Olivia craned her neck impatiently, looking over the heads of the passengers who were just coming out the door, dragging their bags and suitcases, seeming disoriented and scanning for the familiar faces in the crowd. Most of the people who were pouring through the gates looked tired and bored… Almost all of them were tall, blonde, pale-faced and business-like. It was easy to spot Lucas in such a uniform crowd. He was medium height, slightly tanned, with dark hair and thin moustache. He appeared laidback and aloof, flashing a seductive smile, while the other Germans gave the impression that they had the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Lucas's father was German himself, but his mother Lily was from Boston and he inherited her charm and good looks. They were shamelessly rich, they always have been. His father, Axel Vogel, owned a huge overseas company and he made a lot of money. He was also quite influential in Frankfurt as he made business deals with all sorts of important people. Lucas had felt overshadowed by him at all times, and that was something Olivia and he used to talk about quite frequently. That was one of the reasons he went for the military uniform in the first place, to taste the independence and freedom, to separate a bit from his family. However, after they broke up, Lucas actually moved to Frankfurt and started working precisely in one of the branches of his father's company. And he was good at what he did. So he had probably come to terms with the fact that he could collaborate with his father and still be a successful, prominent businessman. And that fact alone, along with his useful connections, was the reason Lucas was able to arrange her meeting with David Robert Jones in prison.
She waved to him timidly and Lucas quickly strode over to her, smiling broadly. He placed his luggage on the floor and embraced her warmly, holding her in his arms for almost an entire minute and Olivia felt slightly uncomfortable. She wasn't used to such a close physical contact, and the only people she would hug were her niece and her own sister. Olivia hadn't embraced Lucas for a long time so she behaved kind of reserved. Lucas, sure enough, felt her unease and he unwrapped his arms, while a flirtatious grin hadn't abandoned his lips.
Olivia looked at his warm dark-brown eyes and felt secure, as if she were on a safe, familiar territory. Then he leaned forward to kiss her fully on the lips but Olivia tilted her head a little so his mouth brushed her cheek instead; he was tickling her with his mustache and she giggled.
Lucas immediately understood she wanted this to go slowly and he accepted that, so he didn't insist on a kiss again.
She never felt like that with Peter, Olivia thought, so comfortable, so relaxed. Even simply talking to younger Bishop was like sailing through the uncharted waters, while all sorts of unimaginable, provoking monsters lurked behind those stormy blue eyes.
-Meine liebe Dame. Wie geht es Ihnen?
-Um… Mir geht es gut… Ich bin großer… Or something like that?-Olivia chuckled gleefully.
-Glad to see your German hasn't gotten rusty after all this time.
-I'm just kidding, Lucas. You know it hasn't. You heard me talking to that prison warden couple of months ago. Shall we? I have my car parked right outside. In which motel are you staying?
-I booked a suite at Liberty Hotel.
Her jaw dropped. That was one of the best five star hotels in Boston.
-For three weeks? That must've cost a fortune. You should've called me, I would've found you something almost as nice but much more affordable.
-Oh, come on, Olive. I like my comfort. You know money was never a problem for me…
-I do. But I don't see the point of wasting it, either-she replied firmly and he burst out laughing.
-Same old Olive. Nothing ever changes with you, does it?
She shook her head gently, amused, and he followed her outside the airport building.
Olivia turned on the heat in the car and Lucas started browsing through the radio stations.
-Some music while we are on the road?
A romantic ballad sounded in the car.
Say you, say me… Say it together… Naturally…
-Lionel Ritchie. He's one of your favorite singers.
-You remember that?
-Of course I do. Olivia, we spent five years together. I remember everything about you. Your favorite food, your favorite movies, colors, books, music, clothes… Places you loved to go to.
-I know we used to be very close-she bit her lower lip and Lucas noticed it. –But it was such a long time ago. I thought you've already forgotten. That… That you were seeing someone else.
-Well, I wasn't seeing anyone else. You were the only one I could think about since I… Since I did what I did. I had a couple of short relationships after that, after… us. It was never quite the same as with you and I would always end up leaving them. I matured a lot. I learnt what really is important in life. And one more thing, Olive… -his gaze drifted to her teeth that persistently harassed her lower lip. -There's no need to be nervous, Olive. We're taking this slowly. Step by step. Just being in your company… Is enough for me. It's more than I could've hoped for.
