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"Chances" By Cindy pt. 3/3

Around six the next morning Caitlin finally gave up on sleep and quietly got out of bed. She didn't know what it was but whatever method she had tried Caitlin hadn't been able to fall asleep. Maybe it was the stress of the past week finally catching up with her.
Careful not to disturb Sam, Caitlin left the lights off and grabbed a green t-shirt and jeans from her suitcase before walking into the bathroom.

A few minutes later Caitlin opened the door to leave and came face to face with Josh who had been just about to knock.

"Sam's still asleep."Caitlin whispered as she closed the door behind her.

"Okay."Josh replied as he stepped back. "Can I talk to you, Cait? If you have other plans I understand....I just...."

Caitlin smiled as she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Let's go get some breakfast. I just have to leave a note for Sam."

********

Twenty minutes later Caitlin and Josh sat in the hotel restaurant. Josh took a few bites of his omelet before pushing his plate aside.

Caitlin glanced up from her French toast. "Is the omelet bad?"

Josh shook his head. "No, it's fine."

"Did you get any sleep?"Caitlin asked as she saw the dark circles under his eyes.

"No. I had a lot to work out."Josh replied quietly as he took a sip of coffee.

"You did a good thing by dropping the petition, Josh."Caitlin stated with a smile.

"Yeah."Josh replied as he met her gaze. "Cait, I know I've strained a lot of friendships during this....some I may never get back. I have no right to ask you this but I need a favor."

"Name it."Caitlin replied as she reached over and squeezed his hand.

Josh reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a thin white envelope. "Can you give this to Donna next time you see her?"

Caitlin nodded as she took the envelope. "I'll give it to her this afternoon. But are you sure that you don't want to give it to her yourself?"

Josh shook his head miserably. "I've made such a mess of things, Cait that I can't face her right now."

"Morning."Sam greeted as he approached the table. "What are you two doing up so early?"

"Couldn't sleep."Caitlin replied as she gave her husband a quick kiss.

Sam nodded as he glanced from Josh to Caitlin and back again. "Everything okay here?"

Josh smiled. "Fine."He replied as Seaborn sat down.

"Samuel,"Josh began."I heard the Cubs have a late game today, wanna go?"

Sam recognized the olive branch his friend was offering. "Sure, you got tickets?"

Josh feigned looking hurt. "Sam, would I offer if I didn't already have the tickets?"

"Yes."Caitlin and Sam replied in unison as the three friends broke into laughter.

Josh grinned as he held up a hand in defense. "Hey, that time wasn't my fault. The computers at the ticket place crashed."

Caitlin smiled and leaned against Sam's shoulder glad to see Josh back to his normal self and the three musketeers back together again.

********

"Caitlin!"Donna exclaimed with a grin as she opened the door around three that afternoon. "What on Earth...."

Caitlin peeked over the top of the three grocery bags she was carrying. "Are you just going to stand there or are you going to help?"

Donna laughed as she quickly grabbed two of the bags from her friend and followed Caitlin into the house. "What did you do? Buy out the whole store? I have food you know, Cait."

Caitlin grinned. "Not the good stuff and by that I mean junk food."She replied as she set the bag down on the kitchen counter. "I figured we could have a girls night and rent a few movies."

Donna's face lit up. "Great idea. I don't think we've done that since I moved out."

Donna placed her bags next to Caitlin on the counter and began putting stuff away. "And for your information I do have junk food."

Caitlin grinned recalling the health food kick Josh had gotten on in the last year or so. "One half gallon of cookie dough ice cream doesn't count, Donna."

Donna paused as she took a bag of Oreo's out of the bag. "Cait, do you even realize what I had to do to sneak that into the grocery cart?"She replied with a grin

Caitlin laughed. "I can just see you sending Josh to the farthest isle of the store to get something you don't need."

Donna grinned. "It was a necessary recon mission."

Caitlin walked over to the living room and glanced in the empty playpen. "Where's Rachel?"

Donna glanced at the stairs. "Taking a nap, hopefully."

Caitlin nodded as she returned to the kitchen. "I'll go up and peek in on her."

Donna's next question halted Caitlin on the first step. "Cait, did you see Josh today?"

Caitlin turned and stepped off the stairs. She had been hoping to give Donna Josh's envelope later not having wanted to upset Donna right away.

"Yeah."Caitlin replied quietly as she reached into her purse and took out the envelope. "We had breakfast this morning. He asked me to give this to you."

Donna warily took the envelope hoping it wasn't another legal maneuver. "Do you know what it is?"She asked as she walked into the living room.

Caitlin shook his head. "No, he didn't say."She paused and saw that Donna was staring at the envelope turning it over and over in her hands. "I'll go check in on Rachel and give you a few minutes."

"Thanks."Donna replied quietly as she walked over and sat down on the sofa.

Caitlin watched her for a moment before turning and walking up the stairs. She could only hope that Josh's soul searching had also come with the realization that he needed Donna in his life.

*********

Sam and Josh sat in box seats along the right field line at Wrigley Field as they waited for the game to start.

"I've never been here."Sam stated as he looked around the old ballpark.

Josh glanced at his friend in surprise. "With all the trips we've made to Illinois you've never been to Wrigley?"

Sam shook his head. "Was never any time. This was a good idea."

"I do have them on rare occasions."Josh replied as a shadow of sadness crossed over his face. "Not that the recent past is any indication of that."

"Donna loves you."Sam stated as he turned to face his friend. "She'll come around and you two can get past this."

Josh shook his head. "I don't know if I deserve a second chance from her after all I've put us through with my stupidity. "

"Have you talked with Donna?"Sam asked.

"No."Josh replied just as the announcer came over the speakers stating that the National Anthem would begin shortly. "But I gave Caitlin something to give to Donna that I hope will begin to mend things."

"Need my help on anything?"Sam asked with a smile.

Josh shook his head. "No, but I'll let you know."

