The Friday after her father left, Chloe was at home waiting for Laurence to return after picking up Clément from school. Light snow was falling outside and the roads were slowly being covered with the white crystals. She was starting to worry when the door opened and Laurence stepped in, her black hair covered with snowflakes, and her cheeks red from the cold. She removed her boots and unzipped her coat.
"It's freezing outside," she commented as she hung up her coat.
"Where is Clément?" asked Chloe, coming to greet Laurence.
"I dropped him at Madame Cambier's house." She walked into the kitchen and poured water into the kettle. "Do you want some tea?"
"No, thanks. Why did you drop him at Madame Cambier's?" Chloe opened the cupboard. "English breakfast, or citrus…we really have to go grocery shopping."
"English breakfast." Laurence came up to Chloe and wrapped her arms around her and spoke tenderly in her ear. "Do you have any idea what the date is today?"
"No not really, I know we're in February. Why?"
Laurence chuckled and kissed Chloe on the cheek. "Go check the calendar while I check on the water."
Chloe left the kitchen, confused, and walked to the library where she knew a post office calendar hung on the wall. The calendar still showed November, and obviously it hadn't been touched since Jean's death. She lifted the pages and scanned through the month of February. "Friday...Friday…oh boy, I can't believe I missed that," she said aloud, her finger pointing to February 14th. She walked back to the kitchen, embarrassed and mad at herself for not remembering a day like Valentine's day. "Lo, I'm sorry…I haven't been paying attention to the date, I just know if it's Monday or Sunday or…I'm sorry."
Laurence 's smile illuminated her face as she removed the water from the stove. She poured the warm liquid in her cup, and reached for a spoon in the drawer. "It's okay, I really hadn't given it much thought either. It just dawned on me yesterday that today was Valentine's. I thought we could improvise and spend the evening together." She stirred her tea and brought it up to her lips, sipping it slowly.
"How long do we have before we have to pick up Clément?"
"Until tomorrow around noon."
"You're kidding?" Chloe was incredulous. As much as she deeply loved Clément she had sometimes wished she and Laurence could escape for an evening, or spend the night without having to plug in the monitor.
"No, I'm not." Laurence smiled warmly and put her cup down. She drew Chloe into her arms and kissed her lightly on the top of her hair. "Happy Valentine's," she said tenderly.
Chloe sighed and tightened her grip on Laurence's waist. "I feel so stupid for forgetting about it." Her voice was muffled by Laurence's shirt.
"Don't be. I tell you what. Go ahead and change, and I'm taking you for a night on the town." Laurence's blue eyes twinkled with happiness.
"It's snowing, isn't it going to be a problem?"
Laurence chuckled. "Your dad explained to me that in Washington everything becomes a mess with only one inch of snow." She finished her tea and put her cup in the sink. "Don't worry about it…we know how to drive in France."
"Hey, I take offense to that." Chloe tried to look offended, but a smile broke across her face.
Laurence laughed at Chloe's almost- pout. "Wipe that smirk off your face. We both know that Washington drivers are supposed to be the worst…hey, I'm quoting your dad."
"Coming from someone who lives in a country where speed limit is never respected, and where driving on a sidewalk to pass traffic doesn't seem to be against the rules, I still think we're better drivers than you guys are."
Laurence's laugh resonated through the high-ceilinged room. "Yeah, yeah…come on, go change, this argument is not bringing us anywhere." She kissed Chloe and gently slapped her bottom.
"Hey," protested Chloe, trying to get out of the way. "Giving up so soon on the argument, huh?" she teased. "I guess I rest my case." She playfully stuck her tongue out at Laurence, who opened her mouth as if to speak, but reconsidered before anything came out. Chloe turned around seductively and winked at Laurence over her shoulder. "I'll go change now."
An hour later, they were both ready and walking out into the cold winter evening of February.
"Where are we going?" asked Chloe, buckling her self in.
"I thought we could go to a bistro café I know really well. We don't have reservations, but I know the owner so it shouldn't be a problem."
