Something That You Said
A/N: This story is in response to the following challenge by Alleycat86: Takes place after Luke and Lorelai talk on the phone about their kiss. Luke never gets a phone call about Liz and TJ. Instead Luke goes over to Lorelai's house like originally planned. Luke and Lorelai are both nervous with the new development in their relationship. They know they want to give this is a shot, but they can't help but wonder how the transition from friends to something more will go. Can they overcome their fears and let this be a great thing or will the jitters get the best of them?
At the moment there are 3 chapters planned. I hope to post them fairly quickly.
Special thanks to Pink Hammerfor the brainstorming session that lead to the POV in this story.
As always, hugs and thank you's to the incredible Jewels12 who's excitement about this story was highly contagious. Thanks for yet another spectacular beta job.
The titles of the story and chapters are borrowed lyrics from the Bangles.
Chapter 1: Turned Me From The Inside Out
I couldn't think. The inn was too crowded and the bustle in the kitchen was too loud. Between that and Davey crying, I couldn't hear a thing that Luke was saying. I looked around frantically, trying to find a quiet place in the immediate vicinity. At that moment, nothing was more important to me than talking to Luke and clarifying what had happened last night and what it meant.
The only place I could think of was the closet in the hallway, so I wove my way through the throng of worker bees. I closed the door behind me before speaking into the cell phone that I held to my ear. "I'm good."
"I'm good, too." Luke's voice was calm and soothing. The jumble of emotions that I'd been feeling since talking to Sookie earlier were finally beginning to dissipate.
"Good!" I said brightly. I wanted to talk about last night but I wasn't sure how to start.
Luke finally broke the awkward silence, "So...you wanted to talk?"
I did, I just wasn't sure what to say. I took a deep breath and blurted, "Yeah. I just realized that, uh, you know, when I got back last night, I was, um, a little distracted." I slid to the floor, tucking my knees against my chest and groaned softly as I noticed Pau-Pau lying next to me, chewing on Taylor's missing shoe. I was so going to have to kill Michel...later.
"Hey, no big deal." I swear I could hear him shrugging.
"Uh, no, no, it really was a big deal. I just, um --" I just, what? How was I supposed to tell him what I was thinking when I could barely figure it out myself.
"Seriously, you don't need to --" I could hear the resignation in his voice. Oh, crap, he was probably thinking that I wasn't interested in him, that I was about the blow him off.
I knew we needed to talk about what happened last night and it didn't sound like Luke was going to bring it up, so I did it. I took the leap. "We kissed." Luke was silent for a long time and my brain started to whir. What if he regrets kissing me? Maybe he's not interested in me and he's about the blow me off. Mind reading really would have been a great skill to have at this moment. I had to know what he was thinking. "You and me, we kissed?"
"I remember." He sounded happy. Okay, so maybe he is interested in me after all. I felt a flutter stirring in my chest at the thought and tried to ignore it.
"And it was...unexpected." Unexpected? There's the understatement of the year. I mean, this wasn't the first time I'd felt drawn to Luke, but it had always been near touches, and almost kisses and distant glances. This was the first time anything real had ever happened and our whole relationship had shifted. I was still processing the enormity of it.
"Lorelai, relax. I'm fine if you want to just forget it ever happened, really." There was a note of uncertainty in his voice.
'Forget it ever happened?' What? Was he nuts? Why would I want to forget the best kiss I'd ever experienced in my life? And the fact that the kiss was with Luke, one of my best friends, and the one man I trusted more than anyone in the world, made the kiss even more memorable. I wasn't sure what it all meant to me yet, but forgetting about it was just not an option. "No, I don't want to forget it ever happened. It was a great kiss."
"Yeah?" The hope was back in his voice and it made me smile.
"If one of us had been a frog, it would have had some seriously impressive consequences." I closed my eyes and brushed my fingers over my lips, remembering the kiss and what it had felt like to have his lips grazing mine last night. His lips were softer than I had imagined they would be, and he'd kissed me with such passion it had taken my breath away. I could have kissed those lips all night. Damn Kirk and his night terrors.
My thoughts were interrupted by Luke's voice as he said, "Okay."
