Little Things

part 2 by Jen

Warning: Contains Sexual Scenes


Anna turned up the walk towards a big old house.  “It’s this one, the blue door.  Let me just dash inside and lay my burden down.”

 “You live here?  On a stipend?  Can I not see the hole in the roof?” 

 Anna laughed.  “Oh, the house is cut up into units.  Trust me, I just have a teeny weeny part of this,” she said as they reached the unlocked outer door.  Inside were two others.  Anna turned to one and rummaged though her computer bag for her keys.  “Sorry, could you hold this?”  She turned to Luka and gave him her chai cup.  His fingers closed over hers as he took it from her.  He felt her start.  She stared at him before slowly freeing her fingers and turning back to the door.  Luka inched closer to her and he could feel heat bouncing between them.  He had to control an urge to press the length of his body against her and bury his face in her hair.  It would be so sweet just to lose himself in her.  He watched Anna fumble with the lock until the door swung open.

 “Sorry it’s a mess,” she said.  “Another bad grad student habit I’m afraid.  I have documents everywhere.  Though there is at least a method to the madness.  Usually,” she added with a laugh.

 Was that an invitation?  Luka hovered at the threshold. 

 “Come in,” Anna said, as if reading his mind.  “I really should plug in my computer and start recharging the battery.  It’ll just take a sec.”

 Luka stepped inside, barely.  He felt nervous sexual energy pouring off of Anna.  He was in over his head.  It was time to leave.  This was a very bad idea.

 “Could you close the door?  I’ve a kitten around here somewhere and I don’t want her to bolt out the door in part of her long suffering desperate quest for freedom.”  Anna cringed.  Get a grip, Anna, stop babbling.

 Luka shut the door behind him and watched her pull the laptop from her bag and kneel down to set it on the floor next to the outlet where the power cord lay.  As she knelt, her skirt pulled close around her hips, and Luka took a small step forward.  She plugged in the cord, waited for the orange light to go on, and stood up. 

 “Great.  All set.  Oh, sorry, let me take that from you.”  Anna crossed to him and reached out to take the chai cup.  Luka stood with his back to the door, holding on to the cup for dear life.  He couldn’t breath.  He was on fire, but his stomach was cold with uncertainty.  He had to get out of there.  He felt Anna’s fingers graze over his as she took the cup from him and he watched her set it carefully on the floor.  She straightened up and slipped her hand in his.  His heart was pounding in his ears.  He closed his eyes.  From a distance, he heard her voice coming through the fog.

 “Luka, are you okay?”

 He opened his eyes and saw her looking up at him, concern in her face.  She reached up and rested a hand on his cheek. Something in him pulled at her.  Let me chase away all those shadows, Luka, she thought.

 He jerked back.  “Yes.  I’m okay.”  His voice was raw.  He had to stop this.  It could only end badly.  What was he thinking?  Better to leave now and have the small comfort of how sweet it could have been. 

 Anna quickly lowered her hand and took a sharp step back, looking down while a fierce blush spread up her neck.  She pulled her hand out of his and started to turn away and he caught a glimpse of rejection in her face.

 “No, no it’s not like that,” he stammered, grabbing her wrist.  “Don’t go away.”  He pulled her gently back him. “Don’t go away, it’s not like that.”  He didn’t want to hurt her.  He realized quite suddenly he rather liked her; she struck him as completely herself and a calmness rolled around her like ripples in a pond.  He could imagine himself spending time with her.  All the more reason to leave.  He had to explain, it wasn’t about her, but he just had to leave.

 Anna was still looking down, and her voice was so quiet Luka could barely hear her.  “Look, I’m sorry….I didn’t mean…I’ll let you out…I’m sorry, I just…you seemed so, and I thought I could…oh, never mind…”

 Luka put his hand under her chin and tilted her face up.  He had to leave.  But he couldn’t move.  His fingers tingled at the touch of her skin.  “Don’t be sorry, I’m sorry.  I really shouldn’t be here.  I have to go.  It’s not you, really you have no idea how much I want…it’s just…you don’t understand, it’s been….oh god” he whispered and bent down and kissed her fiercely.  His heart was pounding and he couldn’t feel the floor under his feet.  He ran his hand up her back and grabbed her hair at the nape of her neck, gently tilting her head back so he could kiss her neck, her collarbones, the little hollow at the bottom of her throat. He wanted to cover her body with kisses. He could just kiss her hard for a long time and then leave.  Let me have at least this little thing.

