Author's Note:  After this chapter, please read A LEAP FOR KELLY.
ETC will be on hold again, so I can complete KELLY.  I apologize for this,
but leaving the leap in the story would be too confusing.

Chapter 11:  Beth and Adam


	Beth found herself once more in the Johnson's sitting room, this time
waiting for Edward.
	"Lt. St. John called a few minutes ago, lieutenant.  He is running behind
and asks that you wait," the maid informed her.
	The maid left and Beth heaved a sigh.  The last thing she wanted, was to
encounter a member of the family.  *Maybe they're all out on errands,* Beth
thought hopefully.
	Her worst fears were realized when, five minutes later, Adam Whitmore
entered the sitting room.
	"Please, stay seated, lieutenant," the admiral requested politely as she
moved to stand.  He said nothing more, and paced in awkward silence behind
her chair.
	"Lieutenant?" he said finally, after several minutes of silence.
	"Yes, sir?"
	"I must apologize to you and Lieutenant Thomas on behalf of my family and
myself.  I think we have made you and your friend uncomfortable, especially
my wife."
	Beth turned in the chair.  He seemed sincere and he was looking at her
with a kindly expression in his eyes.  George had always given her the
impression that his father was a cold and indifferent man.
	"Did you know that George had a twin sister?" Adam said, suddenly, before
Beth had replied.
	Confused, and startled by such an announcement, Beth shook her head mutely.
	"She was stillborn.  I think that's when I realized that Victoria and I
were not meant for each other."  He paused.  "I wanted more children, *she*
	*Why is he telling me this?  Maybe it's the only thing he can think of to
say.*  Beth had to admit, it was better than sitting in silence.
	Adam continued.  "I had an identical twin brother who died when we were
five.  I had a lonely childhood and did not want George to have the same."
Adam turned and looked out the window at the garden where she and Al had
sat the evening before.  "It's too late to regret my mistakes.  If things
had been different. . . . if I had known, then, what I know now, I would
have divorced Victoria and lived with those consequences instead.  At least
then, George might have had sisters and brothers."
	Beth was still confused.  It wasn't much of a conversation, since she
wasn't required to answer him.  Maybe he needed a sympathetic ear, to hear
his side of things.  It was obvious he was trying to tell her something.
>From what she could make of it, Adam cared about George, had wanted a large
family, and had believed in the beginning that Victoria was the one for him.
	The admiral turned back to face her.  "I just wanted you to understand,
lieutenant, and forgive us our faults."
	Beth nodded.  Bizarre conversation aside, she found herself truly liking
him.  The revelation had shed some light on his character, at least.  She
had heard that his mother had been a sweet and gentle person.  Some of her
personality must have rubbed off on him, softening the sharp edges.
	There was another pause and he seemed to be searching for another topic.
Beth was about to bring up Al, when Adam said, "Do you still have family in
	"No, sir.  My grandmother and I moved to Georgia when I was ten."
	He gave her a puzzled look.
	It was obvious that he was curious about her family.  Beth realized she
could lie, except that he could quiet easily have someone check into her
personnel files and find out anything he wanted.  It would just be simpler
to tell the truth.
	"My mother and grandfather drowned that summer."
	The change that came over the man was instantaneous.  He gave her shoulder
a gentle squeeze.  His eyes were filled with compassion and sorrow.  "And
your father?"
	"I'm illegitimate."  Touched by his reaction, the words were out of her
mouth before she realized it.  Beth was horrified.
	There was no pity or disdain in the admiral expression.  She decided to
continue.  "I doubt he knows of my existence.  I don't even know who he is."
	"You had a lonely childhood too, I suspect," he stated, gently.
	Beth nodded.  "My Great-Aunt Milly made it widely known."
	"Does Al know?"
	Beth smiled, "Yes, sir."
	"I suppose he has told you about his own family too?"
	Beth nodded.  Somehow she knew the conversation would lead to Al.  "We
understand each other; why we feel a certain way about certain things."
	He nodded, understanding.  He walked away to pour himself a drink from the
bar.  "For what it's worth, lieutenant," he said, back to her, "any man
would be proud to have you as a daughter.  You are beautiful, intelligent
and kind.  It's his loss for not knowing you."
	It sounded suspiciously like a come-on to Beth, but before she could
speak, Edward arrived.
	"I apologize, Elizabeth," Edward said, handing her the sealed envelope.
	She murmured her thanks, took the envelope from him.  "I really must be
going," she said to the two men, heading for the door.
	"Well, see you at the party this evening," the younger man said, escorting
her.  The admiral made no move to follow.  He politely nodded.
	Once she had driven through the senior officer housing area, Beth pulled
into the parking lot of one the small chapels.  Beth gathered her thoughts
and realized she was trembling.
	Last night, she firmly told Janet that she had been mistaken and was
imagining things.  The admiral had been looking at his father, not her.
*He wouldn't make a pass at me, would he?*  It would certainly explain his
questions.  If she still had relatives in Maryland, it would be the perfect
excuse for her to make trips there without arousing suspicion.
	But Beth wasn't interested in him.  He was too old, married, and an
admiral.  Besides, she was in love with Al.
	*Al.* She decided it would be best not to mention any of her conversation
to Al, just in case she was wrong about Admiral Whitmore's intentions.
	Beth picked up the envelope laying on the seat next to her.  She carefully
opened and slid the picture out.  It was a black and white photo of Al,
smiling up at her.
	Beth smiled back.  All Admiral Whitmore's money couldn't compare to that
smile or those eyes.  She returned to the photo to the envelope for
safekeeping and drove off, feeling much better.


