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My Sweet Lisa – Chapter Six

My Sweet Lisa is Book Seven in the Operation Quickline fiction series – Lisa’s kidnapping spurs a host of changes in both hers and Sid’s lives. Yep, it’s finally Real Love. Now what? You can read Chapter One here, or check out all the episodes so far here.

Lisa’s Voice

They airlifted me out of the desert scrub and hills. I had no idea where I was until the paramedics told me. I wasn’t even sure what day it was because I didn’t know how long the kidnappers had knocked me out for.

I was cold, shaky, tired, and hungry. But at least I wasn’t scared anymore. There was a team waiting when the medevac helicopter landed on the hospital roof, and they cheered as the paramedics pulled the gurney I was on off the chopper. A few minutes later, I was in the emergency room. A nurse helped me out of my clothes and into a hospital gown, then rehung the IV bag that the paramedics had attached to my arm. Getting those dirty underpants off felt like Heaven.

The nurse took my temperature, blood pressure, and pulse, and smiled.

“These look pretty good. Your family and boyfriend are here. Let me talk to the doctor, first, but do you think you’re up to seeing them?”

“Oh, please.” I wondered who she meant by boyfriend, then realized it had to Sid.

I laid back, trying to catch my breath in the curtained cubicle. A minute later, Sid drew back the curtain and grabbed me into his arms.

“I’m okay,” I said, crying. “I’m really okay.”

“I know, honey,” he gasped. “I’m just so glad you are.”

He kissed me and kissed me again, and I kissed him back.

“Sid Hackbirn,” said my mama’s voice. “You are not the only one who wants to hug her.”

“Mama!”

She was there next to me, holding me and crying, then Daddy, then Mae, and finally Nick. We were all crying freely. Sid got a hold of my free hand and wasn’t about to let go.

“Excuse me,” said the doctor. He was a tall man wearing scrubs and a white coat. “I do need to examine the patient.”

Mama, Daddy, Mae, and Nick moved away to make room for him. Sid hung on as much as he could. The doctor asked if I hurt anyplace, which I didn’t. My ankle had been rubbed raw by the manacle they’d put on me, but that seemed to be the worst of my various scrapes and bruises. He pressed my tummy and seemed satisfied. He checked me for head trauma and asked me what day it was.

I swallowed. “I don’t really know. They knocked me out at the beginning, and I don’t know how long I was out. It’s been about three, four days?”

“About five,” said Sid.

“Then this must be Tuesday,” I said.

“When did you last eat?” the doctor asked.

“This morning. It wasn’t a lot, but they did feed me three times a day. I missed lunch today because I got out of there.”

Sid squeezed my hand.

The doctor made a note on my chart, listened to my heart and chest, made another note, then clicked his pen and pocketed it.

“Well, it doesn’t look like you’ve suffered any physical trauma. I’d advise getting some counseling to deal with the mental trauma. But other than that, you’re in good shape, considering. I’m going to release you. If you have any additional symptoms, call your doctor right away. In the meantime, take it easy for a couple days and rest up.”

“I will.”

“Okay, then.” He disappeared.

“Thank you.” I looked around. “I’m surprised the cops aren’t here.”

“They already got the kidnappers,” Sid said. “But I imagine they’ll want to talk to you.” He held up my overnight bag. “I brought you some fresh clothes.”

“Thank you so much!”

The nurse came and shooed everyone out of the cubicle so that I could get dressed. She unhooked the IV and let me sit up long enough to get into some fresh underpants and a pair of jeans. Sid had even brought my beloved and dirty gray deck shoes.

“Oh. Where are the shoes I was wearing?” I asked the nurse.

“Your boyfriend has them. I’ve got the rest of the paperwork to do, but I’ll try and get you some Jello.”

She left and Sid came in and sat down next to me, his beautiful blue eyes gleaming.

“Your dad is taking Mae and Nick home in your truck,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind us using it. There wasn’t going to be room in the Beemer for all of us.”

“I don’t mind.”

“Your mother is trying to find you some food.” He took a deep breath, then looked me in the eyes. “And I’ve got something to say to you that I should have said a long time ago. Lisa, I… Lisa, I love you.”

“Sid?” I reached over and touched his cheek, my heart darned near pounding out of my chest.

“It’s not a line anymore.” He took my hand and softly kissed my fingers. “These past few days, I just finally had to face that what’s been happening to me all along was real love.”

“Oh, Sid.” I sniffed, then kissed him with all my heart.

He pulled back, smiling gently at me.

“It must have been so rough for you,” I said.

