Hit Or Miss

Warning: The following story may not be suitable for young people. Contains nudity. Not that there are any pictures or anything, but still…

Greetings, people of Sol III,

Today, we’re pleased to share a short story that sheds a bit of light on Wayne’s relationship with Janet. Though they have never been lovers, they once came pretty close. This story is about that event…

Hit or Miss

Most UnionCon events were about promoting cooperation and goodwill between the hundreds of star systems that made up the Galactic Union. There were conferences, treaty ceremonies, and cultural programs that made me proud to be Earth’s representative.

Then there was the meet-and-greet, which made me feel more like some B-movie star than an ambassador. Ben and I sat at the Sol-Deneb table, signing autographs for groupies. Yes, we had groupies.

Scores of young ladies—at least, I was pretty sure they were mostly all ladies, though with some races it wasn’t that obvious—stood in lines waiting to meet us.

Ben put down his pen and cracked his knuckles. “So, how’s your girlfriend?”

“You mean Janet? She’s not exactly my girlfriend.”

“C’mon, Wayne. The girl followed you from Oklahoma to Georgetown. That sounds like devotion to me. She seems pretty enough. If I weren’t already almost spoken for, I’d take her on.”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh, like you’d have a shot.”

“Hey, I’m Ben Elan, Umea Bakearen of Deneb!”

“That might mean something to the UnionCon crowd, but on Earth, you’d be as much a nobody as I am.”

“You’re not a nobody. You’re Wayne Freed, Umea Bakearen of Sol III!”

“You don’t get it, do you? Two booths at the food court could probably fit all of the people of Earth who know about it. Janet’s not one of them.”

Ben looked wide-eyed at me. “Why does she even like you, then?”

“Oh, thanks for the vote of confidence. For your information, she’s my sister’s best friend. I’ve known her for years.”

“Well, think about this, then. If you and I had not been exchanged at birth, I might have been the one carrying her picture around.”

I sighed. “You keep thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the galaxy, don’t you? It’s not as simple as all that. If it weren’t for Sol-Deneb, my family wouldn’t have moved to Oklahoma in the first place. I never would have met Janet.”

Ben smiled. “You mean, I never would have met Janet.”

“Neither of us would have. Look, just because I’m not sleeping with Janet doesn’t mean I don’t love her. I just don’t want to complicate our relationship until I’m done with school.”

“You really think she’ll wait for you that long?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. It might simplify things if she did give up and move on. But you’re going to leave her alone. You wouldn’t want me hitting on Sandra, would you?”

“Her name is Sonja, and she wouldn’t go out with you, anyway. I’m the one she’s got a crush on, according to her sister.”

“Yeah, well, if she’s got a crush on you, how come her sister is the only one you’ve talked to?”

Ben crossed his arms. “She’s shy. I’m still working out how to break the ice. I think the sister likes you. Her name is Lisa, or Lana, or something like that. I know it starts with an L. I could introduce you. We could double-date, if you want.”

“Like I would trust you to set me up on another blind date.”

Ben put up his hands defensively. “Hey, that wasn’t my fault! The girl never told me her friend was an Ursan. What do you have against furry women, anyway?”

“It wasn’t the fur, Ben. She was fourteen!”

“So? That’s like ninety eight in dog years.”

“That’s not funny, Ben. In Ursan years, that’s still statutory rape!”

“Only if you had slept with her.” Ben’s face suddenly went white. “Please tell me you didn’t sleep with her!”

“No, of course not!”

“Whew! That’s a relief! Her father would have torn you to shreds. Then he’d probably come after me, too.” Ben looked at me sideways. “You’ve never had sex, have you?”

“That’s none of your business.”

“Ha! I knew it!”

I scowled at him before I signed a photo and handed it to the next girl in line, an attractive Aldebaran in a Slave Leia costume. “That’s a nice costume, miss.”

“Thank you for noticing, Ambassador.” The girl winked. “I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. I wouldn’t mind being your first.”

