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    Andr0gene
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Return to Sender - 9. Chapter 9 - Adam

Alrighty then - Here. We. Go. I hope it's everything you imagined. If not, well... enjoy it anyway.

CHAPTER 9 - Adam

I was just done with the dishes - after a late dinner - when my mobile rang. I picked it up, checking the number. Unknown.

“Hello?”

“Good evening, Adam.”

I almost dropped the phone. I knew right away who it was. His tone was intimate, like he knew me.
Oh my god…

“...Kai?” I asked.

“Hi,” he answered, sounding a little apprehensive then, “did I call at a bad time?”

“No! No, no! It’s just…oh gosh, I hadn’t expected…hi! I didn’t even say hi!”

He chuckled. His voice was just as I’d imagined, deep and warm. Oh, and not gravely at all, very clear. I’d been wrong.

“How are you!?”

“I’m good.” He was smiling now, I could hear it in his voice, and a little relieved. “I’m very good, actually.”

My heart thumped wildly in my chest and I sat down on a chair at the kitchen table or I’d keel over in a minute.

“Oh god, I can’t believe you called! How did you get my number?”

“My sister. You called her about some items left in the attic. She still had your number in her call history.”

“Oh yes, I did!” I remembered. The woman who had called - she’d introduced herself as Megan. Of course! I hadn’t even put two-and-two together, having forgotten about that. Oh, but she’d been nice. Lovely woman, very vibrant and quite apologetic at the time, about forgetting to clear the attic. Not that there had been much left there, just a few suitcases and an old dresser. “She was nice.”

“I’ll tell her.” He went quiet, then. All I could hear was his breathing, which sounded a little sped up. “It’s so good to hear your voice. I finally get to put it to your letters.” Arya decided to chime in then, hearing me speak from the utility room where she had her own dinner. “Is that who I think it is?”

“Arya,” I chuckled, getting up and opening the door. Her paws didn’t quite catch on the tiles, resulting in a lot of scratching on them as she tried to find purchase. I could hear Kai snicker when he heard it.

“Keeping her in the utility room, are you?”

“Yes.”

“Good choice. If she craps or pisses anywhere, it’s easy to clean up.”

That had been my exact thought, after she urinated on my prized Persian rug in the study on the first night. I told him and he laughed. “Yeah, you laugh; I wasn’t amused.”

“They’re basically kids; you gotta potty-train them.”

“I’m a bad parent,” I smiled. “I know nothing of that.” Well, I didn’t. I know now, hence her staying in the utility room when I was out.

“No, you’re not. You just gotta learn.”

God, I loved his voice, it sounded so intimate and close.

“Do you like dogs?”

“Love ‘em. They’ll be your best friend for a long, long time. Just don’t let her in the house, unsupervised or one day, you’ll come back to demolished furniture.”

“Alright.”

He went quiet again. Just breathing.

“I imagined your voice. It’s like I thought.”

“What’d you think I sounded like?”

“Soft spoken, articulate, precise.”

“I imagined your voice too. It’s deep and sex…y.”

I groaned inwardly; I had not just said that. He chuckled. I shook my head. No, no, no…

“Oh, I’m very sexy…”

“Stop,” I answered breathily, embarrassed. Gosh, I couldn’t believe I’d said that.

“You’re cute when you’re embarrassed,” he softly laughed.

“Will you stop?”

His laugh grew louder.

“Alright, but no promises for the future. I kinda like it. Makes me wanna embarrass you again,” he teased.

I huffed at that. “That’s not nice.”

“I’m very nice, actually.”

He sounded like he was, yes.

“So…I guess I can rip up that letter I was preparing for you, huh? Now that you have my number…”

“Don’t you dare. I want that letter.”

“Why? You can just call…”

“No. Well yes, I can, if that’s what you want but…” he went quiet for a few seconds, “your letters are wonderful. I read them often, every day…all of them.”

I felt warm when he said that.

“You may have no idea what a letter feels like for a military man. And I’m not saying that to guilt you into continuing to write. It’s just - it’s a real, physical connection. Someone touched that paper, held that pen. Made an effort for you. And when we’re deployed? That connection is what makes it bearable…”

“I’m heating the wax, as we speak,” I joked, but it felt very nice that he appreciated my efforts.

“I love that you do that. It’s so quirky.”

His laugh was soft.

“And how do you scent them? I can smell vanilla, when I open the envelopes.”

I frowned then. What? Oh! Oh my… “That’s hand cream. I didn’t scent them on purpose but I wash my hands often. It’s Tahitian Vanilla hand cream.”

He could smell that?

When I was done with any one of his letters, I washed my hands because of the ink that would, at times, get on my hands. So before I folded them and put them in the envelope, I'd wash first, while the ink dried. I told him this and he chuckled softly.

“I sometimes pick up one of your letters and smell it while it’s in the envelope. It relaxes me.” He seemed to catch himself then. “Is that weird? That’s weird, isn’t it? You think I’m a weirdo.”