Now what? We kissed, and we obviously both liked it but what did it mean? Were we dating now? Were we still just friends? I was impatient to know what was on his mind. "So, what do you think?" I blurted.
Luke spoke softly, "I think I'm really relieved you feel that way." My heart was pounding in my chest. Was this actually happening?
"So you concur?" I was starting to feel giddy. Giddy and light headed.
"Dear God, yes." I couldn't seem to stop myself from grinning; he sounded so, so... Lukish.
"Good. So, then, I guess we'll discuss this later," I told him, silently adding, 'And maybe by then I'll be able to sort out this giant tangle of emotions I'm feeling right now,'
"Tonight?" Luke asked confidently.
So soon? Was I ready for this? I touched my lips again and smiled. "Tonight."
"Okay. Thanks for the call."
I wanted to laugh at his sudden businesslike tone, but instead I matched it. "Well, my pleasure." I heard a gentle click as Luke hung up and the dial tone buzzed in my ear for several seconds.
I closed my cell phone, feeling dazed and a little overwhelmed. I have a date... with Luke...tonight. The thought made me giddy and nauseous at the same time. Maybe I could drag Rory away and she could help me sort this out.
I heard a crash and a yelp coming from the dining room and I sighed. I'd have to find time to be pensive later. At the moment, duty called. I glanced down at the dog as I got up. "You better finish that whole thing, Pau-Pau."
Yup, Michel is going to get an earful from me today. I thought as I left the closet. I was looking forward to it.
It was almost lunch by the time I managed to get some time to myself. I pried Rory away from the clutches of Babette and Miss Patty and we slipped into my office, narrowly avoiding a confrontation with Michel who was still sulking from the lecture I'd given him earlier.
Rory closed the door to the office and settled into my desk chair as I began to pace. My mind was moving at record breaking speed and I was anxious to calm the rabble.
"Mom, what is this all about?" Rory asked, giving me a curious look.
I stopped pacing. "I kissed Luke." I watched her, trying to gage her reaction.
Rory's eyes widened for a moment. "You kissed Luke?"
"Well, actually he kissed me first, and then I kissed him and then we were both doing the kissing, and then Kirk and the naked and the roses and the band-aids and the chaos happened."
"I hope Kirk is the only naked you're referring to."
I shuddered as the image of Kirk's naked form involuntarily filled my brain. "Honey, I hope for your sake you never have to see Kirk naked."
Rory covered her eyes. "I don't even want to imagine it. I just meant I hope that you and Luke remained fully clothed." She spread her fingers and peeked at me from between them. "And if you didn't I don't want to know about it."
I laughed. I couldn't help it. The half disgusted, half terrified expression on her face was priceless. "All we did was kiss, hon."
"Okay. Good." Rory moved her hand away from her face. "So what does this mean? Are you and Luke officially dating? Are you a couple? Is he your boyfriend now?"
I swear my heart stopped for a moment. I didn't know the answer to any of those questions. Heck, I didn't even know what I WANTED the answer to any of those questions to be. Was I ready for this? A relationship... with Luke? I slumped into the nearest chair. "I don't know."
"But you kissed. And yesterday you told me that you thought you were dating Luke. And now you don't know?"
I shook my head. "We haven't really had a chance to talk about it much. I mean, there's definitely an attraction there, but as for what it means... I honestly don't know."
"Okay, so what do you want it to mean?" Boy, my kid sure had a knack for asking the questions I couldn't answer.
"I'm not sure. I just broke up with Jason. And the ink from Luke's divorce to Nicole is barely dry. Neither of us is very good at this." My thoughts were getting clearer. I knew that talking to Rory would help.
"Good at what?" Rory asked me pointedly.
"Dating, coupley stuff, you know, relationships." I cringed at the truth ringing in those words. I really was a train wreck when it came to relationships. Christopher was a disaster from the start; he was always getting me into trouble. I'm sure that if I hadn't become pregnant, I probably wouldn't have seen him at all past high school. Not that I saw him much anyway. Max had been a great guy, but he didn't 'get' me, and I never really gave him a chance to. As for Jason, I wasn't even sure why I'd been with him in the first place. Well okay, I had to admit, part of the appeal of Jason had been the knowledge that my parents would be pissed about it. He was really only a passing ship in the night; another tool in the constant war between me and Mr. and Mrs. Uppity.
