Chapter 14:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 181

Shayna woke up tangled up in her bed sheets and the thick comforter that she had pulled around her when she went to bed because the night had gotten a bit chilly on the island. But sleep had come quickly enough and she had felt so much better, so refreshed when she had opened her eyes and seen a pale stream of light coming in through the window pane. She sat up and looked around the bedroom. There was a comfortable chair in the corner, a desk, a bureau and some pictures on the wall of Annie, her kids, and a bunch of animals. Very little reminders were present of her renowned professional life as a very busy physician and chief of staff at several hospitals including those which did research.

But then this had been one of Annie's enclaves to escape to from her boisterous schedule because even when she had retired, she remained busy serving on various medical boards and heading a charity organization or two including one that flew surgeons to cities in poorer countries. Shayna hadn't known much about Annie's daughter, Lou or her son, Jerry except for what Austin had told her. But despite the challenges of her rigorous career, Annie appeared to have taken on the job of motherhood very well though Shayna knew it couldn't have been easy.

She got out of bed, stretching her muscles and went to go take a shower and get ready. Before heading into bed, she had told Annie she would help her with breakfast and with any other assistance she needed. Annie had chuckled and told her she could do that as long as she balanced it with rest and relaxation.

So Shayna intended to help her prepare breakfast and then she would call Austin to talk to him some more and bring him up to date on her plans to stay here a few more days. The next hearing for Hans wasn't for several months so she had time to prepare or time to discharge herself from his defense if he didn't start getting his act together quickly.

She could only do so much to help him and he'd barely given an inch in between. If he wanted to sacrifice himself to protect his wife's feelings, then he'd probably wind up in prison separated from her and their life for a very long time. She had tried to explain that to him but hadn't gotten very far. And then all this drama had started with his wife, Whitney and Krystal and their previously undisclosed ties to each other. It had turned out to be quite a sordid affair, no pun intended.

As for her and Austin, they had kept their romantic relationship under wraps pretty well but with a baby on the way, it would be time to tell their family and friends what was up. Well, the two or three left who hadn't figured it out already.

She showered and brushed her hair out, to let it dry naturally in soft ringlets around her face. Her hostess had an unlimited wardrobe of casual wear so she found some jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, along with a fleece vest which looked quite nice. At least she didn't have to worry about her clothes not fitting yet but then she still wasn't very far along.

She found a pair of boots and some thick socks which she put on before going into the kitchen where Annie stirred oatmeal in a pot. She had sprinkled some herbs in it which smelled delightful and with a hint of spice.

"Smells delicious," she said.

Annie smiled at her.

"You can start with the eggs," she said, "Lou and Hank are out looking in on the horses and after breakfast, they're going to check on the goats."

Goats?

Annie read her expression.

"We have a small flock of them," she said, "One species we raise for their hair which is almost as versatile as wool and others to make yogurt."

Shayna raised her brows.

"Wow…that sounds great," she said, "so Hank takes care of the animals year round?"

Annie nodded.

"Him and his two sons, Chester and Art," she said, "They have a place just down the road."

"It's really nice here," Shayna said, "I can see why you come here when you need to get away."

Annie got some eggs for her out of the refrigerator.

"Lately, it's been very busy," she said, "I thought retirement might be quieter, at a slower pace but that hasn't been the case."

Shayna cracked the eggs into the bowl and reached for the whisk.

"I've been thinking about that a lot lately," she said, "What kind of environment I want to raise my child. I'm just not sure it's a huge city like L.A."

"Cities have their advantages."

Shayna beat the eggs into a frothy mixture.

"Yeah I know but I was raised on a ranch," she said, "at least most of my life and I have great memories of living in a rural area with clear air and skies filled with stars as far as the eye could see by night."

Annie nodded, smiling.

"There is that," she said, "When I am at my ranch, I sit out on the porch at night and count them, listen to the quietness around me and think I'm on the grandest spot on earth."

Shayna agreed that a ranch had been a great place to grow up. Now she liked L.A. a lot too and she thought she could find a nice place just outside of the chaotic environment of the city for her family.

"What does Austin think?"

Shayna hedged.