 He was kissing her neck, her ear.  “It’s been so long” he whispered in her ear.  He could feel her pulse throbbing in her neck.  “I should go,” he whispered, grabbing her more tightly, “I should…” 

 She silenced him by twisting her head around so that she could kiss him.  She raked her fingernails up his back and buried her fingers in his thick hair.  She pulled her face away just far enough to look up at him and trailed her index finger over his eyebrow and down his cheekbone to his lips.  There goes one shadow, she thought. Luka bent to kiss her again, and she shook her head no.  She ran her hands down his arms and took him by both hands and started slowly walking backward, leading Luka further into her apartment.  Over her shoulder Luka saw a short narrow hallway leading to what he guessed must be the bedroom.  He freed his hands and grabbed Anna around the waist.  He lifted her easily off her feet and she wrapped one leg around his waist and began kissing him again.  Luka took a stumbling step forward and pulled his lips free.

 “I can’t see,” he whispered, laughing.

 Anna laughed and began kissing his neck instead.

 “Oh god, that’s not helping,” Luka moaned and quickened his stride into the bedroom.  He set her down on the edge of the bed and kneeled before her, unbuttoning her top.  How long it’s been, he thought.  I could just sit here and look at her.  Just let me look at her for a time, and then I’ll leave.  I promise.  Let me just have this little thing and then I’ll leave.  He pushed her bra straps off her shoulders and pulled her bra down around her waist.  He watched her flush, from modesty or excitement he didn’t know, but he lifted his head and whispered hoarsely in her ear, “I knew you would blush.”  Anna laughed softly and put her hands against his chest, leaning back so that she could look at him. “And how did you know that?”  “I just knew,” Luka answered and pushed her hands away.  He cut her off with a kiss, leaning forward and straightening his knees so that the weight of his body pushed her down on the bed and he was on top of her.  He was kissing her wildly now, running one hand over her ribcage, her waist, her hip, her thigh, pushing her skirt up her leg.  His desire surprised him.  He was getting away from himself.  Oh but she feels so sweet, just let me stay with her a little longer and then I’ll leave.  I promise.  Her hands fumbled with his tie, pulling clumsily at the knot.  Luka leaned up on one elbow and deftly loosened the knot and pulled the tie over his head.  He began unbuttoning his shirt.

“No, let me,” Anna whispered and pressed against his chest so that he rolled over onto his back. She kissed his eyelids and the dark hollows under his eyes and brushed the hair back from his forehead.  Exhaustion poured off of him.  Let me make it all go away, she thought.  She began unbuttoning his shirt, kissing each new section of skin as it was exposed. Luka closed his eyes and lie still, letting the sensation wash over him.  Her hair fell forward around his face and over his neck and he breathed deeply the scent of her shampoo, light and floral and feminine.  He’d forgotten how good women smelled, like fruit and flowers and the beach.  And bread, she made him think of bread.  Let me just have this little thing.  He clenched and opened his fists over and over to control himself.  She kissed his stomach, his ribs, hovered gently over his scar, kissed it once.  She opened his belt and unzipped his pants, tugging at them.  He lifted his hips and felt his pants slide off.  Anna tugged at his boxers and stroked his thighs.  He felt a tiny kiss.  Luka’s eyes shot open.

“No,” he said, grabbing her by the wrists.  “No, wait.  Oh god,” he closed his eyes and took a deep breath.  He didn’t think he could control himself, if she touched him now it would be over before it began.  “Wait.”

 Anna hovered above him, uncertain.

 “Lie down,” He pushed himself up on his elbows and kissed her.  “Please, lie back.” 

 He leaned low over her, kissed her, and whispered, “Don’t move.  Please.  Trust me.  You can’t touch me right now, you just can’t.”  He kissed her again and felt her body go soft.  He kissed her over and over as he undressed her.  He ran one hand down her ribs, following the flatness of her stomach.

 Luka began touching her gently, whispering in her ear.  “Please trust me, please let me make you happy, don’t do anything, it’s been so long” stoking and caressing her, kissing her neck and whispering in her ear but Anna could barely hear with her blood pounding in her ears, roaring and swelling until she felt herself exploding.  She grabbed Luka and pulled him close, kissing him deeply and tugging at his boxers.  “Luka,” she whispered, and his name came perfectly out of her mouth.  The sound of it drove him crazy.  The dam broke.

