Laurence opened her eyes slowly and smiled at green eyes peering back at her. "Good morning," she said lightly, kissing Chloe on the nose. "What time is it?"
"A little after 8." Chloe smiled and kissed Laurence on the lips. "I'm going to make us an all-American breakfast." She sat up and stretched, her lean body extending itself to the limit. She ruffled her hair and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. As she was getting ready to stand up, a pair of arms reached for her waist and held her down. "Lo, come on," laughed Chloe when Laurence buried her face in her back. She felt the bed shift and suddenly the arms were around her chest, and Laurence's body was pressed closely to her back. She let the feeling of warmth and happiness wash over her and she snuggled closer to Laurence.
Neither of them spoke as they enjoyed each other's presence and touch. Laurence tenderly nuzzled Chloe's neck and tightened her grip. Chloe slightly turned around, and their eyes met. They stared at each other, their gaze expressing more than words could ever say. Laurence broke the spell and kissed Chloe's forehead, her kisses light and feathery as she traced Chloe's face like a map, and when she finally reached her lips, Chloe's breathing became ragged and heavy. Laurence drew Chloe closer to her and rubbed her hands up and down her back, lightly brushing the bare skin where Chloe's T-shirt and shorts met. At the first feel of Laurence's hands on her skin, Chloe melted into the touch and slowly deepened the kiss. Laurence's hands crept under her shirt and a moan escaped Chloe’s mouth. She broke the kiss, and put her forehead against Laurence's, trying to regain her breath.
"That was quite a morning kiss," smiled Chloe, pushing herself off Laurence.
Laurence nodded and smiled. Her face flushed, and her heart beating faster than usual. "Yes, that was," she said when she finally regained the use of her voice.
Chloe got off the bed and readjusted her shirt. "Are you still game for breakfast?"
"Sure. Can I use your phone very quickly to call Clément?"
"Go ahead," she said, pointing at the phone on her mother's desk and leaving Laurence to her privacy.
Chloe looked through the kitchen's cupboards for the pancake mix. "Ha! Here it is." She got the syrup out and put it in the microwave for a few seconds. In the fridge she found bacon and sausages, which she threw in a pan to fry. As she was flipping over a pancake, Laurence came behind her and kissed her lightly on the neck, making her jump. "What is it with you this morning?" laughed Chloe.
"What's cooking?" asked Laurence, looking over Chloe's shoulders.
"You'll see. Why don't you set the table?"
"Okay," answered Laurence, opening the cupboards in search of plates and glasses. "Madame Cambier said 'hi'."
"How is she doing?"
"Really well. She and her husband are really crazy about Clément. She takes him to school in the morning and usually picks him up in the afternoon. He loves spending time with them. "
Chloe nodded and flipped a pancake over. This was the first time since they started talking again that Laurence mentioned Clément. Chloe didn't want to pursue the topic of conversation, the pain in her heart still too vivid to ignore. She tried to change the subject by asking Laurence to get the syrup out of the microwave, but somehow Laurence didn't pick up on Chloe's silence and kept babbling about Clément. "Madame Cambier said that he knows how to tie his shoes by himself now, and his teachers said that Clément should go into a reading program for kindergarteners. What do you think?"
Chloe shrugged her shoulders and turned the stove off. "How should I know?" she answered.
Laurence looked up at Chloe and kicked herself inside for not thinking of how hard this subject might be on Chloe.
"I'm sorry…I'm babbling…I shouldn't."
"No, Lo…it's okay. He is your son, you have every right to be proud of him. It's just that…" She sighed and sat down at the table. "I miss him terribly. I had talked myself into believing that I would never see him again, and I managed to do that because no one was around to talk about him…now you're here,
"Come home with me," blurted Laurence.
"Come back with me."
"Lo…come on. We didn't find a solution for how I could stay the first time, what makes you think things have changed?"
"I did some research. Hear me out okay?" She looked at Chloe expectantly and waited for her to nod before continuing. "Okay, you left because of visa problems and because you didn't want to waste time studying French before being accepted into the University? Right?" Chloe nodded. "Here is the plan.You come back with me with a three month tourist visa. During those months, we get you a tutor. Once your visa is ready to expire, you ask for a three month extension. It should not be a problem. So that brings us to the middle of July. By then your French should be good enough, so you can apply to University. I don't exactly know if you have to apply before you ask for a student visa or vice-versa, but we can figure that out." She stopped and looked at Chloe.
