|The Beach House
Author: Never Stop Believing in Love PM
Grace has left London suddenly prompting Boyd to track her down to find the reason why. B/GRated: Fiction K - English - Words: 11,891 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 2 - Published: 07-23-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8351159
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I do not own the copyright for Waking The Dead or its characters – all rights belong to the BBC – who incidentally should just bring it back!
Content: Boyd and Grace
With hugs and thanks to the legends that are the OHT and to everyone who happens to read this. A truck load of thanks and heart-filled gratitude to Joodiff for her encouragement and advice – it has been immeasurable and deeply appreciated!
The Beach House
Even from a distance he immediately recognised her small delicate frame huddled tightly on the white sand of the secluded cove. Her arms were wrapped protectively around her knees, hair blowing gently with the sea breeze as she gazed out towards the rise and fall of the tide. He stilled momentarily taking a deep inhalation of cleansing sea air, as quietly he studied her silhouetted form against the falling late afternoon sun. He allowed the deep relief at finally having found her to embrace him, and continued to observe her, relishing the fact that his presence was as yet unnoticed.
Four weeks had passed since they had spoken. Their last phone call had been cryptic and confusing leaving him completely baffled as to why she felt the need to leave London so immediately. It wasn't the words she said exactly that had unnerved him but the ones she had omitted, especially when he had asked her to explain. There was no doubt about it, he was certain that she was hiding something from him but nothing he said had made her open up or reveal the true nature of why she had to go away. As the weeks moved on not only had the confusion, driven by her continued silence, increased but worry had also slowly wormed its caustic way into his consciousness and gripped his heart with fear.
He had tried to contact her every day since she had left, but each time he had called her phone had diverted straight to voicemail. It was so unlike Grace not to answer his calls, even in the midst of their most brutal arguments she would always eventually pick up. But this time, they hadn't argued. In fact if anything they were getting on better now than ever before. Boyd's blood ran cold. His mind drifting to the last time he couldn't readily get hold of her. He shuddered at the thought shaking his head firmly in an attempt to press down the deep foreboding dread that had been incessantly haunting him since she had left. Surely she would have told him, especially after everything they'd gone through together.
He pulled his eyes away from her and looked forlornly across the horizon. The vast sea before them had been pacified by the time it reached the quiet cove and it lapped calmly onto the shore as the tide began to make its journey inland. His gaze once again moved back to where she was sitting as internally he debated what to do next. Just seeing her again made him want to rush to where she was, to make her tell him just what the hell was going on, but he knew he had to be careful in his approach. The fact that he was even here at all would probably irritate her so much they would inevitably fall straight into another argument and that's not what he wanted. He hadn't come all this way to find her just so they could fight, he had come to lay his mental demons to rest and prove to himself that she really was okay.
Tentatively he moved towards her concluding that since he had come this far he was not going to turn away before at least attempting to gain the information he was seeking. As he approached, her face gained definition and he could clearly see how frail she looked against the picturesque backdrop. Her shoulders were wrapped tightly in a blanket that shielded her from the harsh coolness of the air, yet still he swore he saw her shiver. The sand quietened his footsteps and so he was able to approach unobserved until finally he was only a few feet away from her. Swallowing hard against the dryness that encroached on his mouth he lightly opened, "Hi, Grace."
She jolted, spinning her head quickly in his direction unable to disguise the look of shock that had enveloped her features. Her dark sapphire eyes penetrated his as she appeared to find her bearings.
"Boyd, what the hell are you doing here?" she exclaimed.
"I wanted to make sure you were alright," he answered, knowing it would sound banal.
"You could have phoned."
"I been trying to, you won't answer my calls."
She was silent for a beat before replying unconvincingly, "Yea, well the reception is terrible down here."
He didn't fully believe her, but unwilling to push the issue he simply nodded his head. "Ah," he said, "that'll be what it was then.
His reply appeared to pacify her as she continued, "How did you find me?
"I'm a detective Grace, and a damn good one at that."
"That's as maybe but you're not a psychic, well not as far as I know anyway. I didn't tell anyone I was coming here."
"You paid for your accommodation by credit card."
Seemingly deducing what he had done she narrowed her eyes, disapproval seeping from their depths. "You could be sacked for tracing my credit card, you know that don't you?"
"It's a perfectly legitimate method of tracking a missing person, Grace," he replied more defensively than he intended.
"I wasn't missing, I told you I was leaving."
"Yea, but you haven't been in contact since. I tried to ring and you weren't answering my calls. Anything could have happened, Grace... I was worried." His voice trailed off as she turned her gaze away from him.
Still looking out over the sea she answered contritely, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you."
"Well you did," he replied sitting down on the sand beside her, subconsciously mirroring her posture before continuing. "What are you doing here anyway?"
She didn't answer for a few moments allowing the silence to ebb and flow between them. Finally she said, "I just needed to get away for a bit that's all."
"You said that when you phoned, but you didn't tell me why."
"I don't have to tell you every tiny detail of my life," she replied bluntly.
"True. I just thought it might help, you know, to talk it though with a friend," he retorted sincerely.
She turned to face him, her eyes softening as he spoke again, "Come on Grace, what's wrong? You can talk to me, you know that right?"
Grace smiled lightly, the first smile she had given him since he arrived. Slowly she reached to him placing her hand reassuringly on his arm. "I know I can; you're a good friend, Boyd."
Her touch was warm against his skin as her words fell around him like autumn leaves igniting emotions that he didn't have the headspace to deal with at that moment. Locking them away again he said, "So talk to me then; what's happened, Grace, to make you leave London?"
"People leave London all the time."
"Look I know you, something has triggered this off."
"Why can't you just accept that I wanted a few weeks peace and quiet and leave it at that?"
"And that's it?"
Boyd curled his bottom lip and shrugged lightly. "Okay then," he replied as he shifted his gaze out across the sea. He swallowed hard, feeling the sinking in his heart as it fell within him weighted down with the sadness he had just witnessed echo from deep in her eyes. She was lying, he had no doubt, and now more than ever he was convinced that she was hiding something, but as much as he wanted to press the matter he knew it would have to wait because it would be folly to question her further when she had shut herself down. However that didn't change the fact that in order to quell the inner torment he needed to find out exactly what was going on before returning to London. He allowed his eyes to close in the sun for a few moments as he tried to decipher the uneasiness that refused to leave him alone. He needed Grace to open up and talk but it was obvious she wasn't going to make it easy for him.
"Are you heading back to London tonight?" she asked cutting through the silence.
Boyd turned to her shaking his head. "I hadn't intended too, thought I stay down here for a few days.
"What for? You've seen that I'm okay, there's nothing to keep you here," she said dismissively.
