My fingers still over the keyboard of my laptop as my brain stalls again.
I decided to change things up today by working on my next serial novel in the living room while my father was away.
This one is called Forbidden Strangers, and it’s garnered the same success as Girl No. 9.
The inspiration behind it is the fantasy I told Knight about that night on the beach in Saint-Tropez. Of course, because he told me he should be the guy in all my fantasies, the hero ended up being completely based on him.
I expanded the story to include that after the heroine slept with this fantasy guy, she not only discovers that he’s her new boss but also that his family has arranged for him to marry a fashion heiress.
I’m at the part where they hook up again, but since my big blow-up with Knight, I haven’t been able to write much.
Usually, when I sit down to work, I can write a few chapters per day, but I’ve barely managed to finish one and a half today. The half might possibly be unusable because there are parts that sound like gibberish.
That’s all I can show for twelve hours of work. Now that night has fallen again, I don’t see myself doing much more.
I just can’t think straight. Or at all.
Those choices Madison laid out for me keep resurfacing in my mind, flowing in and out of my thoughts like the tide of the sea.
Nothing has changed for me, and I’m nowhere closer to figuring out what I’m going to do than I was the other night.
The only thing that seems to be moving forward is time.
I hear the front door open, meaning Dad is home.
I save my document, shut down my computer, and wait for him to come and find me.
He does exactly that and his face brightens when he sees me.
“Hi.” I smile back at him as he walks in.
“Hey, there. I’m glad you’re down here.”
“Yeah, I thought I’d work in here today.” During one of our talks earlier in the week, I told him about my pen name. He was okay with it, but I think that was only because we were talking about all the serious things he’s done. He was in no position to cast any form of judgment on me.
“That’s good. Did you get a lot done?” He comes closer and sits across from me in the armchair.
“As much as I could do.”
“I’m glad.” He presses his lips together, and the brightness in his eyes falters. “I wanted to talk to you about Knight, Aurora.”
At the mention of Knight, I sit straighter. “Has something happened?”
“Yes. I saw him earlier. He gave me this to give you.” He pulls a small envelope from the inside of his jacket.
My insides tighten instantly. Are those our divorce papers?
I imagined them to be bigger.
I also didn’t think I’d get them so soon because we need to stay married for the full six months for him to gain complete ownership of Sunset Cove.
Dad holds the envelope out for me to take. I hesitate. Every envelope I’ve opened over the last few months has contained bad news.
Why would this be any different? But if I think receiving our divorce papers is bad news, that has to count for something, right? That must mean I don’t want to go down that path.
If this envelope does contain the divorce papers, how would I feel on seeing them?
How would I feel seeing Knight’s signature sitting at the bottom, waiting for mine to join it?
As if my life is flashing before my eyes, I think of my time with Knight and the special moments we shared that stayed with me. Like the night we met, the night he gave me his ring, the way we kissed every chance we got at his grandparents’ anniversary party, the first time we made love, Saint-Tropez, and him telling me ‘I want always with you.’
I see them all as if they are scenes from a movie.
Dad takes my hand and warms it with his. “It’s not what you think.”
I must look so obvious he can read my mind.
“No. It’s something good. Go on, take a look.” The assurance in his voice and the gentleness in his eyes feel like a balm soothing my nerves.
The moment I take the envelope, I know it’s definitely not anything bad. It’s too light. I open it and look inside to find one document and a piece of notepaper.
I pull them both out. The document is Sunset Cove’s assets document.
When I find only my name listed at the bottom of it in black swirling letters, my heart skips several beats, then stills in my chest as if someone placed a hand over it.
My name is stated as Aurora Wright, just like it was before, but instead of the year Mom died, the date has changed to yesterday’s.
This means Knight returned full ownership of Sunset Cove to me.
He gave it back to me. All of it.
So, he’s not selling.
I look at the note next, my hands trembling. It’s handwritten by him with these simple words:
The choice was always you.
I stare at the words, taking them into my heart, mind, and soul, and I feel that love again I saw every time I looked at him.
I look at my father, note the softness in his expression, and show him the note.
Dad nods with respectful conviction. “I believe him, Aurora. I really do and hope you can too.”
