tagRomanceWill Be Yours Ch. 22

Will Be Yours Ch. 22

byLoneGirl©

Dear readers, as we reach the end of this series (yeah, yeah, I know some of you must be heaving a sigh of relief!) I'd like to thank all of you who have loved the story and appreciated my efforts. And to those who left harsh comments against Cynthia because she was someone's accomplice in cheating, I'd like to say that life is sometimes stranger than fiction. It could be you in her place- a victim of circumstances. We're too quick to judge others. But like Marvin J. Ashton put it, 'if we could look into each other's hearts and understand the unique challenges that each of us faces, we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.'

Thank you everyone.

Love, LG :-)

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The lazy wind pushed against the unmown grass like a child sending dandelion seeds on their way. Velmont Town was famous for its perennial rainfall, but whenever it wasn't pouring, the weather felt remarkable. The early summer sun brought a welcoming warmth that coated everyone as good as caramel over a harvest apple. The roses had bloomed, the dahlias looked like vibrant bursts of colour. Small puddles of rainwater were scattered all across the lawn. Sparrows and pigeons danced about on the porch and on the lawn, sometimes pecking at the leaves of the trees, sometimes preening and sunning themselves. It had rained through the night and the frogs had sung to their hearts' content. There was something in the air. There was something in the season. There was something about that morning that made everything look and feel different. Or maybe it was just a new beginning.

Cynthia was home, after two months that had seemed endless. With a little help from Carrie, Luke had cleaned and dusted the house, organising the things, changing the sheets and curtains, and decorating her room with flowers. He also often scattered grains for the birds, just like he had seen Cynthia do, and tended to the plants. Cynthia often lamented that she would never be able to smell flowers again, and every time she said that, Luke told her that she was going to recover her senses. He believed she would.

Her remaining days in the hospital hadn't been too good. She had lost most of her balance, and along with it, most of her courage as well. Her left arm usually remained numb, but her right hand wasn't too strong either. She dropped things when she tried to hold them, could not squeeze anything, and her hands often trembled. The doctors had said that it was in equal parts because of the injury and also because of the strong medicines and IVs. Her head hurt if she tried to read. Loud noises made her cry. Too much light irritated her eyes. Although her broken bone had healed, she still had to undergo a lot of physical therapy in order to walk without support.

But the most significant thing, one that signalled that she needed psychological help, was her fear of the streets and moving vehicles. While she had slowly learned to sleep without the sedatives, she often awoke at night, crying and trembling.

"Did you have a nightmare?" Luke asked her the first time it happened.

"The truck...." was all she'd been able to murmur in her shaky voice.

The nightmares hadn't gone away, unlike what they had hoped. Instead, they had only been aggravated by her journey home. Bethany and Becky had remained with her in the ambulance, while Scott and Luke had followed in the car. Though she hadn't reacted through the drive, she had remained shaken for the rest of the day. It was only the next morning when she regained her form and started to feel the joy of being home.

But despite the concern of everyone, Cynthia seemed to have taken her disabilities in her stride. Although they did often find her sad and depressed when she lost her balance, or couldn't taste her food, or didn't recall what someone had just told her, she rarely expressed her sadness in words. Her hair was also gone. Not that she said anything, but they realised her anguish when she made permanent enemies with the mirror. The new life was going to be hard for her to get used to, but Luke hoped she'd slowly become better once her rehabilitation and physical therapy progressed.

"Mum," she said to her mother as she was leaving for the night. It was two days since her discharge, and Bethany, on Scott's insistence, had moved to their guest room, so that it was easier for her to look after Cynthia. Luke had asked her to stay with Cynthia while he could move to the guest room, but Bethany wanted them to be together. "She needs you more than she needs me," she'd told him.

"Yes, honey?" She returned to the bed and sat beside her.

"Will you stay for a couple of weeks more?" she asked. Her mother smiled.

The two of them were on the path of reconciliation. Bethany had been tending to her daughter, and Cynthia had finally realised that she deserved a chance. She hadn't shouted at her again.

"I am staying until you're able to walk without support," her mother smiled. "I've never taken a long leave in the whole of my work life. I can stay for a while."

"Luke needs to return," she stated as a matter of fact. "He begins recording soon. Sitting here with me isn't going to do his career any good."

