Some stories defy explanation. This is certainly one of them.
Chip Morton stared at his most trusted friend on the planet. Lee Crane lounged on the couch in his living room, his left leg propped up on the coffee table. "I cannot believe this," Chip announced for what Lee swore was the fourth time since he and Wendy had gotten home from the hospital. Chip's eyes were cold as ice and disgust oozed from every fiber of his being. Lee fidgeted and found it hard to meet his friend's gaze.
"It's not like I planned it. It just sort of happened," Lee pleaded.
Chip was unimpressed. "Lee, these things don't just happened and not with my sister!"
"Chip, come on. You know I would never have done it on purpose. It was an accident!" Lee tossed back.
"You could have taken a few precautions. Now you have to live with this accident as you call it," Chip growled. He had taken to pacing now, back and forth in front of Lee as the dark haired young man sprawled on the couch.
"We'll deal with it on a day to day basis. Nothing’s changed between Wendy and me," Lee said, hoping to calm his agitated friend.
"She doesn't resent this? Has she told Mom yet?"
"She is supposed to tell her later this week and no—she doesn't resent it. We talked about it and I believe her. I apologized to her and she accepted. She's willing to keep her doctor appointments and follow Jamie's instructions to the letter."
Chip took a deep calming breath and let it out slowly. He should have known this was bound to happen. Lee's reputation, well, everybody knew about Lee Crane. But did he have to involve his baby sister?
"Don't yell at him, Chip. It's not like it was completely his fault," Wendy's voice called out from Lee's kitchen. Both men turned to see the platinum blond woman standing in the doorway. Chip surged forward to aid his sister.
"Wen, you shouldn't be up and around right now, Jamie told you to take it easy. Let me help you to a chair," Chip gushed, taking in his sister's condition.
But Wendy raised a hand, forestalling her brother's offer. "Chip, I appreciate the offer, but I have to do this on my own. You can't be around every day. I have to learn how to do this. Besides it's not like I haven't done this before."
"Before? You done this before? When? Does Mom know?" Chip screeched, completely blown away by the news.
"Yes, while back when I was still in Washington,” she said vaguely. “I had a very good doctor who fixed me up in no time flat, and no Mom doesn't know about that one and don't you dare tell her. She worries enough about you and Lee, and I don't want to add to that. I'll give Mom a call later this week when things slow down a bit."
Chip watched his sister hobble into the living room, maneuvering slowly around the furniture, coming to a stately halt in front of the couch Lee was currently residing on. With an inelegant grunt, she dropped on to the couch and scooted next to Lee. Crane dropped his left arm around her shoulders while Wendy propped her right leg next to his left, bumping his bare foot playfully with hers.
Chip continued to cast anxious glances at his sister, not used to seeing her in this unwieldy state and disgusted glances at his best friend for putting his sister in her current condition. A knock on the back door got their attention. Chip peered around the kitchen door to see the admiral and Serena standing on the back deck. Chip motioned for them to come in.
Admiral Nelson and Serena joined Chip in the living room. Serena had her attention focused on her best friend, Nelson focused on Lee. Finally Nelson broke the silence. "I'm can't say I've ever seen you in this position, lad." he said dryly.
Serena, looking slightly amused addressed her project coordinator. "Another one? You told me about the last one. I figured you’d be a little more careful, considering Lee’s reputation.”
Wendy shrugged. "Maybe I like to live dangerously. Maybe I’m trying to catch up to you."
Chip whirled to face Serena while Nelson also turned his sapphire gaze on his daughter, looking for an explanation. "What do you mean ‘another one’? Something I need to know about?" Chip demanded, an Arctic chill in his voice.
Serena was suddenly fidgety. She sometimes forgot how protective he could be. Wendy’s job hadn’t been without its own risks. Serena had been healing from the cave-in, when Wendy had broken her ankle. She knew for a fact that Wendy hadn’t told her family—especially not her brother—about that little adventure. Serena meanwhile had turned her attention back to her friend, unable to meet her father's intense stare. She shifted her gaze from Wendy, then back to the man who had done this to her. She couldn't help it, she started giggling.
Chip looked down at the marine archaeologist. "How can you think this is funny?" he demanded in a frosty voice.
Serena, unperturbed by the officer's chilly demeanor, only smiled. "How can you not think this is funny? I mean look at them. His and hers matching casts."
Lee left leg and Wendy's right leg, propped up on the coffee table together, were casted in matching white plaster casts. Already they were covered in a dozen or more get-well-wishes in various colors of ink.
"I was just an accident. The lobby floor was slippery, and I had on high heel shoes. I slipped and when I did, Lee tried to catch me. We both went down in this tangle of arms and legs," Wendy explained, her eyes half closed as the pain meds began to kick in. Lee pulled her close and she pillowed her head on his shoulder.
"I just wanted to let you know the hotel has offered you both a full refund, and sincerely apologizes, after I threatened them with a nice hefty lawsuit.” Nelson said. Lee and Wendy were supposed to be spending a nice quiet weekend in Tijuana, when late last night, Nelson had been awakened by a frantic Will Jamison, saying he had gotten a call from Lee and they needed to go pick him and Wendy up, pronto. So the three of them, Nelson, Chip and Will, had loaded up the Flying Sub and gone down to find that Wendy and Lee had both tripped on a freshly waxed, yet unmarked lobby floor. "They are also offering to pay one hundred percent of your medical bills, since the lobby floor you slipped on was lacking in any sort of caution signage," he added.
Serena looked up at Chip. "Are we gonna let them stay by themselves, or should one of stay with them, make sure they don't fall and break something else?" Serena asked.
Chip raised a blond eyebrow. "It would serve them right if we both stayed," he said with a mischievous grin. This brought an immediate outcry from both injured parties, each declaring it wasn't necessary, they were fine, blah, blah, blah.
"Might I suggest, you just check on them from time to time? They are supposed to be on vacation," Nelson suggested.
"I suppose . . ." Chip replied uncertainly.
"We'll be fine. Thanks for your concern but we'll be fine. Like Wendy said, we've both been through this before. We know what we can do, and I promise, if we need help, we have all three of your numbers, plus Jamie's, on speed dial."
"If you're sure?" Chip replied.
"Yes, worry wart, we're sure. I know the three of you have better things to do than watch Wendy and me snooze on the couch." Lee said as Wendy nestled closer to him, sighing deeply. He really needed the three to go.
"Come on, you two," Nelson said, crooking a finger at Chip and Serena. "Let's give these invalids a little privacy for the evening. Lee, I'll be by tomorrow to check on you. Take care of yourself AND Miss Morton, alright?"
"Yes sir, thank you, sir. Good night Chip, Serena."
Lee listened to the three of them plod through his kitchen and heard the click of the lock being turned, probably by Chip. He buried his nose in Wendy silver blond hair and breathed deep, savoring the smell of her soap, her shampoo and the slight sent of her rose perfume. "They're gone," he murmured.
"Good. Serena can be an over-protective bully sometimes. She means well though. Why don't you just hold me, Captain Crane, in case I fall off the couch and break the other leg?" Wendy said sleepily.
Lee smiled, tilting her chin up to plant a gentle kiss on her lips. Maybe their vacation wouldn't be wasted after all.