escaped. What had I done? I was shocked by his declaration and completely speechless. My mind was reeling, seeking both the right words and the appropriate way to say them. We stood like that for a long while. He had his arms around me, and I was stiff as a board. I opened my mouth to speak, but words failed me. He was rubbing up and down my back, soothing me, when I finally managed to croak out a sentence. “I thought you had dumped me.” He pulled back to look directly in my eyes. “I know, and I’m so sorry for hurting you, Sweetheart. I reacted all wrong. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, and it was all moving so fast that I got scared and took a little timeout. I’m here now, though, and I’m not going anywhere.” I was struggling, unsuccessfully trying to come up with a way to gently say what I needed to tell him. “Why didn’t you call me to tell me you needed some time to process? I thought we were finished.” “If I could take it back, I would handle it all so differently.” He ran his hand through his dark hair again, obviously feeling guilty. What he had done paled in comparison to what I had done. Okay, who I had done. I just couldn’t seem to formulate the words to confess. Seth took my silence as anger and continued with his apology. “Abby, please forgive me. I spent the entire week thinking about you as I finished the boat that we christened and took her out on her maiden voyage. I couldn’t wait to get back and call you, but I was already late for Mother’s Sunday brunch when I docked, and she doesn’t react well to tardiness.” I could imagine that Janice would have a frosty side, if things didn’t go precisely her way. Seth went on, barely pausing to take a breath, “I decided that a family event wasn’t the best place to try to explain things to you; so I waited to call, even though I was desperate to talk to you, to see you, to touch you.” He tenderly ran a finger along my jawline. I closed my eyes and another tear plopped out and trailed down my cheek.