******

Donna sat on the sofa staring at the envelope not wanting to open it. It was too thick to be a letter....too thin to be any kind of legal document.
She shouldn't read it. She should just toss whatever it was in the trash and be done with it. He had shattered their family.....their relationship......he had tried to take the most precious thing in the world away from her.
Now Josh wanted her to forgive him?

Curiosity finally won over and Donna opened the envelope and took out a single piece of yellow notebook paper and recognized Josh's familiar scrawl.

Donnatella,

I can not put into words how I'm feeling right now. Perhaps I should've hired Sam to write this.

You have every right to be angry with me and I wouldn't blame you if you banished me from your life forever.

You and Rachel are the most precious things in my life and always will be. I was a fool to even think that you would endanger our daughter in any way. I apologize for the heartache I've caused you over the last few months.

Donna, you know me better than anyone ever has. Maybe through that understanding you can someday forgive me for my idiotic behavior.

I know I'm asking a lot of you for what I'm about to ask. If you can find it in your heart to give me a second chance I promise I'll never leave you again.

I've enclosed an airline ticket for you to Honolulu. Please Donnatella, if you can meet me there....we have a lot to talk about.
If not for us, if not for our marriage.....at least do it for Rachel.

Just one weekend that's all I'm asking. If you don't come I'll be out of your life forever.


I love you,

Josh

Donna set the letter in her lap and took out the other contents of the envelope. Besides Josh's letter there was a first class round trip airline ticket to Hawaii and information on the hotel where she would meet Josh.

Donna sighed and sank back into the cushions and closed her eyes. Josh had a lot of nerve asking her to come on Rachel's behalf. Not to mention the fact that he knew Hawaii was a weakness for her....it was where they had almost went on their honeymoon before their schedules got to hectic and they had to postpone.

"You okay?"Caitlin asked quietly as she came downstairs breaking into Donna's thoughts.

Donna nodded as she opened her eyes and stood slowly turning to face her friend. "He sent me an airline ticket."

Caitlin blinked. "Just an airline ticket?"

Donna shook her head. "No there was also a letter asking me to meet him in Hawaii so we could talk."

"Hawaii?"Caitlin repeated wincing inwardly.

"Yeah."Donna replied as she held up the letter. "And he had the nerve to ask me to come on Rachel's behalf....after everything."

"Are you going to go?"Caitlin asked quietly.

"I don't know."Donna replied as she sank back down onto the sofa. "Part of me is so furious with him and the other doesn't know what to feel. Josh is such a huge part of my life, Cait."

"Isn't that reason enough to go?"Caitlin prompted gently.

"Maybe."Donna replied as she looked back at the letter.

Rachel's cries broke the silence and Donna stood placing Josh's envelope on the table.
"I'll get her."Caitlin offered but Donna shook her head.

"No, it's okay."Donna replied softly as she turned and walked toward the stairs. "With Rachel up you do realize that one of the videos we rent has to be a Disney movie?"

Caitlin grinned. "I figured that. I'll run to the video store and be right back."

Donna nodded and quickly walked upstairs as Rachel's cries became louder.

*******

"With that win they have a shot at actually getting in the playoffs."Sam commented excitedly as he and Josh sat in a Greek restaurant a few blocks from Wrigley Field.

Josh nodded as he glanced at his watch....nearly seven. He wondered if Donna had read his letter yet.

Sam grinned as he waved his hand in front of Josh's eyes to get his attention. "Earth to Josh...."

"I heard you."Josh replied as he took a sip of water. "Cubs in the playoffs. They've been there before and blew it."

Sam nodded deciding to change the subject. "So are you going to fill me in on your plan?"

Josh sighed. "The plan won't work if she doesn't read the letter."

Sam blinked. "What letter?"

"The one I gave Cait this morning."

"You asked Donna to come back to you in a letter?"

"Yeah....bad move?"

"Josh after everything you put her through Donna needs more than a letter."

Josh glared at his friend slightly as the waitress arrived with their meals. "I did give her more than a letter."

Relief flashed across Sam's blue eyes. "Jewelry is always a good move."

Josh shook his head. "It wasn't jewelry."

Sam raised an eyebrow. "Please tell me you didn't buy her a kitchen appliance."

The waitress left as Josh replied. "I know better than that, Samuel."

"So?"Seaborn prompted with a grin. "What was it?"

"You're not going to let this go, are you?"

"You know I'll just get it from Caitie later."

"I sent her an airline ticket."

"To where?"

"Hawaii."

Sam shook his head. "Josh......"

Josh's head snapped up. "It'll work."

Sam broke a piece of bread in half and took a bite. "Donna was very disappointed when you two didn't go to Hawaii on your honeymoon."

Josh nodded. "That's why I asked her to meet me there. Could be a new beginning for us."

*******

One viewing of Mary Poppins and one deep dish pepperoni pizza later Donna glanced at the clock on the fireplace mantel and saw that it was seven o'clock.
Donna smiled, as she looked down at Rachel nearly asleep in the crook of her arm. She looked so much like Josh that it made Donna's heartbreak sometimes.

"I'm going to put her to bed."Donna stated as she stood.

Caitlin nodded as she picked up the empty pizza box and started toward the kitchen. "I'll call Sam and see if he wants to join us for dessert."

Donna paused at the foot of the stairs. "Cait, thank you for tonight but I need to spend some time alone to think about Josh's letter."

Caitlin turned to face her friend. "Are you sure?"

Donna nodded. "Yeah. Josh asked for a second chance and he deserves an answer. Right now I just don't know what to tell him."

Caitlin nodded as she moved forward and gave her friend a quick hug. "Okay. You know where I am if you need anything."

"Thanks."Donna replied quietly before turning and walking upstairs.

*******

Caitlin returned to the hotel twenty minutes later to find Sam wasn't back yet. She called Josh's room and received no answer. After replacing the receiver Caitlin sat down on the bed and flipped on the tv. She tried to concentrate on a sitcom but after a few minutes Caitlin reached for the phone and dialed a familiar number.

