Abbey had been tormented by fear for days, and Rachel's unfortunate situation just made the fear worse. She couldn't control
the strain as she voiced her thoughts aloud.
"Rachel may lose her husband, Jed. I don't want to lose mine."
Jed crossed the space between them quickly and pulled Abbey into his arms. For one fleeting moment, he held her tightly,
scarcely daring to breathe, letting the wonderful feeling of recaptured love spread over him. He reacquainted himself with
her softness, the scent of hair, the warmth of her skin.
Then he placed his lips gently against her temple, saying softly, "You're not going to lose me, Abbey. Nothing is going
to happen to us. As long as I can find you anywhere in this world, we'll be together."
She pulled away a bit and looked into his eyes. Seeing nothing there but truth and love, she smiled and felt the fear begin
to slip away.
"But there is something I would like to know," Jed said, dropping his arms and taking a slight step back. "What the hell
happened here tonight?"
"I came home, I saw you with another woman, I went ballistic, and I changed my mind. That's it in a nutshell." Abbey really
didn't expect that he would let her get away with the short version, but she was going to try.
"It seemed like there was a little more to it than that."
She started pacing, and as she walked, the words began to flow.
"I couldn't wait to get home, Jed. I needed to apologize to you and try to make things right. I had been so scared at the
idea of you thinking...or dreaming...about Rachel that I was just crazy, but, on some level, I realized that I had let the
whole thing balloon out of proportion. I wanted to tell you that, and tell you that I was sorry for my accusations." She paused
and sighed before continuing, "Then I came in tonight, and there the two of you were. You were holding her hand and telling
her how glad you were that she was here and that you agreed with her..."
"You misunderstood, Abbey. You didn't catch the rest of the play, so you didn't understand the ending."
She really didn't want to relive those painful moments, but she had to know.
"So, what did I miss, Jed? What happened before I got here?"
"Two things. I was agreeing with her that we could not and should not think about reliving the past. And she made it clear
to me how lucky I am. She reminded me that, although I might not be king of the world, I'm pretty close," He expected Abbey
to smirk at that and she didn't disappoint him. "And that I have a beautiful family and a wife who loves me. She made clear
what I already knew -- that I need to appreciate those things."
"Oh, Jed..." Abbey's voice faltered, then she smiled. "That's so good to hear."
But he needed to clear the air completely, get it all out in the open. "I am going to explain this the only way I know
how, Abbey, and that is to be perfectly honest. First, nothing romantic or physical happened with Rachel. I got screwed up
for a little while, and I openly admit it. And there's no reasonable explanation. Things just seemed to pile up on me...the
censure, the campaign, the stuff between you and me. It seemed like nothing was easy any more. Rachel represented a time when
things were different. In short, I think I wanted to go back to being nineteen again, just to see how it felt for life to
be simple. But, when I talked to Rachel tonight, she reminded me that it wasn't simple then; it was just a different set of
"I didn't realize you were feeling so overwhelmed," Abbey said, uncertainty and concern clouding her face.
Jed shook his head. "I'm not feeling that way anymore. I just had to take some time and work things out, and, you may not
want to hear this, but Rachel helped."
He paused to assess her reaction, but she didn't seem upset, so he continued, "Abbey, you and the girls are ninety-nine
percent of the reason that I am happy. Rachel is the other one percent. She was the first girl I ever had a serious
relationship with, and the first girl who showed me that I could have a life that was better than the one I had at home. She
gave me hope, and with that, I allowed myself to dream. And that turned me into a completely different person. It turned me
into someone who could love you as completely and totally as I do. I'll never forget that she was my first love, but she is
my past, Abbey, not my future. The only future I can contemplate is with you."
"Oh, Jed..." Abbey knew that she was repeating herself, but words failed her for a moment. But the right ones soon came.
"I love you so much."
"I love you, too, Abbey, probably more than you know." Jed started toward her, ready to take her in his arms and make up
in the best way he knew how, but then he remembered something. Something that she hadn't explained entirely.
"What happened to make you change your mind?" he asked. "In the space of minutes, you went from raking me over the coals
for having an affair to believing that I was innocent."
"Yes, I did do that."
Jed still wanted an answer. "So what changed your mind so quickly?" he pressed.
Abbey spread her hands in a gesture of helplessness. "It was Rachel... You went to her and she pushed you away as though
she didn't care about you, which, apparently, she doesn't. She was so upset when she said that her husband meant everything
to her and she couldn't bear to lose him. It all rang true. I knew in an instant that she was telling the truth, because I
had been living with the same feelings myself."
Now it was Jed's turn to look concerned and uncertain. "Oh, Abbey... I'm so sorry you had to go through that."
She looked at him and saw the regret in his eyes.