They drove through Versailles in the direction of the expressway. Laurence had turned the seat warmer on, and Chloe relaxed slowly into her seat as the heat spread through her body. Large flakes of snow hit the windshield as the car sped onto the expressway.
They ate in a nicely decorated café. As Laurence had promised, they had no trouble getting a table. They ordered some onion soup to start with and a bottle of white wine. As the waiter poured some wine into Chloe's glass, Laurence looked at Chloe lovingly. She wore a pair of black slacks, a green cashmere turtleneck that beautifully matched her eyes, her hair was up in a ponytail, and she had added a touch of gloss lipstick. Chloe caught Laurence's eyes and smiled seductively.
"You're staring at me," she said flirting, her voice a sensual whisper.
Laurence broke her reverie. "You look beautiful." Their eyes meet, and they held their gaze for a few moments. The noise of the restaurant was forgotten, and each was only aware of the other presence. Chloe broke the gaze, her cheeks flushed.
"You still make me blush after all these months," she smiled, taking hold of Laurence's hand across the table and lightly stroking it. She released it as the waiter came back with their soup.
They ate mostly in silence, enjoying each other's companionship.
"I'm stuffed," stated Chloe, pushing her desert plate away.
"Yeah, three pieces of chocolate cake will do that to you. Are you ready to go?"
"Sure. Are we going home?"
"No. I thought we could go dancing…the last time we went you got sick, and I never got to dance with you." Laurence dropped money on the table and got up, offering her hand to Chloe.
"We danced in your apartment, remember?"
"I sure do. We don't have to go if you don't want to."
"No, let's go. Which club do you have in mind?"
"It's around Les Halles. It's called Troubadour. They have good music if I remember." She thanked the waiter on her way out, and waved goodbye to the owner who was standing in a corner. He smiled at her, and nodded his head at Chloe.
They parked the car a few blocks away from the nightclub. The snow had stopped falling and the air was crisp, giving the night an extra layer of cold. They walked with their hands deep inside their pockets and their faces down, trying to avoid the cold February wind.
The nightclub was different from the one they had gone to a few months ago. It stretched out on one floor, sofas surrounded the dance floor, and a bar stood in the corner. The smell of smoke and perfume grabbed them as they opened the door. The dance floor was crowed with a wave of people moving to the sound of Ricky Martin. Laurence directed Chloe toward the end of the room, and motioned for her to sit on one of the couches. "I'll go get us something to drink? What do you want?"
"What are you having?"
"Don't know. Nothing too strong."
"Just get me whatever you're having."
"Okay." She kissed Chloe briefly and left for the bar. Chloe watched her leave, her hips swiveling gently, and her tall form breaking through the crowd easily. She smiled to herself and settled comfortably against the couch. As she watched couples move sensually against each other on the dance floor, her heart swelled with happiness at the thought of Laurence. A chill ran down her spine and she felt herself being watched. She slowly turned her head, and caught Laurence moving back toward her, drinks in hand, her eyes glued on Chloe. Laurence handed Chloe her drink, and sat next to her.
"What were you thinking about?" she smiled, gently brushing a loose strand of hair back behind Chloe's ear.
"You," answered Chloe, tenderly kissing Laurence's cheek. "Thank you for making this evening so special. What kind of drink did you bring back?"
"Gin and tonic…Wait, it's not over yet. Want to dance?"
"I'd love to." She put her glass down on the coffee table and got up. Laurence linked her fingers through Chloe's and led the way to the dance floor. They started dancing to a fast beat, and Laurence drew Chloe closer to her.
"Lo, I don't mind, but are you sure it's okay? I mean…it doesn't seem to be a gay club." She had to almost yell in Laurence's ear to make herself heard.
Laurence laughed and mouthed. "Mixed."
Chloe smiled and relaxed. They danced to a few more songs and walked back to their drinks. Chloe picked hers up and took a big sip. "Boy, you call that not strong," she coughed.
