Kasiya’s heart was pounding fast and hard as she stood before the closed door. Claude was in there. It had been over five years since she last saw him. Ever since he told her that he was coming to New York, she had been beside herself with excitement. She hadn’t been able to sleep a wink last night. The entire day had been a blur and now here she was. She smoothed her trembling hands down the skirt of her dress, checked that her hair was in place and then slowly turned the doorknob. He said that he would leave it open. She stepped into a large foyer.
After closing and locking the door, she removed her boots. Ahead of her, she could hear soft violin music playing and went towards it. It was coming from a spacious living-room. She paused in the doorway and her heart leapt in her chest when she saw him standing at the window with his back turned to her.
As if aware of her presence, he turned to face her. For several minutes they stood there, just staring at each other. They had longed for this very moment—when they would see each other again. “Kasiya,” he whispered, aching to hold her in his arms.
And then, she was running across the room. She flung herself at him and cried when he wrapped his arms around her. She buried her face in his sweater and hugged him back tightly, the tears soaking into the material. He closed his eyes.
When she drew back to look up at him, he reached up and held her face between his hands. He rubbed the tears away with his thumbs. “I’ve missed you so much,” he muttered thickly. “The time we’ve been apart has been hell for me.”
“I’ve missed you too,” she told him. “Many times I wanted to come to Dakar but Madame Bernard talked me out of it.”
“When she had to come to New York for a conference, I came with her.”
“I saw you but when I asked the man at the desk, he said that neither of you were staying at the hotel.”
“It was Madeline’s idea that no one, especially you, should know that we were there. I’m sorry, Kasiya. You have no idea how badly I wanted to come after you but Madeline managed to talk me out of it.”
“I’ve been so unhappy, Claude. The thought of never seeing you again was too much. That’s why I turned to your ex-wife for help. She was my last hope. I think she felt sorry for me and that’s why she helped me. I will always be grateful to her.”
“And so will I.” His eyes darkened on her upturned face. “You’re as lovely as ever,” he murmured.
“Thank you,” she managed to say before he lowered his head and kissed her. She eagerly kissed him back. It had been such a long time. It felt wonderful being in his arms again and kissing him. As their lips moved feverishly on each other’s, he picked her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom. He laid her down on the bed and drew back to remove his clothes, his face flushed with desire and longing. When he was naked, he undressed her, his hands trembling slightly and his breathing unsteady.
She raised her arms and grabbing his shoulders, she pulled him down, anxious to feel his body against hers. As he stretched out on top of her and began to move his hips, she dug her nails into his skin. “I love you,” he murmured huskily.
“I love you too,” she gasped.
His mouth found hers and ravenously devoured it. Sunlight flooded the room, casting a warm glow on their undulating bodies. In the living-room, the music continued to play softly.
“I have something to tell you,” he said, two hours later when they were sitting on the sofa after a romantic, candlelight dinner.
She looked warily at him. “That’s what I said before I told you that I was going away.”
He smiled. “Don’t worry. You’ll get a kick out of what I have to tell you.”
She playfully punched him on the chest. “Well, don’t keep me in suspense.”
“This apartment we’re in belongs to me. I bought it.”
She stared at him. “You bought it?”
“Yes. If I’m to live here in New York, I need to have a place, right?”
“Live in New York? You mean–?”
“Yes, mon petite Cherie, I’ve moved to New York to be close to you.”
“Oh, Claude,” she cried, covering his face with kisses. “This is great! Having you here in New York is a dream come true.”
“I was hoping that you would be pleased.”
“Pleased? I’m deliriously happy. So, when do you move?”
“I’ve already moved.”
“You have? What about the beach house?”
“I still have it. I’m not going to sell it. We can go there for holidays.”
“I’m so happy that we’re going to be together again.”
“It was Catherine’s suggestion that I move to New York. I can’t believe that I hadn’t thought of it myself.”
“We owe her a lot.”
“All she asked for was an invitation to our wedding.”
Kasiya’s eyes widened. “Our wedding?”
“Yes. That reminds me…” he reached into the pocket of his robe and pulled out a box. His expression serious now, he got down on one knee. After taking the box out and reaching for her hand, he asked, simply, “Kasiya, will you marry me?”
She smiled through her tears. “Yes, Claude. I will.”
He reached up and cupping her face, he kissed her tenderly on the lips before hugging her tightly. “Thank you for making me the happiest man alive.”
They celebrated their engagement with a glass of wine.