I felt my face grow hot. “Thanks for the offer, but I just finished telling my friend here that I’d prefer to know the girl, first.”

“No problem. I’m Na Hi.” She handed me a card with her name, contact information, blood type, body measurements, and other data I wouldn’t have thought to ask. “Give me a call. I promise you won’t be sorry.”

Ben watched her saunter away, then nudged me. “Are you going to use that?”

I tossed the card onto his photo stack. “Knock yourself out.”

“You know, you really should be enjoying yourself. I wouldn’t mind a gaggle of scantily-clad females fawning over me.”

“Aha! So this is one of those grass-is-greener things! You’re just annoyed that all the women lining up for your autograph are dressed up as zombies and slime devils, aren’t you?”

Ben scowled. “I really hate Denebian cinema.”

I smiled at Ben’s discomfort and signed another photograph. Instead of another Leia costume, I saw a pretty X-wing pilot. She wore a form-fitting satiny flight suit, high-heel boots, and a helmet. With the visor down, all I could see of her face were her lips, red and full.

I gradually became aware that they were moving. She had been talking to me. “Ambassador Freed? I said that I’m a big fan of yours.”

“What? Oh, yes. Yes, of course.” I handed her the photo, smiling absently.

She seemed slightly disappointed in my reaction. “Thanks for the photo.”

“Uh, I really like your costume, miss.” I wanted to ask her something, if I could only remember what it was.

The girl smiled. “Thank you. My sister and I worked on our costumes together.”

As she walked away, I suddenly remembered what question I wanted to ask her. I jumped up.

“What’s your hurry?” said Ben. “We’ve only got another ten minutes before closing, can’t it wait?”

“I’ll be right back. I just need to know that girl’s name!”

Turning my head to answer Ben, I had misjudged the precise location of the step leading down off the platform. I felt my left ankle pop as it hit the ground and rolled.

I caught one last glimpse of the lovely pilot as she strode out of the hall as a small team of medics and security personnel descended upon the scene.

***

The infirmary doctor scanned my ankle. “Well, nothing’s broken, Ambassador. It’s just a bad sprain.”

“It still hurts, Doc.”

“I’ll give you a prescription for the pain. Stay off of it for at least six weeks, and refrain from any strenuous activity for twelve to sixteen weeks. Nurse, please bring a wrap and a pair of crutches.”

“That’s it? I kind of expected you’d have a healing beam.”

He gasped. “Does Sol III have such a technology? That would be a boon to medicine throughout the Union!”

I frowned and shook my head. “No, sorry. I just assumed with all the other advanced tech around here…it’s not important. Thanks, Doc.”

“My pleasure, Ambassador.” He shook my hand and left.

The nurse showed me how to adjust the crutches. “Is this your first time?”

“I’ve been pretty lucky up until now. And loads more graceful.”

She smiled. “Even the most graceful dancer can fall down stairs.”

I chuckled. “That makes me feel a little better. Thanks.”

“You are very welcome.” She helped me stand up and balance on my crutches, then walked with me back out to the waiting area. “I hope the rest of your UnionCon experience is more pleasant.”

Ben stared at the nurse as she walked away. “Please tell me you got that nurse’s number, Wayne. She’s even hotter than that Nadia girl.”

“Na Hi, Ben. Her name was Na Hi. And no, it wasn’t a priority.”

“What a waste.”

“You’re incorrigible.” I sighed. “It looks like I’ll have to back out of the camping trip this year.”

“What was your hurry, anyway? I didn’t catch what you said while falling.”

“That girl in the flight suit. I wanted to get her name.”

“She didn’t give you a card? Nadia gave you a card.”

I shook my head. “Forget it. Doesn’t matter. I’ll probably never see the girl again, anyway.”

“Aw, don’t be so glum, chum. You still have Janet. I bet she’d look pretty hot in a body suit like that, or one of those slave dresses.”

“Is that all you ever think about? Girls in tight costumes?” I sighed. “Dammit. I wish I had gotten her name.”

Ben suddenly perked up. “Lynne!”