Rory's high-pitched, squeaky voice interrupted my self-flagellation. "But you've never dated anyone like Luke before. Maybe you'll be good at it," she suggested.
She might have had a point. I already spent more time with Luke than I did with any of the other men in my life. He was my closest friend, next to Sookie. But that was another concern. "Or maybe I'll destroy one of the best friendships I've got."
My daughter stood up and strode to the front of my desk, leaning against it as she folded her arms and looked at me sternly. "You know what I think?"
I tried to read her mind like I'd tried to read Luke's earlier, and again, crickets. Nuts. I sighed. "You've got your serious face on. What do you think?"
"I think you're scared. I think you like Luke, a lot, and have for a long time, but you wouldn't admit it, not even to yourself. I think a part of you has been waiting for this to happen, that you've unconsciously sabotaged your other relationships because the guys you were with weren't Luke. I think you know that he could make you happy and it terrifies you. You've known each other a long time, you love to banter with him and drive him crazy and he loves to bug you about your coffee and grease intake. And yes, you risk losing that if you take this further, but if you don't try, you risk losing out on what could be the best relationship of your life. Is that want you want?"
I felt my jaw drop. How was it not hitting the floor? Where had all of that come from? And damn, I hated the fact that she was right. I was scared, I liked Luke, but I was afraid to take the next step and possibly end up happy. How screwed up was that? "No. That's not what I want," I whispered at last.
Rory's face lit up. "You know what you need, Missy?" She grabbed a pen and a pad of paper on my desk and drew a line down the middle. "You need to make a pro/con list." She handed me the list. "Start writing."
"You really think it will help?" I asked as I accepted the list.
Rory looked at me, clearly aghast. "When did you lose faith in the pro/con list? It is a time honoured Gilmore girl decision making tool. The pro/con list is not to be taken lightly, my friend."
I sighed again. The pro/con list had never led us astray before. I was just worried about what it might reveal. "You're right. Hand me a pen."
"That's my girl," Rory said fondly.
I took the pen she offered and stared at the pad in front of me. I wrote pro on one side of the line and con on the other. I stared at the two columns and began to click the pen with my thumb as I thought about what to write.
Rory frowned at me and grabbed the list from my hand. Apparently I was being too slow, because she took another pen from my desk and began to write while she spoke aloud. "Pro: Luke is a great guy."
She eyed me expectantly and I groaned. "Con: If things don't work out I could lose a great friend."
Rory nodded and wrote it down. "Keep going."
This wasn't as hard as I'd thought it would be. I could do this. "Pro: He's an amazing kisser."
I giggled as Rory scrunched up her face. "Gross. I'm not writing that." She thrust the list at me and headed for the exit. "I think you should do the rest on your own, anyway. I'll leave you to your thoughts. Good luck, Mom."
"Thank you, hon. I'll see you later." I waved at her retreating form and wrote 'amazing kisser' in the pro column.
Over the next ten minutes or so, I slowly added to the list. When I was done, I stared at it, trying to absorb what it was telling me. Under cons I had five points: If things don't work out I could lose a great friend; he's recently divorced; I have a bad track record; I could get hurt, the town would go nuts – can I handle that? Can Luke? The pro column was longer: Luke is a great guy; he's an amazing kisser; he does so much for me; I can talk to him so easily; he makes me laugh/smile; I trust him; he 'gets' me; he made me a Chuppah; I was jealous when he married Nicole; he makes the best cheeseburgers in the universe; I'd never want for coffee; he loves my kid; he's handy (dirty!) – can fix things; great ass; he can WALTZ!!!!!
