Salem Police Department
Rafe had not intended to blurt out his feelings like this. In fact, he hadn't intended to ever say anything about them at all, but the moment Hope hugged him excitedly and told him that Aiden had proposed; the moment she flashed that beautiful diamond ring at him that Rafe couldn't afford in three lifetimes over; the moment she looked at him with those beautiful smoky eyes of hers, he couldn't stop himself from spilling his guts.
"Hope, don't," Rafe said. "Please don't."
"What? Don't what?"
Rafe moved his hands to her shoulders, lightly squeezing them. "Don't marry Aiden. Please."
The shock was plainly evident on Hope's face. "What – why? Aiden is a good man. If you feel some residual loyalty to Bo, I understand that, but-"
Rafe shook his head. "Believe me, this is not about Bo. It's really not. I respect him and Aiden and what they mean to you ... I'm mangling this..."
"Mangling what? Why don't you want me to marry Aiden?"
"I don't want you to marry Aiden because I want you ... with me."
Hope stumbled back like he had popped her one and good too. "Rafe, what – is this some kind of a joke?"
"Do I look like I'm joking?" He asked. "I know this takes you by surprise. Hell, my feelings took me by surprise in a way too but then I think I always knew deep down that I loved you."
"Loved me?" Hope asked. "Rafe, when-"
"It's been building for awhile. Every moment we spend together, I cherish. Every moment we're not close by each other, I am dying inside, longing for the next time I can see your beautiful face. It's not enough to be your friend anymore. I want to be in your life, Hope, but as more than friends. So much more than friends. I like Aiden, I really do, but I feel like it's our time now. We owe it to ourselves to try and see if we can go the distance."
"Oh, Rafe," Hope said. She reached out and took his hands in hers. "It means so much to me to hear you say these things but I don't think you're really in love me with. You're just ... Feeling confused."
"What? No, not at all."
"Yes. Jordan left town not too long ago and you've been lonely and sad. You loved her – you still love her – and you mistake what you feel for me as something more."
"Hope, I'm not rebounding here. I know how I feel. I loved Jordan, I will always love her to be honest, but she moved on and I have too. I'm not mixed up here. I'm not confused about my feelings for you. They're crystal clear. Yes you're my friend – the best friend a guy could ask for – but I feel so much more for you than friendship. Please believe that," he said, squeezing her hands in return.
He watched the expression on her face and he hurriedly said, "You don't have to tell me how you feel right now. We don't have to rush anything. Just please don't marry Aiden. Not until we figure out if we can be so much more to each other."
Hope slowly disentangled their fingers. She briefly touched his cheek. "I'm sorry, Rafe, but I don't need more time to figure things out. I have already figured out what I want – who I want. It's Aiden I want; it's Aiden I love. It's always going to be Aiden."
Hope shook her head and she looked genuinely sympathetic, which just cut and humiliated him even if it wasn't intended to hurt him. But he was going to hurt any way if he couldn't have Hope in his life, if he wasn't free to love her in full view of everyone.
"I'm sorry, Rafe, I really am. Your friendship means the world to me but that's all it's ever going to be for me. Friendship. I love Aiden and I want to be his wife. I'm so-"
"Don't say you're sorry," Rafe said, his voice sounding hoarse to his own ears. "I never – I never should have said a thing. Now things will be incredibly awkward between us."
"They don't have to be. I mean, I don't feel awkward. I feel appreciative that you care about me the way you do. And I care about you too, Rafe."
"You just don't love me," Rafe said miserably. "I get it. And it's okay." He grabbed for his suit jacket. "I just need some time. To clear my head... I'll be back later."
"I'll be alright. I just need time to lick my wounds but... I'll be alright," he reiterated, as if trying to convince himself. He gave her one last longing look and then strode quickly from the office.
"Hey, hey, give me that," Joey Buchanan said to his wife Kelly, sprinting after her as he spotted her trudging down the hall, carrying a box that was much too big for her.