"Oh I dunknow, maybe I just fancy the break," he answered trying to stem the disappointment he felt at her reaction from bleeding into his voice, "I mean there are worse places to take a few days holiday aren't there?"
"Well you needn't think that you're gonna disrupt my peace because you're not, okay?"
"I wouldn't dream of it, Grace," he answered succinctly. "I just want to clear my head before heading back to the rat race."
"You okay?" she asked, concern lacing her tone for the first time.
He smiled gently. "I'm fine Grace... I'm just going out of my head with worry for you."
Grace returned his smile but it rested only on her lips. Refusing to be drawn she said, "Have you booked into anywhere?"
He shook his head. "Nope, I thought I'd maybe try that place you're staying."
"What? The Beach House?" she exclaimed raising her eyebrows.
"Yea, why, what's wrong with it?"
"Oh nothing," she continued. "It's just not the usual five-star luxury you're used to."
"I'm sure I'll manage." He shrugged lightly.
"I'm sure you will," she replied tartly before asking, "What about the Unit?"
"Spence can look after it; anyway it's hellish quiet at the minute."
"No new cases?"
"Nothing that can't wait," he said pulling himself to his feet. "Suppose I better go and check in; you coming?"
She nodded as she accepted the hand he had extended to help her onto her feet. Once upright she stumbled slightly leaning into him to steady herself. "You okay?" he asked concern ripping through him.
"Perfectly fine, don't fuss, Boyd, I just got up to quickly that's all."
"Come on then, the car's just parked at the top of the hill," Boyd replied not at all convinced by her assurances. Gently he placed a guiding arm around the small of her back and led her slowly up the hill to where the dark Audi was waiting for them.
The room was spinning and had been for the last half an hour since Grace had opened her eyes. For a few moments after waking she thought she had dreamt Boyd's arrival but the incessant knocking on her door and a hastily arranged dinner had confirmed that he was indeed staying just down the hall from her. When they had returned that afternoon to the Beach House she had felt so exhausted that she'd made an excuse about needing to freshen up while leaving Boyd to settle in, but in reality, as soon as she retreated to her room she had immediately lain down and fallen asleep. It was only now that she realised a couple of hours had passed since she had closed her eyes and yet still she felt as tired as when she had first settled. She was even too weary to explain to Boyd the fact that they wouldn't be dining alone this evening because she already had standing dinner plans made before his surprise arrival, her body just too unwilling for the potential argument that might ensue.
Douglas Herrington, her dining companion, was a retired surgeon who Grace had met during her second week at the beach house and who, seeing that she was alone, had taken it upon himself to join her at every given opportunity. Grace mostly welcomed his company and she had spent many evenings locked in deep conversation with him often finding herself opening up and sharing things she hadn't told another living soul, but sometimes he could be a little overbearing, especially on the occasions when she craved nothing more than to be alone with her thoughts. She had to admit that tonight it would be a welcome diversion having Boyd join them, though she prayed that Douglas wouldn't mention any of what they had discussed over the course of the last few weeks.
Grace's eyes approvingly appraised Boyd as she opened the door to him. His thick silver hair, still damp from his recent shower, fell neatly into place. As he breezed past her his musky aftershave infused the air between them. Grace felt her heart hitch as she breathed him in, the smell evoking a thousand memories. She hadn't realised how much she had missed him until now. His solid form almost filled the expanse of her room making the previously airy space feel so much smaller but not altogether uncomfortable. He spun around, lifting his head to meet her gaze and smiled tenderly. Deep affection automatically welled up inside her, almost to the point of overflowing. No words were needed as Grace easily returned the smile of her friend, instantly drawn to the attractive creases etched around his eyes that were enhanced by his boyish grin.
She could see why so many women were attracted to him. He was without doubt, a very attractive man. She allowed her eyes to fleet across his body. The cut of his tailored shirt fitted him perfectly and accentuated his strong muscular frame, the dark grey shade highlighting his tanned skin. It had often perplexed her why he had never remarried. She knew that there had been no shortage of admirers, many of them years younger than he, who would have loved to be the next Mrs Boyd, but every one of them were abandoned as soon as they had hinted of wanting more of a commitment from him than he was seemingly willing to offer. She knew a little about the breakdown of his first marriage, enough to realise that Mary had hurt him, but even Grace had no real idea how deep the wounds had penetrated. Her gaze returned to his dark eyes which were still trained on her until his smile widened.
"So tell me then, what's this Douglas like?" Boyd asked after she'd finally admitted they would not be dining alone.
"He's very nice, a retired surgeon; clever. Yea he's erm ... interesting."
"Interesting? Aww, Grace, am I gonna be bored to death by you both speaking medical mumbo-jumbo that I have no chance of or wish to understand?"
"Don't be cruel, Peter," she said deliberately using his given name. "Just try not to be too obtuse for one evening, huh?"
"Ah I see ... you like this Douglas guy," he stated his voice carrying a tone of despondency.
"No, really you don't see," she answered rolling her eyes at him.
"You sure? I think you're blushing."
"I'm very sure, thank you," she replied, playfully slapping his arm. "You forget that not everyone is like you."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means I don't feel the need to bed every attractive member of the opposite sex that I come in contact with."
"So you admit you find him attractive then?"
"Yea, well, he has something about him I suppose."
"Slippery slope, Grace."
She laughed lightly at his teasing. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were jealous," she said good-naturedly, adding before he had time to reply, "Come on, we're going to be late."
The drive to the restaurant was relaxed and filled with continual conversation. Against her better judgement Grace had found herself enquiring about the unit and her colleagues, and it seemed Boyd was only too happy to fill her in on how crazy they were all driving him. She loved how easy it was to be with him when he was as affable as she found him tonight. She even briefly considered telling him the reason for her abrupt departure, but knowing the effect it might have on him she stayed silent. Fighting against the darkness that once again attempted to suffocate her, she continued to be swept away in the normality of their working lives as she found herself laughing at Spencer's latest cock-up and Boyd's frustration at having to sort it out. She knew them both well enough to understand the mutual respect that had built between them, but there were times when both pushed the other to their limit. Relaxing steadily she had to admit it felt good thinking about something other than life changing decisions, even if it was only for the briefest of moments.
As they pulled into the sleepy little fishing village about a twenty minute drive from the Beach House she smiled at Boyd's predictable reaction.
"This is it?" he asked driving along what was supposedly the main street, though that was hardly an apt description for situated on it were two pubs, a general store, a post office, a little B&B that looked like it had seen better days and the Sunrise Cafe which came complete with an outdoor seating area overlooking the small harbour.
"Yip, welcome to Glandoe, population about twenty." She laughed happily still amused at the look on his face.
