Section 1: History
Section 2: Literature
Section 3: Philosophy
Section 4: Creative
For the past few days, Marty had been noticeably quiet. Patrick, caught up in his own end-of-semester responsibilities, had not had a chance to question her about it. His own natural buoyancy had been pierced by the revelations about his past he'd finally had to admit to—his involvement with a terrorist group when he'd been a teenager.
Marty and their friends Bo and Nora Gannon, the local police commissioner and his lawyer wife, had sworn to keep the discovery to themselves. Marty especially had been vehement in her support, as he'd known she would be if it ever came out. He never doubted her love, or her belief in him and his utter remorse, for an instant As if those gifts he'd been given weren't enough to be thankful for, they had just learned that Marty was pregnant with his child. Patrick thanked god every day for this chance to start a new life in America, with the woman he worshipped in every atom of his being.
Now the summer course he taught at the university was over, exams had been graded, final grades had been posted, students' appeals heard and dealt with. Patrick finally had time to come up for air until the fall semester began in late September. Since Marty's current rotation as a first-year resident provided for reasonable hours for a change, he'd virtually moved into the mill house. That morning they were lying in bed after the alarm went off, a time when they usually stored up strength for their separate, upcoming days from the other's soft kisses and caresses. Sometimes Patrick would recite a verse or two of a poem.
But this morning Patrick could sense that Marty was a million miles away from him.
She had more to stress her at the moment then he did, Patrick knew. Even when she put in reasonable hours at the hospital, she might have to make a life or death decision at any moment during them. At the same time, Marty's own body was going through the physical changes of early pregnancy. Despite their joy, there was an undercurrent of apprehension. Nobody could predict how the complicating factor of her lupus might affect the outcome.
Was she worrying about that? he wondered. Or was there something else? Had he done something—or not done something? But Marty was not the kind of woman to sulk. That was one of the many things he loved about her. That made her current silence all the more worrisome to him.
Raising a hand, Patrick stroked her cheek. "Good morning, Angel," he said in his hoarse morning voice. "Is there anythin' I can do for you before you leave for work?" he added suggestively.
She turned luminous blue eyes to him. Ah, now he had her attention. But he didn't like the troubled look in them. "While you take your shower, I thought I'd get up and put a kettle on for tea. Then, while that's brewin', I'll pop some bread into the toaster and break some eggs into the pan," he teased.
Her response deflated him. "Thanks, but I'm not really hungry, Patrick."
"What's wrong, Angel?" he asked, all pretense gone. He held her chin between his thumb and forefinger, and gazed into her eyes.
"Nothing—nothing really." She lowered her lashes.
Patrick felt a flicker of anxiety. "That means something is, doesn't it?"
"Please, Patrick. There really isn't anything wrong. You know I'd tell you if there were. There's just something I need to figure out on my own," she assured him. She put her own hand over his, and he relaxed a little.
"All right, and what is that then? You have me now to help you figure things out, don't you, Margaret?" Share it with me, his deep hazel eyes pleaded, and Marty read the message in them.
She hesitated. "I will. But I wanted to sort it all out first, before I brought it up with you."
"That sounds a bit ominous," he commented, trying to keep his voice light. "Sortin' things out doesn't usually refer to an enjoyable process, does it?"
Squeezing his hand, Marty smiled. "No, it doesn't, but I don't want you to think there's anything ominous about it—I'm actually afraid you'll think it's petty when you know."
"Do you really think anythin' that concerns you could ever strike me as bein' petty, Margaret?" Patrick asked her in relief.
"Well, it concerns you, too," she admitted.
"Let's have it then, Margaret," he ordered. "No leavin' this bed until you come clean with me."
"Oh?" Marty raised her eyebrows. "And maybe you can tell me who's going to stop me from leaving this bed, Patrick?"
Suddenly Patrick raised himself above her. "That's a challenge I believe I'm capable of meetin'," he promised. "Unless it's over your objections, Margaret?"
Marty sniffed. "That's easy enough for you to say, Patrick. How do you plan to do it, though? I mean, just in case I don't have any objections?"
Patrick began to lower his head to hers. "Now that would involve an enjoyable process. Would you like a demonstration—hey! Are you changin' the subject on me, Angel?" he demanded, mere inches away from her lips.
"Yes," she breathed, drawing his head down to hers.
"You little devil," he grinned.
Later, there was time for only a hastily gulped glass of orange juice and a health bar that Patrick insisted Marty have before she left for the hospital. He felt a little guilty for reneging on his offer to prepare a proper breakfast for his pregnant fiancee—but not too guilty. It was at least partially her own fault. Though you couldn't live on love alone, Marty was glowing, and he suspected that he was too.
There was always lunch time. "Do you have any plans for lunch today, Margaret?" Patrick asked casually as she gathered up her briefcase and purse in the living room.
"Today? I don't know, Patrick. I have to check my daily planner," Marty replied absent-mindedly.
"Will you check it then, please? If you're free, I thought I'd meet you at the hospital cafeteria."