 He had badly misjudged himself, there was clearly no leaving now.  He couldn’t think anymore, he just wanted her whatever happened. 

 Luka was naked now, kneeling above her. He could hardly think.  It was all he could do to control himself.  He lay his full weight on her body, moving slowly, clenching his teeth and willing himself not to come.  He buried his face in her neck, moaning and whispering “it’s been so long, I’m sorry I’m sorry I can’t wait,” and then he was coming too soon and he could feel Anna wrapping her legs around him.

 Luka collapsed onto Anna, kissing her neck and murmuring softly, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”  She stroked his hair and kissed his ear and whispered “sshhh, ssshhhh.”  He lay there for what seemed like forever, feeling her heart pounding under him, and then moved to roll off of her.  She tightened her arms around the small of his back and wrapped a leg around his calf.  “Don’t move” she whispered into his hair.  “Don’t move.”

 “I must be heavy.” Luka smiled.

 “I don’t care,” Anna said, “you feel so good, please don’t move, you’re so warm.”  She kissed his hair, his ear, his face.  “Stay.  Stay.”

 Luka shifted slightly to take most of his weight on his elbow but left his body blanketing hers. He was still lightheaded from his orgasm but even more from knowing she had come too.  His own gratification had come too quickly, but he was relieved he had given her some pleasure.  That it hadn’t been a complete disaster.  He nuzzled her ear and whispered “Did I please you?”

 “Are you kidding?” Anna laughed softly, “you don’t really need to ask, do you?” 

 “No,” Luka answered honestly. He smiled.  “No.  I don’t need to ask.  But I need to know.” 

 “Yes, Luka,” she whispered. 

 An enormous relief overtook him, followed by a rush of embarrassment that made him cringe.  

 “I’m sorry.  I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me this afternoon, I’m usually a gentleman,” he apologized.  “I’m sorry.  Please don’t think I do this all the time, please I’m not really like this.  I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for this to happen.  I didn’t come here…I don’t know why I came here but I didn’t mean for this to happen.  What you must think of me.”

“No less than you must think of me,” Anna replied softly.  She stroked his face and it was like a cool cloth on his skin.  “I’m usually a lady.  Really.  I just…oh, god, I don’t know what I was thinking.  You just…”  Anna blushed.  “I really don’t take men home like this, really Luka, I really don’t.”  She turned her eyes away and the blush spread down her neck.  “I’m not…”

 Shhh.  Don’t.  Don’t hide like that.  Please, don’t.”  Luka kissed her deeply. “Please.”  He couldn’t bear to think he had made her unhappy.  That his moment of weakness had come at her expense. “Anna, shhhh, please.”

 Anna turned to look at him.  His face was full of softness and the shadows were gone, however temporarily. She couldn’t feel guilty, she knew she should, she couldn’t believe what she’d just done, but she just couldn’t feel guilty with his tender eyes looking down at her.  She’d feel guilty in the morning.  Right now she just felt the most unexpected warmth towards this strange man. He looked happy, and she thought that maybe she had done that for him and she figured that was nothing to feel guilty about.  She ran her fingers over his eyebrows and along his cheekbones.  “God you’re beautiful,” she said.  Luka demurred.  “You are,” she countered, “you’re unbelievable.” 

 “Shhhh,” Luka kissed her to stop the flow of compliments.

 “You’re beautiful,” she said again when he stopped kissing her.  Luka laughed and kissed her again.  “Mmmmm,” Anna sighed, “I think I’ve figured out how to get you to kiss me again, you handsome, gorgeous, beautiful man.”  This time Luka threw his full weight on top of her and kissed her hard, pushing her down into the bed.  Anna hugged him tightly.  He stopped kissing her and lifted his head.  “Are you going to be quiet now?” 

 “Not if that’s my punishment, handsome,” Anna replied, laughing, and pulled his head down to her again…

 They spent the afternoon in bed, making love, dozing off, whispering to each other in the growing darkness, making love again.  She gave herself to him like a present.  With each new round of lovemaking his confidence grew, his self control, his ability to please her and himself. Every time he thought it was getting late, it was time to leave, this had been wrong to start with and it was only getting more wrong each time, her hand would find his as if she were reading his mind and responding, Don’t leave.  Her fingers between his fascinated him.  He stayed.