The village itself was very scenic with its sweeping landscapes and quaint little harbour, but considering it was the nearest place to them for miles she knew he had been hoping for a little more life around the place.
"It really is the back arse of nowhere," he said looking out the window at his surroundings.
"That's why I like it," she replied, "I love its remoteness; you really do feel removed from the world and its troubles..."
"That's because you are removed from absolutely everything here, Grace, including civilisation. Isn't it driving you nuts?"
"No, I told you, I love it ... Anyway, it does have one of the best seafood restaurants in the district. Take the next left," she said signalling with her hand. The Audi effortlessly climbed the steep hilly road up the side of the cliff before pulling into the car park at the summit directly in front of the restaurant. Boyd switched off the engine; his gaze stretched out over the cliff edge and lingered on the distant horizon. The sun had begun its descent for the day displaying an array of red and orange hues as the last dying light danced playfully on water's surface.
"It certainly is a beautiful location," Boyd said breaking the silence that had built between them.
"Just stunning," Grace replied taking a few moments to once again drink it all in. "I'll never get tired of this."
Boyd's head turned swiftly to look at her. "Hold on, you're not thinking of staying, are you?" he asked abruptly.
Grace heard the panic lace his tone, as his eyes searched hers for confirmation of her return to London.
"No, don't worry," she pacified, "although I won't say it hasn't crossed my mind."
"You mean you've actually considered it?" he asked raising his eyebrows as he spoke.
"Yea, once or twice. I mean, it's a nice place to see out your days, don't you think?"
Boyd's eyes drifted towards the harbour beneath them. "I suppose, though hopefully that's not something either of us will have to think about for a long time yet, Grace."
Grace smiled gently at him. "Hopefully not for a very long time, but still you never know."
"You can be so morbid, you know that?"
"Comes with the job," she quipped waving over his shoulder as a black Mercedes drew up along them. "That's Douglas, be nice okay?"
"Whatdya mean? I'm always nice."
"Whatever you say," she said, opening the car door and exiting into the evening air.
Douglas Herrington was a tall lean man in his early sixties with white hair and a kindly smile. His skin had a healthy glow displaying a deep tan acquired by spending most of the summer at his remote French holiday home. Grace smiled widely at him as she rounded the car to greet him.
"Grace, you're looking more gorgeous than ever," Douglas said embracing her before kissing both her cheeks and holding her in his arms a little too long. "How was your day? All well?"
"Yes, I've had a lovely day, thank you," she replied. As she turned to introduce Boyd, Douglas beat her to it.
"Ah you must be Peter, Grace's researcher. Douglas Herrington, It's a pleasure to meet you."
Boyd threw a sideways glance at Grace, his eyes narrowed in confusion. As he opened his mouth to speak Grace interrupted shaking her head imperceptibly at him in the hope he would catch it.
"I was telling Douglas that I base all my books on the information you provide me with. Honestly I'd be lost without him, Douglas," she added turning back to her new friend while placing her hand lightly on Boyd's arm.
"Well keep up the good work, old chap, because we have got to keep this little lady writing her best sellers," Douglas answered, gazing adoringly at Grace. "Shall we eat?"
Grace caught Boyd's eyes in time to see the irritation rise. "Old chap," he mouthed silently towards her, his face clearly showing his disapproval at Douglas' terminology. She reached behind her for his hand and gave it a quick understanding squeeze before turning back to follow Douglas towards the door of the restaurant.
"It's completely obvious, Grace," Boyd said as the car pulled into the drive of the beach house, "Douglas Herrington is totally besotted by you. Don't tell me you can't see that."
"He's just being friendly, Boyd, stop reading into it things that aren't there."
Switching of the engine he turned to face her. "Look, I've been a detective for more years than I care to remember, I'm used to studying people, and one thing I am certain of is that man is not just interested in your friendship. And you're supposed to be the one good at reading body language?"
"Honestly, Boyd, there is nothing to read. He's been a good friend to me these last few weeks."
"And have you asked yourself why? I mean, what he's getting out of it? Men like him just don't do things for the good of their health."
"Men like you, you mean! Look just because you don't like Douglas ..."
"I didn't say I don't like him."
"But you don't, do you?"
"It's not about if I like him or not, it's just ... well ... it's just ... he's a pompous prat really, isn't he? And what the hell was all that this is my researcher crap?"
"Ah, yes, sorry about that," Grace replied coyly.
"So come on then, why didn't you want him to know I'm a policeman?"
"It's not that I didn't want to tell him what you do for a living exactly, I just don't want him to know what I do. I had already told him that you were a colleague and it just kinda escalated I suppose. And before you say anything," she added raising her palms towards him, "I know it's stupid, but when I arrived I just couldn't bear to have the endless questions about our line of work so it was much easier to say I was an author."
Boyd stared silently out of the window for a moment as he weighed up her words. Swallowing hard he turned to face her again. "Is that what this is all about?" he asked, his insides tightening in preparation for her response.
"All what about?" she shrugged.
"You, leaving London, disappearing for weeks with no word to anyone. Are you unhappy working at the unit?"
"No, of course not. I love it there, you know that."
Boyd ran his hand through his hair and sighed deeply. "I don't know what I know anymore, Grace, I thought I knew you but this is so out of character. Come on, what's going on? Just tell me. I want to help, you know?"
"For the last time, there's nothing to tell, why can't you just accept that?"
"Because I know you're lying that's why!" he said a little too harshly.
"Oh, so I'm a liar now am I?" she replied sharply, "Well thank you very much. You know maybe you just need to realise that the world doesn't revolve around Peter Boyd. This is my life, Boyd, my business and if I want to take a break on my own once in a while then I flaming well will without facing the Spanish inquisition from you. Okay? Now, goodnight." Grace pushed open the door of the Audi slamming it closed behind her and leaving Boyd alone with his thoughts.
He watched her walk up the wooden steps that led to the decked veranda in front of the house before disappearing behind the front door. Slowly he dropped his head onto the steering wheel in frustration, mentally berating himself for antagonising her. Whatever was going on she wasn't ready to talk about it and her silence on the matter was increasingly scaring him. He lifted his mobile debating if he should call to apologise, but decided it would probably be better to give her some space. She would have calmed down by the morning, he would talk to her then. Eventually he climbed out of the car and made his own way back into the Beach House.