He placed his warm hand on her thigh and that somehow calmed her down. If she was the same old Olive, he was the same old Luke, maybe a bit more wary, a tad more patient, but comfortable like old house slippers that would soothe your callous feet, or like a comfy sweatshirt she'd always worn since she was a teenager and in which she used to watch the movies with Rach on her living room sofa while they pigged on the popcorn. She couldn't go wrong with Lucas Vogel.
-So you wanna come up?
-I was thinking you were going to get some rest. After all, it was a long flight.
-Actually, to tell you the truth, I slept through it like a baby. I'm not tired at all. How about I take you to dinner?
-What, now? It's nine p.m.
-Are you working on a case? Do you need to get back to your office?
-Nope. No new cases this weekend.
-Glad to hear it. You know, I could get ready in thirty minutes. Just let me unpack my bag, take a quick shower and we're good to go.
-Right. I forgot how fast and methodical you are.
-That's just one more thing on the list we have in common, Olive-he gave her a sincere smile.
Lucas was right. His punctuality and reliability were what Olivia liked about him. While they were living on the Northwestern campus as students, his dorm was so orderly that his roommate teased him he was like a girl. Their clothes were always neatly folded in the closet of the apartment they had rented, carefully distributed by matching color. She remembered how both of them would enjoy waking up early, at six o clock, like soldiers getting ready for the drill and watching the sunrise…
- You've gotta be kidding me. What time is it?-Peter's sleepy, shirtless form appeared on his and Walter's hotel room door. His hair was a mess and his eyelids were half-shut.
-It's four a.m.-Olivia said impatiently.
-Oh, God…-he moaned.
-Your phone was off the hook.
-That's because I didn't wanna get woken up.
-You need to get your father. There's something we have to see.
-And that something…
-It can't wait.
-Ok. Walter? Where are you? Oh, come on! Don't tell me you're in the closet again!
-Are you OK?-Lucas asked her with a confused smile, seeing that her mind had wandered off.
Olivia lost the track of her thoughts and nodded hastily.
-I'm good-she shrugged. –So this is it. We're here.
Boston Liberty Hotel was certainly an impressive building. Olivia had never been there herself but she knew a lot about it. It was one of the tallest edifices in that particular part of the town and some of the rooms' walls were made of impenetrable glass in a way that practically, an entire wall was a window. The view from up there must be amazing, she thought.
-So I was doing some researching while booking online. The special suite I reserved for three weeks looks over Charles River and Beacon Hill rooftops, the Esplanade and the Back Bay skyline.
-Hey, I was just thinking the view must be great.
-It seems I can read your thoughts-he smiled seductively and she grinned back. –Listen to this, I brought the prospect with me:
"Each suite has a master bedroom with king bed, one and a half bathrooms as well as a separate living and dining area. The Liberty's 2,200-square-foot luxury Deluxe Ebersol Suite features wrap-around views of the city through floor-to-ceiling windows. The master bedroom, spacious living room, dining room with butler pantry, library, and master bathroom with a dressing room celebrate luxury in these Boston accommodations with contemporary furnishings and art work. Its 305-square-foot open air terrace affords a panoramic scene of the Charles River, Cambridge and the city of Boston."
-Butler pantry? The library? That just seems like an unnecessary luxury.
-You never know when these things might come in handy.
Olivia blushed, knowing exactly what he meant. During one of their romantic escapades in her last year of high school, they snuck into the library and made love, secluded in one of the corners between two old bookshelves filled with ancient yellow newspapers and documents no one really wanted to check out. It was the thrill of doing it and being in danger of getting caught. Luckily, no one found them there.
-I like the idea of the huge open air terrace-she said after a while. -It sounds nice.
-Come up and see. I won't be long.
-Um… Where were you planning to take me tonight?
-I got that covered too.
-You organized all this in advance?
-Try not to sound so surprised-Lucas smiled proudly. –I have also printed the information about the restaurant… Just give me a moment. Here it is… It was in my suitcase.
Olivia took out her glasses from the bag and started reading out loud, amused:
"L'Espalier… In the heart of fashionable Back Bay. Sophisticated and modern New England-French cuisine, with an emphasis on artisanal and New England ingredients. Three course Prix Fixe Menu, Seven course Degustation Tasting Menu, Seven course Degustation Vegetable Menu, Chef's Tasting Menu. Dress Code: Jacket and tie most comfortable, but not required. Valet parking available at both lunch and dinner for a fee…" Luke… Why?