I found myself fixated on the cons as Rory's words played back to me in my head: I think a part of you has been waiting for this to happen, that you've unconsciously sabotaged your other relationships because the guys you were with weren't Luke. Was she right? Did I suck at relationships because I'd been waiting for Luke all these years? I rubbed my temples. I'd once accused Christopher of holding me back, of being the reason I couldn't seem to find a healthy relationship. Now I could see how very wrong I'd been. It had been Luke. It had always been Luke. In fact, I never would have dated Jason if Luke hadn't married Nicole. The hurt that I'd suppressed when he'd first told me about his sudden marriage bubbled to the surface. He'd broken my heart a little that day I realized. Sure, we'd both dated other people, but never once had either of us made it a permanent situation. Okay, well there had been my engagement to Max. But I hadn't followed through with it. And there again I could see Luke as the root of it all. The standoff he'd had with Max had been what led to our fight and Max's impromptu proposal. I thought of all the times I'd felt drawn to Luke. All the little moments between us that had slowly accumulated over the years, smouldering and morphing into our current situation.
I rubbed my eyes, glanced at the long list of pros and smiled. I knew what I wanted; screw the fear. I was in this thing. We'd both been waiting for the right moment for far too long and we'd be fools to let the opportunity pass us by. I brushed my fingers over the word 'kisser,' once again recalling our kiss from the night before. My imagination took over and I pictured him touching me, kissing me, making lo –
A sharp knock on the door made me jump, my flailing arms causing the list to flutter to the floor. The door swung open and I jumped again. What the hell was my mother doing here?
"Lorelai? I've been waiting for you. We were supposed to have lunch," she told me in that condescending tone of hers.
I frowned, confused. "But you left."
"So? What does my leaving have to do with having lunch with you and Rory? That hardly makes sense, Lorelai."
I exhaled loudly. "Right. Well, I guess we should eat."
"We should. I will get Rory and we'll meet you in the dining room." She marched out of my office while I bent down and scooped up the pro/con list. I folded it and shoved it into my pocket before hurrying after my mother. My date with Luke that evening couldn't come soon enough.
Rory and Emily were sitting in the dining room at a table in the corner, away from the Stars Hollow crowd that remained. I waved at Babette and Miss Patty who were still wearing their robes from the night before. Luke was right, this town really was filled with a bunch of nuts.
The table was already filled with enough food for an army, thanks to Sookie. I sat next to Rory and tried to avoid eye contact with my mother. I was so not in the mood for another lecture about how cruel it was to stick her and dad out in room 12 last night. Instead, she surprised me with a compliment. "This really is a fine establishment you've created here, Lorelai. You and Sookie have done very well for yourselves. I believe you will be successful."
I gawked at her. I couldn't remember the last time Emily Gilmore had paid me a genuine compliment. I waited for the other shoe to drop, and when it didn't I finally said, "Thank you, Mom. Your support means a lot to me."
She smiled at me. "I'm pleased to hear you say that, because I would like to stay here for a while."
I could feel my jaw drop as I sat frozen, staring at her. For once in my life I was completely speechless. It was Rory who broke the silence. "But Grandma, you have a whole house to live in, why would you need to stay here?"
Emily sighed. "I will not live under his roof for another day. That man is driving me insane. Now I know you aren't officially open for a few weeks, but I don't need much, just a room and something to eat. You won't even know I'm here."
I finally managed to find my voice. "Mom, this is crazy. You and dad just need to sit down and talk this out."
"I'm sorry, Lorelai, but I think we are beyond talking at this point."
"But--" Rory began.
"Rory, I've made my decision and it is final."
"Mom, you can't be serious."
"Do you mean to tell me that you will not let your own mother stay in your inn?" She gave me a withering glare and I shuddered. I knew the compliments had a loop hole.
Please tell me this was a joke. My mother, in Stars Hollow, for who knows how long. I was going to die.
"No, of course I don't mean that. I just mean... Are you sure you and dad can't work this out?" Please say no, please say no.
She nodded. "That man is infuriating. I've already packed my bags and they're in the car." She paused and looked at me pointedly. "But I could always go find another hotel or something."
I sighed. I knew that I really had no other choice. "You don't have to do that. You can stay here. I'll have Michel prepare room #6 for you."
"Thank you, Lorelai. That would be lovely. Now, shall we eat?" Emily took a bite of salad and I slipped away for a moment to talk to Michel.
"Okay, we're all set. I've asked Tommy to bring in your bags." I told my mother as I sat down again.
"Wonderful." She turned back to Rory. "So, Rory, what are your plans for the summer?"
