A Knight in Shining Armor
By Paulette Keister
My first trip to sunny California. I was so excited. WAS is the operative word here. I'm driving my rented Grand Prix down highway 101 to Santa Barbara to enjoy some sun and fun.. Or so I thought. Somehow, I took a wrong turn and ended up going in the opposite direction. Getting off at the next road, I stopped at the first gas station I could find. Getting directions from the guy behind the counter I again started my journey. He told me of a couple landmarks to look for. Never saw them. I could've sworn he told me to turn right at the fork in the road…or was it left? Doesn't matter now. I'm utterly lost and my cell phone's dead. It's pitch dark, foggy, and a light mist covers the windshield. Just once in my life I wish things would go right.
The unfamiliar, unmarked road was deserted and I was starting to get scared. It startled me to see the road curve and I jerked the wheel. As I straightened out, I saw something in front of me. There they stood. A buck and several doe in the middle of the road. I hit my brakes and hung on. The road was covered with slippery leaves and the car started going sideways. I tried to steer out of it but I slid down the side of the hill. Fortunately a very large tree stopped me from going any farther. I hit my head on the door window as the air bag went off. Everything started spinning and then warm nothingness embraced me in its arms.
I don't know how long I was out. I awoke to someone knocking on my window, shining a flashlight in my face. I squinted at the bright light and quickly moved away from the door. Ouch! A stabbing pain went through my head. Boy, was that a mistake. The driver's door opened with a jerk.
"Miss, Are you all right? "
"I think so." Replying as I held my head.
"Can you move? Does anything feel broken?"
Carefully, I moved my legs and arms. "No, I can move. But my head sure aches."
"We better get you away from the car, just to be on the safe side. Mine is about 100 ft away. Here, let me help you out."
I was leery of letting a strange man help me. "I hope he's not some psycho." Weakly, I said, "Thank you."
He gently helped me out of the car and guided me up the sloped hill to his Blazer. As my blurry vision cleared I saw the handsome face of my rescuer in the headlights. He was a middle aged man with reddish hair, medium height, dressed from head to toe in fishing attire, including a hat, covered in fishing lures.
I must have been staring because he said, "Please excuse my appearance, I've been out on the lake fishing all day and was on my way back to my cabin. It's a good thing I came along. This road is rarely traveled at night."
I was shaking uncontrollably. He walked to the back of the Blazer and pulled out a blanket, came back and wrapped it around my shoulders. The warmth of the blanket felt good.
"I don't know how to thank you for stopping to help me Mister… oh dear, I don't even know your name." Even in the dim light I could see a warm smile appear on his face.
"It's Nelson. Harriman Nelson. My friends call me Harry…and what is yours?"
"Sarah, Sarah Michaels." I moaned as another pain shot through my temples.
A look of concern crossed his face. "Well, Sarah, we better get you someplace warm. My cabin is just a couple miles up the road."
"I don't want to impose. If you could just call the Highway Patrol…"
He put his hands on my arms and looked me in the eyes. I felt my heart start to race. "Get hold of yourself, Sarah. He's only offering you a warm place to rest."
"I'll not take no for an answer. A big mug of hot chocolate and a warm fire will fix you right up."
Smiling, I said, "If it comes with whipped cream, you have yourself a deal."
"Good." Opening the door, he helped me into his vehicle. Walking back to the car, he retrieved my belongings, came back and got into the Blazer and headed up a narrow road. After a few minutes of silence he asked, "Where were you headed?"
"I was trying to get to Santa Barbara, but I seemed to have taken a wrong turn."
He started to chuckle. "I'll say you did. You're not from around here are you?"
I pulled the blanket tighter around my shoulders. "No, I'm on vacation. It's not exactly how I expected to spend my first day."
He turned into a drive lined with Blue Spruce and pulled up to the cabin. "Ah, here we are."
I opened the door and got out. A wave of dizziness washed over me. He rushed around the front of the Blazer in time to grab my arm.
"Here, let me help you." Reaching the front door, he unlocked it and helped me in. As he turned on the light I apologized again for interrupting his fishing trip.
"No problem at all. Come sit on the sofa. I'll start a fire then I'll get my cell phone and call the Sheriff's Department."
