A Dance in the Rain - Part 8 of 10 "Hot Spring and Love"
Posted on Sun Aug 23rd, 2015 @ 9:28pm by Captain Oliver Lee PhD
Episode 0 - Semper Fidelis
Location: Thermae Resort, Tuscan Maremma, Italy
Tags: romance, relationship
The night air was a little cooler than usual for this time of the year, but the hot spring water in their small, but private, pool was balmy and nearly perfect. The water was crystal clear, and they could see the rocky floor under their feet. The night sky was lit up by a waxing moon and millions of blinking stars. In a distance, they could see the rolling plains of Maremma and even the vague outlines of the Tyrrhennian shores.
Lying against the edge of the pool, Oliver was comfortable and content. "I think I can get used to this." He said.
"Get used to what?" Michaela floated nearby on her back, hair a natural gold fan around her head.
"Oh, the highlife, an apartment on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, platinum membership at one of the most exclusive spa resorts on the planet," Pausing, he helped himself to another sip of the exquisite champagne from his glass. "You know, the kind of good stuff that I normally would not be able to afford?"
He had had no idea how wealthy his mother's side of the family was, and through the inheritance from his late grandfather - whom he had only ever met a few times - he now had a taste of that enormous wealth. To be sure, he had always lived a affluent life ever since his paternal grandparents took him in at the age of seven, but this was something on a completely different level.
It made him wonder why both of his parents would ever want to give up such luxury and convenience and instead choose a semi-normadic life without any financial security. They never had to go hungry, but credit was always tight, and he had always envied the fancy toys and gadgets that all the other kids seemed to have.
He shook his head. That was another life. He should live for the here and now.
"I wouldn't get too used to it. Its all very fleeting." Michaela said. "That isn't to say its not fun." She added, closing her eyes.
"That's why I have an appointment with a financial adviser in two days. With some sound investment, I might just be able to keep this good life going for a while." He took another sip from his glass before making his way over to Michaela.
"But of course it wouldn't worth a dime if you weren't there to share it." He said, stealing a quick kiss from her.
Michaela smiled a bit, "Me specifically," She raised her eyebrows curiously at him.
"Of course you specifically." He answered affirmatively and then added with a little smirk. "You and your blueberry muffins, to be exact."
Michaela laughed a bit, "I suppose that was inevitable," She smirked, flipping her hands a bit to propel herself in a lazy little circle. "I can cook other things, you know."
"Oh, I'm counting on it." He said teasingly. "You know what the Salerians say, if you have a man's stomach, you have his heart. . . or is it the other way around?"
Michaela smirked slightly and closed her eyes again with a little snort. "Hmph," she said, shaking her head. "Yes, well. I suppose I may have that working in my favor."
Oliver paddled himself over to the beautiful blond and gently held her from behind. Nibbling her on the shoulders, he said, "Oh, you have no idea."
Michaela shivered a bit and shifted a shoulder a bit against him. She didn't try to get away though, and shook her head at him, laughing a little. "I wouldn't sound so smug just yet. I might ask you for ridiculous favors."
He kissed across her shoulder and up the side of her neck. "Anything for you." He mumbled.
Michaela did scrunch her shoulders that time, letting her eyes close for a moment. Instead of whatever she meant to say, a sort of hum buzzed briefly in the back of her throat.
As he turned his attention to the other side of her neck, his hands began to gently caress her under the water, feeling every inch of her soft skin, and slowly, but confidently, he worked his way up her back until he reached the strings that secured her bikini top.
With a gentle pull, the knot was undone, and so was inhibition.
[The Next Morning]
Michaela slept soundly, deeply - for the first time in a very long time with no dreams or reason to make herself stay up. She still woke up before Oliver, though, starting awake suddenly, nervously, as she didn't remember where she was.
It took her a moment to process and sink back into the sheet. Her bare shoulder brushed his chest, and she smiled slightly. Still felt warm ... happy. Instead of waking him up, Michaela turned gently so she could look at his face. After a long moment, her eyes slid closed again, but as was usual for her, the turnings of her brain kept her awake.
She should have called the kids by now, and the little guilt she felt about that felt heavier and heavier the longer she lay there. She was lying to them by omission. But at the same time, she wasn't ready to share this and open up that can of worms.
