Hannah awoke in the mid afternoon when the sun was still shining brightly. The tickling sensation on her arm made her look up into blue eyes that twinkled back at her in merriment.
"How long have you been up?" Hannah asked in a sleep-husky voice.
Donovan smiled. "Long enough to count my blessings when I woke up and found you in my arms. Everything tends to come into focus differently when I concentrate on that."
"Umm," Hannah replied, stretching into the hug Donovan held her in. "I can agree with that. Being here has always been the safest place in the world for me, even in my dreams." She stretched again and sat up. "But right now, I think I need to get us something fixed to eat so we can get on the road." She grimaced internally. She would have preferred to fly, but given Donovan's reaction to her first flight and the need to sedate her, Hannah had decided that she could suffer a road trip this one time.
Hannah rolled out of bed and headed for the kitchen, grateful they had picked up a few essentials the night before. Now she went in and quickly prepared another breakfast meal, knowing they would have to go shopping again as soon as the got back from Katie's. Much as she and Donovan both enjoyed breakfast food, it could get old very quickly if that was all you had.
They ate and showered then got dressed. It was then that Hannah noted what a difference clothing made in the way Donovan presented herself. With the disappearance of the leather pants, knee-high boots and loose-fitting silk shirt, so went any impression that Donovan could be mistaken for a man. The shorts hugged the curve of her hips and the T-shirt accentuated the fullness of her breasts. Donovan stood staring at her reflection unmoving for a full minute before her stillness caught Hannah's attention.
"Donovan, love? What's wrong?"
"I do not... I mean, I am not...." She looked at Hannah in dismay. "Angel, you know I am a woman. *I* know I am a woman. But for all of my adult life I have had to be a man in public to succeed. I do... not... I am not sure... I can... do... this. Be a woman for others, I mean."
"Donovan, if you are uncomfortable, wear these," handing her a pair of jeans and an oxford. "They will be hotter, but they are also not as revealing."
Donovan accepted the alternate clothing with a nod and a smile. When she stripped out of the shorts and t-shirt, Hannah gasped and Donovan whirled in apprehension.
"What? Is something wrong, beloved?"
Hannah released a shuddering breath and swallowed hard. Her voice took on a husky tinge as she re-crossed the room to gently finger the silk hi-cut panties Donovan had chosen to wear. Donovan's face flushed a bright red as Hannah continued to absently fondle the garment, even as her green eyes devoured the flesh that was both hidden and exposed.
Hannah cleared her throat before speaking. "No, love, nothing is wrong. I am pleasantly surprised and very turned on by your choice, but absolutely nothing is wrong." Hannah continued to gently touch and stare, and Donovan knew by the darkening of Hannah's eyes and the flaring of her nostrils exactly what being turned on was.
"This was a good choice then? You have always let me be a woman and I wanted to show you how much I enjoy that, even though it will always be just between us."
"It was a great choice, sweetheart," she said looking into blue eyes so Donovan could read the sincerity and the desire so clear in Hannah's eyes. Hannah leaned up and kissed Donovan quickly but thoroughly. Then she stepped back a bit breathless. "But we need to get down to Katie's tonight. Hold that thought for me?"
Donovan nodded vigorously, eyes wide.
Hannah chuckled at her enthusiasm, drawing a glare before a smile broke through. "C'mon. Sooner we leave, sooner we get there and get this over with."
Donovan didn't comment until they were in the car and headed out of the city. She watched avidly the complicated motions it took to maneuver the vehicle down the road. Hannah noticed, but didn't say anything until they were far out into the countryside, and nearing her small hometown.
She gave thanks for the lateness of the setting summer sun as she pulled off the side of the road. Hannah sat still for a moment then turned her attention to Donavan who returned the look curiously. Without ceremony, Hannah opened her door and came around to the other side and opened Donovan's. Donovan stepped out of the car and waited for some sort of instruction. Hannah merely slid in the passenger seat and closed the door. Donovan raised an eyebrow in question.
Hannah indicated the empty driver's seat. "I thought you might want to give it a try." Donovan ran around the other side excited as a kid.
She slipped into the seat with her knees tucked under her chin. Hannah blushed and reached over to slide the seat back from the steering wheel. "Sorry, love. Forgot about that."
