Loving, Loving You
Prologue: Waiting for Her
“Ken, she’s coming today, right?” A voice spoke from behind him, dragging his attention away from the computer screen.
Ken nodded, turning to smile at his best friend, Vanness, and said, “Yes.”
“Why aren’t you getting ready? You’ve been waiting for this day for how long now?” Vanness asked in confusion.
“Five years,” Ken calmly replied. “She promised me she’d be back when she turned 21.”
“She said she’d be back on her 21st birthday?” Vanness asked, wanting confirmation.
“She didn’t promise you she’d be back today? Then how do you know it’s today? What if she comes tomorrow? Or the next day? What if she comes in a year? Or what if …?”
Ken looked at Vanness in question when he trailed off midsentence.
“What is she doesn’t come at all? What is she’s moved on … forgotten her promises to you? Has there been any contact between the two of you?”
“No contact,” Ken revealed.
“No calls? No e-mails. No messages at all?” Vanness questioned incredulously.
“None whatsoever. When she left, I knew that we wouldn’t be able to stay in touch,” Ken replied, staring down at his hands.
“Then how can you still hope? How can you believe that she’ll actually show up today?” Vanness demanded. He didn’t want to see his friend hurt.
Ken stared at an agitated Vanness and then gently smiled.
“I believe in her.”
Chapter 1: Anticipation
“Promise me that you’ll wait for me,” she pleaded silently. “Promise me.” But of course he couldn’t hear her. Not when she’d never spoken the words. Not when he was thousands of miles away. Not when there’d never been a hint of love expressed on either side.
“Rainie, what are you doing here?” a voice called out from behind her.
Rainie jerked around in surprise. “May, how did you find me? I … thought I’d covered my tracks really well.”
“How could I not know where your refuge was? How long have I known you exactly?” May asked cheekily.
Rainie sighed and rested her chin on her folded arms. “I just needed to breathe for a while,” she finally confessed in a whisper. “I can’t stand it down there. It’s so closed in, so suffocating.”
May reached out and patted Rainie’s shoulder in commiseration. “I understand,” she said compassionately. “I know that sometimes it can get to be a bit too much, but you need to bear with it for now. If everything goes well, then you can soon leave this place behind and never look back.”
Rainie nodded happily, perking up at that thought.
“It’s your birthday in one week, isn’t it?” May asked suddenly, feeling the need to change the subject.
“Do you have anything special planned?” May teased affectionately.
Rainie just looked at her incredulously. “How could I?”
“I know, I know. I promise you, I’ll make an effort to talk to uncle and auntie. Maybe I can convince them that it’s time to let you go. I know you feel that they’ve held on long enough.”
“I don’t need their permission anymore,” Rainie ground out. “Their love has always been so confining … so grasping … and they know that.”
“I know that you can do whatever you want now, but I also know that you’ll be happier if you leave with their blessing,” May pointed out with a smile. “Let me work on them.”
There was a beat of silence between the two friends.
“Do you think he’s still waiting for you?” May asked hesitantly. “It’s been so long, and you said there has never been any contact.”
Rainie smiled softly.
“You know,” she finally began softly, “the first time we met, I was just 14. And even at that time, I knew that he was the man for me. I’d never thought about love. I’d never even thought about the future. At that age, the present was just enough for me to handle. I didn’t need to take on anymore. But when I saw him, it was as if my heart stopped beating for a moment. It was as if it was telling me to look … and saying, ‘Hey, idiot. Pay attention. It’s him. The only man for you. Don’t let him go. Don’t lose him, because if you do … you won’t survive.’ Surprisingly, I did.
“But he was so much older than you,” May protested. “Why did that thought even enter your mind? Rainie,” May began softly, “he was your teacher. Are you sure that …”
Rainie shrugged. “Yeah, he was eight years older than me, but so what? I know in my heart that what I felt for him … it was beyond infatuation … it was beyond obsession. It was love … something true and sincere.” Rainie sighed heavily. “For the next two years, I introduced myself into his life, until I became a part of it. I wanted to know everything about him. The problem was that he hardly ever let anyone in. He was the teacher that didn’t talk to students outside of class, didn’t socialize with the other teachers, he didn’t even smile. Getting inside to see the real him was so difficult. It was like digging for buried treasure, when you don’t even have a map. But he opened up to me. Not that there was anything improper about our relationship. He would never have crossed the boundaries that stood between teacher and student.” She smiled proudly.
