They stood facing each other in the lobby of his hotel. In a few minutes, he would be walking out of her life and returning to London. Although he was leaning nonchalantly against the wall, his expression was tense as he looked at her.
“Our time together has come to an end,” he said quietly.
She fought to hold back the tears and said, “Who was it who said that all good things must come to an end? I can never remember.”
“It was inspired by Chaucer who wrote in his poem, who wrote in his poem, Troilus and Criseyde: ‘But at the laste, as every thing hath ende, She took hir leve, and nedes wolde wende.’”
“Yes, it was Chaucer. I read The Canterbury Tales by him for English in my junior year at high-school.”
“I wish I could take you back to Brierwell Manor with me.”
“Maybe one of these days, I’ll visit it.”
“Sarifina, it isn’t over between us, I want you to know that.”
She was relieved to hear that. “Okay. We-we can email and-and text each other. And when we want to see each other we can Skype. We can exchange Christmas and birthday cards and–“
“No. We’ll see each other as often as possible when you’re in London. We will celebrate Christmas, New Year’s and our birthdays together.”
She stared at him. “Go where?”
“To the airport.”
“Yes, the ride to the airport will allow us more time to spend together. Don’t you want that?”
“Of-of course, I do, Maxime.”
“Then, let’s go. The limo is waiting outside.”
They walked through the revolving doors and got into the limo. As it pulled away, he reached for her hand, making her heart skip a beat. She glanced at him and found him watching her. “It’s–it’s a beautiful day. I–I wonder what the weather is like in London right now.”
“I’m not sure but hopefully, it’s a nice evening. It will be about 8pm there now.”
“Oh, yes. You’re five hours ahead in the summer.”
“What time is your flight?”
“So, you’ll arrive tomorrow?”
“Yes, tomorrow morning.”
“I’ll be getting ready for school. It’s the last week before the summer vacation. If only you could stay longer, we could spend every single day together.”
“I wish I could stay too.”
“These past three weeks with you have meant the world to me, Maxime.”
“They’ve meant the world to me too,” he said quietly. “They have been the happiest moments in my life.”
“Do you know why I’ve never taken you up to my hotel room?”
“I would have been tempted to make love to you and I didn’t want our first time to be in a hotel room even if it’s in a five-star hotel.”
Her breath quickened. The fact that he wanted to make love to her thrilled her. It was something she had fantasized about ever since they met. “I-I wouldn’t have minded,” she told him huskily.
His eyes darkened on her face. “I know, mon chéri but it wouldn’t have been the same as if we were to make love in my own bed at Brierwell Manor.”
“What-what’s your bedroom like?” She imagined that it was huge and magnificent–something you would see in those magazines about homes.
“It’s enormous, cozy with a fireplace, antique furniture, two sets of French doors opening onto the balcony overlooking the garden, a chandelier and painting in the ceiling. I will send you a photo.”
“A chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a painting on the ceiling?”
“It sounds amazing.”
“It is. You’ll like it.”
“Do you have a favorite room in the mansion or a favorite place on the estate where you like to escape to?”
“Yes, my favorite place in the mansion is the Conservatory where I like to sit for hours reading or just thinking or listening to music. And there’s a lake on the estate where I like to sit for a while.”
“Does it ever get lonely for you at the mansion?”
“Sometimes but now, I won’t be lonely. I will have my thoughts and memories of you to keep me company.”
Sarifina smiled, though her heart was breaking. Her thoughts and memories of him were all that she would have until she saw him again. Last night, she cried as she lay in bed because she couldn’t bear the thought of him leaving. After he left, her days and nights would be spent aching and yearning for him. “I’ll be thinking and dreaming about you every single day.”
Half-hour later, they were standing in the airport, facing each other after he had checked in. Sarifina couldn’t stop the tears. They were running down her cheeks. Maxime looked at her, his heart aching. Reaching up, he cupped her face between his hands and kissed her. She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back.
Then, he broke off the kiss to bury his face in her neck while he hugged her tightly about her shoulders. When he drew back to gaze down at her, his expression was drawn. “Au revoir, Sarifina.”
“Au revoir, Maxime,” she mumbled.
He gently wiped away the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs. “Until we see each other again.”
“Until we see each other again.” She wanted to cling to him and never let him go but she didn’t want to make a scene. She had to be mature and sensible about this.
They released each other and she stood there, her hands clasped tightly in front of her as he walked away. He paused once to turn around and look at her and then, he was gone.