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This page last viewed: 2017-07-20 and has been viewed 1591 times
Summary: Maggie Sullivan gets an eyeful.
Disclaimer: Characters aren't mine; nor is any profit being made from using them.
Maggie Sullivan muttered to herself as she attempted to navigate the steep and
twisting road while reading the directions to Face's latest abode. The Team was getting back together after a
week apart, and was using the house where Face was staying with "an old
friend" as the rendezvous point for everyone. For a change, her presence at this gathering
of her favorite mercenaries would not involve bullet holes or sutures. Her medical expertise was not even
required. This reunion was only about
fun, and the celebration next week of
squinted at the instructions she had scribbled on the back of an envelope. The
house was in a remote canyon area unfamiliar to her. She had left a full two hours early to avoid
"Hmmm, looks like Face has done it again." She shook her head in admiration as she reached the top of the drive. The house delivered on the long drum roll given it by the driveway…it was simply stunning. She parked between Peck's white Corvette and a dark red BMW. She glanced at her watch and noted that she was actually quite early. There was no sign yet of the Team's signature black van. Maggie surmised that the red car must belong to Face's "old friend," undoubtedly female.
thought of Face and his love life renewed a daydream that she had been having
all last week. She had found herself
thinking and fanaticizing about the good-looking lieutenant. It made her
uncomfortable -–feeling simultaneously a little lecherous and unfaithful. A fantasy is just that…a fantasy, she
told herself firmly.
Just having lustful thoughts involving Face does not constitute a
In a mock attempt to cool her ardor, she fanned herself with the envelope. Finally, she turned the engine off and pocketed the keys. Mags, she told herself, you're a healthy woman. Don't beat yourself up or overreact because of a little flight of fancy.
She rang the bell and waited. An attractive, athletic woman opened the door. She stood at least a head taller than Maggie. Her long, dark, thick hair covered the shoulders of the elegant, black pantsuit she wore with a confident air. Her most attractive and noticeable feature was a beautiful, full smile, which she now turned on Maggie.
"Dr. Sullivan? How nice to finally meet you. Templeton has told me so much about you. Won't you come in?" She stepped back to let Maggie enter the large foyer. "My name is Audra McKinney."
"Please, call me Maggie. I guess I'm a little early, I wasn't sure about how to get here…" Her voice trailed off as her eyes were drawn past Audra to the interior of the main room. To her amazement and delight, she saw that the entire back of the house was glass from floor to ceiling. The panoramic view of the valley below was compelling enough to stop Maggie in mid-sentence.
Audra watched her reaction with a knowing grin. "It's something, isn't it? Just about everybody reacts the same way to the view." They walked together toward the window.
"It's incredible." Maggie continued to absorb the view and the way the design of the house incorporated and framed the natural beauty of the land. "But it's not just the view. It's how the house is a part of it. So many architects seem to create designs for no other purpose than shock value. They subvert function and grace to novelty alone. But this architect… is an artist."
"Thanks," Audra said softly, smiling shyly.
"This is yours…your design?" Maggie felt her eyebrows betray her surprise. The tall woman nodded. They shared a smile and an instant feeling of rapport.
"Please, have a seat. Let me get you some coffee." Audra walked to the kitchen and returned with a tray supporting a thermal carafe, several mugs, sugar, and cream.
Looking around, Maggie inquired, "Where's Templeton?" She sank deeply into a comfortable, high-backed chair facing the serene view.
" 'Mr. Clean' is still in the shower." Audra grinned as she poured two servings.
As if summoned by the friendly jibe, the bedroom door behind Maggie flew open. She recognized Face's voice immediately, but the tall back of her chair prevented her from seeing him, and visa versa.
"Audy, did you make any of that good coffee? That Serengeti Moon flavor that we got at Hubbard & Cravens…." His sentence ground to a halt as he froze next to Maggie's chair when he caught her in his peripheral vision.
Maggie felt her eyes grow wide at this up close and personal encounter with the subject of her recent fantasies. The lieutenant was clad in nothing but a skimpy towel, slung low on his hips. He was close enough that she could feel heat radiating from his body. She found herself unable to pull her eyes away from the tantalizing thin line of golden hair snaking from just below his navel into the hidden recesses of damp terry cloth. I could just lean over right now and lick his belly. Maggie blinked rapidly, ambushed by her own thoughts. She continued to stare, transfixed, at the alluring body before her.