	Beth turned back to her reflection in the full length mirror.  She was
still a little concerned with her choice.  It was a strapless, lavender
gown and Beth had never worn anything strapless before.  She pulled on a
pair of opera length gloves, borrowed from Daphne.  The gloves nearly
reached her shoulders and this made her feel less self-conscious.
	A quick glance at the desk clock told her she had fifteen minutes to spare
before Al arrived.
	Sitting on her vanity was the framed picture and another vase of calla
lilies.  It was silly, Beth knew, but she had found it hard to change
earlier in front of that picture.  She plucked one of the flowers from her
vase and contemplated the man in the photograph.
	At the beauty parlor earlier with Janet and Daphne, the young British
woman had referred to Al as her fiancee.  Daphne was apologetic when Beth
had told her otherwise.  Daphne had assumed, from observation, that there
was "an understanding" between them.  This, coupled with her encounter with
Admiral Whitmore and the growing feelings she had for Al, convinced her she
had to do something soon.
	The more time she spent with him, and the more she learned about him, the
more she fell in love with him.  He wasn't perfect, but then, neither was
she.  Al accepted her, as she was, so the least she could do was return
that acceptance.  And live with the fact that she would be third in his
life.  Beth's own career came first, too.  After all, she still had Gran to
	Al wouldn't change overnight and Beth would have to accept that too, and
try not to force the changes.  Al was stubborn, and to push him, would only
make him more so.  It was easier for her to wait for him to come around
than argue with him.  She saw that much when he told her of Maureen.
	Beth was still unsure of how deep Al's feelings were for her.  Did he love
her enough to marry her?  That in itself would be a major change for Al.
	Tonight, she would tell him how she felt.  That is, if her nerve didn't
give out first.  "In your arm's," she said to the picture, smiling, "while
were dancing."  She laughed, feeling silly.
	Beth replaced the flower and stepped into her shoes.  She decided to wait
for Al on the porch before she started talking to the furniture.
	Just as she opened the door to the porch, Al was walking up to the
building, buttoning his gloves.  He looked handsome in the short white
jacket and black pants.  His modest row of miniature service medals and
gold wings were perfectly aligned on the left breast.
	Al glanced up as she descended the stairs.  Beth smiled at his delighted
expression.  She could feel her color rising as he stared up.  When she
reached the bottom, she twirled around, girlishly showing off the dress.
"Do you like it?"
	Al was speechless.
	"Well?"  She asked impatiently.
	"I love it," he replied simply.  "You're breathtaking."
	Beth wound her arms around his neck.  "You don't look half-bad yourself."
She gave him a quick kiss.
	"Why don't we forget about the party, and go someplace quiet?" he asked
her, seductively.
	"Al!  Behave yourself," she admonished him, playfully.  She didn't want to
admit to him just yet that the idea was beginning to appeal to her.
	"No, you're not," she said in the same playful tone, "but I'll forgive you
	"Your benevolence overwhelms me," he replied, kissing her again.
	"Are you two going to stand there all night?"
	Beth jumped at the sound of Kelly's voice behind her.  She whirled around
to face her.  "Kelly!  What are you still doing here?"
	Before Kelly could answer, Al asked, "Are you going alone?"
	Kelly shook her head.  "No.  Patrice's cousin is taking me.  He's late."
Kelly was annoyed.
	"Do you want us to wait with you?"  Beth asked.
	"Only if you promise not to stand there kissing."
	"Can I at least hold her hand?" Al asked, plaintively.
	Kelly grinned, mood lightened by his tone.  "No.  No hand-holding either."
	The wait wasn't long.  Kelly's blind date arrived and Al saw her off, like
a protective older brother.  "Now, where were we?" he asked her.
	"On our way to the party." Beth pointed out.
	Al sighed, defeated, at least for the time being.  "You're a cruel woman,
Elizabeth Townsend," he said, opening the car door for her.
	"Yes, I know," she replied lightly.


