex mother in law lived up on the mountain and didn't want
to come down. While Harry- Dr. Dalton and I were holding a town
meeting about the evacuation, my son and daughter decided to
drive up to her place and convince her to leave."
- The reporter looked at Graham, who
moved closer to Harry. "You drove up the mountain as the
eruption was beginning? How old are you?"
- "Almost eleven," he said.
- "Weren't you frightened?"
- Graham nodded, and seeing that he
wasn't going to talk, Porter turned his attention back to the
boy's mother. "What happened when you discovered they had
- "We went up the mountain to
get them," Rachel said.
- Harry stepped forward. "Look,
Mr. - Porter. Mrs. Wando and the children have been through a
great deal in the last few days. We'll arrange an interview later."
- Harry herded the children and Rachel
into the apartment building and closed the door behind them,
thankful that it was a locking door that wouldn't open without
someone giving permission. "Vultures," he commented.
Lauren was pale again, remembering that nightmarish boat ride
that had resulted in Ruth Wando's death. He led them to the elevator
and pushed the button for the third floor. "We'll talk to
them without the kids next time," he told Rachel and she
- He unlocked the door and stepped
back for them to enter, then moved quickly to the table beside
the still unmade bed to turn down a photograph. "You weren't
kidding about it being small, were you?" Rachel commented,
seeing his movement.
- He tossed the bedcovers onto the
bed and closed it. "Be a good boy and hand me that cushion
over there, Graham," he said. "I wasn't expecting company
when I left," he said. Had it only been a little over a
week? he thought. He felt as if he'd known Rachel and the children
for ten years, not ten days. He found some slacks and a shirt,
and handed them to Rachel. "Here you go. The bathroom's
in there." She took the clothes with a grateful smile. "You're
liable to have to roll up the cuffs," he warned, turning
back to the children as Ruffie barked. Harry sat down and pulled
Lauren into his lap. "We'll go shopping for some clothes
for the two of you after your mother and I change," he told
- "Okay," Graham said. "How
long are those reporters going to be asking us questions, Harry?"
- Harry put his arm around Graham.
"I wish I could tell you, Graham. Until the next news event
takes their attention, I suppose. Your mother and I will handle
- "Thank you. I just- I'm not
ready to - talk-"
- "I understand." He looked
at Lauren, whose eyes were suspiciously watery again. "How
about telling me about what we're going to stock that fishing
boat with when we get to Florida? I bet you and your mother had
all kinds of time to think about that."
- "Chocolate," Lauren said
- "That's a given," Harry
told her. "We have to have chocolate. No self respecting
deep sea fisherman would ever leave port without it."
- Lauren giggled as the bath room
door opened and Rachel came out. Lauren's giggles turned into
laughter. "You look funny, Mom."
- Harry tried not to join in the laughter
as Rachel shot a warning glance at him. "Wouldn't happen
to have a belt, would you?"
- "In that closet over there,"
he told her. When she found a belt and managed to get it on,
she turned to face them. "I know, it's not high fashion,
but at least they're not stained and torn. And if you laugh one
time, Harry Dalton, you'll have to change YOUR clothes by yourself,"
she threatened, forgetting that he'd dressed himself earlier
that morning, while she was still sleeping.
- "Well, if you want to spend
the rest of the day here-" Harry began, sitting back, his
smile growing wider.
- He bent to whisper loudly in Lauren's
ear, "But I bet you'd much rather go get some new clothes,
- She nodded. "Can we get some
for Mom too?"
- "I think we can arrange for
that." Harry kissed the top of her head, then urged her
from his lap. Taking some clothes for himself, he started for
the bathroom. In the doorway, he turned. "Coming, Rachel?"
- Hands on her hips, Rachel tried
not to smile. But the playful look in his eyes made it impossible
to be angry. "Oh, Harry, what am I going to do with you?"
- "I have an idea or two,"
he told her as she closed the door.
- Lauren looked at Graham. "Do
you think Mom will marry Harry, Graham?"
- "I hope so," he told her.
He went to the window, and was relieved that the TV truck was
gone. At least they'd be able to leave without being asked a
lot of questions. "Do you want them to get married?"
- She nodded. "I like Harry."
- In the bath, a much smaller room
than the one at the hotel, Rachel found herself pulled against
Harry, his lips on hers. "How's that for an idea?"
he asked, his lips on her hair.
- "One I like. But it's a little-cramped
in here, isn't it?"
- He looked around. "You're right.