Grace descended the few steps down into the breakfast area. The large windows with their heavy wooden shutters thrown open spilled the early morning sun into the room instantly making the space bright and inviting. Her eyes automatically scanned the room as she looked for Boyd. She had overreacted the previous night, she knew that, but just couldn't bring herself to explain her reason for leaving, not yet, especially not to him. To tell him would formalise it, make it real and she wasn't ready to do that yet. Glancing past the couples and families contentedly eating their breakfast at the various tables in front of her, she stilled as her eyes fell on the solitary figure sitting in corner, his head buried in a newspaper. Tentatively she approached not knowing how welcome her presence would be.
"Morning," she opened timidly. He immediately looked up at her and smiled. If his temper was still roused he displayed no sign of it.
"Morning," he replied, "You want coffee?" he asked motioning towards the pot.
"Yes please," she answered relieved at his apparent forgiveness. As she pulled out the seat opposite him she opened her mouth to apologise for her rash behaviour the previous evening but swiftly closed it again capturing her words. She had no desire to open up this particular conversation again and if he wasn't going to mention it then she was damned if she would. "Thank you," she smiled as he handed her the filled cup, "How did you sleep?"
"Surprisingly well. It must be the sea air because once my head hit the pillow I was out of it. What about you, you sleep well?"
"Like a log. Mind you, to be honest, sleeping seems to be all I have done whilst being down here."
"You must need it then, just enjoy the relaxation while you can."
Grace studied him closely as he returned to the task of reading the morning paper. She couldn't quite put her finger on what it was but there was something very comforting about his presence. Whatever it was she was glad that he was here, with her. An unexplained urge to touch him surged inside her and for a few moments she didn't think herself capable of controlling it. There had been fleeting moments in the past when she had found herself wanting to reach out for him, and on occasions, usually at the office party when she had a little too much wine, she had allowed her mind to drift and imagine what it would be like to be wrapped in his arms, but nothing had ever been as strong as the impulse that was currently coursing through her. Trying to swallow back the unnerving sensation and restore calm to her thumping heart she asked, "What are your plans for the rest of the day?"
Boyd looked up and once he had taken another sip of coffee he replied, "Oh I don't know, I was thinking I might take a walk along the coast for a while."
"You? Walking?" she exclaimed, smirking at his feigned hurt reaction.
"I like walking, Grace, especially beside the sea. Anyway it'll do me good."
"Yea, it probably will. Would you like company, or would you rather be on your own?" She heard herself pose the question, yet had no idea where it had come from.
Boyd smiled gently at her, "I assume we're talking about your company?"
"Of course, unless you want me to ring Douglas, that is?"
As if on cue her mobile phone began to ring and as she picked it up Boyd said, "I swear Grace, if it's that pompous prat, you better not invite him today otherwise you're not coming!"
Grace laughed lightly looking at her phone before cancelling the call unanswered. "You really don't like him, do you?"
"No," he admitted solemnly, "and before you ask, no I don't have a good reason other than he irritates the hell out of me."
"Everyone irritates you, Boyd!"
"Not everyone, but you're certainly on the list," he said deadpan, lifting his mug to his mouth to take another draw of coffee.
"Ha-flaming-ha," she replied sardonically. "Anyway you have no need to worry, it wasn't him."
He nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement. "So you fancy a walk then?" he asked smiling.
"Yea, I could do with some fresh air, may stop me feeling so damn tired all the time."
"Okay, come on then," he said rising to his feet.
The early autumn sun bestowed its warmth upon them as they followed the sea's edge in comfortable companionship. As they walked Boyd allowed their easy conversation to mask the fear he internally wrestled with as it attempted to overtake him. Her reluctance to open up and talk about whatever it was that was really troubling her weighed heavy on his mind and followed him around like a dark spector. He thought they had been getting along so well recently, their relationship hitting a new equilibrium which had brought with it a sense of calm and a deepening of their friendship. There had been a change between them, he had sensed it and if he was honest had relished their increasing closeness. His mind drifted, journeying him back over the past few months. He couldn't pinpoint exactly when it had happened but he was deeply aware that somewhere along the line he had begun to see her from a very different perspective. Feelings he had long since rejected now lingered and dominated as they intensified. In the past he had quickly dismissed any notion of them being anything other than friends, their bitter arguments a constant reminder of why they could never be more to each other, but lately he had found himself thinking about the possibilities that lay before them letting the ensuing emotions submerge him as they encompassed his dreams. Maybe that's why her absence had cut so deep. There was no doubt she knew him better than anyone else, was closer than anyone else and until now he thought he knew her well also, but if she couldn't even trust him with this then what hope did they have?
Grace motioned towards a bench, before settling her weight wearily onto the wooden form. He sat comfortably beside her. "You okay?" he asked watching as she caught her breath.
"Yea, just not as young as I used to be," she replied, still sounding breathless.
"None of us are, Grace."
"Well it doesn't seem to be bothering you much," she said lightly.
"It's all just an act, truth be told I'm just as frigging knackered as you, are" he replied partly in truth, partly to make her feel better. They fell into an easy silence as they watched the rise and fall of the gulls over the glittering surface of the sea as they dived in the search of food. Boyd inclined his head slightly to look at her, his heart sinking at what he observed. Her face which normally looked so radiant, was tired and drawn. She was so frail, delicate and everything within him screamed his need to protect her from whatever demon was ravishing and ripping at her body. The trouble was he had no idea what he was fighting and she in her own reticence was rendering him powerless. She shivered, rubbing her arms with her hands.
"You cold?" he asked.
"Hmmm, it has got a little nippy don't you think?"
Immediately, without thinking, he put his arm around her drawing her to his side for warmth. "Come here," he said half expecting her to pull away or admonish him for his fussing. She did neither. "Grace, you're absolutely freezing, why didn't you say something, we could have turned back?"
"I was enjoying the walk ... and the company."
"It's not worth getting pneumonia for though, is it?"
"Oh, I don't know ..." She smiled.
"Still we should head back, get you into the warmth. Come on," he said rising to his feet and reaching out his hand to help her up. As she stood Boyd found a reluctance to release his grip on her. He felt her pull gently against him in a half-hearted bid to retrieve her hand, but he simply grinned and held her steadfastly within his grasp. Her small hand was easily encased in the expanse of his, but somehow to his surprise it felt completely natural for them to be intertwined. They stayed linked together for the remainder of the journey back. If Grace felt it strange or uncomfortable she didn't voice it, nor did she attempt to remove his grip on her. Her hand was still tightly joined with Boyd's as they entered the warmth of the Beach House. Boyd stilled. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine thank you, a little tired, but I had a lovely afternoon."
He smiled kindly at her. "I'm gonna give Spence a call so he can update me on the latest mess he's made back in London, why don't you go and have a lie down for a while?"
Grace returned his smile nodding as she replied, "You know, I think I'll do just that."
"Good." he said waiting a beat before asking, "Dinner tonight?"