-I wanted our reunion to be special and perfect…
-You really didn't have to do this. Besides, I'm not really sure I am dressed properly for this occasion. I'm wearing a skirt and a pullover, for crying out loud-Olivia hid her face in her hands, giggling. Lucas was really making her feel like a teenager again. Leave it to him to surprise me.
-You are going to be the most beautiful woman at the restaurant, Olivia-Lucas's appreciative gaze caressed her body. –You look even better than the last time I saw you.
-Don't be such a prude, Peter! Turn around and tell agent Dunham she looks lovely tonight.
-You look lovely tonight, Agent Dunham.
-Thank you-she replied with a simple nod to Lucas's compliment.
-Always so modest. If you had wanted to, you could've been a top model or a great actress, Olive. But I guess saving the world has always been your true vocation. I admire you so much. I apologize for even thinking you would be happier doing something else.
-Let's not talk about that right now. Are we going up? I want to see the terrace already-she clapped her hands impatiently like the little girl.
Lucas came out of the car and then went over to her side and opened the door for her.
Once in the room, Olivia shook her head several times incredulously.
-This suite is approximately five times bigger than my apartment.
She turned around to look at Lucas and a small smile danced around her lips when she saw him folding his clothes and carefully putting them in the closet. He took out a big black towel, boxers, a clean white shirt, a pair of socks, black pants and a tie and placed them on the huge double bed. Then he stepped out of his shoes and removed his shirt. His strong, chiseled torso and well buffed muscles were slightly tanned and Olivia caught herself staring at him. Lucas saw her gaze in the mirror and winked at her. Her cheeks reddened guiltily.
-Do you want to join me in the bathtub? I am just joking-Lucas added quickly, seeing her surprised reaction and went immediately into the bathroom. Olivia could hear him say from the other end of the suite: -Help yourself with anything you want to and explore a little bit. I promise I'll be out in a minute.
She pulled a tiny wooden comb from her bag and nervously passed with it through her straight silky hair several times to calm down. Her eyes looked wide and frightened in the mirror reflection. What are you frightened of, Olivia? –she upbraided herself. Everything is absolutely perfect. She came out on the huge roof terrace and gasped. The view of Boston in the night was simply breathtaking. It was beautifully illuminated and she leaned forward to look down onto the street. People were crawling along the pavement like chattering multicolored ants, and cars looked like mere toys… Across the river, she could discern a familiar tall white building. A hospital where Peter was taken after the accident, Olivia thought. How is he feeling? Oh, why am I worried about Peter Bishop? He's like a cat with nine lives which always lands on its feet. He's probably just fine. Broyles told me that he has made a speedy recovery. He should be out and about in two weeks. Knowing him, he'll doubtlessly check himself out even sooner, without telling anyone and simply leave in an unknown direction. Not that I care.
Peter was standing at the hospital window, staring in the night. He felt so lonely. Funny thing is Bishop, previously, when you had no company, there was no reason to be lonely. Just you, yourself and the sky. Anywhere I roam… Where I lay my head is home… Having people in life apparently brings unwanted complications. Especially when you get used to them being around and when they are suddenly not around anymore. How did I live before? Before Astrid, before Walter? Before… Her. Heck, I don't even remember.
He looked over to the Charles River. Liberty Hotel was blinding him with its numerous dazzling lights. Now, those people have style. And cash. Anyone who can spend a night there gets great grub. Not like us mere mortals.
Peter's eyes sadly glanced at the untouched tray of plastic hospital food, as he liked to call it in his mind. An overdone beef steak and a couple of yellow dried salad leaves… Life isn't fair, I guess. Mother to someone, stepmother to others. Well, I hope that Olivia is eating something nice at home, with Rach and Ella and not sitting on that horrid wooden chair in the lab office, ignoring her rumbling stomach.
Peter sighed, imagining Olivia in her apartment, with her sister and her niece, playing some silly game like "Simon Says" and sharing a nice, warm homemade meal. Wish I were there.
He heard footsteps in the hallway and hurried to return to bed before he was found out but it was too late. The redheaded nurse saw him standing by the window and she looked at him reproachfully.
Peter flashed his most innocent boyish grin from the Bishop golden collection.
-Um… Hi. Maya, right?
She nodded with a small smile but her gaze didn't become any softer.
-I was just… Stretching my legs for a bit. No harm done. You see? And now I'm back to bed, like a good patient that I am-he grinned crookedly. –There is no need to be alarmed.
-Mr. Bishop, you shouldn't leave your bed under any circumstances. You are too weak and you should move only under authorized surveillance of the medical staff.