"We haven't really been talking about it much," she said, "He knows how I feel about being in the city but the pregnancy is still so new to both of us."

"It's a great time for both of you to start planning for the future, and what part of it you want to provide for your family that you're starting."

Those words still felt overwhelming to Shayna who felt her life changing even more quickly than her body would in the months ahead as her pregnancy advanced and the reality of being responsible for a new life would be even closer than it felt now.

"I need to call him after breakfast," Shayna said, "How would you feel about him coming out here?"

Annie smiled broadly.

"I haven't seen him in a while," she said, "I would look forward to it not that I wouldn't have some words to say to set him straight."

No, Annie wouldn't be short on advice at all, Shayna thought with a smile as she poured the egg mixture into the frying pan.

The breakfast had turned out to be quite delicious and very filling, leaving Shayna feeling as if she'd had her first good breakfast in a while. The tea that she had drunk last night by the fireplace had worked its magic causing less nausea this morning and she had ate several servings of breakfast. Lou and Hank had come in to fill plates with food and eat it before heading out to go check on the goats.

Shayna had gone out with Annie to tend to the horses and to some hens in the coop near the barn before heading back to the living room to call Austin. She knew at this time he would probably be sitting in his office hopefully facing a little less of the chaos that had met him the last several days.

Austin picked up the phone on the second ring, hoping that it was Shayna and when he saw that it was, he felt relieved. He had spent his night tossing and turning, missing her so much. More so than he would even admit to himself. Life just hadn't been the same without her beside him. When he left the beach house, the traffic on PCH had been mercifully light until he hit the freeway towards downtown. Max had called him telling him that all was clear at the office, meaning that none of his exes had shown up with their list of demands.

Which he had no intention of carrying out because really, they had to solve their own problems and stop dropping in on him when his focus was on Shayna and how she was doing wherever she had gone. He still had no idea where she had flown to in the helicopter, if she had refueled at some point so she could fly further. But at least thanks to last night's phone call, he had known she was safe somewhere.

Still too far away from him to make him feel better. Maybe with this phone call…

" Shayna …It's so good to hear from you."

She paused, and he sensed uncertainty on her end.

"I'm not going to ask you where you are if you don't want to tell me…"

"It's okay Austin," she said, "I'm staying with Annie and her daughter…you know Annie."

Now he felt confused.

"You flew all the way to Texas?"

"No…She has a getaway on Catalina Island in the valley just outside of Avalon…"

"That sounds nice," he said, "Has she checked you out to make sure you and the baby are okay?"

She sighed.

"Austin…I don't need a doctor right now," she said, "I needed her as a friend. She and I became close when you were in the hospital that one time."

Oh yeah, the time after he had nearly died, or actually had died for several long moments before his heartbeat could be restarted with the defribulation paddles just before he had been rushed into surgery.

The longest two minutes of her life.

Annie had been there with her after the seriousness of the situation had ebbed and he had been recuperating and driving everyone crazy wanting to leave the hospital.

"I know…I didn't mean to make you think that I thought you needed one," he said, "I just miss you an awful lot."

"I miss you too," she said, "I just needed to get away for a little while. Everything was getting so crazy at the office."

He knew that she had been carrying a large load what with defending Hans and having to deal with the antics of his exes who had dropped back into their lives.

"I think Whitney and Krystal are back in their opposite corners."

Shayna could definitely picture that and she tried not to laugh, because really it had been quite funny or it would have been if she hadn't felt so stressed.

"Thank goodness," she said, "but I'm going to stay with Annie for several days and then I'll bring your helicopter back."

" Shayna don't worry about the bird," he said, "As long as you're feeling better and you're safe."

She heard the concern mixed with relief in his voice and was sorry to have worried him.

"Austin…"

"What?"

"How would you like to come out here for a day or maybe a little longer?"

His heart leapt. At least he knew she hadn't been trying to push him away as part of the stress in her life.

"I'll take a ferry out later this afternoon," he said.

She smiled on her end of the line.

"I'll look forward to seeing you."

She clicked off her phone and felt a whole lot better that he would be here soon.

Austin put his phone away and looked up to see Max pouring some juice in two glasses.