“He never said anything. You never said anything,” May protested weakly, not wanting to be the bearer of bad news. “How do you know…?”
“I just know … when my parents decided to immigrate, I had to come with them. He never said one thing, but I saw the pain in his eyes. I wanted to make promises, but I knew that he wouldn’t believe me. I was 16! Only 16 in his eyes, and anything I said would’ve been chalked up to a child’s crush. He wasn’t ready to see how much more it was. I did promise him that I would come back,” Rainie admitted, trailing off softly. “He smiled softly, and ruffled my hair,” Rainie confessed, putting up a hand to her head. “I can still feel that warmth.”
May smiled at the glow of love on Rainie’s face.
“He said that he would await my return.”
“And now?” May asked gently.
“Now, it’s time to go back … but only if …”
May nodded in agreement.
“I just hope that he’s waiting for me,” Rainie confided, suddenly losing all confidence. “I don’t want to go back and find that he has someone else in his life. I don’t think I could survive that.”
“I hope, from the bottom of my heart that he’s there, waiting,” May said fiercely, her arms coming out to give her fragile friend a hug.
“I shouldn’t have promised him that I would come back,” Rainie said, rubbing her face in agitation. Her fingers trembled slightly.
“Why not? You intend to keep that promise, don’t you?”
“I promised Ken that I would come back in five years,” Rainie said shakily.
“And? That deadline is coming up, right?”
Rainie shook her head.
May’s brow scrunched up in confusion. “I don’t understand.”
“That deadline came and went five years ago.”
Chapter 2: What Hurts the Most …
It’s only when the day is at its brightest … only when the wind is at its most peaceful … only when the heart is at its most calm … only then …
Rainie stared as the snowflakes fell gently into her hands. As they encountered her warmth, the flakes melted away, like tears in the wind. There was complete silence. No sound … it was as if she was surrounded by a bubble, isolated and alone.
Tears began to trickle down her cheeks as she forced herself to face the reality that had pushed her to come to this place … at this time. Her phone began to vibrate in her pocket, but she ignored it. There was nothing and no one who could comfort her now. She needed to come to terms with her world as it was now. And no one could help her do that except for herself.
“You’ll be okay?” May asked softly. “Are you sure you don’t want me to go with you?”
“I’ll be fine,” Rainie assured her impatiently. “Look, I have to go now. He told me … he told me that Ken would be there right now. I need to go … I need to see him. But I have to do it alone. I can’t just bring you along … you understand, right?”
May nodded, and settled for giving Rainie one final hug. “Take care of yourself,” May ordered, “and call me as soon as you’re done. I want to hear the details, but I’ll settle for hearing your happy voice after you’ve met him and then you can shut me out until your heart’s filled with him.”
“Then I may never talk to you again,” Rainie teased back. “I could never get my fill of being with him … I’ve been alone for so long,” she whispered to herself. “I’ll go now,” she said suddenly, flashing a quick smile. Glossing her lips, she picked up a bag, and raced out the door. She gave herself no time for second thoughts. She’d come all this way … after all this time, and she couldn’t wait anymore.
She was finally going to see the man who had waited for her.
The sun shone brightly in the sky. It was wintertime, but even the wind was playing breezily through her hair. It was as if nature itself was sharing in her secret joy. Her eyes wandered over the green grass, the golden sand, the red roses. She breathed in the tangy scent of the air and allowed herself to relax for the first time. The colors were so bright they hurt her eyes. The scent so strong … yet so beautiful … that it seduced her into taking deep breaths until she felt lightheaded.
Her thoughts wandered back to the conversation she’d had earlier that afternoon.
‘Are you sure he’ll be there?’ she asked anxiously.
‘He goes there every afternoon,’ the voice replied over the phone. ‘Rainie, I …’
‘What is it?’
‘Nothing. He’ll be happy to see you. He’s waited a long time.’
Every afternoon. She hugged that thought to herself. He came here … to their park … everyday.
“Daddy,” a young voice cried out, before a toddler raced across the expanse of the park and jumped into the waiting arms of the man crouching by the slides.
Rainie jerked out of her reverie, her eyes turning to the sound of childish giggles and joyous chuckles. She smiled automatically, her eyes landing on the embracing parent and child standing by the slides. She giggled along, when the father threw the child up into the air and then caught him expertly.