As promised, he took care of everything. The Sheriff would be out in the morning to make a report for the car rental company. Harry had changed out of his fishing attire and into casual clothes. I could hear the clanging of pans in the kitchen. Within minutes he entered the room with a mug in each hand. He handed me one, then sat down next to me and asked, "Feeling better?"
"A little." My head was still hurting. " Could I trouble you for some aspirin?"
He took my chin in his hand and looked at my forehead. "You have a nasty bump there. I better call Jamie and see what we should do for it."
He could see I was upset so he patted my hand in reassurance that everything was going to be all right.
"Don't worry. Dr. Jamison is my ship's doctor. He's treated more than one concussion in his career aboard Seaview." As he left the room he said, "I'll be right back." Within a few minutes, he returned.
"Just as I thought. Will says it's just a mild concussion. I'm supposed to keep you warm and comfortable. You sip on that while I go get you those aspirin."
The hot chocolate was warm and soothing. I had drunk most of it before he returned. He took my mug and then handed me the water and aspirin. I popped them in my mouth, drank the water and handed the empty glass to him.
"Thank you, Harry. I'm lucky you came along when you did. Sort of like a knight in shining armor."
Laughing he replied, "You're quite welcome my Lady." I could feel my face flush as he took his left hand and brushed the hair away from the throbbing knot on my forehead. His fingers trailed gently down the side of my face. Our eyes met and I thought to myself, "What gorgeous blue eyes this man has." He took his hand away and stood up.
"I'm going to get you an ice pack for that lump. Meanwhile, I want you to stretch out on the sofa and rest." Harry motioned for me to put my feet up while he grabbed a pillow and placed it under my head. He took the afghan from the back of the rocking chair and covered me with it. I heard a 'I'll be right back,' as he left the room.
A couple minutes later he returned with the ice and gently placed it on my head.
"Oh Harry, you don't need to fuss over me. I'm feeling fine."
A rather loud 'harrumph' escaped his lips. "Sure you are. You sound just like my Captain. He'd say or do anything to avoid Sickbay. Are you sure you two haven't met?"
I smiled weakly. "No, I'm sure. Am I correct in assuming that you are in the Navy?"
"Retired actually. "Have you ever heard of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research?"
I started to sit up. "You're THAT Admiral Nelson?"
He put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me back down. "Yes, now I want you to get some rest... We'll talk later, OK?"
"Aye, Sir." I replied with a grin.
Smiling he said, "Good. I have to wake you in a couple of hours. Doctors orders. If you need me, just call. I'll be in the kitchen." He turned out the light and left the room.
The fireplace cast a soft glow in the room, making it warm and cozy. As I drifted off, my thoughts were of the one and only Admiral Harriman Nelson. This vacation was starting to get better by the minute.
"Sarah, Sarah." Someone was gently shaking my shoulder. It seemed only minutes since I had fallen asleep. As I opened my eyes, I saw his handsome face smiling down at me.
"I'm sorry. You looked so peaceful lying there, but I had to wake you. It's been a little over two hours. I made a little snack while you were sleeping." Do you feel like eating?
Slowly, I rose to a sitting position and threw off the blanket. "What time is it?" asking as I rubbed my eyes.
Harry looked at the clock on the mantle. "It's 2310 hours." He saw a confused look on my face. "Sorry, habit you know. It's 10 minutes after eleven."
"Thanks for translating. I'm not thinking too clearly yet. You know, I do feel hungry."
"Great I'll fix a couple of plates and we can eat in front of the fire."
I stood up and took a few steps. "I can go the to kitchen. Oh my.." The room started to sway. He caught me before my legs gave out.
"Uh huh, sure you can. You sit yourself right back down and stay put."
"But nothing. Just sit on that sofa. "
I also realized there was something else I hadn't done in awhile. "OK, how do I tell him in a dignified manner.... Well, here goes."
"Harry, I NEED I use your bathroom... to ah, ah, freshen up a bit." He started to blush. "Great, I embarrassed him."
"I am so sorry. Let me help you." He took my arm. Slowly, I walked out of the room and down the hall.
Harry had brought in my overnight bag so I could change into something more comfortable. When I'd finished, I cautiously made it back to the den. The sound of crackling wood filled the room as Harry finished putting a couple more logs in the fire."This is a little snack?" I thought to myself. Sitting on the coffee table were two plates, consisting of Submarine sandwiches, potato salad, fresh fruit and two glasses of mint iced tea.
