Love and relationships are truly one of the most paradoxical aspects of being human. For it is in love that we find the greatest of strengths and the deepest of sorrows. Love can seem to be so fleeting and unachievable yet it remains well within our reach if we only learn how to embrace it's power. To experience true love, we must be willing to open ourselves up and sacrifice part of our heart and part of our soul. We must be willing to give of ourselves freely, and we must be willing to suffer. It is only when we expose our inner selves to the white hot flame of rejection, that love can burn so brightly as to join two souls, melding the two into one, creating a bond that joins forever. It is from this bond that we draw strength eternal and power ever lasting. It is in this thing that we call love that we find the means to achieve greatness, both in ourselves and in our lives.


Vicki had decided after talking to Liz that she needed to get away from her aunt's home for awhile, so she went for a walk. She eventually wound up on the Boardwalk, with all its little shops and restaurants.

Not knowing how to just sit and relax, Vicki only spent a short amount of time there, before turning back to the house. When she arrived, she was greeted at the door by Kit. Apparently she had just returned herself, because she was still dressed in a gold and white suit that seemed oddly formal for this beach setting.

Seeing that Vicki needed to talk and knowing that Liz had already played her part that morning, Kit invited Vicki up to her room to chat, while Kit changed into something more comfortable.

Sitting down on her aunt's loveseat and watching her as she pulled a gold sundress out of her closet, Vicki couldn't help but want to confess everything to Kit. All the pent up feelings she had inside, about Henry and about her future. She just didn't know where to begin.

Kit walked out of her dressing room and saw Vicki staring out at the view she herself had been admiring just the day before. Trying to decide how best to approach this, Kit settled on merely waiting Vicki out. This paid off when Vicki turned to Kit and with a trembling sigh asked, "How do you know when you are in love?"

Kit sat down next to Vicki and sighed as the younger woman laid her head in her aunt's lap. Kit stroked her niece's long hair and tried to think of what to say.

"Oh my sweetheart. You just know. Your heart won't let you accept anything else except the one you love. Is that what has you looking so depressed? You finally realized that what you feel for Henry is love?"

"Oh I've known for a while now that I was in love with Henry, its just… I am scared to want more. I am scared that everything will change and we won't be the same people we were before."

"But isn't that a good thing? Change is inevitable, my little warrior. That is why you wish for things. To make a new start." as she talked, Kit continued to stroke her hair, and Vicki found it oddly relaxing.

"Some things you are afraid to wish for."

"No, but some things are more carefully wished for. Come, I will give you some advice." She patted Vicki's head and drew her up to sit on the sofa.

"It does not make you less of a woman to need a man." When Vicki frowned, she merely held up one finger for silence and continued. "To need one to exist, yes, this is nonsense. To need one to give one scope and importance, this is dishonest. But to need a man, one man, to bring joy and passion? This is life."

"There can be joy and passion in a woman's life without a man."

"Some joy, some passion." Kit agreed. "Why settle for some? What is it that you prove by cutting off a natural need? Perhaps it is a foolish woman who takes a different husband three times. I only remind you that Victoria Nelson is not Marjory Nelson. You look for different things in different ways. You are also not me. But we are all women. We all come from the same headstrong, stubborn, passionate bloodline. I know I have never regretted my choices."

With a sigh, Vicki leaned her head against her aunts shoulder. "I have always wanted to be able to say that for myself. I've always thought I could."

"You're an intelligent woman. What choice you make will be right for you."

"My greatest fear has always been to make a mistake."

"Perhaps your greatest fear is your greatest mistake." She gently cupped Vicki's face within her soft hands. "To be with one man and know that you love him and he loves you… That is the most liberating feeling in the world. To have someone who knows all your faults and all your weaknesses, and cares for you, not in spite of them but because of them. You are so lucky my dear. You and Henry are so perfectly matched. Ha! You'll lead each other a dance." Kit stated after giving Vicki's hand a quick squeeze.

"There is nothing more I could wish for you. For either of you. Now, I do believe that it is time for you to go to him and finally admit your true feelings. Don't be scared, I know Henry returns them. I love you, my little warrior. Now go down there and tell that man how you really feel."

Standing up to do just that, it wasn't until she was walking to the door that she realized it was barely one o' clock in the afternoon. Henry wouldn't be up for hours yet.

Laughing Vicki turned back to her aunt only to see that Kit had realized the same thing. Joining her back on the loveseat, Vicki decided to broach another topic that had been on her mind.

"Auntie, you said before that you thought you might know of something that could help me with these." she raised her wrists, revealing the demon tattoos. "Have you come up with anything?"

"As a matter of fact, I have. I spoke with a few witches I know here in town, and they all think that a simple cleansing spell might work to counterbalance the evil in those marks. They are willing to try it while we are here if that sounds acceptable to you?"

Vicki couldn't prevent the tears from leaving her eyes and the only response she could muster was a strong hug and a whispered, "Yes."