It was a beautiful sight. She smiled dreamily, imagining Ken playing with their child like that some day. Maybe … maybe … they’d have a child, if luck was with them. The smile fell away when that thought intruded.
She closed her eyes in rejection. The truth was … the truth was that her body had been ravaged. But a part of her … hidden deep down within her … still insisted on hoping.
“Ken!” a voice shouted out behind her.
Rainie’s head swiveled around in consternation. He was already here? Her heart began to pound heavily, her eyes straining to catch a glimpse of him.
She only saw the woman. “Ken! Do you have any idea how long I was waiting for you? Do you know how rude it is to make someone wait? Why do you make me go through that agony of suspense every time we decide to meet here?”
Her eyes were laughing and there was a teasing note in her honey-sweetened voice. Rainie’s moved up her long, long legs, across her gently flaring hips, and up her narrow waist to the face of an angel. Rainie’s gaze took in her brunette locks, with streaks of sunshine. She was beautiful. But … why was she calling her Ken? Rainie’s brow crinkled in confusion.
Rainie’s eyes followed the woman’s gaze to land on the man and child in the distance. Pulling out her glasses with shaking hands, she put them on. Her sight sharpened and for the first time she was able to see the father clearly.
Her lips began to tremble, as emotions began to well up inside of her.
“No! No! No! No!” She was shouting. “He’s mine. Mine! Mine! He was supposed to be mine.” She could hear the wailing, pain-filled cries. But as her burning gaze took in the calm around her, she realized that only her world was breaking apart. She was the only one falling to pieces.
She stared as the woman reached father and child. She looked on unblinkingly when the woman leaned up to plant a kiss on one tanned cheek, before kissing the chubby cheek right next to it.
“How are my two men?” the woman asked in honeyed tones. “I talked to Vanness, and he said that you’d taken our baby out for some sightseeing.”
Rainie heard the rumble of Ken’s voice. The timber … the huskiness … the soothing effect on her senses … it was all the same. Only Ken … only Ken could rip her world apart, and then bring it together again just by the sound of his voice. Hearing his voice … even if she couldn’t comprehend the words … allowed her to pull herself together.
Turning away, she got up to go. Her shoulders were hunched. Her gaze plastered to the ground. Her body ached … it was as if she wasn’t in her own skin anymore … she felt like she was in the shell of an 80-year-old woman. How could she survive this? How?
Rainie cursed as she felt another tear fall onto her joined hands.
It was too late. She’d known it. She’d known it from the beginning. But how could she have convinced her heart without witnessing that painful reality?
There were near silent footsteps behind her. The crush of ice reached her ears before anything else. And then she heard a sigh. A very male, very deep sigh.
She froze, realizing for the first time how late it was … how cold it was … how alone she was.
Turning her eyes warily, she met the eyes of the figure standing behind her.
“So. You’re finally back,” he said, staring at her implacably.
Her eyes widened when she met his gaze.
“How?” she began uncertainly.
“How could I not know?” he replied. “When did you come back?”
“This afternoon,” she whispered threadily. “I didn’t … don’t want to see you,” she confessed shakily. “Please leave me alone.”
“If you’d left well enough alone,” Ken began hardily, “I wouldn’t have pursued you. But you came back.”
Rainie stared at him with burning eyes. She swallowed, trying to find the words that would make him go away. She was breaking up inside … all over again.
“I’ve waited a long time. You were supposed to come back, Rainie. You promised. You were supposed to come back five years ago.”
“You believed me?” Rainie asked incredulously.
“Of course, I did,” he almost shouted, his voice shaking now. “Do you think that you were the only one … the only one who felt the emotions between us? Do you think you were the only one who cherished our limited relationship? Do you think that you were the only one who loved?”
“You knew? You knew that I loved you? Why didn’t you say anything?” she demanded angrily. “Why did you let me go?”
“You were only 16,” he shot back at her. “You were a child. I knew that my feelings would never change, but with you … how could I know that your emotions would stay the same? I chose to wait instead.”
“Then why didn’t you keep on waiting?” Rainie shouted, surging up and charging toward him. “Why didn’t you wait?” she shouted again, beating at his chest. “Why did I have to come back and find you with another woman … with a son? Why?”
“No,” he uttered in a low voice, putting out his hands and grabbing hers.
