Noah was ecstatic the day he received the letter he had been waiting for. His life long dream was finally becoming a reality. He had been accepted into the honors program of the film department at Oakdale University. That letter of acceptance meant so many things for Noah. He had been recognized for all his hard work. He would be one of the elite few Oakdale U students in the film department chosen to study in Rome at the prestigious Fellini Film Institute for the fall semester. But it also meant he would be separated from the person he loved more than his own life, for the first time.
So many issues ran through his mind as he stood with his acceptance letter in one hand and embracing Luke with the other. Luke seemed genuinely happy for him. Noah could feel his excitement, but he knew Luke better than anyone. He couldn't help wondering if something as wonderful as this could prove to be detrimental to their relationship. To celebrate he and Luke drove to Starved Rock State Park. Where they spent a romantic weekend camped out under the stars. During which they teased each other non-stop about being separated for the first time.
On the day of Noah's departure, Luke drove him to O'Hare airport and sat waiting with him in the airport's coffee shop. The mood was somber. Luke tried to lighten things up a bit. He took a sip of his latte.
"Pretty good, on a scale of one to ten I'll give it about a seven."
Noah smiled, "Oh really and how would you rate mine?"
"I can't because yours are so awesome they're completely off the scale," He giggled.
Noah grinned, "Good answer!"
Luke continued, "In fact I'm not even gonna set foot inside Java until you return. Heck I might stop drinking coffee altogether." They both laughed.
Luke looked at his watch. "Less than fifteen minutes before your flight leaves."
He bit his bottom lip to keep it from quivering. He looked up at Noah with moist eyes. "Baby I'm gonna miss you so much," He squeaked out, "But I truly am really, really happy for you and I want you to go to Rome and be the very best you can possibly be."
Noah's heart sank. He reached for Luke's hand resting on the table and they intertwined their fingers.
"I'll miss you even more," He whispered past the lump forming in his throat. "I love you so much for supporting me like this. I know how hard it's gonna be for you. For both of us."
"Don't worry about me Noah," Luke replied, "I'm going to be alright."
"You know I will. I don't want you to worry about me either, but I know you will too." They laughed.
Their laughter was interrupted by an announcement, "Alitalia flight 457 now boarding at gate 29." They both were overcome with sadness. They shared a quick kiss, said their goodbyes and I love yous, and Noah grabbed his jacket and was gone. Luke stood there watching him walk away and tried unsuccessfully to hold back his tears.
Luke sat in their apartment waiting for Noah to call to inform him of his safe arrival in Rome. He and his fellow classmates would be staying at the Hotel Trevi. Luke tried to imagine Noah on the plane smiling and happy. He even got on his laptop and went to the hotel's site he had bookmarked earlier and tried to imagine Noah there. What the heck am I doing? This is NOT helping. Luke left the apartment and went for a walk. He walked around for blocks trying hard not to think so much about Noah, but there were reminders everywhere he looked. He finally found himself in Olde Towne standing outside of Java.
"No way, no how," He said to himself and quickly turned and walked away. After a few minutes he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. It was Noah.
"Hey Luke, I made it here safe and sound. How are you baby?"
"Noah, it's so good to hear your voice. I'm so glad you made it there safely. I'm doing.... fine...I'm good, really."
"I'm getting there," He chuckled," So how's everything? How's Rome?"
"Luke everything's awesome. Rome is more beautiful than you can ever imagine. Our hotel is off the charts! This is gonna be the experience of a lifetime!"
"That sounds really awesome Noah, I'm very happy for you."
"Well babe, gotta go now me and a couple of the guys from class are going to do a little exploring. I'll touch base with you soon, ok. Love you babe, bye now."
"Love you more Noah. Have a good time, bye."
Luke felt a tightness in his chest and a lump forming in his throat.
"How am I ever gonna get through this?" He whispered to himself, "I miss him so much already."
He stuffed his phone back into his pocket and slowly, sadly walked back home.
Noah and two of his classmates Mitch and Conner had become fast friends. Mitch had visited Rome before so he acted as their tour guide. Noah was fascinated that so much history and culture could be found in one city. All of the attractions he had heard so much about Trevi Fountain, the Roman Coliseum, the Parthenon, St. Peter's Basilica, the Sistine Chapel. He would now be able to see them all. After an eventful day of taking in a few of these historic sites, Noah settled back into his hotel suite and wrote a postcard with a picture of the Roman Coliseum to Luke.