"You've thought of everything. You forgot one thing, I'm studying here. If I go, I lose an entire year."
Laurence passed her hand through her long black hair. "Chloe, you told me yourself that you hate what you're studying right now. You even said that you're only doing it to please your dad. If you come to France, you can study theater or anything you want." Laurence reached for Chloe's hand and took hold of it. "You don't have to give me an answer right now. Just tell me you'll think about it."
"I will," answered Chloe, her mind in a confused state.
Laurence smiled and removed her hand. "So, what's for breakfast?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Pancakes, sausage and bacon." Chloe took Laurence's plate and put three pancakes, two slices of bacon and sausage on it.
"Are you trying to fatten me up?" laughed Laurence when Chloe put the plate in front of her.
"This is an all-American breakfast." Chloe poured syrup on her pancakes and took a huge bite, her face breaking into a smile at Laurence's expression.
Laurence put a small amount of syrup on her plate, cut a small bite of her pancake and dipped it in the syrup. Slowly she brought the food to her mouth and her face contorted in a grimace. "Yuck…what is it?"
"Maple syrup. Remember? My dad brought some when he came to visit, but you refused to try it."
"Yeah, and now I know why," answered Laurence, drinking a glass of water to wash out the taste. "I think I'll stick to jam, if you don't mind."
"Suit yourself. It's in the fridge," answered Chloe, breaking into fit of laughter. Laurence got up and came back with strawberry jam and the jug of milk.
"This bottle is huge," she said while pouring herself a glass of milk. She took a big sip from her glass, suddenly got up, ran to the sink and spat everything out.
"Lo, are you all right?" asked Chloe, jumping up behind her.
"I'm fine now that I got this disgusting stuff out of my mouth. You call that milk?"
"Well, yeah…it's 2%," answered Chloe, looking at the bottle to see if the expiration date had passed. "January 20. You see it's still good."
"It tastes like paper. No, seriously, I can't drink that."
Chloe laughed. "I remember not being able to drink milk in France because I thought it was too creamy. That's funny."
"Very funny," answered Laurence, gulping a big glass of water to wash away the taste. "I wonder if I should even try the rest," said Laurence, looking suspiciously at her food.
"Come on, how different can bacon and sausage be?"
"Fine." She cut a small piece of sausage and slowly put it in her mouth. After a few seconds a smile broke on her face. "Not too bad."
They finished breakfast, showered and got ready for the day. They drove to Dana Point with the top of the convertible down, the wind blowing in their faces. Chloe parked and turned the car off. "I love driving this car." Laurence smiled and ruffled Chloe's hair. "Hey, I think the wind did enough already. I don't need you to add more knots than there already are."
Not a cloud obscured the sky and the sun gently warmed their skin as they waited for the next boat to come. They got on board along with 20 other passengers and Chloe rushed to get a spot on the front deck. She grabbed on to the railing as the boat started moving away from the shore. Laurence settled next to Chloe. She quickly reached inside her pocket and extracted an elastic band for her hair. "Never hurts to be prepared, " she joked, tying her hair into a ponytail. She handed one to Chloe whose hair was flying loosely around her face.
"Thanks," she said, imitating Laurence.
The boat picked up speed and the captain announced a gray whale visible on their left. Chloe rushed to the other side of the boat. "Where, I can't see anything."
Laurence looked carefully and suddenly pointed. "There. Can you see it's coming in and out of the water? I think the captain is following it."
"Oh, I saw it…it's so beautiful." Chloe had barely time to finish her sentence that someone yelled.
They rushed back to their first spot, and there swimming along side the boat was a group of dolphins. They seemed to be playing with the boat, swimming under, and reappearing on the other side. Suddenly one of them jumped, and Chloe felt like clapping. She turned to see if Laurence had seen it, but found her staring at her. "Lo, the spectacle is over there," she joked.
Laurence smiled and tenderly brushed a strand of loose hair behind Chloe's ear. "I know," she whispered before briefly brushing her lips on Chloe's cheek.
After an hour, the boat turned around and took them back to shore. Chloe got out, followed by Laurence. "I think there's a beach not far from here. It's fairly secluded. Want to go?"
