“Are you here to take me back to work then?” Sam asked, her voice hoarse. Foyle smiled slightly.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said, making Sam smile as well.
There was a pause.
“Can’t go anywhere without you,” he admitted, not sure if he really only meant the driving.
“Jolly good,” Sam sighed happily. Hearing him reassure her that she was a vital part of the team had made her happy and had helped her reach the decision that her heart had already made. She couldn’t marry Joe. He was a decent enough bloke and always good for a laugh, but she didn’t love him. She couldn’t follow him to California when the war was over, she knew that now.
She was tired. The illness had drained her completely, the fear for her life not making it easier. But at least now she was on the mend, or so Foyle said. She was glad he was there.
“You know, sir,” she said, then hesitated. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this scared before in my whole life.” It was true, not even when her home was bombed in an air raid. Then she had known exactly what was going on and she had had the support of her colleagues. This time, she had just felt herself getting weaker and weaker and she had no idea why. The flu, yes, perhaps, but she never truly believed that.
“That’s understandable,” Foyle replied softly. “You had us all scared.”
In fact, he couldn’t remember being this scared since Rosalind died. And the strain Sam’s illness had put on him had forced him to acknowledge an unpleasant truth: that he was fonder of Sam than he probably should be, considering that she was not only his driver but also his son’s age, his son with whom she had even walked out.
When Sam didn’t say anything for a while, Foyle began to wonder if she had fallen asleep. He looked at her, but her eyes were open, staring into space.
“Joe asked me to marry him.”
Foyle raised his eyebrows at the sudden statement.
“Did he?” he asked, not wanting to tell her that he already knew.
“Yes. The, er, the crossroads.” She still wasn’t looking at him.
“I see. So you’re not going to marry him?”
“No, sir. I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be right to either of us. I don’t suppose I ever really loved him. It’s an awful thing to say, but I think I was using him as a substitute for…”
She finally realised what she was about to say and to whom and finished dispassionately, “someone.”
Foyle nodded. He couldn’t say he was surprised. She had seemed very fond of Andrew, very happy with him.
“Well,” he said. “I for one am glad you’re not marrying him. Wouldn’t very much like to lose you on the team.”
“No, sir,” she smiled.
When Foyle left, Sam closed her eyes and tried to sleep. Being put in a life-threatening situation had a habit of making people see things clearer, things they had avoided seeing at all. It was like that with her.
She knew Joe had been at the hospital, but most of the time she had pretended to sleep. She didn’t want to see him, felt no need to have him near her. Instead she found herself thinking more and more often of someone else, someone she really shouldn’t be thinking about in that context. But she couldn’t help it. She had wished he was there, had wanted to tell him everything, yet when it came to it, when he was finally there, she couldn’t. She knew that he didn’t see her like that. He saw her as a colleague, a daughter perhaps or at least a daughter-like figure. But she didn’t see him as a father-figure at all.
She had realised while she was ill that she wanted him there, wanted him to hold her hand and tell her she’d be all right, she wanted him to protect her and be there for her.
And now he had been there, had come to see her, had gently teased her and told her how needed she was on the team. More than anything, she wanted to believe that it wasn’t just the team that needed her but him as a person.
She finally fell into a deep sleep, fatigued as her body was after the illness.
Sergeant Milner stuck his head into DCS Foyle’s office. The older man was sitting at his desk, his head in his hands, seemingly deep in thought.
Stepping fully into the room, Milner asked quietly, “How’s Sam, sir?”
Foyle looked up, his eyes showing how tired he was.
“The doctors say she’ll be all right.”
“You don’t sound convinced, sir,” Milner stated worriedly. Foyle stood, sighing deeply.
“She is certainly better now. She just looked so vulnerable. I almost didn’t want to leave her.”
Paul Milner tried to read the expression on his superior’s face. He had seen the worry for Sam there, had seen how little patience Foyle had had while she was in hospital. He had drawn his own conclusions and this latest development only supported that conclusion. Milner had certainly been worried, had definitely missed her around the office, bright ray of sunshine that she was, but it was nothing compared to Foyle, although the older man tried to hide it. But he said nothing, it wasn’t his place.
He brought her flowers when he visited her. She seemed glad to see him and accepted the flowers appreciatively.
“You know, everybody is missing you,” Milner said, making Sam smile. Especially Foyle, he added in his mind.
“Yes, well, I do rather look forward to getting back to work now.”
Milner smiled. “I’ll bet. So are we. The new driver isn’t nearly as fast as you. Doesn’t talk as much though.”
“Oh, you,” Sam grinned, knowing that Milner was just teasing her.
She was glad of his company. It kept her thoughts from roaming too much. Since her talk with Foyle, she hadn’t been able to suppress her relief at having made the right decision regarding Joe, and she felt a bit guilty about it, all while still wondering how she should tell the young American soldier.
“Good to have you back, Sam,” Milner smiled, placing his hands on her shoulders. Sam grinned.
“Good to be back, sir. I was getting rather bored of just lying there.”
“I’m sorry, miss, but Mr. Foyle said he wanted to see you as soon as you came in,” Sergeant Brooke interrupted them, his kind smile letting her know that he, too, was glad to see her healthy again.
Sam nodded, smiled briefly at Milner and went to Foyle’s office, knocking softly before entering. Foyle looked up from the papers on his desk and greeted her with a warm smile. “Good to see you back safe and sound. When did you arrive?”
“Only just now, sir. Sergeant Brooke told me you wanted to see me as soon as I came in?”
“Hm,” Foyle said, raising his eyebrows. “Actually, I believe my words were that I wanted to know as soon as you came in.”
“Oh. Well, here I am, sir.”