Does this remind you of Soldier Field too? Can't wait to see another Bears game with you. Miss you, love you.
Noah went to bed that night thinking about all the precious moments he had shared with his loving partner. As soon as Luke received the postcard he wrote Noah a reply.
I miss you so much baby. I was just thinking about all of the firsts in our lives and I realized that this is the first time we've been this far away from each other. I promise you I'm not going to be a whiny brat about it. I know how important this is to you so I'll do my best to support and encourage you however I can. I know that you are making the most of this wonderful opportunity by learning as much as you can and doing whatever you can to further develop your directing skills. Noah I know that someday you'll be an awesome director and I'm willing to sacrifice time spent with you now if it will benefit you in the future. The time difference is such a pain and I would hate to wake you up or disturb your work in any way. But I can send you a message on my trusty laptop any time I think of you. And baby that's non-stop. Take good care of yourself babe. Love you more than humanly possible.
Always your Luke
A few days later Noah sent his reply. He had been so extremely busy he only had time to scribble a quick message to Luke on a postcard and mail it.
Sending you all my love with this beautiful postcard. Wish you were here and I really mean it. Miss you, love you.
By this time Luke was feeling very neglected and lost. He was so lonely he had started spending most of his time at the farm. Holden noticed how melancholy he seemed and was worried about him.
"Luke how are things at your foundation?"
"Everything's fine I guess. You'll have to ask mom. She's been pretty much running it lately."
"Ok then, how's your job at Grimaldi Shipping? Have you been spending any of your time there?"
"Not exactly, I have a great assistant. He's been helping out quite a bit since..."
"Since you haven't been showing up?"
"Dad what's your point?"
"My point is you've put your life completely on hold since Noah's been gone."
"Dad what do you expect me to do? I miss him so much I can't even function anymore. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I don't even want to be in that apartment anymore without him. I can't take much more of this. And the worst of it is, he's going on with his life and he's being busy and productive and he's forgotten about me."
"Luke, Noah has not forgotten about you. I'm sure he misses you just as much."
"I'm not sure dad. I mean he doesn't call me as much and look," He handed his dad the latest postcard Noah had sent him, "It's a beautiful postcard, but that's all I've gotten from him in days. I don't even know what he's doing anymore. It makes me wonder if he might be hiding something from me."
Holden read the message, "Luke he says he misses you and loves you. That's all you need to know. You know better than anybody how Noah is when it comes to expressing his feelings."
"Yeah I do and that's part of his charm, but dad I can't help thinking that something's changed in our relationship. I just get this feeling."
"Luke stop imagining things. That's not doing you or Noah any good. Just give Noah his space right now. Let him do what he has to do over in Rome and he'll be back here before you know it. And you need to get productive yourself. Stop sitting around making yourself miserable."
"I guess you're right dad. What's wrong with me?"
"Hmmm, I think they call it LOVE." They both laughed.
Luke thought about the advice his dad had given him and immediately sent Noah a heartfelt message.
Being apart from you is so much harder than I thought it would be. Are you missing me as much as I'm missing you? I know you must be extremely preoccupied with school and working on your film and stuff. Otherwise you'd be filling me in on every minute detail of every second of your day, lol. Honestly Noah, I just need a little bit of reassurance that you're doing ok. I hope I'm not sounding like an annoying twit here. I just would be so grateful if you'd contact me a little more. But if you're super busy Noah that's perfectly fine. I really don't want to distract you or anything. I hope everything's great with you. I'm impatiently counting the days til you return, lol. I love you more than words can describe.
Always your Luke
Weeks passed with hardly any meaningful communication between the boys. Whenever Luke would call Noah they would share a quick conversation which always left him unsatisfied or even worse, he would get Noah's voice mail. He would send elaborate, romantic messages to Noah which would be answered with only a few curt sentences. Luke began to suffer from insomnia and nothing he did seemed to help him fall asleep. Then one day he decided to tire himself out so completely that his body would have to rest. He helped Holden with farm chores the entire day. Then he went home and cleaned the apartment from top to bottom, which included doing the laundry. By the time midnight rolled around he was dead on his feet. He fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. Unfortunately his overactive imagination got the better of him because he had a nightmare about Noah and a sleazy looking, long haired, blond guy. He saw this guy flirting with Noah and brazenly planting a kiss on his forehead. He bolted up in bed with a shock, the disturbing image still in his head.
