Still... the journey continues...

Chapter 6, by Shannon

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Villa - Garden.

Sophia is walking on a cobblestone path in the beautiful garden on the grounds of the villa trying to clear her mind of terrible thoughts of the past. She is still reeling from Cruz's shocking news about the Count. Even after all these years he is still affecting her life. She thought she had long buried those memories and the fear behind them. She takes a seat on a carved wooden bench next to a small stream and watches the sunset as it reflects on the water. She takes a deep breath, closes her eyes and tries to think of happier times. She begins to remember the surprise wedding in the garden surrounded by her children and how happy her and CC were as they looked forward to a new beginning together.

CC is waking down the path and sees Sophia. He watches her for a few minutes then walks up behind her putting his hands on her shoulders. She turns and looks up at him and he can feel her pain. He sits down next to her on the bench. She looks at him and smiles as he takes her hand in his and raises it to his lips. She leans her head on his chest and he gently strokes her hair.

" I thought I would find you here, are you alright baby? " CC asks. Sophia looks up at him and nods her head. "Whenever you needed to be alone or were worried about something I would always find you in the gazebo in our garden."

" You know me so well," Sophia replies. "You are right about me being worried but I don't want to be alone," she looks up at CC's face and he strokes her cheek and kisses her softly. "I thought all the bad memories of the past were behind me now," she sighs. "The past keeps coming back to haunt us doesn't it? " she asks as she buries her head in his chest.

CC gently kisses the top of her head and says, "I'll help make them disappear forever baby, " he whispers. "Remember this is our
sanctuary, a time to heal, lets not let the past interfere with it. We are entitled to some happiness my darling. We have both waited a long time for it."

Sophia begins crying softly as CC holds her close. "You're right, I'll try not to. CC, promise me one thing, don't ever leave me alone again," she cries.

CC takes her face in his hands, wipes her tears away and says, "Never, "I will never leave your side," he promises. "Now, lets get ready for dinner, I have a surprise for you. Sophia looks at him suspiciously.

CC and Sophia walk back towards the villa together arm-in-arm. As they get closer the pool and surrounding terrace come into view. Sophia gasps. The entire area is illuminated with small clear lights in the trees and bushes. The pool is filled with floating candles, their light dancing across the water. There is a table set for two with fine china, fresh roses, and candles. The air is filled with the sweet aroma of fresh cut flowers and candles. Sophia is speechless as she looks around and takes everything in. She looks at CC and sees the love in his eyes. She smiles. She puts her arms around his neck and kisses him passionately. As they pull apart CC tells her how much he loves her. Sophia replies, "I love you too darling. When did you do all of this?" Sophia asks in astonishment. She walks over to the table to smell the roses and admire the exquisite table.

" Never mind about that, I think you should go to your room and change for dinner, don't you?" CC jokes. Sophia sees the twinkle in his eye and knows that he is up to something. She plays along, "Why what other surprises do you have waiting there for me?" she asks coyly.

" I don't know what you are talking about, I thought you just might want to freshen up after your walk," CC says. "Maybe you're right darling, I'll be back in a minute." Sophia grins and starts toward the villa as she thinks how lucky she is for a second chance at happiness with the man she truly loves.


Villa - Sophia's bedroom.

Sophia opens the door to her room to find it filled with more flowers and candles. There is a large box on her bed tied with a huge red bow. She sees a smaller black box on her dresser. She can't imagine what CC has done. She unties the bow and opens the large box to find a stunning white chiffon dress. She holds it in front of her as she admires it in the mirror. She dances around in delight letting herself feel joy instead of pain. She can't help but think about the time she modeled dresses for CC at the hotel.

She opens the smaller black box to find a sparkling diamond necklace. It's so gorgeous she thinks to herself. She catches her reflection in the mirror and notices that her skin has a healthy glow tanned from the Mediterranean sun. The dark circles under her eyes are gone as well as the exhaustion in her face. She hardly recognizes herself. She is getting stronger by the day she tells herself. She lets out a squeal of excitement and begins to get dressed.


Villa - Terrace.

