Let Me Fall
After finishing his condensed but accurate summary of how he had met the love of his life, Steve glanced at his watch. “Sorry, ladies, but I have an appointment.” He kissed Lisa’s cheek. “Bye, honey; I’ll see you at Noon, and Carolyn, I’ll see you soon?”
“Sure, bye Steve.” She watched him walk away. “That must happen a lot, huh?” Carolyn asked, curious about him.
“Yeah, it does,” Lisa replied and sipped her drink.
“What are you thinking?” Carolyn asked, worried for some reason.
“Oh, it’s nothing, but it’s been an adjustment for us, living and working together, but, to tell you the truth, with this new mission overseas, Steve being away could be a problem.”
“You don’t regret being with him; do you?”
“Of course, not,” she quickly replied.
“Then what’s really bothering you?” Carolyn asked concerned about them.
“It’s his new assignment; he’s leaving in a few weeks.”
She frowned, but she understood. “Is it the prospect of being apart for a long time? I’m here for you and so is Dad, if you let him?” She smiled, hoping to reassure her.
Somewhat relieved, she said, “You’re right; I’m just being overly concerned; I guess.”
“It’s only natural to worry about him, but I have faith in you guys; you should too. Please don’t let it bother you.”
“I have that faith; I do.” She paused. “I’m so glad I told you.” Lisa smiled, happy to have her sister involved in her life.
Meanwhile, Steve headed for the Bronx to meet with his younger brother by five years, Mitchell. A little surprised to see him at this early hour, Mitch escorted him into his penthouse suite. His brother was very well off with stock market investments and their Father’s business in real estate, but both brothers enjoyed their work. Mitch continued his Father’s work, while Steve became a spy for the Government.
After shutting the door, Mitch approached him a little worried. “What’s going on, Steve? Your call sent up warning bells.”
Steve sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “Sorry about that, but I have to tell you something.”
“What is it?” Mitch asked and headed to the bar. “Coffee?” Steve sat down.
“Sure, thanks.” He wrung his hands, not sure about telling him.
Mitch frowned then handed him the coffee.
Steve decided to just blurt it out. “Lisa and I are getting married.”
Mitch almost spit out his coffee. “What? But I thought you decided never to get married.”
“Well, that was before I met Lisa. She and I, well, we love each other very much.” He sighed then explained his reasons. “Look, I’ve thought about it and I want her to be protected if anything happens to me.” He couldn’t look at him.
Now, Mitch was worried. “What are you talking about?”
“I’ve been having these dreams about the future and my next assignment.”
“I see, but you’ve had dreams before and that’s all they were, just dreams,” Mitch said.
“That’s not completely true. A few have save me, but it’s different this time. I saw a man with a gun I’ve never met, and the gun was pointed at me.”
“I can see why that would be upset, but you will have backup on this assignment; won’t you?”
“Yes, I always have backup, but in the dream, no one was there, except a man… and me.”
“Well, now, you can prevent anything bad happening. Your gift has saved your life in the past.” He watched his brother closely. “You’re worried and that’s why you proposed?”
“Yes, it was,” Steve replied.
“I can understand, but you’re doing well financially, and Dad left us both a fortune. You don’t have to put your life at risk for this country.”
Steve stood up and walked. “Don’t even start, Mitch. We’ve had this discussion before.”
“Obviously, you need to be reminded. If anything happens to you, Lisa, me; we’ll be devastated.” Steve was silent. “Don’t forget that everyone knows how much Lisa means to you, and if anyone comes for you, they could come after her or anyone you care about.”
“You’re thinking of Mark Anderson, the agent who turned against the Company, aren’t you?” It wasn’t a question.
“Yes, he blames you for his downfall; his reputation with the Company; all of it. That’s why he hates you. He’s out there somewhere waiting. You can’t forget about him.”
“Believe me; I haven’t forgotten.” He paused. “Have you heard anything?” Now, he was worried.
“No, I haven’t,” he replied.
Steve walked over to the window. “I know I shouldn’t be so concerned about Lisa’s welfare, but it’s on my mind all the time. I’ve even dreamed about losing her; not dreams exactly, nightmares.”
Mitch followed him. “You have to keep the wedding a secret.”