Rory kept shooting me curious looks as she filled her grandmother in on her summer job at the bookstore. I knew she was bursting to find out the results of the pro/con list, but I also knew she wouldn't dare ask me in front of my mother.
While they chatted, I picked at my plate absently, dwelling on this latest development. My stomach lurched. How on earth was I going to survive this? She really couldn't have had worse timing, what with the Inn opening and this whole thing with Luke. Oh God. Luke! How was I going to keep Emily out of the loop if she was in Stars Hollow, within reach of the town gossips? She hated Luke. This did not bode well.
"Well, I think I'll retire to my room for a rest. Once your guests leave, perhaps the three of us could have dinner together and take in a movie?"
"Tonight?" I flinched at the panic in my voice.
"Yes, tonight." She narrowed her eyes. "Is that a problem?" Of course it was a problem. I was supposed to see Luke tonight, but I wasn't about to tell her that. Before I could think of a plausible excuse, Rory came to my rescue.
"Mom and Sookie are supposed to meet tonight to rehash the test run. But you and I could have a girl's night. I could even stay here with you tonight." My daughter was good, really good. That was much more believable than the excuse I would have come up with. I could have kissed her.
"Oh, that sounds lovely, Rory." My mom looked thrilled.
"I'm sure Sookie can whip up some treats for you two." I suggested, grateful that my mother seemed to have forgotten about me.
Emily stood. "That sounds fine. I'm going to go have a nap now. I'll see you both later."
"Bye, Grandma," Rory called as Emily walked toward the stairs. As soon as her grandmother was out of sight, Rory turned to me. "So?"
"So what?" I asked coyly, even though I knew exactly what she was talking about.
"So where is the list?" she whispered.
I pulled it out of my pocket and handed it to Rory. I watched her nervously as she read each point with an affirmative nod. When she had finished she lowered the list to her lap and beamed at me. "Does this mean what I think it means?"
I nodded and Rory squealed and leapt from her seat. She pulled me to my feet and threw her arms around me, bouncing giddily as she continued to squeak.
Kirk, Lulu, Patty and Babette all stared at us as they whispered amongst themselves. Realizing we had an audience, Rory ceased bouncing and whispered, "I'm so happy for you."
I sat down and pulled her to her seat. "Well, don't get too excited yet. I still have to talk to Luke. For all we know he's changed his mind and decided to join the Renaissance Fair."
"Luke? At a Renaissance Fair? That will never happen. I think you're safe." She laughed and grabbed a strawberry tart from one of the plates on the table.
"Hey, thanks for the save, by the way. Your excuse was far better than the story I was going to tell about having to shave my eyebrows." I shoved a spoonful of pasta into my mouth. Suddenly, I was starving.
"Shave your eyebrows?" Rory was biting her lip, probably to stop herself from laughing at me.
"Yeah, yeah. I know it's lame. I was panicked, okay? Thank goodness you saved me or I'd be trying to explain Luke to my mother right now. I groaned and took another bite of pasta. "Oh my god. Sookie is a goddess. What is in this? It's so good!"
"No idea." Rory took another tart. "I'm wondering the same thing about these tarts. They're like little tiny pies. They're incredible."
By four o'clock I was physically and emotionally spent. I had survived lunch with my mother, endured several complaints from Taylor (and my mother), and participated in multiple verbal sparring matches with Michel (and my mother).
I shared an amused glance with Rory as Kirk and Lulu approached the front desk to check out. Kirk was walking oddly and wincing with every step, but trying to hide his pain from Lulu.
"Thank you so much for inviting us, Lorelai. We had a wonderful time, didn't we, Kirk?" Lulu said sweetly.
"Yes... we...did," Kirk managed to choke out as he shifted uncomfortably.
"You okay there, Kirk? Do you need more band-aids?" I asked him. I was genuinely concerned; he did not look well. Maybe Taylor's roses had given him an infection or something.
Kirk's eyes widened in panic. "No," he shouted. "Everything is fine."
Rory snorted and turned her back to them, trying to hide the mirth that she was failing to contain with a series of fake coughs.
Lulu was unfazed. "Remember to use your inside voice, sweetie." She patted him lightly on the shoulder and handed me the key to their room. "Thanks again."
"You're welcome," I said, shaking my head as they walked away.