“What?”

“Sonja’s sister. Her name is Lynne.”

“That’s great, Ben, but it doesn’t help me with the X-Wing girl. Damn, I wish I had gotten her name before she left the table.”

“Wish I could help you, but I didn’t see enough of her face to able to pick her out of a crowd if I saw her again.”

“Yeah, whatever.” I leaned on my crutches and managed a smile. “Well, have fun camping, anyway. Sorry for bailing.”

“Don’t sweat it. We’ll go camping again, one of these years.” Ben grinned. “Are you sure you don’t want me to set up a double date with Sonja and her sister?”

I nodded. “I know you mean well, but I’d rather make my own mistakes, if you don’t mind.”

Ben laughed. “Suit yourself. Hope you make some memorable ones.”

***

Janet was sitting in the library when I came in. She gasped and ran over to me. “Oh, you poor thing! What happened to you? Does it hurt?”

“I wasn’t watching where I was going.” I kissed her, noting that her hair smelled like cotton candy. Dyed pink as it was, it looked like it, too. I smiled and brushed her hair with my hand. “Ben’s right. You are beautiful.”

Janet beamed. “Why, thank you, Wayne. You’ve never said that to me before. Who’s Ben?”

“No one you’re likely to meet, if I have anything to say about it. He’s a nice enough guy, but kind of a womanizer. You deserve better, that’s for sure.”

“All I want is you, Wayne.” Janet pulled up an extra seat for me to prop up my ankle. “I collected your missed assignments for you while you were gone, just like you asked.”

“Thanks, Janet. I knew I could count on you.”

“Where did you go, anyway? It wasn’t somewhere dangerous, was it? Is that how you got hurt, running microfilm through Checkpoint Charlie?”

I laughed. “No, nothing nearly as interesting as that. Besides, Checkpoint Charlie hasn’t existed in years.”

“Where were you, then?”

“I wish I could tell you, but I’m not allowed.”

“Ooh, a mystery man.” Janet gently lifted my foot and unwrapped the bandage. “Nice bruising, there.” She kissed my foot and wrapped it up again. “Can you at least tell me how you hurt yourself?”

“I missed a stair, chasing after a girl.”

Janet crossed her arms and pouted. “You were chasing a girl, and it wasn’t me? Sounds like your friend Ben isn’t the only womanizer around here. Serves you right!”

I put an arm around her and pulled her close. “No, it wasn’t like that at all. I just wanted to know her name, I wasn’t trying to take her to bed or anything. I was just…I’m not really sure what I wanted from her.”

“Was she pretty?”

“I guess. It doesn’t matter, anyway. She’s gone, and I’m a cripple.”

“I guess that means you’re completely at my mercy, then,” said Janet. “You don’t need to go girl-chasing, you know. I’m here, and I’m willing.”

“I know, and if I had my way, I just might take you up on it.”

“Why can’t you have your way with me?”

“I really wish I could tell you. But you wouldn’t believe me.”

“We live in DC, one of the strangest cities on Earth.” She got up and began massaging my shoulders. “Are you a spy? Some kind of agent?”

“If I say yes, will you stop asking me?” I tried to be grumpy, but I could feel my sour mood slipping away with every stroke of her fingers. “Are you sure you want to go into Law? With fingers like yours, you’d make a great masseuse.”

“Yeah, but I would only want to touch handsome men, like you. They probably only give the cute ones to the senior masseuses.”

I laughed. “Thanks, Janet. You always know how to cheer me up. I should probably get to work, now. I’ve got a bunch of catching up to do.”

She bowed exaggeratedly. “I’m here to serve. You rest your foot and tell me what you need, and I’ll get it for you.”

“What did I ever do to deserve such a pretty maidservant?”

“Oh, don’t get used to it. Once your ankle’s better, it’s back to getting your own stuff. I’m no one’s errand girl. Got it?”

“Got it. I’ll probably do the same for you, some time.”

“I’m not as clumsy as you, dearest.”