“I agree, but Lisa and I are planning to be married quickly before I leave, and I want you there as my best man.” He smiled at this brother’s reaction.
Mitch stared at him. “Best man?” He asked stunned.
“Of course, best man.” He still looked skeptical. “Come on Mitch, Lisa and I have been living together for years. I’ve wanted to marry her practically since the day we met.”
Mitch chuckled, not believing it. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, I am, very serious.” Mitch still looked skeptical. “I suppose you’ve never felt that way about anyone.”
“I’m not sure what you mean,” he said then sat down and sipped his coffee.
“Oh, I see; it must be a sore subject.” Steve sat down. “So, who is she?”
“You don’t know her,” Mitch thoughtfully replied, thinking of Katherine.
“Tell me about her,” Steve said pushing for answers.
Mitch sighed, leaned back in his chair. “Her name was Katherine.”
“Where is she?” Then he had a thought. “Is she dead?”
“No, she’s not dead,” Mitch replied.
Relieved, Steve asked, “And you keep in touch? It ended as you two being friends?”
Agitated, Mitch stood up and walked over to his desk and shuffled papers around. “I don’t want to talk about her; not anymore; besides she’s not exactly available.”
Steve followed him. He thought about Lisa and her sister. “What about Carolyn, Lisa’s sister? I could introduce you?” Steve asked, but then Mitch looked up from his desk.
“Carolyn?” Intrigued, he thought; Lisa is lovely and she has a sister.
Steve smiled. “Come to dinner tonight and you two can talk.”
“Well, I don’t know.”
Steve decided not to push. “Just think about it and I’ll call you later today with the time.” He turned to go. “Oh, about being my best man, you never answered me.”
Mitch chuckled but inside he was honored. “You’re really serious about this?”
“Yes, I am; are you game?” Steve smiled at him.
“Sure, I’m game,” he replied. They shook hands.
“Great; I’ll see you tonight?” Steve asked.
“Sure, and don’t forget to call me,” Mitch replied.
Steve shook his head and smiled at his look, then he was gone.
City Hall, a little after Noon that day, Lisa stood outside agitated and worried, she glanced at her watch again. “He’ll be here.” She told her sister, but she wasn’t so sure about that.
“Of course, he will,” Carolyn said.
Twenty minutes later, and back inside, the Clerk’s assistant approached her. “Ms. Harris, the Clerk is ready for you. Are you two getting married?”
Lisa sighed; Carolyn chuckled. “No, my fiancé is running a late,” Lisa replied and followed her.
“That’s alright. You can start the process and your friend can let us know once he arrives,” the Clerk’s assistant said.
“I’ll wait here,” Carolyn said.
“Thanks, Carol.” Glancing over her shoulder, Lisa followed the lady.
Five minutes later, Steve arrives, a bit out of breath. “Hey, Carolyn; is Lisa inside?”
“Yes, she is,” Carolyn replied. She stood up and touched his arm. “Before you go in, can we talk for a minute?”
“But Lisa is waiting for me,” he replied.
“Yes, she is; and you’re late, very late,” Carolyn said.
Steve stood up straighter. “She knows it can’t be helped.”
“Yes, she knows, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need you or worry about you.”
“Carolyn, please; can we talk about this later? Please?”
“Sure, go ahead,” Carolyn sadly replied.
“Thank you.” He said and hurried inside.
Lisa was almost done with her paperwork, then the assistant escorted Steve into the Clerk’s office. She was seated opposite her, apparently talking.
“Oh, Steve, you’re here,” Lisa said. He took her hand, leaned down and kissed her cheek. “Steve, this is City Clerk, Betty Patterson.”
“Mr. Gilbert, it’s nice to meet you.” She stood up and shook his hand.
Steve was so relieved. “So, you know about me?”
“Yes, I can assure you, considering what Ms. Harris told me, I see no reason why that would cause problems with acquiring a license.”
Both relieved, Steve had one question. “How long do we have to wait before we can get married?”
“Twenty-four hours,” she replied.
The couple glanced at each other. “Twenty-four hours?” They spoke at the same time.
She chuckled then handed Steve the paperwork attached to a clipboard. “Fill out these forms. I’ll be right back.” She left them alone.