Donovan nodded absently, her attention taken by the myriad of gauges and dials in front of her. "Now, the car is already started," Hannah commented, "so put your right foot on the brake pedal. No, the long one. There ya go. Now ease this lever until it is in 'D', and gently release the brake."
They started slowly rolling forward, and Donovan slammed her foot on the brake again. And so the driving lesson continued until a short while later, a police cruiser came up behind the car. Hannah saw it and reached over to put the car in park, then opened her door.
"Wait right here, love," she said to Donovan. "I'll be right back."
The officer exited his car before the report came back when he saw the passenger door open. He walked towards the vehicle with one hand on his gun, trying to keep an eye out for trouble. "Is there a problem, Miss?"
"I'm sorry officer...." Hannah stopped speaking in stunned silence. "Frank?"
The policeman's head snapped around so rapidly he felt the vertebrae pop down to his shoulders. "Hannah?? Oh my God! Hannah Reilly??" He lifted her up in his arms and hugged her close for long minutes.
Donovan noted their interaction and eased her foot from the brake pad once more. When she was sure that the car wasn't going to move, she opened the door and walked towards the rear of the car. Silently she watched the reunion, trying to place the face of the good-looking man holding Hannah so possessively in his arms.
When Hannah and Frank broke apart, Hannah immediately slipped to Donovan's side, encircling her in a protective embrace.
"Donovan, you remember Frank... Katie's husband?" Hannah waited a moment while Donovan's catalogue memory placed him. She turned back to Frank. "And Frank, you remember Donovan, of course."
He extended his hand, and Donovan accepted it. "You bet I do," he said casually. "Katie and I have spoken of you both often," he added, not mentioning the many nights when Katie had railed about their disappearance.
"So what was going on, or dare I ask?" Frank said with a grin. "Katie doesn't know you're coming, does she?"
"Donovan was getting her first driving lesson, and no. I didn't know how to do this over the phone."
Frank nodded understanding what Hannah was saying. This was something that needed to be seen to be believed. "How would you like an escort then? I'd like to see her face when she realizes it's you."
"Good idea. Guess that means I'm driving again," Hannah said with a look at Donovan. Donovan simply nodded almost guiltily relieved. Driving had been much more difficult a skill to master than she'd suspected it would be.
"Lead on, MacDuff," Hannah commented to Frank with a grin. "Let's get this show on the road."
It had gotten progressively darker as they had talked, so it was full dark before they pulled into the small town Hannah had grown up in calling home. Hannah carefully followed along behind Frank, looking around with shrewd eyes to see the many changes that had occurred in her absence.
Donovan looked around noting the similarities and the differences between this place and their home in Britain. Then she noticed Hannah gripping and releasing the steering wheel in a nervous manner. She decided to call her on it.
"Angel, is there a problem?"
"Huh? Oh no. Why do you ask?"
Donovan's large hand covered Hannah's smaller one in a comforting gesture. "You seem upset or on edge about something. Can I help?"
Hannah bit the edge of her lip, stopping the car at a stop sign and looking both ways before moving forward again. "I'm a little nervous. Katie was always my best friend aside from you, and we've always been a part of each others' lives... until now. We've never gone very long without calling or writing or emailing news and gossip to one another when we can't get together the old fashioned way. I'm just concerned she may be angry at me for having been gone so long."
Donovan squeezed Hannah's hand. "She probably will be angry at first, and then she will be thankful you are home and will welcome you with open arms."
"Thank you, love. You're probably right," Hannah said with a tense smile. Then they were pulling into Frank and Katie's front yard, and the time for worry and speculation was over. They opened the doors and got out of the car, and Donovan came round to stand at Hannah's side.
The porch light flipped on as Frank stepped from his cruiser and he motioned for them to wait as the screen door opened and a VERY pregnant Katie stepped out onto the porch.
"Frank, sweetheart?" she called out as he approached the steps. "Is something wrong? Who's with you?"
Frank took Katie's arm and led her down the steps carefully, mindful of her condition. "I have someone here I think you'll wanna talk to, honey."
Katie's eyes remained on the ground, watching her steps vigilantly to avoid a fall. So they were to the second car before she looked up and saw....
"Hannah?" She covered her mouth with her hands and stood breathing, unable to quite believe what her eyes were telling her.