"Hi Mom, you busy?"

"No sweetie."Abby Bartlet replied as she sat down at the kitchen table. "How did the custody hearing go?"

"Josh dropped the petition."

"That's wonderful news."Abby replied as Jed stepped into the kitchen."How's Donna?"

"Elated but in shock. Josh asked Donna to reconcile."

Abby caught something in her daughter's voice. "She refused?"

Caitlin shook her head. "No, she's thinking about it. I just wish I could do more to help."

"All you can do is be there for them."Abby replied as she met Jed's gaze."Donna and Josh have been through a lot and I have a good feeling that they'll pull through this as well."

********

Donna returned to the living room after putting Rachel to bed. She picked up the dishes from the coffee table and placed them in the sink.
They'd wait until tomorrow.

Donna shut the lights off downstairs and locked the house up before going back upstairs. She opened her daughter's door quietly and stepped inside.
As Donna watched Rachel sleep she couldn't help but think of the birth.
Donna hadn't been scheduled for a c-section but Rachel had turned and the doctors were afraid that the cord had wrapped around Rachel's neck.

For Donna the birth itself was a blur but she did clearly remember when she woke the next day.

--------

'Donna,honey,can you hear me?'

'J-Josh?'

'Right here,luv,right here. You don't know how good it is to see those beautiful blue eyes.'

Donna heard the catch in his voice and she struggled to keep her eyes open. 'Baby?'

Josh smiled as he touched her face tenderly. 'She's as beautiful as her mother.'

'She's okay?'

'Perfect. I love you Donnatella.'

'I love you too, Joshua.'

----------

Donna pulled the blanket farther up around her daughter's shoulders and left the room.

*********

Caitlin easily caught the baseball cap Sam tossed to her as he stepped into the room a half hour after she ended her phone conversation with her mother.

"How was the game?"Caitlin asked as she placed the cap on her head and stood.

"Cubs won."Sam replied as he pulled his wife into an embrace.

"That's good."Caitlin said softly as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. "How's Josh?"

"About as he was this morning. He realizes his mistakes and wants to make up for them."

"I gave Donna the letter."

Sam took her hand and led her over to the bed and they sat down."Think she'll go?"

Caitlin took the hat off and absently ran her finger around it's rim. "I don't know, Sam. Josh hurt her deeply."

Sam placed his hand under her chin forcing Caitlin to look at him. "It'll work out, Caitie. They just need some time alone."

"How'd I get so lucky to find you?"Caitlin whispered.

Sam shook his head. "I'm the lucky one."He replied quietly as his lips captured hers.

********

Donna turned on the tv as she sat on her bed. She glanced at the clock on the nightstand, nearly ten.
Talking with Sam and Cait helped but Donna needed someone who always told her when she was making a mistake even if she didn't want to hear it.

"Naval Station Norfolk?"

"Captain Thomas Moss please."

"One moment."

"Moss?"

"Tommy?"

"Donna, this is a nice surprise. How's the windy city?"

"It's good to hear your voice."

Thomas frowned as he heard the sadness in his baby sister's voice. "What's going on, Donnakins?"

Donna closed her eyes. She should've called Tom when this whole mess started. Now she'd have to relive everything.

"Josh and I are separated."

"What? When did this happen?"

"It came to a head about a month ago."

"Why didn't you call me? You know I'd have been on the next flight."

"I was dealing with a custody fight, Tommy."

Thomas stood. "Lyman tried to take Rachel?"

"He dropped the petition."

"That doesn't matter."

"Tom....."

Tom moved to stand next to the window. "I'm sorry.....how are you doing?"

"Yesterday I thought I was going to lose my little girl, Tommy."Donna replied quietly as she leaned back against the pillow. "Now Josh wants to reconcile. "

Tom shook his head. "He's expecting a lot."

"Just a second chance."

"Are you seriously thinking of giving him one?"

"We've been through a lot together."Donna replied as she glanced at a picture of Josh and Rachel sitting on the other nightstand. "At the very least I should hear him out."

"Did he leave you or did you leave him?"Tom asked trying to piece events together.

"What does that matter?"Donna replied. "It was a misunderstanding that escalated."

"Let me guess Josh overreacted to something."Tom commented as he sat down on the corner of his bed.

Donna sighed. "He accused me of having an affair."

"What? Did he hit his head?"

"Tom."

"Do you still love him?"

"Yes."Donna whispered. "But I just don't know if it's enough."

There was a pause on the line. "Tom?" Donna questioned.

"If you still love him."Tom began."Then you owe it to yourself to grab one last chance at happiness."

"Thanks Tommy."Donna stated as she sat up.

"Anytime."Tom commented. "Call me when things get more settled and we'll arrange a day to get together and visit."

"I'd like that."Donna replied softly. "Have a good night."

"You too."Tom stated as he ended the conversation.

*********

The next morning Sam and Caitlin returned from breakfast to find a message from Donna. Caitlin sat down on the bed and quickly called her friend back.

"Hello?"Donna answered on the third ring.

"Hi, it's Caitlin. Just got your message."

"Can you and Sam watch Rachel for a few days?"

"Of course. Did you make a decision?"Caitlin asked her question catching Sam's attention and he moved toward her.

Donna shook her head. "No, but I need to at least hear him out. Our family deserves that chance."
"Anything else you need me to do?"Caitlin asked as she reached over and took Sam's hand in hers as he sat down next to her.

"Just don't tell Josh I'm going."Donna replied as she moved toward her bedroom closet to pick up her suitcase.

"Donna...."Caitlin began.

"Cait, please......talking to Josh before hand is the last thing I need right now."Donna replied as she started to pack. "Besides he said in his letter to just meet him."

"Okay."Caitlin stated. "When do you need us to take Rachel?"

"The flight's at three. I really appreciate everything you guys have done this past couple weeks. I know you dropped everything."