"Technically it's not. Trust me, these drinks are really watered down." She drank from hers and sat down. "Are you having fun?"
"I love it. Even the music is pretty good.."
"Yeah, I like it." She finished her drink in one gulp and turned to face Chloe. "Would it have bothered you if this club hadn't been a mixed club?"
"What do you mean?" She took another sip of her drink and let the beverage slowly slide down her throat.
"I mean, would you have kept your distance from me?"
"Probably at first," she answered honestly. "But I couldn't have lasted very long." Laurence's smile was worth any sacrifices such a situation would have brought. "Lo, being openly out is still scary to me, but I don't want you to think I'm ashamed of our relationship."
"I know." Laurence brought her face down close to Chloe's and their lips barely brushed. "Happy Valentine Day. I love you."
"I know." She brought Laurence's lips in contact with hers and smiled through her kiss.
"I'll go get us another drink," said Laurence, reluctantly taking her lips away.
"No, let me do that. Do you want the same thing?"
"Actually, I'd like a Coke…I have to be able to drive back, but go ahead and have another one."
Chloe smiled and left. Walking through the crowd was harder for her than it had been for Laurence because of her smaller height, but she ordered the drinks and made her way back without difficulties. She spotted Laurence in conversation with a man dressed in bleached jeans and a white tee shirt. His hand was nonchalantly placed behind Laurence's back, but before his gesture had time to upset Chloe, Laurence took a step aside, putting a slight distance between her and the stranger. She walked to the couch and handed Laurence her drink.
"Chloe, this is Michael. Michael, this is Chloe."
"Hello," said Michael with a white smile, lightly shaking Chloe's hand. " I heard you are American."
"Yes, I am. "
"Very good. Where exactly are you from?" His eyes had barely left Laurence as he spoke to Chloe, his gaze sweeping up and down her body, envy slightly clouding his eyes.
Michael ignored her answer and sat next to Laurence, then whispered something in her ear and got up. "Chloe, nice to meet you." He looked at Laurence one more time and left them.
"What was that about?" she asked, sitting down.
"Phantom from the past." Laurence seemed to have gone into her own world, her eyes staring ahead blankly.
"Lo, who was he?" Not getting an answer, she grabbed Laurence's face and turned it toward her. "Lo?"
Laurence's eyes focused slowly on Chloe. "He was one of the guy I used to hang out with when I lived in Paris. We dated for a while."
Chloe didn't need to ask to know that Laurence was referring to the time before she had Clément, the time during which drugs and alcohol had been some of her favorite hobbies. "Lo, what did he tell you before he left?"
"He asked me if I wanted to leave with him…just for old time's sake."
Chloe's blood boiled and her eyes flashed with anger, quickly scanning the room in search of Michael. "I'm going to go tell him what I think of him." She got up angrily, only to be stopped by Laurence.
"Please don't. It's useless. I don't want him to ruin our evening. Dance with me?"
Chloe sighed and quickly passed her hand through her bangs.
"Fine," she answered, trying to bring her temper back under control. The DJ was playing slow songs in the honor of Valentine's Day, and they started dancing to the rhythm, wrapped up in each other's arms. Laurence tighten her grip on Chloe and brought her as close as possible. She gently rubbed her hands up and down her back and tenderly bent to kiss her. Time seemed to stop as they gently deepened their kiss. A familiar song came up and after the first few notes, Chloe broke the kiss. "Lo, this is this song from Scorpion we danced to in your apartment."
"I know, I requested it earlier." She picked up the slow rhythm, her hips softly waving against Chloe's. Chloe buried her face in Laurence' s shirt and deeply inhaled the all too familiar fresh scent of Laurence's perfume as if to commit it to memory. They stayed on the dance floor until the rhythm changed back to a more rapid one. "We should probably get going. We have to drive back to Versailles."
"I'm ready when you are."
"Then let's go now." They made their way through the crowd to the coat check, and as they put their coats on Michael appeared. He went straight to Laurence and walked close to her.