"Oh hell no!" He shouted.
In a matter of minutes he had booked a flight to Rome. The next morning he visited his parents' house. Lily answered the door.
"Hi mom," He said with a broad grin.
"Hi Luke come on in. We were just sitting down to breakfast."
He followed his mom into the kitchen and exchanged greetings with everyone. He sat down at the table as his mom served their meal.
"So what brings you by so early this morning?" Holden teased.
"I've got great news."
"Oh really, what is it?" Lily inquired.
"I'm going to visit Noah in Rome. I booked my flight last night," He replied beaming.
"What made you decide to do that?" Holden asked sternly.
"Wow! That's awesome can I go too," Natalie interrupted.
"Maybe next time," Luke answered her.
"Dad, it's not like I've got anything pressing here. I miss Noah so much and he misses me too. I just want to be with him for a while."
"A while? How long do you intend to stay?"
"A week or two. Maybe longer if he doesn't get tired of me," He giggled.
Holden just glared at him, then looked at Lily.
"When are you leaving honey?" Lily asked.
"Friday evening. Can I bum a ride to the airport?" He grinned.
Holden wasn't pleased. "Luke do you think this is a wise thing to do? What happened to you giving Noah his space? You told me how busy he always is. Won't you be disrupting his schedule? You know you don't want to spoil things for him."
"Spoil things for him!? Dad you act like I'm going over there to sabotage his career or something."
"Luke you know that's not what I meant. Noah needs to be completely focused on what he's doing without any distractions or else he might not be able to do his best."
"Dad I'm not gonna get in his way. I support him 100%. In fact I can even help him out. My being there can work out great for the both of us."
Holden sighed and looked up at the ceiling.
"Honey have you discussed this with Noah?" Lily inquired, "Has he agreed to it?"
"No, I'm gonna surprise him. I know he'll be happy to see me. I can't wait to see the look on his face."
They were all silent for a few moments. Luke could feel the tension in the air.
Faith spoke up. "Have a good time Luke and don't forget to bring us all back some really cool souvenirs."
Luke smiled at her show of support. They ate for a few minutes in silence.
"Well guys since it's a given that I'm going, can one of you drive me to the airport on Friday?"
Holden looked at Luke then at Lily, shook his head and laughed. Luke and Lily joined in.
Luke was exhausted after his long flight. He arrived at Leonardo Da Vinci airport on Saturday afternoon. Now riding in the taxi headed for the Hotel Trevi his body tingled with excitement. He could hardly believe he would be seeing his beloved Noah in a few short minutes. Noah walked back to the hotel with Mitch and Conner. They had been filming all morning and had just eaten lunch at a charming sidewalk cafe. Noah had a little time to drop off his camera and check his messages before he had to go to the Fellini Film Institute to edit his film.
"We really got a lot done today. Thanks guys for all your help," Noah addressed his friends.
"All we did was take orders from the boy genius," Mitch quipped.
Noah blushed, "I don't know about that."
"Can it with your false modesty Mayer. You know you have everyone in that class beaten by a mile, including us," Conner added. They laughed.
"Why are you even taking these courses?" He continued.
"Are you kidding me? The Fellini Institute is the absolute best there is and how could anyone pass up a semester in one of the most beautiful cities in the world?" Noah explained.
"And not to mention the great pasta," Mitch joked patting his full stomach. They chuckled. In a few minutes they reached their destination.
"Well guys I'm gonna drop off this camera and head back over to school to edit the film. You guys interested in joining me?"
"Hell yeah!" Conner replied enthusiastically, "We'd be knuckleheads if we balked at the chance to get your expert instruction for free."
Noah beamed, "Ok then, I'll meet you guys back here in the lobby in about twenty minutes."
About five minutes after Noah went up to his room, Luke arrived. He was so excited he could hardly breathe. He already knew what room Noah was in so he zipped through the lobby and up to room #601 as fast as he could. He held his breath as he stood out side Noah's door. He heard a voice coming from inside. It was Noah's! Thank God he's here! He knocked on the door.
"Sure no problem we can do that too. See you in a little bit," He heard Noah saying as he was walking to answer the door. Noah opened the door and almost dropped his cell phone.
"LUKE MY GOD!" They rushed into each other's arms and shared a searing kiss. Noah stuck his phone back into his pocket. He gently cupped Luke's face into his hands.
