The tall good looking blond stood in front of the bathroom mirror brushing her hair. She was getting ready to have a romantic dinner with her husband of exactly one year. As she reminisced, she had to laugh. Their marriage was definitely a case of opposites attracting. Francine Desmond had been raised to exist in a certain sort of society, her husband Leatherneck, had been raised dirt poor on a farm in Mississippi. But somehow, neither one could imagine life without the other. As she got ready, she remembered the road it took to get there.
"Well Jonathon, if that's how you feel, there really isn't any reason for us to talk." With that Francine slammed the phone down. Her boss Billy Melrose looked up.
"Is everything O.K. Desmond?"
"Yeah Billy, thanks for asking."
"I know you didn't ask for advice, but remember life is too short for aggrevation. You shouldn't have to try so hard."
"Thanks Billy, I'll remember that."
As Billy went back in to his office, Francine sat at her desk and sighed. She and Jonathon had renewed their relationship about two months ago. Everything, seemed to be going well at first, but now, they were starting to fight. She did not always trust him, and he hated her job and the sacrafices it entailed. This latest fight was over some charity event. Jonathon had tickets, but Francine was on the duty roster for the evening, and couldn't go. He felt that if she loved him she should be there.
Lately, everything seemed to be a fight. Well, thought Francine, maybe we just need to talk.
That evening, Francine stopped at Jonathon's house on the way home from work. When she got there, she was not prepared for what she found. Standing in the doorway, was Jonathon with an armful of a brunette in a very little dress. She just stared, as Jonathon hastily ran to her side.
"Francine, I thought you were at work. This isn't what you think."
"Well, exactly what is this? Have you taken in boarders."
"No, but you were busy..."
"Save it, I don't want to hear it."
"Can I call you later Frannie?"
"Yeah, as soon as they install water fountains in hell!"
As Francine drove in her car she had no idea where to go. She found herself back at the agency. She let herself in, got past the guard, and wound up in one of the document vaults. As soon as she found herself alone, she began to cry. As she sobbed, she had no idea she had company.
"Excuse me, are you alright in there?" It was Leatherneck, he was head of the agency's technical department. He was a former marine gunnery sargeant. If he couldn't fix it, it couldn't be fixed.
"Oh, Leatherneck. I didn't know you were here. You never saw this, you got it."
"It never happened, Ms. Desmond. But no man is worth you in here crying your eyes out. You deserve better."
"Thanks, I appreciate that."
"Do you need to talk, or a cup of coffee?"
"A cup of coffee would be nice, I'll buy."
"No you won't, I invited you. Besides, you're the one who just had their heart broken."
The two of them went into the breakroom. Francine found herself telling Leatherneck about what had happened. He told her about his marriage, and how he had missed his wife after she had died. The more they talked, the more they found they had in common. Before they knew it, it was one o'clock in the morning.
"Wow, did you notice the time?"
"Not really, I was enjoying our conversation too much."
"Thanks for your help."
"I'm glad I could help Ms. Desm..."
"Call me Francine please, all my friends do."
"O.K. Francine. Do you need me to walk you to your car?"
As they began to walk, Francine felt Leatherneck's hand at the small of her back. She realized that he was a natural born gentleman. Nothing he did was forced or artificial.
As they walked, Leatherneck began to worry. He was more than attracted to Francine. Snap out of it Marine, he told himself, this will never happen.
Francine was at the target range, practicing. It was coming up to her yearly review. As she shot the paper targets, Leatherneck watched.
"Nice shooting Francine. You definitely are going to pass."
"Francine, I was curious, would you like to have lunch or dinner sometime? Nothing fancy, just friends."
"Yes, that would be nice."
"When? Is tonight too soon?"
"Um, no. Seven thirty?"
"I'll be there to pick you up. Where would you like to go?"
"Anywhere as long as you're there."
"I'll see you there, be casual."
As Francine walked to the elevator, she began to worry. "What have I done?" She thought. "And why am I so nervous?"