"Hi, Katie," Hannah said softly, and those spoken words seemed to release Katie from the spell that held her motionless. With a cry, she walked forward into Hannah's embrace and just held on for dear life while Hannah rocked her gently back and forth. Finally, Katie relaxed her gripped on Hannah and leaned back far enough to punch her in the arm.
"Where have you been? Do you know how worried I have been?? How sad... how angry... how... how... ARGH!!!" Katie punched Hannah again then looked down at her hand. "God, what have you been doing to yourself? I think I broke it."
"It's a long story. Can we come in?"
Hannah pointed behind her, and for the first time Katie saw Donovan standing quietly behind Hannah. "Donovan?"
"Hello, Katie. You look well."
"I look like a beached whale and I feel like one too. But thank you. It's good to see you again. You look wonderful... both of you." Before Donovan could respond, Katie turned and took Frank's arm. "Ya'll come on inside. I need to get off my feet."
They followed slowly, and Donovan wrapped an arm around Hannah's shoulders, smiling when Hannah's arm snaked around her waist.
"Are you all right, beloved?" gently rubbing the spot Katie had hit. "She hit you quite hard."
"Yeah, but it's all muscle where she hit. It probably hurt her worse than it did me. Coulda been worse. Has been worse, actually. She nearly broke my ribs when I came home for her wedding."
Hannah chuckled in memory and Donovan joined her. "It is a good thing she didn't swing again. She would have hit me."
Hannah looked at Donovan, easily recognizing the protective look on her face. She arched a brow and Donovan shrugged. "I thought she had expressed enough anger. I was not going to let her hit you again."
"I love you," Hannah said.
Donovan smiled. "I love you too."
Then they were crossing the threshold and entering Katie's home.
It was late, or rather, very early in the morning when Hannah finally stopped talking. It was Frank returning from his swing shift that clued them all in to the fact that it was so late. Katie offered them a bed and they accepted, knowing she still had lots of questions.
Frank led them upstairs to their bedroom and with a muted goodnight, left them to get settled. It didn't take long before they were crawling together between clean sheets. Minutes later, they were sound asleep, exhausted from the emotions and the heat of the day.
It wasn't too late when they rose the following morning, and they dressed and went downstairs for coffee. The house was still quiet, and they figured Frank and Katie were still sleeping. Much to Donovan's surprise, Hannah began to scrounge around the kitchen looking for tea. When she found it, she flipped the coffee on for herself and began filling the kettle with water to fix tea for Donovan.
Frank and Katie had a flat surface stove, and Donovan unknowingly placed her hand down on the burner Hannah had just turned on. It didn't take but a second to discover her mistake though, and she jerked her fingers free from the source immediately. Hannah saw it and grabbed Donovan by the wrist, quickly running her fingers underneath cold water.
"I'm sorry, love. I didn't think to tell you about that."
"It is different from yours," Donovan commented, wincing at the sting from the burn. Hannah led her over to a chair at the table and applied some aloe to Donovan's fingers.
"Yeah, it is. It didn't even occur to me... God, I'm sorry, sweetheart. That has got to hurt."
"It is not that bad, Angel. I have certainly had worse. But I would not object to you kissing and making it better later," Donovan teased. In truth, it did hurt quite a bit, but she had no desire to see Hannah suffering over what was an accident.
Hannah smiled, knowing what Donovan was up to and loving her more for it. She wiggled her eyebrows rakishly. "I think I can do that," and she lifted the fingers to her lips. Just then the tea kettle whistled, and she moved away from Donovan. "Let me fix your tea and my coffee, and we can go out onto the deck."
They went outside and sat on the deck, enjoying the relative peace of the morning. It was still hot, though not the unbearable heat of mid-afternoon, and Donovan sat comfortably in the odd chairs that were around the pool.
She watched as Hannah laid her chaise flat and stretched out in the sun. With a bit of finagling, Donovan managed to do the same with her own and lay back, feeling Hannah's fingers curl around her good hand, and reveling in the touch.
The warmth and their contentment had almost lulled them back to sleep, and they were in fact in a state of drowsiness when Franks' shocked exclamation brought them out of their stupor and to their feet in the same swift motion.
"YOU'RE A WOMAN!!!"
Donovan looked down at herself, realizing that her prone position had outlined her breasts. She looked back at Frank, but Hannah stepped in front of her before she could speak.
"Frank, she's *always* been a woman. Surely you knew that! Didn't Katie...?"