For the next several hours, I wrote my reports, while Janet retrieved and shelved books for me. She stayed quietly out of the way, but was always there when I needed her.

After a half-dozen reports, I was beginning to get irritable again. My ankle hurt, and so did my head.

“I think it’s time to quit for the night, Wayne. You’re starting to make mistakes.”

I yawned and shook my head. “No, I’m almost caught up.”

“Almost burned up, you mean. Your eyes are red. You haven’t left that chair in over two hours. Don’t you ever have to pee?”

“Only if I eat and drink.”

“When’s the last time you ate, then?”

“It was a couple of hours before I came in here, I think.”

“Wayne! That’s no good! That’s it, then. I’m not helping you anymore.”

“I’m almost done,” I said. “Just two more papers, then we can get some supper.”

“No, now.”

“I have to finish!”

Janet got a determined look in her eye, one I’ve long since learned to fear. “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, I’ll…I’ll get us thrown out of here, I swear!”

“Yeah, right,” I said, and went back to writing.

Something landed on my book. It was a bra. “What the…?” I looked at Janet. She was still fully clothed, though obviously braless. “How did you do that?”

“I’ll show you later, if you do what I tell you. Are we leaving, or do I have to take something else off?”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh, no?” She slowly began unbuttoning her blouse.

“Janet! You’re going to get us into trouble!”

“That’s the idea,” she said, undoing the last button. She slowly began to slide the blouse off her shoulder…

I had to stop her. “You win, Janet. Where do you want to go?”

“Nothing fancy, just anywhere but here.”

***

About a half hour later, we arrived at Janet’s apartment. She handed me the bag of food so she could open the door. “It’s locked. Aimee must have gone out.”

“I should go if your roommate’s not here,” I said.

“Not before you eat something, Wayne.” Janet took the bag and held open the door. “Don’t argue with me, or I’ll hide your crutches.”

My stomach growled. “I’m not going to argue with you. You’re right. I need food.”

“Have a seat on the couch. You can toss your coat on the chair over there. I’ll get you a cushion for your ankle.”

I took off my coat and hopped to the couch. Janet came back with a pillow and set my foot on it. “Aimee’s gone for the weekend. She left a note on the counter. So it’s just you and me.” She began massaging my toes. “How does that feel? Does your ankle hurt?”

“It’s not that bad, really. It’s been almost two weeks since I fell. But it still hurts like hell if I try to put any weight on it.”

“Then don’t.” Janet opened up the bag and handed me my container. She sat down beside me and opened her box. “I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this, Wayne. I missed you while you were gone, you know.”

“I missed you, too.”

“You could take me with you, next time.”

“No, I couldn’t.” In my best Bogart, which still wasn’t very good, I added, “Where I have to go, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of.”

Janet laughed. “Is that where you go? Casablanca?”

“No, not exactly.”

“You won’t tell me?”

“I can’t tell you. Someday, maybe.”

Janet kicked off her heels. “You are so frustrating, sometimes.”

“I don’t mean to be, Janet. Ask me something I can answer truthfully.”

“Alright, how did you sprain your ankle?”

I smiled. “I already told you that. I missed a stair while chasing after a girl who probably isn’t half as wonderful as you, anyway.”

“That’s a good answer. Your turn. Ask me a question.”

“I don’t know what to ask.”

Janet stood up. “Okay, then, I’ll just answer the question you asked me earlier. Watch closely.” She made a series of deft movements, and her bra was suddenly in her hand.

“How does one learn how to do that?”

She laughed. “Well, first, you need a bra.”

“I guess I’m disqualified, then. You know we could have been arrested, don’t you? That could have led to expulsion for both of us.”

“Then it’s good that you stopped me.” Janet sighed. “I knew you would. I know how important your schoolwork is to you. It’s even more important to you than I am.”

I took Janet’s hand. “Not true. You’re important to me. I’ve known you almost all my life. You’re like family to me.”

Janet rolled her eyes. “I know, I’m just like your little sister. You still see a little girl when you look at me, don’t you?”