“It wasn’t easy, and it was even rougher on you. But you’re safe now, and that’s what counts.” He shifted. “The other interesting thing is that I have completely lost interest in sex.”

“You have?”

He trembled slightly. “Yeah. Go figure. I went out Friday night just to make sure I could still perform, but I haven’t been out since and haven’t wanted to, really.”

“Oh, my god. That’s amazing.”

“I don’t know how long it’s going to last, but I’ll be surprised if I go back to sleeping around.”

“Wow.” Something else occurred to me. “Lost interest completely?”

He chuckled, then smiled that hot little smile he gets when he’s thinking about making it with me. “Not completely.”

“Good.” I shifted with the pleasant warmth filling me.

“I do think we’d better wait on making promises and whatever until things have gotten back to normal and I see what I’m up against.”

“Of course.” I smiled. “Can I say it?”

He gazed at me, happily. “Sure.”

“I love you, Sid.”

“I think I like hearing it.” He bent forward and kissed me again.

Mama showed up then with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a tuna sandwich she’d gotten from the hospital cafeteria. I finished the soup just as the orderly came with the wheelchair, and the nurse gave me the final paperwork to sign.

We got home around seven-thirty. Neil had brought the kids by, and I was glad he had. The poor things had been traumatized by what had happened and they needed to see that I was okay. All of us were traumatized. Father John came by bringing with him the best wishes from the Single Adults Bible Study. My friends Kathy and Jesse, and Esther and Frank also showed. Esther brought in all the presents from my birthday party. I wasn’t up to opening them, though.

Then Eliana Martinez arrived with her mother. We held each other tightly as tears streamed down our faces. Sid had told me on the way home that Eliana was probably the intended target of the kidnappers.

“I am so sorry,” she said.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” I told her.

“I know. Mr. Hackbirn said so, too.” She sniffed and smiled. “And I must say thank you. You saved me.”

Mrs. Martinez said something, then hugged me as well.

“Mama says thank you, also.” Eliana turned to Jesse. “Jesse, you saved me, too. Thank you.”

She hugged him, and her mother hugged him, then the four of us hugged again.

“We are going into the Witness Protection Program,” Eliana said. “My father is coming from Colombia tonight, and then we will go.”

“Good luck and God bless you, Eliana,” I said.

She left, then Jesse and I both started weeping and hugging again.

I did enjoy the chiles rellenos that Conchetta had left for us. Most of the rest of the family and friends tried some and piled their plates with the enchiladas, instead. Daddy, Sid, Esther, and I ate as much of the chiles as we could get.

“What a crowd,” I gasped as I watched Daddy chatting with Father John in the living room.

“Yep,” said Sid. “It’s been Grand Central Station around here.”

“Oh, no.”

Sid chuckled. “It actually helped. Gave me something to do with myself.”

I thought of something else but couldn’t ask him about it with all the people around.

Sid invited Mae and Neil to stay over with the kids, then offered my parents his bedroom, since they’d been sleeping in mine.

“I’ll just sleep on the couch in Lisa’s sewing room,” he told Mama. “It’ll be the easiest way to deal with it.”

I had a feeling I knew why Sid was going to sleep in my sewing room and it wasn’t about ease. I swallowed. I’d had my nightmare every night I’d been in captivity, and it had gotten worse each time. It’s one I get when I’m stressed out, and Sid has been really good about being there for me when I have it.

Finally, the house settled down. I got ready for bed in my bathroom, then peeked out the bedroom door into the sewing room. Sid was putting a sheet on the couch, wearing his robe and pajama bottoms.

“Hey,” I said softly.

He looked up and squinted at me. He’s very nearsighted and wears contact lenses. He’d already taken them out for the night.

“Hey,” he said.

“I couldn’t ask earlier. What’s going on with our little side business?”

“Shut down.” Sid fluffed a pillow and dropped it at the far end of the couch. “We’ll probably have to wait for Henry to decide when we’re back up and running.” He stopped and looked at me. “Do you want to talk about what all happened to you?”

I shook my head. “Not right now. I’m hoping I’ll get a decent shot at some sleep tonight.”

Sid raised an eyebrow. “Fair enough.”

I waited, not sure of what to do. It felt like there was more to be said, but at the same time, I couldn’t figure out what.

“You okay?” Sid asked.

“Mostly. You?”

He sighed. “I think so. I suspect you and I have a lot to figure out and it’s not going to happen overnight.” He sighed again. “The most important thing now is that you’re here and you’re alright.” He smiled at me. “Commander Reyes, the hostage expert who was handling your case? Earlier today, he was convinced that the kidnappers had killed you, while I was convinced that you’d escaped. And Sunday, Henry wanted to know if you would take advantage of an opportunity, which I’m guessing is exactly what you did. I am so proud of you, Lisa. That’s the worst part of our side business, in a way. I can’t tell anybody just how good you are. And you are very good at what you do.”