Frank shook his head adamantly. "Nope, not a word. And I just assumed... I mean, when I saw you together at the Ball, I thought Donovan was a man. She was the leader of the pirate crew, and I thought... well, I obviously thought wrong."
"Is it a problem?"
He shrugged. "Can't say that I've really thought about it, but I dunno. Not something I approve of necessarily, but then you don't need my approval, do you? And you look really happy, Little H. That's the most important thing to me. So no... it's not a problem. I would kinda like to get to know Donovan a little better though. I think it's only fair."
"I am agreeable to that," Donovan answered unexpectedly from behind Hannah.
"Wonderful. Now that we are all satisfied, do ya'll think someone could take me to the hospital?" Katie asked from the doorway. "My water just broke."
Frank had the opportunity to get to know Donovan as a person. He found to his surprise he liked Donovan for herself but he was still having issues with the fact that she was a woman who loved women. Then he realized that Donovan loved Hannah and Hannah loved Donovan, and that made them both happy. He decided that was enough, and the rest could take care of itself. He never even knew he has taken the first step towards broadening his horizons.
After three days, Katie came home with her new son Aaron, and Hannah and Donovan made preparations to go back to the city.
"I wish ya'll didn't have to go back so soon," Katie said. "I've missed you. I never would have suspected when we got together for my wedding three years ago that so much would have changed."
"Katie, it has and yet it hasn't really, and you and Frank need some time to enjoy with the new baby. I'm glad for the time we've had."
"So am I, hon." Katie pulled Hannah aside, and Frank took the hint and took Donovan to the kitchen. "Do me a favor...?"
Hannah nodded. "If I can, sure."
"I know from what you said last night that ya'll have to make a decision on what time you're gonna live in soon. If ya'll decide to go back to Donovan's time, will you at least call me and let me know? Let me say goodbye this time?"
Hannah took Katie in her arms and hugged her fiercely. "You bet I will. If I have any control of it at all, we will have a few days together first. But Katie, Donovan and I haven't even talked about it. We may end up here. If we do...."
"If you do, I'll expect you to be around more. I'd like Aaron to get to know you."
"I'd like that too," Hannah said, looking down at the not-so-little bundle she held in her arms. "I've missed you as well."
"Well, whatever you decide, know that Frank and I love you both. It may take him a while to get past the woman thing, but he really likes Donovan and he is trying to understand. I think the fact that he can see the love between you as something beautiful just like it is for us has helped tremendously. Give him some time... I think he's more open-minded than he's ready to admit to."
"I hope so. I know he and Donovan have had some time to bond, and she mentioned last night that he seemed more comfortable every time they talked."
Donovan and Frank came out of the kitchen laughing, and Hannah took that as her cue to leave. She kissed Aaron's head, and passed him to his mother before taking Katie in a big hug. "I'll call you when we get back to the city, and as soon as we make a decision, I'll let you know."
"Whatever you decide, Hannah, do it for yourselves and not anyone else. Do what makes you happy."
The two friends hugged again and Donovan said her goodbyes before going to stand by the car to wait for Hannah. Though she'd made great progress with both Frank and Katie, she still wanted to allow Hannah a little privacy to say goodbye to those she considered her family.
Frank wrapped his arm around Hannah and hugged her before whispering into her ear. "I really do like her, Hannah, and she has obviously been so good for you and to you. I've never seen you so happy. I'm glad you have each other."
"So am I, Frankie. Thank you for accepting us."
He kissed her cheek and started escorting her to the car. "Thank you for helping me become a better person."
He opened the door for Hannah, and waited for her to situate herself before closing it. She started the car and rolled down the window.
"Drive safe," Frank cautioned. "Things are starting to pick up for the holidays."
Hannah nodded. "We will. I promised Katie a phone call tonight." And they eased out of the driveway and headed back to the city.
They got back to the city safely, and Hannah met with Charlie the following day to discuss the book. She noticed a restlessness in Donovan that she felt echoed in herself. She knew they were going to have to make a decision soon. They were running out of time.
"Donovan?" Hannah asked two evenings later. Hannah had driven them out to the beach and they were walking along the shore watching the waves crash as the tide came in. It was near sunset, and amazingly, they had the beach to themselves at the moment.
