Luke's Flame Ch. 02by_Lynn_©
Welcome readers. I appreciate all the votes, comments and feedback you've given me so far. I hope you enjoy this part of the story. Also, a big thank you goes to Techsan for his great edit.
Sophie stared into the mirror and tried to see herself as Luke had. The person reflecting back at her was a stranger. This woman had soft, gentle curves with a hint of color to her cheeks. Her green eyes sparkled as she thought back to the conversation held in the confines of his car.
With the dress back on its hangar, her stilettos in the closet, Sophie put on a pair of lounging pajamas and went to bed. When the telephone rang a few minutes later, she was still awake, lost in fantasy.
"Hello," she said into the receiver.
"Were you asleep?" Luke asked from the other end.
"Luke," Sophie whispered. "I was awake."
"I had to hear your voice. Tonight was special and I needed to be sure it wasn't a dream," he admitted.
"It was wonderful," Sophie added.
"Sophie, I want you to know I meant every word," Luke emphasized.
"I know," Sophie replied.
"Sweet dreams, Sophie," Luke said. "I'll call you."
"Good night, Luke," she whispered.
Sophie held onto the receiver long after the dial tone began. Only when she was near sleep did she reach out and hang it up. Several hours later, with the sun shining through the curtains, the ringing of the telephone woke her.
"Hello?" she mumbled.
"I want details, Sophie, and no messing around this time," Toni demanded in place of a greeting.
"Toni, what time is it?"
"Eight fifteen. Were you sleeping?" Toni asked.
"Uh huh," Sophie managed to get out.
"I'm coming over. You better be ready to talk," Toni told her.
The telephone went dead before Sophie could reply. She shook her head to wake up a bit and headed to the shower. Morning was never the best time for Sophie. It crossed her mind as she dressed that she should have told Toni to stop for fresh bagels on the way. She sat at the table with a hot cup of coffee instead and waited for Toni.
Sophie heard Toni drive in and bound up the steps. It reminded Sophie of when they were kids. Toni was always eager to know what was happening and never seemed to slow down.
"Good morning!" Toni sang out as she slid into a chair next to Sophie.
"It's too early to be morning," Sophie replied.
Toni laughed and brought up a bag from the town bakery. She held it in front of Sophie and grinned.
"You'll never guess what I brought," Toni teased.
"Well, I was hoping bagels," Sophie guessed.
"Nope. Remember when mom used to slip us an extra dollar and we went to the bakery?" Toni asked.
"You didn't! Toni, it's been forever since I had their home-made cinnamon rolls!" Sophie exclaimed.
"Me, too, but I was driving down Beech Street and an image of us running through the alley to the bakery skittered through my brain," Toni explained.
Toni pulled out the gooey confections and set them on the plates Sophie set out. Before Toni sat back down Sophie was biting into hers, a look of bliss on her face.
"These are so good, Toni," Sophie told her.
Sips of coffee and frequent dabs with napkins accompanied the moans of delight from the sisters. It was several minutes before they finished. Sophie leaned back in her chair and sighed.
"Now tell me what happened," Toni demanded.
Sophie thought back to the evening before. Toni noted the dreamy look in Sophie's eyes and the smile that took over her face.
"We had dinner and he brought me home," Sophie said.
"That's it? You're not stopping there," Toni insisted.
"What more do you want? Dinner was fabulous, the food delectable, conversation—"
"I don't care about all that and you know it," Toni broke in.
"I told you we ate and he took me home," Sophie repeated.
"Is he a good kisser? Did he make you burn? When did he go home?" Toni threw out the questions one after another.
"Toni, he didn't come in. After dinner, he drove me home, we said goodnight and I went to bed. Alone," Sophie emphasized.
"You're serious," Toni stated. "I'm sorry things didn't work out for you."
"Why do you say they didn't work out? I'm not like some of the women I write about, Toni," Sophie declared.
Toni studied her sister for a few minutes. She realized that Sophie wasn't her kid sister anymore. Sophie was a grown woman thinking of her future.
"You really like him, don't you?" Toni asked softly.
"I do, Toni," Sophie replied.
They talked a few minutes more before Toni said she needed to get back home. Sophie went to her computer and turned it on. Her mind was racing with ideas to add to the latest story. After a couple of hours, she took a break, satisfied with the progress.