“I was taught by the best,” I said.

Sid came over and gave me possibly the most incredibly warm kiss I’d ever received. I kissed him back as best I could.

He pulled away, turned me around, and pushed me back into my bedroom.

“My darling, I only have so much self-control,” he said.

I laughed.

“I love you, Sid.”

“I love you, Lisa.”

I did get through the night without a nightmare and was profoundly grateful. When the alarm on my clock radio went off at five-thirty, I slapped it off without thinking about it and slept on, not realizing that I had until I woke up for good around nine.

I was reasonably certain that Sid had let me sleep in. He has no problems waking me up if he expects me to be up at a specific time.

The day passed pleasantly, at least, until lunch. The kids quickly finished the salad that Conchetta had prepared, which left Sid, me, Mama, Daddy, Mae, and Neil still at the table.

“So, what are we going to do this afternoon?” Mama asked.

“We could go shopping,” I said, then grinned at Mae. “In my neighborhood.”

Mae groaned loudly.

“I don’t think we can get any appointments on this short a notice,” Sid said.

Mae groaned even more loudly. “Sid, we do not need appointments at any of those fancy clothing places. I don’t care what Lisa can afford. I can’t. Do you understand?”

“Sure,” Sid said.

“It’s okay, Mae,” Neil said.

“No, it isn’t,” she shot back.

There was an uncomfortable shuffle all around the table. Mae blinked her eyes a couple times.

She sat up. “Is everyone ready to come to our place on Sunday for Ellen’s birthday?”

Everyone looked at me.

“Sure,” I said.

Mae glanced at Neil, who nodded.

“Alright then,” Mae said. “You need to know. Yesterday, Neil got the offer for the associate professor position at USC.”

We all cheered.

“So, we’re putting our house on the market,” Mae said.

“Y’all are moving?” Mama asked, slightly incredulous.

“Yes,” said Neil. “We’ve got to get out of Orange County.”

Mae and Neil had lived in Fullerton, which is part of Orange County, almost as long as Darby had been alive. Neil had his dental practice there, and moving a practice, no matter how much Neil wanted to teach, was no simple thing.

“What happened?” I asked.

Mae sighed. “Darby’s problem last year. People have figured out that Darby was one of the kids Mr. Jefferson molested.”

“Oh, no,” I sighed. “He’s not getting any trouble, is he?”

“No, he’s fine,” said Mae.

“Mae’s the one who’s had the most trouble,” said Neil.

Mama fixed her eyes on Mae, then Neil. “I don’t understand.”

Neil reached over and patted Mama’s hand. “It’s just that we’ve discovered that a lot of the people we thought were friends really aren’t.”

“It started with our neighbors,” Mae said. “Maybe a month or two after the arrest. Suddenly, they didn’t want their kids playing at our house. Carol Lester wouldn’t even let her kids play with mine. I started noticing that the other moms in the Marriage Encounter group didn’t want to let their kids play at our house, either. Then Ruth Spinner made a snide comment about how she would never have missed the signs that her child was being molested.”

“You were doing everything you could.” Sid’s eyes began blazing. “Even the counselor you sent him to missed it. Hell, that’s why Darby was here when Nick arrived.”

“It’s okay, Sid.” Mae laughed ruefully. “Neil and I had already decided that he should apply for the associate professor job at USC, and they asked him to come on as an adjunct back in July. But then Ruth got nasty last fall, and when I went to Janelle, because it hurt, Janelle had to say she really couldn’t blame Ruth. Turns out all of them were judging me for the incident.”

Sid snorted. “How could anybody do that?”

“They were blaming me because they were scared,” said Mae. “If it could happen to me, as close to my kids as I am, it could happen to them. Although understanding that doesn’t make it any easier to live with.”

Neil patted her hand. “So, we decided that with the new job and all, it’s time for a fresh start. We don’t know where we’re going to land yet.”

“Moving pieces to re-arrange,” said Sid.

“Uh-huh.” Neil nodded. “But we’ll go ahead and get the house ready and up for sale as soon as possible, and then start looking at parishes and schools.”

“And money’s going to be really tight,” said Mae. “We want to get within decent reach of the dental school, and L.A.’s not a cheap place to live.”

“Well, your daddy and I can help out,” Mama said.

Sid shifted, and I pressed my foot onto his in warning. [I wasn’t going to say anything. I wanted to, but I knew better. – SEH]

Neil shook his head. “We’ll be fine, Mama.”

