"What?" Kate couldn't believe she was hearing him say that. She slightly turned her face to look at him.
"I love you," Geoff repeated softly, still staring into the distance. He didn't know what to expect from her, but felt too insecure to face her.
"Sure," she shrugged evasively, folding her arms. He looked indifferent, just looking at some shrubs or something. Why would she believe him?
Of all possibilities, Geoff had never anticipated her response. He couldn't believe she was actually dismissing his deepest feelings and his declaration of love. Especially because he knew for certain, she felt the same way about him. Suddenly, the anger he felt before gained the upper hand. He turned to face her.
"Fine, if this is all you have to say, it's just fine by me. Just don't accuse me of never expressing my feelings to you again!" He almost yelled at her.
"I've been trying to explain to you that I am not leaving the Crossing and that I do love you. If that's not enough, I don't know what to do anymore." He started walking away from Kate, back to the car. He planned to just wait there until Jack arrived.
Kate watched Geoff disappear into the direction of the car. She couldn't believe he had just told her he loved her. That was everything she had wanted to hear for months! At the same time, she had feared hearing those words from him. It would mean she would have to act upon her own feelings as well. And to be frank, she was just scared to death. All these years, she had hidden her feelings towards him, pulled up a solid wall around her. And now she could see it crumbling down faster than she had ever imagined possible. She felt naked and extremely vulnerable. And at the same time, she felt guilty of behaving rudely towards him.
Geoff halted, slowly turning around, not knowing what to expect. He watched her running towards him, the blanket dragging behind her.
She stood before him, her eyes filled with tears. Despite his anger towards her, he couldn't help himself en pulled her towards him. He wrapped his arms around her when he felt her face close to his. He caressed her face, wiping away her tears.
"I am so sorry," she sobbed. "I didn't mean to be so hard on you. It's just…" and she started crying again.
Geoff held her close to him, relieved she had come to him and apologized. For a moment, he had feared he had misjudged her feelings for him. That would have been more than he could bear. He caressed her back, waiting for her to calm down.
Geoff's caresses had a soothing effect on Kate, and slowly she started to feel better. She realized she owed Geoff an explanation. Without leaving his embrace, she lifted her face and looked into his eyes.
"Geoff, I am sorry," she apologized again. "It's just that…you make me feel very nervous. I want to be near you, but at the same time I want to run away as fast as I can.."
"Run away, why?" Geoff asked her, stunned by her words.
"I don't know..it's just that I have never felt anything like the feelings I have for you. And it scares me. When we are in the same room, I..I..just can't think anymore, my body takes over. And I just can't let that happen. I have to be in control. And the only way I can do that, is keeping a distance between us.." She started sobbing again.
Geoff started caressing her again, not to sure how to take her confession.
"Katie, why is it so important for you to be in control?" he hesitantly asked her.
Kate now started crying again and Geoff tried to calm her down.
"It's just that….you know…after my relationship with George, and the one with someone I met during nursing school in Broken Hill…"
Geoff tried to wipe away her tears, but is was of little use. Kate was still weeping.
"I just can't take to get hurt again…" and she sat down and put her face onto her knees, still crying. Geoff sat down beside her and put an arm around her shoulders.
"But Katie, I already told you I don't want to hurt you," he said, not sure what she had not understood about him not leaving for the city and being in love with her.
"I love you, and I want to stay with you, here in Coopers Crossing. Don't you know that?"
"I do..," she sobbed, still not looking at him. "But for me, that's not enough."
"Why Kate, why isn't that enough?"
"It's just that..," she kept on weeping, "I always imagined myself marrying the man I love, and have lots of babies…and I understand you don't want that anymore.." she tried to wipe away her tears.
Geoff silently grinned. So there was the problem.
"Are you asking me to marry you?" he asked Kate, his eyes twinkling.
He took her by surprise. She looked up, her eyes red, her face smeared with dirt and tears.
"Are you asking me to marry you?" he repeated.
She stared at him, for a moment. Then she started laughing at him, through her tears.
"Well, maybe I am," she hesitantly added, looking into his eyes.
"I do want to marry you," Geoff stated.
"You do?" Kate asked incredulously.
"Of course I do, I love you. Katie, will you marry me?"
"Yes!" she cried, wiping the tears from her eyes, making her face even dirtier. She didn't care, she could not believe he asked her to marry him.
Geoff grinned. He was delighted she had finally come up with her problem, and he was even happier he had had the guts to turn it to his advantage. Kate had agreed to become his wife!
"Good," he stated, "I never expected you to propose! I thought you'd be way too old-fashioned to do a thing like that! He smiled at her, loving every minute he could tease her.
Kate would not let him get away with that. She was overjoyed and wanted to seize every opportunity to tease him back. She sat up and turned to him, she grabbed his shoulders and pushed him backwards, until he lay flat on his back. She sat on his stomach, facing him.
"Well," she smiled, "you are definitely right I'm an old fashioned girl.." She bent down and kissed him, very slowly. She felt him respond and could not believe her luck as his mouth took possession of her lips. Instinctively, Kate wrapped her arms around him, and she felt her heart soar when Geoff did the same. The first tentative touch of his tongue against hers sent a shiver down her spine, and Kate heard herself moan, even as she began to explore his mouth.
Geoff tightened his arms around her back and pulled her even closer towards him. He wanted to feel her body against his. He wanted her. He slowly caressed her back, enjoying the feeling of her hands exploring the muscles of his back and neck. God how he wanted her!
The kiss seemed to go on forever, yet at the same time, it ended all too soon. Kate pulled back first, her forehead resting against his as she gasped for air. "Well, since I am an old-fashioned girl, we can't do this anymore until we're married." She grinned at him, jumped up and ran away from him, chuckling while she watched him getting up.
"What?" he said, aghast, his hair dishevelled, his face dirty. He lay down on his elbows, staring at his laughing girlfriend.
Kate walked back to him, sat down next to him and wrapped his arms around him.
"Just kidding…I couldn't do without this until we're married.." With a satisfied sigh she started kissing him again.