He paced slowly across the widow's walk. In the many months since Tim Seagirt's departure, in the seemingly unending hours following his denial to Carolyn Muir, the whole nature of life (or in his case, the after-life) had ground down to a series of slow, stilted and painful moments.

Previously, at the sound of her laughter, he would have popped into the parlor to make some comment or gesture invisible to most of the family, another moment that they would share together and laugh about when they were alone.

He stood, hands clenched over the railing facing the ocean, but with everything invisible except for the sound of the easy banter between Mrs. Muir and her housekeeper. With an incautious phase, or perhaps moment of cowardice or even fear, he had lost it all.

It would have been so simple, as he recalled that moment after Seagirt had at long last completed his song, to have told her of his love, her perfection and finally admit to a longing that he knew he would never be able to conquer. Yet, he said nothing, offered no words of love or assurance. He tossed off the whole episode as a mere ancillary point, just part of his all too checkered past.

Pacing, again, hands clasped firmed behind his back, he let himself regretfully recall her reaction, or rather lack of reaction. She had looked dreamily up at him, telling him that his poem was lovely. How he wished he had responded in kind. Instead, he told her the words were not meant for her, for some other woman in the 'long ago' world. He remembered how she vacantly sat fingering her pearls, her eyes slowly filling with pain and how she finally, politely nodded his direction and walked away to say her farewells to Seagirt.

He had regretted it instantly, but somehow they never were able to revisit the moment, the song and all it meant again. In the hours, the days and months later, their relationship had reformed, but in a cold, brittle manner. He clearly was nothing but an adelpated fool. This lovely, warm and beautiful woman, damaged by what had clearly been years of difficult marriage, had opened herself to him. Despite her fears, she had thawed a bit, and when he had denied his feelings so abruptly, without explanation, Carolyn Muir had made the only reasonable, sensible choice. She had drawn back, protected herself, and walled herself off from him, the man who tempted her with love and then whisked it away from her without a word of explanation.

Sighing, he heard the phone ring and gathered from the one sided conversation his peace at Gull Cottage was to be further disrupted. Enough was quite enough, he had left her alone and now, perhaps this latest kafuffle would give the two of them a chance to find each other once again.