Rory had managed to compose herself and together we observed Kirk and Lulu through the window.
"Poor Kirk," I said between giggles as Kirk attempted to get into the golf cart without sitting down.
"I'm amazed Lulu hasn't asked him what's wrong . He's been odder than usual all day," Rory mused.
"I honestly don't understand what Lulu sees in him," I stated, "but it's nice that Kirk has someone looking out for him. Everyone should have that." I couldn't help smiling as I remembered how close I was to having that too... with Luke. My heart began to thud loudly as I thought about him. My fear and reservations had all but vanished and had been replaced by excitement mixed with a hint of nervousness. Now that the test run was over I could finally focus on preparing for our date tonight.
"I just have to make sure Sookie doesn't need anything and then we can go."
"Go?" Rory frowned, puzzled. "Go where?"
"Home. I need you to help me pick my outfit. And I assume you will need things for this evening too."
"Most of my stuff is still here from last night, but I did want to bring over a few movies. The only thing Black, White and Read is showing right now is Titanic, and there's no way I'm sitting through that again."
I gasped. "But think of all the lost mocking potential."
"You'll live." Rory rolled her eyes. "Go check in with Sookie. I'll go let Grandma know I'll be back in a bit."
"Fine. I'll meet you back here in 5 minutes." I walked to the kitchen and found Sookie sitting on a stool with her chin resting on her hand. She had a dreamy look in her eyes and seemed to be completely unaware of the utter chaos surrounding her as the kitchen staff raced around trying to clean up after their guests.
"Sook?" I tapped her shoulder gently, trying to get her attention.
"Huh?" Sookie blinked at me. "Oh, Lorelai. Hi."
"Hi. You okay?"
"I'm fine. I was just thinking about your date tonight. It's so exciting. Luke and Lorelai together at last. I'm so happy for you." Sookie was waving her arms around as she spoke, oblivious to the fact that she'd nearly knocked over a container of white sauce.
I laughed. I swear, she was even more excited about this than I was. I was lucky to have such a great friend. "Aww. That's sweet of you."
"It's just so romantic, you know? He's been waiting for you for all these years, and you've been secretly pining for him. And now finally here you are, you have your chance." Sookie dabbed at her eyes with the edge of her apron.
"I was not pining for him. I just didn't know what I wanted. Now I do. Speaking of which, I'm about to head out and get ready for my date, I just wanted to make sure everything is okay before I leave."
"Oh yeah, we're fine. And I'll make sure I'm gone by five like we planned so your mother doesn't get suspicious. Pierre can finish dinner tonight." I flinched at the mention of my mother. I still wasn't thrilled about her staying here.
"Thank you. I appreciate your help – with everything."
"You're welcome." Sookie giggled. "Go get beautiful. And don't forget to call me the minute he leaves. I want details."
I laughed and left in search of Rory. We had an outfit to find.
I stood half-naked in my bedroom, surrounded by the mountains of rejected date outfits that were piled on every available surface. Rory had disappeared into the depths of my closet several moments before. I was just contemplating sending in a search party when she emerged with the dress I had worn to the dance-a-thon the previous year.
I was about to reject it, when I remembered the look Luke had given me that evening. That had been one of those moments in our past when I had felt that there was something between us. During our conversation on the bleachers, there'd even been a moment when I wanted nothing more in the world than to have him kiss me. But he hadn't, and I'd let the moment pass, just as I had let so many others pass before that.
I brought my hand to my mouth and softly traced my lips with my fingertips, remembering for the umpteenth time that day, just how amazing kissing Luke had been. I should have kissed him that night. If I had any idea what I was missing, I probably would have. And then Nicole never would have happened, and maybe Luke wouldn't have ended up married. Or at least if he had, maybe he would have married me...I shook my head at myself. We hadn't even been on our first date yet and I was thinking about marriage? Was I insane? Probably.
Rory had lowered the dress at the shake of my head and she was staring at me as though I was completely insane. "Come on, Mom, this is like the four-trillionth outfit you've rejected. You're running out of clothes, and Luke will be here soon. Plus, I have to get to the inn for my slumber party with Grandma."
