Chapter Twenty-three

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Angelique took her seat and John did too, right across from her

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Angelique took her seat and John did too, right across from her. His eyes never left hers. She didn't think this was the best idea... them being alone like this. She felt more vulnerable than ever.

John hated that Angelique looked at him nervously, almost scared to be alone with him. He had hurt her, bad, perhaps more than he realized. He missed her bravado. Her taking shots at him, ready to fight for what she felt was right. He reached out and took her hand. Angelique nearly jumped out of her skin.

Standing up suddenly she said, "Maybe this isn't such a great idea. Why don't you grab something to eat and I will call a cab to take me home once Agnes comes back so you don't have to wait for me."

"Angel, I'm pretty sure we can share a meal," John reasoned from his seat, afraid to make a move that she might bolt. Was it really that bad to share a meal with him? What has he turned into? Has he become the monster he hopes to protect her from?

Angelique did not care for the pained expression on John's face and yielded, taking her seat once more. "You're right. It's just a meal." John smiled at her, grateful for her change of mind, but she knew it was much more than that. It was a change of heart.

She was letting him in once more and as always he was taking over every inch of her heart, imprinting himself on it, leaving room for no one else. She was a fool to think she could be within ten feet of him and not be affected by him.

She busied herself with dishing out the delicious food that Agnes had prepared for them.

Once again, John waited for her to be still. "Angel, I know I've said I was sorry, but I know that doesn't even scratch the surface. I just wish I could make this right. I just wish..." John played with the food on his plate, shuffling it around, angered by his lack of words.

Angelique reached out and took his hand in hers. His eyes met hers, and what he saw there took his breath away. She looked at him with compassion, but more than that, she looked at him with love. 

John felt like his heart was being compressed in a vise grip. If only he could believe what he saw reflected in her eyes. He wanted that, and so much more. He picked up her hand and placed a kiss on the inside of her wrist.

The kiss sent an electric current to course through her body. She actually shivered at the touch. When he pressed her palm to his face, she felt the sting of tears prick her eyes. "John?" his name came out a strangled whisper.

John stood up, totally disregarding the meal before them. He pulled her from her seat, and she came to him willingly. Taking his forefinger and thumb, he lifted her chin, wanting to gaze into her eyes once more, to see that love shining through.

She did not disappoint him, and once again he felt his heart constrict. It struggled to free itself from the restraints he had placed it in. His heart wanted out of the bonds he buried it under. It screamed her name.

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