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"Grandpa?"

"Sunny dear," Blake said his voice stern, and his look direct. "there are things about this man. Things you cannot know, and I don't want you near him."

Sunny released her grandfather and looked over at Ian, who scowled at Blake. "It looks like he thinks the same about you, Grandpa."

Blake looked away and nodded. "He does."

"So," Sonora said, "the two of you will fight about this?"

Ian's words were low and rough as gravel. "Your grandfather does not make my decisions."

"You will have to fight a different day, I promised Ian this evening, so that is what will happen, Grandpa." Sonora was every bit as firm as her grandfather had been, and it surprised them both. Her quiet manner rarely allowed for tough talk.

"It will be too late then," Blake said.

"Well, Grandpa, if you mean what I think you mean, it's already too late." Sonora entreated him. "Let us have tonight."

Blake said nothing, so Sonora turned to Ian and held out her hand to him. The anger left Ian's face, replaced by a smile. A smile that caused Sonora's breath to catch. She peeked up at him and said, "Shall we dance?" Ian nodded once, and she led him out to the dance floor.

The music was slow and steady, quite unlike her heart that pounded out a rhythm so hard she was sure Ian could hear it. One of his hands held hers while the other cradled the small of her back.

I've tried so long to forget this man, to reject him, not have him be my first thought in the morning and every waking moment after that. Then he strolls in the room like he has every right to be here. If she listened to her thundering heart, he did.

When Sonora had left Atlantis, she'd thought whatever sorrow there was belonged to Ian and that it would soon disappear. But that sorrow had followed her, stayed with her. It had grown, and over time, she realized it was her own.

Sonora had known she'd been lying to him when she'd said she felt nothing for him. She did. She did then, and she did now. But they were not the immense feelings he had. His feelings frightened her. A lot.

But seeing him tonight, Sonora realized she couldn't reject him out of hand. Still, she didn't know what to do, there were so many other considerations, complications.

He was staring at her again. At one time, this would've made her uneasy or even irritated, now it was different. She liked it when he looked at her.

"I can make you come back," Ian whispered as his gaze lingered on her, his gentle voice at odds with his words. "I could carry you out of this place, drag you back to the sea, and there is nothing you could do about it."

"You're right. We established long ago that you can pretty much do whatever you want, and I can't do anything to stop you." Sonora raised her hand and ran her fingers down his cheek. "But you won't, because you care about how I feel, and you want me to be happy."

"I can make you happy." He did not beg her as some men would but informed her. "Given time, you would get used to everything. You would be happy. I know you would."

Sunny looked away and sighed. "Are we going to spend the evening debating this? Or are we going to enjoy this time we together?"

Putting his hand to her chin, he tipped her face back to him. His sad, grey eyes peered into hers. "I will stop, for now, but this discussion is far from over."

A soft giggle escaped her, Sonora was beginning to understand him. His bark was far worse than his bite. "I didn't think it would be."

Time ticked by with relentless determination as it will. To Sonora, it was an impossible fairytale, far more romantic than a hundred movies. These were her feelings, her emotions. Her mind whirled with thoughts. He's so handsome, look at his smile, his strong arms making me safe. The way he looks at me, the way I glow.

Ian, for his part, didn't fare much better. The dark place in him disappeared bit by bit, filled up with Sonora's light. But he wondered for how long? He drank in every soft touch she gave him, every smile from her pink lips, every light from her sky-blue eyes. Each small burst of hope that rose within him, he squashed at once, afraid to let it grow. Still, he made sure he filled her every desire, trying to show Sonora that he would make the perfect partner.

After having their fill of dancing, they walked through the crowd out to the balcony. The sun had just dipped below the horizon, but small rays of pink and orange still lit up the sky. Below, the calm ocean slapped up against the rock face of the small cliff that held the banquet hall. It sparkled with the remaining light of the day.

They sat at white, metal tables lined up along the balcony, sipping the drinks Ian had brought out for them and watching the water. Ian's eyes twinkled as he said, "I like your necklace."

Sonora flustered. Oh no, he noticed I made from the shell I took from his house. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have. I don't know what came over me."

"Do you wear it often?"

"Yes." I never take it off.

"I'm glad you have it."

She looked out over the ocean. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them. It was time to stop mooning round as if there weren't real problems with this relationship. "We need to talk."


A/N: Sorry this is late and a small chapter, but I will have another one on for you on Monday. I hope it is worth the wait. Please let me know if you enjoy it by voting or commenting. How are you liking the development of their relationship so far?

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