Tune the Violin
The kitchen was not only empty, it was clean as a whistle. There wasn't trace evidence that it had ever been used that day. No food - no dishes - no utensils - a bare and empty room with clean counters, a large sink and a grill. He opened the refrigerator, finding it empty and then realized it had been unplugged. The adrenaline shot through him when he tore open the large pantry doors and found the shelves bare.
"What the hell?" he yelled. "What the hell is going on? How...?"
"Can I help you, sir?" a portly man came through the open door. "Are you here about the leasing contract?"
"Where's Raisa Orlov?" AD Schyler demanded.
"The woman who... the cook, the chef, the..."
"The little woman who made such glorious sandwiches and wonderful borscht and...?"
"Yes, yes, that's the one," Wesley said impatiently. "Where is she?"
"She left several days ago, Mr... Mr...?"
"Several days ago? Impossible. I saw her yesterday. I spoke with her. I... Where did she go?"
"County General, off I-95 in..."
"I know where it is," he growled and raced out of there.
He had to show his FBI ID before they'd tell him anything about her. "Are you a family member, sir?" the ever-patient receptionist asked the angry looking man. "Only family members are allowed to visit."
"Yes, I'm her hus... I'm a family member," he rasped, his voice choked with emotion.
"Are you her son?" the receptionist asked.
"What difference does that make?" he shouted. "Where is she?"
"Sir, this is a hospital. Patients are trying to..."
He leaned over the counter and grabbed the woman's shoulders. "One more time," he hissed. "Where is she?"
"Uh, sir, I'll have to look at my computer screen. I'll have to..."
"Where. Is. She?"
"Intensive care, sir. Down the hall, 2nd corridor..."
He tore down the hall before she finished speaking, his long black trench coat flying behind him.
The nurses behind the station in the intensive care unit were more diligent than the receptionist had been. Wesley pulled out his ID one more time.
"I need to speak to her," he said softly, making every effort to remain calm.
"As a family member or as a member of the FBI?" the nurse asked.
"Does it matter?" he asked, his eyes boring into hers, causing her to flinch and take a step back.
"No," she said softly. "Five minutes - no more."
He swallowed hard when he saw her. She looked so small lying there, a tube helping her breathe, one of those gizmos on her finger, the beeps of machinery the only sounds in the room. Her silver-gray hair was brushed behind her ears, the wrinkles on her face smoother. She looks smaller than I remember.
He moved to the side of the bed, knelt and took one of her hands in his. "Raisa," he said softly. "Raisa Katerina, look at me. Open your eyes, little one. It's Sergei Nicholai. I've come to see you."
Raisa opened her eyes and smiled, lifting a small hand to his cheek. "You remember," she said softly and with satisfaction.
Wesley nodded. He couldn't speak.
"What do you remember, Sergei, my love?"
"The wedding, the carriage ride to the dacha, the wedding night," he said softly, choking on his words. "You were so soft and sweet in my arms, so willing to do anything I wanted, so..." his eyes filled catching him off-guard. "I don't know any more, but I have a feeling we loved deeply. I..."
"We did," she whispered. "You were very good to me, Sergei, very, very good."
"And we were happy?"
"Very happy, my love."
The sudden ache in his heart threatened to consume him, his brief memories of their time together poignant and bittersweet. His present life was empty, no one to love - no warm and caring individual to share his days and nights. The heaviness inside him wore him down - a chasm splitting his soul - the void growing wider as he realized his loss. Somehow, he and Raisa had miss-stepped in time - missed each other in the cycle of birth and death - lost this time together - the opportunity to renew their love for each other gone - the chance to share another life together evaporated by some force beyond their control. It was as if the gods were jealous of what they had shared and wanted them to suffer before allowing them to have it again - if ever. Wesley felt the loss so deeply he wasn't sure he could bear the pain.
"You have to leave, sir," the nurse lightly touched his shoulder. "You can come back in two hours."
"Raisa," he said over the lump in his throat.
"I'll be here, Sergei, she said softly, her voice weak. "I'll wait for you, my love."