“Janet…”

“Well, I’m not a little girl anymore! I’m almost nineteen years old! I can vote! I can love. And so can you.” She slowly began to unbutton her blouse.

“What are you doing, Janet?”

“Just watch and see.” She slowly slipped her skirt down around her ankles and stepped out of it. She kicked with her foot and the skirt landed on the sofa beside me.

“You do that very well,” I said.

“I’ve rehearsed this in my mind many times.” She now wore nothing but her blouse and underpants. She turned her back to me and removed them both.

“You are most definitely a woman, Janet.”

She turned around. “Do you like what you see?”

Her figure was, in a word, perfect. But then, up to that point, her body was the only one I had ever seen up close. I nodded. “You’re beautiful, Janet.”

“I’m all yours, Wayne. I love you. I always have.”

“I know. I love you, too, Janet.”

She sat across my good leg and began to unbutton my shirt. “I’ve waited a long time for this, Wayne.”

I closed my eyes as she began to undo my belt. I watched Janet quickly grow from a cute little pest to the gorgeous naked beauty undressing me. It felt almost right.

Almost. In my mind, I began to see images of a figure wearing an orange bodysuit and high-heeled boots. The figure reached up to remove her helmet…

My eyes snapped open. “Stop, Janet.”

Janet frowned. “What’s the matter, lover? Did I hurt your ankle? I’ll be more careful.”

“No, we have to stop this. I love you, Janet. I’m flattered that a woman with a body as astonishingly beautiful as yours would offer yourself to me. But I can’t cross this line. Not right now.

Janet began to cry. “I want you, Wayne! I can see that you want me. I’m giving myself to you! Why won’t you have me?”

“I can’t have you, not now. I wish I could explain why, but I can’t.”

“You don’t love me.”

I stroked her hair. “I’ve already said that I do. There’s no one on Earth I love more than you. I just can’t go through with this right now. Can I have my crutches back, please? I should go.”

“I could hold them hostage, you know. I could keep them until you give me what I want.”

“Would that make you happy?”

“No.” Janet got up, put her blouse back on, and retrieved my crutches. “You would hate me.”

I stood up, balancing on my good leg as I tucked my shirt back in. “I could never hate you.”

She frowned. “Well, I would hate me.”

I put my coat on and kissed her. “I do love you, Janet. Don’t forget that. I just can’t do this right now.”

***

I tried to call Janet the next morning, but all I got was her machine. I left several messages, but she didn’t call me back. I stopped by her apartment, but she was either not home or pretending not to be.

On Monday, I crossed paths with Janet’s roommate. She gasped and pointed at my crutches. “What happened to you?”

I smiled. “It’s a long story. The short version is that I missed a stair and sprained my ankle. Can I talk to you about Janet?”

“What happened between you and her? She won’t say anything.”

“I don’t know if I should say if she won’t. I don’t want to embarrass her.”

Aimee rolled her eyes. “She did the striptease, didn’t she? I told her it was a bad idea.”

I smiled. “Oh no, it was a great idea. I won’t forget it, that’s for sure.”

“What happened, then?”

“I can’t say. Like I said…”

“I know, you don’t want to embarrass her.”

I nodded. “I do want to talk to her, though. She won’t return my calls, and she won’t buzz the door.”

Aimee nodded. “Alright, I’ll get you past the front door and up into the apartment, but the rest is up to you.”

“Thanks, Aimee. I’ll owe you one.”

“If she does break up with you, call me. I promise you, nothing embarrasses me.”

I laughed. “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t have time for a serious relationship, or I’d already be in one with Janet.”

“Who said anything about serious? I’m just looking for sex. I’ve never done it with a guy on crutches. You could help me cross the nurse fantasy off my bucket list.”

“Aren’t you a little young for a bucket list? You’re not terminally ill, are you?”

“If I said yes, would you go to bed with me?”

“Uh, no.”

She sighed. “Well, it was worth a try, anyway. I guess Janet’s lucky to have a guy like you in love with her. I kind of wish I’d found you first.”

