Dante's Peak 2
Part 5

The flight was uneventful, luckily Ruffie was as good as gold, and when they landed in Florida, Harry hired a rental car and they drove to the hotel where he had made reservations. It had a view of the beach from all three rooms of the suite, and Harry could see the look of wonder on the children's faces. "Let's get unpacked," he said, "And then we'll go down for a walk before dinner." The children vanished into their room.
"And tomorrow," Rachel told him, "We look for a house to stay in."
"A house?" he said. "Rachel, we're supposed to be on vacation-" He saw the determined look on her face. "A house. I'll see what I can do," he told her, pulling her into his arms. "I suppose a house wouldn't cost any more than this hotel will, considering. Let me make some inquiries."
"How did you convince the airline to let Ruffie ride with us?"
"I had to use our- notariety in the area. I told the truth, just embellished it a bit. I just hope that no one finds out where we are. The last thing any of us need are reporters descending on us. Especially the children. They need to time to put what happened out of their minds."
"I think we all do," she told him. "Where's your medicine?"
"In my jacket," he told her, watching as she dug one out and found some bottled water. "I'm supposed to take this with food," he reminded her.
She went over to the table and picked up a banana, began to peel it slowly. "Here," she told him, holding out half of the fruit to him as she slowly ate the other. Her smile told him that she knew exactly what she was doing, and his eyes promised that she'd pay for her teasing later. "I'd better go unpack," she said as the children returned. "I won't be a minute."
They walked down the beach, shoes off, just in the edge of the water, and Harry was relieved to see Lauren's natural ebullence returning as she laughed. "Wish we could go in swimming," she said.
"Not tonight," he told her. "Perhaps tomorrow."
They had dinner in the hotel restaurant, then went upstairs. Lauren was half asleep when Rachel pulled the covers over her, but she insisted on a hug and kiss from her Daddy. Once the door had closed behind them, Graham lay there, his hands behind his head, smiling.
Rachel excused herself for a moment, which left Harry to open the door when there was a knock. "The champagne you ordered, sir." Harry asked the young man to open the bottle before he left, and was just pouring the second glass when the bedroom door opened and Rachel stood there- wearing a satin and lace nightgown that almost exactly matched her eyes.
"What is that? Champagne?" She asked, crossing the room to his side.
"Uh, yes. I ordered it when I paid the check downstairs- You look-" words failed him as he handed her a glass of the wine.
"You weren't the only one who bought something when a back was turned," she told him, sipping the champagne. "I take it you approve?"
"I'm-speechless," he admitted.
"You, Harry? I find that hard to believe." She took another drink, then turned toward the bedroom. "Coming, Harry?"
Harry finished his glass, then picked up the bottle to follow her, closing the door behind him.