"It's no problem, Donna."Caitlin replied quietly. "We're happy to do whatever we can to help you guys."

"You guys can stay here at the house.....it'll be more comfortable for Rachel and for you."Donna commented."Trust me dealing with a toddler in a hotel room can be more stressful than Toby on his worst day."

Caitlin laughed. "I don't know about that. We'll be over as soon as we check out."

"Thanks Cait."Donna replied as she hung up.

**********

Josh arrived in Honolulu around noon Hawaii time wanting to get things ready for when Donna arrived later that afternoon.
When she arrived not if.....Josh had to believe that after everything that had happened she'd come.
As he stepped back into his hotel suite Josh saw that the hotel staff had out did themselves. Everything was exactly as he had requested.

Now all he could do was wait.

*****

Donna arrived at the hotel that was nestled in a cove toward the end of the famous Waikiki beach. The plane ride had been bumpy so she hadn't been able to get the sleep she had expected to. But as soon as Donna had stepped out of the airport the tropical air had instantly revived her.
She was actually finally here.....Hawaii in all its glory.
It just wasn't fair that she was here to decide if her marriage was worth saving.

Donna approached the front desk and checked in and followed the bellhop to the bank of elevators. Once they arrived on her floor Donna was taken aback to find the bellhop unlocking the door to a suite. She had been expecting a normal sized room with an ocean view....not a suite......not that she was complaining but it wasn't typical Josh to splurge.
But maybe that was what Josh was trying to prove....that he was changing.

"Do you need anything else, Mrs. Lyman?"The bellhop asked regaining Donna's attention.

Donna tore her gaze away from the spectular view and shook her head. "No, thank you."She replied as she reached into her purse for a tip.

The young black haired man shook his head with a smile. "Tip's already taken care of, Ma'am. Have a pleasant stay."

"Thank you."Donna replied quietly as she shut the door behind him.

Donna walked through the room and opened the sliding glass door to the balcony. It was only as she passed the bed on her way back that she noticed the single red rose lying on top of a folded white piece of stationary.

Donna sat down and opened the letter.

Donnatella,

Thank you for coming. I know it took a lot for you to do so.

Hope the room meets your needs. Once you're settled I'd be honored if you could meet me for dinner in my room. It's number 816.

Josh

Donna set the letter down and picked up the rose lifting it to her face. Part of her wanted to turn his dinner invitation down.....return a little of the heartache that he had given her over the last few months.
But the other half knew that Josh had gone to a lot of trouble to set up this trip......the least she could do was share a meal with him.

Donna set the rose down carefully and glanced at the clock. She had just under two hours to take nap, take a shower and get ready.

********

By six thirty Josh had double-checked everything for the millionth time. The hotel staff had set up a small table on the balcony. It was beautifully set with a centerpiece of roses and two silver candlestick holders flanking the centerpiece.

As Josh walked back into the room he flipped on the stereo.....Donna had always liked to dance even when he tripped over his two left feet and stepped on her toes.
At the Inaugural Ball Josh had been surprised when Donna hadn't given up on him for other more capable dance partners.

----------

'Just a guess, Joshua, you haven't danced much?'Donna asked with a smile as she quickly moved her right foot before Josh could stomp on it again.

Josh grinned sheepishly. 'Does the Prom count? I did go to a couple college dances.'

'Josh it's a slow song....you don't have to move your feet as much.'

Josh pulled her close. 'Sorry I keep stepping on your feet.'

Donna grinned. 'It's okay.Though now I have blackmail material on you.'

Josh glared at her slightly. 'Knowing how to dance isn't necessary for the job description of Deputy Chief of Staff.'

'How do you know?'
'It's in the handbook.'

'There isn't a handbook.'

'Yes there is.'

'Okay I'll ask Leo for it in the morning.'

'Donnatella......'

'I was kidding, Joshua.'Donna replied with a smile as she rested her head on his chest.

----------

A knock on the door pulled Josh's thoughts back to the present. Taking a deep breath Josh moved to answer it.

"Hi."Josh greeted as he opened the door relief washing over him....she was really here.

"Hi."Donna replied quietly.

"You look great."Josh replied as he noticed the simple red cocktail dress Donna was wearing.

"So do you."Donna commented glad she had decided to dress casual. Josh was wearing black pants and a light blue polo shirt.

With a start Josh realized they were still standing in the doorway. "Come in. Want anything to drink?"

Donna nodded as she sat down on the sofa. "Some kind of juice would be fine."

Josh squatted down to open and look into the minifridge. "We have pineapple, regular apple, orange strawberry, something green, lemonade, grape."

"Lemonade's fine."Donna replied as she folded her hands on her lap.

Josh nodded and stood as he plucked the glass bottle out of the fridge. He poured it into a glass before turning and handing it to her. "It wasn't very cold so I put ice hope that's okay."

"Ice is okay."Donna replied as she took the glass. As their fingers brushed their eyes locked and for a brief moment it was as if nothing ugly had passed between them.

Josh quickly moved away and sat down in a chair by the balcony doors. He didn't want her to feel crowded by sitting down next to her.

"Sam said you let them stay in the house."Josh commented after clearing his throat.

Donna nodded hating the small talk. "Yeah, I thought it was better to have Rachel home instead of having them try to watch her in a hotel room."

"It was a good idea."Josh replied wondering why he was suddenly nervous around her. After all the only thing he had to do was beg for forgiveness. Something he'd never been good at.

"The hotel's beautiful, Josh."Donna replied as she stood placing the untouched glass of lemonade on a small table.

"CJ recommended it."Josh stated as he joined her on the balcony.
At the mention of their friend Donna turned to face Josh. "How's she doing? Or should I ask where is she?"

Josh grinned. "When I got a hold of her the other night she was in Miami teaching at the University of Miami."

"Dare I ask what time of night you called her at?"Donna asked with a smile as she walked around the beautifully set table to lean against the railing.

