A/N: Thanks go to Robinpoppins and Filo for organizing the CWS! Thanks to those in the writing sessions for the encouragement and to those that helped with the title selection! Thanks to LorelaiSquared for offering her input on this chapter, and many much thanks to Jewels for being such an amazing beta! BDY!
Why would she tell me that? It should've been me? The thought didn't even cross my mind until she said something. Why did she say anything? Why do I let her get into my head? "Argh!" Lorelai yelled, gaining the attention of everyone in the square. She felt her cheeks heat up. Thankfully, her embarrassment was shrouded in darkness.
She resumed pacing, wearing a path in the grass. She wasn't sure what brought her out at this time of night to walk the square. The goal was for her to clear her head so she could sleep, but she couldn't get rid of the thoughts her mother planted in her brain. She really wished that she had an impartial party to talk to. Someone who would help her sort out her thoughts.
During her mental tirade, something from across the street caught her eye. She stopped pacing and looked over to the diner. Luke was absorbed in his nightly cleaning process. She stood there studying his movements. He was very methodical in how and what he cleaned. She noticed that about him before, but right now it had a calming effect on her overwrought mind.
Without thought, her legs started moving toward the diner. She wasn't aware that Luke had stopped what he was doing, his eyes focused on her. He quickly crossed over to the door and unlocked and opened it for her to enter.
Lorelai walked up the steps, brushing past Luke. She automatically went to the counter and plopped on a stool, sighing loudly.
"Do you want to talk about it?" he asked as he made his way to his spot behind the counter. While waiting for her answer, he busied himself with pouring a cup of coffee and setting it in front of her.
Lorelai sat there quietly, deep in thought, sipping her coffee. She debated on how much to tell him. She needed an unbiased opinion, but was Luke the right person for the job? She wasn't sure.
"I don't know," she said honestly.
"I'm going to clean. Feel free to talk if you want." He squeezed her hand before he went back to his routine.
He started stacking the chairs on top of the tables, wondering what was going on with Lorelai. He knew something was wrong because she was eerily quiet. Not to mention that she didn't even demand coffee.
Lorelai turned around with her back leaning against the counter and watched Luke.
"Chris is in town, and he brought his girlfriend."
Luke's body noticeably tensed at the mention of Chris' name.
Lorelai saw his reaction but wasn't sure what it meant so she continued, "She's very pretty and perky, and...I don't know. She wanted to spend time with Rory which is fine, but my mom had a very negative reaction to the idea of Sherry. She said some things that made me start thinking, and I don't like where my mind went."
Luke paused briefly in his rounds and nodded in her direction, trying to encourage her to continue.
"She said that he got his life together with that woman, and it should've been me. Should it have been me? Why after all these years did he finally 'find' himself and make a life with someone else? What is so wrong with me that he couldn't have been here for Rory and I? Am I that much of a pain in the ass that he decided to leave and not see Rory grow up? Is it all my fault that he was never truly a father to her?" she questioned as tears ran down her face. She covered her face with her hands hoping he wouldn't notice the crying.
Luke wasn't sure what to do. He didn't always respond well to a woman's emotions, but this was Lorelai, and she was hurting. He would do anything to take the pain away even if the man wasn't worth crying over. He walked up to her and put his arms around her, holding her head to his chest.
The feel of his arms around her caused the flood gates to open. She sobbed into him, releasing all the frustration and unease she felt.
He rubbed her back in circles, trying to calm her. "Shh. It's okay. I've got you," he whispered in her ear, brushing her hair back from her tear stained cheeks. "It has nothing to do with you. Chris is an idiot. He doesn't deserve you or Rory." He noticed the tears were slowing.
Lorelai sniffled, glancing up at him, trying to figure out if he was just placating her or if he really meant what he said. What she saw in his eyes was sincerity. Luke had always been truthful with her. She had no reason to doubt his honesty now.
As Lorelai stared into Luke's eyes, she felt a peace wash over her. Here was this man who always made her feel better. Whether it was sneaking her an extra slice of pie because she had a rough day, or running to her rescue as something else at the crap shack collapsed, he was always there, always willing to fix things. He knew her better than anyone, yet he continued to take care of her, seemed to enjoy her company even when she was driving him insane. Sighing, she rested her head against his chest again.