"He's there with you in spirit even when he's away," Bethany patted her cheek. "No distance is too great for love."

"Will you visit me?" she asked. Bethany had finally come to terms with the fact that Cynthia's life was in Velmont Town and she would never return to Birmingham. She needed to see her life to understand that her daughter wasn't a college-going girl anymore. She was a successful woman with her own world. Luke was glad she had accepted that, without asking her to move back again.

"I will," she smiled. "This place is wonderful. Maybe I'll take care of your lawn until you're better. Will you let me do that?"

Cynthia nodded. "This town is considered remote and far-flung. Tourists come here to unwind, but the young people here leave for the city life. Others come back to raise a family."

"This place suits you," Bethany said. "I don't regret that you gave up your ambitions, because what you have here is priceless."

"I can't believe Luke went the whole way for me," Cynthia sighed. "I never thought I'd ever find someone like him..."

"He's a great guy. And he loves you so much." Bethany kissed her forehead. "I pray you two always remain together," she said.

Luke had been overhearing the conversation while Carrie chattered near his ears, and it made him smile. He prayed for the same thing, that he and Cynthia always remained together. When Bethany left the room and prepared to leave, Luke hugged her and Carrie and saw them till the door. Cynthia's eyes were closed when he entered her room, but she opened her eyes when she sensed him around.

"Why did you sleep on the sofa last night?" she frowned. Luke kept his phone on the nightstand, and sat beside her.

"The bed isn't big enough for two people," he said, smiling. "I mean, it would feel big enough if we snuggled, but you're still in pain, and I don't want to end up hurting you accidentally..."

"Do you plan to sleep apart tonight as well?" she asked, but even before he could respond, she added something more. "Do you find me ugly?"

Luke's heart lurched at those words. He was only trying to be careful. He had no idea he had only ended up conveying the wrong message.

"Not at all!" He moved closer to her and held her hands. "I'm sorry if that is what I made you feel. I just wanted to give you more room to be able to sleep comfortably."

"You think I'm not comfortable with you?"

"It's not that—"

"You're getting tired of this." She lifted her eyes and looked at him. "I don't want you to be my caregiver. I don't want our relationship to become that."

Not one to react, Luke recalled what Dave had said. Cynthia wasn't in a stable neurological condition. She could be irrational, illogical, and misunderstanding. He breathed in and strengthened his resolve to remain patient.

"You're beautiful," he said reassuringly. "And I'm not saying this because I want to pacify you, but because you really are. Always were, will always be."

"You're upset that Sam was here?" she asked softly. Luke put a finger under her chin and lifted her face.

"You think it bothers me?" he smiled into her eyes. She nodded.

"It doesn't," he clarified. Moving even closer, he kissed her lips. Cynthia's mouth parted, drawing him in. For those three weeks that she'd been unconscious, Luke had resisted kissing her. It felt wrong, as though taking advantage of her. But not anymore. He planned to kiss her every minute for the rest of their lives together.

"It bothers you," he added, ghosting his lips against hers. Cynthia pulled back.

"Yes." She lifted her gaze and looked at him. "My life is with you. And I don't want you to take this the wrong way. I didn't know he'd turn up here..."

"Stop worrying, okay?" Luke said, kissing her again. "It's a small thing. I don't bother about it."

Luke saw tears glistening in Cynthia's eyes as she bowed her head and bit her lip. He encased her hand in his, frowning slightly.

"What happened?" he asked gently. "Are you alright?"

She didn't reply. Instead, she withdrew her hand and swiped the edge of her eyes. Luke held her slick fingers and kissed them, tasting salt. Cynthia tried to pull her hand away again, but he didn't let her.

"Why are you sad?" he asked. "Remembering past things again?"

When she looked away, he gently held her face and gazed into her eyes. "Tell me, please," he implored her. "What's troubling you?"

"I think this is my punishment for the mistake I'd made with Sam," she croaked, closing her eyes.

"Cynthia, why do you keep thinking of it?" he sighed, "You've moved on. Your past doesn't matter."

"I know most people still look down upon me. They still think—"

"Who cares what they think? You have a different life now."

She looked at him, her eyes full of questions. "Do you think what they think?" she asked quietly. "That I was a homewrecker?"

