to Part 21
Mike and Carrie Saga
Sister Mary Rosa had never seen two people more in need of divine guidance than they were. She stood in the doorway and watched the sleeping couple. He was lying on his side on top of the covers with his arm extended up and around the pillow the girl was resting on. His other arm was thrown protectively over her waist. She remembered back to the events of last night. The two of them were quite a sight. He was wearing an unzipped jacket with one sleeve and a pair of sweatpants. She remembered seeing the perspiration that formed on his chest from carrying the girl so far. The girl was only wearing an oversized dress shirt but the young man had covered the rest of her with a blanket. The edges of it had dangled down when he carried her in. They both were barefoot. So whatever had happened must have happened suddenly.
In her hands she held a change of clothes for both of them. She had guessed at the sizes but was pretty sure they'd fit. She laid the clothes next to the jacket at the end of the bed. In all the excitement, she had never learned their names. But she did pray that the girl would make the right decision and choose this man over the other. She had never seen such dedication, self-sacrifice and love in a person's eyes and actions before. She figured that he would quietly stand by and let her go if the one named Austin was her ultimate choice. She couldn't wait until they were awake. This was more excitement than she'd seen in ages, and she wanted to know details.
A blast of music came out of the sanctuary and she ran down hall. "What am I going to do with that boy?"
Carrie was lying in a dreamless state when a loud noise invaded her thoughts. It must be her clock radio. she reached over to turn it off and ran into something very large and very male. She still had her eyes closed and ran her hand along the skin on his arm. Austin? Then the events of last night flooded back into her mind. It was Mike. She remembered looking into his eyes and hearing Celine Dion sing "When I Fall in Love." At that moment, she remembered thinking how easy it would be to fall in love with him. But she was afraid to give away her heart again. Afraid that the same thing might happen. But Mike wasn't Austin. Mike would never neglect her as Austin had. He had been there for her the entire time as a friend. Such dedication was rare these days, and she was thankful that Mike gave his to her.
When she opened her eyes, pain shot through her head. It was the beginning of a migraine. She put her had up to cover her eyes and felt a bandage. Her head hurt like hell. Then she remembered the fire, and how they had broken the bathroom window to get out. She remembered being cold. And she remembered the dark ominous sky overhead, but that was all. Something else had happened, but her head hurt too much when she thought about it.
Mike was lying next to her. A days growth of stubble grew along his chin. She couldn't help but reach up and feel the blonde roughness. Mike stirred at her touch.
"Carrie?" Mike came up on one elbow and looked down at her. His entire body cried out. "Man, am I sore." He stretched and wiped the sleep out of his eyes. "How are you doing? It's nice to see you're finally awake."
Kate sat at her desk at Titan Publishing and flipped through last month's issue of Bella. They were having a meeting for the next magazine, and she wanted to come in with one blockbuster article concept. At this moment, nothing earth shattering was coming to her mind. All she could think of was how long Stefano's plan was taking. She wanted Mike Horton out of Carrie's life now.
Kate formed a picture of Mike in her mind. She had to admit he was a handsome man. And charming. Although they personally had only tolerated each other's presence, she knew he could have any woman he wanted. Any woman except Carrie that is. The man had everything going for him; rich family history, wonderful job and great friends and family. What he needed was someone to occupy his time. Where could she find a woman for Mike? Then she had an idea. One that would solve both her problems. It would get Mike out of Carrie's life and make a great article for Bella. Kate was going to make Dr. Michael Horton a star.
Hope was still thinking about her conversation with John as she walked through Salem Place. So much had happened to him in such a short amount of time. It was hard to fathom how he handled it all. Up ahead, she could see Mickey, Maggie and Laura having breakfast at Johnny Angel's. Hope decided to join them.
"Hey, you guys. Fancy meeting you here." They all smiled and welcomed her. The waitress came, and Hope ordered a latte. "So, Laura have you heard back from Mike yet? Gran was telling me he was looking for a cure for Roman."
"No, not yet, but I don't expect to for a few days." Laura's expression told Hope that there was more to her comment than the obvious. She raised an eyebrow in wonder.
"What do you mean, Laura?" Maggie echoed Hope's own curiosity. "I thought he went up there alone."
Laura shook her head. She felt like she would explode if she didn't tell someone her news. "No, Carrie was with him. I saw them before they left yesterday." Laura was excited for her son. He had finally found happiness, and she wanted to shout it to the world. She didn't think Mike would mind if she told them about it. They were family, after all. She related to them the events of the last few days.
"Mike and Carrie are together? What about Carrie and Austin?" Maggie sounded surprised. Hope had known about Mike's feeling for Carrie for a while now. She liked the idea of her cousin and her dear friend together. The match had never entered her mind before, but now she couldn't imagine him with anyone else. Hope remembered back to a conversation she'd had with Mike.
"Hope, she could do so much better than Austin." Even then she had detected a glimmer of interest on Mike's part. And Hope, being in a playful mood that day, had honed in on his feelings.