"Sounds great. Seven okay for you?"
"Yea, seven's fine." he smiled holding her gaze firmly.
"Seven it is then," Grace said moving her eyes from his to their still joined hands.
"Ah, sorry," he said releasing her grip and immediately missing the feel of her beneath his fingers.
Smiling shyly as she met his eyes again she said, "It's okay ... I'll see you tonight."
"See you later," Boyd replied sighing deeply as he watched her walk away from him. Running his hand roughly across his face he quickly suppressed the intense desire to go after her.
Grace lay unmoving on top of the ample double bed. She tentatively opened her eyes, rubbing her hand across her forehead in a futile attempt to displace the pounding inside her head. Sluggishly she glanced at the clock on her bedside table. Five-thirty, she knew she would have to move if she was going to have time to shower and change in order to meet Boyd for dinner at seven. Her mind lingered on the thought of him, drawing a faint smile to her lips. The afternoon they shared together had been perfect. She couldn't remember the last time she had relaxed so fully or laughed so freely. She looked down at her hand, studying it carefully. She could still feel his fingers wrapped firmly around hers. His unexpected touch had sent shivers cascading up her arm pooling in waves of anticipation and unbidden desire. Quickly she dismissed any thought that he had meant the gesture in any other way than offering kind support as the folly of an old woman. Still, she silently admitted to herself, whatever his motive, his actions had ignited feelings she long thought she had dealt with. She sighed irritatingly. Why now? she thought. Why, in the midst of everything, did he have to
side swipe her so cruelly by causing her emotions to tumble out of darkest recesses of her being? Why in the desperate loneliness of the looming decision she had to make did he have to be such a solid presence that complicated everything?
Dismissing her thoughts under a torrent of quiet cursing she lifted herself of the bed wincing painfully as her body ached in retaliation at the unwanted movement towards the bathroom.
"Should you be having that if you're driving?" Grace motioned towards the glass of red wine Boyd was lifting to his lips. He had chosen the restaurant tonight, which in reality meant in he had driven almost an hour to the nearest Italian that he could find.
"Yea, well, I thought you could drive us home, Grace, after all I'm on my holidays."
"Not flaming likely."
"Aww come on, have a heart woman."
"Are you being serious? You can't possibly expect me to sit here listening to you rambling on and not have a drink, can you?"
His eyes glinted mischievously as he grinned boyishly at her. "Oh don't worry," he said teasingly, "I am fully aware of your drink problem, Grace, so you go right ahead and down that because I've taken the liberty of ordering us a taxi to take us back tonight. I'll pick the car up tomorrow."
"I don't have a drink problem, Boyd!" she admonished lightly her smile diffusing her tone, "but I do like your thinking. Cheers!" she laughed raising her glass before taking a long draw.
Boyd's eyes were transfixed to her, aware that he was in danger of being swept away in the tide of the emotions she had stirred within him. He watched as she perused the menu, chuckling quietly to himself at the show she made debating what to have, before settling on what she ultimately always chose when they ate Italian, grilled polo chicken with a large side salad. Sometimes he could read her like a book, predictable, dependable, reliable, that was Grace, which is why her recent behaviour had perplexed him so much. He sighed deeply, pushing aside the desire to question her again. It had been a long time since he heard her laugh as deeply and unbridled as she had today and he wasn't about to spoil her mood. No, he decided firmly, questioning Grace would have to wait, because tonight he was simply enjoying being with her.
They chatted and laughed their way through dinner and almost three bottles of wine enjoying the mutual affection that had engulfed them. He knew he was drunk, and could clearly see that Grace was as equally liberated, if not more so, but with their intoxication came a very tranquil, very intimate and surprisingly tactile connection. A voice in his head, a much more sober voice than his own was shouting loudly at him to gain control and pull back, but he was enjoying the closeness between them too much to listen to the caution coursing through him. He knew what was happening, what he wanted to happen and God help him he was running headlong into it.
Slowly he twisted his arm slightly as he tried to focus on his watch. "We should think about making a move, I've booked the taxi for nine-thirty."
"Is it that time already?" Grace replied mirroring his action by checking her own watch.
"Time flies when you're having fun, Grace, you know that," he replied standing to help her with her coat.
"Or when you have had too much wine," Grace replied unsteadily.
Boyd laughed as he put his arm around her. "You okay?"
"Hmm perfectly ... Thank you."
"For what?" He shrugged.
"Grace, we walked and had dinner, it was nothing special."
"It was to me." She smiled placing her hand lightly on his arm.
Boyd pushed back an immediate urge to kiss her right then and there. Sighing heavily he said, "Come on you," pulling her into himself as he guided her through the restaurant towards the door. The cool evening air hit them has they stepped from the warmth of their surroundings into the night.
"That must be ours over there," Boyd said pointing towards the taxi sitting idle in the bay opposite. "Wait here, I'll go check." He walked towards the black saloon and tapped on the window. "Boyd?" he asked the driver. Receiving confirmation he called out to her, "Grace, over here," then watched amused as she staggered to where he was standing. "I think you're a little drunk Dr Foley." He laughed as she approached. "I'm not drunk, just happy," she giggled.
"Of course," he said holding the car door open for her still laughing deeply. He climbed into the back seat beside her and after giving the driver the address he leaned into her, his heart racing as his shoulder gently connected with hers. "I really enjoyed today you know. It's been great getting away from the confines of London for a while."
"I know what you mean," Grace replied, "When I first arrived I felt as though I was breathing fresh clean air for the first time in ages."
"Oh I don't know there's something about that grimy smog ..."
Although they both laughed the atmosphere immediately ignited. Electricity hung in the air between them as they quietly regarded one another. Without saying a word Boyd reached across and linked his hand with hers, tenderly caressing her fingers. His heart thumped against his chest as he felt her respond to his touch, her thumb drawing lazy circles on the back of his hand. The softness of her skin against his brought with it an increased desire to explore it further. He could hear her breathing increase against him and wondered if she was as lost as he.
They still hadn't broken the silence as the car pulled up in front of the sea-fronted house and their hands had remained firmly locked together. After Boyd had paid the taxi driver they exited the car and stood watching as the headlights disappeared down the road. Un-resisted he pulled Grace lightly to his side. Silently he held her gaze trying to gauge what she was going on behind her eyes that were awash with emotion. Softly he reached for her face tracing the back of his hand along her jawline. "Boyd ..." she whispered as he stepped closer.
"Yea? ..." he huskily replied.
"I don't think we ..."
