I gently brush a stray lock of wispy hair off her beautiful face.
"Do you remember the first time we met?" I whisper softly.
She smiles sleepily, her eyes closed against the afternoon sunshine filtering through the windows. "Mmm...like it was yesterday," she breathes.
"You were wearing jeans..."
Her eyes flap open in indignation and I cant help the grin that spreads across my face.
"You know damn well I wasn't wearing jeans." She pouts.
"Okay...so you were wearing a t-shirt and shorts - that were cut indecently high up your fabulous legs!"
She smiles her beautiful smile and my heart goes wild, despite the ache deep inside it. I wasn't expecting that.
"This from the guy in tight, black swimming trunks!"
Now it was my turn to be indignant. "I'd been swimming! We had an important match in two days!"
She sighs happily. "I don't think I'll EVER forget meeting you that first time," she murmurs and closes her gorgeous cornflower blue eyes again.
No, no...Don't fall asleep again...
I gently stroke the soft, silky skin of her face. "So...tell me."
"I'm sleepy," She moans trying to nestle back into the pillows.
I lean over and kiss her softly on the lips. "TELL ME," I persist.
She lets out an impatient groan. I'm going nowhere until she recalls that day all those years ago...
She takes a deep breath and reluctantly opens her amazing eyes - the exact colour of a summer sky.
"We'd arrived in Malibu the night before and Susanne was only thirteen, but she was so excited at having her exciting-city-dwelling-older-cousin stay, that she couldn't wait to drag me out of bed and take me to the beach." She lets out a gentle sigh. "If she'd just let me sleep..."
"... We may never have met," I finish with a fond smile. "I'd been up since six that day, training for the high school swimming gala. I was getting ready to head home when I recognised Susanne as she was friends with my little sister. Then I saw this pair of great legs accompanying her, and I thought I'd come over and say hi!"
"So you came over just to ogle my legs?" She asks in mock horror.
"Pretty much. But when you looked up at me and gave me a flicker of the sweetest smile...Well, I knew my life would never be the same again."
"Oh, Jamie." She whispers softly and I stroke her cheek tenderly.
"Go on, then what happened?"
"Do we really need to do this now? I'm tired." She whines.
I cup her face and look at her endearingly. "I know you are honey, but I just need to hear it again. Please? For me?" I give her my best puppy-dog eyes, knowing full well the effect that has on her. The effect it's always had on her...
"Fine," She growls in defeat. "Two days later, I unwittingly get dragged to your swimming gala at the beach..."
"Susanne never told you I was playing?" I interrupt in surprise.
"No, the conniving little minx! You remember what she was like back then - thirteen going on thirty! Far too clued up for her own good!"
"And do you think she's ever changed?"
She shakes her head fondly. "Nope. She's as interfering now as she ever was, if not more so. You saw what she was like yesterday - ordering everyone around!"
"Everyone but you!"
She grins. "I'm always the exception to the rule with her."
"So when did you realise I was competing?" I continue.
"When you got out of the water and took your swimming cap off. Then you spotted us and sauntered over. I was trying to get over the shock of seeing you again, when you shook the water off your cap and soaked me!"
I chuckle. "I didn't soak you - I was trying to get your attention!"
"Jamie, you were standing in front of me in your black speedos again. Believe me, you had my attention!"
"But...if I hadn't splattered you with water, I couldn't have asked you out to apologise. I thought you were just passing through. I saw an opportunity and had to take it! If I hadn't...we wouldn't have had our first kiss...And what a life I would have missed..." My voice trails off as I bring my lips down onto hers again.
"You were so gentle the first time you did that," She smiles when we pull apart.
"I remember being so excited, I was practically hyperventilating!"
She giggles. "I wasn't much better; I was panicking I was doing it wrong!"
"I surprised myself that night. I didn't think I was capable of such a delicate kiss! Anyone could've missed it at that firework display!"
"I know! I wanted to see fireworks when I had my first kiss, but I wasn't expecting it to be quite as literally!" She giggles, the most beautiful sound in the world. "It truly was the perfect first kiss." She smiles, her eyes twinkling making the blue look like the moving ocean.
I smile adoringly at her. "Talking of first times..."
She gasps. "You really want to go there?"
"Yes. I'm enjoying this trip down memory lane." I grin.
"Well you do the talking then, I want a rest."
"You're not going to fall asleep again are you?" I ask in concern.
"With you wittering on? I doubt it."
I smile in relief and settle back on the bed. "I'd been dropping hints that the house would be empty on Saturday night, for the best part of the week..."
She frowns at me. "Hints? That's all you'd talked about. You wanted to show me all the stuff you'd collected for your sabbatical to Venezuela - which very conveniently were located in your bedroom!"
"Do YOU want to tell the story?" I ask in mock irritation.
"No, I'm happy to keep interrupting you. Carry on."
"So, as I was saying, I finally got you into my bedroom that Saturday night my parents were staying over in Westlake. I remember shaking so much I could hardly open my map of South America!"
"It wasn't the last time you shook that night..." She informs me with a sexy little wink.
"I was excited!" I laugh.
"So was I! And scared and happy and..."
"So, so beautiful. You were glowing...Like you were lit up from within. I knew right then I'd found the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with."
"And yet we still did it a couple more times that evening to make sure!"
"You were far too hard to resist." I smile lovingly at her.
"As were you." She breathes. "I never dreamt I would end up spending the night in your bed. I wasn't expecting that!"
"Oh Kate...That was the most amazing night of my life. You were the best thing that ever happened to me. The best girlfriend, the best wife..." I croak as I feel my eyes fill with tears.
"Hey...Don't get all sentimental on me! Memory Lane was your idea, remember?"
I nod and kiss her reverently. "Sorry, I was just trying to distract you."
I smile. "Jamie, you have been distracting me from the first moment we met. Your dreams then became my dreams. I was even coming to Venezuela with you, remember?"
I swallow hard and nod. "We never did make it there did we?"
She shakes her head slowly. "No. There was always something else that took priority - the house, the kids...you tripping over the dog and breaking your leg..."
I laugh and she laughs with me. I love to see her laugh and smile. We've been so stressed recently we haven't had much to smile about.
I cup her face in both hands and look intently into the cornflower depths of her eyes - still sparkling despite everything. "I love you so much, Kate." I whisper. "What did I do right to deserve somebody like you?"
"Oh Jamie," She breathes hoarsely. "I feel the same."
"Tell me then."
"Tell you what?" She frowns in confusion.
"Tell me that you love me."
"I just did!"
I shake my head. "You didn't say the words. I need to hear the words. Please, honey."
She swallows as my own throat grows ever tighter.
Just three little words.
The most important words in the world.
"Please don't be scared, honey. I'm here. I've got you."
She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. "I love you Jamie. I've loved you since the moment I met you and I've loved you every moment since. I love everything about you. You have been the best boyfriend, husband, father...and my very best friend. I love you with all my heart and everything I have. Always."
I gasp. The words were obviously from her heart and came without fear. I wasn't expecting that.
She shifts slightly and reaches under her pillow. To my utter surprise she hands me an information book all about Venezuela. "Promise me you won't give up on your dream. I can't come with you in person, but I will be with you in spirit."
"Oh...Kate..." I mumble as I kiss her. Our tears flow freely and mingle together as we lose ourselves in the kiss.
I lay there afterwards in the early evening sunshine and held her tightly. Since the moment the nurses had said 'It's come back again' I'd try to prepare us for this moment. When she gently closed her eyes it took my heart by surprise, that I was actually ready to let her go.
I wasn't expecting that.