“No?” She began to cry once more, her body shaking as she fought to quell the keening cries fighting to escape from her lips.
“It’s my time to ask the questions,” he finally said. “Where were you? Where were you five years ago? Where were you when I bought a cake to celebrate your birthday? Where were you when I bought your engagement ring? Where were you when I waited here all night with my eyes straining, waiting to see you? You told me you were born exactly at 12 midnight,” he said softly. “I thought … she has to be here … maybe she’s playing a joke on me. Maybe she’ll step out at midnight … from behind that tree … or that shrub. But she’ll be here. She promised.” His words came out in a pleading tone.
Her body went slack, all the tension seeping away in one fell swoop.
“Where were you, Rainie?” He began to shake her in his frustration, as her silence continued.
“I was in a hospital,” she finally answered. “At that moment …,” she said in a tear-clogged voice, “at midnight … I was in a hospital, halfway across the world. At that moment … at the moment of my birth … when you were waiting for me here …”
“Yes?” he prompted, when her voice trailed away.
“I was a bit busy,” she finally uttered.
“Busy?” He choked out. “A bit busy? What was so fucking important?” he shouted out. She could hear the stark splinters of raging pain in his voice.
She swallowed. She took a deep breath and finally uttered the dreadful words in the most simple manner.
“I was busy dying.”
Chapter 3: At Death’s Door
Pain. Everything was pain. She drifted on a sea of it … every inch of her burning … constantly burning. She clenched her teeth and then moaned. Even that hurt. Rainie tried to turn over, but even that was too much, jarring her sensitized nerves.
“Rainie?” A soft voice. Mellow. Soothing the fiery ache inside of her.
Turning her head cautiously she stared into the eyes of the man she had left behind so long ago. A man she knew was thousands of miles away. A man that she was supposed to have met today.
“Ken?” she whispered hoarsely. “What are you doing here?” Tears begin to trickle down the sides of her face. “I didn’t think you knew where I was. I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I missed our appointment. I’m sorry I let you down.”
He smiled gently, and then reached out.
“Don’t! Don’t touch me,” she said in a panic. “It … it hurts too much,” she weakly confessed. “It hurts to breathe,” she admitted softly.
His eyes welled with sympathy. Reaching out, he smoothed the strands of hair away from her face. Rainie flinched, in anticipation of the pain that was sure to come, but there was none.
“What?” she asked in surprise. “What’s happening.”
“Rainie, you have to make a choice,” he said softly. “Right now, you’re really close to the edge of something. You go in one direction and you’ll leave all the pain behind.”
Rainie’s eyes widened in fear.
“I know that you’re hurting. I know that you’ve been hurting for a long time,” he said softly, leaning down to place a gentle kiss on her fevered brow. She sighed as coolness began to spread throughout her body. “And if you want, you can decide to end the pain.”
“But …?” Rainie looked at him skeptically, wanting to understand. “What’s the catch?”
“But then … then you leave everything behind,” Ken finally said. “You leave this world behind … you leave your friends behind … you leave me behind.”
“But,” Rainie finally said after a long pause, coming out of her daze. “You’re not my Ken, are you? You’re someone … something else entirely.”
‘Ken’ nodded, before smiling. “I’ve just taken on this form, because this form is the most beloved to you.”
Rainie relaxed, understanding that whoever it was, this being wasn’t here to hurt her.
“You can decide to end your pain, but at the same time you’ll be ending your life. You’ll be leaving the world behind. On the other hand,” he said. “You can go back. You can choose to fight.”
“Does that mean I’ll get to live? Does that mean I’ll get to see you … to see my Ken again and live happily with him?” Rainie searched his eyes, wanting to be reassured.
“There are no guarantees in life,” came the prompt reply.
“I …,” she began uncertainly.
“You have to make a choice,” he urged her, reaching out to hold her hand.
Rainie felt a soothing warmth spreading through her body and she felt relief for the first time in a long, long time. She smiled, relishing the sense of calm that had fallen over her.
“Is this how I would feel if I chose to stay?”
Staring at his face, into his eyes, and reading the warmth there, she was tempted … but if she chose this path, what would she lose?
“You’ve made your decision haven’t you?”
She nodded miserably, biting her lip.
She felt a jolt run through her system.
She gritted her teeth, bracing herself for the next onslaught of pain.
Another jolt of lightening ran through her body.
“Keep fighting. Good luck.”
A third jolt.