"It was midnight here."Josh replied as he moved to stand next to her. "So there wasn't that much time difference besides Claudia Jean's always been a night owl."

"How mad was she?"Donna asked as she turned to face Josh.

Josh glanced at her. "Very but she calmed down once I told her what was going on with us."

Donna nodded and returned her attention to the fantastic sunset. The sun was fading into pinks, purples and red streaks.

As the silence stretched between them for several minutes Josh motioned toward the table. "The food's sitting on a warmer. So whenever you're hungry we can start."

"Now's fine."Donna replied as she turned around and walked toward the table.

Josh nodded and quickly moved forward to pull her chair away from the table. Donna smiled at him as she sat down.

Donna took a sip of water as she watched Josh take two plates from a small cart. She had to admit he was trying very hard not to bring up tender subjects.

"This is Limu Salad."Josh explained as he set the seaweed salad in front of Donna.

"Looks wonderful."Donna replied the growling of her stomach reminding her that she didn't eat on the plane.

Josh sat down across from his wife. "I thought you'd enjoy this better than a crowded restaurant."

"Everything's wonderful, Josh."Donna replied. "Thank you for going to all this trouble."

"You're welcome, Donnatella."Josh stated softly as he met her gaze. "And it wasn't any trouble."

As Donna broke the gaze Josh realized he had left the stereo on in the room. An old Travis Tritt song drifted out catching his attention.

/I had big plans for our future,
Said I'd give you the whole world somehow
I tried to make good on that promise,
Thought I'd be so much further by now
Never could build you a castle,


Even though you are the queen of my heart
But I've had the best of intentions from the start
Now some people think I'm a loser,
Cause I seldom get things right/


When Donna looked his way with tears starting to form in her eyes Josh knew she was listening to the song as well. Josh stood and walked over to Donna offering his hand.

Donna nodded and Josh pulled her into his arms just as the song continued.

/But you make me feel like a winner,
When you wrap me in your arms so tight
Please tell me you will remember,

No matter how much I do wrong
That I've had the best of intentions - all along

I give you a ring, and I promised you things
I always thought we'd do

But my best-laid plans slipped right through my hands
to show my love for you.

And if you could read my heart,
Then you'd know without exception
It was all with the best of intentions

So here I am asking forgiveness,
and praying that you'll understand

Don't think I take you for granted,
girl I know just how lucky I am

Know you deserve so much better,
you won't find devotion more true

Cause I've had the best of intentions

Girl I've had the best of intentions,

Yes, I've had the best of intentions loving you/

As the song finished Josh pulled away from Donna. He hesitantly reached out to caress her left cheek. More than anything Josh wanted to kiss her right now but knew that would only make matters worse.

The lyrics of the song really hit home for Donna as they danced. She fought against the tears but they came anyway. She had loved Josh from the first moment she saw him.....could they really put things back together?

Donna looked so beautiful against the backdrop of the sunset that Josh nearly lost the will power he was clinging desperately to. If he moved things too fast it'd only push Donna farther away from him. Josh didn't want to lose her again.

"We should eat the rest of our meal before it gets cold."Josh stated huskily as stepped away.

"Right."Donna replied as she wiped away the tears and retook her seat.

*********

The rest of the meal passed quickly as they talked about the good times in the White House and after. And soon Donna found herself passing on the offer of dessert.

"No, thank you, Josh."Donna stated as she shook her head. "It looks fantastic but I honestly couldn't eat another bite."

"Okay."Josh replied as he replaced the dessert plates on the cart and sat back down at the table.

For several minutes they sat in silence until Josh spoke. "Would you like to go for a walk on the beach?"

Donna shook her head as she stood. "Maybe tomorrow, Josh. It's late and I want to check in with Cait and Sam before I go to sleep."

"We still need to talk, Donnatella."Josh replied quietly as he followed her into the room.

Donna paused by the door and turned to face her husband. "I know, Josh. Just not tonight it was such a nice evening."

Josh nodded as he opened the door for her. "What about tomorrow afternoon?"

Donna stepped out into the hallway. "That's fine."She reached out and gently touched his right arm. "Thank you for tonight, Josh."

Josh reached forward and tenderly brushed a stray blonde hair away from her face. "You're welcome. Sweet dreams, Donnatella."

Donna smiled as she turned away. "Good night, Josh."

********

The next morning Caitlin paused at the foot of the stairs smiling at the sight that greeted her in the kitchen. It was barely seven thirty but there was Sam feeding Rachel her breakfast....or attempting to.

"You're up early."Caitlin commented with a grin after a few minutes.

Sam glanced at in surprise. "How long were you standing there?"

"Long enough to see who had the upper hand."Caitlin replied as she leaned over to kiss Sam quickly. "How long have you been up?"

Sam smiled as he gestured toward Rachel. "I heard Rachel about six thirty."

"Why didn't you wake me?"Caitlin asked as she pulled a box of cereal from a cabinet next to the stove.

Sam's grin widened. "Caitie, didn't you hear me I said it was six thirty."

"I heard you."Caitlin replied with a smile as she got a bowl and spoon and sat down next to Sam. "What's your point?"

"Caitie, as long as I've know you you've never gotten up before seven."Sam stated as he took a bite of toast.

Caitlin poured milk on her cereal as she shook her head. "I have to gotten up before seven."

"Under protest."Sam replied.

"As long as there was caffeine nearby I was human."Caitlin protested as she gently kicked Sam's right shin."Besides I can recall several times that you weren't a happy camper when the alarm clock went off."

Sam laughed as he took the now empty plate away from Rachel. "Okay point taken. Since we're both up what do you want to do today?"

"We could take Rachel to Navy Pier. Donna told me they haven't taken her on the Ferris wheel yet."

"Good idea."Sam replied as he sat down next to her. "Who gets the shower first?"

Caitlin grinned as she leaned closer to Sam. "We could always share.....you know to conserve water."

Sam moved so their faces were only inches apart. "Conservation is always a nice idea."He replied just as their lips met.

