Tune the Violin
Part Seventeen
by SarAdora

~~~~~~

He was so agitated at the thought that Raisa had died during the night, he couldn't wait for the elevator. Taking the stairwell, he practically galloped up the steps, a little winded as he yanked open the door to the fifth floor.

Let her be all right, he prayed. I have to see her again. I need to see her again. Have to talk to her. Tell her I love her.

"Sergei?" a soft voice called.

"Raisa?" Wesley replied, startled to hear her in the hallway. "Raisa Katerina?" He turned toward the familiar voice.

"I didn't realize you knew my name," the petite hospital volunteer looked up at the man she had fantasized about for so many years.

"Kat?" Wesley took a step back, returning to the present. "Little Kat from... home? From Texas? From how many years ago?"

"I wasn't little then," Kat laughed.

~~~

1960s
Puberty hit hard and early when Kat celebrated her eleventh birthday. Aunt Sarah baked a huge birthday cake for her and Uncle David had given her a pony of her own. She wrapped a big piece of birthday cake in a napkin and rode the pinto out to the property line, certain Sergei would be out checking the fences.

It was a long hour until he showed up, his roan swinging its head as they ambled along. He spotted her, ignored her and turned the horse away.

"Wait!" she yelled. "I brought you a piece of my birthday cake. Don't you want some?"

He pulled on the reins to halt the horse's movements and turned his head back to her. "What kind is it?"

"Chocolate."

Sixteen-year old Sergei arched a brow, a habit he would continue throughout life and let his horse get closer to her pinto.

"Dark chocolate or light chocolate?" he asked, his arms folded across his chest, the reins held loosely in one hand.

"German chocolate," she smiled, delirious he was talking to her. "With sugar maple frosting and a bit of coconut. My Aunt Sarah made it," she babbled.

He put his hand out. Carefully, she put the slice in his outstretched palm.

"You have to take a bite and wish me a happy birthday," she announced.

He nodded, took a bite, licked his lips and looked at her for a long moment. "How old are you?"

"Eleven."

"That's all?" he questioned the truth of her statement. "You look older than that."

Kat smiled. She wanted to be older.

He noticed her dimples and thought she was pretty. He also thought she was a little too round but his momma was round and his papa didn't seem to mind.

"Happy birthday," he called, holding the cake as he rode away.

~~~

"I didn't realize you knew my name," she repeated, her eyes feasting on him, the old memories tugging her back in time.

"I knew your name was Kat. I didn't know it was Raisa Katerina."

"You called me Raisa Katerina," she reminded him.

"I know," Wesley swallowed hard, noting her dark brown hair, her golden brown eyes, and her small stature.

"Do you play the violin?" he asked past the lump in his throat.

"Yes, how did you know?" surprised once again.

"Do you dance?" he forced himself to ask.

"Yes," she said perplexed, wondering how he could know those details.

"I... I have to go," he said. "Someone's here I have to see. I'd like to see you again. Will you be here long? Will you wait for me? I..."

I sound like a #$%$# idiot!

"Will I wait for you? Yes, of course." I'll wait for you forever, Sergei. "I'll be right here."

He nodded to her and to the nurse at the desk and rushed down the hall and into Raisa's room. She opened her eyes when he took her hand in his.

"Good morning, my love," he said softly, bending to kiss her brow, still bemused about Kat.

"Good morning, Sergei," she said quietly. "Something has happened. Tell me."

"Nothing has happened," he denied. "It's morning and I'm here. How do you feel? Can I get you anything?" Without warning, the nightmare of her funeral came crashing back and he bowed his head over their hands, the tears falling fast and furious as he choked back his sobs.

"Don't leave me," he begged. "Not now. I just found you. Please don't leave me."

"I'll always be with you, my love. In some form or other, you and I will always be together. We made a promise; we've never wavered from it. If we're in the same life cycle, it will be. It's your choice, Sergei," she said quietly, squeezing his hand.

"My choice?"

"You can choose to be alone, make mistakes with someone else, or meet another me. Your choice, Sergei."

"I choose you, barushka," he said, his voice raw with emotion, yearning for what they shared several lifetimes ago, and wanting more.

"And I, you, my love," she smiled at him, her fingers rubbing the tears from his face. "And I choose you."

The Kat from his youth flew out of his mind as he took even breaths and concentrated on Raisa. He looked at the tiny hand he held, and his heart ached for the woman who would soon die, the woman with whom he knew he shared a history.

When he was calm again, she told him of their time in Montana - the ranch, the horses they raised, their strong and healthy sons, their love and their lovemaking.

"And old Anya?" he asked, "and my parents and my sisters?"

"Anya lived a full one hundred years," she smiled, remembering the older woman who had mothered her and Sergei. "She made you behave, too," she laughed at the big man sitting at her side.

"She was good to me," he said simply.

"Your parents followed us to Montana and lived nearby. Your father lived to see our sons. Your sisters," she paused. "Your sisters stayed in Russia, my love. They were lost in the Revolution. I'm sorry."

Wesley nodded. He didn't remember them but hoped they died swiftly and with little pain.

"And our sons?"

"They lived full lives, had families. We were blessed, Sergei Nicholai, very blessed."

"And now?" he asked quietly.

"I will leave you soon," she replied, squeezing his hand. "I want you to cut a lock of my hair."

"Sinovia told me to do that," he remembered, barely able to speak.

"There's scissors in the drawer. Do it now."

"Raisa..."

"Please Sergei. It is to ensure our future in another time and place."

Gently, tenderly, Wesley unbraided her silver gray hair, running his hands through the silky tresses. Suddenly, he remembered doing that in another time, another place.

~~~

Late 1800s
Bitterroot, Montana

"I'm getting much too old to lie on a rug in front of the fire, Sergei Nicholai," she told her husband of more than forty years. "People our age should seek our bed, not the floor in front of the hearth."

"Remember our honeymoon, barushka?" he asked, his fingers entwined in her silky hair, one hand cupping her breast.

"You've never let me forget it," the tiny Raisa teased. "You still touch me like a nervous bridegroom."

"Nervous bridegroom?" he growled. "You were the nervous virgin, barushka. You were the one who thought the wedding night consisted of taking your clothes off, screaming when I looked upon your nakedness and then going to sleep."

"I did not!" she protested.

"You did," he laughed, looking at the woman who had been his virgin bride, still seeing her as she had been so many years before. "And you thought I was like a horse."

"You are like a horse," she teased, kissing him before he could say more. "Like a giant stallion, my love."

"This giant stallion wants you, barushka. Spread your legs for me, little one."

"I do love you, Sergei Nicholai," she sighed, accepting him into her body and embracing his love.

"And I, you, Raisa Katerina," he murmured, filling her again, knowing he had been blessed with her, loving her until his dying day.

~~~

He cut a lock of her hair, wrapped it in his handkerchief and slipped it into his inside jacket pocket. "I have it, my love," he told her.

"Tonight, I shall tell you the rest," she said, not explaining further. "Come back tonight, Sergei."

"I will, barushka," he promised as her eyelids fluttered shut. He sat... watching her... tenderness on his face... grief settling in his heart... staying by her side until he was certain she was asleep.

~ End Part Seventeen ~

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