She took the bottle from his hand, and the empty glass, then started to unbutton his shirt, her lips kissing his skin as it was revealed. He leaned back against the door as she unfastened his pants and slid them and his shorts down, revealing how ready he was. Harry groaned as she touched him, as he always did at her touch, and Rachel smiled. Her hands slid over his hips, then around to their ultimate goal. "Oh, God, Rachel," Harry breathed, closing his eyes as she took him into her mouth. He buried his hand in her hair, feeling as if every nerve in his body was concentrated in one spot. When he exploded into her mouth, Harry's legs gave out and he sank to his knees before her. He kissed her, tasting himself on her tongue. His lips moved down her neck, to her right shoulder, and slipped the thin strap of her gown down with his teeth as his hand did the same with the other one. Rachel freed her arms from the straps, and when Harry finally rose to his feet, he pulled her with him, leaving the light blue satin to pool around her feet. She stepped out of it as he led her to the bed. "Now it's your turn," he whispered as he slid between her legs. He braced himself on his right arm, kissing her thighs, her stomach, everywhere except where she wanted him to. He smiled as she brought her hands down to tangle in his dark hair.
"Harry, please," she whispered, her voice husky with need. She lifted her hips when his tongue found her, and when he touched the tiny bud of pleasure, her breathing began to come in short, rapid bursts. He wanted to be inside her, to fill her with himself, so he slowly drew himself up, over her, pausing to kiss her breasts before lifting himself to enter her, then stopped. Rachel opened her eyes, and her hands moved to his hips, trying to complete their coupling.
"I love you, Rachel. Now and for always," he said.
"I love you, Harry," she returned, then sighed as he entered her in one quick movement. "Oh, yes, Harry. Yesss-"
Harry felt her inner muscles begin to contract, and the pressure caused him to loose control as he exploded again. He started to move off of her, but Rachel shook her head. "Not yet," she told him. "Not yet." She held him to her, kissing his face, and he realized she had been crying.
"I'm happy," she told him. "I never thought I'd ever be this happy."
She let him roll onto his side, turning as well, a satisfied, sated smile on her face. "I think I'm going to be sore tomorrow," she told him. "But I don't care."
"I'm a bit sore right now," he said.
"Your arm?" she asked, concern replacing the smile.
"It's aching at bit. That wasn't what I meant. My heart. It's so full to overflowing that it hurts. I have everything I could ever ask for. A wonderful, beautiful wife, two greats kids- "
"And a dog?" Rachel reminded him.
"Oh, I mustn't forget Ruffie, must I?" He settled against the pillows, letting her get into a more comfortable position. "I wonder what the chances are that we'll have an undisturbed night."
"Pretty good, I hope," Rachel told him. "Lauren seemed almost her old self at dinner."
"I noticed that as well. But just in case," he said, kissing her on the top of the head, "I think I'd better put those running shorts on."
Rachel nodded, giving him one more squeeze before he moved away. "If you say so." She watched as he walked naked across the room to the dresser, then as he bent to pick up her gown and toss it in her direction.
"I didn't mention it, but I spoke to the desk clerk earlier- and he might have a line on a house for us. He gave me the address. We can go look at it tomorrow morning."
"Where is it?"
"Just out of the city-" he told her, coming back to lay beside her, pulling her to his side. "On the beach."
"Sounds nice," Rachel mumured, her eyes closing as the long day finally took its toll.
Harry kissed her hair and settled back, smiling, trying to remember a time when he had felt this content and happy. None came to mind.
They drove the rented car north to the house the next morning after breakfast, and within ten minutes, Harry had been forced to agree with Rachel that it was perfect for them. They drove back to the hotel, and Harry got the number of the rental agency, then called them from the room. By noon, they had checked out of the hotel, and were settling into the house. After they unpacked, Graham and Lauren joined Rachel and Harry on the wooden deck that overlooked the beach.
"Can we go down to the beach?" Graham asked.
"Not to swim," Rachel said. "Keep an eye on your sister-"
"Why don't you come down with us?" Lauren asked.
"I have to fix lunch," Rachel told them.
"And I have to call a man about a fishing boat," Harry reminded them. "Go on. Just be careful. The water can be dangerous if you get out too far."
"We'll be careful," Graham promised. "Come on, Lauren," he said, heading for the stairs, Ruffie running ahead of him.
Rachel stood by the railing, watching them play in the surf. "It's beautiful here," she told him.
"Um-humm," Harry agreed. "Espcially from where I'm sitting," he told her, and she turned to see him looking at her. He got up and came over to slip an arm around her. "Why don't we go out for something to eat? You shouldn't have to cook on vacation."
"I enjoy cooking," Rachel told him. "Especially for my family. Why don't you make that call? I won't be a minute. And while you're at it, set up an appointment with that surgeon about your arm."
"I don't have his number with me-" he said.
"It's in your jacket pocket," she called out from inside the house.
Harry reached into the pocket and drew out the paper. "So it is." He picked up the cordless telephone, his eyes on the children below.

"What time is your appointment with the doctor?" Rachel asked as they ate the lunch she'd prepared.
"Anytime this afternoon," he told her. "His office is only ten miles away, and he said that Dr. Morrison had called him about the case already."
"Then you'd better go after lunch. What about the fishing boat?"
Graham and Lauren's attention turned toward Harry. "It'll be ready tomorrow morning," he told them. "So you'd better get those lists finished."

Graham cleared the table after lunch, as Rachel told Harry, "You go on to see the doctor. We'll be fine here until you get back. Won't we, Lauren?"
She didn't look as certain as her mother, but she nodded slowly. Harry knelt. "When I get back, I expect to find a competed list of things to take on the boat tomorrow," he told her.
"You won't be long, will you?"
"No. I'm just going up the road," he promised. "Now go finish your list, and I'll be back before you know it."
Lauren gave him a hug, then turned to go to get the list she'd started back in Portland. "Don't worry about us, Harry. What could possibly happen?" Rachel asked with a smile.
"That's what worries me," he said, kissing her. "I'll be back as soon as I can."