Her words were taken as his lips pressed urgently against hers. He felt his pulse race as she willing responded to his touch, groaning against him as his tongue met hers. Her hands were tangled through his hair, his hands running up and down the delicate plains of her back as years of carefully controlled desire were released in a blaze of fire. She pulled away from him and immediately he missed the feel of her against him. Momentarily his heart sank as his mind convinced him she was about to tell him what a huge mistake they were making. Instead she looked directly into his eyes, heat, passion and desire pouring from her depths. He saw no hint of fear as she tugged his hand lightly. "Let's go inside."
Boyd waited hesitantly outside her room as Grace opened the door and switched on the light. Tentatively he stepped inside snaking his arm around her waist. She leaned her back against his chest as he gently encompassed her securely in his arms breathing her in. Softly he kissed the length of her neck turning her around to face him. Slowly he bent and captured her lips with his, tenderly exploring the newness of her mouth beneath his.
"You sure?" his deep voice breathlessly whispered as he briefly pulled back. She replied only with a nod reaching for him again, this time with more urgency than before. Gently he took back control, easing her onto the bed behind her. As his lips once again found hers, he solemnly dismissed every darkened shadow that was encroaching on his mind and focused only on his increasing need for her.
The early morning sun glinted through the tiny slots of the wooden shutters bathing the bedroom in a hazy glow. As Boyd began to stir he reached across the bed to where she had been sleeping only to find the space beside him empty and cold. He listened intently in an attempt to decipher if she was in bathroom but the room was silent. Cautiously he threw his legs out from beneath the covers and after quickly confirming the bathroom was empty he threw on the clothes that had been discarded aimlessly on the chair a few hours previously, before opening the bedroom door. Quietly he crossed the narrow hallway and descended the stairs that led to the small entrance area beneath. He continued, pulling open the heavy front door and blinking rapidly in the bright morning light. The decking beneath was cold under his bare feet as he walked towards the railings looking out along the beach. Immediately he spotted her standing on the sand just a little down from the front of the house.
He climbed down the steps and padded across the sand to where she was standing watching the sun rise above the horizon. The soft light accentuated her beautifully and Boyd tingled as memories of the previous evening raced excitedly around his mind. He couldn't remember a time when he felt such a strong connection to someone, physically or mentally. She was part of him, a beautiful, gentle, serene part of him, and for the first time in years, he was happy. He stepped behind her and reached for her waist smiling as she jumped at his touch. Instantly his smile dissolved under a wave of confusion as she tensed in his arms.
"Grace, what is it?" he asked softly, turning her to him. "Are you crying?" Her head was bent low seemingly unable to meet his gaze but her tears were undeniable. "Grace, you're scaring me now, what is it?" he said softly.
"Don't, please, Boyd," she answered pushing him away.
Boyd felt his heart begin to race uncontrollably in fear as his mind frantically trawled the last twenty-four hours in an attempt to find something that might have upset her. "I don't understand, what's wrong?"
"Nothing ... Everything."
"Well, which is it? Come on you can talk to me. Is it the reason you left London?"
"Why does everything have to come back to that?" she spat bitterly.
"It doesn't, I'm just trying to understand what's going on. Last night ..."
"Shouldn't have happened," she interrupted abruptly.
Her words stabbed him like red hot daggers piercing his chest, plunging straight into his heart. Swallowing hard against the lump forming in his throat he said, "Is that really what you think?" Boyd held her eyes daring her to answer while fearing what he would hear. She dropped her head as she nodded slowly.
"Grace, please, talk to me," he pleaded.
"I'm sorry, Boyd, but we should forget last night ever happened."
"What? Why?" he asked still completely confused.
"Because it's for the best."
"The best for whom?"
"For us, the both of us," she said quietly.
"What if I don't agree? Honestly, Grace, aren't you a little long in the tooth to have morning after guilt?"
"I don't feel guilty."
"So what do you feel then, cause I'm damned if I know?" he snapped.
"It just would have been simpler if we had stayed friends without the added complication of sleeping together."
Boyd shrugged. "Complication? What we shared last night you think is a complication?"
"You know what I mean. It just would be better if things went back to how they were."
"Grace, I shared your bed last night, felt the warmth of your skin against mine, how can you ever expect me to return to being just work colleagues again? I don't think I can. I don't want to," he said reaching for her.
She pulled away from his grasp, "Maybe you'll just have too."
"I don't understand, last night, I thought that was what you wanted."
"It was ... It is ..."
"Well then, what's the problem if it's what we both want?"
"It's just easier if we end this now."
"End it? We've barely even started, Grace. Oh for ..." his voice trailed off as he swore in frustration before turning to her once again. "For years we've denied ourselves this happiness, why are you still intent in making both of us miserable."
"If I make you so damn miserable, why then would you want to be with me?" she replied tartly.
"Right now it's the thought of not being with you that is doing the damage, though God knows why. Come on, what can be so bad we can't get through it?" he patiently asked.
Grace turned to look at him, her eyes scorching his soul as they steadily held his. Slowly she took his hands in hers, "You deserve better than me, Boyd," she said softly tears beginning to trace a path down her face one more.
"Can't I be the judge of that?" he answered tenderly.
She shook her head, tears flowing freely.
"Please, Grace, just tell me what it is. We have the rest of our lives to figure it out."
She tenderly caressed his hands beneath hers, though her eyes never left his. "You've been through so much already, I can't be the reason for causing you any more pain. I care too much for you to do that."
"Pain? What pain would you cause?" He shrugged.
"Just leave it, Boyd, okay?"
"No, it's not okay, Grace, it's very far from being okay," he said unable to control the annoyance in his tone.
"Well I'm sorry, because I just can't do this," she snapped releasing his hands.
"And that's it?"
"I don't believe you, Grace. Last night you ..."
"Well that's too bad, Boyd, because I've made my decision," she said her tears betraying the hardness of her tone.
"Just go, Boyd, please."
Running his hand across his beard he reluctantly turned and walked heavy-heartedly back towards the Beach House.
Boyd closed his eyes swearing coarsely under his breath. "Peter..." the voice called out again from behind as he continued putting his overnight bag into the boot of the waiting taxi. Hearing the footsteps near he turned, grimacing. "Douglas, I'm ..."
"You're leaving so soon?" The other man interrupted.
"I'm afraid so," Boyd replied not bothering to hide his impatience.
"Is Grace going with you?"
Boyd sighed deeply. "No, she's not."
"Ah, still hasn't made up her mind then I see," Douglas nodded knowingly as he spoke, "It's a difficult decision."
"About returning to London?"
"No about her ..." He stopped suddenly mid-sentence seemingly realising that Boyd hadn't been made privy to Grace's thoughts."
"About her what?" Boyd asked obviously expecting an answer.
"I think you should ask Grace," Douglas replied nervously.