"T'es prête?" His arrogance was almost too much for Chloe to bare.
Laurence looked at him coldly and pushed him aside. She grabbed Chloe's hand and brutally turned to Michael. Her eyes were dark with anger, leaving no doubts in anyone's mind that one more move from Michael would release the beast in her. Michael stepped back, and Laurence threw one more deadly gaze toward him before walking out, dragging Chloe behind her. They walked quickly back down the street, Laurence's strides long and determined.
"Hey, Lo, slow down. You've got longer legs than I do." Chloe stopped and tried to catch her breath, hoping that her plea had reached Laurence and that she would slow down.
"That's okay. I just hate running to keep up with you." This sentence brought a smile to Laurence's lips.
"I'm sorry. This guy really upset me."
"I know, but somehow you managed to scare him away without even breaking any bones. Pretty good," she said jokingly.
"You're right." She linked her fingers with Chloe's and kissed her knuckles. "Come on, let's go."
Chloe fell asleep on the way back home. The warmth of the seat, and the smooth, controlled driving of Laurence gently lured her to sleep.
"Chloe, wake up. Come on sweetheart." Chloe opened her eyes, her mind still foggy with sleep, and registered her surroundings.
"Lo, we're not home."
"Not really, but sort of. Come on." She stepped out and opened the trunk of the car, reaching for a duffel bag. She took out a flashlight and locked the car.
"Are we going to the hide out?" Laurence nodded, and walked down the street toward the line of trees. "Lo, come on. Not tonight, it's freezing out here, I don't want to spend the night among the ghosts of Versailles, please." Chloe's eyes were almost begging.
"I promise you, it'll be worth it. You coming?" She extended her hand, and Chloe grabbed it with sigh.
They walked down the hill and entered the tunnel through the usual path. The walk to the room seemed to Chloe to take hours. She jumped at every sound and kept less than an inch between her and Laurence. They finally walked into the first room and Laurence lit a few candles. Their room was the same as they left it, and as the first time it took Chloe's breath away. "Lo, I had forgotten how beautiful it is." Laurence smiled and dropped the duffel bag on the table.
"Are you cold?" she asked, opening the bag.
"Yes, a little."
"I brought extra blankets, plus we still have plenty from last time. We should be just fine."
"Lo, I don't want to break the mood, but why couldn't we spend the night at home?"
Laurence walked to Chloe and pulled her toward her. She seemed to be searching for words, but her eyes suddenly sparkled and she spoke. "I brought you here tonight because this is the place where I first realized I was in love with you. This first day when I showed you this place...I can't explain it, something happened inside me, and I realized that if I was to spend the rest of my life with anyone, I wanted it to be with you." She stepped away from Chloe and reached inside her coat pocket, taking out a small box. "This is for you." Chloe took the box with shaky hands and opened it. Inside was a gold band ringed with diamonds. It was thin, very simple, and took Chloe's breath away.
"Lo, this is beautiful. I don't know if…"
"Wait…I don't expect anything. You don't have to make a life time commitment to me because you accept it. It’s a sign of my love for you." Laurence's blue eyes looked deep into Chloe's, baring her soul.
"Thank you." She rolled the ring between her fingers, admiring it, the diamonds shining in the candlelight.
"I tell you what. You put it on the right hand, and when you're ready for it you can switch it to the left one. No pressure." Laurence took the ring and slipped it on Chloe' s finger. Chloe looked at Laurence, words not enough to describe how she felt.
"I love you," she said simply.
"I know. " Laurence smiled and drew Chloe in her arms. "I just don't want to push you. I know you are confused about what's going to happen once your visa expires. This is a token of my love for you. No matter what you decide, I'll stand by you."
Chloe stepped out of Laurence's arms and drew her in for a kiss. It was sensual and loving. "Let's go to bed."
They settled into the make -shift bedroom, removed their clothing and slid under the covers. "Cold?" asked Laurence, when she felt Chloe shiver.
