A/N: Season Three didn't happen. Eva & Nicolás forever. That is all. Poem in italics is "If You Forget Me" by Pablo Neruda.
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
The bell chimed as Eva entered the small bookshop with floor-to-ceiling shelves displaying colorful spines and an elegant circular gold staircase that she knew led up to a moderate selection of first editions and collector's items, kept under lock and key. For years, she had dreamed of having her first book published. So even though she had been on a book tour for the past six months, giving readings and signing copies all across South America, she immediately walked over to the stack of books laid out on a table in the center of the shop. There they were—in bold turquoise covers with bright gold script—copies of her first novel. Almas Perdidas. Lost Souls.
Eva smiled and brushed her fingers over the words.
The cover art, of course, had been inspired by her time at sea. The book by her first perilous trip aboard the Bárbara de Braganza.
In her mind's eye, she could still picture the faces of so many of the people she had met, even though the voyage had taken place a year and a half ago. Detective Varela. Sebastián. Clara. Doctor Rojas. Casandra.
There was one person's face she studiously avoided remembering. She couldn't live her life looking backwards to every little thing that might have been.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
Unfortunately, Eva knew she would soon have to face Nicolás again.
The next day, in fact.
Once again, she would be boarding the Bárbara de Braganza, this time bound for Mexico. She prayed for clear skies and calm seas and a voyage free from dark crimes and even darker secrets.
But mostly, she prayed that when she saw Nicolás on the ship, she could put to rest the faint murmurings of her heart, the hollow beat in her chest that surfaced whenever she thought about the last time she saw him. On the dock. Embracing his long-lost wife as she watched from the backseat of a car that would take her far away from the ocean. Far away from him. She'd stared out of the car's rear window until the crowd of people on the dock effectively blocked every last glimpse of him. Until she herself felt submerged, lost at sea.
She'd been adrift these past months, accepting public reading invitations and speaking engagements one after the other. Losing herself in a flurry of social events and in the planning of her second novel.
She'd been thinking of a romance this time. A passionate, ill-fated one.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
Another lady drew near the table, a fur stole draped over her right shoulder.
"Why don't you get this one?" a deep, familiar voice spoke up to her left. "I guarantee you won't be disappointed."
Eva hesitated a moment, though she knew that voice. But she was scared to look up and see that she was mistaken.
When she'd first arrived in Brazil, she'd seen him everywhere.
Finally, she lifted her chin. Lifted her eyes up to the man who had materialized beside her, seemingly out of nowhere.
Nicolás. It was him. Really him. He looked just like she'd left him—his dark hair slicked back away from his chiseled face, broad shoulders filling out a handsome gray suit instead of his first officer's uniform.
"Nicolás," she whispered, and he smiled down at her before directing his gaze once more to the other woman. "It's the best thing I've read recently," he noted confidently, tapping the book's cover with his long fingers. "And, if you like, the author can sign it." He nodded toward Eva.
"It's an honor to meet you." The woman offered Eva a gracious smile and held a copy of the book out to her. "If you don't mind signing it, I'll definitely buy it."
"Of course," Eva answered, trying not to appear too flustered as she accepted the book and opened her brown clutch to look for a pen. Only to find a pen held out to her in Nicolás's long, slender fingers.
"Thank you." She smiled, holding his gaze for a moment before turning back to the lady. "What's your name?"
Para Graciela, Eva signed and handed the book back to her.
When the lady had thanked her and headed for the checkout counter, Eva turned back to Nicolás, half-expecting him to have vanished, but he'd remained by her side, a curious grin on his face as he regarded her.
"You didn't expect to see me, did you?" he asked.
"In this bookshop?" Eva shook her head, smiling nervously. "Not really."
"You didn't expect to see me again, did you? Outside of the ship, I mean."
"Not really," she repeated.
Nicolás nodded as if he'd expected that.
"I have some things I need to discuss with you. Could we, perhaps, get some coffee?"
"Is it about the voyage tomorrow?"
"Yes...among other things."
"Oh. I see." She wondered what he needed to discuss about the voyage that wouldn't better serve Carolina's or Fernando's ears.
"There's a café across the street. Should we go there?"
"Well, I...I guess that would be fine," she answered, uncertain how to react to his sudden reappearance. Or what she should think of it. A year and a half hadn't dulled her traitorous heart's reaction to him, much to her dismay. But it was still a long time.
"Thank you, Eva," he replied. He led the way to the door of the bookshop and held it open for her.
Once they had walked across the street, Eva asked, "Is your wife with you?" Her heart dropped at the thought, and she felt ashamed of that. The poor woman had gone through so much; Eva couldn't begrudge her any happiness she might have with Nicolás, no matter the cost to her own happiness.
"Chantal? No. That's actually one of things I wanted to discuss."
"Oh?" Eva paused in front of the entrance to the café.
Nicolás came to a halt as well, facing her. She'd forgotten how his forehead creased and his eyebrows furrowed with intensity when he looked at her, as if she were a puzzle he was trying to solve.
"Eva, it's been a while since I've seen you. A lot's happened, and I...I hope some of it can turn out good in the end." He paused, as if weighing his next words. "What I mean to say is...my wife...we tried, but...it didn't work. We weren't the same people who fell in love with each other years ago, and...I think she always knew my heart was somewhere else."
Eva couldn't breathe. Her own heart was beating too fast.
"So...what you're saying is you—"
"Separated. Divorced, I mean. She went to live with some friends a few months ago. I would have contacted you sooner, but you were out of the country. And I wasn't sure"—he stepped closer to her—"if maybe you had found someone else."
Eva opened her mouth, trying to form words to the barrage of information she'd just received.
He and his wife were separated. He'd been looking for her. He'd been afraid she'd found someone else. He still wanted to be with her.
Before she could respond, a rag-tag group of kids swept past them, one of them knocking into Eva's leg, and Nicolás gently grabbed her by the waist and pulled her aside. Pulled her to him.
Suddenly more aware than ever of his towering presence, she repeated, dumbly, "N-not really." It seemed all she could manage.
"Not really?" He quirked an eyebrow.
She was practically falling into him now, drawn into those dark eyes that had held her captive the night they made love. In an instant, she felt it all again. His hand on the small of her back while they danced. His strong arms carrying her to safety. His fingers holding her chin up as he reassured her. His mouth roughly devouring hers.
"I mean 'no.' I mean…'never,'" she confessed, dropping her voice to a whisper.
Something akin to relief washed over his face, and his countenance beamed with a charming, roguish grin not unlike the one he'd given her when they'd first met.
His fingers found her chin again, tipped it up.
"I was hoping you'd say that. Tomorrow's voyage wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if you didn't feel the same way."
Her lips trembled.
"I love you, Nicolás."
"I love you too. Always."
"Always," she agreed, lifting up on her toes so that he could capture her mouth in a long-awaited kiss. A kiss that she'd scarcely hoped to feel again. A kiss that promised a lifetime of adventures together.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.