"Yes, Angel," came the reply, though Donovan was fairly certain what was on Hannah's mind.
"What are we going to do?" straight to the point.
"What do you want to do, beloved?"
"Uh uh... oh no. I asked you first."
Donovan took Hannah's hand in her own and led her to a dune where they could sit and watch the twilight. She seated herself and pulled Hannah into her, just watching the waves. After a while, near darkness settled and Donovan opened her mouth to speak.
"I like it here, mostly. The noise is somewhat deafening and the air is think and heavy, but I find it interesting. The conveniences you have, and I know I have only touched the surface of what is available these days, they are overwhelmingly decadent and I could grow accustomed to such leisure easily."
When Donovan didn't say any more, Hannah turned to look at her. "But...?"
"But what, beloved? If you want to live here, I am happy to stay with you."
"But you'd be happier at home... on the island."
Donovan couldn't help the flicker of truth that flashed through her eyes at that statement. Hannah saw it and grinned.
"So would I, love," Hannah admitted, nearly being crushed by the hug that followed. "I have about three days to wrap things up here, and then we can go home for good."
Hannah rose and wiped the sand off herself, then offered a hand to Donovan. "C'mon, sweetheart. Let's go home."
They arrived back at Hannah's apartment late, and made love passionately until nearly dawn. Just as Hannah was falling asleep in Donovan's arms, she whispered, "I love you, Donovan. Forever."
"Across time, Angel. Always," came the sleepy response. Then they fell asleep tangled in one another's arms.
When Hannah woke up much later, Donovan was gone.
Hannah made a few phone calls, the first being to Katie, and then began preparing things for her permanent disappearance from this time. She had hoped that Donovan had gone out for a stroll that morning, but as morning became noon and then mid-afternoon, she started to worry about Donovan's absence. Though there was nothing Donovan could do to expedite their return to the nineteenth century, Hannah had counted on Donovan's presence for moral support.
When Katie arrived with Aaron in tow, Hannah put off her questions about Donovan with the excuse that she had needed to return to the island to prepare things on that end. But the truth was, Hannah didn't know where Donovan was and was torn between anger and worry.
Fortunately, the drive to the city had worn out both Katie and Aaron, and everyone retired to bed rather early.
As soon as Hannah drifted to sleep, her soul began searching for its mate in the special place they had always shared. When she reached the meadow, Hannah saw Donovan waiting for her on the rock overlooking the stream, and rushed down to meet her.
Donovan waited with open arms, muttering words that Hannah did not understand. Finally the embrace ended and Hannah pulled back far enough to understand what Donovan was saying.
"Beloved, what happened? I remember falling asleep with you and then.... I awakened this morning and you were not here. Where did you go? How did we get separated again?"
Hannah was puzzled. "Donovan, where did we fall asleep?"
"In our bed at the cottage." Donovan's brows scrunched up. "Did I miss something?"
"Maybe. Or maybe I did. Do you remember anything about visiting my time?"
Donovan shook her head. "No, I know we talked about it, but that was the extent of it, except for that one brief time at Jack's before we went back to Britain. I would like to see if I can implement some of the progress you and Jack showed me into our home here. Why?"
"Because I am at my home in the States in my time... where you and I have been for the last couple weeks. I wonder why you went back without me, and with no memory of what has happened."
"I had some odd dreams. Are you telling me they were not dreams, but things that really happened?"
"Well, depending on what the dreams were about, yeah."
"I will do some research, and see what I can find out. Are you coming home soon?" said with the slightest trepidation in her voice.
"I'm leaving tomorrow night. I will be there on the morning of the Ball, if I have things figured right in our time differences."
Donovan nodded. "I will be waiting at the portal."
"Good. Now will you hold me? I miss you."
Without a word, Donovan tucked Hannah into her body, and they fell asleep in their dreams to the beating of their hearts.
Hannah spent a good portion of the following day badgering, pleading, cajoling, and otherwise harassing people to get everything done she needed to finished up before Katie took her to the airport. Everything was transferred to Katie and Frank, and there were even provisions for Aaron and any siblings he might have in the future.
She sat down with Charlie, and after some serious discussion, they decided the proceeds for Hannah's novel, Most Cherished Dreams, would go to set up a shelter for battered women and children.
"You're doing a good thing here, Hannah, because this book is gonna be a best seller."