"A little." Laurence got up and ran to get the extra blankets, and rushed back under the covers. "Now I'm the one that's freezing." He teeth were chattering and shivers ran down her spine. Chloe sat up and spread the blankets over them. She then tenderly drew Laurence against her chest and rubbed her back. "Warmer?."
"Much," answered Laurence, burying her face in Chloe's neck and slowly closing her eyes.
Before sleep claimed them, Chloe whispered. "You lied…you set me up, this evening was planned." Her only answer was Laurence's low chuckle.
Winter slowly gave place to spring, the trees started blooming and the grass turned green again. They spent long hours in the park, relaxing under the sun or playing with Clément. Clément was becoming a very independent little boy who wanted to do everything by himself. His speech patterns had improved, and from time to time he was able to pronounce Ls. Chloe couldn't help seeing the strong resemblance between mother and son everyday. Their stubbornness, short temper, and need for independence were comically similar, and Chloe found herself using the same argument techniques with Clément than she used with Laurence. They talked about plans for the future, but nothing concrete could be set until Chloe knew what was going to happen once her visa expired. The phantom of uncertainty hung over them, but they both tried to ignore it and enjoy every moment together as if it was going to be the last.
Late in June, Laurence came home from work, shed her high-heeled shoes and removed her summer jacket. "Hello? Is anybody home?" She walked into the family room and found Chloe sitting on the couch staring at the TV screen. Chloe turned her head briefly toward Laurence and dropped her gaze almost immediately. Laurence moved to Chloe, unexpected fear grabbing her stomach. "Hey, what's wrong? Is Clément okay?" She tried not to panic, but Chloe's strange attitude made it hard.
"Yeah, he's in the playroom, building one of his Lego forts." She looked up at Laurence. Her eyes were red and dark circles had formed under them.
"What's wrong?" She asked again, sitting down and gently rubbing Chloe's back. "Come on Chloe, what's the matter, you usually greet me with a smile when I come home." Laurence tried to lighten the mood by making a joke, but Chloe's face stayed serious. Suddenly Laurence jumped back and got up slowly, the answer to her question readable in Chloe's eyes. She kept her gaze fixed on Chloe, her eyes begging for it not to be true. She shook her head. "No…when did you make this decision?"
"This morning. I'm sorry. I tried to find every reason I could to stay here, but none worked. Lo, I can't be an au pair for the rest of my life….I have to finish up school…"
"Why can't you go to University here?" Laurence's voice was sad, almost pleading.
"Lo, we've been over that. My French is not good enough. I'll have to take French classes before being accepted…I'll lose another year. I'm sorry," she dropped her gaze, her voice almost a whisper. "You and Clément could come back to the States with me?"
"You know that's not possible…" Laurence breathed deeply, trying to keep her emotions under control. "When?"
"The end of August. I spoke with my dad this morning…he said that going back to University of Maryland shouldn’t be a problem since I had already been accepted. "
"I see you've organized everything." Laurence's control slowly slipped away and anger filled her. "You know what? Why should I care, obviously you don't." Her voice cold, meaning to hurt.
"Lo, this is not fair."
"Oh, really…you dare to talk about fair," She laughed sarcastically. "What do I tell Clément? Sorry, you weren't important enough for her."
"Laurence stop it.." spoke Chloe strongly.
"No! What about all the 'I love you's ', were they a lie? Tell me!" she yelled.
"You know very well that they were not." Chloe's voice broke and her eyes filled with tears. "I love you…I never lied about it."
Laurence flashed Chloe a dark look. "It doesn't really matter now, does it?" She walked past her, not stopping.
Chloe let the tears fall and her hands balled into fists. "Damn you Laurence," she said between tears. She dragged herself upstairs and flopped on her bed, sobs racking her body.
Downstairs, Laurence sat next to Clément who, oblivious to the storm racing inside her, asked her to help him. She blindly picked up blocks and stacked them up together, her anger slowly faded, and the memory of what she had just told Chloe came rushing back. "I'm such a jerk." She banged her forehead with her hand and sighed. "All right I know what I have to do." She got up and reached for the phone and dialed an all too familiar number.