"No." There was no other answer. He'd never thought that. And nothing in the world would change his opinion. People had judged her and despised her for being in a relationship with a married man, who turned out to be her relative. But what about her ex? Why did nobody ever see anything wrong with what he did to her? Was it only because he was a man, and as a dignified professor commanded a certain respect? Cynthia had been a young woman of 20, finding her feet in the world. The man in question had been close to forty; clearly, he should have known better. Cynthia didn't cheat, her ex did. She had simply been a victim of circumstances, whose only mistake had been to trust the man she loved and rely on his promise. Luke didn't even want to utter his name.

"I love you, Cynthia," he finally said. "And not for a moment since the first time you told me about this have I judged you. I know your side of the story, and I know his. You made a mistake, he made a mistake, your mom made a mistake. It's hard to argue we don't live in a patriarchal society where the man always has it easy. But the past is behind you. Let it remain there."

He kissed her hand, smiling. "Moreover, you must not be crowding your mind with these thoughts when you're in need of rest. Everything is okay. Just try to relax."

He saw Cynthia slowly easing back against the pillows, a small smile breaking out on her face.

"You know what is my favourite place in the whole world?" she asked him.

"Yeah, it's the river," Luke tapped his chin with a finger. Cynthia laughed very softly, shaking her head.

"Hey, you'd told me!" he protested.

"I know, but my favourite place has since changed," she smiled.

"What is it now?" he asked, returning her smile. Cynthia twisted a finger and beckoned him closer. When he was barely millimetres apart from her, she kept her head against his chest. He instinctively folded one arm gentle arm around her bony body, and heard her sigh.

"This is my favourite place in the whole world," she said. "And it will never change."

Luke's heart swelled with happiness. She was three-and-a-half years worth waiting for, and he loved her more than words could describe.

"When are you leaving?" she asked, her head still against his chest.

"Next week," he replied softly. Cynthia lifted her head and looked at him.

"Geez, have I asked that earlier?" she bit back a smile. She had indeed asked that thrice more through that day, but Luke laughed softly, knowing she was slowly getting used to the new life.

"It's okay. I'll keep reminding you," he nodded, moving a strand of short, black hair from her face. The dressing on her head was still there, and her hair peeked from below it. It was no style at all, just hair snipped off very badly, but she still looked good in it. The short hair suited her small face well.

"I'll miss you," she said. She tried to lift her left arm, but only succeeded in moving a finger. Luke helped her, gently flexing her arm.

"Do you feel anything?" he asked, studying her face. She nodded.

"It feels too numb when I try to move it," she complained.

"Is it any better than before?"

"Hmm-mm. A little."

He leaned in and kissed her again. "I don't want to leave you," he confessed.

"You promised me..." she reminded him.

"It's more important that I remain with you."

"There are people to look after me. I'll be okay."

When she had been unconscious and he had been thinking about the future, he'd often wonder if she'd need a full-time attendant. Of course, then her mother had arrived and taken up her care on her own shoulders. But her mom was well past her prime. Looking after a patient like Cynthia was taxing, and the hard work could take a toll on her.

"What?" she asked, when she found him lost in thought. Luke shook his head, his eyes travelling to the big box of medicines sitting on the nightstand. Cynthia had vomited the first time she took the blood capsule the other night. Tonight it had been the case with the other capsule, meant for healing the blood vessels in her brain. She had said more than once that the injections were better.

"Recording won't be long. Two months at the most." He took her hand in his and looked at the marks left by the wounds. "I'll be here whenever I'm free."

"Luke—"

"Cyn, I am committed to being there for you," he interjected. "Nothing in the world is greater than you for me. If you think a music album is going to keep me from being with you, for you..."

He tapped her cheek with two fingers, smiling his cheekiest smile. "Then you've been harbouring a very wrong impression about Luke Harris, Ms Adamson," he said, his voice almost a whisper.

Cynthia smiled shyly, a very vivid blush entering her pale, sunken cheeks. Dark circles had appeared around her eyes and bags below them. Her arms had become so frail, he could easily count the number of veins in them if he wanted to. The cast on her leg had been taken off, and a light blue bandage now occupied its place. Her clothes almost seemed to hang from her structure now. But she was still the same Cynthia, the lovely young woman they all knew and adored. And when she blushed, she still resembled a blooming rosebud. Just like the ones adorning her house.

