Saturday, January 7, 2012

Lalique Flynn Ch. 2 Mountain Idyll Part 2

In the morning John suggested that they simply relax at the cabin for the day because he wanted to take her out later for an evening down in the village.

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

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lalique Flynn Ch. 2 Mountain Idyll Part 1

This chapter, both parts 1 and 2 are about twice as long as usual. Part 1 has more text, Part 2 has more photos. Just didn't want to make a third part out of it. Apologies!~~author

Lalique was very worried about what would happen when she next saw John after her risky behavior at the Fabulous Fifties Diner. When she'd seen his car parked out in front she found herself unable to keep from going in to see if he was there. Then when she learned he was with his wife and some friends she knew she should leave but couldn't bear not to see how he acted with Melora. 

She had not paid the dining room attendant to seat her nearby as John surmised, it just happened that way; serendipity or bad karma, depending on your point of view. A moment of panic came over her as she saw that she would be right in their line of sight. She quickly realized, though, that Melora apparently had no suspicion of her because at one point she glanced across at Lalique and smiled absently as one might smile in passing at another shopper in the supermarket. Evidently she didn't even recognize Lalique as the little girl next door who used to visit her house years ago. There was no trace of either wariness or resentment on Melora's face and Lalique had to reluctantly admit that she had a lovely smile and obviously took very good care of herself. She also looked younger than Lalique calculated she was. Even more upsetting was that she now remembered the Melora of her childhood; a pretty woman with coppery hair and an easy smile who always seemed to be carrying a toddler around on her hip. With a jolt Lalique realized now that would have been Lori or Trey she'd been toting. Melora had always taken time to talk to Lalique, even if just for a moment, and usually she'd offer a snack like juicy-juice and a cookie or a mini-box of raisins. She'd often found a way to slip her a jar of bubbles or a pocket Etch-A-Sketch when Yvette and Grace were droning on about boys and she was bored. Of course, this sudden flash of recollection now made Lalique more ashamed than ever.

The worst part of the whole experience, though, was that, in spite of all this, Lalique couldn't take her eyes off John. The more he ignored her the more desperate she became to see at least a little glimmer of affection in his eyes.

As she saw how natural the couple were with each other, which was certainly to be expected after 30 years of marriage, Lalique just wanted to get out of there. It was a painful reminder that she was only an intruder in their life. She barely touched her food once it was served and when she got up to leave she was still hoping for John to look at her, but he did not do so. As she was driving home she became more uneasy and very distressed at her own behavior and soon she was also dreading John's possible reaction.

When he finally called two days later and asked to come over he kissed her eagerly the moment they were alone. Then he shook his head and chuckled,

"Are you trying to give me a heart attack, honey?"

"Oh, John! I'm so, so sorry, I don't know what I was thinking. I'll never do anything like that again; I never want--"

"Shhh," he put his finger to her lips and a smile touched the corners of his mouth, "It's forgotten. But if you want to keep me alive and well, you'll have to take better care of me, kid. I'm not the nervous type as a rule, but that definitely gave me a jolt."

A month or so later, when Arlene was off on a Saturday night with whoever it was that she was seeing, the twins were asleep and Lalique was all alone. She got out a scrapbook she'd recently made and pored over it. It consisted mostly of postcards she'd bought showing the scenery in Three Lakes, brochures for various tourist attractions there, a punched bus ticket, matches and a sample menu from a restaurant, a piece of paper torn out of a small notebook with scores from a poker game written on it; a snippet of wide red satin ribbon and then a few photos from a picture booth. All of these were from a getaway she and John had taken up in the mountains a couple weeks ago.

At this moment John was on a vacation with Melora and their youngest son Trey and his wife, Chelsea. Today he probably had been basking in the sunshine at his private home on Twiklkii Island, but when he and Lalique had gone to Three Lakes, it had been snowing so much it was very nearly a blizzard. That would have been really awkward if they'd been snowed in, she reflected.

To take the four days they wanted, John had to tell Melora that he was going to Atlanta to take care of some business matters there. He really did that from time to time so she didn't question it; he had financial interests scattered around the country. It was reckless of Lalique and him to have photos taken together, but they'd had so much fun John wanted them to have mementos. Of course the pictures would all have to stay with Lalique. Evidently he trusted her that much.

When he'd first brought up the idea of a weekend vacation so that they could be alone together for an extended time Lalique had been overjoyed and excited. A small cabin in the mountains covered with snow sounded so romantic. When the time came for her to actually leave, though, she suddenly had qualms. She'd never been away more than a few hours from Adrien and Desiree since they'd been born. She knew her parents and Melanie would help Arlene out if needed, but she could hardly tell them where she was going and with whom. She finally decided to claim she was meeting a couple of former college roommates in Boone, where she'd once gone to Appalachia State. Lying was getting to be a habit with her and she didn't like it.

