Simon’s emotions were in such turmoil that he found sleep impossible. Staring long and deep into the dark sky above, he saw not the multitude of stars that cascaded across the black November heavens as Leigha’s beautiful, smiling face danced before him. He thought of her total honesty and love of life, and his heart ached, knowing that she had now closed the doors of her soul against him. His mind’s eye viewed the captured thoughts and memories he had of her as he laid beside her sleeping form. With clarity in the stillness, he realized for the first time that he had fallen deeply, irrevocably, in love with her.
The revelation made him sit straight up and look about as if he had been physically struck. He had never been in love with anyone and shook his head now to dispel the absurdity of his thoughts. He should hate her for what she had done to him! After all, she had almost killed him and for what? He would have treated her very well! He had never had any problems handling women before, finding them to be quite willing to be with him. Gazing down at the beauty beside him, he thought now of how poorly he had handled things with her at Clairemont’s Keep. He knew in his heart that his manner and actions had been beyond contempt. This knowledge which had tried time and again to dissolve his anger towards her finally broke through his defensive barrier, and he wept silently in shame and remorse. The night was very late before he at last made himself lay back down and gently pull her quiet form close against him. He inhaled deeply of her scented hair and gently stroked her soft cheek, his heart near breaking now with his love for her. He gritted his teeth in determination that he would never let her go from his side to return to Robert. His last thoughts as sleep claimed him were visions of Leigha someday returning his love. His heart carried an unfamiliar warmth as he finally gave himself over to slumber, peacefully dreaming with Leigha in his arms.