Fran loved Max there was no denying that. She had always followed her heart and that had gotten her into trouble at times, but this time her head was telling her to trust her instincts. Maxwell Sheffield would be the love of her life and the only question was, would he ever realize it? So the days turned into months, the months into years? And just as his gray streak slowly made itself more prominent, so did the love she felt for the man.

She couldn't explain it. It must have been fate that brought them closer together, she didn't know why he wouldn't commit only that he had some feelings for her. What those feelings were she didn't know and yearned to know, but she knew they were there. She could feel it in his kiss. She could sense it in the way he eyed her up and down whenever she appeared in a fancy gown. She could tell he was jealous whenever she stepped out with another man. Even though she dated she had a pulse you know her heart wasn't in it. There was only one man for her, and though she may die a lonely woman, she knew that she could never give her heart to anyone but Max.

Throughout the years their friendship grew, and he trusted her with his life. He trusted her with his kids after all, what bigger compliment could he have given her. But the kids were getting older and didn't need her as much as Max did, whether or not he realized it. He turned to her for every major decision in his life, and although her plans were often misguided and led to disaster, it didn't stop him from caring about her. In her heart she knew that he loved her; he was just afraid to listen to his heart after losing Sara.

What a woman she must have been, for Max still grieved for her long after her death. It was hard not to be jealous of her, but Fran put the needs of the kids first and encouraged them to talk about their mother as often as possible. Sometimes she admitted that she was selfish and wished that Max would forget, but she prayed that the kids never would. As long as he had the kids he had Sara and that was something she could never compete with.

All she had to offer was herself. She tried to imitate others, tried to be like her movie idols but in the end she knew she had to be true to herself. That was the greatest gift her mother had ever taught her. Her ma believed in her even when she didn't, and for that she would always be grateful.

Sometimes she wondered if all of her dreaming and schemimg would ever pay off. Max had a tough outer shell that was nearly impossible to crack, but once in a while they would share a moment that had made her believe she had gotten through to him. But then, true to form, the next day would come and Max would act like nothing had happened, that those kisses meant nothing to him. Fran had grown up watching romantic movies but no one had ever kissed the way Max did to her. She lived for those moments, and as long as they still occured,she would continue to wear her heart on her sleeve.

Then there was the Valentine's day disaster. She's decided to put happy Valentine's day Mr. Sheffield, love fran on a huge billboard and what should happen? She got stuck, as usual max was there to bail her out. Out of gratitude she gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, but that kiss turned to a passionate, mouths open, tongues grazing kiss. She had never been kissed like that in all of her life. She knew that she would die loving this man.

So while they waited for help to arrive they spent the time sitting down, legs swaying, holding hands.

"Can I ask you something miss fine?

"You can ask me anything you like. Just remember I don't kiss and tell", Fran teased as she looked into his gorgeous eyes.

"Why do you love me"?

"What? Who said anything about that"? She whined in her nasally voice.

"Anyone who would go to so much trouble to wish me a happy Valentine's day and would risk life and limb for me must love me. I haven't given you any reason to love me. So why do you do it"?

"Oh Mr. Sheffield. I could go on and on with all of the reasons I love you so much".

"Just keep it brief. We're up rather high and must conserve oxygen", he teased with a glint in his eyes.

"I ask myself that very question night after night. You don't know how many hours I spent wondering that very question. You make it hard to love you don't you know"?

"I realize that and I'm sorry. Its just that, well, your love frightens me sometimes", Max confessed.

"I frighten you? All I do is try to make you happy and that frightens you"? She started to stand until he pulled her down close to him and wrapped his arm around her.

"I've never been pursued like this before. With me and Sara we were childhood sweethearts and it just came naturally. But you you're so exotic and brave and not afraid of anything."

"I am scared of one thing", Fran replied.

He looked at her in surprise. "What's that"?

"I'm scared of losing you. I'd rather have half of you than nothing at all."

He smiled. "Well miss Fine I can't promise you the big fancy wedding you've always dreamed of. I can't promise you kids. I can't even promise I'll remember this conversation tomorrow. But I can promise you this you'll never lose me".

"Why do you do that:"?

"Do what? I thought it was rather a sweet sentiment".

"Why do you torture me with your gesture and your statements when you refuse to tell me what I want what I deserve to hear? I can't take it anymore. I can't do this. I can't pretend to be okay with just being friends when its not okay with me. I've given you my heart and soul and you just pounce on it like a cat with catnip. I can't keep loving a man who doesn't love me". Fran turned around not wanting him to see her cry.

As her tears fell his arm gently stoked hers and he leaned in against her. "What do you want from me Miss Fine"?

"I want you to love me. All I know is that I love you and would do anything to hear those three little words. I've jumped through your hoops,I've climbed your mountains, I've done everything I can think of but you still don't love me", she sobbed.

Did I say I don't love you"?

"No but you haven't said you do. There is a difference".

Max turned her gently facing him. "Is that what you want Miss Find? Is that what would really make you happy"?

Slowly she responded. "More than anything in this world."

He smiled. "I would give you the world if I could Miss Fine, and to prove it I will tell you this. I love you. I love your beauty, your attitude, your clothes, your persistance, your presence with my children. I love the way the room lights up whenever you walk into it. I love how excited you get over a good piece of cake. I love how you love with all of your heart. And most of all I love that you love me. I do love you, Fran, more than you could ever know".

This time her tears fell I'm earnest. Could her ears be betraying her? Was this some kind of sick joke on his part? "You love me"?

"Yes", he responded confidentially. "Yes my darling I love you. I've given you my word as well as my heart".

Just then a helicopter arrived to rescue them. They hopped in, and held hands all the way home. Not only that but they kissed the entire flight. If this wasn't love then Fran sure didn't care to find out what was.

But in her heart she knew that it was real. Max loved her he told her so. He looked at her the way no man ever had. Men looked at her with lust , Max looked at her with love. And so as long as she lived she promised she would love only one man, and that was her promise to him.