Arlene had assured her that she wouldn't mind staying with the twins and she also had Lalique's parents' number in case of emergency. Lalique had noticed that lately Arlene seemed extra quiet and seemed to daydream a lot when she wasn't talking into her cell phone in her bedroom or out in the yard. On her days off she rushed out of the house and didn't come back until late. She'd been taking evening classes at the junior college, but when they came to a close she didn't sign up for any more saying she might take an online course later, but wanted a break. Lalique was a little worried about her, she was sure that Arlene was seeing someone, but why hadn't she brought him around? She just hoped he was a nice guy; Arlene was very sweet and rather naive for someone in her mid-twenties. There was not much Lalique could do; it was none of her business who Arlene socialized with in her off hours as long as she didn't bring any unsavory types back to the house. Anyway, she realized ruefully, she was hardly in a position to offer advice regarding men.

Now her mind went back to the few days she had been alone with John as she perused the meager scrapbook.

The plan was for them to go there separately; Lalique by bus and John by railway. He usually drove to Atlanta but he told Melora he wanted to relax this time and he'd rent a car when he got there. The reality was that he didn't want his car to be seen driving around Three Lakes. He met Lalique at the bus station and they caught a taxi to a tiny chalet for two.

It was lovely, secluded with beautiful views from all the windows.

"How did you have the luck to rent this place in ski season?" she marveled.

"I didn't rent it," John admitted, "I own it."

"Oh," Lalique thought about that, it would mean he had memories with Melora in this cabin and she ventured, "I guess you've had a lot of happy times here."

"No, I've never been here before. We usually brought the kids with us when we came to Three Lakes so we had a big lodge back than that slept eight. They were always asking to bring along friends. When Trey and Lori went off to college, I sold the lodge. I just bought this place a couple months ago, actually, and I plan on renting it when I'm not using it," he gave Lalique a speculative look, "But I'm hoping you and I can use it fairly often. I know it's not very large, but I think it will do nicely for us."

He is thinking long range, Lalique thought in pleased surprise. It definitely made her feel that she was very special to him and she quit worrying about how much this cabin might remind him of his life away from her.  He didn't have strong ties to this place, in that case, at least...not yet.

Once they'd unpacked John suggested that they head to the Three Lakes Market. Lalique put on a warmer sweater and an old pair of jeans instead of the outfit she'd arrived in which featured a skirt. They'd brought their winter coats, boots and gloves or mittens, but neither had thought to pack warm head wear. While they were there he picked up a deck of poker cards as well as some warm knitted tobaggans for both of them and Lalique bought a bottle of the newest designer cologne and a large amethyst geode for Arlene. Then she found some little stuffed woodland animals and bought a rabbit, a bear cub, a wolf, a fawn and an owl for Alain and Desiree. 

Before they left Lalique had to try her luck at the pinball machine as John watched with an indulgent expression on his face.

When they got back to the cabin John broke open the deck of cards and they played cutthroat poker for a while. He excelled at keeping an impassive expression--that was, except when he was showing off his skill with shuffling and dealing--so it was very hard to beat him.

Once John mentioned using the hot tub upstairs, Lalique ran to put on her new swimsuit with the beautiful sheer over-blouse. She'd been dying to model it for him, but she hadn't realized how chilly it might be in the mountains. The cabin was snugly built for the most part, but the wind was howling outside and it crept in here and there around the doors and windows. And there were a lot of windows in this cabin; the better to enjoy the scenic view. When she appeared downstairs in the ensemble John looked her up and down with obvious pleasure,

"Honey, you look amazing, but aren't you freezing to death?"

"I made hot cocoa," she purred, handing him a cup and getting one for herself. In spite of the cocoa she was soon shivering. John laughed and wrapped his arms around her, kissing her on the side of the head,

"Let's hit the hot tub."

She was all too happy to finally climb into the steamy swirling water. It was so sensual and romantic and something that, until this vacation, she'd never shared with John.

Later in the evening when they were watching a DVD on the TV, John said in an offhand way,

"Oh, I almost forgot. I left something for you on the bed."

"You did?" Lalique ran upstairs where there was a large white cardboard box wrapped only with a red ribbon. When she opened it she found a luxurious pair of forest green satin pajamas. Real silk satin, she realized, not the stiff synthetic kind.

John had come upstairs and stood behind her as she held the pajamas against her body. He put his arms around her and pulled her against his chest,

"I love those little flimsy baby doll things you wear for me, honey, but you'll freeze your beautiful butt off up here if you don't wear something more substantial. I thought you might enjoy these even though they're not glamorous."

"Oh, John, I love them! And they are glamorous and so lovely; I feel like an old time movie star from the 1930's" she turned to him with a big smile and kissed him on the cheek, "I'll put them on right now!"

"I didn't see any pajamas like these at the market today, though," she said, looking puzzled.

"I didn't buy them today. As soon as we made plans to come here I went shopping in Bluewater for them."

"You're so sweet to me," she hugged him.

After she changed they had supper and then cuddled a while on the bed upstairs which led to more romance. This was definitely a weekend Lalique would never forget.