Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

A/N: Welcome to the last installment of the "Faith, Hope and Love" series. Song for this one is "Love", by Petra. It's a beautiful song based on the verse above. Burger King is merely a mention, I do not own.

May 2009

"Okay honey, one more and you'll meet your baby!" the doctor declared as Sophie tucked her chin into her chest and pushed with every ounce of strength she had left. Her scream blended with the cries of her baby, causing her to suddenly quiet as tears streamed down her face.

"You have a beautiful, healthy girl!" the doctor placed a tiny red-faced bundle wrapped in a pink blanket into her arms. Tears began anew as she breathed "Oh," and stared at her new daughter wonderingly. Emotions coursed through her, but she identified with one: An overwhelming sense of love and protectiveness that intensified since she began to show a few months before. She knew she would do everything in her power for this tiny child of hers. Of hers. The thought made her smile as she stroked the soft cheek.

"Looks like it's just you and me, sweetheart," she whispered and kissed the baby's forehead. The nurse came over to take her.

"Have any names picked out?" she asked kindly as she gently took the baby from Sophie.

"I'm thinking Amber," Sophie replied as she yawned, exhaustion beginning to set in.

"Beautiful name. Sounds like you could do with some sleep. I'll just take this little angel and get her cleaned up and dressed. Oh, don't worry," she assured with a smile at Sophie's creased brow, "I'll bring her right to you when she's finished."

"Oh, okay," Sophie answered, trying to keep her eyes open. She watched as the nurse walked away with Amber. "I'm so scared," she thought to herself but determination set in. "But we will make it! I'll see to it." She drifted off to sleep, dreaming of life with Amber.

Present Day

Sophie watched as Amber ran toward the water's edge, squealed with laughter when the waves touched her feet and ran back to the blanket spread out on the warm sand. Sophie laughed as she watched Amber do this a few more times.

"Mommy, water tickles!" Amber giggled.

"I'll bet it does, baby," Sophie chuckled. "Why don't you play here in the sand for a while, then we'll go get something to eat," she suggested to the three-year-old.

Amber clapped her hands, "Burger King?" she questioned, 'Burger King' sounding more like 'booger key'.

"We'll see," Sophie grinned and turned her attention to the waves as Amber picked up her pail and shovel and began to scoop sand.

A few seconds later, she glanced over to where Amber was and to her horror, her child wasn't there! Panicked, she began frantically looking around and calling the girl's name. Finally, she spotted a familiar swimsuit, then gasped open-mouthed as her precocious child dumped a bucket of sand over a man's chest. "Oh Amber..."

"What the-?" the man shot up from his reclined position and spied the small girl who crowed with delight. He placed his hands on his hips but one look at his face belied any sternness, judging by her giggles.

"And just what do you think you're doing, little lady?" he inquired with mock seriousness as Sophie approached.

"Oh, I am so sorry! I only looked away for a second and she slipped away from me," she said apologetically as she took Amber's hand.

"Hey, it's no problem. It's not often that I have gorgeous women dumping sand on me. It's usually something that stains," he quipped, causing Sophie to crack a grin.

"Be that as it may, she still shouldn't have done that," she knelt down by Amber. "Tell Mr..." she gazed up at him expectantly.

"Andrews, but you can call me Peter," he supplied, holding out a hand to the young woman.

"Right...Peter," she replied hesitantly, then cleared her throat and turned back to Amber as a slight blush stained her cheeks. "Now sweetie, you need to tell, ah, Mr. Andrews that you're sorry for dumping sand on him." She gave the small child the 'mommy' look and Amber's lower lip jutted out as she turned big green eyes up toward him. "I sowwy," she said remorsefully.

"Aw, it's okay, beautiful," he answered. "Just don't go breaking my heart and do that to other guys, okay?" he winked as Sophie rolled her eyes.

"If you are finished flirting with my daughter, we need to be going," she stated drolly with a half-smile.

"No!" Amber exclaimed, causing Sophie and Peter to look at each other with surprise.

"Well...I didn't get your names..." Peter scrubbed the back of his neck, looking nervous and boyish.

"Uh, I'm Sophie Fairchild and you've met Amber," she gently yanked one of the girl's pigtails.