-Which means you, am I correct? So I am moving right about now… And… Under your surveillance. You see how easy it is to find a hole in the law.
Maya shook her finger at him but in the end she smiled.
-I've been a bad boy. I know… And I deserve to be punished.
She licked her lips unaware that she was doing it and Peter suddenly realized that the words he'd just jokingly said might have had an ambiguous meaning. Me and my big mouth.
-But…-he quickly changed the course of action-There is no greater punishment than the one I am already enduring.
-What might that be?-Maya inquired mirthfully.
Peter motioned towards the intact food tray and looked at her with pleading eyes.
-I could really go for a pizza.
She cocked her head and simply said:
-I'll see what I can do.
No more than fifteen minutes later, she returned with a hot Margarita and even though his favorite was Four Cheese pizza, Peter didn't complain. He started devouring the warm food right in front of her very eyes and she simply stood there and watched him, amused.
-Oh, God… This is so good-he spoke with his mouth full of ham. –I owe you one.
-You most certainly do. Good night, Mr. Bishop-she leaned over to him, whispering in his ear and then she left.
-Good night-Peter replied absentmindedly, focused on his plate.
The restaurant was brightly lit and many couples were sitting together at the tables, talking in soft, hushed voices and holding hands. An elderly man was playing the piano. Olivia was moving her fork aimlessly around the plate. She wasn't hungry at all.
-The food is exquisite, Olive. Aren't you having any?-Lucas lifted his head off the plate worriedly, looking puzzled.
-I… I normally don't eat supper… -she murmured, but she took a bite in order not to offend him.
-Let me guess… You don't have breakfast either. Just a hot cup of coffee. Black, one sugar.
-And here I was thinking I was the only one with photographic memory.
-Tell me, how's good old Rachel?-Lucas suddenly remembered. -Does she still hate me?
Olivia burst out laughing at his directness.
-I don't think you really wanna know the answer to that question.
-That bad, huh?
-Where is she? Did she marry Greg? I know they were together for a long time.
-Yes, she did, but…-she shrugged nervously.
-Say no more.
-She and my niece Ella are at my place, actually.
-Am I allowed to come and say hi?
-Sure. Why not?
-So how about tomorrow at lunchtime?
-Sounds great. It's Sunday, we'll all be there.
-I hope I'll convince her I am back for good and that I am not planning on hurting you again. She has every right to be wary of me. -he said.
Then Lucas motioned towards the waiter and whispered something in his ear. The man nodded and went over to the pianist. The pianist then stood up, slowly bowed to the audience and announced:
-The following two pieces I am going to play are for a special green-eyed lady who is among us tonight, called Olivia. They are: Coldplay "Green Eyes" (piano cover) and an excerpt from the Bach's 3rd Brandenburg concerto.
Everyone in the restaurant looked straight at her, women shooting envious glances and men glaring approvingly. Olivia beamed at Lucas, not believing her ears.
-Luke…-she didn't know what to say.
-You don't have to say anything, Olive. This is just a minuscule part of what I think you deserve.
He took her hand in both of his, looking at her eyes meaningfully but she looked at her plate instead and Lucas stopped insisting. He sipped his champagne and said:
-The lyrics of this song express exactly how I feel tonight, Olive. How I've always felt about you.
Honey you are a rock, upon which I stand, and I come here to talk, I hope you understand, That green eyes, yeah the spotlight, shines upon you, and how could anybody deny you, I came here with a load, and it feels so much lighter; Now I met you, and honey you should know, that I could never go on without you… Green eyes… Honey you are the sea, upon which I float…
When the song ended, everyone applauded and Olivia whispered, moved:
-I am touched, really, Luke… I… This is so unexpected…
-And now… Your old time favorite, Bach…-he smiled knowingly.
While the familiar notes of the 3rd Brandenburg concerto filled the dining salon, Olivia closed her eyes, enjoying the soothing melody… And just then, out of nowhere, another melody crept up her mind and her heart throbbed a little.
-Dunham. Any requests?
-How about some Bach?
-Bach? That's way too stuffy. What you need is some jazz.
-Well I'll take what I can get.
"There's a saying old says that love is blind
Still we're often told, "Seek and ye shall find"
So I'm going to seek a certain lad I've had in mind
Looking everywhere, haven't found him yet
He's the big affair I cannot forget
Only man I ever think of with regret
I'd like to add his initial to my monogram
Tell me, where is the shepherd for this lost lamb?
