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Amanda sunk into Jack's comforting embrace and as their bodies melted into each other; their hearts beating faster, it occurred to her that he had known of her past all along. Pushing him away, eyes flashing, she looked at him in bewilderment and exclaimed "How could you have kept this from me?"
Jack didn't know what to say. He had known he was a Watcher his entire life. It had been bred into the very fabric of his soul and as the son of a Secret Keeper Jack had never questioned what had been kept from Amanda.
"I feel like a fool," she said softly, and then looking into his eyes, "All those times you were there for me, the trip to Regina, the stretches of time when Paul was away, and then when he died... you knew about this all along and you said nothing."
"Amanda, I'm sorry," he choked out, "None of this was ever intended to hurt you. I was your friend. I am your friend and I have always cared for you very deeply..."
Amanda cut him off. "Oh, I'm certain you have! Cared for me deeply? Was that before or after the father of my children was killed? Did you care about me deeply then? Or at the Chinese restaurant when you poured your soul out to me and I believed it? I believed it. Every single word and it was all a lie. My life is a lie. Don't you see," and as the lake water pounded against the jagged rocks below, she grew more angry. "Nothing that I knew to be true was real, and you knew it. YOU KNEW IT!!"
"Amanda please, don't, you'll wake the children..."
"Just leave me alone," she said quietly, I need to take some time to think."
Jack fell into a restless sleep as Amanda sat in the darkness looking out over the moonlit lakes, and tried to piece together what she knew.
She had been adopted by the people she believed were her parents. But did they know the secrets surrounding her birth? And what about Paul? Did he ever really love her or was the entire marriage a sham? Further, if Jack was her supposed "Watcher" why hadn't he been assigned to marry her?
There were still so many unanswered questions, and with this group Jack called The Association breathing down their necks, Amanda realized there was probably not going to be enough time to answer them all.
Though she was still angry with Jack, she knew he was the only person who could help put the puzzle pieces back together, and as dawn broke over the lakes, she picked herself up, and began looking through their food supplies to put together something for breakfast. Her relationship with Jack would never again be the same, but he was her only ally and if she and the children were to get to safety, they would need to rely on him and on each other.
They would also need to eat.
Amanda rummaged around the rucksack where they stored their food. There were two large potatoes, an onion, a tin of Spam, and some powdered eggs. She started a fire and then gathering it all together, began dicing the onions, Spam, and potatoes into small chunks, sauteing them in the little bit of butter they had left in Jack's cast iron pan. She added water to the powdered eggs and stirred them until any lumps were out, and just as the mixture in the pan began to grow golden and crispy, added the eggs.
"We have a big day ahead little man," said Amanda ruffling his hair, "So I've made us all a camp breakfast. Go wake Jack and then wash up."
Bobby scurried off to wake Jack and as the two made their way back to the fire, Amanda's heart skipped a beat despite itself. She could tell he hadn't slept well, and the mixture of sadness and hope in his eyes as he settled his lanky frame onto a log by the fire, gave her pause. Amanda couldn't help but notice the ropey strength of his sinewy arms, or the way his white t-shirt strained against the muscles of his chest.
Reclaiming her senses, she shook her head, clearing it of any such nonsense and began to dish up the hash. Jack Wilson would make some woman a good husband one day - but that woman would not ever be her.
Swallowing her pride, and any residual feelings she may have had for the man, Amanda turned to the fire and asked, "What is our plan for today Jack?"
Jack looked surprised by her sudden turn of mood, and looking into her eyes, felt a deep stab of disappointment. Somehow during the night she had moved on. Moved away from her anger and confusion and moved away from him. He knew it as well as he knew himself - something significant had changed in their friendship. Something Jack feared they would never get back. And as he ate his breakfast, outlining his plans to get them to their final destination before sundown, he vowed once again to fulfill his obligations as her Watcher but to keep his heart at a professional distance. When they got to the cabin, everything else would be explained and Jack would be able to leave.
"Amanda," he said kindly, "The breakfast was delicious, thank you. You're a true magician when it comes to cooking - even over a camp fire - and I've appreciated everything you've done for me."
Looking over at the children he smiled, "All of you. I know it hasn't been easy taking this leap of faith with me, but when we arrive at our destination everything will be clear and you'll be safe. It will be then that I'll leave you."
"Leave us?" cried the children in unison, "Where will you go?"
"My assignment has always been to keep you safe," Jack said softly, "When that is accomplished and your mother understands fully, the truth of who she is and why all of this has taken place, you will meet your Protector and will no longer need me. When that day occurs, when the Protector is in place, I'll be freed from all duties as a Watcher and can resume a normal life."
Looking sadly at Amanda he said, "I'll probably go back to teaching."
In that moment Amanda experienced shards of regret so deep they made her heart ache. Jack would be leaving them. There were no further explanations. Amanda blinked back new tears. It had been unfair to get so angry with him, and now it was too late.
When camp was picked up and their belongings packed for this, their last hike together, Jack, Amanda, and the children made their way out of the cave.
"Don't move," came a voice from behind a boulder, and then as if from out of the shadows, Walt Fischer stepped out and he was carrying a gun.
In the distance came the cry of a lone wolf...
Stay tuned next Sunday for the next exciting installment of Cherry Hill! And if you enjoy reading my food related fiction, pop by and check out my hilarious new web series "Starring Samantha."
Samantha Wentworth's catering business goes belly up along with her marriage to cut throat divorce attorney Alan Wentworth. To recoup her losses she applies to be on a reality TV show, falls in love with the married producer, just about kills the pompous chef host, and gets herself into all kinds of other interesting predicaments.
Stay tuned Saturdays for this brand new serial on The Kitchen Witch! I'll be basing the characters off of well known food world celebs to keep you guessing! Each installment will come with a signature cocktail, recipes, and a fun question and answer to include you in the plot twists - so be sure to bookmark The Kitchen Witch and come along for a fun, food related, romantic romp through the world of reality TV!
Click here to read Episode 1: Samantha Drowns her Sorrows in a Vodka Gimlet
Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.
Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.