“No. It’s not weird. Not to me. Other people might think it weird, though.” And it really wasn’t. My heart was about to pound out of my chest and I really wanted to have a drink of something, anything but I doubted I could hold a cup; I was clutching the phone to my ear, for fear of dropping it and breaking the connection.

“I can’t stop thinking about you,” he said, lowering to almost inaudible. Then, clearing his throat, “and two weeks was far too long. I thought you wouldn’t answer.”

“Sorry,” I whispered, not intentionally. I cleared my throat as well. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to...you know - make you wait.”

“But you did.”

It didn’t sound accusatory, just a fact, but it had a chiding factor in it and I felt bad. “Yeah.”

“How would you like to wait for two weeks, before I replied?”

“I wouldn’t like that.” Truth. I wouldn’t. My turn to go quiet. I just listened to him breathing. I think he listened to me breathing. “Now it’s a little weird.”

“Why?”

“I’ve never met you, but I feel like I know you.”

“I know you too.” Long sped up breathing again. “I really would like to meet you.”

My ear began to hurt. I was pressing the phone so close to my ear.

“I’d like that too…”

He inhaled deep and I waited, listening. “We should. We owe it to ourselves, I think.”

My heart was in my throat and I swallowed hard. I knew exactly what he meant there, and there was no way I could say no. “Yes.”

“There’s so much I want to tell you. Talk about. Show you in the woods. And make you eat.”

I chuckled. “Make me eat? Why?”

“Your grandma was right; you should eat more.”

I smiled; he remembered that from my letter.

“Is she still alive? Your nan?”

“No, she died when I was 34.”

“And you’re - how old? Or young, whichever you like…”

“I’m 45.”

“I’m 48.”

“I know, and your birthday is on January 4th.”

He growled softly. I tingled all over, hearing that.

“You’re not playing fair. You knew that from my letter.”

I softly chuckled.

“Busted?”

“Yes, you are, Mister. Now play fair; when’s your birthday?”

“August 29th.”

“A Virgo. Tell me; are you a perfectionist?”

Wow, he knew Zodiac signs?

“Absolutely,” I grinned, “and you; confident much?”

“Very,” he returned, humor in his voice. “I read that Capricorns are very well matched with Virgos.”

“Who told you that?”

“Your letters.”

He was sharp.

“You must’ve read different letters to the ones I wrote then,” I answered, a little flustered.

“Please don’t… do that…”

“What?”

“Don’t be evasive. You were honest in your letters. So was I. Don’t change yourself because we’re on the phone now.”

“Okay…”

He saw right through that. I liked that he knew. That he knew me. I hesitated. Hesitated for a long while - he didn’t speak either.

“Kai?”

“Still here...”

“In my response to your last letter, which I was planning to post tomorrow…you wrote that once you leave Walter Reed, you’ll go to live with Megan…”

“I am, yes. And it’s funny that you say that, because…ehm, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.”

“No, no, go ahead.”

“It can wait. What were you going to tell me?”

“Well, I…you see, the thing is, I was thinking…”

Oh, come on now. I already wrote it down; why was it so hard to do it in person?

“You spoke of that being tight quarters. So I thought of something. I have plenty of room. So I wanted to extend an invitation to you, to come here and recuperate. It’s your old home, familiar to you. I could hire a nurse, if needed…”

I rushed that out, for fear of backtracking, apprehensive of what he might think of such an invitation. I realized suddenly that I hadn’t thought it fully through, now that I was saying it. I never gave thought that it might be inappropriate, perhaps.

Kai didn’t respond for a long time, long enough for me to release the phone from my ear and look at it, checking if the connection was still open. “Hello?”

“Adam, that’s….very generous, to offer. Are you sure? Because I’ll say yes…”

I closed my eyes, relieved. Oh thank god. He didn’t think it was inappropriate?

“Of course I’m sure. I don’t say things I don’t mean.”

He chuckled softly. “I very recently heard someone claim that. Trust me when I say; I’ll never doubt it when someone says that, ever again.”

“I’m sure,” I repeated, sitting up straight. I was sure. Now that I’d said it out loud, I only became more sure.

“It may happen sooner than you might expect. Because today, I got the best news. I’ll be discharged at the end of the week. Friday.”

“Friday?” I echoed.

“Yeah! Can you believe it?”

That was indeed great news!

“Okay…Okay! Yes, yes, of course. That should work. Kai, that’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you.”
Oh gosh, that left little time to make arrangements. I should immediately…

“Adam…” He interrupted my thoughts.

“Yes?” I answered, my arranging skills already running at full speed.

“Wouldn’t you, perhaps….well…want to visit me first?”

“Why?”

“Why?” He echoed, laughing, “Because, oh I dunno - you’ve never met me?”

I frowned. “But I know you….”

“I know you too.”

“And we can talk now. It’s faster.”

“I thought you didn’t like fast,” he chuckled, then catching himself, “not that I’m complaining!”

I smiled. “Well, I guess I could withdraw the invitation and we’ll see in…how’s two years sound? Is that slow enough?”

