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The Journal of Catherine Alexander


February 20, 2000

 Okay, this has got to be the most wonderfully weird weekend I've had in a long time.  I guess I owe a few people a lot of thanks.  Mom, for meddling, bless her, for daring to do something I didn't expect. And definitely, Jim.  The big lug turned around and surprised me in a way only he can.

 After the disaster my last day in Cascade two weeks ago, I thought things were almost beyond repair.  Little did I realize, someone else had also been working on a plan to try to make things work a little better for us.

 I was pissed off at myself for giving in to my jealousy over Carolyn and rising to her bait when she tried to exclude me from the conversation with shop talk.  It was my fault my involvement in the Rising Star mess was even brought up.  I just wish I could go back in time and hit myself with a clue-by-four so that I would have dealt with the situation a bit better in the least. 

 Carolyn couldn't have known about my connection to Vince and Terry, so how can I hold it against her for what she had said?  She obviously didn't think that Jim would be caught dead around anyone that "delusional."  Little did she realize, not only were Vince and Terry not delusional, but that reluctant though he might have been, Jim had become pretty accepting of that little non-delusion.  After all, he's talked with more than one ghost in the last year.  He himself has had visions.

 Putting her on the spot immediately after that, about her need to talk with Jim privately. There was a measure of satisfaction in leaving the two of them staring after us as Blair and I left to get something out of my rental car which I'd meant to leave behind.

 Okay, so I didn't give Blair much of a choice. I should never have put him in the middle of it.  I owe him for that at least.

 But the satisfaction quickly turned sour when I found out what it was she'd wanted to talk to Jim about, and why she'd innocently asked if she could join him for lunch.  I was no better than a teenager in a temper tantrum.

 I was also pissed off at Jim for bringing her.  This was my last chance to spend some time with him before I caught my flight back east.  I really didn't want anyone else joining us. I could have accepted Blair's presence, but Carolyn's was just too much.  We'd spent so little time together over the past month I almost felt like I should just move back to Toronto and go back to the schedule I had earlier in the year.  I saw more of him then.

 When I finally did leave, Jim walked me out to the car.  We talked briefly with him making me promise to call him from the hotel in Chicago once I was settled in.

 We did talk, but we didn't get too much resolved.  I was still feeling lost.  And more than a little jealous.

 I did call Jim again from New York, my last leg before home in Toronto on my East Coast swing.  He hadn't been easy to get in touch with, apparently he'd been working long hours on some case.  But then, wasn't that part of our problem?  His schedule and mine definitely didn't make it easy to spend time together.  How was it we found the time before?

 Valentine's Day came and went without comment from either of us. I suspected both of us were losing ourselves in our work.  I felt a void grow within me as time and distance continued to keep us apart.  I buried myself in my work, pushing myself until I thought I would drop, hoping and praying that the reason I hadn't heard form Jim was because he was doing the same thing.

 Mom suspected something was up.  We'd talked a couple of times and she'd ask if I'd heard from Jim or if I'd called.  I fell neatly into her trap when she asked if I'd talked to him a couple of days after Valentine's, and I told her I hadn't spoken to him since the week before.  No biggie to me, I figured he was busy, and I’d forgotten it myself, but to Mom, that was not a good sign. She took the initiative and called Jim.

 Following my usual pattern, I arrived home about nine on Friday night.  Something felt "off."  I had the distinct impression someone was in my apartment, but when I tried to ask my guides for some kind of indication, I got nothing.  Nada.  Bupkis.  At the very least, I didn’t feel like I had to run like hell in the opposite direction or call the police.  So I did what I'm sure Jim would lecture me for if he ever found out - I went in.

 I could hear someone puttering around in the kitchen and I called out a greeting to Mom, knowing I was going to get a lecture for neglecting myself.  Hell, tonight the game plan had been to pop a bag of popcorn and fall face first into bed when I finished it.  Instead of Mom, out walked Jim like some figment of my warped imagination.

 I think it was a tie between my purse and my jaw hitting the floor. 

 When I was finally able to focus I heard him say that he was glad I was home as he was beginning to worry how much longer he could keep the meal warm without actually turning it into a charcoal briquette.  I just stood there, staring at him, convinced that I had finally lost it, but hopeful that he might just be real. 

 I think the first word out of my mouth was either "How…?"  or "What…?" I couldn't even form a full sentence. 

 He held out a chair, grinning at me like a damn Cheshire cat, suggesting that I might want to sit down before I fell down.

 I finally got my brain in gear and dropped the laptop and the other things I was carrying on the couch, almost tripping over my now forgotten purse.  Making my way to the dining room table, I noticed flowers and candles.  He'd definitely been busy.

 Next thing I was aware of was Jim pouring wine into my glass from across the table and then filling his own.

 Then words began tumbling from my mouth.  "When did you get in? Why didn't you tell me about this? How long are you here?"