	Beth did her best not to stare as she entered the county club on Al's arm.
 The room was over half-filled with guests.  From what Beth could see, the
majority of the men were in naval uniforms (mostly American, but there were
a few British and other Allied powers).  It amazed her that they *followed*
the family down from DC.
	"Aren't those Academy uniforms?" she asked Al, nodding her head in the
direction of a small group of young men.
	"Yes.  Seniors, of course.  I'm surprised, though, that the Superintendent
 allowed them to make the trip down here."
	They joined the milling crowd of guests, looking for their friends.
	Beth let go of Al's arm and turned to look for Janet.  She hoped her
friend was having a good time and handling the situation well.  Beth
spotted Janet talking to a couple, neither were in any type of uniform.
Janet seemed to be at ease.  George was not with her.
	Beth turned back to Al, and was about to comment on Janet, when she
realized that he was no longer at her side. *He can't have gone far,* she
thought scanning the crowd.  Beth found him and started toward him.  She
froze in her tracks when she saw who he was talking with.
	Accompanied by Chip, Al's attention was occupied by three very pretty,
young ladies.  Though she was still too far away to hear what he was
saying, she could tell by his body language, that he was flirting with them.
	Beth wasn't sure which was worse, the jealousy or the hurt.
	Suddenly, George was at her side.
	"Don't be jealous," he said in a low voice.  "It doesn't mean anything."
Gently, but firmly, he guided her away from the scene.  "Al flirts with
almost every woman he meets.  You know Margie, the waitress?  He flirts
with her constantly.  He brightens her day.  Trust me, I've seen him do
this countless times."
	Beth was numb, but she realized where George was leading her.  JP was
sitting in a comfortable chair, in full uniform.  There was an empty chair
next to him.
	"I'll bet he'll be back by your side in ten minutes."  He made her look
into his eyes.  George was serious.  "Trust me.  I know him too well.  It's
	George's words and the look in his eyes finally sank into Beth's numb
mind:  Lt. Cmd. Layton's mother-in-law, Margie, and almost all the nurses
at Pensacola.  All had been smiled upon by Al Calavicci.  It had brightened
their day; put them in a better mood.  But it never amounted to anything
more.  The jealousy began to recede as she sat silently next to JP.  The
pain would take longer, possibly because she had planned to open her heart,
and was therefore vulnerable.
	*My back was turned for no more than a few minutes.  What could happen if
he's TDY or on liberty?*
	Beth scarcely paid any attention to JP, but she did hear him order the
dance to start.  He rested a comforting hand on hers.
	It was actually less than ten minutes when she saw Al scanning the crowd
with an anxious look on his face.  A small sigh escaped her lips.  *George
was right.*  By now, the jealousy had melted away entirely, but her heart
still ache.  It would be awhile before she could tell him that she loved him.
	His face lit up when he saw her and he hurried toward her.  Beth gave him
a small smile.
	Al's expression changed so fast, it startled Beth.  "Beth, honey, are you
OK?  Do you want to lie down?" he asked, concerned.
	JP, watching them, spoke first.  "It's probably something she ate."  Beth
looked at him.  JP had a knowing look in his eyes.
	"I'm fine.  Really."
	Al wasn't convinced, but he kept his peace.  However, he brow was still
furrowed in concern.  The music began and Beth rose.  Al, taking his que
from her, led her to the dance floor.
	The only thing keeping Beth from over reacting was the fact that George
was right.  Plus, she had known, from the beginning, what he was like.  He
hadn't denied anything.
	Beth rested her head against his shoulder and held him tight.

	* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

	"I've changed my mind, Henry," Adam told the staffer on the other end of
the line.  "I've decided not to retire."
	"But Adam, we're counting on your support.  You were enthusiastic about
entering the political arena on Monday, and now here it is Saturday, and
you're not interested?  What happened?"
	"I've decided that I can serve my country better by remaining on active
duty, Henry."  As always, there was a note of fierce pride in his voice
when he spoke of serving in the military.
	"You can fight communism just as easily from an office on the Hill as you
can from the deck of a ship or a desk at the Pentagon," the staffer replied.
	*He's probably never served a day in his life,* Adam thought,
disdainfully.  "The decision is final," Adam informed the staffer in a
cold, commanding tone.  "I am not retiring.  I have no intentions of
entering politics and I have no intentions of *ever* entering that arena.
Is that perfectly clear?"
	"Yes."  It was clear to Adam that the man on the other end was trying to
control his anger.
	"Thank you.  Now, I must get back to my guests.  Please pass on my regards
to your wife and family.  Good night."  Adam hung up the phone.
	So far, he had managed to keep the news quiet.  Monday morning, it would
be all over the local new in Maryland and DC.  Adam knew he must inform his
family of the change, but he wasn't looking forward to it.
	He stood up from behind the club manager's desk and returned to his guests.
	Several were concerned that an international crisis had arisen and they
would all be called back to their respective duty stations to subdue the
latest communist threat.  Adam didn't bother explaining.  He wasn't
answerable to any man in that room, with the possible exception of his own
	Adam began searching for his own son and saw Al and Beth.  Al was walking
away from Beth, whose attention was drawn to her friend, Janet.  The young
nurse looked stunning in her lavender gown and Adam couldn't help smiling.
He was about to approach her when she noticed that Al was no longer at her
side.  Beth seemed to find her missing boyfriend quickly enough.
	The change in her expression caused Adam to look sharply in Al's
direction.  Because of the crowds, Adam could not see Al from his angle.
When he looked back at her, George was at her side, leading her away.  Adam
was tempted to investigate, but he was waylaid by an old acquaintance.
	By the time Adam was free, his father had ordered the dance to start and
the couple was on the dance floor.  Adam was so wrapped up in Beth and Al,
he nearly plowed into George from behind.
	George was also watching them, looking like he wanted to strangle Al.
Adam momentarily forgot them and informed his son of the phone conversation.
	"Mother isn't going to be pleased," George replied.  He didn't look at his
father, but Adam could see the smirk on George's face.
	"She'll live."  Adam was hoping that George would immediately rush off to
inform Victoria of the news.  George wouldn't want to miss the look on her
face when she found out.  But George hadn't moved.  He stood, watching his
	To the causal observer, the young nurse looked as if she had a headache or
her shoes were too tight and Al was in a state of confusion.  "How serious
are they?"
	"Up until a little while ago, I'd say expect a wedding invitation.  I
think they were on the brink, but Al did something earlier that upset her.
It could end the whole thing."
	"George that doesn't look like a woman who is upset.  If she were holding
him any tighter, he wouldn't be able to breathe."
	As he hoped, George filled him in on what had transpired.  "I warned him,"
George commented.  Adam frowned.
	Without any further comments, George finally walked off, presumably to
find Victoria.  She would be less than thrilled to hear the news.  It would
be better for them all if he did not enter politics.  One should never
enter that arena if one had skeletons in the closet.  Especially if there
are skeletons one was not aware one had.
	Adam, contrary to rumor and his wife's belief's, did not have a mistress.
Victoria would believe that this was the reason for his change of heart.
In all the years of marriage, Adam had been unfaithful once and only once.
	It was not long after he gave up flying, due to his injuries.  He had
tried, discreetly, to find the woman, about fifteen years or so ago, but
failed.  And now he knew why.
	Adam studied the woman in Al's arms.  It was like seeing a ghost.  The
same face, the same eyes, the same smile, the same laugh.  Betty Townsend
had captured his heart the moment he set eyes on her.  She knew, without a
word from him, that she couldn't keep him.  However,  that didn't stop
either of them.
	Earlier today, Adam had his aide check on Elizabeth Townsend's records,
specifically her birth date.  Without a doubt in his mind, Adam knew she
was his daughter.

Reminder:  Please read A LEAP FOR KELLY before preceeding on to Chap 12.
Don't say I didn't warn you! :)
Christina's Corner  *