“So, where were you?” Lisa asked.
“I went to see Mitch to ask him to be my best man, then I got a call from the Company about… Mark,” Steve replied not looking at her.
At hearing that hated name, her heart constricted. “Mark… Mark Anderson?”
“Yes,” he replied.
“Were you going to tell me about this meeting?”
“Yes, I’ll tell you everything, but I don’t want to talk about him; not here.”
“Alright,” she said now terribly concerned.
A few minutes later, he finished the paperwork. “Are you Okay? Are you tired?”
“I’m alright, but I thought you weren’t going to make it.”
“Lisa, you know I wanted to be here no matter what and I made it.”
She had to smile. “Yeah, you did.” She touched his cheek. “I’m so glad.”
“I don’t think Carolyn was pleased with me.”
“Oh, well, she’s worried about everything.”
“I have to wonder why you told her about me,” Steve thoughtfully stated.
“I had to tell someone. She’s my blood; my sister, plus we are getting married; she should know.”
“And your Father?” Steve asked and watched her face turn into a mask of pain.
“I can’t; I can’t talk to him. He won’t understand any of it.”
He placed his arm around her shoulder. “We’ll be alright. It’s been the two of us for so long.”
“I know, but it’s time, Steve. I need Carolyn in our lives.”
“You’re right, of course,” he said and thought of a way to bring the family together.
After acquiring the license, they left the Clerk’s office. Out on the street, Steve brought up dinner with Mitch and he asked if Carolyn would come to dinner and meet him. “He asked about you.”
“Did he now?” Carolyn asked, intrigued.
“Yes, he did. He’s a nice guy, most of the time, and besides you two should meet. We’ll be family pretty soon now,” Steve said.
Most of the time? Well, at least he won’t be boring, she thought. “Alright, I’ll come. What time?” Carolyn asked.
“Seven is fine,” Lisa replied.
“I’ll you guys later,” she said. She hugged her sister, then she left.
“She’s still mad at me for being late.”
“Don’t worry about it.” They walked side by side heading for a quick bite to eat.
“Before we head inside, Mitch being best man isn’t going to be problem; is it?”
“Why would you ask that?” Lisa asked only slightly sarcastic.
“You two don’t get along.” Lisa and Mitch had met several times, but Mitch’s lifestyle was grating. He’s a playboy; a big spender, but he’s also devoted to his brother and his work. He’s smart; a bit too smart, but he’s tolerable. “Well, we need to decide.”
“I have no problem with Mitch being best man.”
“Good, I’ll call him about dinner tonight.”
“You do that.”
Steve sensed she wasn’t happy about it.
After lunch and back at her desk, mumbling and cursing to herself, slamming drawers, Lisa wasn’t sure about Mitch being the best man.
“What’s got you so worked up?” That was Austin, a co-worker and a long-time admirer.
“Nothing,” Lisa replied and typed a few words.
He leaned over her desk. “I know I haven’t been much of a friend,” he started.
“And?” Lisa asked with raised eyebrows.
“You’re right, since the first day he arrived here,” he said, resigned to them being together. It’s time that he accepted it and move on.
“Get to the point, Austin,” she said, unmoved.
“Well, I wanted to say how sorry I am about my attitude toward you and your friendship with him. We do need Steve; I can’t deny that.”
“Are you being sincere? With you, I can never be sure.”
He tried to smile. “Yes, I’m being sincere.” He paused as he stared at her lovely face. “I care about you and I want you to be happy.” He bowed his head feeling embarrassed. “That’s all I wanted to say.” He turned and left her staring after him.
Shaking her head, she tried to concentrate and get back to work, then an hour later, Steve walked in. They didn’t speak nor even nod. Lisa felt awful. She wanted to understand Mitch, but maybe with dinner tonight and their wedding would accomplish that.
Later that evening, Lisa and Steve’s apartment:
Steve walked in ready to eat. Carolyn had already arrived. “Hi, Carolyn.”
“Hi, Steve; glad you could make it.” She gave him a look and sipped her drink.
“Yeah, me too,” he replied. He walked into the kitchen. “Hi, sweetie. Has he called?”