What would make one man leave and another stay? She figured she really couldn't compare the two relationships since Luke was her friend and Chris had been...well, he had been her first. Her first kiss, her first lover, and the father of her first child. Possibly he was her first love, but not a love that a successful marriage could have been built upon. With Chris it was more about how much they could push the limits than about love. She could do without Chris in her life. So why was she so upset about what her mom said? She obviously had something unresolved going on inside of her.
Her mind wandered back to the present. Luke. Her friendship with him was very important to her. She knew in her heart that she could not live without him. Here with Luke's arms around her, she felt safe and secure. She exalted in the feeling and allowed it to wash over her body and soul. She never wanted the moment to end.
Meeting Luke's eyes again, she slipped her hand up to Luke's face, gently stroking his cheek.
"You are a good guy, Luke Danes," she said quietly, spellbound by the look in his eyes. There she saw tenderness and devotion. Like a bee to honey, she was drawn to it. She stood up, sliding against him, elongating her body so they could be face to face. Luke's eyes widened as she softly brushed her lips against his.
Lorelai felt her pulse quicken at the brief contact. She moved for another pass against his lips, and this time Luke met her halfway. He pressed his lips firmly to hers causing her to grab his shirt with her fists, pulling him closer. His arms tightened around her, making sure that there was no space left between them.
The kiss that started sweet, quickly grew sensual as their lips moved against each other. When tongues became involved, their arousal amped up tenfold. Heat radiated off their bodies, encompassing their thoughts and desires. Long suppressed feelings were bubbling to the surface, and neither one could stop them.
After several minutes, reason entered Luke's mind. I can't be kissing Lorelai, he thought. He started pulling away from her: he didn't want the contact to end, but she had just been crying over another man. She was distraught, and he didn't want to take advantage of her vulnerability. If the kiss was ever repeated, he wanted her whole mind and heart to be involved, not just the fragments.
Her eyes popped open as she felt cold seep into her body where there had been heat. She realized that Luke was moving away from her.
"What's going on, Luke?"
Luke observed her from across the diner and saw the look of hurt come into her eyes.
"You're not ready for this, Lorelai."
"What do you mean 'not ready for this'? I was a very willing participant. And if I'm not mistaken, so were you," she accused, her body sagging against the counter.
"I just mean that not twenty minutes ago, you were crying over Christopher."
"I wasn't crying over Chris. I was crying over the circumstances that had to do with Chris."
"Lorelai, I've wanted this for a long time. I've waited to kiss you like that for so long," he assured her. "But I will not play second fiddle to that schmuck. If you want something to happen between us, I want you to be sure because there will be no going back."
She looked at him with yearning in her eyes and she nodded in agreement. She owed it to him to be certain. Slowly, she walked toward the door and gave him one last glance over her shoulder.
She called out, "I'll be back," as she moved out the door.
"And I'll be waiting," he said to himself.
Lorelai felt defeated walking back to her house. She went into Luke's to possibly talk and receive some moral support, but what she came away with was much more confusing and yet somehow invigorating. He cared about her. Really cared. And not in the 'just friends' way. He desired her. She could feel it in the kiss and the way he held her. She sighed as she tore her thoughts away from Luke. She needed to wade through all the emotional turmoil Chris had put her through before she could come to terms with her first amazing kiss with Luke.
Although, now that she thought about it, did Chris deserve any consideration? He was the one to leave. He was the one that used her as an excuse to be an ass for so many years. Sure she wouldn't marry him, but did that give him a right to skip out on Rory or her? He left with not so much as a single glance. His contact with Rory was sporadic at best. Birthdays and Christmas' were hit or miss. No one could depend on him for anything. At least not until recently; recently he had been very attentive. Calling when he said he would. Sending gifts for special occasions. She shook her head. Why couldn't he have recognized his responsibility sooner? Why had it taken a woman who wasn't her to cause this change in him?
She arrived at the house, hurrying up the front steps, through the door, and up the stairs before she ran into Rory. If Rory saw her, she would know something was wrong and press her for answers she wasn't prepared to give at this moment.
Making it safely into her room, she closed the door and kicked off her shoes. Picking up the pile of crumpled pajamas on the floor, she started to undress. She was tired from her thoughts waging war on each other, but she was still restless. She knew she wouldn't be able to sleep until everything was resolved in her mind. This was going to be a long night.