Chapter Twenty-Five

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They watched the sunset together, him just holding her close

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They watched the sunset together, him just holding her close. She felt so safe. She felt at home, but unlike any home she had ever known, it was a certainty that this was where she belonged. Night fell, and they watched as the night sky come alive with twinkling stars up above.

Angelique loved every minute spent with John. She did not know why, but it felt like a stolen moment, something to be treasured, and she did, locking away every look, every touch, every smile.

John could not shake that feeling of apprehension, that they were both on a precipice of something much bigger, but it was getting late and he feared the day was ending.

He pulled her back into his embrace. He knew this was where she belonged, here with him, in his arms.

"Thank you for this. I really needed this time. More than you realize," Angelique confessed. 

John brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. "Stay? Stay here with me?"

The question seemed to surprise them both. It was a desperate need in John's heart he did not mean to express yet felt he had to. Angelique looked at him with such uncertainty.

He pulled her close. She could hear his heartbeat as her head lay against his chest. It was an erratic beat, thumping a tattoo. Showing her without words what the nearness of her did to him.

"Please?"

It was the please that was her undoing. He expected her to deny him. Angelique felt the sadness in his words. She wished she could take the pain away. Remove it to allow his heart to heal and open up to love once more.

"I know it is a lot to ask. And I realize I shouldn't be asking, but Angelique, I just ... I just can't let you go. I never want to let you go again. Letting you go was undoubtedly the worst decision I have ever made."

"Oh, John," Angelique's eyes misted with unshed tears.

"I thought I had to. That it would be better for you, for Michael, for me. I was wrong about it all. In one moment, with one decision, I lost everyone I loved and everyone who loved me."

Angelique looked into his eyes, those beautiful eyes, and she saw it. A glimpse, just a glimpse, into his soul. "Shh!" she said, pressing her fingers gently against his lips. "I'm here, and I'm not going anywhere. I can't. Here is where I belong."

She knew it to be the truth the moment she said the words.

John was a lost soul looking for salvation. She would deny him no longer. Yet, how can she express all the love she holds inside for this man? Was it even possible?

John could not believe she agreed to stay but refused to think past this moment. He took her hand and led her below deck. The boat contained everything one would need to travel in comfort, a small kitchenette, a table and chairs that were bolted into position.

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