"Baby you look so gorgeous. I can't believe you're actually here!" They kissed again.
"Oh baby so do you. I just had to see you Noah. I just had to be with you," Luke breathlessly replied. They held onto each other for dear life. "Oh baby it feels so good to hold you. Please tell me I'm not dreaming." Luke grinned.
"God I hope not because you look like a dream to me," Noah answered.
They kissed again this time Luke slipped his tongue into Noah's mouth. He moaned with pleasure.
"I want you so bad baby," He whispered into his ear and began unbuttoning his shirt. He caressed the soft hair on Noah's chest and then kissed and licked his nipples. Noah closed his eyes and sighed. Then Luke kissed both sides of his neck and licked his adam's apple.
"Come on baby." He led Noah to the bed and began to undress.
"Luke baby ... um, we can't right now."
Luke looked up at him indignantly, "What do you mean we can't right now!?"
Noah started buttoning his shirt and tucking it in. "I've got an appointment in, oh God, fifteen minutes!"
"You've gotta go now?"
"I'm so sorry babe. I promise I'll make it up to you. How long are you staying?"
"For as long as you want me," He smiled, licking his lips.
Noah sighed, "I just have to edit some film. We can only to do it strictly by appointment. I'll be back as soon as I can."
"Don't rush, honestly take as much time as you need." Placing his arms around Noah's neck.
"Cause I'm not going anywhere." He gave Noah his best smoldering look. They shared another lingering kiss.
Noah pulled away and grabbed his jacket. "Be back in two shakes."
"I'll be waiting," He blew Noah a kiss.
Noah chuckled and was out the door.
"DAMN IT!" Luke exclaimed loudly, kicking his suitcase.
He unpacked his clothes and put them away. Then he took a long shower.
Afterwards he ordered room service and ate dinner while he tried to watch TV. Jet leg caught up to him and he soon fell asleep. Hours later when Noah returned he saw his tired boyfriend curled up, asleep on the sofa. He didn't have the heart to wake him so he turned off the TV and gently spread a blanket over him. He quietly studied until the wee hours and then went to bed.
Luke awoke with the sunlight filtering on him through the blinds. He sat up and looked around for a few seconds until he realized where he was.
He smiled at the thought that he and Noah were together again, actually sharing the same space.
"Hey babe what's for breakfast?" He called out, "Noah?"
There was no answer. He knocked on the bathroom door then opened it, no Noah. He went into the kitchen. It was empty. The bed was made, it appeared as if Noah hadn't spent the night there.
"Where the hell is he!?" He muttered then he spotted a note on the night stand.
You looked so adorable sleeping there I didn't want to wake you. I know how tired you must have been so I let you get your rest. I went out to shoot locations with Mitch and Connor. I should be back around three. See you then babe. Love you.
"Argh!" He yelled. "Why do you always have to be sooo.... Noah!? It's Sunday and you're still working? I can't believe this!"
Unfortunately for Luke as the days passed he was in for much of the same treatment. When Noah wasn't in class he was busy shooting or studying. Luke's visit wasn't going anything as planned. He almost missed Noah as much as he did when he was back in Oakdale. In fact Noah was away so much Luke's imagination began to once again run wild.
Is Noah seeing someone else? Right here under my nose?
One day when he was in the suite alone he started snooping. He went through Noah's pockets for notes, checked his clothing for long blond hairs, went through all the drawers and cabinets for clues, and even checked underneath the bed and mattress. He found nothing. Then he got an idea. His laptop might give him away. He rushed to Noah's desk and sat down. He paused for a moment. What am I doing? I should be ashamed of myself. But... I know I'll never rest until I find out! He went ahead with his sneaky task. He checked Noah's messages. He saw all the ones he had sent him and read them. Noah had saved every one. He pulled up Noah's saved pictures and went through them. There was a group picture of his class and some of Mitch and Conner. There were several breathtaking photos of locations and tourist attractions.
"My baby is a very talented photographer," He giggled.
Then there was scene after scene of his family, of Noah, of himself, and of them together. He saw the loving and caring way Noah looked at him in each photo. He saw the lovesick way he gazed back at him. There wasn't a sleazy, long haired, blond guy in the bunch. His eyes filled with tears and they rolled down his cheeks.
"I'm an idiot for doubting him," He sobbed.