 He lay on his back with her soft weight on top of him he looked up at her and told her, “I was afraid to come here.” 

 “You were afraid of me?” Anna asked.

 “I was afraid…I didn’t know what would happen if I came here…and I was afraid of what would happen if I did, and I…didn’t want to not be able to make love to you,” Luka continued with a sigh.  “I was afraid I’d…it’s been so long, I didn’t think…” he let it trail off.  “I was afraid of disappointing you.”

 Anna looked at him for a long time.  She saw in him a weariness she could only imagine. “You haven’t, Luka, and you won’t,” she whispered.  “Please don’t be afraid with me.”

 It’s been such a long time.”

 “I hope I didn’t…make you do something you’ll be sorry for, Luka?”

 “I’m not sorry now.”  He meant it.  He couldn’t be sorry.  He knew he should be, it was a weak thing he’d done, but it was too sweet right now to feel her weight on top of him.

 “But you will be later?”

 “Probably.  Yes.  It’s complicated.  There are things…never mind.  I’m not this sort of man, Anna.  It’s not who I am.  I’m not like this, I’ve never done this.”

 “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to…well, make you do something wrong.  I hope I haven’t led you astray.  I only wanted to give you some pleasure.  Please don’t think I’m an awful person, I just  thought…something about you, I don’t know, I thought I could make it better.  I hope I didn’t make…whatever it is…worse for you.  Please try not to feel too bad.  I hope you get some comfort from me at least.”

 “You can have no idea how much comfort you’ve given me.”  I’ll pay for it later, Luka thought to himself ruefully, but god what comfort you’ve given me now.  She was an oasis in the desert.

 Anna kissed him then, softly, for a long time.  He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her head gently into his chest.  “Just lay with me, Anna.  Let me just feel you with me.”  He felt her heart beat and her soft breath on her chest.  He closed his eyes and kissed her hair.  How much he’d missed these little things, the curve of a woman’s shoulder, the tickle of her hair on his skin, the weight of a woman’s body on his chest.  Let me just have this little thing today.  You can damn me tomorrow, but please just let me have this now.

 In the growing darkness he asked her again about her work.  Anna answered cautiously, speaking of identity and nationalism in generalities, never mentioning Croatia or Serbia, stepping around all the emotional landmines real and imagined.  She spoke of Chechnya and East Timor and the Basque movement in Spain, how nations can exist within states, and how sometimes those nations attempt to built a state around themselves and sometimes they don’t; she studied what made that difference.  She spoke rapidly and with great assurance.  It was clear she loved talking about it, that she knew a great deal, and that she had been humoring him when she said sometimes she too hated to talk about her work. He couldn’t imagine her ever hating it.  Her could hear fascination in her voice and tried to remember a time when medicine thrilled him like that.  It seemed so many years ago. It saddened him that he couldn’t engage her more, but he was silently pleading with her not to talk about the war.  He would ask her about it later, he promised himself, some other time.  He promised there would be some other time.  But this afternoon he was suspended on a bubble, and a single wrong word would send him crashing to earth.  He wanted nothing to spoil it.  Already he was afraid it was a dream, and half expected to wake up on a gurney in the suture room, Kerry screaming at him to grab a patient. 

 Anna could feel tension hovering around him, saw the shadows closing in, and moved the conversation around to Chicago, and before he even knew it, they were talking about Lake Michigan.  Luka silently thanked her and squeezed her hand.  Anna squeezed back.  They lay together holding hands, whispering back and forth about the lake and the ocean, and after a time Luka heard her breathing change, becoming soft and deep and regular and he knew she had fallen asleep with his hand in hers.  He smiled.