“I’m sure you will,” Daddy said. “But we can help out and we’d like to have the opportunity.”

He glanced over at Sid, and Sid smiled.

The afternoon went on. Mama and Neil got into an extended discussion about what would be needed to fix the house up. I watched movies with the kids. Sid hovered as closely as he dared – he knows how much I hate being hovered over. At dinner, Mama and Daddy announced that they would be staying in Southern California through Darby’s birthday on April fifteenth. That way they’d get to celebrate Ellen’s birthday and Easter, too. However, they were going to stay at Mae and Neil’s to help them get the house ready to be sold. After dinner and everyone who was leaving had left, Nick asked if he could go home the next day.

“I talked to Mom,” he said. “She says it’s okay.”

Sid looked at me. I nodded.

“Sure. I’ll get the tickets first thing in the morning,” Sid said.

Nick gave me a long hug. “I’m so glad you’re back, Lisa. I don’t think I could have taken it if you hadn’t.”

“Nick, I will always be around, one way or another.” I touched his chest. “There will probably come a day when where I am is in your heart and memories, but I will be there, because I love you.”

“I love you, too, Lisa.” He trembled slightly and hung on almost as if he were afraid I’d disappear right then and there.

Later, after I’d gotten ready for bed, I made a decision and opened the door to my sewing room. Sid was unfolding the blanket.

“You know, I wouldn’t mind if you wanted to sleep in my bed tonight,” I said. “With me.”

Sid laughed. “That’s quite a change.”

“I can bend, too.” I shrugged. “And that couch can’t be that comfortable.”

Sid looked at it. “It’s comfortable enough, and I think we’re better off keeping the status quo for now.”

“Oh. This is quite a switch.”

“It most certainly is.” He looked up at me and smiled that sweet, really hot little smile of his. “Don’t worry, Lisapet. I seriously doubt it will be that long.”

“Okay. Oh, um. Today, at lunch, after Daddy offered to help out Mae and Neil, he gave you this weird look and you smiled.”

“Yeah.” Sid smiled. “He was reminding me that he still worries about Neil. We had quite a good little chat this morning before you got up. He’s not quite ready to roll out the welcome mat for me, but as he put it, he can see which way the wind is blowing.” Sid paused. “He asked me what I was going to do about you.”

“He shouldn’t have done that!”

Sid shook his head. “He had every right and reason to this time. It wasn’t the patriarchy. He was genuinely concerned about his daughter, who he loves, and who he almost lost this past week. I told him I didn’t know yet.” He came over to me and touched my cheek. “Lisa, things are changing for us, there’s no question about that. I just have no idea how it’s going to play out. And, not to imply that I had a harder time of it. That would be ridiculous. But last week shook me to my core in a way I have never been shook before, and that includes Vietnam.”

I took his hand and kissed it. “I’m so sorry, Sid. I mean, I’m not apologizing. I just feel bad that you went through hell, too.”

“It was probably a good thing. It got me to acknowledge what has been going on between us since shortly after I met you. That, for the first time in my life, I was in love, and I mean the real thing.” He put his forehead against mine. “I had no idea, no frame of reference for it. I just knew that you were incredibly special.”

“As did I.” I smiled and gazed into his gorgeous eyes. “You sure you’re not going to be too grumpy.”

Since one of the reasons Sid slept around was that he used sex to relax when he was stressed, he tended to get really cranky when he had to do without.

“My sweet, sweet Lisa,” Sid said, chuckling and gently holding my chin. “Those five days you were gone put me through more stress than I’ve known in a long time, and I still didn’t get grumpy or want sex. I think I’ll be able to manage. Now, good night.”

We kissed, and while it was sweet and tender, the passion in me grew. He groaned.

“Damn it, Lisa. I can’t make the promise yet.”

“What do you mean?”

“I can’t promise I’ll be faithful.” He pulled away from me and started pacing. “Yeah, I’ll give you good odds at this point. You know that I want to be. I have for a while now. It’s just that I didn’t think I could. Well, I now think I can. I just don’t know that I can. Do you understand that?”

“I think so. I mean, this is a big change for you.”

He swore, then smiled. “It’s a big change for both of us.” He looked at me again, then laid his hand on my shoulder. “Do you think you can hold on a little longer? I’m on my way.”

I grabbed his hand and kissed it. “I love you either way. That’s all that really matters.”

He pulled me into his arms and just held me. I could not believe how much I loved him in that moment. We kissed and I went to my bed alone. Yes, things were changing.

Please talk to me. I'd love to hear from you.

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