**********

Donna returned from shopping around twelve thirty to find Josh standing outside her hotel room.

"Hi."Donna stated with a smile as she shifted one shopping bag to join the four others in her other hand so she could fish for her room key. "Am I late?"

Josh shook his head a bemused expression on his face as he took in the shopping bags. "No, I'm early. Let me take some of those."He offered as he stepped forward.

"Thanks."Donna replied with a smile as she handed him three bags and then reached forward to open the door.

"Did you buy out the whole island?"Josh asked with a grin as he closed the door behind them.

Donna shook her head. "Nope. Though you missed the shopping trip Cait and I went on last week."

Josh did a double take. "The two of you lose on Michigan Avenue? You didn't drag Sam along did you?"

Donna laughed. "Yes we did and he had fun. Sam even bought something."

Josh feigned horror. "I can just see you two talking him into buying something he'll never need. So what was it? Spare coin polisher? Steering wheel hand warmer?"

Donna placed the rest of the bags on the bed before turning to face Josh. "Nope. Sam bought leather pants."

"Sam bought leather pants?"Josh repeated. "Real leather?"

"And they were orange."Donna replied as she moved to stand next to him.

"Orange? I didn't know they made leather that color."

"Technology does amazing things nowadays Joshua."

"If you say so."

"So do you want to order lunch from room service and then we can talk?"Donna prompted.

Josh shook his head. "Actually I was hoping we could take that walk on the beach. I discovered this spot yesterday that I know you'll love."

Donna nodded as she reached for her purse. "Let's go."She replied as she followed Josh to the door wondering what he had planned.

Donna was surprised when once outside the hotel they headed for the parking lot.

"I thought we were going for a walk?"Donna asked as they reached Josh's rental car.

Josh smiled as he unlocked the doors."We are."

Twenty minutes later Josh pulled the car into a small gravel parking lot near a sign that said, Mano Falls.

Donna got out of the car and looked around at the lush forest. "Josh, this is beautiful."

Josh moved to stand next to her glad to see some of the sparkle back in her eyes. "Wait till you see the
falls."

"Falls?"Donna repeated in awe as she quickly followed Josh to a hiking path. She had always wanted to see
some of Hawaii's famous water falls.

"Yes, Donnatella, water falls. Things of nature that propel...."

Donna punched his shoulder lightly. "I know what they are, Joshua."

They walked the rest of the way in silence. As they neared an opening in the forest Donna heard the roar
of the Falls. She stepped ahead of Josh in her excitement.
When they reached the end of the trail Donna stopped dead at the beautiful sight. Mana Falls cascaded into
a small lagoon.

Josh moved to stand next to Donna wanting nothing more than to wrap her in his arms. Instead he put his hands into the pockets of his shorts. "As soon as I saw this place I knew I had to bring you here."

Donna turned to face him. "Thank you, Joshua."She said softly.

Josh offered her his hand and she placed hers in his.Josh pulled her away from the noise of the falls to a
nearby stone bench.

Josh glanced at Donna and then at the nearby Falls. He had planned and rehearsed what he would say and now none of the words would come.

After several long moments of awkward silence Josh stood and walked to the edge of the bench.

"Saying I'm sorry doesn't seem to be nearly enough."Josh began as he faced his wife."You've been
by my side for years as friend, confidant, lover and wife and I turn around and accuse you of the worst
betrayal possible."

Donna opened her mouth to speak but Josh held up his hand. "Let me finish."He said quietly as he returned
to his seat next to her.

Josh took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He was about to bring up some very dark memories for both of them but it was all or nothing now.

"When I was shot it drained me emotionally."Josh began softly. "Months after I was still afraid....jumping at unfamiliar sounds....nightmares I couldn't remember. Donna, if it hadn't been for your support I would not have recovered."

Josh reached out and took her hand. "The day we were married was the happiest I had ever been. Then you
gave me Rachel and I had the family I never had growing up.

When Hoynes cost us reelection, Donna I thought my political career was over. Bartlet never said anything
but I could tell he put part of the blame on me and he was right. I worked for Hoynes. I know how he thinks
or thought I did. I should've known he was up to something. I was the Deputy Chief of Staff and I
couldn't even keep tabs on the Vice President. Even the polls showed the people's lack of faith in Hoynes
and even that didn't set off any warning bells."

Josh looked away from Donna focusing on the water fall."When you got the job offer in Chicago I figured
this could be a fresh start for both of us. Leo set me up on the lecture circuit, which I enjoyed. But I
didn't like how much it took me away from you and Rachel....I missed so much of her first year that I'll
never get back.

It seemed like things were slipping away no matter what I did."Josh paused as he looked back at
Donna."When I saw you were spending time with Collins no matter how innocent you claimed it was I thought I was losing you too.

The night I came home and saw the smoke...."Josh broke off as his voice trembled."All I could think of was
Joanie and how she died. There was no way I was going to lose my little girl the same way. Even after I had Rachel in my arms and out of the house I couldn't stop shaking.

I knew you understood and gave me the space I needed but I still couldn't shake the fear."Josh stopped as
Donna reached over and squeezed his hand. He met her gaze and saw her eyes were bright with tears.

"Josh, you know I would never put Rachel in danger."Donna replied as she wiped away the tears.

Josh nodded. "I know......"

Donna shook her head as she stood. "No, I don't think you do. Josh, you brought me into court."

Josh ducked his head briefly. "I wasn't thinking clearly, Donna. I was just reacting."

"Reacting?"Donna repeated incredulously as she whirled to face him fists clenched. "Do you have any idea what the last few weeks have been like for me? I not only was served with divorce papers by a husband who didn't trust me any more but also got custody papers accusing me of being a bad mother."

"I was just trying to do what I thought was best for Rachel."Josh replied in a voice barely above a whisper. This was not going as well as he had hoped. Not that he had been so naive to think she would fall into his arms.