***

Janet frowned when she saw me. “What are you doing here?”

“I invited him,” said Aimee. “Look, Janet, you don’t just let a guy like this get away. You need to talk it out.”

“I guess as long as you’re here, you might as well come in.” Janet turned and walked back into the apartment.

“That’s the spirit! I’m outta here. Don’t forget to leave a hanger on the door if you’re going to have sex! I’ll check in on you guys later.” Aimee winked and left.

“You wouldn’t return my calls,” I said.

“I didn’t know what to say to you. I felt dirty. You must think I’m some kind of slut.”

“How would you know what I think, if you won’t talk to me?”

Janet shrugged. “I guess you got me, there. What do you think of me, then?”

I took Janet’s hand. “I love you. Make no mistake about that. I could never forgive myself if I had taken you to bed the other night.”

“Would sleeping with me be that bad?”

“I’m sure it would have been spectacular. It’s just that I have a lot on my plate right now. I told you once before that my school work is vitally important. It’s not more important than you, but you’re too important for only half my attention.”

“I don’t understand.”

“When I do make love to you, I want to give you everything: heart, mind, and body. Maybe someday I’ll be allowed to tell you everything, and then you’ll understand why we couldn’t be lovers right now. I promise you that you have right of first refusal on my body.”

Janet laughed. “Spoken like a true lawyer. So what happens now?”

“I don’t have time for a girlfriend right now. You’re the one I would choose if I did.”

“What about Miss What’s-Her-Name?”

I shrugged. “You’re never going to have to compete with her. Like I said, I’ll probably never see her again anyway. Even if I did, it wouldn’t change anything. If I won’t sleep with you, I certainly won’t sleep with a girl I don’t even know. If you don’t believe me, you can ask Aimee. She offered.”

“She didn’t!” Janet looked surprised and shocked at first, then she started to laugh. “Of course she did. She probably mentioned her nurse fantasy, didn’t she?”

“What, is there anything you won’t talk to each other about?”

“No, not really. It’s a girl thing.” She hugged me tightly. “I believe you, Wayne.”

“It’s the truth. If you’ll wait for me, I promise to be your lover after I graduate. I might ask you to marry me one day. But no matter what, I will always be your friend. I will always hold you in my heart, and I’ll be there for you. I promise to always love you.”

Janet smiled and nodded. “I’ll wait for you. Whenever the time is right, I’ll be your lover. If you ask me to, I’ll be your wife. But even if not, I’ll always be there for you. I promise I will always love you, too. I always have, you know.”

“I know.”

“That sounds like some kind of oath,” said Aimee. “You just became soul-friends, or something like that. That’s like totally new-age stuff!”

“I thought you were going to leave us alone,” said Janet.

“I was, but I got nosy. Forgive me.”

I laughed. “We will, Aimee.”

“You two are crazy, you know. I’m not sure I could wait that long. It’s going to be three years, at least.”

Janet smiled. “I think he’s worth waiting for.”

“He may be, but if you aren’t going to be lovers right now, I don’t think you ever will be. You’re probably going to end up being soul-friends or whatever, but you’re never going to sleep together. You’re either aliens, or you’re both insane!”

“You may be right,” said Janet.

I smiled. “I may be crazy.”

We both laughed and started to sing, “But it just may be a lunatic you’re looking for!”

Aimee stomped on the ground. “I’m serious! But you know what else? I think you’re going to be okay with that.” She looked me over. “I guess I won’t ever get to sleep with you, either. Too bad.”

“Not unless you want to be on crutches yourself, sister,” said Janet. “You heard him, he’s mine, or nobody’s!”

I hugged Aimee. “Don’t be discouraged. You’ll find someone.”

“Yeah, maybe. Not on this planet, anyway.”

“Then you’ll just have to look on another one.”

Aimee laughed. “As if that were possible. I’m going out. For real, this time. I need to find my Mr. Right! And when I do, I’m taking him to bed right away, you hear me?”

