Valentine clears his throat. "So. Why can't you just say it?" "Say what?" "You know what." "It's hardly the time or place." "It is if you're dying." "I can't." "You're a dick. Just fucking say it!" "I can't ! I'm... English." "What am I, a Martian? I say it all the time. I know you love me, why can't you say it?" "If you know, then why do I have to?" "You're missing the point a bit." "I took your bullet, you little twat, don't you dare question whether I love you." "Yeah, but you could say it." The throb of the gunshots is pounding all down his arm and body. The pain's so bad he wants to cry, like he's five and he's skinned his knee coming off his bike. "Je t'aime," he says, through gritted teeth, to shut the kid up. "Je ne sais pas pourquoi. Tu es... complètement bête, tu t'habilles comme une pute travestie, je hais ta musique, tu es fou, tu me rends fou, mais je suis fou de toi et je pense à toi tout le temps et je t'aime, oui. Tu comprends? Je t'aime. Seulement... pas en anglais. Je ne peux pas." Valentine's shifting about like he's uncomfortable. "I ain't got no idea what you just said but I think I need to change my pants." "Maintenant, ta gueule .
She glared at him through tear-filled eyes. You talk of your pain? You cannot even begin to understand the sacrifice I have made. I gave away a piece of myself, my soul! But I did it out of love, never think otherwise. I made the choice to live my life without her because I knew in my heart she would be better off without me and I could not bear to know that a life created out of such perfect love would be forced to live with the ugly truth of her birth. I thought, she sobbed, breaking down before him. I thought…I did the right thing.
As he clutched her in his shaking hands and wept against her, he whispered into her ear, the words that made him believe. Love bears all things. Endures all things, he said. Ours has, hasn’t it? She nodded and held him tighter. But can it endure this, Anais? This demon who holds me so mercilessly in its claws? She touched his face and kissed him. My love can and will, Lindsay. I will be here when you open your eyes. I will give you whatever you need to make it more bearable.
Wallingford vaulted up from his chair. You’ve come here so that I can mollify you and share in your belittling of Anais? Well, you’ve knocked on the wrong bloody door, Raeburn, because I will not join you in disparaging Anais. I will not! Not when I know what sort of woman she is—she is better than either of us deserves. Damn you, I know what she means to you. I know how you’ve suffered. You want her and you’re going to let a mistake ruin what you told me only months ago you would die for. Ask yourself if it is worth it. Is your pride worth all the pain you will make your heart suffer through? Christ, Wallingford growled, if I had a woman who was willing to overlook everything I’d done in my life, every wrong deed I had done to her or others, I would be choking back my pride so damn fast I wouldn’t even taste it. Lindsay glared at Wallingford, galled by the fact his friend— the one person on earth he believed would understand his feelings—kept chastising him for his anger, which, he believed, was natural and just. If I had someone like Anais in my life, Wallingford continued, blithely ignoring Lindsay’s glares, I would ride back to Bewdley with my tail between my legs and I would do whatever I had to do in order to get her back. You’re a goddamned liar! You’ve never been anything but a selfish prick! Lindsay thundered. What woman would you deign to lower yourself in front of? What woman could you imagine doing anything more to than fucking? Wallingford’s right eye twitched and Lindsay wondered if his friend would plant his large fist into his face. He was mad enough for it, Lindsay realized, but so, too, was he. He was mad, angry—all but consumed with rage, but the bluster went out of him when Wallingford spoke. I’ve never bothered to get to know the women I’ve been with. Perhaps if I had, I would have found one I could have loved—one I could have allowed myself to be open with. But out of the scores of women I’ve pleasured, I’ve only ever been the notorious, unfeeling and callous libertine—that is my shame.Your shame is finding that woman who would love you no matter what and letting her slip through your fingers because she is not the woman your mind made her out to be. You have found something most men only dream of. Things that I have dreamed of and coveted for myself. The angel is dead. It is time to embrace the sinner, for if you do not, I shall expect to see you in hell with me. And let me inform you, it’s a burning, lonely place that once it has its hold on you, will never let you go. Think twice before you allow pride to rule your heart. What do you know about love and souls? Lindsay growled as he stalked to the study door. I know that a soul is something I don’t have, and love, Wallingford said softly before he downed the contents of his brandy, love is like ghosts, something that everyone talks of but few have seen. You are one of the few who have seen it and sometimes I hate you for it. If I were you, I’d think twice about throwing something like that away, but of course, I’m a selfish prick and do as I damn well please. You do indeed. Wallingford’s only response was to raise his crystal glass in a mock salute.To hell, he muttered,make certain you bring your pride. It is the only thing that makes the monotony bearable.
She had his dark hair, his lashes, and from the glimpse he had, she bore his eyes, as well. But the shape of her face, a perfect oval, was her mother’s. She had Anais’s cheeks. Anais’s lovely mouth and proud chin. He kissed her chin, feeling the softest of fluttering against his cheek—baby’s breath. There was nothing sweeter than the feel of an innocent child’s breath against one’s cheek—nothing more wondrous than knowing that the baby was your own flesh and blood. Mina stretched against him, yawning widely and throwing her arms up wide alongside her head. He laughed through his tears and reached for her little fist and brought it to his mouth, kissing her with such love he thought he would die of it. You will consume me, little Mina, just as your mother has. -Linsay to his infant daughter.