*Bonus* Back home in Lucky Palms
Rob and I are sitting in the living room, just talking about the our schedule for tomorrow while the teenagers are running around arguing and who’s turn it is to wash the dishes when the phone rings. Rob answers it and quickly stands up, the look on his face tells me something is wrong.
He walks toward the front door, starting to leave the house since the kids are being so loud, he can’t hear well. I hush the kids and tell them to go in the other room. They can tell something is wrong, so they all quickly obey. I walk over to Rob and put my hand on his arm, he is simply listening to whoever it is on the phone and shaking his head. “Who is it?”, I whisper to him. He holds up a finger to let me know he heard me and then simply says, “OK, I understand. ” He hangs up the phone and I can see it on his face, something terrible has happened. “Merrilee, the plane has went down. They lost radio contact several hundred miles from Monte Vista. they fear there are no survivors.” His face says it all, our daughter is gone. “No.. NO.. Rob, it can’t be… No!”, I bury my face in my hands. Rob’s arms are around me and he is holding me up. I hear a knock on the door and Rob turns to answer it. I stand there in shock, it’s not true. I refuse to believe it.
A policewoman is at the door, Rob invites her in and she explains to him the same thing someone on the phone just told him. “I’m very sorry, Sir.. Ma’m. We will keep you posted on any word we receive. There are Coast Guard ships on the way to the area and we have rescue helicopters in route. It doesn’t look good though. The last contact we received was several hundred miles from any major island. There are many small islands in that part of the world, though. So we will continue to search. I’ll be in touch.”, she says as she turns to leave. I nearly collapse with grief, Rob scoops me up and carries me to the couch.
The kids come in and Rob quietly explains what has happened. They are devastated and retreat to their rooms to grieve together. I touch Rob’s face, “It can’t be true. Not my baby. After everything we have been through, what she has survived with Moe, being kidnapped. My baby…..”, I cry into his shoulder. The pain is unbearable, my heart is literally broken. Rob holds me tight and we cry together for the longest time. He finally leads me to our bedroom and we lay together crying and talking, I finally give in to the fatigue and fall asleep sometime before dawn.
Reports are slow to come in, the search and rescue has been changed to recovery. Months pass and very little news comes in. Bit and pieces from the plane have been found, with the current of the ocean though it’s hard to tell from which direction they have come. They are still in search mode, but little to no hope remains for survivors. We refuse to give up though, we have hired a private rescue team. They continue to search by plane and boat, Rob has told them no matter the cost to do everything they can to find our daughter.
Months later, “Rob, I just have this feeling that Merri is OK. I don’t know why, but I do.”, I say to Rob one evening. I smile at him, the first smile I’ve really had since we got the news of the plane. He takes my hand and pulls me close. I hug him close and breathe in the fresh scent of his skin. He smells so good, I look up at him and give him a small smile. I run my hand up his chest and my fingers wrap into his hair. I pull his face down to mine and our lips meet. He tightens his grasp on my hips and pulls me roughly against him. I tease his lips with my tongue and he moans softly. He sweeps me up into his arms and practically runs to the bedroom.
Moving faster than I’ve ever seen him, he pulls his clothes off and stands before me in only his underwear. My heart beats furiously in my chest and I slowly unbutton my dress and let it fall from my shoulders into a pile on the floor. Within seconds he is crushing me in his arms, kissing me all over. He runs his hands down my back and grabs my backside and presses me against him. I can feel his arousal and it makes me want him even more.
I push him back onto the bed press myself against him. I run my fingers down his chest and skim just slightly inside the band of his underwear with my fingertips. I hear him inhale sharply and he throws his head back against the pillow. I smother him in kisses, over his chest and leading lower. Finally, he has enough of my torture and flips us over, we covers me with his body and I lose myself in his love.
I wake up the next morning and see Rob laying next to me smiling. “Hi”, I say shyly. Even being married to this man for more than 20 years, he can still give me butterflies with only a look. He doesn’t say a word, but kisses me tenderly and slowly pulls my nightgown up over my head and we have a repeat of the night before. When finally I wake again, I smell food cooking and hear the kids in the kitchen laughing and joking with each other. It’s a good sound. We get up and walk into the kitchen, the kids have made us breakfast, or Brunch, I should say since we all slept in today. Macy Jo pulls my arm and tells us both to sit down. Manda brings us both a plate of cherry pancakes.
As we start eating, the four kids gather around and yell, “Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!”. I look up surprised, I had forgotten our anniversary. Rob smiles and nods to Mason, who presents me with an envelope. “What is this?”, I ask. Rob smiles and he explains, “The kids and I thought that we deserved a vacation. So we are going to France.” I open the envelope and pull out the contents, “There are only 2 tickets…”, I say. “Yes, Merrilee. It’s a romantic vacation for the two of us. The kids are staying home. Robin, Lauren and Summer will be checking in on them. They will be fine.”, he adds when he sees that I start to get nervous. The four kids come over and wrap their arms around me. I can’t help it, but tears stream down my face. I stand up and hug each child. “I love you all so much. When do we leave?”, I ask with a laugh. “Tomorrow!”, they all exclaim loudly. “Tomorrow? I’ll never be ready by tomorrow.”, I say. “We will help, don’t worry. You will be ready.”, Macy Jo exclaims. The girls take off and start packing my bag and the boys head to the garage to get the suitcases and trunk that we will need.
Rob and I head to the bedroom to get dressed, I walk over to him and wrap my arms around his neck, “Thank you so much. I’m so sorry that I forgot our anniversary. I’ve just been so …. “. He stops me, “It’s ok. I know. This will be good for you, for us.” Rob wipes the tears from my face and kisses my cheek. I try not to cry, “I feel guilty for being excited, for wanting to go. I think about Merri and wonder what else I should do, but I can’t stop living. I told you yesterday that I had a feeling she is ok. I do, I still feel that way. I feel a connection to her. I think I would know if she were gone. I think she is alright, we will find her eventually. I just know it.” Rob nods his head, “I feel it too, Merrilee. We will find her.”