"Joe-" She started to say but he grabbed for it. She crossed her arms. "It looks a lot heavier than it actually is and for your information, I am not an invalid."
Joey shook his head. "No, but you are five months pregnant –"
"Yeah, that doesn't make me weak."
"No, you're the strongest women I know, Kelly, but still I don't want you hefting that." Joey watched her cross her arms over her ever-expanding belly. "Don't pout. You know what the doctors said about taking it easy. And even if you weren't pregnant, I wouldn't want you lugging things of this size around."
Kelly clucked her tongue. "Fine, whatever." She offered him a smirk and followed him into their room at Llanfair. Joey felt her eyes on his backside as he bent over and set the box down. He turned and caught her staring. He broke into a smirk of his own.
"Why Kelly Buchanan, I do believe you were ogling me."
"Don't let it go to your head, Mister," Kelly said. She sunk down onto the edge of the bare mattress. "It's just all these hormones are driving me crazy. And seeing you all sweaty and muscle-y-"
"Dammit, Joey, I'm horny! And I am not going to deny it either. It's been three days since we last got horizontal." She held up a hand to stop him. "I said horizontal. I don't count you pinning me against a sink – hot as it was – in the lavatory of your father's jet horizontal. I want long, slow, hot lovemaking." She grabbed for him, tugging him to the edge of the mattress. "And I want it now."
"And the unpacking-"
"Can wait awhile," Kelly said. She pulled him onto the bed beside her. He rolled halfway atop of her.
"Am I hurting you?"
"No, no you're not," she said. He grazed one of her aching nipples with his fingertips. "In fact, I would say that you're helping a lot." She shifted on the bed, drawing him between her thighs. Her hands slid under his sweat-dampened tee-shirt and she raked her fingernails down his back. He groaned in pain and pleasure.
"Kel, you're killing me here," he growled, capturing her lips in a feverish kiss. They began to rock against each other, still fully clothed. Just as Joey was going for the buckle on his belt, someone loudly shrieked. He nearly tumbled off the bed in surprise as his eyes zipped to the door.
"Jess!" He shouted at his sister. She covered her eyes.
"Oh god!" Jessica moaned. "I wasn't expecting that when I walked in here. Might you two consider closing the door next time?"
Kelly dabbed at her mussed rouge lipstick. "Sorry, Jess. We just got a little-"
"Excited hefting boxes," Jessica said. "Go figure."
"Just know that you don't have to worry about this happening in front of you again," Kelly said. "We'll be on our best behavior from here on out. Besides, we won't be here long. Just until the baby is born and we can find a place of our own."
Joey sighed, straightening his tee-shirt. "Anyway, Jess, was there something you wanted?"
"Well a woman is on the phone downstairs asking for you. She said it's very important that she speak with you right now."
"What woman?" Joey asked.
"She wouldn't say; she just really wants to talk to you."
Joey sighed. "Okay, I'll be right down."
Kelly jabbed Joey's broad shoulder once Jessica had exited the bedroom. "Taking calls from mysterious, nameless women, huh? Should I be worried you're stepping out on me?"
"Your hormones aren't just making you horny, Kel, they're making you irrational."
"Hey!" Kelly said. "I resemble that." She chuckled and smacked his butt as he shuffled from the room.
Will Horton was fighting the need to cry and the need to punch someone all at the same time. He tried to push down both of those instincts, instead settling for violently stabbing the keys on his top of the line laptop. When the flight for two – one way – was booked he slammed his laptop shut so hard it made a crunching sound.
"You look the way I feel," a familiar male voice said from behind him.
Will turned to see his good friend, former stepfather, and uncle to his beautiful daughter standing there, leaning against a bench. His arms were crossed. "What's eating you?" Rafe asked.
"Besides everything?" Will said.
"Yeah besides that."
Will slammed his hands down heavily on his protesting laptop. "It's Sonny."