The clinical part of her physician's brain rescued her from her trance. She analyzed his form out of ingrained habit: good muscle tone, low level of body fat, probably no more than six per cent, judging by her ability to discern the parameters of the external oblique and intercostal muscles. Shiny, flat, well-healed scars marred the tanned torso and right thigh, indicating previous traumatic injury. Her experienced eye observed that skilled plastic surgery had successfully hidden some of what must have been the worst disfigurements.
As he stood there, frozen like a statue, she also could not help noticing the effect of the nearly naked man's neuroendocrine messengers. They came pouring out in a dazzling display of body chemistry, causing him to blush from his thick quadriceps up to the tips of his ears. His eyes, which were a startling blue-green, communicated his shock at her unexpected presence.
"Maggie! I didn't know you were here yet. Um…well, excuse me." Face stammered and turned to retreat back to the bedroom.
Maggie detected a devious note in Audra's voice when the younger woman stopped the con man's exit with a question. "I thought you wanted some coffee, Honey? We have a whole pot here."
"Ah…thanks…but, ah…." Face shifted his eyes back and forth between the two women. "I'll get it later." Gripping the small towel tightly, he walked back to the bedroom with as much dignity as allowed him by a few feet of looped cotton.
Before she could really think too much about it, Maggie found herself leaning back around the chair to get a parting glance at the rear view of that towel leaving the room. When the bedroom door closed, she sheepishly turned back and met the laughing eyes of the younger woman seated across from her.
Obviously noting her rapt interest, Audra teased her gently. "That's another stunning view that causes that same reaction, but I don't usually include it on the house tour." The dark-haired architect displayed her beautiful smile again. "I did try a delaying tactic… but I guess the lure of caffeine was not enough to get him to hang around a little longer in his 'toweled' state. Sorry."
Feeling the heat rising in her cheeks, she feared that Audra could see right into her recent carnal thoughts.
"I didn't mean to embarrass you, Maggie. Hey, he's a beautiful creation…I look at him that way too." They shared a knowing smile.
"His body has changed though, since college," mused Audra. "He used to be all 'bulked-up'-- from football, I guess. He's much sleeker now, almost pared down to the minimum." The dark-haired woman shook her head. "I almost didn't recognize him when I first saw him after so many years. "
Lost in a swirl of provocative mental images, Maggie almost missed an interesting piece of information. "You knew Templeton in college?"
Audra smiled. "Yes. We met on our first day on campus."
Intrigued, Maggie couldn't help wanting to know more. "What was he like then?"
She watched a parade of emotions animate the face of the younger woman before Audra finally responded to the question. "He was lightning in a bottle; a fascinating mix of innocence and larceny. He was unlike anyone I'd ever met before. He was full of big ideas and plans." She took a deep breath, and let it out before continuing. "But in spite of the façade he presented to the world, he was very vulnerable."
"What do you mean?"
he'd just turned 18, and at that point, he became a legal adult. Consequently, the financial support the state
Audra laughed softly at the memory. "It's fortunate that he's good at cards--he had to get his wisdom teeth out a few months later." She leaned forward and spoke earnestly. "Of course, you would've never suspected any of this if you'd hung around him. You'd have thought his life was a bed of roses."
"But you knew?" Maggie prompted.
Audra nodded. "I caught him at a weak moment. I was pestering him one night about what he was going to do on our first semester break. He'd had too many beers on an empty stomach and too little sleep. That night was the first and the last time I've ever seen him drunk. He revealed to me then, that his parents were dead and that he had grown up in an orphanage. We had a long talk that night." She stopped for a moment as she was engulfed in highly charged memories. "He just seemed so weary and unprotected." She stopped again. "I finally got him to admit that he had no place to stay while school was out. He was going to see if they would let him stay somewhere on campus during the break. He had no home, no family, and no money."