 At some point he noticed that he was hungry, and looked around the unfamiliar room for a clock.  It was 9:30.  He hadn’t expected to stay so long.  He hadn’t eaten since the day before.  He glanced at Anna dozing beside him and wondered if she’d mind if he rummaged through her kitchen.  It occurred to him that he hadn’t even noticed if there had been another door, if she had a roommate or lived alone.  She’d said she didn’t know many people, she was probably living alone.  He listened in the darkness and decided nobody else was there.  He started to get up, and then realized that if Anna woke while he was in the kitchen she would think he had sneaked away home in the dark.  He couldn’t bear for her to think that, even for a moment.  He lay back down and decided he wasn’t that hungry anyway. He’d rather watch Anna sleep and listen to her breath in the dark and wait for her to wake.  He inched closer to her, careful not to wake her, enjoying the closeness of her, the warmth of her body, the soft depression in the mattress beside him.  How many times he’d dreamed in frustration of feeling those things. He could eat any time.  Who knew when or if he’d ever feel this again?  He lay still and quietly reveled in her.

 At 10:30 they made pasta in the cramped kitchen, Anna wearing Luka’s shirt like a robe, Luka in his boxers.  They ate on her living room floor.  Luka ate ravenously, and Anna apologized for not having a table.  Luka told her he didn’t care, and Anna apologized again.  “I usually just eat at my desk while I’m working.  Sad but true.  I’ve never needed an actual table.  Sorry about the floor.”  Finally Luka said “I’ve eaten in worse conditions, believe me,” and Anna said simply “I know.”  Luka looked at her in the semi-darkness.  He didn’t know how much she knew about the war, but from what he knew about her work he guessed it was more than most Americans.  The thought both calmed him and troubled him.  Since arriving in Chicago he’d simultaneously longed for somebody who would understand his past and tried to tell people as little about himself as possible.  He still wasn’t sure why he had told Carol as much as he had, except that she was his only friend, and it was tiring sometimes, being only part of a person, holding a lifetime of himself back.  Having no past.  Unable to share himself fully with anybody.  Out of sheer exhaustion he had taken the chance.  He had almost appreciated the lack of comprehension on Carol’s face when he had told her where he had lived with his family during the war.  She clearly didn’t know many details.  It made telling her easier…whereas he knew just saying the name Vukovar to Anna would mean something to her, in fact it would mean too much for him to bear right now.  He didn’t want to see the realization wash over her face.  Sitting next to somebody who would understand better than most, Luka realized he still didn’t know what he wanted. 

 Anna was watching him carefully.  “However much you want to tell, Luka, I want to hear.  And I don’t mind hearing nothing at all.”  He considered her cautiously.  “Nothing,” he said simply. He guessed his bluntness wouldn’t offend her.  “Fair enough,” she answered smoothly.  She’d interviewed enough people – civilians, combatants, politicians – to know better than to push.  And anyway, he wasn’t an interview subject.  She didn’t want to turn him into a data point.  She wanted to talk to him like a person in her life, not a research subject she’d probably never see again, and people generally don’t let their stories tumble out so fast.  She often felt a pang of something akin to guilt when recording the intimate history of a stranger in her interviews.  People shouldn’t know these things about each other the day they meet, she always thought.  She glanced at Luka’s empty bowl.  “Geez, Luka, do you want to finish mine, too?”  “May I?” he asked.  “For some reason I have quite an appetite this evening.” “Mmmm, I wonder why,” Anna responded with a smile. Luka laughed and reached out for her.  “Come back to bed with me.”  “I thought you were still hungry?” Anna asked coyly.  “I am,” Luka growled, tightening his grip on her wrist…

 Luka woke with a start.  The room was dark.  He felt a soft leg thrown over his thigh, an arm across his chest and warm steady breathing on his neck. Marija! he thought, and his heart skipped a beat.  No, Anna.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, drawing himself back into the present.  I’m in Chicago, and this is that sweet Anna, and I shouldn’t be here, and she feels so soft and warm and I want her.  He ran a finger lightly down her arm.  She stirred slightly.  He let her sleep.  He stared up at the ceiling, remembering making love to her, her fingers entwined with his, the smell of her hair in his face.  He sighed.  Let me just have this.  Anna stirred again in the darkness and kissed his neck.  “Awake?” he asked softly.  “Mmmm,” she murmured, curling closer to him.  “Mmmmm,” Luka murmured back, stroking her hair.  “Go back to sleep,” he whispered, wrapping an arm around her and kissing her lightly.  “Shhh, go back to sleep.”  He had missed this feeling as much as he had missed lovemaking – more, actually – and he wanted only to feel the closeness of her now.  He knew that sunrise would bring back loneliness and he wanted to stretch this feeling out for as long as he could, to store it up, so that later he could remember this little thing. 

to part 3

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