"I liked Diana's dad," she said, playing with the buttons of his white shirt. "I hadn't thought I'd meet him under such circumstances, but it was still so nice."

Dave had joined them at her house that evening, before he left for Birmingham in the morning. Cynthia so long hadn't been told who he was, and she hadn't shown any interest to know either. But when she learned of his identity, she was delighted. Not because he had saved her life, but because he was Diana's dad. It was the closest she could come to knowing the woman who had paved the way for her and Luke to come together. Even though he didn't express it, Luke could tell that Dave found his daughter in Cynthia. The equation seemed to fit both of them. Cynthia had never had a dad, and Dave still hadn't recovered from the emptiness Diana had left behind. Luke hoped that was the beginning of another relationship, of a father and a daughter.

"He's going to oversee your treatment even when he's in Birmingham," he said, "You can ring him if you have any problem, okay?"

She nodded, and Luke saw her fingers stop on one of the buttons, a second before she looked up at him.

"When are you taking me to Diana's grave?" she asked. Luke gasped softly, his eyes widening.

"You... you remember?" he exclaimed. "You'd spoken those words in your stupor..."

"I was conscious. I remember what I said." Her face turned sad for a moment. "Don't you want to take me there?"

Luke smiled, kissing her forehead. "I will," he said. "But before that, you have to get better, so that you're fit to travel. Alright?"

Cynthia kept her head against his shoulder, sighing again. He kissed the side of her face, relishing the warmth of her skin against his.

"Tell me I haven't asked you when Megan and Paul are visiting," she said, sleepily. Luke stopped a low chuckle that was rising up his throat. But Cynthia heard it nevertheless.

"I have," she sighed. Luke laughed now.

"Yes, you have. But I'll tell you again. They're planning to visit next week."

"You'll be away."

"All the more reason for them to visit. They'll keep you from missing me."

"I think you're more handsome than Paul, and funnier than Megan."

Luke wanted to laugh at those words, but could not. Instead, he only felt an immense sense of relief that she was slowly coming back to shape.

"They'll still help in keeping you occupied enough, so you have less time to miss me." He stacked the pillows and helped her lean back. Once she was settled, he reached out to dim the lights.

"Sleep with me," she implored him. Her eyes were already closed and her words were turning slurry.

"I will. Give me a moment to change, okay?" he smiled down at her.

"Luke?" she murmured.

"Yes, baby?"

"This place, with you by my side, is where I always want to be."

The love and contentment in her voice moved him. His eyes welled up, and he leaned closer to lay a soft kiss on her head.

"Me too, sweetheart," he whispered. "Me too."

***

Four years later

The late October sky in Velmont Town was unlike what the rest of the country usually got to witness. While in most others places autumn made its presence felt with shorter days, longer nights, scarlet leaves, and chilly, misty mornings, Velmont Town only received hoards of rainclouds and almost incessant downpour. The sky was blanketed with a sheet of grey clouds that morning, and it drizzled every now and then. It had rained intermittently through the night, leaving the lawn soaked and full of puddles.

There was a noise somewhere outside which made me leave the kitchen and go out to the front porch. The sight made me smile. Little hands held a small, green, plastic spade, digging the soil where I intended to plant some green chilli plants.

A few metres away, Jake and Josh and a couple of their friends were scattered all over their lawn, armed with buckets, bags, boxes, bowls, pillow cases, and fly catchers. I felt something wet against my foot, and looked down to find a medium-sized, healthy looking, green frog hopping across. He stopped to look at me, and I smiled at him (it looked like a male). When he had hopped away, I sighed and leaned against the door frame, taking in the moist smell.

It would be an understatement to say that the initial stage of my recovery had been very difficult. It had taken me more than a month just to be able to walk without anybody's assistance and I'd needed the orthopaedic stick for a while. The head injury had kept me in pain for a long time, and the rest of my body hadn't been any better. It would hurt to turn, to sit, to lie. It would hurt to breathe and to blink. I'd usually wake up to tear-soaked pillows every morning. Two women- Alex, my physical therapist, and Pam, my psychological therapist- had ensured to a great extent that I was able to move and walk comfortably and sleep undisturbed at night.

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