"It's nothing special." Beaming, he added, " If I'd known I was going to be rescuing such a lovely lady, I would've stocked the refrigerator better."
"Oh stop, Harry," as I carefully lowered myself and sat in front of the table.
"Sarah, you don't have to sit on the floor." He offered me his hand. "Here, let me help you up."
Sighing, I said, " Harry, quit fretting. You sound like my mother. I want to sit on the floor and dine on this wonderful gourmet meal you've slaved over." It was my turn to tease.
He started to laugh. "Ok, ok...I get it. You're feeling better." Grabbing one of the big pillows, he placed it behind my back. "Here. Wouldn't want you to get a backache. Better?"
"Yes, thank you." Patting the floor I said, "Here, I saved you a spot."
He kicked off his shoes and sat down beside me. "Ah, best seat in the house in my opinion." I started to laugh. "Oh sure, we're sitting on the hardwood floor."
His voice softened as he said, " As long as it's beside you, it is." I couldn't help but smile.
He touched my face. "You have such a beautiful smile, Sarah." On an impulse, he leaned over and kissed me. He quickly pulled back. "I'm sorry. I don't what came over me. Please forgive me."
He had awakened feelings inside me that I thought were long gone. I touched his face and gazed into his eyes. " There's nothing to forgive. Thank you for rescuing me tonight, Harriman."
"It was my pleasure." We kissed again. "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm hungry. Shall we eat?"
It didn't take long for me to devour my sandwich. As I finished, I heard a quiet chuckle escape Harry's lips.
"What's so funny?"
Raising an eyebrow he asked, "When was the last time you ate?"
"Well, I had breakfast on the plane, then..." I stopped in mid sentence as I realized it had been over twelve hours since I last ate. "Oh my, guess I was really hungry. I usually don't eat this fast."
He was still chuckling. "That's quite all right. I've just never seen anyone enjoy a sandwich with such enthusiasm."
"Ha, ha, ha. Red Skelton you're not, Harry."
He stood up and reached for the empty plates. "Here let me take these dishes out to the kitchen. How does your head feel now?"
"Better. My headache is almost gone."
"I'll bring you a couple more aspirins. Then you can rest some more."
Harry left the room. My mind started to wander. A short while ago I was lost and depressed. Now, a very handsome man is caring for me and I'm asking myself how I could be falling for someone I just met. I sat there staring at the fire and didn't hear him come back into the room. As he put the pills and water on the table he asked, "Sarah, are you alright?"
I jumped at the sound of his voice. "Yes, I'm fine. Just deep in thought."
He held out his hands to me. "Sit on the sofa. It's a lot softer than the floor." I put my hands in his, stood up and sat down.
"You better lay down and get some more rest."
I held out my hand to him and said, "I'm not in the least bit tired. Please, sit down and tell me about the Institute." He took it and sat beside me.
"I'll tell you in due time. But first, tell me about yourself."
I drew up my legs and wrapped my arms around them. With a tiny smile I started to give him the short version. "Well, I'm a small town girl from Michigan. I'm an only child of the most loving parents a person could have. They passed away several years ago. I'm divorced and as of 2 weeks ago, an unemployed biologist whose first trip to California didn't start out well at all."
He started to chuckle. "I'm sure it will get better."
Shyly, I answered, "Oh but Harry, it already has.... Much, much better."
After a few silent moments he asked, "Well.."
"That can't be all."
"I lowered my eyes and replied, "The rest is rather unpleasant and boring."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to pry."
I lifted my head and looked into his eyes. " You weren't prying, Harry. I just hadn't thought about those years for a long time."
He held out his arms to me. "Please, let me hold you." I let him pull me close until my head rested on his chest. I could hear the rapid beat of his heart. He started to stroke my hair and every worry I had just melted away. I felt so safe in his arms. So much that I wanted to suspend this moment in time. I lifted my head and said, "So, now it's your turn. Tell me about Harriman Nelson." I laid my head back on his chest. "And don't you leave anything out."
He kissed the top of my head. With a chuckle he said, "Are you sure you want to hear this?"
