Damn, Luka Kovac swore as he finally accepted the fact that he was lost. The heavy rain that beat down on the windshield made driving difficult. He was sorry now he had accepted that speaking engagement in Dubuque, Iowa, but the Dubuque County Medical Society had invited a County ER attending to speak at one of their meetings, and Kerry had volunteered Luka. He would have been okay if not for that over turned tractor-trailer that had blocked the interstate. Rather than sitting stuck in the ensuing traffic jam, Luka had gotten off on one of the exits. He was certain he could find some back roads that would take him around the blocked off section of expressway and hed be back on his way to Chicago. And it would have been a good plan, he now admitted to himself, if he hadnt managed to get totally lost. Luka debated whether to turn around and go back to the small town he had just passed through; perhaps someone there could give him directions. He had seen children out on the streets all dressed in funny costumes. Must be Halloween, he had muttered to himself, It could be worse, I could be working tonight. But now he was tired, hungry and he would have almost preferred to be at County.
Having made up his mind to turn around, Luka slowed the car in order to pull off to the side of the road. No, dammit, dont do this! He swore as he heard the engine sputter and then die. He tried fruitlessly to restart the car but with no luck. In frustration, Luka beat on the steering wheel as he considered his options. He could leave the car and try walking back to the town he had just passed through, but the prospect of walking miles in the cold wind and rain did not appeal to him. Guess Ill just spend the night here in the car. Hopefully someone will come along who can help. Luka had to smile as he realized he was now talking to himself. As he reached around to get his duffle bag out of the backseat for an extra sweater, he noticed the lights of a house at the end of a driveway. Breathing a sigh of relief, he quickly shrugged into his jacket. This is great, he thought, hopefully these people will have a phone and I can call a tow truck. Turning his collar against the cold wind that howled around him, Luka began the trek up the driveway to the old Victorian style house, its warmly lit windows beckoning to him.
Once on the porch, Luka quickly rang the doorbell, and waited for someone to answer the door. No one came. He tried the bell once more. Finally, the door swung open and Luka found himself looking at a well-dressed older gentleman. Im sorry to bother you sir, Luka apologized, But my car has broken down and I was wondering if I could use your phone to call a tow truck?
Come in, come in, young man! The gentleman replied warmly as he opened the door to allow Luka to enter. "Its a very nasty night to be out there and you look very cold and wet.
Thank you, Luka replied, My name is Dr. Luka Kovac, and once again Im sorry for the intrusion. Just then Luka heard footsteps approaching and soon a lovely woman joined the man, dressed in a beautiful evening gown.
I see we have a visitor. She said as she smiled at Luka.
Darling, this is Dr. Luka Kovac. The man explained. Dr. Kovac, my name is Reginald Cameron and this is my wife, Louisa. Our daughters will be down shortly. Reginald quickly explained to his wife about Lukas car problem.
It seems Ive caught you people at a bad time, I hope Im not keeping you from an engagement. Luka replied as he bowed slightly to Mrs. Cameron.
Not at all Doctor, we have no plans for the evening. We just enjoy dressing for dinner, which we hope we will have pleasure of your company for this evening. Louisa graciously extended the invitation to Luka.
Before he could decline, Reginald spoke up, Im really sorry, but our phone is out of service tonight. We get so few visitors these days; we would very much enjoy visiting with you this evening, Doctor. In fact, you should just plan on spending the night here. With this weather, there probably wont be anyone out and about until morning.
Since it looked like he was going to be stuck here for a while, and not relishing the idea of spending the night alone in the cold car, Luka accepted the invitation. Thank you so very much. It would be my pleasure then, and please, call me Luka. Are you sure it wouldnt be too much of an imposition?
Good! Its settled then and by the way, were just Reggie and Louisa. And no, we look forward to your company! Mr. Cameron laughed as he took his wife s arm, motioning for Luka to follow them into the parlor with its soft lights and crackling fireplace. Luka, please have a seat there by the fire, you look frozen. Louisa urged. Luka gladly took the indicated seat, feeling the warmth of the fire starting to take away some of the chill he had been feeling. Hearing a noise in the doorway he looked up to see two pretty young women standing on the threshold. One looked about eight, but the older of the two was striking in her loveliness, her long dark hair pulled back and tied with ribbons into curls that cascaded down her shoulders and her back. But it was her eyes that caught Lukas. They were as dark as night as they looked at him. He blushed slightly as he realized he had been staring.
Do come in children, we have a guest this evening. Reggie urged the two as they hesitated. Luka, Id like to introduce my daughters. This one, he indicated the younger girl, is my youngest, Cecilia. Luka had not quite forgotten his manners, having risen from his chair at the approach of the women. As Cecilia made a small curtsey, he bowed in the European manner to her, eliciting a small giggle from the girl. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Miss Cecilia. She was a pretty little thing. She made him think of Jasna with her dark hair and eyes. You talk funny, she giggled, earning an admonishment from her mother. Thats because I come from far away. Luka smiled at the child.
Please forgive our wayward child, Luka, sometimes her manners leave a bit to be desired. Louisa apologized, shooting her youngest a warning look. Let me finish the introductions. Dr. Luka Kovac, our eldest daughter, Madelaine. Louisa said as she made the introduction.
It is a pleasure to meet you, Dr. Kovac. Madelaine murmured softly as she gazed at the most handsome man she had seen in quite some time.
Please, call me Luka, and the pleasure is most definitely mine. Luka replied as Madelaine offered her hand, which he took and gallantly kissed. Please, wont you join me here by the fire? Your hand is ice cold. Luka gently steered Madelaine toward the other chair by the fireplace. Once everyone was settled, and Luka had accepted the snifter of brandy offered by Reggie, he found himself enjoying the flow of conversation as they discussed many topics, including music, art and literature. Finally, Louisa stood and announced that dinner was ready. Rising from his chair, Luka offered his arm to Madelaine; It would be my privilege to escort such a lovely lady to dinner. He offered.
Her touch was feather soft as she placed her hand upon his arm, and he felt his pulse rate rise as she smiled at him. Then let us join the others. Madelaine whispered as they made their way to the dining room
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