There's a somebody I'm longing to see
I hope that he turns out to be
Someone who'll watch over me
I'm a little lamb who's lost in the wood
I know I could always be good
Someone who'll watch over me
Although he may not be the man some
girls think of as handsome
To my heart he carries the key
Won't you tell him please to put on some speed
Follow my lead, oh, how I need
Someone to watch over me"
Olivia opened her eyes abruptly and declared apologetically:
-Luke… I… I am very grateful to you for this evening… For everything… Especially for your coming to Boston. But now I am so tired and I would really like some time to myself. Can we please go?
-Of course-Lucas stood up instantly, paying for the dinner, and giving a generous tip to the waiter. After that he opened the door for her and they came out together into the chilly night. She drove him to the Liberty Hotel in silence. Then, when they arrived at the front door, he awkwardly pecked her cheek and got out of the car. Olivia felt so bad. The things he did for me tonight… And the way I behaved…
She got out of the car and Lucas stopped, surprised.
-So I'll see you tomorrow?
-Yes. Will you come and pick me up at the hotel?
-Of course. During your stay here, I am your personal chauffeur-Olivia joked. She took his warm hands in his and leaned forward, gently and briefly touching his lips with her own. Lucas closed his eyes, enjoying the moment, and then he pulled her closer in a warm embrace.
-Until tomorrow, then…
-Until tomorrow-she confirmed.
When Olivia entered the apartment around half past eleven, Rachel and Ella were sitting on a sofa, embraced, watching the adventures of Pluto and Mickey Mouse.
-Now these are good cartoons, honey! Mommy and Aunt Liv used to watch them all the time when they were little… Not the today's so called Pokemons and Digimons, and what not… -she stopped explaining upon seeing her sister. -Olive! You're finally here. So the Frankfurt flight was supposed to land at six thirty p.m., and here you are, coming home at midnight… Is there something I should know of?
-We went out for dinner, that's all.
-A five hour dinner?
-Something like that.
Rachel could see her sarcasm irritated Olivia and that wasn't her goal at all. She needed to hear more juicy information, so she altered her tone of voice, giving it a more curious spark.
-So where is he staying?
-He's over at Liberty Hotel.
-At THE Liberty Hotel? And you're saying it so casually! Oh my God! Is he staying there for all three weeks?
-The guy is loaded. Filthy stinking rich. Full of cash. I would've told you "nice catch" if I hadn't known it's Lucas Vogel.
Olivia looked at her reprovingly.
-You know, he asked how you were doing.
-Like he cares. The only thing that guy wants is to get into your pants.
-OK, that's enough, Rach, I won't allow you to offend him. He's coming here tomorrow to have lunch with us, and I hope you won't be telling stuff like this in front of him.
-Don't worry, I won't. Because I most certainly won't be there.
-Rach…-Olivia stared pleadingly at her sister.
-Oh, fine. Say no more… I'll be on my best behavior. And so will Ella. I understand how much this means to you. I just don't understand why.
-So what were you two girls doing?-Olivia inquired, changing the subject and hugging her sleepy niece.
-Mommy and I were watching cartoons-Ella whispered, accommodating on Olivia's lap. –Aunt Liv… Who is coming to lunch tomorrow?
-It's Aunt Liv's boyfriend, sweetie-Rachel replied.
-Aunt Liv, you have a boyfriend?
-Yes, honey. Why?
-Because when uncle Peter was telling me a bedtime story he said you didn't have a boyfriend and that you a were beautiful and sad princess who lived in a castle on top of the cold mountain.
Olivia cleared her throat uncomfortably.
-Aunt Liv… Is your boyfriend a handsome prince from a faraway land?
-Yes, yes he is, Ella-Olivia chortled.
-Oh, then you will kiss and have a lots of babies!-Ella embraced Olivia placing her head on her aunt's stomach. -Aunt Liv! Your stomach is sounding so weird…
-That's because Aunt Liv is probably hungry and she actually didn't have any dinner… As usual. Poor man. He paid for the food and you most likely didn't have a bite… Oh wait. It's Lucas. He's not poor at all. In neither sense, literal or figurative.
-Well I admit I am a bit peckish-Olivia smiled at her two favorite persons in the world. –Did you cook anything tonight?
-No, actually, since I knew you weren't coming, I ordered in a pizza from Damiano's. I had a couple of glasses of wine and Ella drank some apple juice… There's still some pizza left in the kitchen if you want it… We saved you three slices, I think…
-Since when do you order in from Damiano's?
