It was a beautiful day, a perfect blend between the last remnants of summer and the first winds of autumn. However, the passersby seemed oblivious to the delicate balance of seasons, for they were too occupied following the steps of the radiant woman walking down the street. It wasn't about beauty, although she had a generous amount of that. It wasn't about confidence, despite the certainty of her steps betraying a great amount of that attribute. Their attention was captured by the brilliance of her smile and the obvious joie de vivre she exuded.

Not even the child clinging to her neck, animatedly talking about her weekend with papa, detracted from her allure. Evoking images of happiness and perfect love, mother and daughter had the onlookers sighing in longing and drowning in memories. So different but so alike, the duo unknowingly inspired many phone calls to neglected mothers and many who'd come to grips with their heart's desire.

Among the last group one man stood out. He was by no means gorgeous or well accomplished, but he had gentleness in his soul and love in his heart. Shy and too soft spoken to modern girls' tastes, he wasn't used to taking bold measures. But he'd spent the last few months watching the pretty lady that always walked by his bookstore every Monday and somehow he felt that she would understand the fractures in his soul. As he would understand hers.

It was crazy and illogical, but he didn't mind. Amadeo had always believed that some truths are known by the heart before they are even acknowledged by the mind. Romantic man that he was, he never stopped to question the wisdom of approaching a woman who was at least ten years his senior or even to consider if she might have someone in her life. His soul yearned for her as much as hers unknowingly craved his.

Thus started an affair that drove the lovers to sweet embraces and heart wrenching encounters. Theirs wasn't a union of passion or the gentle embrace of true love. It was intellectual lust, soul connection and absolute acceptance. Nothing was forbidden, everything was bared. The rawness of their battered hearts exposed and nurtured by their shared inability to hurt each other.

The threads of destiny had united the improbable couple, but the inescapability of the inevitable kept them together. There were whispers and disapproving glances, but they were oblivious to the prejudice their union elicited. Together they grew, learned and became stronger. And when they parted it was with whispers of nostalgia and a bittersweet smile.

From Amadeo Bella had learned the beauty of trust and the wonder of tender love. In his arms she'd discovered the beauty of abandoning herself to another person, not only body, but also soul and heart, without the fear of being betrayed. She would forever view their time together as a wonderful gift, one she would forever hold close to her heart.

But she didn't mourn the loss of Amadeo.

She chose to celebrate what they'd had by moving on as a better person.


AN: A little curiosity-the name Amadeo means love. Sweet, isn't it?