Oh mysteries of love

Where war is no more

I'll be there anytime

A year later

His hands slid on her waist and led her to the ground to sit down between his legs. Slowly, she abdicated to his request then sighed of relief as her feet disappeared in the warm sand of the beach. She leaned her head backwards against his chest and smiled as her hazel eyes kept on observing the waves below.

The sun was already declining through the sky in purple shades while a soft breeze had substituted the high temperatures of the past afternoon. Some families seemed to go in extra time on the beach, enjoying it until the last moment when their hunger pushed them to retreat home in order to have diner.

His fingers came to rest on her stomach; she intertwined them with her own ones. He kissed her temple, softly.

"Are you alright?"

She quietly nodded then closed her eyes, abandoning herself to the peace of his heartbeats and the heat of his body around her.

So many things had happened within a year; since the day they had bumped into each other at the outdoor market. She had listened to him, paid attention to the words he had used and burst into tears _ a bit absurdly though _ before the obviousness of his feelings.

The day she had turned thirty-six years old, Karen had thought that the lightness of love would only belong to a past that matched an innocence she had suddenly lost. And so she would never experiment it again, not with an identical strength to the one she used to own in her twenties. She had become an adult without realizing it and everything was over now.

Then Will had come up with his words, making her bitterness tip over and vanish in a whirl of extreme confusion that only flirted with an old hope, a fade one, of happiness. It had always been him. The very first time she had seen him, it had turned so clear in her head but for a whole series of reasons she had just pretended that it was stupid, untrue.

But all of a sudden he had changed her so-called new bases telling her how in love he was; promises of eternity over a sentiment that nobody really controlled if we had had to be honest. But it had warmed up her heart and had given life back to her timid desire to have hopes. Her tears had run down her cheeks then melted in their kiss. They hadn't spent a single day far from each other since then.

Their lives had crossed on a Sunday morning. By the afternoon they were back at the place he had been renting and the situation seemed to be back under logic; the four of them. Like it should always have been; Grace, Jack, Will and Karen… The very next day they had got married more by an impulsive whim than anything else, a sort of symbol perhaps. None of them really knew. It had happened and that was all. A bit later they had announced it to their respective families and life had gone on.

Sometimes Karen thought that it was too easy, too soft and calm to be real. They almost never argued but spent hours in each other's arms. She loved waking up against him when the morning light caressed their flesh and the heat of the blanket warmed their bones in a soft embrace. She looked at his lips then locked her eyes with his as her fingers passed along his cheek. His hand tightened his grip on her waist and they smiled; then kissed. It was just perfect.

Did everything really have to come to an end? Her entire past seemed to confirm this idea but she did her best not to think about it. Something was different with Will. She couldn't really explain it but the idea nonetheless invaded her mind and she allowed herself to fantasize about a tomorrow; together.

Of course she had packed and moved in with him at the end of his vacations; back to Manhattan and his small, friendly apartment. They weren't planning to look for another one; not yet. Maybe the situation in a couple of years would change their minds but since Grace had left to live with Leo, there was no urge, no real need to.

"Are you tired?"

"Just a bit… It's tensed; not so enjoyable."

She bit her lower lip and blushed before her confession. If she had had to highlight the biggest change of the year, she would have probably talked about the way she had opened to him. Little by little Karen let Will get through her mind, her feelings and the truth was that it wasn't so bad at the end. She started appreciating it.

"Do you want to try the bath? They say it's good for you and it helps to relax."

"Maybe later, yeah… I'm just fine right now. It's okay, honey."

A little boy passed in front of them running. He was probably four of five years old; holding an old teddy bear in his hand. His mother followed a few feet behind, looking carefully at him but still letting him some space for his own autonomy. They all needed it at this age. Karen looked at him and swallowed hard then made a face before the immediate reaction of her own body. Will laughed, planted a kiss on her cheek then murmured.

"Calm down, it's not yours."

Grace and Jack finally made their way out of the house and took the stairs down to the beach to join them; barely slowed down as they caught up Will and Karen kissing.

"I'm sorry if I interrupt you but this is a public place and we would all like to contemplate the sunset in peace. Thank you."

Jack pouted and pretended to be offended by the intimate moment he had walked in on then settled next to Karen on the sand as Grace sat down by Will's side. Everyone turned quiet and looked at the ocean.

Will slightly bent over; his hot breath brushed her ear.

"Don't be scared, Karen. I'll be there anytime."

Then he tightened his grip softly over her eight-month pregnant stomach.