Snippets Thirty Three...
She was asleep on the couch when he finally made it home several hours later than usual. Tossing his cover, he removed his jacket and loosened his tie before kneeling on the floor by her side; that's when he spotted the evidence of tears on her cheeks.
The dull ache that lay heavy in his heart suddenly sharpened. He had caused those tears.
Gathering her into his arms, he kissed her brow and then the traces of those tears. "Bambina," he murmured. "Ti amo. I love you."
"Mmm," she hummed in her sleep, one fist tucked under her chin, the other hand on his chest as her body recognized his, sinkig into his embrace.
"Mi spiace, I'm sorry," he whispered. "I never meant for it to get out of hand."
"I'll take some hand sewing with me so I can stay occupied when I've finished shopping at the commissary," Spencer chatted. "And I'll bring a book to read. I promise not to get in your way."
"You don't have to go, bambina." JC looked at her in appreciation as he buttoned his uniform shirt, fastened his shoulder boards and then paused in the act of dressing. Watching Spencer sit on the side of the bed and stretch her bare legs out to put on her stockings always intrigued him. He was particularly enamored of the white patch of skin that remained uncovered between the tops of her stockings and her panties.
"You don't have general officers' breakfasts that often," she commented. "And the base commandant rarely invites the wives. It's worth spending the day there. I don't want to miss Belgian waffles and the latest base gossip."
Her words made him chuckle. "I should have known it was the offer of waffles," he teased and swung her up into his arms for a quick hug and kiss. "But no mischief, imp. Is that clear?"
"Aye, aye, Captain. I'll be the epitome of grace, the quintessential officer's wife, the goodest angel ever! I swear I will!"
"Uh huh," he smirked, landing a firm swat on her posterior and chuckling when she yelped. "Just make sure you behave, scamp! The senior officers' wives will be there and you know how some of them feel about you."
"I can't help it if they're old biddies who dress like their grandmothers. And they eat like birds! Food was meant to be enjoyed. Let them diet on their own time."
"I promise not to say anything ugly. I'll mind my own business and eat quietly. Honest! Now let's go. If we're late, there won't be anything left."
"No, just waffles and eggs and sausage and bacon and danish and..."
"You suppose they'll have ice cream for the waffles? Ouch!" she yelped again and then giggled as she scooted away from JC's swinging arm.
They joined the last of the officers and their spouses entering the mess hall where all had been readied for the large crowd. Seating was optional - not the usual by rank and file - JC scanned the crowd so he and Spencer could sit with friends.
"I need to powder my nose. Be right back."
"Don't dawdle, Spence. If you do, there might not be any food left," her husband teased.
Spencer rolled her eyes as she walked away.
JC waited for her at the entrance to the dining area, his back against the wall and greeted people he knew. It was rare that so many officers were in the same place at the same time and rarer still that they were together for a social occasion.
"Captain!" a voice rang out as a more senior officer approached, his wife in tow. "Nice to see you; it's been a while. Where's that pretty wife of yours?"
"Hopefully, he's left her home for a change," the officer's wife quipped. "She's too young for this crowd, isn't she? Always into mischief, that one. I think you robbed the cradle in a rare moment of misjudgment and now you're regretting it, aren't you, JC?"
"Spencer is a delightful handful, ma'am," JC smiled and tried not to grind his teeth. The woman's husband was one of his former commanding officers and he didn't want to cause a scene. "As for youth, she's ten years my junior but..."
"Ten years? That's quite a difference when it comes to maturity. How do you put up with her more... ahhh... adventurous antics? And how can you be sure she'll behave herself when you're at sea? I wouldn't dream of giving my Harrison an ounce of worry. He's got so much on his mind. I don't know how you put up with her."
"Now Rebecca..." her husband remonstrated.
"Yes, how do you put up with me?" Spencer asked softly as she walked back into the dining room, having heard enough of the conversation to have it ruin her enjoyment of the occasion.
"Bambina, I don't put up with you. I..."
"Oh, I see you're here, after all, Spencer," the woman grimaced. "Well, do behave, dear. Your behavior reflects on your husband, you know. Surely, you don't want to do anything to hinder his career."