He made that soft growl again. I closed my eyes, enjoying that it was meant for me.

“Bad, BAD man. You’re toying with me?”

I smiled at the reference from his letter.

“A little.”

Again the soft growl. I could listen to that all night.

“You’re asking for trouble,” he semi-warned. “There’s no free toying with me - there’s always a price.”

“Like what?”

“At the very least a hug.”

“Oh dear. Whatever should I do?”

This was fun! Speaking with him relaxed me. I sat back, smiling.

“Well, don’t run - I can’t follow. Yet.”

Haha. His self depreciation was funny.

“I’ll run slowly.”

He chuckled. “Thank you. It’ll get better with time, or so my Doc tells me.”

“Oh! Did you have it? The surgery?”

“Last week,” he confirmed, “Doc was right - it was scar tissue. He relieved the pressure on the nerve. Today, I walked unsupported. Well, with the cane but I could do it alone.”

“Wow, that’s great! Before you know it, you’ll be hiking through the woods again.”

“From your mouth to God’s ears.”

His reply reminded me of a question he’d asked in his letter.

“Oh, you asked if I was Jewish,” I remembered from his letter. “I’m not - I got the menorah in a shop on Prince Edward Island.”

“Beautiful island. Rolling hills, little colorful towns…”

“Isn’t it? I went there last summer. Extended my stay there three times.”

“Did you write there?”

“Mhm,” I confirmed, remembering. “Very evocative and inspirational. I didn’t want to leave.”

“Can I ask what books you’ve written? You told me you write under a pseudonym...”

I smiled. “I’ll tell you some day soon.”

“Trying to entice me by remaining mysterious, Adam?” He chuckled.

“For a little while longer, at least.”

“Consider me enticed. I can’t wait to meet you…”

“You will on Friday,” I answered, continuing to smile. “Oh! Can you walk the stairs?”

“I can, but it’s still very tiring. It’ll get better with practice.”

“Right, right. Then it might be a better idea to install you in the living room instead of upstairs.”

“Upstairs is fine, Adam. It’s good practice for me.”

“Any preference as to what room?”

“Well, my old room is occupied, I believe,” he chuckled, “seriously - any room is fine.”

“What was your old room before? When you were younger, I mean?” I asked, curious. It had to be one of the two at either end of the landing.

“The one up the stairs, then to the left. Next to the bathroom. Megan slept at the front, Kellan at the other end.”

“Then that will be your room again.”

“Did you redecorate them? Because the pictures you sent…”

“No. But I’ll make it happen.”

“There’s not much time.”

“Then we’ll put a bed in the living room until then.”

“I could go to Megan’s, you know. I don’t want to put you through so much trouble on my account. And we already decided that I’d go there…”

“Nonsense. I want to do it and I have the time.”

And it’s quite amazing what an extra cash incentive can do to speed things up and now that the manuscript was off to the editor, I could dedicate all my time to make arrangements.

“I’d really like for you to come here and relax, recuperate and enjoy your old surroundings. I think it will be good for you to have some space and peace and quiet. And of course, your family is more than welcome to come visit you at any time they like.”

He cleared his throat. “That’s…incredibly generous of you, Adam. I don’t know what to say…”

“Well, you already said yes, so you don’t have to say or do anything. I’ll make all the arrangements.”

“Let you be you?” He chuckled.

“Yes please. Let me be fussy,” I smiled. “It’s what I do best.”

“Far be it from me to object. Fuss to your hearts’ content, sir. If pampering is on offer, I’ll be the last to say no.”

“Thank you. Oh, I have so many questions now!”

He laughed. “Ask away! I’m not going anywhere.”

And we talked and laughed and talked, far into the evening…

**********

The next morning I was up, bright and early, sitting at my desk with my laptop open, the phone directory showing, eying the clock and waiting for shops and businesses to open. In front of me, I had my pad with pages upon pages of information - I talked Kai’s ear off. He hadn’t seemed to mind answering any questions I had. In fact, he’d seemed to enjoy it. I knew his favorite colors (hunter green and butterscotch yellow, indigo), scents (fresh grass and pine wood, and for some strange reason he could not explain, any type of fuel and especially turpentine. Silly man), clothes (stonewashed jeans, leather jackets, plain white t-shirts and flannel lumberjack shirts, all very manly. Boots and sneakers) and much more. Luckily I didn’t have to pick out any of all that - he owned ‘plenty of crap’ which was stored at his brothers’. It was quite the moment when I recalled that I’d already met Kellan as well. He’d been the man that had come to fetch the items left in the attic!

Kai had thought that hilarious, that I’d forgotten that too. In my defense, a lot had been going on that day, but he teased me to no end for a while, asking ‘forgotten?’ when I couldn’t think of a word or item. It’s when I brought out the pad, so I could write all of it down. Aggravating man. But it was all in jest and I liked that he teased me with it.

The clock chimed and I picked up the phone.

Copyright © 2024 Andr0gene; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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