Pushing air through her lips in a soundless whistle, Audra continued to reminisce. "He also had no tolerance for pity—he was ultra sensitive about his circumstances. I must've struck the right chord though, because he agreed to stay with my family. It turned into our routine each time we had breaks during the semester. From that first visit on, I don't know who looked forward to the school holidays more…Tem, or my family. " She smiled wryly. "My dad finally found an attentive ear for his series of lectures about the stock market. My mom loved to cook for him because he appreciated it so much. He and my brother became close friends."
"As did you and Tem." Maggie wasn't sure if she was asking a question or making a statement.
"Yes, we were…friends." The younger woman studied her fingernails intently for a moment. "I still wonder what would have happened if he hadn't dropped out of school."
did he drop out?" Maggie was
"He met a girl. Her name was Leslie." A look of distaste crossed Audra's face as she said the name. "Tem fell head over heels for her. Well, maybe that's too trite a phrase for what happened. I don't know what it was about her that touched him so; but once he met her, it was as if he became a different person. For him, I think it was almost a spiritual awakening…like he'd found his soul mate." Audra's voice dropped almost to a whisper. "I wonder if Leslie ever knew how much she hurt him. "
"What happened?" Maggie asked.
have no idea. In the spring of our sophomore
year, Leslie just left him without a word.
I sure hope she had a good reason for doing what she did, because she
hit him with a knockout punch. He never
saw it coming. I don't think he could
have been more devastated. I guess it's
not surprising that
he dropped out, joined the Army, and volunteered for
shrugged. "I stayed. Even though,
without Tem, the campus seemed like a small town the day after the traveling
circus left. Life rolled on. Dad had a mild heart attack, but
recovered. My brother joined the Marines
and shipped out to
She paused and Maggie waited patiently for her to continue. "I didn't hear from him again for almost two years. Then we received his letter. It came about a month after the memorial service. Tem wrote my parents the most beautiful, moving, and heartfelt expression of condolence when he learned that my brother was declared KIA. My mother still cherishes that letter. She keeps it with my brother's flag and his Silver Star."
shook her head, as if to pull herself back from that particular path of her
memory. "We began exchanging letters
and continued to do so until the whole Bank of Hanoi fiasco exploded. After their trial and the escape of the
Audra paused to pour more coffee for Maggie before continuing. "Then one day, about seven years ago, there he was on my doorstep. He needed my help getting some architectural plans for a building downtown. I was just so glad to see him alive and well. It wasn't difficult to renew our relationship. Even with all the profound changes he had undergone, there was still a remnant of the boy I knew."
Standing suddenly Audra said, "Speaking of Templeton, I think I'll have a little mercy on him." She stood and poured a serving of the hot, fragrant brew. "Coffee is an absolutely vital fluid for him. I'd better deliver this. Make yourself at home. I'll be right back." She headed for the bedroom balancing a full mug.
Maggie explored the elaborate kitchen and open rooms of the sleek house. She walked the inside perimeter of the first floor, and enjoyed the warmth of the sun for a few moments as she stood on the back deck. She was beginning to wonder about Audra's return, when Maggie heard laughter coming from the bedroom. A short time later, the younger woman emerged, wiping shaving cream from her cheek.
"Now, where were we, Maggie?" They both sat down again in the comfortable chairs.
"Well, you were telling me about your relationship with Face. "
The dark-haired woman brushed back a long strand of hair, before looking directly at Maggie. "I know about all the other women in his life. It's just his way of keeping some distance. He needs the physical closeness and comfort, but he can't risk the emotional hurt. I understand that—I don't like it, but I understand. He's never made me any promises. "
"But yet, you continue seeing him," Maggie said gently.
"Oh, yes." Audra's answer was unequivocal.
"Why?" The question sprang reflexively from Maggie's lips.
Furrowing her brow, the younger woman swirled her coffee in the heavy mug. "Why would a successful, independent woman be willing to maintain a sporadic relationship with a promiscuous con artist who is being hunted by the military police? That's really the question, isn't it?" Audra spoke quietly, with no heat in her voice.
The dark-haired woman continued, answering her own question. "Because…I love him. I guess I always have. Because, after making love with Tem… I was… ruined –- there's no other word for it. I've never met anyone who could give me an experience that was even a shadow of what it's like to be with him." She looked up after a moment. "I'm sorry, is this making you uncomfortable?"
no, it's not," Maggie confessed. "I don't know if it's because I get
to spend so little time with
Audra raised her eyebrows to encourage her to continue.