-Oh, I've never heard of them before, but Pete told me to check them out… He said they were good and he wasn't wrong… He also told me that's what you'd all normally eat in the office when you had to stay at work at night…
-Apparently, he forgot to mention how much I dislike their food-Olivia chuckled, entertained. –Especially pizza. Ugh. It has that strong taste that it doesn't appeal to me at all. I would eventually eat it just to keep them company while we were working… And Peter would just goof around, eat everything within his reach and… Well… Be no help at all-Olivia chattered away, with a wide smile that made her face shine like a beacon.
Rachel looked at her sister knowingly. She's so in love with Peter… And so oblivious to that particular fact… Well, I won't be the one to open her eyes for her… She would accuse me of God knows what… I'm not meddling in their business anymore… I just hope she'll figure it out herself on time.
-I think I am so hungry that I might even try some of that god awful Damiano's pizza. Which one did you get?
-Um… Four Cheese…. Ella likes that one.
-That's Peter's favorite too-for some reason, Olivia's voice sounded melancholic. –So… I'll just swing by the kitchen and eat a slice there… -she excused herself and hurried out from the living room.
Once in the kitchen, she sat on a small wooden chair and took a bite of Four Cheese. To Olivia, it tasted better than any exquisite dish she tried in the French restaurant that night and a single tear slid down her cheek. Olivia furiously brushed it off, knowing what that meant, and then she determinedly threw the half-eaten slice into the trash.
When Olivia woke up and glanced at her bedside table, she saw it was already midday. She jumped out of bed, ashamed of herself, hearing how Rachel was clattering with the dishes in the kitchen. Olivia couldn't resist and she peeked through the door to see what her little sister was doing.
-Hey! You slept a bit longer today than usual… I didn't wanna wake you up, I supposed you were tired.
-I know, I'm sorry. Force of habit. We normally don't have cases on Sundays so I always oversleep somehow. Do you need help with anything?-she added quickly, grabbing the nearest onion and the knife.
-Nope, I'm all done! And don't you dare touch that onion, your hands will smell bad afterwards. You wouldn't be much help at all… You know you're a lousy cook. Ella and I have been very hardworking this morning, we went out to the supermarket and bought all the ingredients we needed for today's lunch and dessert. I'm making bacon and mushroom pesto pasta… Keeping it simple… I hope Lucas is fond of brownies…I got some vine and champagne, too… I remember he liked it…-Rachel babbled away worriedly while she was supervising her pesto sauce and the baking temperature of the brownies that were already in the oven. Olivia suddenly hugged her tight from the back and whispered:
-Thank you so much.
-What are the sisters for?-Rachel winked. –You're absolutely welcome. Now go get ready and bring your German boy over here. I solemnly promise I won't poison him. Neither with my words nor with my pasta. I can't guarantee anything for the brownies, though…
Olivia went to her room to get dressed. She chose a simple blue blouse, accompanied with a dark blue sweater, tight clad jeans and her favorite black shoes. After doing some thinking, she also put on a pair of pearl earrings. Peter would laugh so much if he saw me right now-the idea came out of nowhere. "Special Agent Olivia Dunham is wearing earrings; I never thought I'd see the day". That's what he would say. What would he think of Lucas being here? Would it… Would it bother him?-Olivia pondered on that hypothesis shyly only to abandon it quickly, shaking her head.
The door bell rang and Rachel and Olivia looked at each other, surprised.
Olivia went to open up. Lucas stood at her doorstep, wearing black pants and a beige T-shirt and beaming openly.
-How… How did you know where I live?
-That's a secret I am entitled to keep-he replied enigmatically, kissing her cheek. –I didn't want you to drive around town only to bring me here, so I came by bus. Felt nice for a change. Haven't ridden the Boston bus for ages. People looked at me like I was crazy because all of the stuff I was carrying. Some presents for you, for Rachel, and for your niece.
-Luke, you really shouldn't have…
-Hi… -Rachel appeared at the door, wiping her hands on an apron. –Long time no seen.
-Hello, Rachel… Still hating me?
-You said it, not me…-she smiled a little. –However, I have to say that you look great… You haven't changed a bit… Years have been kind to you.
-Well that's good to hear. The same goes for you without saying.
-Always the flatterer.
-You know me.
-Come on in-Olivia smiled. –So…-she asked playfully... –Where are those presents?
-The roses are for you.
There was an enormous, beautiful bouquet of one hundred red roses on the right side of the door. Olivia clasped her mouth with her hand.