Donna's eyes narrowed sharply. "Ripping her away from the only home she's known is what's best for her?!"

"It wasn't what I wanted to do it's what I had to do."Josh replied as he stood gently touching her right shoulder.

Donna shook off his grasp. "How could you Josh? After all the years we've know each other how could you think so little of me as to humiliate me like that?"

"I thought you were with Collins."Josh began as he stepped toward her.

"And that gave you reason to take Rachel away from me?"

"The fire scared the hell out of me, Donna."

"Don't you think it scared me too?"

"Yeah, but...."

"Do you have any idea how I felt when I came home that night to see our home surrounded by fire trucks, ambulance and police cars?"Donna demanded her voice trembling. "I was terrified that something had happened to Rachel since you weren't scheduled to be home for two days."

Josh winced. "I....."

"And then you turn around and accuse me of putting her life in danger simply because I left for a few hours."

"Donna....."

Donna stepped toward him. "Josh, this could've easily happened when you were in town. Do you honestly think I sit around the house while you're out of town doing nothing?"

Josh shook his head. "No."

"In all the years we've known each other have I ever lied to you?"

Josh met her gaze. "No."

"Then how could you possibly think I could betray you like that?"Donna asked quietly.

Josh sighed. "You were spending all that time with Collins and then when I saw you step out of his shower in nothing but a robe I assumed....."

"You assumed wrong."

"I know that now."

"I didn't bring my umbrella that day and I got caught in a thunderstorm. I was soaked to the bone and Dan graciously offered the use of his shower."Donna explained as she stepped toward him gently touching his shoulder. "Nothing ever happened between Dan and I. What we had was over long before we graduated from high school. I hadn't seen him since graduation until the day he showed up on our door step six months ago."

Josh nodded as he took her hand in his. "Is there any chance you can forgive me for being an idiot?"

Donna smiled. "You've always been an idiot, Joshua."

"I'm serious, Donnatella."Josh replied quietly. "Do you think we can start over?"

Donna hesitated. "Josh, marriages need trust."

Josh reached out and caressed her cheek. "I do trust you, Donnatella. Not just with my life but with my heart."

"Josh...."

Josh let go of her hand briefly as he got down on one knee and pulled Donna's wedding ring out of his coat pocket.
As Josh met his wife's gaze he held up the ring as he took her right hand with his free hand.

"Donnatella, I know I've hurt you deeply and it'll take you awhile to get past that."Josh began his voice shaking slightly."I won't blame you if you never forgive me but if you let me I will spend the rest of my days making it up to you.

I love you more than life itself.....more than I ever thought possible for one person to love another."Josh paused."Donnatella Marie Moss will you marry me again?"

Donna's throat was so thick with tears that she couldn't speak. She had loved Josh from the moment she saw him and all she had ever wanted resolved of this mess was for their family to be a family again.

"Yes."Donna whispered with a smile.

"Yes?"Josh repeated not sure he heard correctly.

"Yes, Josh I'll marry you now and forever."Donna replied as she took his hand and gently pulled Josh to his feet.

Josh grinned fighting his own tears as he slipped the ring back where it belonged. "I love you, Donnatella."

"I love you, Joshua, always."Donna replied as she pulled him into a passionate kiss.

***********
epilog

Three days later found Caitlin struggling to put Rachel down for her afternoon nap. Sam had gone to get them some takeout for lunch.
The brown haired woman shifted Rachel to her left arm as she walked around the living room

Caitlin sighed, it'd been nearly a half-hour and she still couldn't get Rachel to settle down no matter how many Disney songs Caitlin sang.

"I've found the tiger helps."Josh recommended as he stepped through the doorway with Donna close behind. "She won't sleep without it so having it nearby at naptime helps."

Caitlin's face lit up as she saw her friends standing hand in hand in the doorway big smiles plastered on both their faces.

"I see Hawaii agreed with you."Caitlin replied with a grin as she walked toward them.

"We can't ever thank you and Sam enough for helping us through this."Donna commented as she took her daughter from Caitlin.

"Speaking of Sam."Josh stated as he walked into the living room placing their suitcases by the stairs. "Where is that pal-of-mine?"

"He went to get lunch, should be back soon."Caitlin replied as she walked toward Josh placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. "So everything is back to normal for you two?"

Josh met Donna's gaze over Caitlin's shoulder and nodded."Better than ever, Cait. In fact Donna agreed to renew our vows."

Caitlin glanced over at Donna with a grin."Need help planning?"

Sam took that moment to enter the house arms laded with two bags of Chinese food. "When did you guys get back and planning what?"

Josh ruffled Rachel's hair as he walked past Donna to take one of the bags of food from Sam. "In order....about ten minutes ago and Caitlin was offering to help plan a party where Donna and I can renew our vows."

Sam grinned. "Its good to have you guys home."
Josh nodded as he started poking around in the bag of Chinese food. "Did you get any sweet and sour pork?"

**********

It was a miracle that's all there was too it. In less than forty eight hours Caitlin and Donna had called in favors and readjusted schedules of former members of President Bartlet's senior staff so they could all be at the party. Not that any real arm-twisting had to be done. Everyone had been anxious to reunite and get caught up on each other's lives.

Caitlin leaned back into her husband's arms as they stood to the side of the Lyman's backyard watching various couples dance. She smiled as she watched Josh twirl Donna around the makeshift dance floor....neither of her friends had left each others side for more than a minute the entire night.

"Getting tired?"Sam asked softly as he pulled her close.

Caitlin shook her head. "No, was just watching Josh and Donna dance."

Sam smiled as he followed her gaze. "They look blissful don't they?"

Caitlin grinned. "I'd say blissful is an understatement....they don't see anyone but each other."

"I know how they feel."Sam replied tenderly as he turned Caitlin around so she was facing him. "Care to dance, Mrs. Seaborn?"

"I'd love to, Mr. Seaborn."Caitlin replied softly as Sam took her hand and led her onto the dance floor.

