He knows it's cold outside, but he hardly feels the wind whipping his curls around his face. His lips are blue, his fingers are numb, and the cuffs of his trousers are soaked from where he's been standing in the snow for hours on end.
The moon is just a sliver, high above him in the sky, cold and uninviting, his only companion in his midnight vigil. What scarce light there is reflects off carved letters, a name that he knows all too well: Sophie Devereaux.
Her accusation is sharp in his mind. You killed her, you and your silly crusade. The words shouldn't really bother him, especially since the woman he parted with that day had been the Sophie he had been working with. The sweet, wonderful, motherly Sophie he's become so accustomed to. Yes, she is still there, still Sophie, as he sees her, but it smarts, knowing that the pretty, lustful thief he once chased across three continents is gone. It hurts to know that it's all his fault. It hurts worse that he is constantly wondering what Sophie is waiting to fear. He feels sure that there is something she is waiting for him to say, something she needs to know before she comes back. He doesn't know what is supposed to fill the impregnated silences that invade their conversations nowadays, when it seems like she's asking him a nonverbal question. He's sure he knows the answer, but he can't give it to her, because he doesn't know what the question in her eyes and her silence is asking him.
Nate can't answer silence, and so he's stuck in this miserable stalemate, standing by an empty grave long after the cemetery is closed as though it has the answers to what he can't ask.
Nate is still standing there, holding silent vigil as the gray light of an overcast dawn creeps over the trees, touching the headstones and glinting off the snow. It throws diamonds over Sophie's name.
He waits as the sun rises, then kneels, laying down a flower that had sprouted early in the still frigid spring. Then, he turns and walks away, leaving a red tulip in front of Sophie's name.
He knows the flower represents a declaration of love. What he doesn't know is that what the flower symbolizes is exactly what Sophie is waiting for.