Champagne and Chocolate

Finale By Gin



Caitlyn lay back on the bed and stretched, getting the kinks out of cramped muscles.   Luka watched her a moment, then leaned down and kissed her briefly.

“I’ll be back.  Let me go and take care of the candles in the other room.”  She smiled at him as he turned and walked down the hall to the living room.  Mechanically, he went around the room, dousing the flames in the various candles he had lit earlier.  The last one he took with him as he went to the liquor cabinet, using it to find the bottle of vodka and a glass.  He poured himself three fingers, recapped the bottle, and blew out the flame.  Standing at the patio doors, he looked blindly out into the moonlit garden.

Well, he’d gotten himself right in the middle of things this time.  He couldn’t leave well enough alone.  No, he’d had to have his deeper curiosity piqued by glimpses of this woman’s uninhibited nature.  He’d had to find out how that response would react when sparked by his and he’d set out deliberately to invoke it in her.  He’d seduced Caitlyn because of that need and had done a damn fine job of it.  Too fine.  Things felt way out of his control here.  He had to leave tomorrow.   His thoughts once again went to the past and his failure to protect his family.   He had been helpless to change the outcome of their fates.   Losing Caitlyn would be as painful, and he didn’t know if he could protect her any better than he had Elena and the children.   It was best to keep his distance.  Lonelier...yes, it was that.  But he could at least live with lonely.  He couldn’t live with another loss.

Tossing back the rest of the vodka, he could feel the barricades falling into place around him, creating a numbing sensation, a distance needed for objectivity.  He’d lost his perspective this past week, blinded as he’d been by the beautiful scenery, his beautiful companion, and the lure of something he’d wanted sitting tantalizingly within his reach.   Well, he was tired of it, the worry, the guilt.   No more, no more.  Whatever he had to do he would do.  He set his resolve to that end and walked back to the bedroom.  He could tell that Caitlyn had taken a shower from the steam still lingering in the bathroom.  Slipping into bed in the darkened room, he felt the warmth of Caitlyn under the covers, and without conscious thought, reached for her.  She snuggled close, not speaking, tucking her head into the crook of his shoulder.  He slowed his breathing and tried hard to fall asleep.

Luka awakened in the middle of the night, wrapped around Caitlyn’s body, the smell of her musk-scented skin and hair strong in his awareness.  His body was hard and ready; the dreams he’d had still lingered in his mind’s eye.  Dreams had translated into reality when he’d awakened with Caitlyn’s warmth in his arms.  Still half-dreaming, he made love to Caitlyn, her responses coming from her own dream world.  Lying side by side, they’d made love gently; taking their time, still neither one fully awake.  They drifted in a hazy dreamland.   Afterwards he drifted back into the dream world he arose from, whispering once into her ear before he became still.  Caitlyn’s eyes opened wide and stayed that way for a long time.  In the morning, Luka would remember that middle of the night experience like a hazy dream.  Caitlyn would remember everything.

The day dawned slightly overcast.  Luka arose and took a shower.  Caitlyn went into the kitchen and put on coffee, standing there watching it brew, her mind a million miles away.  It sputtered to the end and she poured two mugs.  Getting dressed in the bedroom, she waited while Luka finished up in the bathroom, then entered when he was through.  Going through the motions, she did what she needed to do quickly and efficiently.  She walked out to the living room.

He turned to look at her.  “A taxi will be coming shortly.  I need to get to the airport by 9 a.m. “

“I made you some coffee,” she said.

He picked up his mug in acknowledgment.  “I got it, thanks.” 

“Want anything else?  Fruit, bread, eggs?”

Luka shook his head.  “No, nothing.  Thanks.”

There was some sort of awkwardness between them and Caitlyn couldn’t figure it out.  She put down her mug and went over to Luka, hugging him around the waist.  “Listen, Luka.  Do me one big favor...please take care of yourself, hear?”

He placed his arms around.  “I always do.  You do the same.”   He looked down at her.  “Don’t forget, if you need anything, you can always call me.”

He hugged her to him and they stood there like that.  She was facing the front door and saw his bag packed and waiting.  So many different emotions crowded into her heart and mind that she literally couldn’t speak.  She’d had this man in and out of her life, mostly out.  Now, for the last week he’d moved deeper into her and her life than anybody in a long time.  Watching him walk out that front door was hard, very hard.  Especially not knowing why.  But that wasn’t for her to ask.  She had no claims on this man and gave herself to him with no strings.  At least, that’s what she had believed.  Right now she wanted to yell and scream at him, to find out what was happening and why, and what he was really thinking and feeling.   He had told her he was tired of running from the past, but it seemed to Caitlyn that he was running once again.

But she said none of that and soon it was too late as a car pulled up to the driveway and honked.   Luka stood there still, not moving, and finally pulled back and looked down at her.  He cupped her face in his hands, his thumbs brushing over her cheeks.  She was glad her face was dry; her eyes felt liquid and she blinked.

He spoke in his native tongue, something she didn’t recognize.  “What did you say?” she asked him.  His mouth quirked up.  “It’s...a bit of a blessing.”  He paused for a moment.  “Thank y-.”

Caitlyn put her hand up quickly to cover his mouth.  “Don’t say it.  Don’t you dare say thank you to me.  Not for this week.  No.”

He looked at her a moment longer, then they walked over to the door and opened it.  The taxi sat waiting on the driveway.  He looked back.  “I’ll call soon.”


“Take care.”


He wrapped his arms around her and held her to him tightly, remembering the feel of her in his arms, the sound of her laughter.  He pulled her off of her feet slightly and kissed her hard and deeply.

She smelled his smell, felt the silk of his hair, the flex of his shoulders under the shirt he wore.  Then he was gone, striding out the door, bag in hand.  He paused briefly as he opened the taxi door, looking back at her standing in the doorway.  He stood there for a second, solemn-faced, then suddenly he flashed her a beautiful smile and winked.  She couldn’t help her automatic response as she smiled back.  He got in the car and it backed out of the driveway and was gone.

They made a quick detour to Jack’s house where Luka had packed the remainder of his things.  Fifteen minutes later he was finally on the way to the airport.   Soon he was strapped in the plane, readying himself for taxiing down the runway.  Luka sat next to the window.   The plane made its taxi and took off; angling sharply as it began to head east towards Chicago.  As they turned, the sun burst into view in the small window out of which Luka was looking.  The early morning sun reflected off the water, throwing thousands of sparkles into his eyes along with the direct light from the sun itself.  He stared out the window, losing himself in the endlessness of the water and the light.  Later, when a drop hit his hand resting in his lap, he knew it must be from the extreme light burning into his eyes.  He raised the hand and surreptitiously wiped away the trail down his cheek and closed his eyes.  If he looked away from the light, his eyes would stop watering.  He could think of no other reason for the tears, no other reason at all.  It certainly wasn’t because he suddenly recognized the voice he’d feared last night in his head saying, “I love you,” as his own.


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