It wasn't just that, though - he was her boss, technically ... they were both adults, of course, but still. The ethics were fuzzy, at best. And Michaela was pretty sure it would give her a headache if she thought about it more, so she abandoned it.
She flitted on to the work in med bay she still needed to do, and then past that to arranging lessons for her kids.
Perhaps her mind unconsciously avoided the strangeness of all of this - being in another man's bed. But it was also nice. Warm, not lonely. Her eyelids flickered open briefly to look at him again. She wondered what she was thinking. She kept wondering if she was going crazy. Or was he?
It wasn't if she and Johnathan had been unhappy - they'd just skipped all the preliminary fun parts in some ways. Gone from kids to adults in about nine months. Michaela wasn't sure what to make of these more lighthearted, less baggage heavy situations now ... because really ... it was all new to her.
I Oliver's mind slowly drifted out of the deep stupor and into the world of the awake. He could feel the morning breeze of the Mediterranean brushing softly over his uncovered chest, or was it Michaela? Either way it was nice.
Another few moments passed before he finally forced open his eye lids and was immensely pleased by the sight of Michaela's beautiful face. There was no better sight to wake up to.
His hand reached out and found hers under the sheet. "Good morning, beautiful." He greeted her with a lazy smile and a somewhat husky voice.
"Morning," Michaela replied instinctively, voice also a little sleep-thick and her eyes only half open.
She was immediately reassured, and curled her fingers through his. No expert herself, she nonetheless knew the stereotypes. But he was both still there, and still apparently happy to see her, so she smiled slightly, hanging onto his hand.
Oliver lightly stroked her hand, but otherwise he didn't say a word. He just smiled and studied her face for a few long moments.
"I'm a lucky man." He said.
Michaela blinked a couple times finally, and smirked slightly, "You are," She agreed. She still wasn't entirely sure what she was thinking, but here she was.
With his free hand Oliver brushed back a few errant strands of hair from her cheek and said with a gentle smile, "So, what do you want to do before we head back to the Bunker Hill tomorrow? Anything you want. Just tell me."
"I don't know what I want," Michaela said, honestly enough. Though it was perhaps a little more honest than she had originally intended at the start of the sentence.
Oliver closed up the little distance between them, his hand softly caressing her bared back. Then he rested his forehead against hers. "I say we should just stay in bed and cuddle each other till the end of time. I mean who needs food, or drink, or work? Love shall sustain us into eternity." He said, paraphrasing from the 2372 bestselling romance novel Eternal. It was obviously in jest although a small part of him did wish it were true.
Michaela had already warned him she was a big picture person - she hadn't really meant to start thinking about this now. But she did. Her forehead wrinkled up worriedly. She leaned her head into his though, a smile ghosting across her lips despite herself.
"And these lines work on women? Is that what you're telling me?" Despite saying that ... here she was.
Oliver nodded affirmatively. "Don't you remember? When they first turned the book into a movie, the fans went crazy. There were so many women chanting and swooning at the premier they almost had a riot. And I believe that particular line was picked by Glamor as one of the ten most romantic movie dialogues of the 70s. So, yeah, apparently it worked on many women." He almost chuckled at the silliness of it all.
"Geez. We're stupider than I thought," Michaela snorted and burrowed happily into his shoulder with a slight shake of her head. She closed her eyes and inhaled a little deeper than she would normally, not willing to break the spell just yet.
Oliver laughed at that. "Indeed." He said, resting comfortably with Michaela in his arms.
"Question for ya. Which one would you rather be? Foolish and in love, or rational and alone?"
Michaela blinked a bit, "Its foolish to choose to be foolish." She said, without really looking up, "Neither?"
"Wise, beautiful, and bakes muffins that are to die for," Looking down, he smiled, "I think I'm in love with you, Michaela."
This was where Michaela's so-called cool head got her into trouble. She just seemed surprised, eyes widening a little bit. The first thing out of her mouth was hardly reassuring - more of a startled blurt than anything, "Really?"
Oliver had not expected that response. Worse, he had no ready answer for her. That was when it occurred to him that they might not necessarily have the same notion of love. But what had come out of his mouth could not be withdrawn - that would be disastrous. And if there was no retreat, he could only press on. He decided all that in a split second.
