“Promise me something, Natasha.” Alexi’s voice was serious.
“If you feel like there is danger here, you will come back to Petrograd?”
“Won’t that be dangerous?”
“Just promise me, please.”
“I will, I promise.”
The engine finally spluttered into life and the cab rocked as Sergei climbed in.
“I guess it’s time we said goodbye,” Alexi told her.
He took her face between his hands and kissed her, crushing her lips and leaving her too stunned to do anything other than respond in kind. He sighed against her mouth. His fingers curled into her hair as she held him and sought a way to keep him there. She was numb with regret for the months that had passed without knowing that he could move her with something as simple as this fierce kiss. She did not want to forget the scent of his skin, or the way his hand trailed away from her cheek as he stepped back. She trembled and caught her breath, knowing whatever she said would be inadequate.
“Goodbye Aloysha, please be careful.” Her voice shook.
He climbed into the lorry, “Don’t worry, I will. Don’t forget me.”
She managed a weak smile, “Never,” she replied, meaning it.
The lorry lurched away, bouncing down the track. Natalia’s fingers strayed to her bruised lips and she looked at Tatiana, “Why did he do that?” she asked, still shaken.
“Because he loves you,” She replied simply and walked back into the house, leaving Natalia staring, blankly after her.