"I'm glad, Charlie. This book is very personal for me. It's gratifying to know you think it will do well."
"I don't think, babe... I know."
"Good. It will take care of a lot of women then. Are you gonna be okay administering it with Katie?"
"Yep, though I don't understand your reluctance to be involved." Charlie held up a hand. "I know, I know... you're gonna be on an island where you can't be reached. Not like you couldn't come back once in a while," she muttered.
"I know, babe. I'm just gonna miss ya."
Hannah opened her arms and she and Charlie exchanged a brief hug. "Thank you, Charlie. You've always been a good friend. I'm gonna miss you."
Charlie kissed the top of Hannah's head. "I'm gonna miss you too, Hannah. And much as it breaks my heart to admit it, I'm glad you found Donovan. Ya'll seem to have something pretty special together."
"Thank you, Charlie. We do."
The final goodbye was a little more emotional since Katie now understood the extent of what Hannah's leaving really meant.
"I'm really gonna miss you, Hannah. I don't know what I'm gonna do without you in my life anymore."
"You're gonna remember me, just like I'm gonna remember you. And when all is said and done, we will still be friends forever in our hearts."
"I'm glad I have the Trudy and Evan stories."
Hannah chuckled. "Yeah, those are pretty true to life for us, aren't they? There are a few that haven't been published yet locked up in the trunks at the penthouse. You can decide whether you wanna keep or share them. Charlie will recognize them and she will get them to Anita if you decide you want to publish them."
The call for Hannah's flight came across the PA system and they stood together. Hannah kissed Aaron one more time, then handed him back to his mama. "I love you, Katie," Hannah said, taking her best friend into a strong hug.
"I love you back, Hannah," Katie replied, returning the embrace fiercely. The call went out again and they separated, wiping their eyes.
"I'm gonna miss you, but I want you to go and be happy. You waited a lifetime for this."
"Thanks, Katie. I'll miss you too." Hannah ran out of words and simply kissed them both, then ran for her flight without looking back.
The sun wasn't even up when the helicopter landed on the tiny island, and Merry stood waiting by her jeep yawning. As soon as it had safely touched down, Hannah thanked her pilot and ran for the jeep. Merry chuckled at her enthusiasm, then blinked the sleep from her eyes again, and headed out to Jack's place.
Hannah thanked Merry and moved around to the back of the house, locating the path easily. The moonlight was still bright and with lighthearted steps, she ran down the trail towards the beach.
She slowed when she was nearing the portal, knowing the Donovan wasn't expecting her until a little later in the day. She debated on waiting for Donovan to arrive, and then it didn't matter as Donovan stepped from the portal.
It occurred to Hannah to ask how she knew for the millisecond it took her feet to propel her forward into Donovan's arms. Then all thought was lost as their lips met and Donovan rocked them slowly back and forth.
"Welcome back, beloved," she said as they pull apart slightly.
"Take me home, love."
Donovan let Hannah slide down her body, then extended her hand. Together they walked into the past and their future.
Dear Uncle Jack, (the letter read)
I don't know if or when you'll get to read this. I'm gonna give this to Satosh (Merry's ancestor) and asked that it be passed down through her family with instructions on when to deliver this to you. I think it will work and I have faith that you will get to read this before I return for the final time to your timeline.
Donovan and I made the decision to live in the nineteenth century, and then we discovered that she didn't actually have a choice. The decision was mine alone, and I'm still not sure how it worked. I know she was with me in the future; I have proof. But she swears she never left the cottage or the island once we left your place that morning. For her, our experiences in the future seem to be nothing but a series of bizarre dreams. We think it has something to do with the fact that her existence in my time was tied into my will to be there, because as soon as the decision was cemented in our hearts, she was gone. Personally I think it was the easiest way for Donovan's mind to rationalize all the things she saw because she told me that several times during her dreams she seemed to lose touch with my time. Maybe one day I'll be able to convince her of the reality of her actually having been with me in my time. Until then, we are still searching for answers, but it is something she may never be convinced of.
Jack, I want you to know how much I appreciated having you in my life. I loved Daddy very much, but you were always a special part of my life from the time I was born. I don't want you to think you were ever anything less than you were, and I find that I miss having you around to talk to. So if you don't mind, I will write you letters from time to time. I don't know if you will get them all, but it is a comfort to me knowing I can reach across time to talk to you through them.