"Well, Templeton, has featured prominently in those dreams. I guess I just can't help wanting to know. What is it like to make love with him?" Maggie looked up, expecting to see shock or maybe even a hint of disgust in the expression of her companion.
To her surprise, Audra simply nodded slowly before saying, "I don't mind the question. You know, I've never had the opportunity to really talk to someone about him. I can't talk to any of my girlfriends. I can't explain to them why I can only see him periodically, or where he goes when he is out of town, or even why he is the way he is. I can't even tell them his real name!" She shared a smile with her newfound confidant. "Only someone who knows him would understand."
nodded in complete sympathy. Due to her relationship with
"You know Templeton. You know how he can be sometimes… self-absorbed, emotionally distant, and fiercely guarded?" Audra halted. Maggie gave her an acknowledging nod.
Audra continued, "Well… in there," she indicated the bedroom with a tilt of her head, "he is the complete opposite of all of that. He is the most considerate and self-less lover I've ever known." Audra paused again, searching for words. "He has this remarkable ability to recognize how I'm feeling, and what I need. As if he can adjust his frequency to match mine, or tune us both to the same musical note. " The dark haired woman laughed as she took the musical analogy one step further. "I guess you could say he has perfect sexual pitch, and that incredibly graceful body of his is what he uses to sing."
Maggie let her eyes idly roam the closed bedroom door as she considered this revelation.
Appearing unsatisfied with her attempt to describe her experiences with the enigmatic Peck, Audra suddenly leaned forward. "Maggie, have you ever experienced a total solar eclipse?"
eyes studied the carpet as she dipped in the pool of her memory. "I was in
Audra's voice was hushed. "The eclipse begins, as the Moon seems to devour the Sun. But the Sun doesn't give up easily. Narrow points of light fight their way through the ragged edges of the Moon. Finally, the last ray of the Sun surrenders and is finally subdued. Everything darkens totally. The wind calms, and the temperature plummets. Birds think it's night and stop singing. Flowers actually close. Everything is still and quiet in the temporary deep twilight. It is a shimmering moment in which the full glory of the Sun's corona is visible."
Looking up, Audra said, "If you want to know what it's like to make love with Templeton, that would be the best description I could give."
"That's lovely," breathed Maggie.
Audra spoke wistfully. "When he loses command of himself-- in that moment of beautiful release, I can truly see him. His defenses are down and it is possible to peek into his heart. As with the corona of the sun during an eclipse, I get to see what is normally obscured."
The sound of a vehicle pulling up, and doors slamming, ended the silence that had fallen between them. Before getting up to walk to the front door, Audra laid a hand over hers and spoke with a sparkle in her eye. "Don't worry about me, Maggie. Remember that architects have to have patience. It may take years, decades, or even a lifetime to see their vision realized. It took more than 20 years from design to completion of the Taj Mahal. That is considered by some to be the most beautiful building in the world."
She turned back from her trek to the door for a last thought. "So you see Maggie, Templeton may yet be mine. "
Maggie smiled and nodded even though Audra couldn't see her do it. She heard the front door open and the raucous greeting Audra received from the other three members of the A-Team. It got even louder when the now fully clothed Templeton Peck once again exited the bedroom and joined the group in the foyer.
"So, Maggie!" A familiar voice bellowed. She felt her heart beat a little faster. "You got here early." Sky-blue eyes and silver hair came into view.
"Of course, Colonel. I wouldn't want to keep you waiting," she replied jauntily. "I've just been spending some time getting to know our talented hostess."
"Oh, the usual, " Maggie answered lightly. "Lust, sex, love, and relationships."
Maggie could almost hear Face's vertebrae rattle as his head snapped around to stare first at her, then at Audra.
"Well, not necessarily in that order," Maggie returned dryly.
She heard Audra laugh and then say, "Hey Tem, come out on the back deck with me. I've got a story about the Taj Mahal that I want to tell you. " She linked her arm around the con man's elbow and walked him toward the back of the house. "We've got to talk. " Audra winked at Maggie as she towed Face toward the outdoors. "We've definitely got to talk."
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