Ella came running to the door.
-Mommy, mommy, is that Prince Lucas? Can I see him?
-Well, hello, little lady. Are you Ella?
-Yes-she said shyly, looking at the ground.
-Now how would you like to receive a nice present, Ella?
Little girl's eyes lit up.
-Prince Lucas, my birthday was on Monday!
-Why am I a prince, Ella?
-Because you come from Grmny and it's a kingdom far-far-away.
Lucas laughed out loud in earnest.
-I like her already. I am sorry Ella, but I couldn't be here on Monday, so I brought you the presents today. Is that okay with you?
-So I got you a beautiful doll and a special pink dress just for the princesses!
-Lucas, why did you spend so much money on that, it wasn't necessary at all…-said Rachel.
-It's the first time I'm in Olive's apartment and I really wanted all of you to remember this special occasion. Money is not the problem, Rachel.
-Uncle Peter says that girls have to be pretty and smart… So I am going to wear a pink dress from Prince Lucas and play the science game I got from Uncle Peter! But the dress is my favoritest!
-Who is uncle Peter?-Lucas asked, smiling.
-Um…-Olivia was confused for a moment. –He is a colleague of mine.
-The guy who called you when you were in Frankfurt to tell you how the case was progressing over here in Boston?
-Yeah-Olivia replied briefly and casually.
-Hey! Don't I get the present?-Rachel pouted her lips, saving the day.
-As far as I remember you were really into cooking. So, I have brought you this year's Jamie Oliver's cook book edition-with 50 new recipes, expanded and with more detailed instructions.
-Oh my God! I could kiss you right now! I had one from 2006…. I really wanted to get my hands on 2009 one!
-And do I smell pesto and brownies in the kitchen? Since I have had lot of free time lately, I have become a pretty good cook myself. If you allow me, I'll show you some great tricks related to the art of brownie baking and making of the pesto sauce.
-Lead the way-Rachel agreed with a smile.
While the lunch was being prepared, Olivia absently took the roses and placed them in her room. Everything was perfect, so… Why was she so indifferent? Lucas was warm, sweet, charming… Even Rachel seemed impressed and Ella loved him immediately. However, to Olivia… He was still like a dear old friend from the past, a person she wanted to see, to spend time with, but… Last night, when their lips touched, she felt nothing, absolutely nothing at all and that was worrying her. She precisely called him because she remembered the explosive kind of chemistry they used to share, and the way her body reacted to his touch. But it wasn't there now, it wasn't there! She was so frustrated.
When they ate, she almost instantly excused herself, telling them that she had another migraine coming on and that she needed to lie down, previously promising Lucas she would meet him on Wednesday evening. He gave her all the space that she needed, and he didn't say a word of protest.
After he left, Olivia felt the door to her bedroom open and her sister came in. Rachel sat next to her on the bed and caressed her hair.
She raised her head tiredly from the pillow.
-Please don't start with Lucas.
-I wasn't going to say anything negative about him, actually. Lucas Vogel is perfect. He is loaded with cash. He is as hot as he was, or maybe even hotter, I mean, did you check out those abs? And although it pains me to admit it, I was wrong about his personality. And I am not saying this because of a Jamie Oliver cook book because my affection can't be bought with such a petty and trivial object, no matter how much I might like cooking. I am saying this because it is obvious he has changed. He has matured, he has admitted his mistake and this time he wants it serious with you, Olive. If you say yes now, you're as good as married.
-I didn't expect that from you-Olivia smiled. –So you don't hate him anymore?
-No, I don't hate him-Rachel sighed. –Happy now?
-I was, however, going to say something I noticed about you.
-What about me?
-I don't know, Olive. During lunch time… You seemed so absent, so absorbed in your own world… Lucas was dedicating all of his attention to you, and you were kind enough to him but it just didn't look like like you were there, you know? You were totally disconnected. You don't seem equally attracted to him as he is to you. No chemistry. Zilch. There, I said it. You can shoot me.
-I…-Olivia sighed. –You're right. It's still not there.
-What do you mean it's still not there?
-I love the way he is with me, his looks and his personality but I somehow don't want him… Still. I am going to intensify our meetings, see him more often; you know what I mean….
-Olive… I am going to tell you this just once. This is how it normally works… First there is chemistry and then you get to know the person better and the chemistry might become love… Or it might not. But chemistry is always there. From the very beginning. You can't just force it to appear later on. And if it's not here now… Then when will it be?