He pulls in a small breath and leans forward, resting his elbows on the tops of his thighs. “When I first met your mother, I knew she was the one. But I thought it was absurd for me to act on that because we hadn’t even known each other for a week, and we were just kids. She was eighteen to my nineteen. When we parted, I regretted it so much I went looking for her but couldn’t find her anywhere. I thought I’d lost her forever, but she never left my heart. I never met anyone like her, and I knew I never would. When I found you both twelve years later, I couldn’t believe my luck. Having the two of you in my life completed me.”
Warmth surrounds my heart on hearing his sentimental words. “Oh, Dad. It felt that way for me too.”
“I know. We had a good life together, but what I’m trying to say is, when you meet that special person, hold on to them with everything you have. I will never excuse my guilt in what’s happened and the way my actions brought Knight into our lives, but I also have to acknowledge what he means to you and what you mean to him. None of us started off on the right foot, but it doesn’t have to end that way. I think Knight has more than proved that he’s sorry for what he did and that you are special to him. Death and life can make you lose your soul. I think he found his redemption in you. Please think about that.”
I’m already nodding before he can finish. “I will.”
“Good, because he’s coming here tomorrow morning to see you. I know you’re deeply hurt by what he did, but I think you should see him, Aurora, and hear him out.” A heartwarming smile inches across his lips. “Can you promise me you will?”
“Yes. I promise.” There’s a lightness to my tone that reflects the forgiveness in my heart.
“Good. I don’t think you’ll regret it.”
Dad stands and plants a kiss on my forehead. Then he leaves me with the documents, the note, and my thoughts.
Several minutes pass by, and all I can think of is seeing Knight in the morning, then my eyes drift to the grandfather clock on the wall.
It’s not that late.
Can I really wait until morning to see him?
I stand and grab my jacket from the coat rack in the hall before the answer can process in my mind.
“I’m going out for a bit, Dad,” I call out.
Dad comes to the top of the stairs and smiles at me, looking like he knows where I’m going. “Alright, be careful.”
I return his smile with a newfound hope in my heart, then head out to find my husband.
When I reach the house I went from calling a prison to a home, Denise and Claude welcome me with open arms and inform me that Knight is outside in his workshop.
I head out there to see him, my nerves tangled in those tight knots I’ve grown accustomed to and the bats nestling in the pit of my stomach going crazy.
I walk into the workshop but don’t see him, so I go around to the side room where the Giselle collection used to live.
The moment I turn the corner, a giant sculpture of a beautiful woman in a flowing Greek tunic takes my breath away, slowing my steps.
Wow, Knight is sculpting again, and this style is closer to his mother’s with its gracefulness and awe that hits you right in the heart.
It has the same bronze finish as his others, but he’s painted her dress white.
The woman looks exactly like one of those sculptures of Greek Goddesses you’d see in a museum or in the movies. She has long, flowing hair that appears to ripple like she’s in the water. Her arms are outstretched like she’s reaching out to someone. But she’s holding something in the palm of her left hand.
When I get closer, I realize it’s an opened pomegranate. A few more steps closer, and as I study the woman’s face, knowledge strikes me like lightening crackling in the sky that she’s me.
My hands fly up to my mouth and I gasp. Shock slams into my chest, then it ripples through my body like sparks of wildfire.
I walk right up to it and take in the magnificent beauty, my heart overflowing with everything good in this world.
I remember when I first saw the sculptures of Giselle and thought how Knight must have loved her to be so inspired to create such art. I never thought I would be standing here in the same spot, looking at a sculpture of myself.
Just as I’m about to walk around to admire the back, Knight enters through the side door, carrying a tin of what must be paint.
He stops short when he notices me, and he stares back at me as if he’s trying to make sure that I’m real.
I look at him, take in the ruffle of his hair that looks longer than the last time I saw it, and his fuller beard. He’s wearing a black long-sleeved T-shirt, cream joggers, and my God, is he handsome.
Those bright blue eyes the color of the sea stare back at me, and in them I find my soul. I realize in that moment that I gave this man all of me.
“You’re here.” His gentle caress of a voice sounds so freaking amazing to my ears.
“Yes. I hope it was okay that I—”
“It’s more than okay.” He sets the paint can down and walks up to me like his mission is to take me in his arms and keep me there. I wish he would, but he stops a breath away and reaches out to touch my face.