Let me bring you up to date on our life here. Donovan retired from the Navy. The injury she sustained in the battle that involved the Hawke and the slave ship was made out to be more than it was, and with both the priest's report and Captain Meredith's confirmation, Captain Donovan Scott was honorably retired from the service of the Royal Navy.
John Merryweather assumed command of the Maiden, and he and the crew have continued to look out for the native people around the Islands. He brings Donovan's small stipend in every so often; otherwise we don't get to see them very much. The Maiden has been very busy keeping the merchants on the straight and narrow, and surprisingly, more and more of the Crown's ships have followed her example.
Both the Maiden and the Hawke do stop by though, and Captains Merryweather and Meredith are good to bring a small supply of chocolate and a new writing tablet for me when they come. I know it is bribery for chocolate cake, but as long as they keep bringing in the chocolate, I am happy to share some with them. The fact that they also keep me well supplied with tablets and ink is a bonus.
John and Cookie, whose real name was Steven I discovered, had a beautiful commitment ceremony here. Donovan presided, and I thought she was going to bust a button at being asked. Seems they have been a couple for several years and seeing Donovan and I get married prompted them to acknowledge their love for one another publicly. They can't admit to it beyond us and the crew of course, but it is good to see them take a step towards being happy together.
Many of the other men have families here, and some of them have families back in Britain as well. It is much as Donovan told me... there are many secrets here among them. They were willing to keep hers because she protected theirs.
Everything has not been smooth. I am still adjusting to the lack of conveniences that I was used to. The hardest thing for me is no longer having a coffee maker and maintaining the stove fires properly, but I am learning. Donovan continues to work towards making a bathroom much more user-friendly, and I will admit to being spoiled by all the work she's put into it. Of course, she enjoys the pampering running warm water allows us just as much.
Donovan's mother hasn't come around as much as I had hoped she would, though she and Ernst did take a trip over on one of the merchant ships. The Captain and Ernst were old friends and Ernst called in a favor to get them a visit here. Part of Margaret's problem was probably the lingering side effects of the seasickness that plagued her on their voyage. But another part remains that Donovan and I are both women. I continue to hope she will see that love is love whatever its form. But even most people in my own time can't see that. How can I expect that from the fiercely religious woman my mother-in-law is? At least she is making an effort.
Mama (Satosh's mother) is a good friend and she is giving me lessons on many of the different skills necessary I need to contribute here. Some of them are harder than others, but Mama is patient with me, as is Donovan. Good thing too, because there are just some things I despair of ever actually mastering. But I keep trying. Donovan deserves my very best. It is what she continues to give me.
It's funny, Uncle Jack. When I knew the portal was gonna close behind us, I was a little afraid. It was different when I knew we could cross back and forth, but knowing once we crossed through that doorway this time that it really was final was frankly scary. But you know something, Uncle Jack? When I heard the portal close behind us, and we actually heard it close, I felt a sense of relief. Knowing I had made the right decision made all the difference.
I love being here. It is home to me, though anywhere Donovan chooses to be is that for me. I am learning to appreciate the simple things in life, and I wouldn't trade where I am for anything or anywhere in the world. This is right for me, and it is right for us.
I suppose I need to go for now. Donovan fixed us a picnic, and we are going down to the shore to watch the sunset. One of the great things about being on an island out in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle is that we can choose to watch sunrises or sunsets.
I want you to know how happy I am here, Uncle Jack. And do one thing for me, will ya? Go see a doctor, and take the best care of yourself that you can. The world needs people like you to stick around a long time. Thank you for helping me find the woman of my dreams. Thank you for helping me find Blue Eyes.
All my love,
Jack finished the letter and folded it up, replacing it in the envelope thoughtfully before turning to Merry.
"Thank you, Merry. I guess you've held on to this for a very long time."
"Well, Jack... they've been in the family for several generations. I hope they gave you some insight."
"I suppose they did," Jack responded. "They gave me some answers. Merry, if I give you something to hold onto to give to Hannah when she returns, would you mind...?"
Merry smiled and patted his arm as she stood. "Of course, Jack. You know where to find me when you're done."
Jack nodded and shut the door behind her before going to his desk. Then pulled out a sheet of paper and began to write: Dear Hannah....
And They Lived Happily Ever After....
04/03 - 01/04