********

"You've been dying to ask all day so just ask."CJ Cregg said as she took a sip of champagne.

Toby sat down next to her his gaze fixed on the dancing couples. "I was more concerned with how you
were doing."

CJ glanced at him. "Danny and I broke up over a year ago, Toby."

Toby took a crabpuff from a nearby plate before replying."You were engaged."

"For six months."CJ replied a little more sharply than she had intended. She didn't know what had hurt more the failure of her relationship with Danny or the loss of the future they should've had just because they couldn't collobarate their careers.

Toby reached over and gently took her hand. "That doesn't mean it hurts any less."

CJ swallowed hard as she squeezed his hand. The next song however made her smile. "Can you tango, Mr.
Ziegler?"

*********

Jed and Abby sat at a table at the rear of the backyard.
The former President smiled as he saw a tear slide down his wife's face. "Abbigal, you're crying."

Abby glared at him slightly as she wiped the tear away."Am not."

"You always cry at weddings."

"The ceremony was an hour ago, Jed."

"At Caitlin's wedding you cried for two hours."

"A mother always cries at her children's weddings."

Jed glanced out at the dance floor where Caitlin and Sam were dancing next to Charlie and Zoey. He reached over and took Abby's hand in his.

"I love you, Abigail."

Abby met his gaze."I love you too, Josiah, always."

********

Zoey laughed as Charlie suddenly dipped her. Her laughter died as she saw the sadness in his dark gaze.

"I missed you."Charlie whispered as he brought her back to a standing position.

Zoey touched his face. "I never went anywhere,Charlie. You're the one who spent four months in
Europe."

Charlie caught her hand....he had went to school abroad for a semester after President Bartlet had
lost reelection. He had thought it would be best for everyone.....would keep Zoey out of danger.

"I love you."Charlie stated quietly as he drew her close.

Zoey wrapped her arms around his neck. She had dated others while Charlie was in Europe. They had thought it best to seperate instead of doing a long distance relationship. But no one could hold a candle to what she and Charlie shared.

"I love you too."Zoey replied tenderly. "Does this mean we have another chance?"

"If you'll have me."Charlie replied before kissing her.

********

After two more songs Josh reluctantly pulled his wife off the dance floor. He held Donna close as he glanced at his friends.

Leo approached them. "I guess some of my advice sank in after all."He said quietly as he slid an arm around Jenny's waist.

Josh met his ex-boss's gaze. "Thank you."He replied solemnly.

Leo nodded as he lightly touched Donna's arm. "If he gives you any more trouble you know where I am."

Donna laughed and she stepped forward to give Leo a hug. "I will."

Jenny squeezed her husband's right hand. They had reconciled shortly after the assassination attempt."Come on, Leo, let's give these love birds some time alone."

Josh shook his head. "It's alright, Jenny, I have something to say to everyone."

Josh picked up four champagne glasses from a nearby table. He handed one to Donna and the other to the McGarry's.

Taking Donna's free hand Josh stepped forward. He signaled to the DJ and the music stopped.

"Can I have everybody's attention for a moment?"Josh began. "I promise this won't be a long speech."

The guests grew quiet and moved closer to the Lymans.

Josh cleared his throat as he turned to meet Donna's gaze part of him still couldn't believe that they were back together. He had come so close to losing her.

"As most of you know my life has not been the best the last few months."Josh continued as he stepped briefly away from Donna to meet Sam and Caitlin's gaze. "I've made a lot of mistakes the worst of which was pushing my family away."Josh paused as he looked back at Donna. "I thought I could handle everything, including raising Rachel on my own but I was very wrong."

Josh handed Leo his glass of champagne and stepped closer to Donna taking her hand in his. "Donnatella, I'm not able to put into words exactly what you mean to me but the short version is you are my life. I was lost without you and I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am that you were able to forgive me."

Donna felt tears begin to form and she made no effort to blink them away. "Josh......"

Josh shook his head as he placed a gentle finger on her lips. "Let me finish. I know I said this earlier when we renewed our vows but I have to say it again. You saved my life, Donnatella.....I didn't realize how empty my life was until you showed up in the campaign office. You've always been there whenever I needed you without asking for anything in return.

I know I've hurt you deeply and all I can promise you is that I'll spend every day for the rest of our lives making it up to you."

Tears flowed freely down Donna's face as she blindly set her glass down onto a table and she took both of her husband's hands in hers. There was so much she wanted to say but for some reason no words would come.

"I love you, Joshua."Donna stated softly as she met his gaze.

"I love you, Donnatella, always and forever."Josh replied in a choked voice just as the DJ started the next song. He glanced at the DJ in surprise as he pulled Donna close....could it just be a coincidence that the song playing now was the same one that brought them together in Hawaii?
Maybe Donna had added the song to the list....either way it didn't matter. The song was as powerful to him now as it had been at the hotel.
Donna was the queen of his heart and always would be.


/I had big plans for our future,
Said I'd give you the whole world somehow
I tried to make good on that promise,
Thought I'd be so much further by now
Never could build you a castle,

Even though you are the queen of my heart
But I've had the best of intentions from the start
Now some people think I'm a loser,
Cause I seldom get things right/

Josh pulled Donna onto the small dance floor and held her close.

The others watched them for a few moments before joining them.

/But you make me feel like a winner,
When you wrap me in your arms so tight
Please tell me you will remember,

No matter how much I do wrong
That I've had the best of intentions - all along

I give you a ring, and I promised you things
I always thought we'd do

But my best-laid plans slipped right through my hands
to show my love for you.

And if you could read my heart,
Then you'd know without exception
It was all with the best of intentions

So here I am asking forgiveness,
and praying that you'll understand

Don't think I take you for granted,
girl I know just how lucky I am

Know you deserve so much better,
you won't find devotion more true

Cause I've had the best of intentions

Girl I've had the best of intentions,

Yes, I've had the best of intentions loving you/



end