It couldn’t really happen back at home, back in New York, surrounded by all the memories and lingering grief. Here she could see him, finally, not as the enthusiastic up-and-comer he was once and not as the selfish guy who had left her, but really and truly as the man he was today. Older. At once more sophisticated and less sure of himself. With a maturity to match his graying exterior, the flecks of salt-and-pepper at the temples. There was no boyishness left around his edges; Gerogia could see his entire life story in the tiny wrinkles around his eyes, see the memories of good times and the crush of regret when she looked into his eyes. How can you forgive the unforgivable? She didn’t know. Yet, somehow, she already had.
Georgia rose, walking slowly around to the back of the bench, and began to gently touch the polished wood. Without looking at him.
She thought about his letters. She thought about late nights sitting up with Cat talking about the men they would marry. All the ramblings of a teenager. The certainty. The insistence that she’d never take back a man who’d cheated on her. Cat had agreed. And then spent fifteen hellish years with a philandering jackass. Now, in front of Georgia, stood her own heartbreaker. The great love of her life. One and the same.
And Georgia knew. She would take him back. Not because he was Dakota’s father, thought that counted for something. A lot. And not because she’d been single all these years. She’d had herself for company and that had turned out to be enough. Just enough. Nor was it because he’d been trying so hard to make amends, or because she’d read those long-ago letters, or because he’d grown up and she knew that, truly, this was a person she could trust. Though, yes, surely, all those things had an impact. Offered her closure, promised a beginning.
But there was a greater reason, one that Georgia could openly and honestly admit, now that the posturing and the defenses and all the misunderstandings were out of the way.
She loved him. Simply and completely, with an intensity and purity that startled her awake. She loved him, too.
And she knew then that she would take him into her arms and reveal that he’s always been in her heart.
Georgia loved James. And that’s all there was to it.