"You two still having problems?" Rafe asked as he walked over to Will. "Because if anyone can get through them, it's you two."
"Not true," Will grumbled. "You see I can't get past one thing."
"And that is?"
"Sonny loves someone else. He loves Paul. He told me so again today and – and we're separating. Sonny's choice."
"No, Will, you're kidding!"
"I wish that I was but Sonny wants to be with Paul and I can't keep fighting that."
"I don't believe that. He loves you."
"I don't know anymore. I thought he did but now I think I was just a placeholder until the real love of his life returned." Will's eyes burned and he looked away. "Anyway I can't stay here and watch Sonny and Paul play house. I'm leaving town tonight – the sooner, the better."
"No. You don't mean that, Will."
"Where would you go?" Rafe asked. "To California to be with your Mom?"
"No. I don't want to have to lean on her when she's got so much on her plate right now. Besides, I got a job offer somewhere else."
"Yeah. A woman named Viki Buchanan contacted me a few months back, asking me to join her newspaper 'The Banner' as lead reporter. I turned her down at the time because I was fighting so hard for my marriage to Sonny. But now that that's over and Viki is willing to give me a second chance..."
"You're going to accept her offer. Where is it you're going exactly?"
"A town called Llanview in Pennsylvania. I did a little research on it. It's a small-town, only a bit bigger than Salem. A nice place to raise Ari."
"I am sorry, Rafe. I'm sorry I am taking your niece and leaving town but you can visit her anytime that you want to. I promise you that."
Rafe looked around, shoving his hands in the pocket of his denim jeans. "Is there any room on that flight to Landview for one more person?"
"Llanview... And are you serious? You want to come out there with us?"
"Yeah," Rafe said. "I want to be where Ari is. I promised Gabi I would keep an eye on her and I can't do that a thousand-plus miles away. Besides, what is left for me here?"
"Lots of things..."
"Your uh, job."
"Yeah, well working at a nightclub isn't my idea of a dream job."
"Have busy lives of their own. They don't need me hanging around, making a nuisance of myself."
"Are you sure you want to do this, Rafe?"
"Sure as I'll ever be." Rafe sighed. "I don't want to cramp your style but-"
"No you won't. Of course not. I just – I feel like there's more to you wanting to leave Salem than you're letting on."
Rafe shrugged. "That, my friend, is a story for another day."
The Palace Hotel ~ Dining Room
Anna Dimera sighed as she slipped into a seat towards the back of the restaurant. A waitress immediately approached her – a pretty, mocha-skinned young woman. She introduced herself as Destiny. "Hi, I'll be server today. Can I start you off with a drink?"
"Yes a tall martini," Anna said. "Don't skimp on the olives please."
Destiny smiled and nodded. "Sure. I'll be right back with it."
Anna idly flipped through the menu, seeing nothing that really whet her appetite. Truthfully, she hadn't been feeling all that hungry lately – or all that great, period. But she had better eat something – anything at all.
She had just decided on the manicotti when she spotted Destiny approaching. Destiny waved to her. Wait, she wasn't waving to Anna at all. She was waving to someone behind her, Anna realized.
"Hey there, Mr. Buchanan," Destiny greeted the man. "I'll be right with you."
"Thank you, Destiny," the man called Mr. Buchanan replied. Anna's ears perked up. Why did that voice sound so familiar – slightly accented with just a hint of twang?
It couldn't be... Could it?
She instinctively turned in her seat and couldn't believe whom she was seeing. He was older, grayer, a little softer in the middle, but there was no denying it was him.
She hadn't realized she had spoken his name aloud until he turned and looked at her. "Yes. Can I-" He broke off and his bright blue eyes widened. "Anna? Anna Fredericks, is that you?"
Anna nodded. "One and the same. It's nice to see you again, Clint."
Clint nodded and smiled almost in spite of himself. "Likewise, Anna, likewise."