"It's over now," she said, then she remembered something that had puzzled her earlier.
"Who else was here?" she asked.
"What?" Jed seemed perplexed at her question.
"Someone else was here for dinner. There were three place settings. Who was it?"
"Oh, that was Bruno."
Abbey laughed, "Well, that just proves your innocence completely. No one in their right mind would invite Bruno to a rendezvous."
Jed wasn't going to comment on that. She didn't need to know that he hadn't been in his right mind.
He asked instead, "So we're all right now? You understand that nothing happened?"
"Yes, I think we're all right now, Jed." Then she gave him a teasing smile and said, "But something did happen. You dreamed
Jed was suddenly exasperated. Obviously this was going to haunt him forever.
"I wish you could forget about the dream, Abbey. I guess you have the right to be jealous, but you know as a doctor that
dreams are just a natural function of sleeping, not indications of what we truly want. I made that mistake, thinking my subconscious
was trying to tell me something. I put a little too much emphasis on the dream and I let it shake me up for a day or two.
I even felt guilty about it. But I know that it didn't represent my true desires. I'm a reasonably healthy, normal man, Abbey,
with normal appetites..."
She interrupted him. "I know. I do it too sometimes."
That seemed to shock him. "Really? You dream..."
She ducked her head before answering, wanting to consider her words carefully. "I never told you. I just didn't want you
to be hurt or jealous. It doesn't mean anything..."
"Ron Ehrlich, I suppose?" Jed's voice was very severe.
"No, Jed. It's not Ron..."
Abbey looked so uncomfortable that he had to laugh, totally surprising her with his mirth. She couldn't see a damn thing
funny about this.
Jed grinned. "Hell, Abbey, I've known for years that you have warm, fuzzy feelings for someone other than me. Do you have
any idea how painful it is to sit with you through a Harrison Ford movie? I can tell that you just get hotter and hotter,
and the only consolation is that I'll be the one to benefit later, because you'll be dying to get laid."
"How absolutely vulgar that is, Jed," she said in a haughty tone.
"How absolutely true that is, Abbey," he responded.
She still looked pained at his comments, and she was a little disturbed that he had known all along about her private fantasies.
But, at least, everything was out in the open now. All their guilty little secrets were secrets no longer.
She sighed. "So we're done now? Fight over?"
He agreed. "Yeah, we're done." He took her hands in his and brought one to his lips for a soft kiss. "But, Abbey, we have
to talk sometime about working to keep something like this from happening again. We have to find a way to keep little things
from getting out of control."
She smiled up at him. "I agree, but not tonight. I need to get to bed."
"Jed..." Her hand was still in his and she tugged. "I want to go to bed now."
He nodded and released her hand. "Yeah, I'm sure you're tired. It's been a long day for you, traveling from Atlanta to
Houston and then Houston to here."
Sometimes he was incredibly obtuse. She grabbed his hand back and tugged as she started walking toward the bedroom.
The light seemed to dawn in his brain. "Oh! You want to go to bed now..."
Untidy heaps of clothing lay scattered on the bedroom carpet. The quiet in the room was unbroken, except for the almost
imperceptible sounds of uneven breathing, lips sliding together, and crisp sheets rustling over bare skin.
Jed lifted his mouth from Abbey's and confessed, "I dreamed about you while you were gone."
"Really? Good or bad?"
"Good and bad...."
"Sounds interesting," Abbey said. "Tell me about it."
"Well, you were being just incredible, teasing me and just about driving me crazy. It was the most fantastic thing, but
you always backed off...and then you stopped completely and pushed me away." Jed paused, remembering the nightmarish end to
his dream. "You laughed at me," he said accusingly.
"Well, that's not going to happen tonight. And, just so you understand, I'm not going to back off either."
"So what was I doing in this dream of yours that was so incredible? This?" She ran her hand down his torso and let it settle
between his thighs, rubbing gently.
Abbey grasped him more firmly, stroking up and down. "This?"
"Oh, God, Abbey, that feels good... But, no, that wasn't it..."
"Oh...I get it."
He hoped she really had gotten the idea. And he fervently hoped that now she was going to do something about it.
Leaving her hand where it was, Abbey blazed a trail of burning kisses down his chest and over his stomach. As she moved
lower, he groaned in anticipation. Her lips were soft and gentle as they replaced her hand on his erection. Nice, very nice,
but it hadn't been quite like that in his dream. He tensed, waiting for more, and she didn't fail him. Her lips became more
insistent as she took him deep into the warmth of her mouth, her tongue darting smoothly over his sensitive flesh. Suddenly
she hit exactly the right spot, an area of such intense sensation that he twitched involuntarily and gave a little gasp of
Abbey raised her head. "Did I hurt you?" she asked in mock concern.