Sophia emerges from the glass doors of the villa to find CC dressed in his tux standing by the table with a single red rose in his hand. He turns toward her as he hears the door close and is taken aback by the sight of his beloved wife. Her dress and diamonds shimmer as she walks across the terrace to him. CC can't help but notice how her skin and beautiful smile radiate a beautiful glow in the candlelight. The very air seems to be electric. He has never loved her more than at this moment. He can't remember all the time they were separated. It's almost as if time has stood still and he feels just as nervous as he did the night he first meet her on the beach.

Sophia feels like she is floating, as if in a dream. She notices how handsome CC looks in his tux, so strong and virile. She has not felt this loved in a long time. She feels like they are the only two people on earth tonight under the stars. When she sees the rose in his hand she can't help but remember when CC had the atrium filled with daisies for her and was standing in the middle of all of them holding one in his hand. Her smile becomes wider and she shakes her head in disbelief as she takes the rose from him and smells its sweet fragrance.

" You are so beautiful my darling," CC gasps as he embraces her. "You take my breath away."

" You make me feel beautiful," Sophia answers and the two embrace and start to kiss passionately. On cue a violinist starts to play.

Sophia pulls away from CC and asks where he came from. CC laughs and says "You know what a romantic I am." Sophia throws her head back and laughs. CC takes Sophia in his arms and they dance around the terrace as the violinist continues to play.

" Thank you for my beautiful dress and exquisite necklace CC. You have given me so much already, you saved my life, you gave me this wonderful villa to recuperate at and now this amazing night under the stars that feels like a dream. I love you so much," Sophia says with tears welling in her eyes.

CC stops dancing and looks into Sophia's eyes and says, "Oh baby I love you too, so much. You are worth all of it and more, my life is worth nothing without you there to grace it. You are my life Sophia." CC pulls her close to him and kisses her shoulder, her neck, her cheeks, and her lips.

" I don't know what I would do without you, you are my knight in shining armor, my hero. I will spend the rest of my life showering you with my gratitude, " Sophia says as she strokes CC's cheek and brushes her fingers lightly over his lips. CC puts his arms around her and holds her tightly as he places his hand on the back of her head and slowly draws her close to him giving her a sensuous kiss. " Oh, CC" Sophia whispers. I have missed you so much." She continues kissing him.

" Oh God, have I missed you my darling, you will never know you much," CC says between kisses. "It feels so good to have you back in my arms where you belong."

The violinist stops playing and CC leads Sophia to the finely decorated table. He pulls out her chair for her as she sits down. He opens the bottle of champagne that has been chilling and pours it into two crystal flutes. He hands one to Sophia and holds his in the air and says "I propose a toast to new beginnings," they smile at each other and clink their glasses together. Sophia is
overwhelmed by all the sentiment and asks what could he possibly have planned next for her. CC tells her that he hired a chef to prepare all of her favorite dishes. Sophia tells him that he thought of everything and the night couldn't be more perfect. CC replies, "I can think of a perfect way to end this evening."

" Really, what did you have in mind, " she asks innocently. CC stands up and holds his hand out to her. She looks at him and places her hand in his, he pulls her up out of her chair and lifts her into his arms.

" Whoa, CC we haven't even had dinner yet," Sophia exclaims laughing.

" Suddenly I have an appetite for other things," CC replies seductively. He begins walking in the direction of the villa.

" CC, wait, " Sophia hesitates. "I thought we agreed we were going to take this slow." CC stops, studies her face and gently sets her down. "My darling, don't look so disappointed you didn't think I was going to miss this wonderful meal that you have arranged for us did you, "she laughs. CC can't help but laugh with her and he takes her hand and leads her back to the table.


Villa - Terrace - Two hours later.

" Oh CC, that was the most delicious food that I have ever had, thank you so much my darling. Everything was magnificent. This night has been so magical." CC takes her hand, kisses it and replies, "It was my pleasure darling, I'm glad you enjoyed it." He lifts his champagne flute and says, "here is to many more magical nights." He leans over and kisses his love. He asks her what she is thinking at this moment. Sophia hesitates and says, "I'm just hoping that you aren't going to be too disappointed by what I'm going to say," Sophia says. CC looks at her concerned. Sophia continues, "First, I want you to know that I love you with all my heart and soul, I have never loved any man as deeply as I love you," CC interrupts, "Butů.. I sense a but coming. Sophia nods and continues, "But, I don't feel totally recovered yet and still want to take this slowly. You know how I am," she smiles wryly. "It's not that I haven't enjoyed this lovely evening or spending all this time with you, I have and will treasure it always. But, I have to heal the hurt inside first before I can give myself completely to you. You don't hate me now, do you?" She asks cautiously.

