Hating to leave him alone even for a moment, Daphne smiled and brushed her hand lightly against his cheek. He smiled sadly but she tried not to let her emotions get

the best of her as she headed for her room.

It didn't take long to find a large overnight bag in her closet. She tossed on the bed and unzipped it, carefully placing everything she thought she would need inside.

Her swimsuit, sunglasses, toiletries, essentials, some casual clothes, a dress, comfortable shoes, a pair of sandals, a towel, and a few "beach reads" as people called

them. When she looked at what she had packed, she realized that she'd gone completely overboard. No one could possibly need this much stuff for a silly trip to the

beach. But she knew that it was better to pack too much than not enough. And she was sure that Niles wouldn't mind.

A quick once over in the mirror and a spritz of perfume on a brush through her hair and she smiled at the outcome. She hurried to the living room where he was still

sitting on the couch, watching something on television

"I'm ready, Dr. Crane."

He rose at once and pointed the remote at the television to turn it off. He smiled, but when he did, that smile held a hint of sadness.

"Is everything all right?" the question was ridiculous and she hated herself for asking, but to his credit, he simply nodded.

"Shall we go?"

"I'll just leave a quick note for your brother." She hurried to the kitchen and pulled a pad of paper and a pen from the drawer. When she returned to the table, she saw

Niles looking at her worriedly. "What is it?"

"Wh-what are you going to say?"

She couldn't blame him for being worried. After all, it wasn't as though they went on trips to the beach every day. And for what it was worth, Dr. Crane was married.

But she did her best to reassure him.

"I'll just say that I'm going to the beach with a friend." And then she added. "It's not a lie."

This time he smiled-a real smile that warmed her heart. "All right."

"We should go so that you can get your things. How far is it to the beach?"

"A few hours but I think we can make it there before dark."

"I can hardly wait. Thank you for inviting me, Dr. Crane. Would you like me to pack some food to take with us?"

"Oh, there's plenty at the beach house and if we run out, there's a store nearby."

"All right." She quickly went around the condo, checking to make sure things were in order and then scribbled a note to Frasier and Martin on the notepad. It said

exactly what she told Niles that it would say;

Dr. Crane and Mr. Crane,

Since you both went to Canada for a fishing trip, I thought I'd go on a little trip of my own, to the beach. A friend asked me to come along, and I didn't hesitate to say yes. Dr.

Crane, I know you'd do the same for one of your friends. I'll be back soon.

Daphne

"I'm ready when you are, Dr. Crane."

Filled with excitement, she followed Niles out of the condo and locked the door behind her. In the elevator, she was certain that he could hear her pounding heart. She

was more nervous than usual around him, but she decided it was because of seeing the beach for the first time since she could remember.

Once they reached his car, they headed toward his apartment. She couldn't help but feel a twinge of disappointment for him. She knew how much he hated living at

the Shangri-La, but until he was divorced, it was his only option. It was far beneath what he was used to, but she didn't mind at all. He had a home and that was the

most important thing.

"Here we are." He said, inserting the key in the door. "Home sweet… Home…" His voice fell flat once he stepped into the living room.

"Thank you, Dr. Crane. I haven't been here in so long."

"Yes, well…"

"Why don't you go and pack your things and I'll wait right here?"

"All right."

When he was gone, she settled onto the couch and looked around. It wasn't such a bad place and with a few touches it could actually be quite nice. But now was not

the time to discuss decorating. She thumbed through a few of his books, and turned on the television to catch the last few minutes of a movie that she'd seen many

years before. And when she heard his voice she looked up and smiled.

"Sorry to keep you waiting." He stood in the living room, holding an overnight bag.

"You look very nice." She hadn't really meant to compliment his appearance, for he was wearing the same clothes he'd worn at Frasier's, but the time seemed right.

"Thank you, Daphne. And you look lovely as always."

She felt her heart warm. He always knew how to make her feel good. She hardly looked beautiful in her jeans and plain pink t-shirt. "Thank you, Dr. Crane."

"So are we ready to go?"

"It looks that way."

"Let's head to the beach!"

She wasn't sure but she could have worn that there was excitement in his voice. She certainly hoped so. Niles needed happiness now more than ever.