“I think the whole building can hear you,” said Janet.

“You would have made hot lovers, too.” Aimee sounded disappointed. “I would have enjoyed hearing about it afterward! So, how did the two of you meet, anyway?”

“We grew up next door to each other,” I said.

“I’m his sister’s best friend,” said Janet. “We pretty much grew up together.”

“It’s too late for me to take that path, then. My best friend’s brother is gay, damn him. Ah, well. I’ll see you guys later.” She strolled off, looking rather predatory.

I hugged Janet. “For what it’s worth, you’re my best friend, too.”

Janet looked at the ground. “I’m sorry I threw myself at you like that. I won’t do that again.” She looked up at me and smiled. “At least, not until you graduate. Until then, I’ll give you right of first refusal on my body, too.”

“Sounds good,” I said. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to refuse it again.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

I squeezed Janet’s hand. “There is one more thing I want to say before I go home. You were right to distract me from my work. I’m constantly in danger of burning out. Feel free to get in my face if you catch me working too hard, or neglecting our friendship, or just being an ass. Next time, I promise to stop working before you lose any clothing.”

Janet winked. “You’re loss, lover. It’s a deal.”

We kissed, and I drove home. I was certain then that we would always be a part of each other’s lives. There really was no one on Earth I loved more than Janet.

But my universe was larger than a single planet. I suspected that Aimee was right, too. If Janet and I were not lovers by now, we probably never would be. My thoughts kept wandering back to the faceless X-wing pilot who still haunted my dreams. I wondered if I might someday see her again, and at least learn her name.

I wasn’t sure why, but I had an odd feeling that she was going to become someone very special to me. I just knew we’d meet again.

And when we did, things were going to get interesting.

###

Wayne and Janet

Greetings, Terrans,

We at the OM have been going through some of Mr. Freed’s old journals, and we have discovered this small exchange. While this particular incident did not make it into A Time To Build, it does help to give some insight into the maitea relationship between Wayne Freed and his assistant, Janet (Clarke) Forbes.

Janet came to Georgetown University the year I entered law school. She had decided that she wanted to go into law, as well. My sister, Lucy, told me she was coming. “Don’t tell her I said this, but I think you’re the reason she chose Georgetown. You’ll be nice to her, won’t you?”

“Of course,” I said.

When Janet and her folks arrived in town, I took them all out to dinner. We had a pleasant evening. I almost felt like I was back in Oklahoma.

In the morning I met Janet’s parents before they left for home.

“Take care of Janet for us,” said Mrs. Clarke. “She thinks the world of you, you know.”

“Mom!”

I promised that I’d keep an eye on her. “Janet means a lot to me, too. Say hi to my family when you get home, won’t you?”

Once her parents left, I walked with Janet down to a local coffee shop. She hooked her arm around mine as we walked.

“You’ve grown up while I was away. I almost didn’t recognize you.”

“I missed you,” Janet said. “Mom embarrassed me by saying it, but it’s true. I love you.”

“I know.”

“Will I see much of you?”

“As much as you want to,” I said, “but I need for you to understand something.”

“You don’t love me.”

“I never said that.”

“You do love me?”

“Yes, I do,” I said. “That’s why I need you to understand that I just don’t have time for a girlfriend right now. Law school is going to be brutal. I am going to be working harder than I ever have. Even when I’m not in class, I have a job to do. I can’t even tell you everything I’ll be working on.”

She didn’t say anything for a long time. She was still holding on to my arm when we got to the coffee shop. Before we went in, she stopped me. “Would you say it, just once?”

“I love you.”

“I believe you.”

“I’m not lying. If I did have time for romance, I can think of no one else I would rather pursue. For now, I’d be content if you would just be my friend.”

“Do you think it’ll work?”

“I’d be sad if it didn’t.”

“Okay, then,” she said. “But if you ever do have time, I want to be your girlfriend.”

“I promise. You’ll be number one on my list.”

“You have a list?”

“Um, no.”

Posted by the Office of the Mediator, Sol III Division.