An hour and a half later, Lauren was sitting at the front window, watching every car that passed, waiting. Rachel found herself listening as well, worrying what was taking Harry so long. When the telephone rang, she nearly jumped out of her skin. "Hello?"
"Hello, Rachel," Harry said.
Lauren came running over. "Is that Daddy?"
Rachel nodded. "Where are you? We were getting worried-"
"Everything's fine- good news, actually. But Dr. Richards wants to show me something. I have to wait here for a little longer- I just wanted to call and let you know I was all right- and to hear your voice."
Rachel smiled. "I'm glad you did. How much longer are you going to be?"
"I shouldn't be too long. Another hour, perhaps."
Lauren was tugging on her sleeve. "Can I talk to him?" she asked.
Harry heard her and smiled. "Put her on for a moment, Rachel."
"Daddy? When are you going to be home?"
"Just as soon as I can, sweetheart. Have you and Graham finished your list?"
"You be a good girl, okay? And when I get home, you and Graham can go swimming."
"Okay. Hurry home. I miss you."
"I miss you too, sweetheart. Let me talk to your mother again."
"She's been sitting by the front window," Rachel told him when she came back online. "I wish you were here, Harry," she told him softly.
"I have an idea- why don't I come and pick the three of you up and we'll go for a drive."
"Sounds good to me." She could hear him smile across the lines.
"I'll be right there."

He was barely out of the car when Lauren ran from the house and threw her arms around him. Harry knelt to return her hug. "Did you really miss me?" he asked. She nodded. He picked her up with his good arm and started toward the house, smiling as he saw Rachel and Graham standing on the porch, waiting. He put Lauren down, then gave Rachel a kiss. "Are we ready to go?"
"Let me get Ruffie's leash," Graham said.
Rachel noticed his cast was different. Not plaster, but a strap on plastic shell. "What did the doctor say about your arm?"
"As far as he can tell at the moment, I won't need surgery. It's healing well, and there's no sign of a major infection."
"Thank goodness for that." She had been more concerned about infection than anything else. He'd spent two days in that truck with an open wound. "What about the cast?"
"It's something he's been working with- it's lighter weight than plaster, and just as strong. He said I could put plastic over it to take a shower if I wanted to."
Ruffie barked, signalling that she was ready to go, so they returned to the car. "Where are we going?" Rachel asked.
"Well, I was talking to Dr. Richards about our planned fishing expedition, and he mentioned that he has a boat in that he's not using- and he's offered it to us for the length of our stay. If we like it, of course."
"How far away is it?" Graham asked.
"There's a marina just ahead- here we go-" he said, turning into the parking area. "Slip 17." The children started running down the wooden pier. "No running, kids," he warned. He and Rachel followed more slowly, her hand in his.
"Thank you," she told him.
"For what?"
"For coming back and getting us. I can't explain what was different- you'd been out of my sight when you were at the doctor in Portland, but today-"
"I wasn't as close," he said. "I was just in the next room, so to speak, in Portland. Here, there were ten miles between us-"
Rachel looked up at him, hearing the fear in his voice. "You felt it too, didn't you?"
He nodded, but before he could say anything, they caught up with the children. Graham was standing before Slip 17, staring the white cabin cruiser. "Looks like this is it," Harry said. "What do you think?"
"It's big," Rachel commented.
"Why don't we go aboard and check it out?" He handed Graham up the ladder to the deck, then Rachel, but Lauren hung back, her eyes wide. "Come on, sweetheart. It won't hurt you. I promise." He knew she was remembering their ride across Mirror Lake, their fear as the small metal boat was slowly eaten away by the acidic lake water. "I thought you wanted to go fishing." He pointed to the other boats. "See all of these boats, Lauren? All afloat- and not a metal one in the bunch." He tapped the hull of the cabin cruiser. "Fiberglass. Acid proof."
Her eyes widened. "Really?"
"I guarantee it." He knew it wasn't, but he had to convince her that the boat was safe, as safe as being on shore. "Are you ready?"
She still looked a little uncertain, but she let him help her up the ladder before waiting to make sure he followed her. Once he was on deck, she clasped his hand in a death grip.
They explored the boat from stem to stern, and Harry checked out the controls, started the engine. Even with one arm, he could handle this. "You've done this before?" Rachel asked, watching him.
"A friend of mine in Hawaii has one. While I was there a few years ago, he taught me how to handle it. This one's smaller, I think." He turned to the others. "Shall I tell Dr. Richards that we accept his offer?"
"What about the other boat?" Rachel asked.
"I'll call and cancel it," Harry told her. "I don't think the owner was too thrilled by the idea of two kids and a dog being on his boat anyway. Let's go home so I can call him and Dr. Richards."
Sometime during their tour, Lauren had released Harry's hand to go with Graham to investigate the boat, and Harry watched as she went back toward the car with her brother and Ruffie. "You handled that very well," Rachel told him. "Acid proof fiberglass, Harry? You realize that one day she's going to find out that you lied to her."
"By that time, she'll be over her fear of going onto the water," Harry said, keeping his voice low as they reached the car.
To Be Continued...

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