He was almost incapable of speech, his voice gruff. "No...oh, no. That was fine, just fine."
"As good as the dream?" she demanded.
Could she please stop talking and get back to making love? He said encouragingly, "Better. I think it was actually better."
Abbey laughed softly, almost as though she had known what his answer would be. He sighed deeply as she started teasing
him again with her mouth. She was doing incredible things with her lips and tongue, driving him to total distraction, stimulating
him almost to the point of no return. But, just like the Abbey of his dream, she stopped just in time, and this time he wasn't
frustrated, just thrilled with anticipation for what would come next.
She moved back up his body, snuggling close to him and whispering in his ear, "Now what?"
"I think I did something for you."
"Well, that was mighty nice of you," Abbey said, smirking.
"Yeah, I'm a nice guy. And totally at your service. What can I do for you, Mrs. Bartlet?"
She rolled away a little bit and lay flat on her back. She didn't use words to answer him, but she did run her hands over
her breasts and smile. As he watched, she let her hands travel over her body, showing him exactly how she wanted to be caressed.
Finally, she let one hand dip between her thighs and linger there, and he watched with mounting excitement. It
was a rare sight and totally erotic.
Well, she wasn't going to have to show him twice. He could do that. He could do all of that.
Jed leaned over and kissed her deeply, parting her lips with his tongue and invading the sweetness inside. His hands moved
over her body and quickly came to rest on her breasts, and he felt her sharp intake of breath as his thumbs stroked across
her nipples. He lowered his head and began to trace a line of kisses down the deep valley between her breasts, then he moved
his lips to the right one and settled on a taut nipple. She moaned softly as he kissed and sucked.
He knew they were both getting too excited, but there was something else she had wanted. As he moved his lips from her
right breast to her left one, he pressed one hand farther down her body. Seeking the warmth between her thighs, he let his
fingers move gently over the moist flesh. Finding the tiny button of nerves, he lightly flicked his fingertip against it.
Abbey arched against his hand, mutely begging for more, and he repeated the action, over and over again.
Jed felt the tension building in her and wondered if he might be going too far. But she knew just when to stop him.
She pushed his hand away and asked softly, "Then what happened?"
"Well, I started to, you know...get really serious about making love, and you wouldn't let me. You pushed me away."
"I pushed you away? What kind of lunatic was I in this dream?" she asked incredulously.
"I don't know." Jed looked momentarily distraught.
"Don't worry," Abbey whispered. "I won't be pushing you away tonight. In fact," she paused and a teasing gleam came into
her eyes. "I might just be holding you down."
He raised his eyebrows questioningly, but she didn't give him much time to wonder about her intentions. She placed her
hands on his chest and pushed him onto his back, moving her body quickly over his and straddling him.
"You can't get away," she whispered in his ear, her breath tickling him slightly. "But I promise I won't hurt you."
Oh, no, Jed didn't think this was going to hurt at all.
He could feel her heat as she poised herself over him. They were both ready, and, without hesitation, he pushed into her,
slowly and deeply. But neither of them was in the mood for slow, gentle lovemaking. Abbey rocked her hips urgently against
him, and he thrust back with just as much intensity, the desire building quickly. Jed was unsure how long he could stay in
control, and, as he looked into her face, the desperate concentration on her features showed him that she, too, was close
to the brink. Suddenly, a soft sound escaped her lips as she shuddered, and he felt her spasm around him. That was all it
took. Just one...two...three more quick thrusts and his control shattered as fiery ecstasy overwhelmed him.
It was magic. Abbey had taken his nightmare and turned it into a dream come true.
Jed came back from the bathroom to find Abbey already peacefully asleep. He certainly hoped he could sleep undisturbed
tonight. His last decent slumber was but a dim memory.
First, he had dreamed about Rachel. It had been so vivid that he had actually expected to find her in his room. And, when
he hadn't, he had been desperate and confused about what had actually transpired. Temporarily insane.
Then, for several nights afterward, he had worried about dreaming about Rachel. When he had finally worked that out and
released his guilt, he had ended up fighting with Abbey and exiling himself to that horrible sofa in the study.
And, of course, last night there had been that disturbing dream about Abbey. Well, they had certainly banished that dream
Jed thumped his pillow and settled down, ready to sleep.
Just then Abbey started to snore. The snores were light, breathy sounds, not loud or irritating, but vaguely annoying,
like the sound of a relentlessly dripping faucet. He nudged her a little, hoping she would turn over and stop.
Abbey didn't stop snoring, but she did turn over, pulling her arm up as she did so. Her elbow caught him sharply in the
ribs. He jerked upright. Had she done that on purpose?
He looked at her carefully. No, she appeared to be deep asleep.
He winced at the throbbing in his ribs. So much an undisturbed night.
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