"Rory. Oh precious fruit of my loins," I joked. "You misunderstood. I shook my head at my own deranged thoughts, not the dress selection. That dress is perfect."
"Really? You're not pulling my leg?" She looked at me doubtfully. I supposed I had earned that look; this was not the first outfit I had approved, only to change my mind two seconds later.
"Really. This is the one." To prove my point, I snatched the dress from her hand and pulled it over my head. "See? It's on. Now I just have to find shoes."
Rory rolled her eyes. "Oy with the poodles already." Just then the doorbell rang and Rory breathed a sigh of relief. "I'll get the door, Mom. You find those shoes."
I was already on my knees with my head halfway into the closet as I rummaged around looking for the black pumps that matched this dress. "Thanks, sweets."
I heard muffled voices below and I sped up my search, tossing unwanted shoes behind me as I dug through the pile. Finally I found them. I hooked them over my finger and raced out of the room, butterflies fluttering in my stomach as I descended the stairs. When I reached the landing, Luke stepped out of the foyer and I paused, my breath catching as I noticed his attire.
He looked entirely un-Luke-ish and yet wholly Luke at the same time. Gone were his characteristic flannel, jeans and baseball cap. In their place he wore navy slacks and a blue collared shirt that made the blue of his eyes stand out even more spectacularly than it usually did. His hair was combed and his face was clean-shaven. The fluttering in my stomach increased and spread lower as my eyes remained fixated on his. I attempted to walk down the stairs toward him and somehow managed to miss the second to last step.
I yelped as I began to plummet to the ground and I closed my eyes, bracing myself for the impact. I was falling, and suddenly, I wasn't. I felt a pair of strong arms slide around my waist and I opened my eyes to see Luke's chest directly in front of me. I raised my head and saw him gazing down at me, his lips pursed in concern. "Are you alright?" he whispered.
I nodded, too distracted by his nearness to speak. I rested my hands on his chest as he lowered me to the floor. Once my feet were stable, I slid my arms around his neck and leaned closer. All I could think about was what it would feel like to have his smooth lips on mine again. Everything else, my hesitations, my fears, my embarrassment over literally falling into his arms, disappeared as I felt his warm breath dance across my cheek.
His lips caught mine and I sighed, melting into his chest as I savoured the taste of him. I wanted this man, in ways I had never imagined possible. In that moment, I knew with absolute certainty that I was making the right choice. I knew that this man would keep me safe; that he would take care of my daughter; that our friendship would only make our relationship stronger. Any remaining doubts I may have had about us fled in that instant.
Someone behind us cleared their throat and Luke broke the kiss, pulling away from me a little but keeping one hand on the small of my back. I was grateful for the continued contact; my lips were already feeling naked from the absence of his kiss.
I looked at Rory and felt my cheeks burning under her intense stare. "I just wanted to tell you that I'm headed to the inn to meet Grandma," she said casually, holding up her overnight bag.
"Oh, okay. Good night, hon." I reluctantly pulled away from Luke to give her a hug. "Don't let Grandma boss you around too much."
"Don't worry, I won't." Rory walked toward the door. "You two kids have fun," she called over her shoulder as she bolted for her car.
Luke came up behind me and ran his hand through his hair. He looked pretty nervous for a guy who had just kissed me with such fervour. "I guess we should get going." He picked up my jacket and held it out for me.
I let him help me into it and smiled. "I guess so. Where exactly are you taking me, Luke Danes?" I asked teasingly, trying to lighten the mood a little.
"You'll see," he said simply, holding the door open for me.
I closed it behind me and headed for his truck. I was almost there when I noticed that Luke was still on the porch. I looked back to him and called, "You coming?"
"Aren't you going to lock it?" He jerked his hand toward the door.
I shrugged. "Nah, no one would bother trying to break in with 'Babette's Neighbourhood Watch' right next door."
Luke frowned as he came toward me. "You really should lock it anyway. It's not safe."
"Aww, it's sweet that you're so worried. I'll consider it," I told him as I climbed into the truck.
Luke sighed. "That's the best I'm gonna get, isn't it?" He started the engine.
I nodded emphatically and gave him two thumbs up and said in my best Michelle Tanner voice, "You got it, dude!" I think this 'dating Luke' thing is going to be a blast.