Without a word he pressed his lips firmly on hers in a kiss more passionate than any they had shared so far.
Michaela might have had more to say - something better to say or at least a little less blunt. She was a creature that lived inside her own head for the most part, it was hard to react on instinct or in pure passion without pulling herself up short. It wasn't exactly intentional. But she was cut off, and despite herself found herself falling into it - into him.
Her toes curled up a little. Of course they had a different notion of love - the only one she'd ever known was marriage, and beyond even that, family. Love to her was work as much as it was enjoyable. It was commitment. It was different than this, certainly - and Michaela had often wondered to herself what the hell she was doing now ... the best answer she could come up with was making up for other lost experiences. Maybe love the way he meant it was one of those things ... but it certainly didn't come naturally to her and she had to consciously let go.
A few long seconds passed before he finally let go. Still breathing heavily from the impromptu exertion of passion, he asked, "What do you think?"
That, of course, was meant to be rhetorical.
It took her a moment longer to open her eyes, her own breathing short and quick as she looked at him silently for a long moment. "I ... think you need to qualify that statement," She said, but smiled at him anyway.
"That's easy." He said with a suggestive smile. "Let's hit the shower and I'll show you."
Michaela narrowed her eyes very slightly, "Isn't that sort of feeding the issue?" She certainly knew how to get to the heart of things. She was still soft, though, and she slid her fingers along the back of his neck in an absent little caress.
He liked her stroking the back of his neck. He really liked it.
"So what do you suggest?" He asked, somewhat puzzled. He had been in more than a few relationships, and it was the first time that someone insisted he explain what he meant by a simple 'I love you.' It was . . . for a lack of better word, new to him.
“I just … I know myself, that’s all. I am not casual about anything I do. I never will be. This is fun, Oliver. I feel young. I feel happy. I feel … kind of like I’ve woken up. I just … I don’t know. I don’t know if you realize how significant a step for me this is. If you understand how much this means to me. And I don’t want to mislead you that its all fun and casual.” Michaela sighed. “Before we have a misunderstanding. Or not. I just have to.” She nodded. Swallowed. She tried to feel brave.
The irony of course was that she had no idea how common it was to feel conflicted, and just felt like she was neurotic instead.
Oliver was quiet for a long moment. He looked into her eyes, unsure what to say. Was that what she was afraid of? That he was being casual about this whole relationship? Was he?
He would like to think that he had learned his lessons from the court-martial fiasco and that as far as relationship was concerned he was a changed man now. But maybe he wasn't the right person to make that assessment.
But his own doubts quickly receded into the background as he sensed the fear, the vulnerability in Michaela's voice. He remembered those tears she shed in his arms.
He would not disappoint her, he decided, however he might doubt himself.
"Give me a chance," He said, looking into her eyes to assure her of his sincerity. "Give me a chance and allow me to show you with more than what I say, with what I do. And maybe," He paused briefly. "Maybe next time when I say those words, you will have no reason to doubt me."
Michaela nodded very slightly and held his eyes for a very long moment before she let them close. She felt like she had to explain why she'd mentioned it. It wasn't that she assumed he was lying - Despite herself her eyes stung. “Look, I’ve gotten to know you … I know you’re a people pleaser. I don’t mean that I don't enjoy ... I guess I like being pampered … but I don’t want you to get yourself into something with me because you’re afraid of hurting me now. That's all."
A little mix of self-esteem issue and worry for him, "I just know I come with ... a lot of extra baggage." Was all she could say.
"If you are talking about Alex and Erin, don't worry, I'm good with kids." He reassured her with a smile. "They'll love me."
As always, she was mostly talking about Alex and Erin. Michaela barely nodded, eyes still closed. She swallowed a little again. Still, she was comforted, despite her misgivings, and she wiggled a little closer, fingers still petting the back of his neck gently.
She seemed calmer, and that's exactly what Oliver hoped for. Of course, now he would have to devise a strategy to win her kids over. But how hard could that be? He was good with people, and kids were just little people.
Having thus reassured himself, he snuggled up to her, removing the little space that still separated them. It felt good.
Lieutenant Oliver A. Lee
USS Bunker Hill
Lieutenant JG Michaela Taylor
Chief Medical Officer
USS Bunker Hill