It was Friday and Noah's classes were over. He boarded the bus back to the hotel with Mitch and Conner. With most of his class work finished and not much reading to do he was excited about having the entire weekend to spend with the love of his life.
"Well Mayer, got any plans for this weekend?" Conner asked.
"If you're asking if I have time to help you guys edit your film, not on your life. I'm going to spend the entire weekend with Luke. I may take him on one of the tours or we just might do some exploring..."
"Or not," Mitch interjected with a sly grin.
Noah blushed and added with a bashful smile, "Or not is probably right." They all laughed.
Luke had taken to going out on his own while Noah was out during the day. It proved to be easy navigating for him since he spoke Italian. He loved going to the outdoor markets and charming little shops that lined the nearby streets. He had found a lovely assortment of souvenirs for his family there and today he had found a quaint establishment which sold everything he desired to treat his lover to a romantic evening. He bought patchouli bubble bath, essential oil and patchouli scented candles, Perugina Baci chocolates and San Pellegrino Limonata to toast their special occasion. At another shop he bought white satin ribbon and sashes, fluted crystal champagne glasses, and at a floral shop, red and pink roses.
Luke had used his writer's imagination to turn Noah's hotel suite into a lover's paradise. When Noah arrived Luke greeted him at the door wearing a white terry cloth bathrobe.
"Your punctuality is really gonna pay off tonight Mr. Mayer," Pulling Noah into the room by his collar and covering his face and neck with kisses.
Noah's eyes widened as he looked all around the room. "Wow Luke, you've really outdone yourself!"
"And guess what Bubby, this is only the beginning," He giggled. "Get out of those clothes. Dinner should be arriving soon. I've ordered Veal Scaloppini with mushrooms and artichokes, served over angel hair pasta with grilled baby asparagus. And I bought us an enormous bottle of San Pellegrino Limonata and a special treat for dessert." They shared a passionate kiss.
"Mmmm, sounds delicious and I just happen to be starving," He grinned.
"If you think that sounds delicious, how does this sound? A warm, patchouli scented bubble bath by candle light and afterwards a full body massage with patchouli essential oil."
"Is that all?" Noah teased.
Luke punched him on the arm. "Well if you're a good boy, you might get a little something extra."
"You have my word." They were interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Room service." The waiter announced. Luke opened the door and he wheeled their dinner into the room. Luke handed him a tip and he left. Noah changed into his bathrobe and he and Luke sat down to a romantic candle lit dinner. Noah filled their glasses and made a toast.
"To us being together and this much in love for now and for always," He beamed. Luke's eyes moistened as he caught Noah's gaze. They sipped from their glasses.
"To you Noah, the most wonderful, beautiful, kind, loving, sexy," They giggled, "boyfriend God ever created. I love you so much Bubby."
"I love you more," Noah adoringly added.
Dinner was followed by a relaxing soak in the oversized bathtub and the massage Luke had promised. Noah always loved being touched by Luke. His soft hands were talented beyond belief. He could feel how much Luke loved him with every stroke, every caress. Noah closed his eyes and took pleasure in the moment. When Luke had finished his task Noah made sure he gave Luke the same pleasure he had experienced. By now both men were fully aroused and eager for what came next. The intoxicating scent of the oil, the soft flicker of the candle light, the satin sashes, decorative ribbons and rose petals all over the room enhanced the mood and made Noah appreciate how special Luke made him feel. It began with a sweet kiss. Then the tightest embrace. They could feel each other longing to be satisfied. The familiarity of their bodies felt so amazing to them, so comforting.
They fit together perfectly. They knew each other so well that they could communicate without speaking. Every movement was bliss, every utterance like beautiful music, every thought was enchanting. They became one like never before and when they reached their height of passion it left them breathless. After coming down from their incredible high they fed each other the exquisite Perugina Baci chocolates and fell asleep warm and glowing in each others arms.
After sharing an incredibly romantic weekend with Luke, Noah was back to his hectic schedule on Monday morning. This week Noah was more stressed than usual because his professor had wrangled a personal meeting for him with the famous Italian director Gio Petrelli on Wednesday. Noah was honored and extremely excited. He hardly slept the night before and he was up early Wednesday morning, hard at work on his laptop making sure his film was perfect, that he had the DVD ready, and that everything was set for the most important appointment of his career.
Luke stirred out of his sleep, "Babe you're up? What time is it?"
