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Ciprian

Eight Weeks Later

“Don’t come out yet, Dana,” I said.

To my surprise, she stayed where she was. But knowing Dana as I now did, that she’d surprised me shouldn’t be a surprise. This woman would always surprise me.

I finished the last of my preparations and then ran up the porch stairs.

I found her on the other side of the door, and for a moment I held her. Then pressed a kiss against her cheek.

“Okay. You can come out now,” I said. “But keep your eyes closed.”

She simply smiled softly, entwined her fingers with mine.

I still reveled in that, her open displays of affection, of trust.

But I loved it, swore to myself I would never do anything to make her regret giving it to me.

I opened the door, led her out, and then arranged her as I wanted her. “Open your eyes.”

She did, but instead of looking forward, she held my gaze with hers, her eyes reflecting the emotion I felt, showing me that she treasured me as I did her.

“Look,” I said, gesturing toward the front of the house.

She held my gaze a moment longer but then turned to look. Her face was impassive, showed no emotion at all, and my gut clenched.

I’d worked on these for weeks. Doing so had required all of my meager skills and some I didn’t know I had, but I had measured and cut the wood, sanded it, added each layer of paint myself.

It hadn’t occurred to me that she might find it lacking, but as I looked at her now, saw that she wasn’t reacting, I wondered.

The next seconds passed excruciatingly slow, and I felt a tension that I hadn’t in the weeks that Dana and I had been getting to know each other again, learning each other without the secrets of the past between us.

“They’re beautiful,” she finally said.

For a moment I thought I had misheard her, but as I watched her, her eyes still glued to the front of the house, I saw the small smile creep across her features, and when she turned her eyes to mine, I saw that same happiness in her face, saw so much more.

The tension faded, and I reached for her hand, squeezed her fingers, feeling something beyond joy when she squeezed back.

“Interesting color,” she said, eying the yellow-orange paint. “Does it mean something?” she asked.

“It’s called dawn,” I said as she again looked at me. I kissed her, then broke away. “The color of new beginnings.”

***

Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the epilogue! I have many more stories planned, so sign up for my newsletter to find all the latest on my books! -Kaye