"Would you like to try the pomegranate/mango?"

Austin looked at it dubiously.

"Okay…"

Max handed him a glass and joined him in the lounge area.

"It's quiet this morning," he noted.

Austin sipped his glass carefully.

"I hope it stays that way," he said, "I keep waiting to see which one of my exes will show up next."

Max smiled.

"Part of having an active and vigorous social life," he said, "Nothing wrong with that and it will all sort itself out."

"I'm going out to Catalina Island this afternoon."

His friend nodded approvingly.

"Beautiful spot," he said, "You'll enjoy the surroundings very much."

" Shayna flew out there last night," Austin said, "She's staying with Annie."

Max's eyebrows rose.

"I remember her," he said, "She used to be the life of all the parties in higher society throughout Beverly Hills. Not that I could attend many of them."

"The office will be in good hands if you want to take off for a while," Max said, " Shayna needs you right now. This has to be a lot to deal with all these changes coming in her life."

"They're good changes Max."

"I know that but it wouldn't be unusual for her to feel a bit overwhelmed right now," Max said, "She's facing motherhood and all the challenges it brings and I know because I have a wife going through the same thing."

"She's not going to be alone."

"I know that Austin," Max said, "and I think she knows that too, but it would be a good time for you to spend together figuring it out."

Austin intended to do just that, thinking that he would need to go back home and pack early so he could make the ferry and get to Avalon before it got dark. He looked at the elevator hoping that it stayed silent as he headed back to his office to make plans.

Annie and Shayna had driven to Avalon to go meet and fetch Austin when he got off of the ferry. He had called just before it left to tell them he would be there soon. The road had been a bit windy into the small village but they had reached the harbor where the wide blue ocean stretched out all around them. Several sailboats as well as yachts could be seen out in the harbor. The two of them left the car, inhaling the sea air which wafted to shore and awaited the arrival of the ferry.

"It's been a while since I've seen him," Annie said.

"He's still the guy you remember," Shayna said, "Just been busier with his exes the past several days, that's all."

Annie chuckled.

"Well he always had an eye for the ladies," she said, "but I think he's always had the real thing with you."

Shayna stuck her hands in her vest pocket and shrugged.

"We've always been friends since we were both in college."

"A lot of the great romances started out that way," Annie said, "Like me and my husband years ago."

Shayna looked out towards the ocean for the ferry which must be one of those tiny specks out there.

"It's been a bit strange but very wonderful to share this with him," she said, "but I don't know how much the baby's going to change things."

"Oh it's going to change both of your lives in a big way," Annie said, "but it's going to be an amazing journey to build your family and you've got a great foundation of love and friendship to build upon."

"It's just that I've got these strange feelings," Shayna said, "of all these changes I want to make, move out of the city, raise our children like I was raised…well not exactly…but the part about being out in the open countryside."

Annie narrowed her eyes.

"You weren't very close with your guardians?"

Shayna sighed.

"I think they wanted a son, someone to take over the business when he passed," she said, "but he and my aunt never had any children of their own."

"You can build whatever life you want with your family Shayna," Annie said, "You don't have to feel bound by the past."

Austin stood out on the deck of the cruising ship, filled with passengers on their way home or on vacations on Catalina Island. He had been there before when he had first moved out to L.A. to go fishing off of its coast. Wonderful catches of yellow fin, bass and the spotting of some great white sharks just off the reefs had made for some fun times. He hadn't been much into ocean fishing, preferring the rivers which flowed from the mountain ranges into the valleys below where they widened into the perfect living spots for steelhead and in some places, even salmon. But a trip to Catalina Island with some old friends on their father's yacht had made a convert out of him.

His increasing workload in investigations and his continuing obligations to his conglomerate had cut down on his vacation time but he felt happy to return back to the island which had given him pleasant memories.

And on that island, was Shayna and his helicopter though he cared much more about the former than the latter. He had left the office thankfully not running into another visitor from his colorful past. Neither Krystal nor Whitney had made a reappearance much to his relief and Hans had remained quiet as well. Both Kylie and Max had told him they would hold down the fort while he was out of town and he felt relieved that everything would remain in good hands while he was on Catalina Island trying to figure out the future that he and Shayna would build together.