The day passed quickly, soon it was five thirty and she was in her car racing home. She showered and changed into a pair of designer jeans, a cashmere sweater and italian leather boots. At seven thirty on the dot, her doorbell rang. Leatherneck was there in faded jeans, a t-shirt and a leather jacket. On his feet he had beaten up cowboy boots.
"Hi Francine. Are you ready?"
"Almost, come on in. Make yourself at home, I have a few more things to do."
"Well we don't have reservations, so take your time."
"All I have to do is feed my cat. O.K. i'm done."
"Alright, let's go."
Leatherneck led Francine to his truck. He helped her in and got in his side. He drove her to a crab restaurant in Baltimore.
"I know this isn't fancy, but this place has the best soft shell crabs on the eastern seaboard."
"I love soft shell crabs."
The two of them entered the restaurant. The waitress showed them to a booth. They ordered two beers, and began to talk.
"Francine, I'm glad you came with me. I was nervous about tonight."
"Well, you're a beautiful, cultured woman. I'm just a hick from Dirt Poor Mississippi."
"No, you're my friend. Why wouldn't I want to spend time with you?"
They smiled shyly at each other, Leatherneck was about to say something else, when the waitress came back.
"May I take your order?"
"Yeah, can we have a dozen oysters, and the soft shell crabs for two? Is that O.K. Francine?"
"O.K., I'll bring your oysters."
As they ate and talked, they found themselves more and more at ease with each other. Finally after they had finished eating Francine asked Leatherneck a question, "What is your real name?"
"Dwayne, don't call me that."
"O.K. I won't."
"Do you want to walk along the water?"
"Yeah, that would be nice."
As they walked, they intertwined their hands with each other. Both of them were nervous. Francine was confused about this, Leatherneck was scared. They made silly conversation about boats, the water, work. Finally Leatherneck stopped, and looked at Francine.
"I know this is crazy, but I want to kiss you."
"It's not crazy, I'd like you to."
Leatherneck turned and took her in his arms. Slowly he kissed her forehead, her eyelids, her nose. Then their lips met in a kiss that left both of them breathless.
"Wow, can we do that again Francine?"
They kissed again, and again. Soon it was time to go back to the truck. This time they walked there with Leatherneck's arm around her shoulder. The ride home was quiet, but they held hands the entire way back to D.C. from Baltimore.
Leatherneck walked Francine to her door. "Would you like to come in for coffee?" she asked.
"Yeah, but I probably shouldn't."
"I had a great time."
"Can I call you again?"
"Can I kiss you again?"
It was Christmas again, time for the agency party. Beeman had had his eggnogg and was looking for Francine. This time though, Leatherneck caught him. "Little buddy, I think it's time you had some coffee."
Francine was talking to Amanda and Lee. Their one year anniversary was coming up. Their marriage was no longer a secret. In fact, rumors were floating around about her and Leatherneck. No one could actually belive that the two of them were together. Sometimes Francine couldn't believe it herself. What she did believe, was that this was the happiest she had ever been. No man had ever made her feel this way.
As she was talking, she felt a hand on her elbow. Leatherneck had come up beside her. "Hiya Doll."
"Hi yourself, handsome."
"So do you have plans for the next dance, or the next 50 years?"
"Well, my dance card is empty, would you like to fill it?"
"You'd better believe it."
The two of them began to dance. It was a fast song. Everyone could tell they were in love. Not a few of them shook their heads, talk about complete opposites.
Francine and Leatherneck stood in front of the minister, and recited their vows. It was a small ceremony, just family and a few friends from the agency. Amanda stood with Francine, Leatherneck had his brother. Both of them cried during the vows. Leatherneck took Francine to Mississippi to see where he came from, afterwards, they went to New Orleans.
As Francine finished getting ready, she heared the door open. "Frannie, where are you woman?"
"Oh, you know I love you. Did I mention that you look wonderful. I almost hate to leave the house."
"Please, I'm just in jeans and a sweater."
"I know, but I like you like that. Are you ready to go?"
"Yes, I was just finishing up."
With that they got in to the truck and drove to Baltimore to the place where it all began.