Chapter Four

     Consulting a map to find his way out of Phoenix, Sam headed east, towards what was once
his dream in the desert of New Mexico.  Night had settled in, and he found it colder than he
remembered a night in Arizona could be, even inside Kara's car.  He had turned on the heater
to keep his feet warm, but had opened the driver's window a crack to allow fresh air in to keep
him awake.

     The only other vehicles he saw was the occasional transport, most of which were heading
into truckstops for the night.  The emptiness of the road at this time of night gave him plenty
of time to think about why he had done what he had done:  why he had stepped into the
Accelerator, especially before the Retrieval program was ready; why he had waited until Al was
away from the Project before he first leaped; who was sending him everywhere and what would
it take to get him back to his own life.  It amazed him that he could even remember these things,
especially since he was no longer in contact with Ziggy.  Perhaps Monica's computer was more
powerful than Ziggy.  Maybe it helped him to retain more of who he really was, while still
being the person he was supposed to be.

     Monica had told him that Tina and Gushie had married and started a family.  I always
thought that Al was with Tina, he mused.  He couldn't see Al giving up any woman easily,
especially not the beautiful, intelligent Tina Martinez-O'Farrell.  He grinned, remembering
leaping into a young genius, who it turned out, was Tina's childhood sweetheart.  Al had nearly
passed out when he realized just who she was.

     Thinking of Gushie as a father made him wonder what kind of father he would have made. 
He hadn't taken the time to even consider marriage or fatherhood; his entire being was
consumed on the Project.  He hoped he would be like his own father; caring, loving, protective,
stern but gentle.  His wife, of course, would have to be like his mother; all the qualities of his
father, but with an innate ability to sense her children's hidden emotions and talents, and bring
them to the forefront.  Both parents had instilled in all their children the knowledge that nothing
comes easily, hard work and patience is what pays off, and that is what makes the achievement
even greater.  But sometimes the long, hard hours of putting together the Project, being
stonewalled by one governmental committee after another, he and Al fighting for every scrape
of material and funding, nearly made him forget his upbringing.

     Two small, bright yellow spots suddenly appeared on the road in front of him, pulling him
back to the present day.  Slamming on the breaks, he skid to a stop.  The tail end of a coyote
disappeared into the darkness.

     "Man, that was close.  I guess I'm a lot more tired than I thought."  Looking at the clock
in the dashboard, he was surprised to see it was nearly three o'clock in the morning.  He had
been driving for five hours.  He didn't know when Kara had started her day, but it was probably
time he pulled off to get at least a few hours sleep.  Looking at the map, and guesstimating his
location, he found that there was a small city, Pinta, Arizona, a few miles up the highway.  He
decided to find a hotel there, and spend a few hours regenerating.

     It was after midnight when Donna heard the front door open.  She had gone to bed hours
earlier, but sleep had evaded her, the image of Sam still fresh in her mind.  Bosco, sleeping
contentedly beside her, jumped down and left the room, hoping the new arrival would offer him
a reward for his greeting.  It took only a few minutes for Philip to enter the bedroom.  She
could hear him in the dark, removing his clothes, trying not to wake her.  She huddled on her
side of the bed, as close to the edge as possible, clutching the pillow tightly in her hands.  A
small wet patch had formed next to where her eye met the pillowcase.

     She felt the bed dip slightly as he sat on the far side.  A cool breeze tickled her back and
legs as he lifted the blankets and slide under.  "Donna?  Honey, are you awake?"  His voice
came in a deep, husky whisper that she knew meant he wanted something from her.  He slid
over to her and placed his hand on her thigh.  "Donna."  But she refused to acknowledge him. 
As she felt him lean over her, she quickly shut her eyes.  "Donna?"  She could smell his
cologne and ... something else.  With a sigh, he turned away, rolling onto his side, his back
towards her.

     She tightened her grip on her pillow, her teeth biting hard into her bottom lip as the tears
rolled silently down her face.  The light from the streetlamp sparkled on the jewellery on her
right hand, for she now wore the wedding set that Sam had given her.