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After Claire had wiggled as much information about Ian and Atlantis as she could from Sonora, she left the kitchen. Her breathing heavy as she leaned up against the hallway wall.

Thank god it hasn't gone further than that. I don't know what I'd do if... I won't let it happen to her. I won't. I'll do anything to stop it.

A tear slipped down her face, not for her niece, but for an old hurt that should have been gone long ago, at least that is what Claire thought. But the pain lingered and would linger until her death.

Claire's mind drifted back to when she was Sonora's age. She let her head thump against the wall and slowly shook it back and forth. This hurt, this love I still carry is as fresh as the day it came to me. She rubbed her aching heart with the palm of her hand.

She'd been dating Devon for a couple of years. Fresh out of college, Claire had been so eager to put her training to work, and her then-boyfriend had the connections to get her into some of the best research.

Like Sonora, Claire spent hours in the ocean, learning and exploring. One day as she walked through thigh-high waves from the deep water to the beach, she saw a man floating face down in the water in the distance. She raced to him as fast as she could given the drag of the water on her legs.

Reaching him, she turned him over. It took most of her strength even with the water's buoyancy. He was a large man, tall and muscular. When she finally got him face up, she stood struck. He was the most beautiful man--no, person--she had ever seen.

He wasn't breathing, and she couldn't do much to save him until she dragged him onto the beach. Huffing and sweating, at last, she got him there.

Pushing his hair from his face, she crouched beside him and put her lips to his. Her best efforts at CPR had mixed results. His heartbeat was steady, but his breathing extremely irregular.

Claire's eyes scanned the beach. It was a remote one, so there was no one else about on the sand. He was too big for her to drag to her car. In an age before cell phones, she was alone. The man's life was in her hands.

Looking him over, she noticed a head wound and washed it out as best she could. He didn't stir during her nursing of him, and Claire worried that he never would.

She sat beside him for what seemed like hours. The sun dipped in the horizon offering her a spectacular view of deep purple to pink. She remembered it vividly because of what came next.

He moved a finger, then his arm. A light groan. Claire turned to face him, one hand on his cheek, the other leaned against his shoulder.

She would never forget the moment he opened his eyes. They didn't flutter open but went from shut to open in one move, as if he'd already known she was there. Because he did.

His gaze was a warm chocolate brown. It encompassed her, filled her, and set her mind to wonder. His eyes crinkled slightly as he offered an enormous smile.

Lightning traveled through her. Shaking her body and seeming to light the skies. This would have been strange enough, but there was more. She felt her own awe and bewilderment, and she felt his too.

Claire knew what love was. She loved Devon, she was sure of it. This was something else. It was more. It was sudden and consuming and amazing all at the same time. A connection that no one had ever told her could exist.

The closest thing that came to mind was when she had met the rare old couple that had hung onto their love as if it was still fresh. Giggling and flirting with each other, they finished each other sentences, knowing each other's thoughts before words were spoken. Exchanged glances weren't just looks, they were volumes, decades of information.

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