Rachel left Olivia's bedroom with these words on her lips, leaving her sister to wonder what to do.
Peter woke up early on Wednesday morning, humming a tune. When Maya entered the convalescence room, she was pleasantly surprised.
-You're in a good mood today, Mr. Bishop.
-Yeah, I know. I even ate my entire breakfast. You should write that down somewhere. Things like that don't happen very often.
-May I inquire as to the occasion?
-Today someone will finally come to visit me.
-The blonde woman with her daughter? Is she… Your wife?
-Nah. I'm not married. She's a friend. A very good friend, at that. She'll bring me a book.
His mobile rang and he jumped, unaccustomed to its sound.
-Sorry, I have to get this-he whispered to her apologetically and she left the room without question. -Bishop.
-This is Philip Broyles. How's it coming?-a deep voice rumbled in his ear.
-I'm doing fine.
-How much longer will you be staying in there, Bishop?
-This is my tenth day in the hospital, but the nurse told me I was recovering quite fast. I'm getting out in another ten days only.
-I was calling you to see what you had decided.
-Are you staying or are you leaving Fringe division? I need to know now. In case I need to replace you, I better start looking now.
Peter paused a little before answering, firmly.
-I am staying.
-For how long?-Broyles's voice was doubtful.
-For an undetermined amount of time.
-I am glad to hear it, Bishop. You've made a good choice.
-Only time will tell.
-Report for duty in ten days. There were no new cases since you and Dr. Bishop were injured but there might be some coming up soon and we need you and him on the field.
-Have a nice day.
Peter suddenly heard loud squealing behind him.
-Oh my God Pete! You're staying!-Rachel jumped on him, hugging him happily. –I knew you weren't going to leave. I am so happy I overheard the conversation you had with your boss on the phone!
-Rach!-he returned the embrace. –Glad to finally see you after ten days!
-I'm sorry… I really couldn't come at weekend.
-That's alright. No sweat.
-By the way, here's your book, An End to Innocence!
-Thanks, I really appreciate it. Now I at least can read something in this boring godforsaken place.
-So how come you're staying? Why did you decide this? When? I wanna know all about it!
-I had a long conversation with my father and I understood he would be mentally incapable of processing the reasons for my departure. I really can't put him through this. That's not the only reason. I also thought about my mother…. When the incident in the lab happened…-he swallowed. When Walter got himself locked up into a mental institution…. Our family was destroyed. I perceived that as abandonment. I thought he abandoned us, I believed that he betrayed us. My mother used to say this to me every night before I went to bed: Να είσαι καλύτερος άνθρωπος από τον πατέρα σου. In Greek, it means: Be a better man than your father. Keep your people close. Protect the ones you love… And I was good at that. Up till now-Peter bit his tongue when Rachel's eyes widened in understanding. –But I intend to keep it like that. Whatever bad things life might hurl our way, I want always to be there for my newfound family so that we can fight them together. And that's the whole truth.
-I knew that in the end, you would make the right choice.
-Where's Ella? I missed that little pipsqueak!
-I left her with the nurses for a while.
Peter gave her a quizzical look.
-Pete… I need to talk to you about something.
-Do you know who… um… who Lucas is?
-Of course. George Lucas, the director of Star Wars! Who doesn't-he grinned boyishly. Seeing how Rachel didn't react to his joke, he continued to talk. –Ok… It's not him… Is this some sort of quiz? Because you are really making it very hard for me to guess, I swear… Let's see… Lucas, Lucas… Lukáš Rosol!
-Who's that?-Rachel had to laugh at his imagination.
-That's a Czech professional tennis player. What? Wrong again? Oh, I give up. It must be a renowned chef of the Italian cuisine I know nothing about. Is he an author of a cook book you've recently read?
Ella burst into the room precisely at that moment, laughing and shouting Peter's name.
-Uncle Peter!-she ran into his arms and tousled his hair.
-Hi, sweetie! Don't you look lovely today? Did Mommy buy you that pretty pink dress? Did you put it on especially for me?
-Yes uncle Peter, I wanted to put it on specially for you! Prince Lucas gave it to me as a birthday present!
-Did he really?-he winked at Rachel, not noticing the terrified look on her face. –Now I know who Lucas is. Mystery solved. He's a neighbor from the ground floor, isn't he?
-No!-Ella beamed widely. –Prince Lucas is Aunt Liv's boyfriend, and he comes from Grmny, which is a kingdom far-far-away! And he will kiss Aunt Liv just like in your story, and they will have lots of babies!