Chapter 3

She tilted her head back to look in his eyes. She honestly didn't know how to answer. She was so very tempted to stop this conversation in its tracks. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder.

She took in the familiar scent of his aftershave and closed her eyes. "I don't what to call this, Rick. I know I like it."

He smiled. She quietly continued, "You make bad days bearable. You bring fun into my life. No one else can make me smile the way you do. No one else challenges me the way you do. And... no one else could hurt me as much as you could."

He wanted to interject that he'd try to never hurt her, to always protect her. She wasn't done, though, so he waited. The steady rhythm of the waves rolling in made the scene peaceful, almost surreal.

"Rick, I … I don't know what this is. Or at least how to label it." She rarely struggled for words. He understood. He had no words when his mother had asked him about his feelings for Kate. His emotion was far too big for any word he knew. He wanted so badly for her to say how she felt, to give him permission to act on how he'd wanted her for so long now… he relished the warmth of her arms around him and kissed the top of her head.

She looked to him; intoxicated by the moonlight shining in his eyes, and said, "But this…" she gave him a gentle squeeze, "this is what I want us to be." She tentatively kissed his lips, barely touching them with hers.

His expression was not the unbridled desire she'd seen the single other time they'd kissed, but something more content. His look quelled the uncertainty in the back of her mind.

He smiled a small, almost shy smile, with a twinkle in his eye, and whispered, "Me too," and consumed her lips in the most heartfelt kiss he had ever offered in his life.