"Both fitting names for two such lovely ladies." He bowed and took Sophie's hand in his own, kissing the back.

She stared at him, stunned. Never had she met such a...gentleman before. Heat rose in her cheeks again as she realized she was staring at him. Such amazing hazel eyes he had. Mentally shaking herself, she managed to tear her gaze away.

Peter smiled softly, liking this woman's reaction to him. She looked pretty young to be a mother to a three-year-old and he wondered what had happened to her in her seemingly short life. He found himself becoming drawn to her for some inexplicable reason and didn't want this to end too soon.

"Uh...I-I was just wondering..." he shrugged slightly, his own face reddening a bit, "um, I wanted to know'd like know...grab something to eat. Aw man, that didn't come out the way I wanted...I'm usually not this forward-"

He was cut-off by Sophie's expression of utter shock. While she usually was asked out, once they found out she had a daughter, it seemed to end things pretty quickly. This man met Amber first and still wanted to go out with her. Not only that, he'd invited Amber too!

Peter mistook her silence as an immediate denial. "Oh...well, I guess I should just shut up and leave you-"

"No! I-I mean..." she stammered, "Yes, we'd love to." She smiled and his heart started again at that smile. It was so warm and inviting with a bit of shyness. Not like the smiles he received from some of the single women at church. Those smiles seemed too bright, like they wanted to claim him as a prize to dangle in front of the others as if to say "He's mine and you can't have him now." These women were too forward, like a school of piranha at the scent of bodies in the water.

It would be unfair to say that all of the single women behaved in such a manner, but the other single women either didn't seem interested or he wasn't. This was the first time in a long time since a woman stirred any emotion in him. Not since...Tracie. At the all too familiar pang her name brought, he mentally fought the darkness that threatened to envelop him and looked at the petite blonde before him. He thought she was adorable with her small upturned nose and large hazel eyes. Yes, this woman was one he definitely wanted to get to know better. Judging by the way she treated Amber, he knew she was a great mother and she wouldn't accept anything but the best for her little girl, another high mark in his book.

"Okay, where would you ladies like to go?" He asked, helping them pack up their gear.

Sophie answered, slightly hesitant. "Well, we need to go home to change first. I don't think they will allow us anywhere dressed for the beach," she joked as he laughed.

"You may be right, there. How about if we meet somewhere after we get changed? I don't live too far away."

"Okay, that will work fine! Would Burger King work for you? Amber's practically begged to go there most of the day."

They shared a laugh. "Yeah, that would be fine with me. A Whopper does sound really good." He rubbed his stomach as Amber giggled.

"What? I'm hungry!" He reached down and tickled the little girl. "Alright," he chuckled, "we'll meet in front of BK in an hour. Sound good to you?" he suggested.

Sophie nodded. "See you in an hour," she smiled and took her child's hand as Amber echoed "See you."

Sophie's thoughts were far from the road as she drove home, Amber happily chatting away to herself in her seat. She wondered if she made the right decision to meet with Peter for the hundredth time. After all, this wasn't just about her, but most importantly for Amber. Her thoughts went back to four years ago, when she met him.

His name was Connor. When they met, she instantly felt the sparks that so many romance novels speak of. True, he was a few years older than she was at fifteen but he swept her off her feet. She lived with her mother, who was exacting and expected nothing less than perfection from her daughter. To do or be less was unacceptable in Denise Wilder's world. He was the son of one of the most prominent attorneys in San Diego and with Denise and Sophie living more...humbly, Denise declared him a wonderful match for her daughter, much to Sophie's delight.

The two dated for several months and eventually spent nights together. Within a few weeks, Sophie began to feel differently, noticing that she felt more tired than usual. She remembered the morning she did the home test. For what seemed like an eternity, Sophie stared at the line, then she cried. It was a good thing that her mom was at work. She had no idea how she was going to tell her, let alone Connor. That evening, Connor took her back to his place as was usual. The second she sat on the large overstuffed sofa, she burst into tears.

"What's wrong, babe?" Connor questioned as he sat by her and took her into his arms.

"I-I...," she stuttered and began sobbing uncontrollably.

He held her and soothed her. "Hey, whatever it is we'll get through it together, you got me?" he gently pulled her away from him and looked deeply into her eyes.

