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SOULMATES
By Spirit
Part 2


Carrie looked at the ring on her finger. It sparkled brightly in the glow of the lamplight. The diamond was beautiful, flawless and clear, just like their love, Austin had said. Now it served as a constant reminder how incredibly messed up her life had become.

Carrie stared out the window at the rain pouring down. Three months into her marriage to Austin she had decided she needed something to occupy her time outside of Titan. It was getting harder and harder to go home to Austin every night. She had been watching a special on the Discovery Channel about children who were born infected with the HIV virus and had a great idea. Carrie went to see Alice Horton and convinced her to change the Horton house into a facility that would give long term care to children living with HIV and AIDS. Mrs. H had loved the idea and immediately called the hospital to find some doctors who would be willing to volunteer their time. Three months later, with a couple large donations, the new Horton House was up and running.

Carrie remembered her first day volunteering at the Horton House. To her surprise, the doctor who had volunteered to supervise the medical staff was Mike. She hadn't seen him since she married Austin, so when she walked into the planning meeting Carrie found herself breathless. Mike looked a little thinner and tired around the eyes, but to Carrie he looked beautiful. God, she never should have married Austin, she'd thought, and for the first time Carrie realized it would have been better for her to be alone than to have married Austin out of familiarity.

*****

Mike still stood in the door of the Horton House. He and Carrie had been working together for nine months now and he didn't think he could pretend not to care about her much longer. He thought back to what had happened after He and Carrie had returned from Los Angeles. For the first time during their trip neither one had anything to say to each other. Austin was waiting for Carrie when the arrived, along with Kate. Mike turned away as Austin and Carrie embraced.

"They are meant to be together" Mike closed his eyes, trying to block out the sound of Kate's voice. Kate was the last person Mike wanted to talk to right now.

"Let it go Kate. I know Carrie loves Austin and I want her to be happy. If that means that I have to live without her, so be it."

"Well, you will have to understand that I simply don't trust you and I've taken steps to insure that Austin and Carrie get married tonight. I arranged to have a limo waiting for Carrie and Austin. They are being taken to St. Luke's as we speak where a priest is waiting for them to declare their undying devotion." She laughed, moved closer to Mike so there were only inches separating them, and speaking in a low voice said, "I'm not going to let anyone, especially you, Dr. Horton, get in the way of Austin's happiness. It is the least I can do for my son." "Kate, I've already told you that I don't want to hurt Carrie. Why don't you back off and stop trying to run everyone's lives around you?" Mike snapped at Kate. The only thing he wanted to do right now was to go home, pour a drink and lay down. The last thing he wanted to do was to verbally spar with this witch.

"Spare me your little self-sacrificing act Mike," Kate laughed, "Just keep in mind Dr. Horton that I am on the board at the hospital and I have a lot of friends. Stay away from Carrie, Mike, if you know what is good for you."

"You seem to assume that I am like you, Kate. Let me assure you that we are not cut from the same cloth." Mike felt anger welling up inside him. How dare she threaten his career when he had no intention of interfering with Carrie and Austin? He moved away from Kate and continued talking, words spilling out of his mouth, trying to convince himself he was doing the right thing as much as he was trying to convince Kate. "I do not manipulate to get what I want. I would never ask Carrie to choose me over Austin. I know she loves Austin and I respect that, and I wouldn't want Carrie to compromise her love for him on my behalf. For the record, I don't believe Austin deserves Carrie, and of course I believe I could make her happier, but none of that is my decision, it is hers. I would not be worthy of Carrie's love if I tried to sabotage their wedding. Don't you understand that I really love Carrie and want her to be happy, even if it means losing the love of my life?"

Kate's face had hardened as she listened to what Mike was saying. She regarded him through narrow eyes then stepped towards him until her face was inches away from his. "None of that matters," she hissed. "Just stay away from Carrie."

*****

After Carrie and Austin were married, Mike had avoided Carrie as much as possible. He really missed her. At first the heartache had been unbearable, but after a while he started to have some okay days. What were unbearable were the nights. Mike would toss and turn, his dreams filled with visions of Carrie and his mind remembering how it felt to hold her, how her hair smelled, how her eyes crinkled at the sides when she smiled. As a doctor he could heal physical pain, he could stitch people up or prescribe medication, but he had no experience with emotional pain and was at a loss as to what to do with his heartache. That was why when Gram had suggested he supervise the medical staff at the Horton House, Mike jumped at the opportunity.

What Gran hadn't told Mike was the changes at the Horton House were Carrie's idea and she would be working on the planning committee. When Carrie walked in the door on the day of the first planning meeting, Mike felt his heart stop for a second and all the feelings he had been fighting for three months poured through him. She was so beautiful and he ached to hold her in his arms. Her hair was longer and she was a little thinner, and there was some sort of sadness in her eyes. Mike wondered why that was, but didn't ask. Her emotional well being was her husband's responsibility, not Mike's. He had no claim to Carrie except in his most feverish dreams.

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