Chores and errands filled the remainder of the day for Sophie. It even included a spur of the moment shopping trip. Wearing Toni's dress the night before made Sophie realize her wardrobe need an update. She smiled when she thought about wearing them for Luke.
Monday morning arrived and it was time for work once more. Sophie had finished a story over the weekend and was in a good mood. Her boss kept her busy updating some of the forms for the sales department. She returned from lunch to find an enormous bouquet of flowers on her desk.
Sophie pulled the card out to see Luke's name scrawled across the card. 'A perfect beginning' was the short message. She smiled and tucked the card into her purse before she went back to work. All afternoon her mind wandered back to their date. Her eyes strayed to the bouquet so often she kept making mistakes on the documents she was working on. It was finally time to go home and she put away the project. Sophie carried the flowers out to her car so she could enjoy them at home.
It didn't surprise her when Luke called that evening. Sophie thanked him for the flowers right away. Soon they were chatting about things like politics, sports, the weather, and family. Luke mentioned how hard it was for him to choose some of the colors for the new home he was having built.
"Sounds like you should hire someone to help you," Sophie chuckled.
"Sure, then I'll end up with frilly curtains and pink wallpaper," Luke replied.
"No, they would find out what you like," she stated. "Show you different décors, contemporary to traditional to period or even rustic."
"What?" he asked.
Sophie laughed at the confusion she heard in his voice. "They're different styles to decorate your home in, Luke."
"You're hired," Luke said.
"Me? I don't know what you like," Sophie reminded him. "I've never even seen where you live now."
"That can be fixed. Come to dinner Friday night. I'll cook," he added.
"You cook?" Sophie asked hesitantly.
"There are a lot of things I can do, Sophie," Luke told her. "My mom made sure all her children could take care of themselves. I even do windows."
Sophie was impressed and told him so. Luke gave her his address when she agreed to have dinner with him Friday. He lived in an apartment complex right near her work so she didn't need directions. Laying in bed later, a smile on her face, she still heard his voice in her mind.
That week went pretty much as the one before. Sophie had a small yard but she enjoyed puttering in the flower garden. One evening she shopped for new shoes to go with the clothes she had bought. Of course, there was always her writing. Toni sent her the links to a few sites that accepted erotica so she spent time browsing them. It was a huge step for her to submit her work. Sophie thought back to the night Luke helped her choose Flame as the name she would write under and blushed.
Friday Sophie hurried home from work to shower and change. Luke mentioned he planned to grill salmon for them on the deck so she chose a casual outfit. She arrived a few minutes early and rang the doorbell.
"Hi," Sophie said cheerfully.
"You look great," Luke replied. "Come in, please."
Sophie took in the small apartment and the boxes stacked along one wall. She knew he'd been packing a few things already for his move. His furniture seemed to be typical for a male with the recliner and big screen television taking up most of the living room. Luke took her through the kitchen to the patio.
"Dinner will be ready in about ten minutes. I hope you don't mind eating out here," Luke said.
"This is great. I've always wished I had a deck at my house," Sophie confessed. "You'd think with Toni's husband in construction I could get him to build me one. He's always so busy though I hate to ask him."
That led to more discussion of Luke's new house. Sophie was impressed when he told her where it was. She knew that area and it was beautiful. Luke surprised Sophie with his culinary skills. The dinner was delicious and she told him. He just grinned and reminded her he had numerous skills.
The evening taught Sophie many things. She realized Luke was very comfortable with himself. He was very well built and gorgeous but not cocky or arrogant about it. Sophie could feel how close he was to his family by the way he talked about them. His mother still wasn't happy he had moved away but did accept it as his choice. When it was time to leave Luke walked her to her car and opened the door for her.
"I enjoyed tonight, Sophie," Luke said.
"Thank you for dinner, Luke," she replied.
Sophie looked at Luke's lips and knew she wanted him to kiss her. She caught her breath when she saw him move closer. His lips touched hers for a soft kiss.
"You're a special lady and I can't wait to discover more about you."
The weekend was busy for Sophie. Toni had asked her to help get the house ready for a dinner party they were having. Luke was always in her thoughts. She picked up some groceries and remembered the dishes he had prepared for their dinner. Sophie decided to begin a new story on Sunday. It flowed from her mind until she had several thousand words completed. She added 'Flame' and saved the piece before she went to bed.