“Rainie?” She looked at him.
A fourth jolt. This one brought a blossoming of pain with it.
“It’s time to wake up.”
“Rainie wake up. Please wake up. Don’t leave us.”
She heard the crying around her … the wailing. She cringed as the noise assaulted her ears.
She could hear her parents in one corner of the room. The sounds of May crying on the other side. And above it all, she heard the doctors and their impersonal voices standing above her, discussing her case.
“…out of danger now. We need to …”
It was all too much. To move from a sense of peace and well-being, and to be transported all the way to this … But the voice she wanted to hear most in the world … the voice she had heard for the first time in five years … only to realize that it was in her dreams … the loss of that voice made her cranky. Made her angry.
And then … it made her determined.
She would get out of this bed. She would recover. And she would find her way back to him. And Ken … Ken would be waiting.
She had faith in him.
Chapter 4: Loving, Loving You
“Dying?” Ken mouthed the words, his voice disappearing from the shock. He cleared his throat. “Dying?” he repeated hoarsely. “What do you mean?”
Rainie looked at him, tears falling silently. She stared at his beloved face, listened to his soothing voice, reveled in his heat … but he would never be hers. She turned her eyes away. It hurt too much to look at him now. She’d had hope once … hope that they could be together … that they could love and form a life together, cocooned in their own little world … but no more. He was another woman’s man.
She stepped back. She cleared her throat and forced herself to meet his questioning gaze once more. He had questions and she would answer them. He deserved that much.
“Six years ago,” she began softly, “Six years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer.” He flinched, as if struck. She nodded, accepting his reaction. “I felt the same way,” she said with a smile. “I’d started getting tired more and more easily. There were other symptoms too. When I finally gave in and went to the doctor, they found that I had cancer. I didn’t want to believe it at first … I didn’t want to think that I had this mutant mass inside of me, trying to kill me. I only wanted to think about you and coming back here,” she said reflectively, turning to watch the falling snow once more.
“What did you do?” he prompted, wanting her to continue.
“What could I do? I began treatment. But something was wrong. The cancer wasn’t responding. My condition gradually worsened until …”
“Until my body just crashed one day.”
His hands landed on her shoulders, turning her to face him. “The night of your birthday?”
She nodded quietly. “While you were here, waiting for me … I … died. I wanted to come back to you. I wanted to be here … at our place. I wanted to keep my promise. But my body … this body wouldn’t let me. It let me down.”
He swallowed, trying to overcome the shock. He had come so close to losing her. And he hadn’t even known. What if … he shuddered silently at the possibilities of that what if.
“Then what about the next five years?” he demanded. “Why did you wait so long before returning?”
Rainie pulled away. “I came back that night,” she said softly. “I chose not to die. But it wasn’t clear sailing. The doctors killed the cancer cells, but they told me that there was a chance that it could return. I didn’t want to come back … and then find out that the cancer had come back with me. I couldn’t just return, and then become a burden on you. I wanted to come back to you as a healthy person, as a person that could stand by you and support you. You’d always taken care of me before … given me confidence, shared your knowledge with me, helped me … I didn’t want that same relationship just because my body was sick. So, I decided to wait until I knew for sure.”
He glared at her. “You didn’t trust me to be there for you? How could you think that I would hesitate for even a second? All I ever needed was you, Rainie,” he said quietly. He was silent for a moment. “And now?”
“I’m in the all clear,” she said in a faintly bitter tone. “I’m hale and hearty and the chances of the cancer ever coming back are close to nil. I have a long and happy life in front of me.”
He stared at her, wondering at her bitterness.
“I came back to you, Ken, but you weren’t waiting,” she suddenly said. Her hands came up to clutch at his jacket, twisting it in her frustration. “Why weren’t you waiting? In all that time … through all that suffering, it was the thought of you that pulled me through my darkest hours. And now, I don’t even have that anymore. I saw you, Ken! I saw you with her and your son.”
He stared at her quietly.
“Maybe …,” she gulped and then continued, “Maybe everything that happened was supposed to happen. You were meant to be with her. You were meant to have your son. And I … I was meant to be alone because I left you alone for so many years … it’s only right.”
She turned away, and began to walk towards her car. There was nothing more to say. Nothing left to reveal. Nothing to hope for. It was as if all life had drained out of her and she was just a hollow shell. ‘Did I survive just so I would have to face losing him? What did I do to deserve this?’ she silently railed at God. The snow continued to fall around her. Her unseeing gaze passed over the frozen landscape, uncaring of its beauty.