CC takes her hand and answers, "My love, how could I ever hate you? After all that you have been thru and the fact that you are having dinner with me now is a positive sign for me. If there is one thing that you know for sure about CC Capwell it's that he is persistent in something that he wants desperately. So, don't think that I'm going to give up on you that easily," CC says sheepishly.

" I don't know what I ever did to deserve you but I am so grateful for this moment. I know I have said this before but I love you and have never stopped. I just wanted you to know that, " Sophia says with tear filled eyes.

" Well, now that we have that all settled, what do you want to do now?" CC asks.

" I know you are not going to believe this but I'm really exhausted, it's been a long painful day and if you don't mind I would like to turn in for the night. I'm sorry it's not something more romantic but that's what I need right now," Sophia says with regret.

" Baby, I want you to get all the rest that you need to make a full recovery and the sooner that happens the sooner we can go home and start our new life together.

" Thank you for being so understanding and patient with me, I know it can't be easy for you."

" I have nothing to complain about, you are here with me now and I can't ask for more than that. Now let me escort you inside to your bedroom so you can get your rest.." CC takes her hand and kisses it as they walk towards the villa. He can't help but feel a little disappointed that Sophia isn't ready to spend the night with him yet but he is concerned about her well-being. He knows that she needs to come to him in her own time when she feels ready. He doesn't want to push or pressure her like he did so many times in the past, that's not what she needs now. She needs a supportive, safe place to recover and that's what he's going to provide for her.


Villa - Sophia's bedroom.

They reach her room and CC takes Sophia in his arms and tells her again how beautiful she is and how much he loves her. She thanks him again for his romantic surprise and tells him how much she loves him. The two passionately embrace. CC turns to leave and reminds her that he is just down the hall if she needs anything. He wishes her good night and shuts the door.

As CC and Sophia prepare to go to bed they each think of the other and smile. Both of them wondering why they are still sleeping in separate bedrooms. It was Sophia's idea of course wanting time to heal, not rushing into anything. She begins to wonder if she made a mistake. After all the time they have spent apart it seems foolish to push him away at a time when she needs him the most. Although, she is feeling vulnerable considering that her marriage to Ken was a lie. She begins to drift off to sleep thinking of CC.

Several hours have passed and suddenly CC is awakened by a woman's screams. He bolts upright in bed in a cold sweat, his heart pounding. He realizes that it's Sophia that's screaming. He jumps out of bed and flies down the hall to her room. He can hear her crying. He bursts thru her bedroom door and finds her in bed tossing and turning. He rushes to her side gently shaking her by the shoulders.

" SOPHIA! SOPHIA! Wake up! My darling are you alright?!" CC asks frantically. "What is it, what's wrong? Sophia! Wake up now! It's alright."

Sophia is moaning in her sleep, "NO! NO! CC help me, he is trying to kill me!! HELP!" Sophia wakes up disoriented. CC asks, "What is it baby? What's the matter? You are safe, I'm here and I'm not going to let anyone hurt you ever again." Sophia exclaims that Ken was in her room and trying to kill her.

" I'm here with you now and no one is in your room baby, it was just a nightmare. It was just a bad dream," CC says soothingly.

" Oh CC, oh thank God. It was so real, he was here, I saw him. He was coming back to finish what he started. He said he never loved me and was only after the company and my money," Sophia cries into CC's chest. CC holds her tight and smoothes her hair comforting her.

" CC, please stay with me and just hold me. I need you so much my darling, I don't want to be alone, " Sophia cries.

" Shh, Shh, sweetheart, I'm here for you and I'm not going anywhere," CC whispers to her. Sophia is still crying as CC moves in next to her in the bed. He takes her in his arms and kisses her. She leans her head on his chest and the two fall asleep together holding each other all night.

Chapter 7