Chapter 15

Author's Note: Hi Girls! I cannot believe it, but we arrived the end of this long journey. I hope you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. And now as usual I wanna say thanks to Rach who did a gorgeous job, and I'm sending a big hug to all of my faithful and new reviewers, namely to Firing Rockets on Dragons, Tommys My 21, beMMADfabulous, Chiara, Vluy, Kristi-Julie, OSUSprinks, Gabiroba, One Special Lana, Liesel Meminger, green dame, livy, VictoriaGrant, risingdancer and to fantasyinmymind. And to my Ursa of course. Thanks for every fantastic review of yours and now let's see what happened…

"It would be lovely to finally be your… WIFE." Clarisse smiled and there was silence for a few moments. They just sat in stillness and searched the other's eyes, each trying to figure out what the other was thinking.

"You mean…?" asked Joseph, who was still in pieces from the shock.

"Yes," she nodded quietly. "I know that you are not my husband Joseph."

He wanted to say something wise, something to try to mend the situation, but instead he asked one thing. "Since when?"

"When you gave me the engagement ring, I immediately knew the truth."

"I see," was the only thing he could say. He felt like the wayfarer - old and exhausted from his long journey, and now the only thing he could do was to accept what Fate could offer him. He was tired. Tired, but he also relieved, because the continuous worrying was over.

"I know you are mad at me now," Joseph said, standing up and turning towards the water. He was not able to face her, because if he would did, he would surely lose the power of speech. "But I was not been able to pass up this chance … to miss the chance to be with you. I should moralize that you was ill and I just tried to help, but although I did this, the promise of I can be with you was stronger than anything. You cannot imagine how much I yearned for this. To be able to touch you, to look after you… to kiss you." The last bit was only a whisper as he closed his eyes for a moment. "It was a dream. First, I thought I would simply help you to recover, but complications appeared. Like how we had to – had to? Ok we did not have to, it's just easier to say that we had to - sleep in the same bed. And at our first kiss…I failed. This is the only thing I can plead. It was a fight I knew I could not win…I did not want to win.

"But sleeping with you, I mean making love to you, was completely out of question, originally. I knew it was a misunderstanding, but I won't use that as an excuse. I knew I should not have done it. Deep inside I knew that the 'we were together before' story was not true, but I so desperately searched for any release to finally hold you in my arms. And now… you hate me, and I perfectly understand. The only thing I can say for myself, is that… I love you so much. But maybe that's not enough, so… you can imprison or exile me." He sighed with resignation. "I won't fight it."

"…Do you really think I would do that?" asked Clarisse with a smile, leaning against the bench, making him turn around in surprise.

"Are you not angry with me?"

"Angry? I'm rather grateful."

"But… I don't understand." He was at a loss for anything more to say and sat down beside her.

"When I saw that ring," she started. "Suddenly everything fell into place. I knew this was the ring what I wanted to buy a few years ago at Chopard. I thought about it for a while, but in the end I decided it would be not appropriate to purchase the ring. After all, I could not wear two engagement rings… So I immediately knew that it could not be 'our' ring and as it ran through my head, all the other things were clear. It was as if I'd just woken up. It was shocking, literally as if someone had slapped me in the face with a wet fish. But I had to decide, immediately. Was I angry? No… Maybe I was angry because I was not angry at all, if you know what I mean… I wanted to be angry, but on the other hand, there you were." She sighed and looked up at him. "If I had said that I knew everything, it would have been over. Most likely we would make up later, but that was not enough for me. I could not lose you, when you were so close to me. Everything was at my fingertips. I could snuggle up to you, I could kiss you, I could be in love with you openly, and I couldn't let that go. There was so much to lose. So I made my decision, I would continue until… I don't know what was on my mind. I just wanted to… I wanted the same thing as you wanted from me… to be with you," she said with an embarrassed smile, but she was extremely sweet.

"So you are not mad at me?" asked Joseph with a happy smile.

"You should be mad at me…"

"You?" Joseph was chuckling. "Mad because the woman I love wanted to be with me? You're joking," he said with a smile and captured her lips softly. Kissing her now, without feeling guilty, was simply indescribable. Suddenly they were free. Free from all the worries, doubts and 'what ifs', and it was something magical. Her arm around his neck now meant more than before. It meant she wanted him, really wanted him from her own will and there was no need to prove it anymore.

"And the letter," she said as they broke the kiss. "There was a reason I gave it to you. I'm not a silly teenage girl, needing to show how much she is in love with you - Although I'm madly in love with you." Her smile was radiant. "So I just wanted to help you to believe. I felt that you still had doubts and I hoped you would relax a bit after reading the letter."

"You were right, it helped a lot," he said lovingly while holding her cheek. "But soon you pulled out the rug under my feet."

"Oh, sorry." She smiled guiltily. "But I had to tell you the truth."

"Wait a minute," he said and looked shocked and happy at the same time. "If you knew the truth after I gave you the ring… that means you also knew that I wasn't your husband when we…"

"Yes." She was blushing now. "I knew it."

"So when you asked me to…?"

"Yes, that was intentional too." She cut him off quickly. "It was like a dream, where you know that you are dreaming and you can do anything."

"I know, and as I come to think of it, it seems…"

"It seems what? That I have a wild fantasy?" She was smiling mischievously.

"Yes." He chuckled. "Or that my hand was born to love your body." They burst out in laughter. "So you can forgive me." He smiled happily. "Because you love me!"

"Not because I love you. Rather…because I would have done the same in your place."

The End