In the end it didn't matter. She got in one side, he got in the other, and they met in the middle. As they settled under the covers Robert reached out an inviting arm and Anna eagerly shifted to nestle against his side, pillowing her head on his shoulder, just above his strongly beating heart. She slid her arm across his chest, resting it loosely around his waist, needing to hold him close.
He reached up and began to toy with her hair, running the strands lightly through his fingers like a dark river cascading over a falls. His touch was as familiar to her as the feel of warm sunlight on her face, as the sound of their daughter's voice, and so achingly sweet that she quivered with delight. She found that couldn't move away from him now if her life depended on it.
And all at once the timeless connection that had always existed between them flared into life again in her heart. Suddenly it seemed as though no time had passed, that they were lying together in bed at home with teenaged Robin just down the hall. Finding endless pleasure in one another, trying to keep the noise down so they wouldn't disturb their slumbering daughter.
They wouldn't make love tonight. Not tonight. It was too much, too soon, and besides, they didn't want to rush. Not now that they had time. All the time in the world.
She ran a hand down his chest, trailing her fingers lightly over his abdomen. Over the scars that dotted his skin – the roadmap of his perilous life, in all their deadly glory. She brushed across the long thin scar on his left side that ran nearly from rib to hip. His scar from the abdominal surgery. How close I came to losing you again, Robert. This time for real.
He must have felt her fingertips worrying at the contours of the scar because he reached down and gathered her hand in his. His gentle fingers caressed her own in silent reassurance – then brushed against something metallic and cold, and stilled.
Anna bit the inside of her lip.
After a brief moment of hesitation she could feel his fingertips moving again, tracing the edges of the solitary band on her left hand. The ring on her third finger.
Her wedding ring.
Anna held her breath. Did you think I would still have this, Robert? Did you imagine I could ever get rid of it, even after I thought you'd died?
She wondered if he could guess what it meant, that she was wearing it now, tonight. What it symbolized.
Love. Honor. Devotion. Commitment.
I promised to love you, Robert, and to cherish you – and tonight I'm renewing that vow. Whatever happens from now on, I'm committing myself entirely to you. Until death do us part.
I don't know if you're ready for this yet, or even if you really feel the same. But it's how I feel – how I always will.
Finally Robert exhaled a long sigh, a deep and contented sound. Anna relaxed. It was ok. He does understand. Maybe not everything, but enough. And he didn't object.
She loosed the pent-up breath she'd been holding and burrowed once more into his side. She felt him smiling as he tucked her head under his chin, and then pressed a light kiss into her hair.
His left hand slid down along the exposed skin of her shoulder and forearm in a slow, languid caress, his fingertips drawing lazy circles on her arm. Her eyes closed as she reveled in the sensation, and then snapped open again at the unmistakable brush of a cold, metallic object over her skin.
Anna sat up with a sharp gasp.
She captured his hand, her fingers questing. They found what she sought, there, a solitary band on his third finger.
His wedding ring.
Tears sprang to her eyes as she turned to look down at him. "Oh, Robert."
Oh, my love.
She brought his hand to her lips and gently, reverently, kissed the ring.
He sighed and his deep voice drifted into the darkness. "I don't even know if we're – I was officially declared dead, so I guess we're not married any more –"
"It doesn't matter," she told him swiftly, fiercely. "It doesn't matter." Nothing matters, except that we're together.
"Mmmm?" She lifted her head and raised her gaze to his face. His shadowed expression was unreadable in the dim moonlight.
His voice, when it came, was quiet and steady. "Last year…at the hospital…you said you always thought we'd get back together again."
"Yes." Yes. I never doubted it. I couldn't bear to think of the future, otherwise.
"Is that…" A pause, weighty with implication. Then: "Is that still what you want?"
"Yes." One small word, but it contained her whole heart.
Eagerly she lowered herself back down against his side, and his arm came around her in a tight embrace. "We've spent too many years apart, Anna, and I've walked out of your life too many times. I don't want to leave you again."
Her breath caught. "Don't. Don't leave me."
He tilted her chin up to look deeply into her eyes. "I won't. Never again. I don't want to miss a single moment more of your life. Not one moment."
Anna felt a shiver run through her from head to foot at his promise, delivered with the fervor of a vow.
"I love you, Robert Scorpio," she said, her voice low and passionate. "I've loved you all my life. I never stopped. Not from the first moment we met. No matter what happened, no matter how long we were apart, I never stopped loving you." She paused, swallowed hard. "Even when I hated you most."
"I love you, too, Anna Devane," he replied softly but firmly. "I have since the first time I laid eyes on you in Sean's office. You were the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen." He squeezed her shoulders, giving her a tender smile. "Still are. And I never stopped loving you. Even when I wanted to."
He smiled and pressed his lips to her forehead. "I guess we're stuck with one another."
Anna laughed. "Yeah. I guess we are."