"Allo, Madame Cambier. C'est Laurence. Est-ce que je peux vous donner Clément pour la soirée?"
"Mais bien sur."
"Okay, nous serons là dans 5 minutes."
Laurence hung up and turned to Clément. "Hey, sweetheart. Do you want to go and play with Madame Cambier?"
"Yeah!" yelled Clément happily, dropping his Legos and running out of the playground. He had taken a real liking to Monsieur and Madame Cambier over the past few months and loved going to their house. They had a wooden train track that Clément absolutely loved to play with, and they treated him like their own, sometimes spoiling him a little too much. Laurence had thought of buying Clément the same train track, but Chloe had suggested not to. "If you get it for him, then it won't be special anymore when he goes over to their house." She had agreed, and indeed she always enjoyed hearing Clément talk to her about the train and how much fun he had with Monsieur Cambier building tracks.
She rang her next door neighbors' bell and watched Clément run into Monsieur Cambier's arms as soon as the door opened. She told Madame Cambier that she would pick him up around his bedtime and walked back to the house. Once inside, she climbed the steps to the first floor and rushed down the corridor to Chloe's room. She lightly tapped on the door and waited for an answer. Shortly after the door opened to reveal Chloe wearing a wary look. Her eyes were red and swollen, and she made no effort to hide her pain.
"Can I talk to you?" asked Laurence, her heart hurting from seeing the damage she had done. Chloe didn't answer, but instead stepped aside and motioned for Laurence to walk in. Laurence took in the clothes laying on the bed, and the suitcases open. "What are you doing?"
"Packing. What does it look like?" answered Chloe, fatigue and slight sarcasm obvious in her voice.
Laurence sighed and thought for a minute about the best course of action to take to stop her. "I'm sorry…wait, no, that was lame." Chloe didn't look at Laurence and picked up a pile of sweaters lying on the bed, and stuffed it in one of her suitcase. "Chloe, please look at me." She grabbed Chloe by the shoulders and turned her to face her. "Please hear me out, okay?" She waited to read acceptance in Chloe's eyes before letting go. "Please don't go…don't leave now. I…I reacted selfishly and I know I hurt you. I'm worried about Clément; he has had so many changes in his life over the past year that I don't know how he is going to react to your departure…"
Chloe interrupted Laurence, her voice cold. "Did you ever stop and consider that this decision is tearing me apart, but I really don't have a choice? No, you judged me and accused me right away. I don't want to spend the last few months of my life in this country feeling guilty for something that is out of my control. Gosh Laurence, don't you know by now how much I want to stay and be with you?" Chloe stopped to regain control of her emotions.. "I'm tired Laurence, I'm tired of arguing about it, so I'm doing us both a favor…I'm checking out now." She turned back to her suitcase and grabbed another pile of clothes, stuffing it in angrily. Something shiny on the dresser grabbed Laurence's attention, and she realized that it was Chloe's ring. She picked it up and squeezed it in her hands, and as she did so Chloe turned around suddenly. "Plus Laurence. I've heard you apologize for your temper zillions of times…It doesn't cut it anymore…I just can't…" Her words were muffled by Laurence's hand on her mouth, her eyes bored into Chloe's soul, pleading. She slowly removed her hand from Chloe's mouth and stepped back slightly, her eyes never leaving Chloe's. She softly reached for Chloe's hand and slipped the ring back on, and getting no reaction, she looked up and her heart broke at the sight of tears falling down Chloe's pale face. Her eyes became watery, and she kicked herself inside for the hurt she had caused. Not a word had been spoken between them, but the emotions filling the room were strong, their eyes enough to express what they felt. Chloe lost it first.
"Gosh Laurence, you hurt me, you know?" she said sobbing.
"I know," whispered Laurence, taking one step toward Chloe, but not touching her.