At this, she began to quiet. "I-I'm pregnant, Connor!" she blurted as she began to cry again.

He could only stare at her as several heartbeats passed, shock clearly written on his face. He finally realized she was waiting for some kind of response from him. He reached over to hug her and kissed the top of her head. "Wow...I can't believe it!" he whispered, thankful that she couldn't see him shaking his head in disbelief as he held her close.

"S-so, what do we do now?" she asked hesitantly as she moved her head sideways to lean against his chest.

"Well...I was hoping to wait awhile longer, but we could go ahead and get married..." he suggested uncertainly.

Sophie gasped. "What?! Are you seriously asking me or is it just an idea?" She knew what she wanted but she needed him to want it too. She gazed at him expectantly, awaiting his answer.

"Yeah, why don't we? I mean, my parents like you, I love you, so yeah." He smiled that disarming smile that melted her insides and she instantly felt better.

"Then yes, I'll marry you," she said softly and moved closer to kiss him.

"Awesome babe, I guess we're officially engaged then." He grinned and leaned in to receive her kiss.

Shortly after, she went home. Sophie figured that she didn't need to let her mother know. At least not yet.

The week passed by blissfully for her. They'd made plans to go shopping for her engagement ring on Saturday. The day finally came and she went to the food court in the mall to meet him. She found him at a table, his back to her and she stopped dead in her tracks as she heard him talking to someone on his phone.

"No babe, I don't have any plans tonight. Yeah, I'll see you tonight. What? No, no, that's just a rumor. Why would I be engaged? I mean, I'm only nineteen; I'm nowhere near ready! Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing you too." He made a kissing sound as he ended the call, slipping the phone into his pocket and chuckling to himself.

Tears flooded her eyes as she turned and blindly ran out of the mall, running home since she didn't live too far away. She spent the next couple of days in her room.

On Monday morning, her mother came into her room. "What's going on, Sophia? You've been in your room for the past two days, not eating anything and Connor keeps calling. Did you two have a fight? What did you do now, Sophia?" Denise stood with her fists planted on her hips, glaring at Sophie disapprovingly.

"Why do you assume that everything's always my fault, Mom? This time I didn't do anything! Connor is the one who lied and said...what he did. Look, I don't want to argue about this. It's over, okay? I've gotta get to school."

", this is not over by a long shot, but we'll discuss this later. I don't like this, not one bit." Denise narrowed her eyes thoughtfully. "I get the feeling there's much more to this story than what you're telling me, but I have to get to work. Mark my words young lady, we will talk later." She strode out Sophie's door and firmly closed the door to her own room. Sophie heard her mother's voice and got up, pressing her ear to the door.

"Yes Connor, I need you to come over tonight at seven. Sophie said that you lied about something and I think we need to get to the bottom of this right away. Wonderful, seven it is, then." She replaced the handset on the charger and Sophie moved away from the door, thinking quickly. She knew she didn't want to face Connor again. Not when she knew she was being played by him. She just didn't know for how long he had been doing this. A wave of sorrow threatened to overtake her as she planned.

Moving quickly, she stuffed her backpack full of her most comfortable clothes and left like she always did to go to school. Instead of her regular route, she headed to the bus station and purchased a ticket.

Two days later, after going cross-country, she arrived at her aunt's house in Maryland and after telling her the whole story, Katrina invited her to stay with her. She never really got along with her sister Denise and disagreed with the way Sophie was being brought up. She helped Sophie as her pregnancy progressed and even helped Sophie seek legal emancipation from her mother. After Amber came, she watched the baby girl as Sophie finished school, worked a part-time job and eventually went to the local community college, becoming a phlebotomist.

At eighteen, Sophie decided she wanted to change her last name as well as Amber's. She did not want Denise to know that she had a daughter of her own. She wouldn't put it past her to sue for grandparent's rights or something related and she did not want Amber to go through what she did.

Finally, the day came where she moved into her own little home. Amber was two at the time and clapped her hands, exclaiming over her own little pink room.

Sophie turned into her driveway, noticing an unfamiliar car with an all too familiar figure leaning against the back with her arms crossed in front of her.

"Hello, Sophia," Denise greeted softly.

"Mom, what are you doing here? How did you find me?" Sophie inquired harshly.