“So you are.” He got up from behind his desk and went to stand in front of her, placing his hands on her arms like Milner had done. “We’ve missed you, Sam,” he said. “Welcome back.” He pulled her slightly closer and kissed her cheek briefly.
For a moment, time seemed to stand still. Sam leaned into his touch ever so slightly, the sensation of his lips on her skin and the smell of his aftershave doing odd and wonderful things to her heart and stomach.
Foyle knew the minute he let his lips touch Sam’s cheek that it was a mistake. Relief that she was all right and the smell of her soap – or maybe it was just the way she naturally smelled – were making him do stupid things and all he wanted to do was to pull her closer, kiss her senseless and never let go of her again, to let her infectious happiness spread into his life.
He pulled away from her rather reluctantly, instantly missing her closeness.
Sam didn’t know what gave her the courage, all she knew was that she didn’t want him to pull away; she wanted him to put his arms around her and tell her that he’d always be there to protect her. Without thinking, she stepped into her boss’ personal space, placed her hands on his cheeks and pressed her lips against his.
Foyle kissed her back out of sheer surprise for a few seconds, his mind only slowly registering the feeling of her lips against his and the fact that this was Sam – his Sam! – kissing him, before he stepped back, breaking contact with the young woman in his arms.
Sam could feel herself blush awkwardly as he stared at her and she quickly averted her eyes to her shoes.
“Terribly sorry, sir,” she said, clearing her throat. “Don’t know what came over me.”
Before Foyle had had the chance to collect himself, let alone answer her, she had turned on her heel and left the office. As she strode through the building, she could feel a hot blush burning her cheeks as she silently berated herself, unable to believe that she had just overstepped a crucial line in her working relationship with Mr. Foyle and actually kissed him. A very bad thing to do to a man who was not only still very much married to his late wife, but also her boss and someone who didn’t see her as more than, at most, a potential daughter-in-law (though she supposed that was shot to pieces too, what with Andrew breaking up with her).
But his lips were so soft and I want to kiss him again, she thought shamefully as she slumped down on the plank-like bed in one of the cells. She knew exactly why she’d done it; she was tired of hiding her feelings for him – almost dying had a way of doing that, she supposed.
She had really liked Andrew but sometimes she wondered if she hadn’t rushed into a relationship with him in order to drown the feelings she was beginning to have for her boss. And Joe… Joe had been nothing but a poor substitute for what she knew she shouldn’t be wishing for. It had been nice and she had enjoyed his company, but she had realised when she was in hospital that she couldn’t settle for anything less than love and that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. She was in love with Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle.
Still, she shouldn’t have kissed him. She must be out of her mind! Since she had first started to realise that she was developing warmer than expected feelings towards her superior, she had told herself that it was impossible, banishing the thought to the back of her head.
The funny thing, she mused, was that as a girl grew up (even as the daughter of a vicar), she had certain ideas of how her prince charming would be. In the early years of puberty he did indeed often have many traits in common with the knight in shining armour, a view which often changed with time. The fifteen-year-old Sam had envisioned a handsome, tall man with wavy dark hair and smouldering dark eyes or perhaps a Viking-type with bright blue eyes, thick blonde hair, a wide smile and arms that would feel so strong and safe around her… at any rate, he was always handsome and sociable and always madly in love with her.
And then one would grow up and realise that reality has nothing to do with those dreams and fantasies. She had not fallen in love with the ideal man of her youth (though she couldn’t help but notice that both her ‘substitutes’ shared characteristics with these ideals), but instead with a quiet, dedicated man quite a few years her senior who had only a few things in common with the man she had dreamed of when she was young, and being madly in love with her was certainly not one of them.
Yet it didn’t matter. She had long since realised that love strikes at random and often in the most inconvenient of situations with no respect for idealistic young girls’ dreams.
A soft knock on the doorframe startled her out of her thoughts and she looked up to find the one person she least wanted to see standing there, observing her with a decisive look in his eyes.
Sam stood quickly, willing herself not to blush as she once again began to apologise.
“Sir, I really am terribly sorry for what just happened, I have no—”
She was quieted by Foyle laying his fingers softly over her mouth, effectively stopping her flow of words. When he felt sure that she wouldn’t start talking again as soon as he removed his hand, he moved it across her cheek, stroking it gently. Sam’s eyes were wide when he leaned in, stopping with his lips only a few centimetres away from hers.
“May I?” he breathed and Sam nearly grinned in spite of herself. Instead, she just nodded and he pulled her to him, descending his mouth on hers.
The kiss was brief and tender and as they drew away from each other, Sam whispered, “Sir?”
“I nearly lost you, Sam. It made a few things clear to me.” He hesitated. He hated wearing his heart on his sleeve like this. Finally he finished, “Like the fact that I want you in my life… always.”
“Really, sir?” Sam asked seriously, with a glimmer of something he couldn’t quite decipher in her eyes.
“Yes, Sam. I’ve already been married once and my wife was a wonderful woman, a terrific mother and a very generous soul. I have grieved for a long time and I think a part of me will always belong to her, in a way. But… I, erm, I … care for you.”
Sam bit her lip, feeling joy well up inside her as she raised her hand to place it on his cheek.
“I know Rosalind meant the world to you, and I know you still love her. I would never try to take the place in your heart that is rightfully hers. Because I happen to care rather deeply for you as well, sir,” she admitted softly, a cheeky grin almost slipping through her façade as she continued, “But I will be terribly unhappy if you don’t kiss me again soon.”
Foyle looked shocked for a moment, but then he began to chuckle and pulled her to him again, this time nearly crushing his lips to hers.
“You know,” he said when they parted; “you can’t keep calling me sir. My name is Christopher.”