"Why do you do that? Why?" Her question was left unanswered as Laurence stepped closer and tentatively wrapped her arms around Chloe. "I can't do that, Laurence…I can't do that anymore." Sobs racked her body, making her words almost inaudible.
" I love you, I love you so much," whispered Laurence, letting her tears fall, and tightening her grip on Chloe.
Chloe raised her tear-stained face to Laurence, and smiled through her tears. "Hopefully you do, otherwise I don't know why I'm staying with you."
Laurence laughed and buried her face into Chloe' s hair, inhaling the smell of fresh vanilla shampoo. "I'm so sorry. I overreacted…I'm so sorry."
Chloe kissed Laurence's chin. "I overreacted too…we're even." Laurence smiled faintly and tenderly kissed Chloe's nose.
"We make such a pathetic team, don't we?"
Chloe nodded, her face buried against Laurence's chest. They stayed this way for a long time, basking in each other's closeness.
The last month flew by. They tried to put away any hard feelings and enjoy what was left of their life together. Every day, the final date drew closer. Laurence quit her job shortly after Chloe's decision to go back. She argued that she wanted to spend every possible moment with Chloe. Deep inside Chloe welcomed this decision, even if she tried to convince Laurence not to throw away her career for her. "You're more important than any career," Laurence had answered.
Before they knew it, their last evening together arrived.
"Okay, I think I'm all packed," said Chloe, closing her last suitcase and turning to Laurence who was standing at the window.
Laurence smiled and extended her hand to Chloe. "Come here," she said softly. Chloe stepped toward Laurence and let herself be taken into a hug. "I can't believe that this is our last night together," whispered Laurence, her voice trembling. Their lips met tenderly. The kiss started as a reassurance, but quickly turned into passion. Hands started roaming against each other's bodies, tenderly brushing on bare skin, and fingers trailed down flat stomachs. Laurence slowly removed Chloe's shirt, exposing her skin to the warmth of the bedroom, she slid her fingers over Chloe's back, eliciting a moan from Chloe. They gently broke their kiss and tried to regain their breath, eyes clouded with passion. Chloe dove back for Laurence's lips, the distance almost unbearable. Their bodies slid down against the wall to the cold hardwood floor, legs entwined together as their passion reached its peak.
At Charles de Gaulle Airport boarding for flight 64 to Washington D.C. was announced for the second time. Chloe let go of Laurence's hand and stood up. "I should go." As if understanding the urgency of the situation, Clément threw his arms around Chloe's legs. She picked him up and hugged him tight. "Don't forget about me, little man." She had promised herself that she would be strong and keep her tears for the airplane, but her emotions got the best of her, and tears spilled from her eyes. "Go on," she said putting him down. Her eyes locked with Laurence and she reached for her hands. "I really should go," she repeated, her voice tight with tears.
Laurence nodded and engulfed her in her arms. "I love you Chloe." She hugged her tight, unwilling to let go. Chloe slowly extracted herself from Laurence's arms.
"I'll call you when I get there. I'll come back for Christmas. It'll be okay, right?"
Laurence smiled and fought tears that threatened to fall. "Go on, you're going to miss your plane." Chloe picked up her carry on, and ruffled Clément's hair and briefly kissed Laurence. "I'll call," she whispered, turning and walking away. She hadn't even taken a step when she was suddenly pulled back into Laurence's arms. Laurence grabbed her face and kissed her passionally. They melted into each other's kiss, oblivious to the stares from people walking by. The kiss ended, and Laurence stepped back. She wiped the tears from her eyes, and picked up Clément. "Go now," she said softly.
Chloe made her way slowly toward the escalator, she stepped onto the moving stairs and turned to face Laurence. Their eyes met, and the connection didn't waver until the ceiling blocked their vision. Laurence continued to stare where Chloe had been only a few moments ago, unwilling to accept what had just happened
"I want Chloe, " whined Clément.
"So do I," answered Laurence, turning around and walking slowly toward the exit. As she stepped outside her last vestige of bravado left her, and she finally let the tears fall.
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copyright (C) 2000 Malaurie Barber
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