He held the door open for her, his eyes closing for the briefest of moments as she brushed past him. The fullness of her sleeve caught on the buttons of his morning coat, tugging at him as the yards of her skirt swept against his leg.

It wasn't until she'd moved on into the room that he smelled the lilac water in the air. It was a pale memory of her scent and stung his eyes as she moved about the room.

He'd seen it all before, more than a score of times… maybe a hundred… and God bless him he wanted to see it another thousand times before he'd even consider letting her go. She paused before the mirror hanging on the wall, her fingers tugging at one ribbon, pulling it loose while the other withdrew the sharp point of her hat pin.

The motions were rote but the utter beauty of it all rocked him to the soles of his boots, closing the muscles of his throat with a sudden desperate need of air.

She lifted her gaze in the mirror, meeting his eyes in the reflection for a moment. "It was a lovely service."

He nodded, his eyes full of her, his heart aching for some unspoken reason.

"Reverend Thomas had such sweet words to say." She looked down at her hands, one hand tugging at the other, loosening the hold of her glove on her fingers. She moved it, tiny bits at a time, her shoulders rising and falling with every deep breath she took. "I couldn't help noticing how little Andrew moved during the service." She pulled one glove free of her hand and laid it on the cabinet top below the mirror, her gloved hand dark as night against her skin. "I wondered if he managed to take a breath during it or the visitation."

The door slipped from his hand and closed with a soft click behind him. His body, so accustomed to the rush of adrenaline and the sharp reflexes of a man used to hunting, seemed to be moving through water instead of air.

He saw the other glove pull free from her hand and watched as she settled it with the first, the tips of her fingers drawing along the soft fabric. "I guess he'd cried himself out at home."

He heard the catch in her voice and moved closer. "Lou-"

"I'm fine." She pressed her hands on the top of the table, leaning heavily on it, her head turned to the side, away from him. "I just can't imagine…"

Only a few inches behind her, he stopped, hands flexing at his sides. "Dying young?" His voice barely made it past his lips, disturbing a few wisps of her hair with his breath.

"Leaving you." She crumbled before his eyes, her body shivering in the warm evening air.

There was nothing left to say. He slipped his arms around her middle and pulled her up against his chest. His lips brushed against her neck as he whispered, "I'd never let you go."

She drew in a breath and turned in his embrace, circling his waist. Her fingers flexed into the muscles of his back and pressed her lips against his cheek wiping away his tears. "Then we'll just have to hold onto each other."

His fingers slid through the hair at the base of her neck, dislodging pins and tumbling curls down to her back as he tightened his embrace.

One of the best ways to get warm is to wrap your arms around someone who is cold. ~Noah benShea

Breathtaking - Body Language

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