"Sure. Why not?"
They got back into the car and drove for another 5 minutes before parking. They walked down to the beach through a small path with wooden steps. As Chloe had mentioned, the beach was fairly remote from the crowd. The water seemed very calm. Chloe sat down to take her shoes off. "I want to see how the water is. You're coming?"
"You go ahead and tell me," said Laurence, sitting down and propping herself on her elbows. Chloe ran toward the water, her feet happily digging in the sand. She rolled her jeans up and carefully stepped in. "Damn, it’s cold." The water gently beat on her calf, and she threw her head back, letting the sun bathe her face. Suddenly she felt herself being pulled into strong arms. "You changed your mind," she laughed, turning to face Laurence.
"Yeah, and it's freezing. I bet you my feet are turning blue as we speak."
"Big sissy," answered Chloe, nipping at Laurence's chin playfully.
Laurence drew Chloe against her body and kissed her. She strongly lifted her up until Chloe had her legs wrapped around her waist, and dumped her. Chloe fell butt first in the water and got up as quickly as she got in. She was soaked to the bones and too shocked by what happened and the cold of the water to do anything. After a few moments she shook herself back to reality. "You'd better run Laurence Glairon because I'm coming after you." She ran out of the water, her t-shirt and jeans stuck to her skin. The wind made her shiver as she ran after Laurence who had taken off down the beach. Laurence was laughing so hard that she was having trouble running.The sight of Chloe, soaked, running down the beach was too funny to ignore. "Laugh while you can," yelled Chloe, picking up the pace. She pushed hard and when only a few feet away from Laurence, tackled her, sending both of them rolling down in the sand. She pinned Laurence down and looked at her, her green eyes half-amused, half -mad. "Now, this is not going to go unpaid," she said while wringing out her wet hair all over Laurence's face. She then moved off Laurence and sat up.
"That's it. That's my punishment?" asked Laurence, still laughing.
"Oh, no. I'll get you back when you least expect it. Two can play this game you know," she looked at Laurence and smiled. "Anyway, where were we before you try to drown me?"
Laurence chuckled and dove back for Chloe's lips, her kiss gentle and loving. They stayed on the beach for a few more hours, enjoying each other's company and walking hand in hand along the water.
"Lo, I think we should go back. I'm getting cold and hungry. Let's go home, so I can change."
"Sure. Here," said Laurence, taking her long sleeved shirt off and handing it to Chloe.
"Aren't you going to be cold, only wearing a tank top?"
"I'm fine. I got you wet so that’s the least I can do," smiled Laurence.
They drove home with the top up. Chloe insisted that Laurence would be cold otherwise.
"Okay, I'm going to go jump in the shower and get this sand off my body, and we can go for a late lunch if you want to."
Chloe shed her clothes in her bedroom and put on a robe to walk across to the corridor to the bathroom. As she was doing so, Laurence yelled to her.
"Hey, what about ordering take out?"
"That's a great idea." She walked to the family room and opened the coffee table's drawers. "Here they are," she said, throwing take-out menus in front of Laurence. "As you can see my mother often has the same idea ," she joked. "Just go ahead and pick whatever you want."
Laurence nodded and stood up quickly and placed a kiss on Chloe's lips. Chloe grabbed Laurence's hair before she pulled back, and deepened the kiss. Time seemed suddenly to stop and Laurence reached for Chloe's robe and untied it. She slowly stepped closer and ran her hands up and down Chloe's back. The kiss stopped and Chloe looked at Laurence, her eyes glossy and unfocused. She swallowed hard, never once leaving Laurence's eyes and gently caressed her face. Laurence closed her eyes, and took hold of Chloe's hand, lightly kissing her palm. This simple kiss sent shiver all the way down Chloe' spine and she drew Laurence back for another kiss. As the kiss deepened, Laurence slowly stepped back and sat on the couch, drawing Chloe along with her. She slid Chloe's robe off her shoulders and tenderly kissed her neck and on to her shoulders. "I missed you," she whispered against Chloe's skin. Chloe stopped her movement and brought Laurence's face back up.
"I missed you too," she said, looking deeply into Laurence's eyes. Laurence drew her closer and before kissing her, whispered, "I love you." Those simple words were enough for Chloe to surrender.
go to chapter VI
copyright (c) 2000 Malaurie Barber
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