“No, and we're almost ready to eat. Should we start without him?”
Steve sighed and glanced at his watch. Just then, a knock came at the door. “It’s him.” He opened it and Mitch walked in. He looked nice, wearing a sport coat, slacks, and a button-down shirt opened at the neck.
“Good evening, brother,” Mitch said and shook his hand.
“Right on time,” Steve said. Once inside, Mitch stopped and stared at the beautiful woman sitting on the sofa drinking wine. “Are you Carolyn?”
She glanced around. “Well, yes, it appears that I am.” She held out her hand. “Carolyn Harris and you are?” She smiled.
He chuckled and shook her hand. “Mitchell Gilbert; you can call me Mitch.”
“And I’m Carol.” She looked each other over. He sat down beside her.
Steve glanced at his girlfriend. She didn’t look pleased.
“Wine?” Lisa asked Mitch, but he wasn’t listening. “Mitch!”
“Oh, sorry,” he said and took the glass from her.
“Dinner will be ready in five minutes,” Lisa announced and went back to the kitchen.
Steve whispered in her ear. “We can’t predict these things.”
She sighed and handed him a dish of vegetables. “I know.”
At the dinner table, it’s time to eat, then they bowed their heads. Steve said grace, then they began their meal. All during dinner, Mitch carried the conversation, talking about his investments, and how much money he made last week.
Carolyn seemed bored only because he’s entirely too attractive and rich. She made it a point never to get involved with someone like him, but to listen to him, it seemed to her as if he were covering up his feelings.
“And you enjoy your work?” Carolyn asked, hoping to feel him out.
“Yeah, most of the time,” he replied.
“What else do you like to do, I mean, besides work?”
“Not much else.”
“That’s kind of sad.”
“Not really, I do like to read and I like to write sometimes.”
That was a surprise. “Since when?” Steve asked.
“Since I was fifteen. Our parents knew about my writing, but I never mentioned it to you.”
Steve swallowed with difficulty. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You were at college, plus it didn’t seem that important.”
Steve and Lisa glanced at each other, rather surprised at this new side to Mitch.
“What type of things do you write; poems, novels?” Carolyn asked.
“You wouldn’t be interested,” he replied and took a bite of pasta.
“Go on; tell us?” She asked and waited.
“Mysteries, suspense, drama… stuff like that.”
“I love those things too,” Carolyn said.
Mitch’s head came up at that. “You do?”
“Sure; are you published?”
“No, not really,” he replied.
“I could help with that; if you’re serious about it?” Lisa asked.
Mitch didn’t know what to think; how to feel. “I guess it’s worth a shot.”
“Great; I’ll call a few friends.”
“You’re welcome. Now, anyone for dessert?”
Carol and Mitch glanced at each other, both thinking about dessert and other things.
Later that evening, Lisa had a few questions about Mitch. “You truly had no idea about his writing?”
“No, not a clue. He is a strange one,” he commented. After slipping into his sleeping trousers, he lay down beside her. She gravitated to his body heat.
“What do you mean?” Lisa asked, curious about their upbringing.
“To begin with, his office is in the Bronx. We grew up there, but he refuses to move to Manhattan, where he conducts most of his business.”
“I often wondered about that. Why do you think that is?”
“Probably because he has friends there, and he feels comfortable doing business with people he can trust.”
“That makes sense.”
“Yeah, it does. In his line of work, he needs that trust and so do we.”
She felt him stiffen. “I know what you’re thinking… Mark.”
“We were friends, Lisa; good friends, ever since Quantico. When I found out he was a double agent, stealing secrets and giving them to our enemies, it hurt; it hurt a lot.”
She pulled him closer. “It’s alright. We will catch him and put him back behind bars.”
“I hope so.” Steve often wondered how Mark had escaped custody and who may have helped him. He kissed her forehead. “Get some sleep. Our wedding is in five days.”
She gasped. “Five days?”
“Yeah, I’m leaving on Monday,” he sadly replied.
“Oh, I see.” Her eyes roamed over his face. “Will we have a few days for a honeymoon before you leave?”
He chuckled and leaned over, then nose-to-nose, he whispered, “What do you think?”
Smiling, she pulled his head down and kissed him passionately.