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Conspiracy at Desert One
A novel

By Bernace Charles
The Iranian

Chapter Twenty-Three

September 1970
Reston, Virginia

Fred Southgate returned to Laleh. He stood before the open door of the house at Lake Reston. His journey had separated them. It now seemed hesitant of delivering them back to the other. Laleh held their daughter. Fred said, "Allen never told me you were expecting."

Laleh placed an arm around Fred's neck. She said between tears, "He didn't tell you because he isn't the father."

Fred didn't know whether to allow himself the luxury of a smile. He saw too much death the last years and he wasn't certain there was any emotion left in him. He asked, "Allen didn't tell because he wasn't the father?"

"Allen was sterile."

"Did his parents know?"

"No, they believe she is their grandchild. I didn't have the heart to tell them."

Southgate took the baby in his arms and Laleh held the door before taking up Fred's suitcase and set it inside the hall. She had been cleaning the house and Laleh knew she looked a mess. She didn't take time to change after she nursed the baby.

Fred carried the baby to her crib and gently laid the child down. He turned to Laleh and said, "It's okay. What's the baby's name?"

"It's Roya . . . Roya Ann."

"I'm sorry it turned this way. You deserve better."

Laleh laid her head against Fred's chest, "Allen's parents can believe she is their grandchild. I love you. We don't have to marry but we can be together. Nobody can take that away from us. If they assign you a desk job, you can move in with us."

Fred felt Laleh's body against him. His hand roamed up her back and beneath the blouse. He remembered their passionate lovemaking and touch of her skin as he inhaled the fragrance in her hair.

Laleh said, " I love you," She brought her lips to Fred Southgate's.

Fred's next words stabbed at her soul, "I have to return. I'll be back. I promise."

"For how long?"

Fred wasn't certain Laleh's question was for the length of time he would be with her or how long it would be before he returned from Southeast Asia. He said, "I have two weeks . . . then back to Saigon. >>> Go to Chapter Twenty-Four

* Back to "Conspiracy at Desert One" main index

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