I guess the other ideas will have to wait until later,"
he said, starting to unbutton the torn, stained shirt as she
untied his shoes.
- Rachel simply shook her head and
smiled, laughing softly.
- "I'll look forward to it,"
she said, drawing an answering smile from him.
- The telephone was ringing when he
and Rachel came from the bathroom, and he went to grab it while
she started trying to straighten the papers around the room.
"Dalton here.. . No. . . I don't have my -" He smiled.
"Really?. . . No, I haven't had the chance." He saw
Rachel glance at him. "I can be there around three-I have
some shopping to take care of- and a doctor's appointment . .
It's broken, but they think there won't be any permanent damage-Three
o'clock it is, then." He hung up and turned the volume down
on the answering machine before hitting the "play"
button. "USGS brought my truck back here last night. It's
in the garage downstairs. I have go to the office at three."
- Rachel was still trying to bring
some semblance of order to the apartment. "You're not going
to listen to your messages? What if there's something important
- "I cleared it before I left.
There are three messages, and I think they're probably all reporters
just wanting to satisfy their morbid curiousity." She was
getting very close to the photograph, he noticed. "Why don't
we go shopping for some clothes?" he suggested quickly,
but he was too late. Rachel picked up the framed photo and looked
at the face of the woman he'd almost married four years ago.
The woman who he'd lost to another volcano in Columbia.
- "She was very pretty."
- "Yes," he agreed, taking
it from her and putting it in a drawer. "But she's in the
past. And we're here. Let's go find my truck, shall we?"
- "What about Ruffie?" Graham
asked. "We can't leave him here. And we can't leave him
in the truck-"
- Rachel looked at Harry. "Put
him in the bath room," he decided. I'll find something to
put some water in for him. He'll be fine until we get back."
- "And what if someone hears
him?" Rachel asked.
- "I'll be giving up the apartment
soon anyway,"he pointed out, finding a small bowl in the
tiny kitchen. Once Ruffie was safely locked up, the four of them
took the elevator down to the garage. Harry noticed that Lauren
tensed as she looked at the low ceilings, and he squeezed her
hand gently to reassure her. The black Suburban was parked in
its alloted spot, and Harry smiled. The driver's door was unlocked,
and Harry looked inside. "The keys are in the ignition,"
he told them, pushing the switch unlock the other doors. Opening
the passenger door, he lifted Lauren into the vehicle, then got
- "I never figured you for a
Suburban," Rachel said. "A BMW or a Jag, but never
- "I have to carry equipment
every now and again, and this is very good for that." He
started the engine. "Much better than a cab, don't you think?"
- "Yeah!" Graham agreed,
his eyes wide. "This is GREAT!" He looked over the
seat. "And it's an automatic, too." Harry glanced at
him, and Graham sat back.
- The attendant smiled and waved as
Harry pulled the truck out onto the street and into traffic.
"The mall's this way," he said.
- After spending far more money on
them than Rachel thought he should, Harry agreed to go to the
doctor's office. When he came out, he assured Rachel and the
children that everything was fine, but Rachel could tell he was
in pain again. "Do you want me to drive back to the apartment?"
She asked quietly. But he shook his head.
- "I'll be fine. Just all the
poking and prodding. Let's go get Ruffie and let me pack a bag,
then we'll drive up to Vancouver."
- "Why are you going to pack
a bag?" Rachel asked.
- "We can't all stay at my apartment,"
he told her. "It's far too small for four people and a dog.
We can stay in the hotel until we leave for Florida. Which, with
any luck, will be no later than day after tomorrow."
- "Hooray!" Graham and Lauren
- Ruffie was very glad to see them,
and Harry sent the children up to the roof top garden with the
dog to get him ouside for a few minutes before the drive up to
Vancouver. Rachel watched as Harry piled some clothes in a suitcase.
"Let me do that," she told him. "Sit down for
a few minutes." She repacked the case neatly, closing the
latches. "What else do you need?"
- "You,"he said, pulling
her to sit beside him. "Why are you so testy all of a sudden?"
- "I'm worried about you. You've
been so strong for us- and I can tell that arm's hurting like
hell, Harry. But you won't admit it, won't give in to it, admit
that you need someone to take care of you for a change instead
of taking care of us."
- He smiled. "What do you call
what you did last night if it wasn't taking care of me?"
He rested his head on hers. "Oh, Rachel. I'll be fine as
long as you and the kids are. Right now, that's the most important
thing to me. Can you understand that?"