He looked out into the ocean, which gathered in folds around the boat which sliced neatly through the water. Sometimes, dolphins could be seen swimming alongside boats in this part of the ocean. The sun shone down brightly from the sky, dazzling the lighter upper layer of the water that went to depths where the sunlight could never reach.

His phone rang suddenly and he remembered he had forgotten to silence it so he could focus on other things. He looked and saw it was Dennis.

"Hi, what's going on?"

"Oh nothing…really everything's under control, no problems…"

The hairs rose on the back of Austin's neck.

"Just tell me what's going on," he said, "Cut to the chase."

Dennis sighed.

"Doug flew in from Singapore and you know about the big scandal..."

"Which scandal," he asked.

He felt he had to, because sometimes they all seemed alike.

"The one with the actress who was under contract to sell the perfume," Dennis said, "you know Sheila…what's her name?"

Austin didn't remember because he hadn't been involved with the contracts used for celebrities representing any products of his subsidiary companies.

"Shelia Starlight?"

"Oh yes…her…your memory was always much better than mine…but she was caught up in that D.C. bordello scandal."

Austin's eyes widened. He had just heard about it during the showdown that took place in his office when two of his exes had been ready to rumble in part because of that same scandal."

"What does legal say?"

"Legal's not sure what to do," Dennis answered, "I was hoping that Shayna …"

Austin sighed.

"She's on a much needed vacation," he said, "I'm on my way to meet her now."

"Well, we've got to come up with some strategy," Dennis said, "I have to tell you right now before it gets ugly in the tabloids that I had no idea that Shelia Starlight was moonlighting as a call girl."

Austin rubbed his eyes. This was getting way too complicated for him considering he had turned his professional persona off for a few days and had no desire to think about any of it, let alone come up with a strategic solution to the latest crisis.

"Didn't anyone run a background on her?"

Austin heard Dennis sigh on the other end.

"Austin…we don't do that on celebrities who endorse products," he said, "and she seemed really clean cut and freshly scrubbed…"

With a name like that, Austin highly doubted it.

"Dennis…just ask legal to work with the advertisers for that company and have them come up with something to keep the press from breathing down our necks until we can come up with something more permanent."

Silence met Austin.

"That might work…but maybe you should…"

"No Dennis," Austin said, "I trust the people I hired to be the best at handling their responsibilities and with me, my business has always been important but family comes first."

"Austin, I realize that you consider Shayna family…"

"I'm talking about her and our baby that's on the way."

Silence met him, even longer lasting this time. Had Dennis passed out on the floor at that news?

"Dennis are you…"

"I'm still here Austin…I'm just shocked," he said, "Floored really because I had no idea…that you… Shayna ….I can't even imagine it not that I'm thinking about that or the two of you doing…that…but"

"Dennis I get the picture," Austin said, "I've got to go now. The ferry's making its approach into Avalon in about 15 minutes…talk to you later."

Dennis had already clicked off his phone. Austin looked out into the water again and saw the outline of Catalina Island ahead, getting larger as the boat skipped over the water towards it.

Shayna and Annie watched until they finally saw the ferry approach and then people standing on the deck looking towards them. They waited until the ferry docked and workers moved to secure it to the mooring before the doors would open, allowing people to disembark. Several hundred eager folks ready to explore the island.

Austin walked out with his luggage and looked around the dock until he saw her. He moved closer more quickly to where she stood with Annie, the woman who had once saved his life.

Shayna saw him approach and stood there, hesitantly watching him. Annie shook her head.

"Oh come on Shayna, he's come all the way out here to see you."

"I'm just making sure he came alone," Shayna said, "and one of his exes isn't trailing him."

Austin walked close and finally she headed towards him. He put down his luggage and swept her up in his arms and she wrapped her own tightly around him. He bent his mouth towards hers and they kissed, and it felt sweet, intoxicating and her legs began to weaken. When they broke from it, they looked at each other to make sure they were both fine and he placed his arm around her waist and they walked back towards Annie. He released Shayna temporarily to embrace his lifelong friend who kissed him on the cheek.

