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8 months later
A strange smell drifted under my nose. I came awake slowly, rolling to my side, the brilliant white of another several inches of new snow blinding me momentarily. As I moved my body ached in that way it did Sacha had loved me as only he could. My gaze stayed on the patio door, and on the small bird hopping about in the powder. Sitting slowly, I winced at the tug of tender muscles. The soft pull of internal discomfort eased when I lifted my arms over my head and groaned at the twitch of my biceps as they reminded me of the position I had been in for hours last night. Arms over my head, my legs bound in tight, intricate knots, Sacha’s knowing hands, fingers, and mouth taking me where he wanted me to go, where I needed to go.
“Fuck, qui fait mal,” I moaned as a cramp started in my lower back. Standing, I bent down to touch my toes.
“Such a beautiful display,” Sacha called from the doorway of our bedroom. “I would think you would be averse to tempting me so early after the late hours you kept last night.”
I rose, turned, and smiled at him. Even when relaxed he was never truly at ease, ah but he was magnificent in his rumpled state. Short red hair tangled, dark eyes mellow, jaw covered with thick red whiskers. He wore only lounge pants and a rumpled sweater yet he looked more beautiful to me than any fashion model.
“You also had a long night,” I reminded him, walking across the room and taking his face between my hands. I pressed my mouth to his, licked at his lips, and then drew back as a strange taste settled on my tongue. “What is this taste?”
“Ah, yes, S novim godom,” he whispered over my lips, his hand coming up to touch my bare chest. I cocked an eyebrow. “We are welcoming the new year. I’m making food for your family. Put on some clothes and come see.”
He kissed me quickly yet firmly then disappeared. I pulled on a fleece top and matching bottom, slid my feet into slippers, and climbed down from the second floor of our cabin to the first. It was a small house, situated by a lovely pond. Acres of forest separated us from the massive ski lifts of Mont-Tremblant, so we were isolated yet close enough to all the skiing resorts that populated my hometown if we wished to go out. We rarely did.
“Come in,” he called as I pattered around, fixing the throw on the back of the sofa where our lovemaking had begun last night. An unscripted and unplanned night of control and submission. My cock stirred just remembering Sacha’s strict commands and light touch. “Come, Alfie, tell me if you think brother Pascal, his wife Marie, and their baby Jean-Luc will enjoy this fare.”
I walked into the kitchen, the biggest and warmest room in the chalet-style home. Spread out over the table were dishes of different foods, bottles of drink, and several piles of small presents.
“Well, Jean-Luc is only just a wee baby of one year old, so I am thinking he has little passion for oysters on the half shell.”
Sacha smiled, a pure expression of love. It had taken him months to smile at me honestly. Hell, it had taken me months to stop leaping at a sudden wind blowing a door shut or the pop of a champagne cork. Dark months yes, but we had slowly come through them. Together.
“Hmm, such a good point. Aside from the oysters, do you think our little man will like any of the foods? New Years is special to my people. I wish to share that with you and our…your—”
“No, you were right, it is our family. And I think he will be most pleased with the little meat pies once his mama cuts them small for his mouth.” He nodded, moving around the table, lifting a platter of beetroot salad to me to taste. I dipped a cracker into the mash of sauerkraut, red beets, and white beans. It was tasty. Russians were big into the beets. So many of the foods Sacha loved and prepared had beets in them. His cooking was superb. He’d taken to the food preparation with a passion. He cooked and read, I played hockey when the pond was iced over and wrote small poems about dark things. We’d both discovered new things that helped us deal with the disquieting pasts we’d left behind.
“The herring is also with beets,” he pointed out. I nodded and came around the table to dip another cracker into a white crock of black caviar. Then I fed it to my love. “Oh yes, this is sinful. The eggs are large and salty, beautifully black and seductive on the tongue.”
“Ah, so it reminds you of me, eh?” I teased, sliding into his embrace as he chewed and swallowed his treat. “We have some time before they arrive, yes? Why do we not go back to bed and watch the birds come to the feeder? They are singing a song of sadness for they miss your face in the morning when they arrive.”
“You’re a foolish romantic did you know that?”
“Yes, deep in my chest beats the heart of a man lost to the notion of falling in love,” I said as I slipped around him, taking his hand in mine, pulling him gently from the food. “Pascal and Marie will not be here until noon. That leaves us much time to cuddle and kiss.”
“I must put the food away. Why don’t you help? This way we will get back to our bed that much faster.”
We hustled around, stashing the platters and containers into the refrigerator. I raced up the steep stairs, Sacha on my heels. When I lunged for the bed, he caught me in his arms and spun me from the wide, firm mattress to the glass doors. The birds all took to wing. He held me from behind, his nose resting on the nape of my neck, his arms like steel bands around my middle.
“Tell me, are you safe here in my arms?”
“Yes, I am safe here.” He sighed. “Tell me, are you happy here in my life?”
“Yes, I am happy here in your life.” He pressed a kiss to my neck. “Do you wish to be anywhere else?”
“Non, not ever.” That was, of course, a small white lie. I missed hockey greatly. It had become so sad for me that I stopped watching it on television for it took me back to those nights and the blood. Now, I played only with the local children. It was enough. Most of the time.
“I know you miss it. I am so sorry I stole that dream from you.” His words were warm on my back. I shook my head and wiggled around in his embrace to face him.
“Dreams change. When I was five I dreamed of being a fireman with a big hose. Do not let your mind go there,” I joked and he smiled, a little. “When I was ten I dreamed of being a goalie. Now I dream of waking every morning and seeing you beside me in bed. When I am sixty I will dream of something else.”
“But never someone else?”
“Oh non, never someone else.”
“My dreams are only of you, every night, only of you.” He kissed me softly, the salty cracker and the salmon-flavor of the caviar still on his tongue.
“And what of the days? What do you dream of when you are making cakes and quiches?” I pulled free and went to the bed, pulling my top off and dropping it to the floor.
“You, only ever you. And scallions, of course.”
I laughed aloud. He did love his scallions. And he loved me, of that I was now sure. After all, I had his gold band on my left hand to remind me of his commitment when an odd fear slithered to the surface.
“Come to bed, Sacha, love me as you do your scallions.”
“Tossed with sesame seeds, gochujang, soy sauce, and served over butternut squash?” He flung his pants to the far corner of the low-ceilinged room. “Think of the bedding.”
“I am thinking of the bedding. Now, come bed me.” He cocked an eyebrow. “Come bed me please, sir.”
We barely had the food out in time to welcome Pascal, Marie, and my sweet nephew in for our new year/new lives celebration. The first of many I planned to share with him here in our tiny home beside the pond.
This really is THE END