- "I understand that you're probably
too good to us to be real, Harry Dalton. Now what did the doctor
- "He might have to re-break
the arm to set it properly. Put a pin in it. He took some x-rays
today, but he said he won't be able to tell anything for another
day or so. I asked about the Florida trip, and he said he could
give me the name of a very good surgeon there for me to see when
I got there."
- "I'm not worried about the
trip to Florida. I'm worried about you," she said again.
- "I promised the kids, and I'm
not going to go back on that promise. They need to know that
they can count on me-"
- "If they don't know that by
now, Harry, they never will. All right. We'll go to Florida.
But I'm driving to Vancouver." She kissed his chin. "If
you trust me to drive your truck, that is."
- "I trust you with anything
I own, sweetheart," he assured her. EVEN MY HEART, he said
silently. But his eyes said it, and he could only hope that she
got the message as his lips met hers. "We'd better find
the kids and get going."
- "Hey, Harry!" Terry said
as the group entered the offices of the United States Geological
Survey. He came forward on crutches. "You're looking a lot
better than you were last night." He smiled at Rachel and
the children. "Rachel."
- "A good night's sleep and change
of clothes works wonders, Terry," Harry said. Glancing at
the conference room doors from which Nancy had just emerged,
he asked, "What's up?"
- "They want some information
about whether or not Paul should have called the alert sooner,"
Stan told him, approaching with an all inclusive smile. He bent
to say hello to Ruffie.
- Nancy nodded somberly. "We've
already told them that you and he disagreed about it, but since
he was in charge-"
- "Damn. I was afraid this was
going to happen. How did this get started?"
- "Someone on the council complained.
Said that you had asked for an alert the first day, and that
Paul had talked them out of it."
- Harry took a deep breath. "All
- "I'll tell them what I know,
Harry," she said. "It wasn't really your call or Paul's.
The council made the decision."
- Harry turned to Stan. "Could
you keep an eye on Lauren and Graham for a few minutes?"
- "Sure. I'll show them around
- Harry knelt before the children.
"Your mother and I have to go talk to my bosses. Go with
Stan and Terry and they'll show you around, okay? Keep an eye
on your sister, Graham."
- "Okay, Harry," Graham
said, taking Lauren's hand.
- An hour and a half later, Rachel
came from the conference room, feeling drained. While she personally
agreed with Harry, that the town should have been put on alert
the first night that he had arrived, it was important to Harry
that Paul Dreyfus' reputation not be sullied by what had happened
in Dante's Peak. They had asked Harry to stay behind for a moment
after they concluded the interview, and now Rachel found herself
pacing in front of the doors. "Hey, it's the coffee lady,"
Greg Jones said, smiling. "Harry in there?" he asked,
nodding toward the closed conference room doors.
- "Yes. Have you seen my children?"
- "They're upstairs. Don't worry
about them. They're having a blast. How's Harry doing?"
- "You know Harry. Never complains."
- "Yeah. I'll go tell Stan that
you're looking for the kids."
- "Thanks." The door opened
and a bemused Harry came out. "What happened?"
- "They offered me Paul's position,"
he told her. "I told them I didn't want it, that I'm planning
on resigning and teaching -"
- "What did they say?"
- "They told me to take a month
or so off and get some rest before I make any decisions. They
said they could guarantee it would be a desk job- no on field
work. That I would send crews out to investigate, not go myself."
- "Could you do that? Send someone
else out to do something you're used to doing yourself?"
- "Don't worry, Rachel. I've
no intention of taking the job. But I will take that month they
offered- and spend it with you and the kids in Florida. As far
away from this place as we can get. Where are they?"
- "Right there," she told
him, pointing to the stairway where Stan and the kids were coming
- "You should see all the stuff
they've got up there, Mom," Graham said. "They can
see any volcano in the world up there using satellites."
Harry listened to the boy's enthusiasm, recalled feeling that
same way himself when he'd been that age.
- "I'm starving," Harry
announced. "Let's go find a place to get something eat."
He looked at Stan. "Thank you."
- "Oh, Rachel- one of the other
evacuees have been trying to find you since news broke that you'd
been rescued. Dr. Fox-"
- "Jane?" She looked up
at Harry. "I really do need to call her- Do you know where
she is, Stan?"
- "I think I have her number-
" he patted a couple of pockets and before coming up with
the paper. "Here you go."
Rachel took it. "Thank you."
- "Oh, Harry. The memorial for
Paul is tomorrow afternoon," Stan told him. "In the
church down the road."