Boyd's eyes narrowed. "You know? Grace told you?"
He didn't need Douglas to answer, the look on his face was confirmation enough. Hurt ripped through Boyd like a fire destroying everything in its wake. What they had shared, years of friendship, good times, bad times - the intimacy of the previous evening - obviously meant nothing to her. His stomach turned over as he imagined her and Douglas discussing her plans for the future, plans that obviously don't include him, in fact she didn't even think him worthy enough to share them with him. Or maybe it was just that she didn't trust him, not fully, after all he's just a dumb copper… How could he have been so stupid as to believe that someone like Grace would ever consider a relationship with an unpredictable, quick tempered man like him?
"Perfect, just frigging perfect. Well you can tell her from me that she can do whatever the hell she likes, I don't care, but unless she lets me know by the end of the week when she's returning to London, I'm advertising for a new profiler."
"Profiler?" Douglas repeated confusion lacing his tone.
"Something the formidable Dr Foley omitted to tell you. You better get used to it, Douglas, 'cause she's good at picking and choosing what she wants you to know," Boyd spat, anger momentarily displacing his pain. "Now, if you'll excuse me I've got to pick up my car with the joy of a long drive home ahead of me," he continued pulling open the back door of the car.
"Peter, wait ..." Douglas said placing his hand on the open door. Boyd turned to face the older man immediately observing the conflict of emotions fleeting across his face. "Look, I don't know the nature of your and Grace's relationship, but it's obvious you care very deeply for her ..."
"Believe me, you couldn't be more wrong ... look I really have to go."
"Just ask yourself this one question," Douglas said ignoring Boyd's insistence on leaving, "Why would Grace have shared something so personal with a virtual stranger and ask for his knowledge and advice, when she obviously can't bring herself to speak to those closest to her?"
Boyd studied him intently for a few moments before dismissing him with a shrug. "I dunknow. Maybe if she ever manages to drag her arse back to London I'll ask her. Until then - she knows where I am. Goodbye Douglas," he said as he slammed the door and the taxi pulled away from the driveway.
He hadn't seen Grace since that morning on the beach, he didn't even tell her that he was leaving, although by now he had no doubt Douglas had filled her in. His mind drifted to what he had said outside the Beach House. Douglas had been trying to tell him something and in the dark recesses of Boyd's subconscious fear had begun to encroach as the only logical conclusion he could draw was the one that had been haunting him for weeks. The further and further away from her that he drove, the more vivid her image appeared to him. Mile after mile brought with it memories of their night together. Regardless of what she had told him, it had meant something, he had seen it in her eyes, felt it in her touch. She had wanted him as much as he had wanted her and it hadn't been just lust, or an alcohol induced mistake. He had experienced nights driven by those influences before and had never felt the deep undeniable connection that he had felt when lying beside Grace. If what he thought Douglas had implied turned out to be true, then her leaving would make sense, but more than that she would need him. Pulling into the next service station Boyd turned the car around and headed back to the Beach House.
Grace lifted the phone in the bedroom immediately after the first ring expecting it to be Boyd. She couldn't remember when she had first started crying, she only knew that her body ached from the continual sobs. Life was cruel, twisting the knife through her soul until she was desolate. For years she had held back, too scared to believe that Boyd could be anything other than a friend and now when she should be the happiest woman alive their relationship lay in ruins. The ironic nature of life. She shouldn't have been so weak, but the temptation of him was too much for her to resist. It hadn't been fair to him, she knew that, and that's why she hated herself. The fact was that her own heated desire had driven her thoughts away from what was best for him and placed them solely on to her need. But she had needed him. For one night she needed to be held and loved and she was glad that it was his arms that were around her. Silent tears started to fall again as she heard the receptionist's voice at the end of the line.
"Sorry to bother you, madam, but there's a Mr Herrington here to see you."
"Can you please tell him that I'm busy but I will be in touch," Grace replied politely.
"He thought you might be, but says it's very important, it's about Mr Boyd."
Grace sighed loudly. She really didn't feel up to seeing Douglas today, but if he had any news on Boyd then she wanted to know. Reluctantly she relented. "Okay, could you ask him to come up please."
She opened the door at the gentle knock, stepping back to allow Douglas entry. "You've spoke to Boyd?" she asked immediately anxious to hear how he was.
"I saw him as he was leaving," Douglas replied sitting on the chair beside the small rustic dressing table.
"He's gone?" Grace asked in surprise, as disappointment and hurt wrapped constrictively around her heart.
"About ten minutes ago; he's terribly hurt Grace. I take it you haven't told him what's going on?"
Grace shook her head slowly. "No, it wouldn't be fair to him, not now."
"And do you think it's fair that you keep him in the dark? Look, I know I haven't known you very long, and I have only just met him, but you clearly both care very deeply for each other yet for some reason are equally intent on causing the other immeasurable pain."
Grace allowed a small smile to pull at her lips against the sadness of his words. Sighing deeply she said, "You may not have known us for long, but that pretty much sums up our relationship. Can't live with, can't live without."
"You just need to be honest with him. He's a good man, Grace, he'll be able to handle it."
"Yes, yes he is, but that's just the problem. Boyd has been through so much already and I don't want to be the one that causes him any more pain."
"You think by excluding him that he won't feel hurt?"
"No that's not ..."
"Because the man I was just speaking with definitely is not full of the joys. He's confused, Grace, and hurt and that alone is causing him insurmountable pain."
"Still, he won't have the added problem of having to deal with the possible outcome."
"But shouldn't that be his decision to make? You need to trust your friend more, Grace."
"I do trust him, I trust him with my life, I just don't want to put him through it all, not again."
"Well, if you trust him with your life as you say, why not prove it? What's the worst that can happen?"
"I lose him," her voice trailed off.
"Aren't you running the risk of that already?"
"Or maybe it's that I'm afraid he'll stay, out of pity," she quietly admitted.
"I think that's the real issue here, don't you?"
Grace couldn't find her voice to answer him as images of Boyd cascaded through her mind.
"Look, Grace, I honestly think you need to talk to Peter, I am convinced it will help dispel any fears you may have about him, and will certainly help ease his confusion."
"I know you're probably right, but he obviously doesn't want to speak to me, he left without even saying goodbye."
"His pride has been hurt, he'll calm down."
In all the years she had known Boyd, she would have agreed that Douglas' surmise would be the probable outcome, but this time it was different. This hadn't just been another argument, they had finally given in to the inevitable and he had given himself to her freely only for her to heartlessly reject him. Of course he was hurt.
She wrapped her arms around herself attempting to prevent another outpouring of grief. Lost in the pain that was coursing violently inside her she was hardly aware of the knock at the door, nor of Douglas' movement to open it. Her first acknowledgement came when she lifted her head and her eyes met his, deep and familiar, and immediately she lost herself in their darkness.
