A companion story to Ghosts
As Luka ate, Alenka kept the conversation light, filling the time with stories of work and her day. As she watched him though the feeling that had registered in his earlier call returned, and try as she might, she couldn't quite put her finger on what about him was different. The quiet intensity that came in brief glimpses when he spoke of his work was there, as was his sense of humor, but there was something else. When he sopped the remainder of his soup up with his bread then popped it in his mouth before leaning back with an exaggerated groan, she couldn't help but laugh.
"You did not eat that much." She reached for his cup then picked up the pot to refill it.
"No, I managed to save a little room for dessert." He returned her smile with one of his own.
"And what makes you think I have any dessert for you?" She sat the coffeecup in front of him with a lingering look before picking up her own.
"Because...you always have dessert. It's part of your plan to make me fat." The dimples in his cheeks deepened with the teasing.
"Would you stop saying you're getting fat because of my cooking?" She laughed lightly, her words holding no anger.
"So...what do you have?" He had already rose and headed for the kitchen as he finished the question.
"You are in a strange mood tonight Dr. Kovac." Alenka found herself watching him in amusement as he opened first the refrigerator, then the cookie jar.
"Ah ha...see, I knew you wouldn't disappoint me." He returned to the table with several fresh Oatmeal cookies in hand, already savoring a bite off one of them.
Shaking her head Alenka couldn't help but laugh again at the image. "You're like a little kid, you know that don't you?" Rising she picked up both of their cups. "Let's go into the livingroom where we can be more comfortable.
"I could carry those." Even as he made the offer Luka was taking another bite off the cookie in his hand.
"I've got them...go ahead." Once in the livingroom Alenka sat both cups on the coffeetable. As she settled on the couch she once more found her eyes sweeping over him. "Are you going to let me in on what's going on now?" She raised an eyebrow as his face revealed the momentary lookof a child having been caught in the act of doing something he shouldn't have been doing at her question.
"Um..." Luka glanced at the remaining cookies in his hand then passed his tongue around the inside of his mouth in the gesture she'd come to recognize as one he used to frame his thoughts.
"Luka?" She watched him carefully, not sure what was coming and not quite able to hold back the twinge of fear at the thought of the worst it could be.
As if realizing what his delay was doing to her he moved immediately to the couch, taking a seat beside her before laying the cookies on the table. Turning to her he drew a breath in preparation of speaking. "Alenka..." He hesitated a moment longer then reached across the distance that separated them to take her hand in his. "I didn't think this would be so hard." He offered a smile with the comment, then dropped his eyes before raising them again.
"Luka." Alenka could feel the sense of dread rising. "You're scaring me...what is it?"
As he slid his free hand in his pants pocket Alenka found herself unable to take her eyes off of him. When he revealed what he held she would swear her heart stopped beating for an instant.
"Alenka..I can't begin to explain what this past year has meant to me...what knowing you has meant to me." He paused to open the lid on the small ringbox he held in his hand, then slid off the couch to drop to his knee in front of her. As he lifted his eyes she saw a look there she had thought never to see again. "I don't ever want to lose this feeling, I don't ever want to lose you. I love you, Alenka." He blinked back tears with the long withheld admission. "Would you marry me?"
Alenka found her own tears not so easily restrained and in that brief instant of silence when she was sure his breathing had stopped, hers fell. "Yes..." She covered her mouth with her hand, only to lower it as he stood then drew her into his arms. All that she'd been feeling he shared. As his arms tightened around her and his lips found hers all the doubts were gone. "I love you, Luka." She whispered the words between kisses, her tears wetting her cheeks as the warmth of his love filled not just the heart she had thought would never know the feeling again, but her soul as well.
to be continued...