A Fair Exchange

Part 2 by Pebbles

This is my first ever Fanfic. Be gentle with me. No apologies for English Idiom – it’s all I know!

Over a simple supper of baked fish and vegetables from the garden the conversation began to flow. Mikey was the main facilitator. His constant remarks about everything and anything kept the atmosphere relaxed and Luka began to experience a warm glow that was not entirely attributable to the heat from the Aga cooker or the red wine, which he had drunk.

He began to form a picture of life at ‘Merrifield’. Melissa took in bed and breakfast guests during the summer and also let the cottage that Luka was now staying in. The area was very popular with tourists seeking unspoilt natural beauty. The coastline was rugged with pretty sandy beaches and they kept a small boat at Kingsbridge for fishing and picnics. In the autumn they took a break from the bed and breakfast to harvest the apples and make pressed apple juice and cider.

Melissa’s voice betrayed her immense pride in her little son as she recounted tales of fishing trips shared, Mikey’s help with the apple harvest and countless other little homely details of their life. He began to dread the inevitable end of the evening. As Mikey’s bedtime approached and he was sent upstairs to start getting himself ready for a bath, Luka clutched at straws to continue the conversation.


“So have you always lived here?” seamed an innocent enough remark.

“No, just three years. We came down here from London because my husband was ill and couldn’t continue in his work. We had always wanted to raise Mikey in the country. We both grew up around here….” Melissa paused as if gathering up her strength to continue. “Unfortunately we didn’t know then that Hugh’s cancer was terminal, although we had no regrets. We were able to enjoy the last few months together here building the business, making plans for converting the barn, spending time with Mikey. But I” she paused again  “ I wish we had done it earlier. We had so little time in the end.” Her voice had become almost a whisper. Her eyes shone with unshed tears.

“Would you excuse me a moment? I must make sure Mikey doesn’t flood the bathroom.”   Melissa got up from the table. Luka rose with her. He was at a loss for words. As she passed by towards the stairs he touched her arm briefly. “Thank you for sharing your evening with me…and everything” he murmured. “Shall I make us some coffee?”

“Oh, If you don’t mind. I think I should call it a night. But thank you. I hope you will be happy here.” And she was gone.

As he let himself out, Luka wondered if he could be. He had come to paradise only to find more sadness and loss.

Over the next week, Luka barely clapped eyes on Melissa. Practising as a family doctor in a small rural community would have been change enough from a big city ER but there was also the British National Health Service to contend with. However the staff at the Kingsbridge Health Centre were very helpful and soon Luka was engrossed in the work of a rural GP. One evening after surgery towards the end of his first week he joined the senior doctor of the practice for a beer at the local pub.

He was not sure that he really liked English beer – wasn’t it said that the English drank it warm? But not wanting to cause offence he tried a half-pint and was pleasantly surprised. 

“So Luka how are you settling in? – I hear you’ve got lodgings with Melissa Stock. Eh?”  Drawled John Wellington as he lowered his considerable bulk onto a barstool.

“Yes, she has a very comfortable cottage there and has made me very welcome, thank you” replied Luka, wondering if the stool would take such a heavy load.

“She’s a patient of mine you know” confided the older doctor. “Mind you I haven’t seen her for going on two years I should think. It was a very sad business – her losing her husband so suddenly. I was worried about her for a while then. She barely ate or slept for months. But in the end she seamed to pull her self together – it was the child you know – she told me one day that he begged her not to be so sad. His Daddy was an angel now he said to her and didn’t want her to be so sad anymore. Isn’t that touching, eh? He’s a lovely little lad.”

Luka recalled the conversation he’d had with Mikey in the barn and marvelled at the capacity for children to accept whatever cruel blows fate threw at them. If only Melissa and he could do the same.

When he finally got home he made a point of seeking out Melissa. As usual she was hard at work processing the apple harvest. She had a fresh load of apples floating in a large enamel bath whilst she pounded away with an old garden rake to dislodge the leaves, grass and other debris before milling them. She was so engrossed in the work, looking out for any badly bruised or rotten fruit that she didn’t see Luka approaching. For a moment he waited quietly by the open door observing her work. The evening was fairly warm for October and Melissa was dressed in jeans, which hugged her trim figure and a sleeveless top. Her lean arms gently defined by taut muscles, her forehead lightly beaded with sweat from her exertions. Luka felt himself becoming aroused, and slightly embarrassed by this, started to move away. He bumped straight into Mikey who had come to ask Melissa to read him a bedtime story.

“Whoa there little fellow.” Exclaimed Luka. Pleased as least for a diversion. “Your Mummy’s working hard – would you like me to read your story? If that’s OK with your Mummy?”

“Oh, you’re sure you wouldn’t mind?” Melissa smiled and wiped her brow. Luka’s heart did a somersault. “I’d like to get these finished before I come in”

“Yes please, Dr Luka – I’ve got some new books from the library with Dinosaurs in!” Mikey took Luka’s large hand in his little one and led him off towards the house.

 Melissassa watched them as they walked off together – the tall dark haired man stooping slightly to converse with her little golden haired boy. An odd couple perhaps, but very charming. She certainly felt a strong emotion as she watched them together, although she could not explain what is was that she felt.

 As she pounded away at the apples she tried to analyse her feelings about this beautiful man who had made such an impact on her in what, just over a week?  He was undeniably physically attractive: tall, dark and handsome. A beautiful smile that lit up his eyes – although there was just a hint of sadness behind the eyes she thought. But it was much more than his appearance that attracted her. He was so gentle and sweet with Mikey. To her he was almost old-fashioned in his manners: holding open doors, offering to carry things and listening – really listening – to her.  It was as if he really understood her feelings of loss - or was she just imagining it. Whatever, she knew she looked forward to seeing him and wanted to get to know him better.

Later, when the days load of apples were all clean and prepared for the mill, Melissa shut up the barn and returned to the house. The house was very quiet. She went upstairs to Mikey’s room. There were Luka and Mikey both fast asleep! Luka sprawled on the floor only his head and shoulders resting on the low divan. Mikey was curled up mostly on his pillow surrounded by books and his collection of soft toys. Melissa wondered who had fallen asleep first.

At first she wondered whether she should leave him to sleep, as he was obviously very tired. But he would get a terrible crick in his neck. Melissa knelt down beside him so that she could gently rouse him without disturbing Mikey. Close to him she was aware of his very male scent. His face, relaxed in sleep was almost boyish; vulnerable…She felt tightness in her throat, her chest. She was almost paralysed by her feelings. Then his eyes fluttered open.


Melissa was mortified. What would he think she was doing? “I’m sorry I was just going to wake you.” She blushed from her neck up to her ears and jumped up to her feet. Luka just smiled up at her his eyes twinkling as if he could read her thoughts. “Well I thank you, I would have gotten very stiff if I’d slept down here on the floor much longer! Would you mind helping me up?”  He offered his hand. Melissa took it in her own. It seamed like an eternity that they held hands before Luka rose to his feet. Melissa was reluctant to let it go – to sever the connection – but at last she slipped it free of his. Silently he followed her back down the stairs.


“I really should get off to my own bed I think – I’m dog tired tonight” Luka said quietly.

“Oh, yes of course” Melissa wished he would stay. “I was wondering, well the neighbours would love to meet you and there’s a charity quiz night at the pub next Saturday – would you like to come? It’s just a laugh really, no one takes the quiz seriously – well certainly not our team!” Luka could not miss the eagerness in her eyes. “Of course, count me in” Luka smiled “I love going to the pub!”


To part 3

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