By Diane Farnsworth Kachmar
Authors note: This was the first "Linda" story - published in 1983.
I'm not sure if that makes it "lost"or not.
Chronologically, if Deathwish is story #1, this would be story #7.
There are two stories after Adjustments #4, that have yet to see print.
One day ...
Linda Crane glanced up at the slam of the front door, and relaxed when she heard Ricky's excited voice in the hallway. There they were. Lee had promised to be home by four, but it was closer to five now. She knew there was no safer place for Ricky than in his father's capable hands, but it wasn't like Lee not to call.
She came through the kitchen door, as Lee called her name. Coming around the counter/bar she stopped when she caught sight of them. Lee's blue jeans were covered in oil and hydraulic fluid, making them a mottled blue, black, and red. Grease stained his chambray shirt, covering the left shoulder, and extending down the sleeve, with a large smear of it plastered across his forehead, looking very much like he had used the dirty sleeve to push the hair out of his eyes. And her son was no cleaner. Grease spots splattered his shirt, and the knees of his jeans were grimy black.
"Mommy!" Ricky launched himself at her, and she automatically gathered him into her arms, not realizing until too late his clothes were damp. He tugged on her sleeve excitedly. "Mommy, Mommy! The sub'rine broke and they wanted Daddy to fix it, and I got to help with a b'last pump, and hole Ski's rench, then Gram'pa Harry said the arm'chur was wound too tight, and I wanted to see the racktor. We went way down in the bejels, and it was dark and wet, but I wasn't 'fraid, cause Pat says to be a good sub'riner you can't have claw-- claws-trofofia." Ricky struggled with the word, and she brushed the hair out of his eyes. A sticky film of grease came off on her hand.
Linda glanced up at her husband in exasperation. "Lee! The bilges?"
He shrugged and smiled, chagrined. "I'm sorry, love, they needed me down at the sub pen, and you were still in Santa Barbara. It was only supposed to be a little modification."
"Little?" She let her eyes travel over him meaningfully. The grease monkey in front of her hardly looked neat as Captain Crane should be, except maybe for the laughter lurking in the green flecks of his amber eyes. ,
"One of the pressure hoses on the pump blew out." Lee gestured at his clothes. "And I didn't have time to duck. The engine went wild, and before we could shut it off, it burned up the armiture, so we had to replace it."
"Ski says Daddy should make me a machine mate." Ricky tugged on her sleeve again
"That's machinist's mate, Ricky," she told him gently, trying not to laugh. "Your Daddy's good but I think robots are a little out of his field."
"Mach-in-ish mate, Mommy?" Ricky screwed up his face trying to copy her pronunciation.
"And how long before a mach-in-ish mate is Captain?"
"A very long time, son." Lee answered, grinning. His eyes sought hers.
Linda smiled up at him, shaking her head. "I shouldn't even let you two in the house, looking like that. I doubt those clothes are even salvageable."
"I knew you be worried, so I came straight home. Besides I didn't have anything in my cabin for Ricky."
"Daddy gave me a rag." Ricky held up clean palms for her to inspect.
"Never mind. Daddy's going to take you upstairs and get you clean." She looked at Lee. "You might as well throw yourself in the tub as well. Leave those things in the hall, and I'll see what I can do about getting them clean."
"Thanks, love." Lee reached out to stroke her hair.
Linda pulled back. "I'll take a raincheck, minus the grease, if you don't mind."
He laughed, withdrawing his hand. "Oops." Lee reached out for Ricky. "Here, give me the other bilge rat, and we'll go get presentable for supper."
"Use the soap," she said firmly, as she handed the boy over.
"Aye, sir," he answered flippantly, grinning as he hoisted Ricky up on his shoulders. "C'mon, Tiger, we're being sent to the showers."
"Can I be a sub'rine, Daddy?" Ricky asked excitedly, as Lee carried him up the stairs. "More like a destroyer," Linda muttered to herself, shaking her head, and going back into the kitchen.
She finished her dinner preparations just soon enough to divert disaster, she was sure. If there was anymore splashing up there, they were going to flood out the bathroom.
She stepped over the heap of filthy clothes in the hallway, and walked through the master bedroom to the bathroom. She paused in the bathroom doorway. Ricky's face was pink again, but her son was obviously more interested in being a submarine than in being washed.
"Mommy! Daddy's a U-boat, and I'm gonna sink him." Ricky shot up excitedly, seeing her, and splashed water all over Lee's robe. ,
"Care for a navigator?" she asked lightly.
"If that's an offer," Lee grinned wolfishly. "That's the best one I've had all day."
"Then beach your submarine, and I'll take him to the other bathroom and wash his hair." Lee pulled the towel from the rack. "C'mon, Ricky." He enveloped the boy in the towel as he stood, and lifted him from the tub. "Here you go, one submarine."
Linda put an arm around Ricky, then kissed Lee lightly on the lips. "Your turn, Captain."
He grinned. "That's for being a good boy, right?"
"Awfully sure of yourself, aren't you?" she teased, ruffling the edge of Lee's touseled hair. Then she took Ricky by the hand. "After we get you squared away, Tiger, you can help Mommy set the table."
"Dinner in 20." She said over his shoulder as she lead the child out."
"I'll be ready." Lee assured her.
Linda smiled as she closed the door, and took Ricky down to his room. It would take him that
long to get the grease off.