"You're right. She deserves a great guy." Mike seemed to agree and a far off look crossed his face like he was imagining something that could be. Hope smiled. She was right. He was interested in Carrie. At that moment, Hope didn't know if Mike even knew she was in the room. Carrie was all that was in his mind. She couldn't help but add, "Someone like yourself, maybe?" That brought him back to the present. Mike shyly smiled and threw his head to the side. A sure sign that she had hit the nail directly on the head.
"Oh, Hope, we're only friends."
"Friendship is the best place to start. Look at me and Bo..." Hope stopped herself. It was hard to separate her life from Bo's. They weren't together now and she just had to except that. "Wait, that was a bad example. The two of you would be great together."
She hadn't talked to Mike since that day, and made a mental note to stop by and pester him about Carrie when they returned. While she was thinking back, Laura and Maggie had both left for different appointments. That left Hope and Mickey at Johnny Angel's alone.
"Where were you just then? The girls tried to say goodbye to you, but you were in another world." Mickey sat back in his chair and tapped his fingers together.
"I was just thinking about a conversation I had with Mike. Did you know he was in love with Carrie?"
Mickey looked a little uncomfortable at Hope's question. "No, Mike doesn't talk to me about things like that. He keeps his personal life to himself. Even Laura didn't know. She's just more observant than I am." Hope sipped her coffee. An awkward silence filled the space between them. All she wanted was for her cousin to be happy. For some reason, Austin came into her thoughts. She remembered Mickey was working on getting Austin and Sami's marriage dissolved.
"Whatever happened with Austin's annulment to Sami?" Hope knew that if Austin got his marriage annulled it might ruin any chances Mike had with Carrie. Mickey's pager wailed. He looked at it as he gulped down the last of his coffee. His fingers flew across the keypad on his cellular phone. The call was brief.
"I'm sorry, Hope. What was that? Oh, Austin. It went through about a week ago." Mickey picked up his briefcase and glanced at his watch. "I have to run." He kissed her on the cheek and hurried off in the direction of his car. Hope arched her eyebrow and contemplated the information she had received. Austin had gotten the annulment. That was interesting. Hope wondered if Carrie knew. Better yet, she wondered if Mike knew.
Throughout the night Mike had checked Carrie's condition. He felt her head knowing her fever had already broken, but just wanted to make sure.
"You really had me worried for awhile." He ran his hand from her forehead down the side of her face brushing his thumb against her cheek.
"What happened?" She glanced around the unfamiliar room. "Where are we?"
Mike spoke in a soft tone, his hand still cupping her face. "Where do you want me to start? When the cabin burned down or when you fell off the cliff?" Carrie had remembered about the cabin fire, but her eyes widened at the mention of the other incident.
"I fell off a cliff?" Mike could see the shock in Carrie's eyes. Carrie reached up and touched the bandage over her eyebrow, Mike gently pulled her hand away.
"That's where you got that cut. From all I can tell, medically you're going to be fine. No broken bones. Maybe a couple of bruises. Personally? I was very glad to see those pretty eyes open when I woke up. That was the only prayer I wanted answered. For you to be alright." Mike pulled Carrie into his arms and closed his eyes. Thank you God, he thought. Even if I have to watch her go back to Austin, it was all worth it. He pulled out of the embrace and placed his hands on her shoulders. He had to focus on getting her back to Salem.
"As for where we are, I don't exactly know the answer to that one." Mike looked around the small room. Everything that had been so dark and sullen the night before was now brilliantly bathed in white light. It amazed Mike how different this little chapel looked when the sun was shining. "I was so tired from carrying you that I didn't bother to ask. From my calculations, we're about ten miles from Green Mountain Lodge." Mike looked down at the new dressing he had put over his gunshot wound. He was lucky the long walk hadn't reopened it.
"Wait, you carried me? Mike, you're not supposed to be lifting heavy objects with an injury like yours." Carrie softly slapped his shoulder.
Mike leaned back, smiled and dodged her playful punch. "You weren't that heavy." Carrie punched him again and this time he grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him. It brought her face inches from his. Mike whispered as he looked deep into her eyes.
"Carrie, you should know by now that I would do more than carry you if I had to." An electric current jumped between them as they continued to gaze at each other. Carrie looked down to Mike's lips and back to his bright blue eyes. Her hand somehow found his shoulder and his arm slipped around her waist. Why was it that being so close to Mike made her head swim? She felt off balance and leaned forward. Mike scooped up her lips with his and Carrie gave into the moment. This was all she had thought about since she had opened her eyes and saw him lying in such a peaceful state next to her. Mike pulled out of the kiss. Why was he stopping? She leaned up to nuzzle his neck, but Mike's attention was focused on the door.
"Carrie," Mike stammered. "We have company." She looked to the door and the mood was instantly broken. A small woman wearing a long black shift stood in the doorway. Redness filled Mike's cheeks at being caught in such an intimate moment.
copyright © 1998, w3PG, inc