"I promise to remember to put a napkin on my lap and chew with my mouth closed, ma'am. Let's find a table, JC, maybe in the back of the room? So no one will be offended by my poor manners or lack of social graces or..." she looked pointedly at the woman who had insulted her. "Or my terrible youth. Always nice to see you, Admiral," she nodded at the woman's husband.
"See! That's just what I'm talking about," the woman sputtered as JC made their excuses, Spencer pulling him away from the couple.
"Bambina," he began as they walked away.
"You didn't seem in any hurry to correct her," Spencer said quietly, her appetite disappearing with her good mood.
"You didn't give me much of a chance," he replied, keeping his voice low. The last thing he needed was to call unwanted attention their way.
Spencer said nothing more as they found seats at a table with people they only had a nodding acquaintance with. The food was served but instead of her normally animated presence, Spencer picked at her food, eating little and saying less.
"Bambina, you're not eating," JC whispered, bending his head to her ear.
"I don't want to embarrass you," she said in return, still smoldering over the unexpected and undeserved insult.
"You don't embarrass me; you never have. You need to eat, sweetheart. You love waffles. I'll get a hot one for you," he added, signaling a waiter.
"Just coffee for me," Spencer pointed to her cup when the waiter arrived.
"I'm not really hungry," she said and pushed her plate away.
"I want you to eat something. You can't afford to skip meals, bambina." He would have said more but was distracted by another officer at the table and soon was engaged in conversation.
JC had a full day's appointments and he didn't want to linger over coffee. Noting Spencer's untouched plate, he made no further comment about her loss of appetite, gently squeezed her hand and escorted her out of the dining area.
"Are you going to your office now?" she asked.
"Yes, and you're going, too. I'll have someone take you to the commissary."
"I can get there on my own, JC."
Ignoring her words, he paused and cupped her chin. "I love you, sweetheart."
"Me too," she smiled but he could see it was a sad smile.
The young ensign that accompanied her to the commissary was dumbfounded at the amount of food Spencer bought. He helped her push two large grocery carts and when it looked like the items she bought were going to topple over the edges of the carts, Spencer declared she had everything on her shopping list and was ready to check out.
"We'll have to call the motor pool, ma'am," the young sailor commented. "No way we can carry all these bags back to the Captain's office by ourselves."
"Why don't you ask if anyone is headed toward McLean? A lot of this is perishable and I'd like to get it home and in the freezer as soon as possible."
"Yes, ma'am, right away, ma'am."
Several officers were headed in the right direction, most on their way to the Pentagon. Spencer knew she could call a cab from there but as luck and gallantry would have it, she and JC knew one of the officers driving that way and the man insisted that his driver take Spencer home.
"Where's my wife?" JC asked the ensign when he returned.
"She went home, sir," the young man replied and explained the circumstances.
"She could have put the cold food in the freezer in the break room," JC mused. "Didn't I tell you to bring her back here?"
"Sir, yes sir," the ensign answered, standing taller and hoping the senior officer wasn't angry with him.
"You should have called to tell me what was going on before calling the motor pool, Ensign," he said quietly and folded his arms across his chest. "I was looking forward to having my wife spend the day with me."
"Begging the Captain's pardon, sir," the young man swallowed hard, his eyes front and aimed over JC's shoulder. "Your wife was adamant and my momma always told me it never pays to argue with a woman and when that woman is my commanding officer's wife..." his voice faded.
JC laughed. "Your mother gave good advice. No harm, no foul. As you were," he finished, dismissing the young man.
He gave Spencer time to get home and then called to let her know he was unhappy that she left the base without a word to him. She didn't answer, voice mail chimed in and he left a message for her to return his call. After two hours, he called again and still, there was no answer.
A little concerned, he asked the ensign to contact the officer that had driven her home. He was assured that Spencer was delivered safely and that the man's driver had helped her take her groceries into the house.
"She might have gone out, sir," the ensign suggested.
"Not without turning on her cell phone," JC grumbled.
"Maybe she's in the shower or napping," the young man suggested, noting with alarm that the senior officer seemed a little agitated that he couldn't reach his wife.
