Heart of the Raven(52)

By: Susan Crosby


“I didn’t know if you would want it, if it would only make it harder for you. I decided you would want to have it.”

“Yes. Yes, thank you.” She smiled at it. “He was such a sweetie.”

“I’ve been in touch with Brad. He’s doing well. They’ve given him a different name, of course. Do you want to know it?”

“No. Not now, anyway.”

“Okay.” He settled into his chair, his body relaxed, but his eyes sharp and focused. “You look beautiful.”

He flustered her. She knew she looked worn-out, not beautiful.

“Have you been sleeping?” he asked.

She looked toward the view of the bay again. “Sure.”

“Don’t start lying to me, Cassie. Not now.”

She met his gaze. “No, not well.”

“Keeping the light off during the night?”

She shook her head. No angel to kiss me good night.

He eyed her in silence, then he reached for his folder and pulled out a sheet of paper, passing it to her. “You wanted a house designed.”

Her heart raced as she took it from him. She studied it, her confusion growing by the second. “This is your house.”

“With an addition.”

“I don’t understand.” Did he want to sell her his house? Were there too many memories of Kyle there?

“We would call it Kyle’s House,” he said.

“We?”

He nodded. “It would be a haven, a place to feel safe. A place filled with noisy kids and laughter, as it was intended.”

“We?” she repeated, her pulse thundering.

Leaning forward he took her hands in his. “I figured out why you left me so suddenly, so coldly.”

“You did?”

“Because you love me.”

Her eyes stung. “Doesn’t make sense when you put it that way, does it?”

He smiled. “Not at first. I was angry and hurt, but eventually I came to realize that you wanted me to find myself. That’s such a sixties’ phrase, more suited to my parents, but it’s true, isn’t it? You wanted me to find myself.”

“Yes.” The rough, dry word dragged along her throat.

“And you figured once I found myself I wouldn’t want you anymore.”

“I wanted you to live. That’s all I was thinking.”

“I don’t think that was all, but I’ll let that go for now. You probably also think I couldn’t possibly have found myself this quickly, that ten days is too soon.”

She nodded. He was right. She did think that, even though a huge part of her hoped otherwise.

“Do I come across as a man who doesn’t know his own mind?”

“No. Never.”

“Then believe me when I tell you that I love you.”

Her emotions had been close to the surface since he’d walked in the door. They began to spill over now. Her heart swelled, closing her throat, bringing fresh tears.

“I want to raise children with you, ours and any others who are sent our way. I found myself with you, Cassie.”

“And Danny.”

“Danny, too, but I’ve been able to make a place for him that no longer hurts. I helped him out during his first three weeks of life. Who knows what Eva would’ve done if I hadn’t been there? And then there was you. Without Danny there wouldn’t have been you.”

She smiled. Her heart surged with love and hope.

“Can’t you say the words?” he asked.

“I love you. I love you so much. I wasn’t whole without you, either.”

“Yet you sacrificed. For me.”

“Yeah, well, I’m a helluva woman.”

He laughed then kissed her finally, pulling her up so that they could hold each other close, feel their bodies touching. When the kiss ended and he held her against him, he said, “I’m going to visit the sites of all the buildings I designed but haven’t seen in person. I’d like you to go with me. It will give us time together, time alone together. We’ll figure out the rest of our lives.”

“I’m in.”

The words were casual, but the bright shimmer in her eyes told him how deeply she felt.

“You gave me back my life, Cassie. Now I want to give you yours. Something new and exciting. And permanent.”

She looped her arms around his neck. “Happily ever after?”

“Shall I tell you how it’ll be?”

“Please do.”

“Okay. Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess, a cross between Rapunzel and Wonder Woman….”

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