He went upstairs to the bedroom later and Lalique knew he was calling his wife. He'd done that yesterday, too. She had already put on her new outfit with the sassy red boots and she stayed downstairs and took the opportunity to call Arlene. She'd phoned her twice yesterday, once when she first got to the cabin and she gave her the address and phone number in case Lalique's cell went all wonky. The second time she'd called just after supper. This was the first time she'd called today.
"They're both fine," Arlene said in response to Lalique's obvious question, "I know I told you last night they were fussy and calling for you. They miss you. But today they seem better and they're playing right now."
"I wish so much I could talk to them but if I do they won't understand why I can't be there," Lalique worried.
"Hold on," Arlene said. Lalique could tell she was walking down the hall, evidently to the playroom, "I'm holding the phone out so you can hear them."
As Lalique listened she could make out Alain saying to Desiree,
"Thass mine. Twuck."
"Yeah, thass a twuck," Desiree agreed, "I do it. I do twuck."
"Go fass--Vwooom!...I yike it."
"As you can hear, today they're all into their Little Tikes Trucks," Arlene laughed softly. Lalique longed to hold them, and had a pang of real homesickness. It was so good to hear their sweet little voices, though. She shook her head and smiled, they had a large vocabulary, but they still had trouble with their "R's" and their "L's". Desiree and Alain became Dess-away and Awain.
"Anything you need?" Lalique asked, trying to get her mind off how much she missed them.
"No, we're fine," Arlene assured her.
"Well, just call Melanie or my mother if you need to go to the store or just need a rest."
"I will. Stay safe."
"Thanks, you are a treasure, Arlene."
"I know it," she teased, "Now don't worry about them, they're fine, really. Just have fun."
When their respective family phone calls were finished they started to watch a little TV together, although the stations were limited up here in the mountains. But soon they were smooching on the love seat. Then it was time to go down to Three Lakes for an evening's fun.
They left just before sunset and Lalique was rather impressed with the Sylvan Lake Fine Dining & Casino. Even though the decor was rustic and people were dressed casually--and warmly--it was classy with an eclectic menu and good service.
"They've just finished quite a few renovations," John told her, "The local paper says that the owner claims he plans on even more changes. I remember when this was just a little hole in the wall serving only three or four entrees. It was called the Three Lakes Plaza then."
He usually ordered for Lalique when they dined out. It was so old-fashioned and before she met John she would have scoffed at the idea, but now she loved it. They had perfectly broiled filet mignon with sauteed spinach and Parmesan potatoes. Then John ordered a nectarine tartlette for dessert.
Lalique had spied a picture booth in the outer room and now she talked John into getting their pictures taken. Then they danced to the big band music that was coming from the loudspeakers. There was gambling, karaoke and an open air hot tub upstairs, but they didn't bother with that tonight. It was too nice to slow dance and gaze into each others' eyes without constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure no one they knew saw them.
Lalique didn't think she'd ever been happier excluding the day the twins were born. Certainly no other man had ever made her feel like this or been so good to her. She knew she was seriously losing all perspective; John now meant so very much to her and how would it all end?
Afterward they headed to the Smooth Rock Spa to sample the mineral springs, the sauna and the massage therapist there. Even though there was snow piled up all around, the hot steam coming up from the springs kept them toasty as long as they stayed in the water.
By the time they dressed and put on their warm outerwear it was nearly morning and Lalique couldn't resist playfully lobbing a snowball at John. He jumped right into the game and they played amidst the trees, laughing. They didn't really know how much time had gone by until they realized dawn was breaking and they could see the sun coming up through the trees.
"We'd better get going before we get frostbitten," John said and then scooped Lalique up in his arms like she was nothing. Well, almost nothing.
After a few quick kisses they went back to the cabin where Lalique eagerly began making her special Eggs Benedict. It was hardly a major culinary feat, but no one who'd eaten them had ever complained and always ate every bite. John seemed to enjoy them.
They had now been going over 24 hours without sleep but they were so enervated that they didn't even try to nap, just played poker and then later a video game. But they did make it an early night after another restful soak in the tub.
John had more trouble sleeping that night than Lalique did and as he held her in his arms and listened to her breathing softly he could no longer keep from thinking about how he had got himself into a real dilemma. For months he'd been able to compartmentalize and when he'd start to think about the reality of the situation he'd just shove the thoughts back down. But now in the quiet of this cabin the wind had calmed down and snow was softly falling outside and he could no longer deny the immensity of the problem. Because even though Melora was the mother of his children and the love of his life, he was now extremely attached emotionally to Lalique. Although he was still consumed with desire for her it was no longer simply a physical attraction. Maybe it had never been just that. He knew when he returned to Pleasantview he was going to have to figure out where all of this was going or if it was going anywhere.
The next morning they decided to work out to the radio, both of them were used to exercising regularly and didn't want to get too far off their schedules.
Afterward Lalique went upstairs to call Arlene and spoke to her for quite a while. Again she listened to her children playing at home. When she came back down John had fixed an egg and ham sandwich on farmer's bread and was eating with gusto. He gestured to the other plate where there was one waiting for her. He cooks too, what a dream man, she thought with a smile. But now she had to give him some bad news.
"John, this has all been so wonderful and I've been so happy that I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I must get back home. I need to see Alain and Desiree; and they need me. I just miss them too much; I'm dying to be with them."
He didn't look too surprised,
"Honey, it's okay. I knew this might happen, that's why I kept this an open ended vacation. They're pretty young to be without their mother, even if Arlene is an excellent caretaker."
"I'm so glad you understand," she was incredibly relieved.
"Of course," he leaned over and his lips brushed her hair, "Let me call the bus station and find out when the next bus leaves."
"But what about you?"
"Well, I could stay here another couple days, because there's no train out of here until Tuesday. But more likely I'll catch a bus, too, just not the one you'll be taking."
"Oh, no! How will you explain?"
"It's no problem. I'll just say I got done early and a bus was ready while the train was not. Of course, train schedules are much more accommodating in a city like Atlanta than in Three Lakes, but I don't think she'll question it. I wish we hadn't had to use public transportation, but you know why we had to do so. Anyway, now that I think of it I don't want to stay here for two more days without you," he put his arm around her, "So that makes it definite; it's the bus for me, too."
"I'm so sorry, John," she felt terrible about ending the vacation sooner than he'd planned. It was a hard thing to do to herself, too. When would she have another chance to be alone with John like this? But her arms were aching for her children.
"I told you, honey," he said and hugged her again affectionately, "Don't worry about it."
He got tickets for a bus leaving at 4 pm for Lalique and he was going to catch one two hours later. He planned to wait over at the Casino and get in a little gambling so they left together by taxi for the bus station where he stayed and made sure that she and her luggage got on the bus all right. When she looked out the window at him her heart gave a little lurch because he was waving goodbye to her and the bus was starting to move. Somehow the gesture scared her. Goodbye. So the wonderful getaway was over. Lalique knew that John said he hoped there would be more trips together and so did she, but this one was now just a memory.
As she closed the scrapbook and ran her hand over the embossed leather cover Lalique knew she could no longer keep everything inside. She would call Melanie next week. Her levelheaded younger sister would definitely want to wring her neck; she would never have got herself in a mess like this, but Lalique had to talk to someone, she just had to.
Next blog update: Lalique Flynn Ch. 3 Lost in Love