"Maybe," JC replied. "Carry on."
Sitting at his desk, he mused about the morning's events.
It wasn't the first time a senior officer's wife had made cutting remarks about Spencer. Most of the women were gracious and friendly but there was always one or two who resented the presence of a woman in their ranks who lived life "out of the box." Spencer didn't engage in base gossip; she was happy to hear it but she didn't add to it. The few whispered secrets she learned were safe with her. She didn't curry favor and only attended social functions that were important to her husband's career or were for charitable events. The rest didn't require her presence and she felt no obligation to attend. Her worst fault, however, was that her husband was obviously in love with her and had no qualms about showing it in public.
Not that Spencer was an innocent. She frequently whispered in her husband's ear... touched him intimately under the table... or in some other way, brought a hint of color to his cheek or made him arch a brow in her direction. When she did this, JC always retaliated in kind - subtly - but managed to make his wife's face suffuse with color. Men chuckled and women smiled, some with clenched teeth. Jealousy - envy - resentment: When displayed in any form, all broadcast a sickly shade of green and in Spencer's opinion, were highly misplaced emotions.
The morning's events had taken its toll. On more than one occasion, the woman who had insulted her had called to read Spencer the riot act.
"As the wife of your husband's commanding officer, I think you should..."
"When are you going to stop acting like a lovesick honeymooner? It's embarrassing."
"It isn't protocol to show such affection in public. The Navy is far more important to JC than you are."
"If you don't act in a more appropriate manner, I'm going to tell my husband that your husband isn't fit to command."
And so it went. Fortunately, neither the Navy nor JC was unhappy with Spencer and her lack of conformity.
"JC?" she whispered, the back of her hand covering her mouth as she stifled a yawn. "I was suddenly tired and came home," she explained. "Fell asleep right away. Got help with the groceries… didn't want to call and interrupt your day…"
"You were crying sweetheart. Why the tears?"
"Don't remember," she mumbled, her words barely audible.
"Tell me," her husband said.
"Nothing to tell."
"Tell me," he insisted. "I called several times; you didn't pick up."
"Turned the phone off so I could sleep."
"I embarrassed you today," she retorted, coming fully awake, her voice rising. "While I was getting groceries I saw a few of the wives that were at the breakfast. They looked at me funny. I thought…" Ducking her head, she lowered her voice to a whisper, . "I thought I must have put you in an awkward position. I decided to come home in case your CO dropped by your office. Didn't want to embarrass you further."
"You never embarrass me," he said, gently cupping her chin so she'd look at him. "And if those women had a spine, they would have spoken to you instead of staring. It was my fault, bambina. My words caused your tears. Mi spiace, I'm sorry," he whispered. "I never meant for it to get out of hand."
"Me too," Spencer said softly as she reached up to kiss him.
"But you left the base without telling me," he reminded her. "I was unhappy about that; then you didn't answer the phone. I was worried. If I hadn't touched base with the officer that took you home…" he paused. "What do you think I should do about that so we don't have a repeat performance?"
"You want to do the grocery shopping?" she asked with that practiced look of innocence and just the right contrite tone.
"Gonna spank you, that's what."
The ache in his heart faded and he chuckled at the indignant look in his wife's eyes. As worried as he was, he knew she really wasn't sorry she caused him to worry. He knew she felt badly about the way she was treated that morning, but knowing her as he did, he also knew she'd take her revenge when it was least expected. Contrite? Not Spencer.
Pulling her closer to his chest and holding both her hands in one of his, he kissed her brow before flipping her over his lap. One sharp swat followed despite her protests.
"For worrying me," he announced.
Another hard swat followed, this one on a bare bottom, her skirt over her back, her panties removed in one quick jerk of cloth.
"Don't forget beast," he reminded her as his hand quickly peppered her bottom, the swats light and tingly rather than harsh. "And lover," he added, his desire obvious. Turning her onto her back he joined her on the couch.
"Mmm," she hummed, squirming a little when her backside touched the couch. "I'm really mad at you," she told him, pulling him closer to return kisses.
"Be mad later," he advised, loosening his clothing, pressing into her inviting arms and making them whole again.