I could lose myself in this moment.
Lose myself in her touch.
In her kiss.
But her aunt is standing right there. I’m surprised she hasn’t given up and gone away. I probably would have if I were her.
Ambrose reluctantly ended the kiss.
Barbara opened her eyes.
And, for the twelve thousandth time that night, Ambrose marveled that she was his wife. She had willingly and willfully married him. He smiled. “It really is the most amazing thing.”
“You.” His expression softened into wonder. “My Barbara. My wife.”
Olivia cleared her throat, pulling the newly married couple out of their own personal nirvana. “Just wanted to let you know I’m going home now.”
Barbara reluctantly tore her gaze away from Ambrose and looked up at her aunt.
“Franny’s tired. It’s way past her bed time. So, I just wanted to wish the both of you well.”
Barbara stood and hugged her. “Thank you so much for coming. It meant so much to me.”
Olivia returned the hug. “Not a problem. It was good to see you all again.”
The two women released each other.
“You look so radiant and happy. I wish your mother could have been here to see you.”
“She was.” Ambrose said.
Olivia blank stared him.
“I didn’t see her, but I wasn’t actively looking for her. But she was here. Barbara saw her and John saw her. He talked to her.”
“I didn’t see her.” Olivia said. She sounded stunned and a little hurt. “Why didn’t I see her?”
“My dad said that she came to just him because he needed her the most.” Barbara said.
Olivia frowned. “And I didn’t?” She quickly shook her head. “Never mind. I—-”
“If I may be so bold to say, she appeared to the right person.” Ambrose said. “Think about it. You have your husband. Barbara has me. John has been alone for so long.”
“He had Barbara.” Olivia snapped.
Ambrose smirked. “Do you really think a daughter can offer the same comfort as a wife?”
Olivia had no response to that.
Ambrose turned serious. “I have never been married before, but I know what it’s like to lose someone who has always been there.”
“The house was too quiet. Her scent was gone.”
Ambrose walked up the stairs, listening for her voice, hoping to catch a touch of her scent. “Maria? Hello? Where are you? Maria!”
“I kept waiting for her to reappear. I kept hoping that there was a mistake. That I made a mistake. That I misunderstood the situation. That she wasn’t really gone for good.”
“Don’t leave me like this. I don’t understand. I don’t know what I said or did wrong. Come back to me.” He stopped in the hall and held out his hands. “Touch me. Let me know you’re here. Please. Please be here.”
“But she was gone.”
Ambrose dropped into his bed and buried his face into his pillow. Sobs shook his body.
“So, yes. I can understand why she felt the need to show herself to just him. Please try not to hold it against either of them.”
“It won’t be easy, but I’ll try.”