“Rainie,” he called from behind her.
“Leave me alone,” she shouted back, inexplicably hurt. A part of her … the irrational, illogical part of her blamed him for not waiting. Why hadn’t he had faith in her?
“Rainie, you’re not leaving me again,” he growled, roughly pulling her to a stop.
“I’m not leaving you,” she denied hotly, pushing back her hair. “I’m just … leaving. There’s no reason to stay. Have a happy life.”
He gripped her hands and pulled her to a nearby bench, ignoring her struggles to get free.
“You saw me with a woman and a child today,” he admitted after they were seated.
She glared at him balefully. “Is there a reason you’re repeating those facts? What do you hope to accomplish?” she asked, her voice cracking with emotion.
“I never said she was my wife.”
“Fine, your girlfriend,” she growled out. “Thank you so much for clarifying that. Now I have to g—”
“She’s not my wife. Not my lover. Not my girlfriend,” Ken said softly, overriding her ringing tones.
She fell silent, staring at him. Hope was beginning to unfurl deep inside her heart once more.
“But …,” he took a deep breath, “she is the mother of my child. The boy you saw today.”
She flinched at those words. Hope was obliterated once more. “Why are you toying with me?” she cried out. “Is this to punish me for not coming back when I said I would? Please … Ken, please. I’ve been through enough. Don’t break me into so many pieces that I can never put myself back together again.”
His hands came up to cradle her face, his thumb smoothing away tears that continued to fall from her beautiful eyes. Leaning down, he placed a gentle kiss against her pursed lips. “Don’t cry,” he whispered. “Your tears are too precious to waste on me.”
She stared at him, fighting the emotions roiling inside of her.
“That night, I waited for you here for what seemed like centuries. Moment by moment, I felt the world darken around me. And at dawn … at dawn I lost all hope. I wasn’t myself,” he confessed unhappily. “I’d lost myself. Up until that moment I was sure … 100% certain that you would return … but when you didn’t …”
“I’m sorry,” she whispered painfully. “I wish …”
“I wish, too,” he said softly. “I got blindingly drunk, passed out … and when I awakened, hungover and brokenhearted, I found myself next to the woman that I had mistakenly thought was you for one night The woman you saw today.”
Her eyes flared wide at this confession.
“I took advantage of her. I had to do the honorable thing when I found out that she was pregnant with my child,” he said.
“She knew I didn’t love her. She let me go. It was a dark time. There was a lot of confusion … a lot of pain. I inadvertently hurt so many people.” He paused. “Two things came from that debacle,” he said, clearing his throat. “I got my son. He became the light of my life. And Pace, that’s her name, found the one man she could really and truly love … Vanness.”
She looked at him.
“That’s the man who told you that I would be at the park,” he said, reminding her. “My best friend. He accepted her, even when she was pregnant with another man’s child.”
Rainie stared at him, trying to comprehend the truth that was now staring her in the face.
“So … you’re free?” she asked tremulously, afraid to hope. “Are we free to …”
“We’re free to love,” he said with a smile, leaning down to kiss her once more. When he pulled away, both were breathing heavily from the emotions and the physical pull of their attraction. “We’re free to be together.”
“Ken,” she murmured dizzily, leaning against him. “It’s as if the world is no longer as dark as I thought it was. I can’t believe …,” she snuggled closely.
“Can you accept my son into your heart?” he asked cautiously.
She stared at him incredulously and then launched herself at him. “Of course,” she exclaimed brokenly. “Of course I can accept him. He’ll be … he’ll be my son too, right?” she asked hesitantly.
Ken pulled back to smile at her quizzically. “You’re not mad?”
“Ken, after all the chemotherapy and other treatments that I’ve had … I didn’t know how to tell you that I … I can’t … I can’t have …”
Ken gently placed a finger against her lips, silencing her. “I understand. He’ll be our son,” he whispered against her lips. Closing his eyes, he began to kiss her once more, trying to express his love to the woman he had waited for so long. Having her in his arms, alive and well, filled his heart with joy.
“I love you,” she murmured against his lips.
“I’ve spent all these years waiting for you and loving … just loving you,” he whispered in her ear, hugging her close. “Thank you for coming back to me.”