Two weeks later and Alissa was in Riverview, standing before Dale’s tombstone after the memorial service. The family had lingered at the graveside.
She had always heard people talk about having a broken heart. She had thought the pain was only emotional. Now she found that it was a literal pain, piercing her heart.
Alissa and the children were back home on Legacy Island packing up the house. Robert and Valerie had convinced Alissa that it would be best to move to Riverview so that they could help her with the children.
Alissa had quit her job at the television station there on Legacy Island. She had been able to get a job as an anchor at the local television station in Riverview thanks to references from her previous employers. It was a small station and she knew that she could be a valuable employee.
It had been hard to say goodbye to her close friends there on the island. Lala, Brandon, Sammi and Sammi’s husband Lance. She had tried to convince their housekeeper, Jerrald to move with them. He was a good friend too, but he was planning to be married soon.
She had insisted that Sharlee, Cara and Shawn go to bed. As she mindlessly packed another box, the doorbell rang. She wondered who it could be at that time of the night. She fought back tears as she thought about how at that time just a few weeks ago, she had been laying in Dale’s arms in their bed.
She answered the door and was surprised to see that it was Alex. “Alex! I wasn’t expecting you!”
“How do you manage to get so much time off from work?”
“Well, thank you for coming Alex!”
“You really can help me, Alex. I’ve packed up my things in the bedroom, but I was going to ask Jerrald to pack…”
She broke off as a stabbing pain in her chest took her breath away. Alex reached for her, but she waved him away and fought the tears back. She didn’t have time to grieve. She couldn’t break down. The kids needed her, and she needed to get them moved.
“You want me to pack Dale’s things?”
“I’ll be glad to do that on one condition.”
She looked like she was dead on her feet. She was pale and very tired looking. He knew that she probably had not been sleeping.
Alissa looked at him silently. Then she said, “I will take the sleeping pills, Alex, but nights are the worst. I hate laying in that bed and knowing that Dale won’t ever be there to hold me again. That I can’t ever look into his green eyes again. I’ll never see his loving smile again. He had a special smile just for me! A special way that he looked at just me! Never again!” Tears were falling down her cheeks as she spoke, making Alex hurt for her. She pulled herself together.
“I’ll take the pills now.”
She got a glass of water and then headed into the master bedroom. She reached under her pillow and pulled out one of Dale’s shirts. It still had the smell of his cologne. She didn’t know what she would do when the scent wore off. She headed to the bathroom to take her shower.
After she was finished with her shower, she sat on the bed. Alex knocked at the door, suddenly worried that she might take too many pills. Alissa grabbed her robe and told him to come in.
Alex walked to the other side of the bed and got the pills. He handed a dose to Alissa.
She swallowed them and then she lay down on the bed. Her body started shaking from the stress and strong emotion of the past three weeks since Dale’s death, and from the emotions that she had been struggling to hold in.
Alex couldn’t bear seeing her this way. He climbed on the bed beside her and pulled her into his arms. This time she didn’t pull away. She started to cry, sobs that came from deep within her heart. She cried until the pills began to take effect and she fell asleep. Alex stayed with her, holding her tightly the rest of the night.
About a month later, they were settled in a new house in Riverview. The children had adjusted well to the move. They were like their father. He had never met a stranger and made friends easily. All three children were the same way. They had his charisma.
At first Alissa felt as though she were just drifting along. She had started her job at the television station and tried to excel in the position. Gradually, she was able to show some enthusiasm again. She began to smile again although not as freely.
A year and a half went by. Alex visited every weekend. He was there for Alissa and for the children.
Alissa’s pain over losing Dale had not faded, but she was able to keep it private. She began to feel lonely. Of course, she had the children and friends, but she missed the special closeness that she had with Dale. That weekend, the children were going camping with Valerie and Robert.
“Mom! Where is my sleeping bag?”
Shawn ran to the garage and got his sleeping bag.
“I almost forgot my camera!”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay, Mom?”
“Sweetie, I’ll be fine! You have a good time with your grandparents.”
She ran to get her sleeping bag too. Camping was not one of Alissa’s favorite things to do. She used to go sometimes with Dale and the children because it was a family outing, but she did not miss it at all!
The children had been gone an hour, when Alex came through the door. She had given all the family a key to the house. “Alex, what are you doing here? The children have gone camping with your parents this weekend!”
“I know.” He seemed nervous.
He paused, then he suddenly pulled her to him and pressed his lips against the pulse in her neck. Alissa was surprised, but she didn’t pull away. It felt good to have his body pressed so tightly against hers, stirring up feelings that she hadn’t experienced since before Dale’s death.
Her response was just as Alex had hoped. He felt her pulse increase as his kiss became more passionate. He had waited, allowing her time to grieve and quietly warning off anyone else who showed an interest in her. Alex still remembered his confrontation with Jon Lesson.
Jon had been the most persistent. Jon had seemed to genuinely care about her. Alex knew that Alissa hadn’t realized Jon’s feelings for her and that Alissa hadn’t returned them. At that time she was still deeply grieving for Dale.
For her answer, she pulled his head down to hers for another kiss. He undressed her and she helped him to undress. Alex was afraid that something would happen again to stop him from having her, and he rushed through their first time together.
After he released himself for the first time with her, he had tears in his eyes. Alissa saw them as he forced them back. She had tears in hers too, but hers were because he wasn’t Dale. “What is it Alex?”
“So, when are you going to marry me?”
Alissa remained silent. She needed to think about it. Although, she was feeling lonely, she hadn’t considered remarrying. However, Alex was right. She did love him. It would never be the way that she loved Dale, but she knew that she could make him happy.
The children and he got along very well, but that was with him as their uncle Alex. She didn’t know how they would feel about having him as their stepfather.
Alex guessed what she was thinking. “Talk with the children and see how they feel about it. I can get a transfer to the field office closest to Riverview. That way you and the children won’t have to move. I’ll be working in the office, so I won’t have to do as much field work. I’ll be here for you and the children. I know that you worry about me, Alissa.”
“Not as much as I love you!”
“Alex, let me talk with the kids and see how they feel. I want to marry you too, but I can’t do that if my children will be unhappy!”
“I understand. Making them unhappy is the last thing that I want to do!”