He was allowed to wait in the room set aside for families whose relatives were in intensive care. On this particular day, there was one other person waiting to visit a loved one - a few minutes every two hours. The stress of the last weeks and his turbulent dreams wore him out. Wesley stretched out on the waiting room couch and closed his eyes. The nurse had promised to wake him.
"Raisa, my love," he murmured as his eyes closed, the picture of the bride she had been firmly in his mind.
Foothills of the Urals
Snug in a cocoon of furs and asleep in her husband's arms, Raisa was unaware of her bridegroom's scrutiny. He held her in the cradle of his arms, his eyes feasting on the silky skin of her shoulders, the tops of her firm round breasts, and the firelight dancing off the red highlights in her hair.
"How is it I am blessed with you?" he murmured to her sleeping face. "You are so beautiful and so trusting. I do not deserve such as you."
He watched her chest rise and fall with breath that had finally calmed after their tumultuous lovemaking. He had planned to go slow - let her ease into the physical side of this marriage contract, but he could not. She aroused him with her innocent curiosity, her outspoken pleasure at being joined with him and her furious blushes that made him want her even more.
Gently, he had washed her virgin's blood and kissed the tear stains from her face. When he mouthed her sex a second time, she put her hands behind his neck and pulled him closer to her. Afterward, he laughed softly when she told him that she was glad he knew how to do that because it was a good thing and it was all right with her if he did it again.
He showed her how to love him the same way and when she took him between her lips for the first time, he climaxed quickly. Raisa was startled when he emptied into her mouth and more so when he pulled out, staining her breasts and belly with his seed. She wanted to touch his penis, delighted she had brought him pleasure, but also curious to touch his sex when it softened.
He jerked back from her, his manhood ultra sensitive post coitus, but rushed to assure her she hadn't hurt him.
"What about these?" she asked, cupping his testes.
Sergei groaned, partly from pain, partly from pleasure. "Later," he murmured, gathering her into his arms. "Let's rest a while."
It wasn't long before he had to love her again.
Now, as he looked at her sleeping form, he marveled at how small she was, how silky soft and sweet, and how very willing she was to please him. Their honeymoon stretched before them, a month to learn about each other. He knew he would make love to her as often as possible - teach her the way it was between a man and a woman - both of them enjoying the many ways to give and receive pleasure.
"You can visit her again, sir," the nurse patted Wesley's shoulder. "Fifteen minutes this time, but only if you don't tire her. Then, you'll have to wait at least two hours," she warned.
Wesley nodded and hurried to Raisa's side.
She opened her eyes when she felt his breath on her hand. "What else do you remember?" she asked softly, her love for him evident in her eyes.
"You blushed when we made love," he said simply.
"I was an innocent, my love," she cupped Wesley's face. "I had been sheltered all my life and knew nothing till we wed."
"You remember our time together?" he asked.
"It was 163 years ago, barushka," he murmured softly, the endearment rolling off his tongue as if he said it every day.
"It may as well have been yesterday," she smiled. "You were a powerful lover, Sergei Nicholai. A gentle lover - a tender lover."
"Did we love each other before that time?"
"Yes, my love, we did and we loved after that time as well."
"After that time? How can that be?"
"Sinovia can explain it better but it has to do with parallel lives. We share our souls with others - others who are us - a few years younger or older - it matters not. We rarely meet our other selves but..."
"You're saying that you and I exist on this planet - in this time - and...?"
"Yes, Sergei. Somewhere - I don't know where - you and I are living our lives in the body of another person. Somewhere, there is another you - another me. My time in this life is almost over, but yours..."
"No! I just found you. You can't leave me," he choked on the words.
"Sergei, Sergei, listen to me. It's possible you will be alone for the duration of this life. But it's also possible you will meet another me." She put a finger to his lips, then wiped tears from his cheek. "We'll meet again, you and I. I know we will. We made a promise to each other so very long ago."
Wesley breathed deeply, not certain if he was dreaming or hallucinating or if any of this was real. He was swept away with this event - this phenomenon - this... whatever it was that was happening to him. In the blink of an eye, the old woman lying there had become very important to him.
Important to me... important to my sanity... important to my soul.
"Where did we make this promise, barushka?" he asked softly, willing his body to calm so he could hear her words and not the pounding of his heart.
"In Atlantis, my love - several thousand years ago."
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