"Sorry I didn't mean to wake you. It's a little after five. Go back to sleep."
"What time is your appointment, again? Luke asked approaching Noah at his desk.
"You're all wound up babe," He cooed, massaging Noah's neck and shoulders, "Come back to bed, He whispered kissing his neck, "You need to relax."
"There's no way I'd be able to go back to sleep."
Luke sat on his lap. "Well there are other ways to relax and sleeping didn't actually cross my mind," He giggled.
They shared an adoring kiss. Luke did get Noah to relax quite a bit and afterwards they took a shower together. While Noah got dressed Luke made breakfast.
"So how do you feel now?" He smirked. He entered the room carrying a large mug of coffee.
"A lot less nervous actually."
"Well you look rested, relaxed and ready to go...and quite handsome I might add," He giggled. "Breakfast is ready."
"Sorry Luke I really don't have time, but thanks anyway babe," Noah replied as he was placing the DVD of his film back in its case.
"Then at least have some coffee. It's with amaretto cream, just the way you like it," He grinned.
"I suppose I have time for that." He reached for the mug without looking. Luke let go the mug's handle a split second too soon and it crashed onto the laptop spilling its hot, sweet, sticky contents all over Noah's keyboard and exposed DVD. Luke gasped.
Noah quickly stood up. He was shocked at what he was observing. All of his hard work, ruined in an instant!
"Damn it Luke, how could you be so fucking clumsy!?"
"Noah, baby I'm so sorry," He ran to get paper towels and soaked up what liquid he could. He wiped off the DVD and handed it to Noah.
"Maybe we can salvage everything. Just let me think a minute." He turned the laptop over to allow it to drain. "I can fix this Noah. I swear I'll fix it. Maybe you can call your professor and tell him you'll be a little late." He looked up at Noah with sad eyes.
"Forget it Luke, I'm not doing that! I'm not showing up late for this meeting! Face it, it's over, it's ruined!"
"No! Maybe we can retrieve the film somehow. Maybe you can create another DVD."
"Even if I could do it, it would take too long! I think that Gio Petrelli has better things to do than sit around and wait for me to get my shit together!"
Luke looked down at the floor completely distraught. "I'm sorry Noah," He said barely audible.
"Yeah!" Noah angrily replied and stormed out.
Luke continued to do what he could to clean up the mess.
Noah just wandered the streets aimlessly. He had to get away from Luke. It was hard for him to process what had just happened. He went from making love to the man he loved more than anyone else on earth to wanting to strangle him. He knew that Luke didn't spill the coffee on purpose, but that did not ease his anger. He couldn't call his professor with a lame excuse for not showing up. He just walked and tried to clear his head.
Later that afternoon Luke scoured the same streets looking for his boyfriend. He searched every place he could think of until he found him. Noah sat at a table at a sidewalk café looking as if he were mad at the world. He didn't even notice Luke standing beside him.
"Noah, do you mind if I sit down?"
"Suit yourself," He replied without looking up.
"Noah I just want you to know that I took your laptop in to be repaired and the guy said that he would be able to fix it and your files can be retrieved. Here's the name and address of the store." He pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to him. "It'll be ready for you in a couple days." Noah stuck it in his jacket pocket.
"Thanks," He said dryly, without looking at Luke.
"Noah I also want you to know I'm leaving tomorrow. I think it's probably time for me to go home," He said with a trembling voice, trying hard not to cry.
Noah remained silent. Luke's heart sank.
"What time is your fight leaving?"
"At four pm."
Noah nodded. Luke turned his head and looked out towards the street. He didn't want Noah to see the tears welling up in his eyes. A few seconds later he felt Noah's strong hand grasping his across the table. He turned to him and smiled weakly. Noah had a concerned look on his face.
"Have you eaten anything today?"
"No I wasn't hungry."
He smiled at Luke, "I'll get us some coffee."
Luke's heart melted in hearing that. He knew it was Noah's quirky way of saying I love you Luke. All is forgiven. They drank their coffee and sat and talked for hours. Noah apologized for yelling at Luke. By the time they returned to the hotel things were a lot better between them. The next day they bid a sad farewell to each other at the airport.
Luke called Noah to let him know he made it home safely as soon as his plane landed at O'Hare. He received a warm welcome back at his parents' home after spending nearly two weeks abroad. His family was excited to hear about his trip and his siblings loved the t-shirts and other souvenirs he had purchased for them.