Luke picked Sophie up one night to go with him and check the progress on his new house. She fell in love with the airy rooms and large kitchen. They shared a pizza in the middle of the living room amidst all the dust. Luke took her around the property and pointed out the small stream nearby. It was the perfect place to raise a family and Sophie knew it.
It amazed Luke how much he enjoyed being with Sophie. One day he talked Sophie into helping him choose a color for the master bedroom. He imagined them in his big bed, naked, touching each other for hours. Luke left the room to cool off outside.
Weeks passed. Sophie brought Luke to meet Toni's family one evening. He realized that Toni's husband had done a bit of the work on his new house. Sophie's nieces and nephew took to Luke right away. The evening was a success. Sophie began to think she was in a dream world. Luke was everything she had been looking for in a partner.
One of Luke's brothers was getting married and Luke was in the wedding. He had already mentioned it to Sophie. He would be gone a week since his brother still lived in the same town they grew up in. Luke took her out for dinner the night before his flight. He took her to one of the more elaborate restaurants in town. They had a small booth in a corner that was very romantic. Neither cared what they ordered as long as they were together. The compliments flowed as Luke continued to drink in her beauty.
"I'm not sure how I got lucky and found you, Sophie. Call it karma, destiny, or fate, it doesn't matter," Luke admitted.
"I feel the same way, Luke."
"It's going to be so hard to be away from you this week," Luke confessed.
"I know," Sophie replied.
"Sophie, I love you."
"Oh, Luke, I love you, too," Sophie whispered.
"This might not be the place," Luke began, "but, Sophie, will you marry me?"
Sophie had tears in her eyes as she gazed at Luke. He was her other half, her partner, her soul mate. Without Luke, she wasn't complete.
"Yes," Sophie replied.
Luke picked up her hand as she continued to cry.
"I saw this ring and it reminded me of you. It's been with me for a couple of weeks now. Tonight I knew the time was right,' he explained.
"Luke, it's gorgeous," Sophie exclaimed.
"The emerald has many meanings in ancient history," Luke said. "It's the color of beauty and constant love. Just like our love, Sophie."
Sophie tried to speak. That Luke had chosen a stone based on it's meaning didn't surprise her. He was one of the most considerate men she had ever dated.
"When I get home we'll shop for something bigger if you'd prefer," Luke said.
"No, Luke, this is perfect."
Dinner remained unfinished as they sat close together in the corner. Luke talked about his parents' marriage and their continued devotion to each other. It was what he had always hoped to have one day. Sophie snuggled closer and held his hand as he spoke. She loved the feel of his heartbeat under her palm.
The drive to her place was quiet. Sophie couldn't take her eyes off her ring. Luke kept looking at her and smiling. The air crackled with the heat between them. Parked in her driveway, they turned to each other, letting their eyes speak for them.
Luke held her hand as they walked towards her house. Sophie leaned forward and kissed him as soon as they stopped at the door. His arms crushed her to him in a passionate kiss. Luke's hands wandered over her back. They pushed their limits but couldn't seem to stop. Lights from a passing car finally brought them back to reality.
"I don't want to go tomorrow, honey. It will be the worst week of my life, I swear," he admitted.
Sophie smiled to herself at the endearing term. She understood family obligations but it didn't make his going away any easier. Luke gave her one final kiss before he left. She floated through her small house and imagined the day they didn't have to be apart. Sitting in her pajamas and robe, with a cup of tea in front of her, she stared at the new ring on her finger. She wanted to tell Toni. Yet she wanted to keep it to herself a bit longer.
Sleep that night came hard. Several times, she turned to the telephone, willing it to ring. Luke's flight took off early in the morning so she knew he needed rest. Sophie went over and over the proposal until she fell asleep from sheer exhaustion.
Luke called to let her know he had arrived. Several times he slipped away to hear her voice and keep her abreast of the wedding events. She laughed when he absently said he'd rather elope than go through all the stuff involved in a big wedding.
It was difficult for them to be apart. Both admitted they felt a hole in their life without the other one right there. Sophie tried to write one evening. The glitter of her ring drew her attention away until she gave up. All the images in her head were of Luke, not the characters in the story.
