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Date Posted: Saturday, November 19, 09:12:02am
Author: KT
Subject: Friday Challenge: November 11, 2005 (TR warning)
In reply to: JayBee and Nell 's message, "Friday Challenge: November 11, 2005" on Friday, November 11, 05:33:45pm


Regret Challenge by KT

Paul pulled away and rolled onto his back. He turned his head and glanced at Madeline. Sweat from their sexual exertions coated her forehead in a fine sheen. He reached over and stroked the hair from her brow, caressing her cheek as he swept his eyes over her face. She had been uncharacteristically quiet.

"What is it?" he queried, his voice throaty.

She didn't look at him. After a moment, she responded.

"What do you mean?"

He wasn't buying.

"You've been preoccupied lately... More than usual."

She mentally acquiesced to his canny ability to read her. It was one of the things that made their partnership so perfect, and she respected it. Nevertheless, she didn't feel like getting into details.

"Yes. I have."

"That's it? Yes, I have?"

"Paul. Please."

He knew when to push and when not to push. If he had learned anything over the years, it was that when Madeline made up her mind, nothing and no one could move her until she was good and ready.

"All right. But you of all people should know when it's time to talk about something. You can't get rid of it until you do."

He knew he was being presumptuous, but he also knew that he had to keep her effectiveness at a high level, and that when she was distracted, she was not performing at her peak. With things being as they were, they could not afford to let their numbers drop.

"I know."

Paul stared at the ceiling, letting her have another minute. If only he could let this go. But he had to retrieve her. Now.

"You can't bring him back, you know."

He could feel her muscles tense at his words, as if he'd plunged a dagger into her heart. She didn't speak, but her eyes closed, and a sigh escaped her. He wanted to share words of comfort, but his compassion died away slowly. Operations was who he was, and who he had become.

"Regret is the one thing we can never afford."


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