I shook my head. "Yes, everything."
"Everything? It may take awhile."
"I'm not going anywhere." I replied.
"OK. Well, I grew up in..."
We talked for several of hours. Actually he did most of the talking. I learned all about his submarine Seaview, the Institute, his crew and his closest friend, Captain Lee Crane. I had laid my head in his lap as he neared the end of his story. By now I was yawning quite a lot.
"Sarah, I hope I didn't bore you too much."
I sat up. "No, you didn't. You really have had some amazing adventures." Another yawn escaped.
"OK, enough story telling. Doc Jamison will have my hide if you don't get plenty of rest. He wants me to bring you to the Clinic at the Institute tomorrow." I started to protest.
"No excuses. I want to make sure you are ok."
I was too tired to argue. "Ok, you win. Now, if you will please get up.."
He stood up and took my hand. "No, you're going to sleep in my bed and I'm going to sleep on the sofa."
"Harry, I'm not going to take your bed."
He rolled his eyes. "Women! All they want to do is argue. In one quick movement, he picked me up in his strong, muscular arms. "You are going to sleep in my room. End of discussion."
He carried me out of the den. Within a few seconds he stood in front of the bedroom door and pushed it open with his foot. We entered and he put me down beside the bed. He turned on the small lamp that sat on the nightstand. It was made of fine cherry wood. It looked so comfortable.
"Harry, I don't want..."
He held up his hand. "Ah, I said end of discussion."
I wasn't going to win this debate. "Yes, Harry."
He quickly turned down the covers and helped me in. It was like lying on large fluffy clouds. He drew up the sheet and comforter and covered me with it.
"If you need anything just call me. OK?" He hesitated and then started to go. I didn't want to be alone. I wanted him to stay. Suddenly, I heard myself say, "Please wait."
He turned around and came back stood beside the bed. "Do you need something?"
Praying I wouldn't regret what I was about to say, I took a deep breath and continued. "There's no need for you to sleep on the sofa." I pulled back the corner of the comforter. "Please, stay with me tonight."
He sat down on the edge of the bed and took my hand. "Are you sure Sarah?
"Oh yes. I know we've only met a few hours ago, but I feel like I've known you forever. I haven't been this happy in a long time. If it wasn't for this," Touching the lump on my head, "we would've never met."
He kissed my hand and smiled. "You're right about that. Let me put out the fire and turn off the lights. I'll be right back."
I lay there waiting for his return. "I can't believe I'm doing this. But it just feels so right."
Harry returned within a few minutes. After changing, he slid in under the covers beside me. He slid his arm underneath me and pulled me close. I looked into his piercing blue eyes and then we kissed. He pulled back and said, "Wait a minute, I distinctly remember telling you to get some sleep. Are you disobeying a direct order?"
"I believe I am, Admiral." I slowly slid my hand up under his T-shirt. "There will be plenty of time for that, later."
With a devilish laugh he replied, "That, can get you a court martial."
As I pulled him closer I replied, "Oh, I'm sure you will come up with a suitable punishment."
"I believe I can." He was kissing my neck as he slid his hand under my strap, pulled it down over my arm and then started to kiss my shoulder.
"You are a beautiful woman, Sarah."
All of a sudden I heard a strange sound. Someone was calling out.
"Harry, did you hear that? " I received no reply. Suddenly, I felt so alone. He was no longer holding me in his arms. Harry was gone. The voice continued...I knew who it was.
"Gammaw, gammaw. Are you awake?"
I opened my eyes. As they focused, I saw the smiling face of my 3-year-old grandson. Throwing back the covers, I sat on the edge of the bed for a moment, looking at this bundle of energy. Sighing, I replied, "Yes Patrick, I'm awake now."
"Good." He grabbed my hand and chirped, "Come on gammaw, I'm hungry."
"You go ahead. I'll be there in a minute."
He turned and raced out of the room. "OK gammaw, hurry up!"
I stood up and put on my robe. As I shuffled down the hall towards the kitchen, my mind was still reeling. I couldn't quit thinking about him...the man of my dreams.
Authors note: On my way to work one morning (at 4:30 am) an incident involving me, my neighbor's car several deer inspired my little tale. The sad part....Harry wasn't there to come to my aid. Damn.
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