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Bill dropped his phone to the floor and sobbed as only a proud, strong but broken man can. This was too much to bear. First his wife had been killed and now his son had been kidnapped and taken to Syria. He had no words to express his pain, grief and fear.

Through his cocooned angst he heard Gabrielle’s voice and felt her arms around him. “Bill! Bill! Come back, Bill. Is Sean all right? Talk to me, sweetie,” she commanded as she found his face and stroked it and his arms with pacifying caresses.

He could not form words. The control he had displayed while on the phone directing Arash had completely drained him. When Sean had needed him he had mastered himself and from a quarter of the globe away calmly controlled the private investigator who had been nearly as incoherent as Bill was now; but with the immediate call for action satisfied Bill found himself unable to function. He fell against tiny Gabrielle and sobbed incoherently.

She found his face and kissed him gently. First on his lips, then each cheek, his eyes, his forehead. Her lips were soft and purifying but her arms around him demonstrated the great physical strength that he knew she possessed. “Bill, come back to me. Bill, I’m here,” she repeated between kisses.

Bill began to fall to the ground and even with her tremendous strength Gabrielle could not stop his descent. They tumbled down and lay side by side entangled together. Bill’s incoherent wailings had stopped but now he shook ferociously as though encased in ice.

Gabrielle continued her ministrations and he began to answer her firm sweetness. Suddenly he came to the realization that life for him was likely over and that the woman he had looked on adoringly for so long was with him in his arms, kissing him, loving him. His lips found hers and he tried to convey to her how much she meant to him, how he longed for her to be his, how much he respected, admired and loved her.

Much to his and Gabrielle’s surprise his passion and her compassion was consummated on the floor of his living room.

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