The weekend of the wedding Luke was extra busy. He had warned Sophie he might not be able to call as often. She drove out to check on Luke's house on the day of the wedding. The builders had left for the day so she wandered through the rooms. Sophie pictured the two of them everywhere she walked.
It was finally time for Luke to fly home. Sophie wanted to meet him at the airport but he reminded her he had left his car parked there when he left. Luke planned to drive right to her place after he landed. She had prepared some appetizers even though she was too excited to eat.
An hour passed and Luke wasn't there. Sophie called his cell phone but there was no answer. She called the airport to confirm his flight landed on time. Had she misunderstood Luke? Her fingers went to the emerald engagement ring. Something was wrong. She reached for the phone to call Toni. Then she remembered Toni and her family were on vacation.
The writer's imagination took over in her head as she waited by the window. All sorts of sinister thoughts made their way into her mind. Luke would have called if he had car trouble, or if he missed his plane, she reminded herself. The logical conclusion was an accident. That idea made her cringe.
Sophie felt the tears gathering in her eyes thinking of losing Luke. She often told him that he completed her world. The day she said he was her other half came to her now. Luke smiled and gave her a soft kiss. Words hadn't been necessary for her to see he felt the same way. Memories of their time together came flooding through as she sat there and cried. She laid her head on the sofa and let the tears flow. Exhaustion took over and she fell into a restless sleep.
"Wake up, honey," Luke whispered.
Sophie heard the voice in her dream. Luke was trying to explain something but she couldn't quite figure out what. Moans escaped her lips as he left her once more.
"Sophie, I'm here," Luke said a bit louder.
The dream ran behind her eyelids like a movie theater marquee. Sophie stirred as scene after scene found a place in her mind. She saw Luke in several, smiling down at her, telling her he was there. It was strange how she could smell his cologne from a dream. Even his hands, touching her, shaking her felt real. Sophie jerked awake when she felt fingers on her cheek.
"I'm so sorr—" Luke began.
"Tell me you're okay," Sophie interrupted.
"I'm fine," he said.
"I've been so worried. When you didn't get here on time, and didn't call, I was afraid something happened," she explained.
"Something did happen. Scoot over and I'll tell you everything," Luke replied.
Sophie moved over to make room for Luke as she drank in the sight of him. Seeing him, touching his face, knowing he was safe, took away part of her fear.
"Why didn't you call?" she asked as Luke settled in next to her on the sofa.
"Let me start at the beginning," he said.
Luke went on to describe how a mini-van traveling in front of him swerved off the road when a tire blew. Instead of being able to stop, the driver lost control and the van flipped over, landing in a shallow creek. He had called 911 as he stopped his car and reported the accident.
"The people inside must have been terrified," Sophie interjected.
"I ran over there, hoping the people were alright. The woman driving had blood on her face but was conscious. She was screaming for her son, trying to unhook her seat belt. The back glass was broken so I climbed through to see if I could help," he went on with his story.
"Oh, Luke, you could have been hurt," Sophie cried.
"There's no way I was going to wait until the rescue crews arrived. The mother got herself loose and crawled out her window. Her son, about six, was stuck. I tried to get him loose but his legs were pinned. His mom must have passed out because she didn't answer when I called out to her," Luke stated.
"That poor child!" Sophie whispered.
"I started to talk to him. He wanted his mom, of course, but I reassured him she was fine. His name is Bobby and he likes to play soccer, I discovered. I kept him talking until the ambulance crew and police got there," he told her.
"I'm not sure I could have done that," she admitted.
"He was hurt and afraid. I stayed until they got him out and checked with the paramedics. They said it looked like he had a broken leg, and a lot of bruising, but should be fine. His mom might have some broken ribs from the impact," Luke finished.
"I'm so proud of you," Sophie said.
"I just did what most people would have, honey. They needed help and I was there. I promised Bobby I would check on him tomorrow. One of the paramedics told me he would most likely be in the hospital a few days," Luke explained.
"Why didn't you call when you left there?" Sophie inquired.
"You aren't going to believe this. I lost my cell phone. It must have fallen out of my pocket when I crawled down the bank or into the van," Luke said. "It was dark and several emergency personnel were around. I wasn't going to get in their way just to look for my phone."