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"It was really sweet of you to offer to come to the airport with me this morning and take care of my car while I'm gone," Todd Wilkins said as he steered his BMW into the right lane for departing flights.
Beside him his girlfriend, Dana Upshaw, said nothing. She'd been quiet all morning, and it was beginning to freak Todd out a bit. Usually Dana was as bubbly as a shaken glass of Sprite.
"Dana, did you hear me?" Despite having to concentrate on the heavy traffic, he glanced across the seat at her. Dana was staring straight ahead, her expression stony. Todd felt his shoulders start to tense up.
"OK, what's the deal?" he asked. "Why are you giving me the silent treatment?"
Her shrug was hardly perceivable.
Todd gasped and slammed on the brakes as a black Bronco cut in front of him. He barely missed plowing into the guy. "Dana, I can't do the sign-language thing right now. Will you please speak to me? What's bugging you?"
"Aren't you even going to park?" Somehow she made her words sound more like an accusation than a question.
"No, it's too expensive." He passed a slow-moving minivan. "And besides, it takes too long. This way I can just jump out and grab my stuff, and you can take off." He reached over and laid his hand affectionately just below the hem of her green miniskirt. "There's really no point in you coming inside just to wait around the airport with me."
She brushed his hand off her leg as if it were a bug and tugged the hem of her skirt lower. "Did it ever occur to you that I might want to wait around with you? After all, it'll be the last chance I'll have to see you for four whole weeks."
Four weeks didn'tseem that long to Todd, but he knew that nothing he said was going to convince Dana. They'd been arguing about his going on this ICSN trip ever since he'd gotten the notification that he'd been chosen. With a sigh and a quick rearview glance, Todd stomped the accelerator and squeezed into the lane that led to short-term parking.
The driver in the Corvette behind him honked and flipped him off, but Todd ignored him. He had his own worries at the moment.
Dana uncrossed her arms and legs and settled back in the seat, temporarily mollified. It didn't last long, however. The minute Todd parked the car, her tears began to fall.
"Dana," Todd whispered. "Please don't do this now."
"I can't help it," she said with a sniff.
He pushed her lovely mahogany curls away from her face and kissed her wet cheeks. She slid into his arms, and he held her until her crying died down.
"Are you OK now?" Todd asked.
She nodded and pulled a Kleenex out of the crazy, kiddie lunch box she was using for a purse.
With Dana sniffling along beside him, Todd grabbed his duffel bag from the trunk, slung it over one shoulder, and headed for the terminal. They were hardly inside when Dana grabbed him around the waist and clung to him as if she were being abandoned. Todd strained to see the overhead departing-flight screens. "My flight is right on time. They'll start boarding any minute now." He peeled Dana's arms away and tried to put a little space between them. Dana was a beautiful woman, and over the past few months she'd come to mean a lot to him. But lately she had become way too possessive and clingy.
"I still don't see why you have to do this," she whined.
"Dana, please," Todd said, trying to keep the edge out of his voice. "We've been through this."
She plopped onto a padded bench and pulled him down beside her. Sliding a hand under his shirt, she began caressing his back and nibbling at his ear.
"OK, you've definitely got my attention," he said, capturing her hand somewhat reluctantly.
"I don't want you to go on this trip." Dana was practically whimpering.
Todd dropped his head and let out a frustrated breath. "Dana, only eight people from SW were selected. I can't just bail."
"They picked alternates. Let one of them go in your place," Dana said, her voice hopeful. "Tom Watts was an alternate, wasn't he? We could call him right now. I'll bet he'd drop everything for a chance to chase after his precious Elizabeth some more."
Todd sighed. He'd thought they'd already talked enough about Tom and Elizabeth to get it out of their systems. "Is that what this is about? You're afraid something might happen because I'll be on the road with Elizabeth?"
She threw her arms around his neck and locked her fingers behind his head.
Todd didn't want to rehash the past. Their problems had nothing to do with his old girlfriend or Dana's old boyfriend. The real problem here and now was strictly between him and Dana. She was choking him--literally and figuratively. He reached behind his head and broke her fingers apart. Then he massaged his own tense neck muscles.
"Elizabeth and I are just friends now. You know that."
"I'm not worried about Elizabeth. I just don't want you to go. I'll miss you too much." Tears pooled in her lovely hazel eyes. "Todd, please," she begged. "Don't leave me. We're just starting to get dose. I don't want anything to happen to our relationship."
"Nothing is going to happen, Dana." Todd felt as if he were being torn in half. A part of him wanted to sweep her up in his arms and never let her go, but another part of him was itching for freedom. "This is my chance to see the country. And I think it'll be fun to test my endurance on their crazy stunts. Plus think of the prizes. Now that I don't have my basketball scholarship anymore, a five-thousand-dollar scholarship from ICSN's sponsors could make a big difference."
"Won't you miss me? Even a little bit?" Dana asked, blinking rapidly.
"Of course I'll miss you, but--"
"Then stay!" She stomped her foot like a two-year-old having a tantrum.
This was getting them nowhere. Their whole conversation was one big circle that would always end up right where it began. "My flight is boarding." He stood up and grabbed his bag, but the pain on her face caused his tone to soften again. "Listen, Dana. We know how much we care about each other. We can survive a few weeks apart."
"A few weeks? Four whole weeks!" Dana whined. "And then you'll be way over in Florida."
"And after the wrap party in Key West, I'll jump on a plane in Miami and in a few hours you can pick me up right back here in LA." Todd smiled reassuringly.
Dana let out a long sigh. "You're right. I'm sorry." She stood on tiptoe and kissed him gently on the end of his nose. "At least sit with me just a little longer.
You don't have to be the first one on the plane."
He sat back down beside her, and she slid into his arms.
"Now, give me a kiss like you mean it. One that'll last me for four whole lonely weeks," Dana cooed.
They kissed. And they kissed again. He could smell her citrusy hair rinse as she nuzzled against him. He loved that smell. He would miss her, terribly. And she was right. They hadn't had time to really--
"I guess this will be a funny story we can tell our kids someday," she mumbled against his chest.
Todd stiffened. Once again Dana had managed to slip in a phrase that was about as welcome as an ice cube down his shirt. Lately their every conversation ended with comments about marriage, kids, or their future together. She was going way too fast.
"You know," she continued. "If you really enjoy this trip--traveling around in a camper and all--maybe we could consider something like that for a honeymoon."
Todd closed his eyes and strained for a deep breath. He had to get out of here. It wasn't that he didn't love Dana. He was pretty sure he did. But if nothing else, he needed some space to see if he was truly ready for the kind of commitment she seemed to be looking for.
I'm still young, he told himself, with a lot of living to do before tying myself down. He pressed his lips against her soft curls and felt her arms tighten around him.
"I'll watch you on TV every week," she said: with a pathetic squeak.
He felt bad that he was making her so unhappy. And although he couldn't put his finger on why, he somehow felt guilty--but not guilty enough to give in.
Posted March 26, 2001
Liz,Pascal wrote that Jessica got really depressed and that she had to take time of from SVU. then Nick came back. He told Jess that it was time to move on! That's why she liked Neil. I personally thought it was a good book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 STARS!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 22, 2000
I hated this book. And only because I don't see how Jessica could be over Nick, I mean I don't know how many mounths are suppose to have passes scenc Nick died, but you would think that Pascal would at least have him mentioned sometime. I mean he was a huge part of Jessicas life for so long. I just hated it. If you ask me, in a later book Nick and Jessica should meet again and start daring again and they should get married. I mean you don't just forget about someone like that, I read the book thinking Jessica would go find Nick or something, but it was just a horrible book, don't read it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.