I offer him a small smile and glance at the sculpture. “This is beautiful.”
“Not as beautiful as my wife. The woman behind the inspiration.”
“Really? Because this is one hell of a masterpiece.”
“My wife is too.” He releases me and steps a little closer.
“Thank you.” Despite everything, I find myself blushing as if we just met. “What’s this for?” I look at the sculpture again.
“A present for you.”
My eyes widen. “Me? You did this for me?”
“Yeah. I was trying to get it finished by tomorrow.”
“I love it. I truly do.”
“Then I’m glad. I… told you once that you weren’t my Persephone, but life proved me wrong, showing me how blind I was to see what was right in front of me.” Shame steals the spark from the awe in his expression. “I lost you for the sake of money and power.”
“I’m here, though.” I dip my head.
“Not to tell me you’re leaving me?” He lifts my chin, and as our eyes lock, I think of all the things I wanted to say when I jumped in my car and drove here.
“No.” At that confirmation, hope fills his eyes. “My dad gave me the asset document, and I just wanted to see you. I wanted to thank you now.”
“It shouldn’t have had my name on it in the first place.”
“I understand why you did what you did.”
“But it’s not understandable that I hurt you.” He intensifies his stare. “No matter what I stood to gain.”
“You must think I’m foolish for not wanting to sell the place for the three hundred million when I have nothing. It’s a ton of money. Money I can’t even conceive, so maybe I am foolish.” I smirk, although my choice would remain the same.
“You aren’t foolish at all.” He gives me a warm smile. “Of course, three hundred million is a ton of money, but it’s not like I needed it. You didn’t need it either at the time you found out about the sale. I understand there are some things you can’t put a price on. Sunset Cove is one of them. I’m also aware that if someone is willing to offer you that much money for something, it means it’s worth more to you to keep it. In this case, there is no price to match the value.”
I nod, grateful he understands me. At the same time, I acknowledge things couldn’t have worked out for him the way he wanted.
“What does that mean for you? If you gave me back Sunset Cove, did your grandfather sort things out for you to still take control of the company?”
“No.” His voice sounds heavy. “I left Grayson Inc. the other day.”
My heart tumbles, falling into the pit of my stomach, where it continues to sink lower and lower.
“What?” I didn’t expect this. “You left?”
“It was for the best. That was my original plan when I first found out my grandfather was retiring. I never planned to work under my father or Bastian, so I’ll start my own company when I get around to it.”
“But you wanted the CEO position at Park Avenue. I thought your grandfather might have worked something out.”
“He wanted to, but it wouldn’t have been fair. I made the right choice, Aurora.”
“But you worked so hard.”
“I love you.” He says those three words I’ve longed to hear without any prelude or preamble. They just fall from his lips as effortlessly as a gentle breath and wrap around me like warm sunlight. “I love you, and that is all that matters to me. I’m so sorry for everything I did. I’m sorry for ever making you feel like I didn’t choose you, and I’m sorry for hurting you, but most of all, I’m sorry for not telling you how much I love you before now. I could have told you the moment we met.”
His words dissolve the pain and angst I’ve held in my heart for the last few days, allowing the love I feel for him to flow through me like a never-ending river.
Love welcomes the forgiveness I found so hard days ago, and I feel like I’ve been placed on another path. A path that can only lead to happiness.
“Knight…” My voice trails off, captured by the swirl of emotion swelling in my soul.
He takes my hand, presses it to his chest, and I feel his vibrant heartbeat, beating with conviction to prove the determination in his words.
“I won’t let you go, Aurora.” He smiles. “I meant what I said when I told you I want always with you, so I won’t allow you to leave me ever again. I’ll do whatever it takes to win you back for good, even if it takes me until the rest of forever.”
I touch his jaw and trace my finger over his beard, loving the feeling of him beneath my fingers.
“I love you too, Knight. You’ve already won me back, and I’m not going anywhere, so how about we spend the rest of forever loving each other as husband and wife?”
He smiles back at me, the tension in his face fading along with the guard in his eyes, opening the doors to his soul.
“I love that idea, wife.”
He lowers his lips to mine, and I taste the promise of forever and everything good that will come with our love.