"Boyd, what are you ..." she asked her voice breaking under the weight of emotion.
"Douglas, can you give us a minute please?" Boyd asked turning to the other man.
"Yes, yes of course. I'll be in touch, Grace," Douglas replied as he walked to the door.
Boyd waited until Douglas had closed the door firmly behind him before turning towards her. Silently he stood holding her gaze for a few moments that seem to stretch into eternity. Grace was too weary for a fight, but she knew he needed and deserved an explanation. He looked tentative, almost fearful as she watched the slow rise and fall of his Adams apple as he swallowed hard before beginning to speak.
"The cancer ... it's back isn't it?" he asked, his deep voice cutting through the air like a knife as it pierced her heart.
Tears pooled in her eyes burning caustically as Grace nodded slowly unable to utter the confirmation.
"Oh, Grace," he said, immediately going to her and taking her in his arms. As he embraced her she collapsed in uncontrollable sobs releasing all of the pent up stress and fear of the previous few weeks. Boyd silently held her allowing her to cry against him. Softly he kissed the top of her head. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"I couldn't," she sobbed. "I couldn't deal with all the sympathy and pity, not yet, it's too soon," she said timidly, "and ... if I admitted it to you, it meant it was actually real."
"Aww, Grace," he said emotion hanging on every word. "You shouldn't have had to deal with this on your own. I would have been there for you, you know that?"
Grace nodded. "I know," she replied suddenly feeling very claustrophobic. "I'm sorry Boyd, I need some air."
"Do you want to take a walk onto the beach?"
"I just need to get out of here," she replied anxiously, lifting her cardigan from the back of the chair and making her way to the door. They continued walking in silence until they reached the shore, the sound of the waves colliding noisily with their thoughts.
"So what happens now? When do you start treatment?" Boyd asked finally.
"I don't know."
"What do you mean, you don't know," he shrugged, "surely they've given you some indication of what's going to happen."
"It's not that simple Boyd."
"Of course it is, they deal with this all the time, Grace ..." he said trying to reassure her.
"No, you don't understand. It's not the same as last time, at least not exactly."
"You don't mean ... They are going to be able to give you treatment aren't they?"
"Yea, they can give me treatment but it comes with risks," she answered.
"But the risks, they're worth taking right?"
"I'm not sure."
"What do you mean you're not sure? How can you not be sure, Grace? A choice between life or death, it's gotta be worth it."
"That's just it ..."
"They need to operate before I can have chemo, the operation is extremely complex," she said hearing her voice shake as she tried to control it.
Boyd's eyes narrowed. "In what way?"
Grace took a few moments trying to quell the noise within. Closing her eyes she steadied herself as she continued, "There's a seventy percent chance that I'll die on the table."
Boyd's face turned ashen as he exhaled air loudly. "Grace, I ..."
"It gets worse. If make it through the operation there is still a thirty-five percent chance that I will be in a coma for the rest of my life." She felt Boyd reel against her as her words fell heavily around them.
"I'm sorry Grace, I just need a few moments ..." he said unable to hide his shock. Grace could see how visibly shaken he was, the news she had delivered worse than he expected.
"It's okay," she comforted, "I've had over a month to deal with it and I'm still finding it hard to take in."
"A month? Don't they have to move fast in these cases?"
She felt the uncertainty well up inside her again. It had been a familiar presence over the last few weeks. "Yea, well..." her voice dropped off.
"Well, what?" Boyd asked impatiently.
She turned away from him and walked towards the water's edge. It had turned out to be another beautiful day. The sea swept calmly onto the shore, following the law that nature had laid for it. Predictable, reliable, no matter what the world or its inhabitants struggled with, the tide came in and went out regardless of who was there to see it. Grace sighed loudly, still staring out at the sea.
"That's the reason I came here. I couldn't think in London, well not clearly anyway. I was seeing specialist after specialist, all telling me what I should or shouldn't do, breaking down the risks so I was aware of what was involved and pressing me to make a decision. I mean, how can anyone decide something so huge when all that is going on around them? I felt ... suffocated. I couldn't breathe, Boyd, so I had to get away. For the first time in weeks I felt in control." She turned again to look at him. She knew her words had left him broken, the devastation showed clearly in his eyes. "I'm sorry..."
He jolted, her apology seemingly having pulled him from whatever place within himself that he had temporarily gone to. "For what?" he asked sincerely.
"For disappearing, for not telling you, for being ill, for dragging you into all this, for not being honest before we ..."
"Come here," he ordered lightly, holding open his arms. Meekly she obeyed and buried her head deep into his chest. "You have nothing to apologise for, absolutely nothing, okay?" he said, tightening his grip on her.
"But I should never have slept with you, Boyd. I let you believe we had a future together when the reality is something very different."
"We do have a future together, Grace," he said firmly.
"How can you say that after what I've just told you? We can't possibly have ..."
"Why not? I have no intention of leaving you."
"I can't ask you to put yourself through this. I won't!"
"You're not asking, I'm telling you, I'm not going anywhere. Operation or not I'm with you 'til the end, no matter what happens."
"Boyd, you can't ..."
"Grace, I'm not arguing with you over this. I waited too long to be with you and last night was... was worth waiting for. Yes of course I wish to God things were different, but they're not. I'm not letting you go, Grace, not now. Whatever happens we face it together, okay?"
Grace could feel the tears fall from her eyes. She didn't deserve him being so kind to her, not after she had shut him out.
"Okay?" Boyd repeated again gently lifting her head and brushing away her tears with the pad of his thumb. She nodded her head, smiling lightly at his action.
"Good," he said bending to brush his lips across hers, "'cause I mean it Grace, I'm not going anywhere." They stood in silence for a few moments each drawing strength from the other before Boyd spoke again. "So has it helped you reach a decision being here then?"
She sneered ironically. "No, not really, except ..."
"Meeting Douglas, a retired surgeon, it almost felt, oh I don't know ...fated I suppose."
"So that's why you told him?"
"Yea, I wanted his advice."
"Have the operation. He seems to think that the surgeons are being over cautious in their statistics."
"But there's still a high risk though?"
"Oh yes, Douglas agrees that it is still a very risky procedure, but he has given me a name of a private surgeon in London that he thinks I should speak to. Apparently he has carried out a number of these operations with no fatalities."
"Then that's who we talk to when we get back. You're gonna beat this, you know that don't you?"
"And if I don't?"
"It's not an option Grace, not an option," he replied firmly, kissing her forehead and filling Grace with a sense of hope she'd long since forgotten.