"Great to see you Austin," she said, "You grow more handsome each time I see you."

"You look great yourself," he said, "How's life treating you?"

She shrugged.

"I'm busier than when I practiced medicine," she said, "but I can't complain, I just need to get away from it every once in a while…like you do."

He nodded.

"I left a mess behind in L.A.," he said, "but I had to come out and see you, to make sure you were fine. That our baby…"

Shayna smiled at him.

"The baby and I are doing very well," she said, "Come on; let's head back to Annie's."

They headed back to the car to drive back to the spread. Austin admired the scenery noticing that not much had changed since he last visited. Annie reminded him that since most of the island was a conservatory for wildlife and flora, it wasn't open for development as happened to other islands.

After parking in front of the house, they got out of the car.

"You two can have the little cabin nearby," Annie said, "I know that couples need their privacy. It's not large, but it's got the modern niceties and it's very cozy."

Austin took Shayna 's hand as they went into Annie's house for some early lunch. Lou and Hank were still out with the goats and hadn't returned. Annie said they might not come back until dinnertime.

Lunch was sandwiches and soup, vegetable with chunks of beef in it, along with some yogurt that had been made from the goat's milk.

"This is so delicious," Shayna said.

Austin just nodded, enjoying his roast beef sandwich with wedges of cheese and some spicy vinegar sauce that he couldn't quite identify.

"I've got to go check on some neighbors," Annie said, "I'm not really a doctor but I do look after them because the husband's got diabetes that's been bothering his feet lately."

Austin looked up at her.

"I was thinking about getting some rest…the trip was a bit rough with choppy seas and after what's been going on at the office…"

He winked at Shayna,

"Yeah…me too," she said, "I think I'm about ready for a nap."

Annie just shook her head at the two of them.

"You know you really don't need to tell me anything," she said, "I remember what it was like…"

After lunch, Austin took his luggage to the cabin and he had Kylie bring some of Shayna 's things with him. They walked to the cabin and indeed it looked as nice as Annie had said, peaceful and quiet with a fireplace and original paintings hanging on the walls.

"Some hands used to stay here I guess," Shayna said, "It's a really nice guest house."

Austin just remained silent until she looked at him oddly.

"Austin…are you really that tired?"

His brow waggled and he moved closer to her, slipping his arms around her, pulling her close to show her, no he wasn't really all that tired. He just wanted to spend some much needed time alone with her and she felt the same way.

"I really did miss you," she said, before his lips met hers.

He released her finally and then taking her hand.

"Come on; let's go check out the sleeping accommodations."

And so they did.

A while later, she nestled closer to his warmth in the bed while watching the shadows begin to fall on the walls, signaling the upcoming sunset. She had drifted off for a while after their passionate reunion and so had he.

"I guess I was really tired," she admitted, "although maybe it was all that exercise."

He stroked her hair.

"The exercise…"

"Okay, but it's been so hectic Austin with everything that's been going on," she said, "Sometimes I want life to keep continuing the way it's been going and other times…"

"You want to just pack up and move someplace quiet, some place familiar like where we both grew up?"

She concentrated trying to figure out what she had really wanted, but it eluded her despite her attempts to pin it down.

"I don't think I want to leave California," she said, "but I'm not sure I want to raise our family in the city…maybe a smaller town…close to the city."

He knew what she meant because he had those same thoughts, coming upon him abruptly but at the same time quietly in a way that made sense. He wanted his child, their child, to grow up in the same loving and supportive environment that he had enjoyed while growing up. Sometimes in the past few days, he had wished so much his father could have lived long enough to see the next generation of his family but somewhere…he had to be watching over them. Shayna 's mother and father had to be watching over their daughter and their future grandchild too.

"Maybe we can do that," he said, "We can find a place… that has a bit of both worlds."

She nodded against his chest.

"That'd be great…"

It would be more than great, it would be perfect. Austin would make sure of that because he had what he really wanted in his life in front of him. Sure, there was plenty of chaos and uncertainty not to mention exes running around amok but in the midst of it all, there was plenty of joy as well.

 


Submitted: April 08, 2012

© Copyright 2022 Marzy Dotes. All rights reserved.

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