Holden took him aside, "How's Noah doing?"
"He's doing great dad. Really busy as I expected." He wouldn't dare tell him about the spilled coffee incident.
"That's good, so you guys had a nice visit then?"
"Yeah, it couldn't have been better."
"Well that's great, I'm happy to hear it." He patted Luke's shoulder, smiled, and walked away.
Luke sighed and thought, He might as well have said I told you so. When Luke went home that night and checked his messages he found one from Noah.
I'm so sorry babe if I made you feel like I didn't want you here. I miss you like crazy, but it's just whenever you're around I only want to focus on you. At times it becomes a little distracting. Even when you're not here, it's like you're still with me. I think about you all the time. Babe you know how much I love you.
He went to bed that night feeling reassured and comforted by the knowledge that Noah truly loved him and missed him as much as he did Noah. He was able to sleep peacefully for the first time since Noah had been away.
For the next few weeks Luke busied himself with working at the foundation. It felt good to get back into the swing of things. Although he didn't stop missing Noah, it wasn't quite as painful. He organized the foundation's Christmas fundraising campaign and he was very proud of his work. So was Lily. She was very impressed by the amount of time he put in and the many creative ideas he had contributed. When he received a call from Noah he was bursting to tell him about all he had accomplished. It was a little over a week before Noah was scheduled to return home and Luke could hardly contain himself. Noah could hear the excitement in his voice.
"Noah! How are you! It's so good to hear from you. I've got great news."
"I'm good Luke. I've got some really awesome news."
"Ok then, you go first."
"There's a film festival in Florence next weekend. At the end of it they always include a few student films. This is a tremendous honor for any film that's chosen. And guess what Luke? My film was chosen! Can you believe it? Professor Roberts told me this afternoon!"
"Noah! That's awesome, I'm so proud of you baby."
"Thanks so much, I'm also up for the outstanding student film award."
"Oh my God Noah. You'll win it for sure. I just know it."
"And there's something else too."
"What is it?"
"You remember the meeting I was scheduled to have with Gio Petrelli?"
"Yeah, how could I forget?"
"Well none other than Gio himself is co-sponsoring the festival and Professor Roberts informed me that HE wants to meet with ME."
Luke gasped, he almost dropped the phone. "Noah, please tell me you're not joking!"
"No, I'm not baby. My professor felt so bad for me about what happened before, he entered my film without my knowledge and it turns out Gio screened it and he liked it enough to feature it in his film festival."
"Noah I can't believe this is real, I feel like I'm dreaming."
"It's real baby and I want you to share it with me."
"Just tell me when and where and I'm there."
"What's your news Luke?"
"Oh never mind, it's not nearly as important as yours."
The next couple of weeks were like a blur. The semester had officially ended and Noah earned excellent marks from all of his instructors. While the rest of the students returned home. Noah remained abroad with Professor Roberts, accepting awards, honoring requests for screening his film, meeting various luminaries in the business, and attending various functions. And Luke was there to proudly share all of it with him. Luke returned home before Noah because the planning for the foundation's fundraising event was down to the wire and he was sorely needed. In addition, Noah wasn't altogether certain when he'd be able to return to Oakdale.
Late one Saturday afternoon Luke sat at the kitchen table at his Grandma Emma's house looking at the pictures of the events he'd just attended with Noah. He had them all stored on his laptop. He had just finished showing them to his grandmother and she was quite impressed. When she stepped out for a moment to check on the horses, he checked his messages. He saw one from Noah.
I was with this HOT Italian guy who happened to be NAKED at the time...
Noah had attached a clip of the Statue of David by Michelangelo. Luke chuckled to himself at his boyfriend's quirky sense of humor. He heard the door open and thought it was Emma returning. Then he saw a hand he recognized placing a miniature Statue of David on the table beside him. All he could manage to utter was, "Hello" as he examined the tiny figure.
Then he heard his beloved Noah's voice, "Yeah the real one wouldn't fit in my carry on bag."
He sprang from his seat and rushed into his lover's arms, "Noah! Oh my God!"
"Is that a smile or are you just happy to see me?" Noah quipped.
"Ahh, I am happy. I am really, really happy," Luke replied seductively.
They embraced and shared an adoring kiss. Noah was finally home. They both had survived the tortuous ordeal of being separated from each other for the first time.