After leaving her aunt who said she had some phone calls to make, and walking out on to the patio, Vicki saw that Liz had prepared lunch for them. Sitting down with the other women, Vicki couldn't bring herself to do more than pick at her food and stare off into the distance, never noticing the conspiratorial glances her aunt and Liz shared throughout the meal. Finally Vicki couldn't sit there any longer and asked to be excused.

"Of course darling. Why don't you go down to the beach with a nice book and try to relax, hmm? I'm sure you would enjoy that. Just don't forget to put sunscreen on if you don't sit under an umbrella."

"Alright Auntie Kit that does sound nice. And I promise I'll put some sun-block on." Vicki said, laughing at how her aunt still treated her like a child, even after the conversation they had had earlier.

The pair of co-conspirators watched and waited, to make sure that Vicki made it a safe hearing distance from them before turning back to each other to share how each of their talks with the younger woman had gone.

"Well I don't know exactly what you said to her, Elizabeth, but it sure worried her enough to act. I think I gave her the final push she needs for the two of them to finally get past their issues and get together."

"Well I just hope that all this doesn't come back and bite you on the ass Boss-Lady."

"No, this is all for the best. Those two deserve to be happy and I really believe that that will only happen when they are finally together. By the way, what did you say to Victoria?"

Liz laughed before replying, "I gave her a load of bullshit and ran with it! I told her that I had never 'fallen into the trap of marriage', and men were not to be trusted, blah, blah, blah. I even pulled the whole 'oh I'm an old woman' crap that young people always expect. She ate it up!"

"I just hope she never sees your wedding photos and the children's pictures in your room!"

"Yeah that makes two of us!" Liz's husband had died just a few years ago and when her children and grandchildren started pestering her to move either into a retirement home or go stay with one of them, Kit stepped in and offered her own house for Liz to stay in, at least until she actually reached an age where she needed looking after. Which, as Liz pointed out to anyone who would listen, was not going to be anytime soon.


Later that evening, saw Vicki standing out on her balcony watching as the stars came out. Looking down, Vicki saw Henry standing below on the steps leading to the beach. Pausing a moment to gather her nerve, she walked down and joined him. They stood together for a moment in silence before Henry turned to her and extended his hand.

"Walk with me?"

Unable to form words, Vicki could only nod and accept his hand. They walked down to the edge of the water, where Henry stopped and urged her to sit down with him, and Vicki obeyed and just let him have his quiet moment.

I can't believe we are sitting here, on a beach in Florida of all places, and I am about to finally admit to Henry FitzRoy what I really feel for him. Its incredible!

Vicki couldn't help thinking, hugging herself in nervousness. But out loud all she said was, "It is so beautiful here. The sky is so clear, you can see all the stars."

"Take miracles where you find them." He slipped an arm around her shoulders so that they both could enjoy the sounds of the surf. "I have something for you, Victoria."

"Hmm?" She was comfortable, almost sleepy, and she moaned in protest when he shifted away and stood to face her.

Henry reached inside his jacket and drew out a large manila envelope that felt extremely full.

"What's this?"

"I burned the paintings of Christine. All of them. Those are the ashes. If you asked me to never paint again, I wouldn't. I'd do anything for you, slay any dragons."

She stared at him as he stood with the sea and sky at his back, his feet spread wide as if he were bracing himself for rejection, his eyes lit with a power that defeated the dark.

"You defeated your dragons years ago, Henry. I've had trouble facing my own." Rising , she stepped up to him, "Auntie Kit's friend Liz cornered me today. She said a lot of things, how I was too smart to take risks. How I'd never make the mistake of letting a man be too important. That I'd be better off alone than giving someone my trust, my heart. It upset me, and it frightened me. It took me a while to realize that's just what she'd meant to do. She was daring me to face myself."

"Have you?"

"It's not easy for me. I didn't like everything I saw, Henry. All these years I've convinced myself that I was strong and self-reliant. But I'd let something so unimportant, that happened years ago, shadow my life. I thought I was protecting myself."

"You did a hell of a good job from where I'm standing."

"Too good, in some ways. I closed myself off because it was safer. Then there was you." She reached up to lay a hand on his cheek. "I've been so afraid of what I feel for you. But that's over. I love you, Henry. It doesn't matter if it was magic or fate, coincidence or sheer luck. I'm just so glad I found you."

She lifted her face to his, reveled in the freedom of the kiss, the scent of the sea, the promise of his arms.

"I love you Vicki."


"I love you too Henry."


Up on the patio, looking out at the pair, came two more thoughts.


'Bout damn time.

The End

A/N: I am going to have a epilogue but this story is finished. The epilogue will merely be tying up the loose ends. I hope ya'll have enjoyed the story and I want to thank all of you that have reviewed or added me or this story to your alerts or favorites list's. It means a lot to me. I hope to have the epilogue out in just a few days so keep your eyes peeled. Love, Goldie

P.S. Can ya'll tell who is thinking what at the end there? I thought it was kinda obvious...