"Oh, I'd love that, Patrick. Let me see…hmm." Marty searched through her briefcase, pulled out her planner, and quickly flipped through the pages to the current date. "Nope. No meetings, seminars, rounds, office hours, or anything else from twelve to one o'clock today. Guess that means I'm officially free for lunch. But the cafeteria?" she wrinkled her nose. "I could meet you here and—"
"No, we might get distracted again, Angel," Patrick shook his head ruefully. "I have an ulterior motive for meetin' you at the cafeteria. The first is to get some nourishment into you after deprivin' you this mornin'. The second is so we can finish the conversation we already got distracted from once this mornin'."
Marty pretended to pout. "That's two ulterior motives, Patrick. But okay. I won the first round, so I'll give you a shot at winning the second one."
As he kissed her goodbye, Patrick whispered, "I think we both won the first round, Margaret."
At exactly twelve noon, Patrick was waiting for Marty beside the entrance to the Llanview Hospital cafeteria He was always so proud of her when he saw her at the hospital, and today was no exception. In her white lab coat, with the ID badge proclaiming her "Margaret Saybrooke, M.D." pinned to the pocket, and her thick shining waves of light brown hair subdued into a tortoiseshell hair clip at the nape of her neck, she looked the consummate professional. She was so self-possessed that very few people meeting her now would have ever guessed the long, hard road she'd traveled to reach this level of success. But he knew. She was the only woman in the world for him. All he asked of life was to share the road with her the rest of the way.
Marty's face lit up, too, when she spotted Patrick. He would stand out in any crowd, he was so tall and handsome, possessed of eye-catching bronze-colored hair curling around his arresting face and down to his broad shoulders, and an athlete's grace. His direct hazel gaze and air of intelligent good humor were irresistible. And that was just what was visible on the outside. What was worth infinitely more to Marty was that Patrick's heart and mind were as well-developed as his body. She noticed two nurses surreptitiously eyeing that body as they passed by him into the cafeteria. What on earth did I ever do to deserve him? she wondered to herself, not for the first time.
They couldn't put on too public a display of affection when they met, since this was Marty's place of work. So Patrick merely kissed her quickly on the cheek before they went inside. But there was no doubt they were together as they picked up their trays and got in line, and as Patrick loaded hers with what he considered enough healthy food for two. Then, to her pleased embarrassment, he insisted on carrying her tray from the cashier's station to their table, before he went back for his own.
His constant solicitude of her, expressed in even so small a gesture as this, said louder than any words that Patrick would make the ideal loving husband and father—and made what Marty had to say to him even more difficult. She knew she couldn't wish for a better father for their child. And, though they weren't husband and wife yet, she already felt as married to him as she could possibly be. Still, she wanted Patrick to be her husband in everyone's eyes, not just her own—the law, the church, society's.
I do want to be married to him, Marty repeated silently. How can I break the news that I just don't want a wedding?
Sitting across the table from Patrick, Marty told herself that she couldn't put it off any longer. This morning, he'd finally mentioned her preoccupation of late. She had to tell him what was on her mind, even though she'd been dreading it. But it wasn't fair to keep him guessing, or make him be the one to bring it up again.
They each briefly discussed their mornings apart as they ate, and then she said, "Patrick, I haven't really sorted things out, the things I talked about needing to sort out this morning, but I probably won't be able to until I get some input from you, so…."
"Just tell me whatever it is, Angel, you know two heads are better than one. Not that yours isn't perfect," Patrick said reassuringly.
"No, it's not. Right now it's pretty screwed up," she sighed. "I keep turning things around and around in my brain, and now I don't even know how to get back to the point I started from. Anyway…will you promise me something first?"
"Of course. Anything."
"Let me finish saying everything I have to say before you jump in with any comments or questions or suggestions, okay?"
Patrick smiled wryly. "I'm crushed. You're not implyin' that I would ever interrupt you in such a wholly aggravatin' way, Angel?"
Marty smiled back. "No, of course you wouldn't. Must be some other Professor Patrick Thornhart I know."
"I'd better be the only bloody one you know, Margaret," Patrick said darkly.
"Oh, you are, Patrick. I love you so much," she said, suddenly serious.
"And I love you, Angel," he said just as seriously. Then he added a bit anxiously, "But—? Is there a but in this? That seems to be what I'm hearin'."
"You just ceded me the floor, Patrick." Marty took a deep breath. "First of all, there are absolutely no 'buts.' I love you totally and this has nothing to do with that at all. Second, I'm two months' pregnant with our child, and I couldn't be more overjoyed." Marty's eyes softened before she took another deep breath and continued. "Third, we're promised to each other, and to me that's as good as being married to you. I can't wait to really marry you, though…to really be Mrs. Thornhart…Doctor Thornhart. But that—that's the problem. I guess there was a 'but' in this, after all. I'm sorry."
Patrick opened his mouth and Marty held up her hand. "Wait. I'm not finished. I want say it again—I want to marry you, Patrick, and I want that more than anything. Okay, now you can ask me what the problem is."
On his next breath, Patrick asked, "What's the bleedin' problem, then?"
Marty looked down at the table. "I want to marry you. But I don't want a wedding."