 I think the last one was the one I wanted to hear answered first, but no such luck.  Instead he motioned at my plate with his fork and reminded me dinner was getting cold. Reluctantly, I followed his lead and started to eat. 

 I don't even remember what we had for dinner, but I found I had an appetite for more than just a bag of popcorn.  Falling face first into bed alone was definitely the furthest thing from my mind. I also had the distinct impression that the work I'd brought home to do over the weekend was going to get neglected, but who cared?  Definitely, not me. Not at this moment.

 Halfway through dinner, Jim started to tell me what had brought him to Toronto.  It in part was because he'd taken my complaint to heart that I'd seen him more when I was living in Toronto and traveling to Cascade on business for a couple of weeks than when I'd finally adjusted my schedule to spend half my time in Cascade. He'd been racking his brain trying to come up with a way for us to deal with that problem.  He had already made the reservation for the weekend, and was about to let me know he was coming for the weekend.

 Hard on the heels of this decision, was the call from my mother.  I was horrified to find out she'd called to find out why he'd missed Valentine's Day.  I had no idea that's what she'd been up to the other day.  Apparently, Mom was getting up quite a head of steam when he told her he was coming for the weekend.  He grinned as he told me that she then ended the conversation by telling him that I was supposed to be coming over for dinner Saturday night, but would understand if we couldn't make it. 

 There are times I could just kiss her for caring so much, but then there are times when I'm just absolutely mortified by her innuendo. 

 Jim swore both Mom and Dad to secrecy and they loved the intrigue of helping him surprise me.  Dad picked Jim up at the airport and dropped him off.  I had forgotten that I had given him the key to my place back in December when he was up here last.  He made himself busy, checked the cupboards for supplies and then went out to the grocery store and liquor store hoping that he'd beat me home.  He did by safe margin.

 I had sat quietly listening.  When I finally found my voice, I asked him why he had come to Toronto. The answer was more than I hoped for, and in some respects almost more than I felt I deserved after last month.

 Jim had been looking back over the past month, comparing it to the time we'd spent together over the last year, and also comparing it to his marriage with Carolyn.  There were definite problems.  But it was nothing that we couldn't handle.  The most serious problem we had was finding a time when both of us were available.  In the past, our solution was if one wasn't available, we would both just work until another opening came up.  This solution had obvious problems.

 Before I changed my schedule, we had made time for each other.  Last month, we hadn't done that.  Instead, we’d fallen back into our old familiar routines.  Using work to fill our time between the times we’d see each other. 

 I couldn’t argue with him.  Wasn’t that exactly what I’d been doing for the last two weeks?  Hell, I’d even turned down a couple of social engagements with friends and buried myself in work so I wouldn’t think about how much I missed Jim. 

 And that seemed to be where our problem lay.  While we couldn't do what we had done previously on an ongoing basis, we had to make some kind of accommodation so we could actually spend time together. Or shall we say make a date with one another.  He chuckled when I said that, but in essence, he agreed that was what we'd have to do.  We had to make time for ourselves. I guess we just had to recognize the difference between work we needed to do and what could be put off to the next day. 

 It was such an easy answer.  Why weren’t we able to do it last month?  Maybe because I was afraid of coming off like the possessive controlling girlfriend?  I tried to make sure that Jim didn’t feel like he * had * to stay home with me.  The last thing in the world I wanted was to have the guys thinking Jim had to always check with me about whether or not he could have a night out with the guys.  He’s a big boy. He can make those decisions himself.  I wasn’t about to stand in his way.  Then of course, what did I do?  I worked when he wasn’t there.  On the apartment at first, especially setting up the office.  And then once the office was set up, I brought work home.  So I guess he felt that I had to work, so he didn’t want to interfere.  And the cycle just got more vicious, until we were barely seeing one another.

 I guess the other thing we needed to do was to actually talk to one another about this kind of thing.  And that’s what we spent the better part of the weekend doing.  Talking.  Working things out.  And after hearing Blair kid Jim about “house rules” it seemed funny to find ourselves setting the ground rules for our relationship.

 The funniest thing about whole weekend was the perplexed look on my mother’s face when we showed up for dinner the next night. It wasn’t like there wasn’t enough food or room at the table for us.  Mom always cooks like she’s expecting a small army for dinner.  I guess she thought the blush was off the bloom of our romance…  Mom found out soon enough that it wasn’t when she asked me to get the dishes for dessert and Jim offered to help.  I guess we took a bit longer than expected.

 I know when Jim left Sunday evening, taking the late flight back, I felt better.  However, there were a few things I needed to take care of when I returned to Cascade.  One of them being, making it up to Blair for putting him in the middle of the whole situation. 

 I’d also made up my mind that before returning to Cascade, I had to make a stop in San Francisco to talk to Carolyn, if she’d be willing to meet me.  I know Jim values her friendship.  I’m not about to jeopardize that because I didn’t behave like the adult I’m supposed to be.

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