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The Winner Takes It All

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As it turned out, being a mother was hard.

Well, of course, it was, she had never thought it would be easy. But Sofia's recent passing had made it even more difficult. Without the old woman- God bless her kind and generous soul- no one was around to watch Sophie while she worked. Donna Sheridan sighed to herself as she massaged her temples. Around her were bills that needed to be paid and she knew that the money Sofia had left her would soon run thin.

"Mommy, Mommy!"

In an instant, Donna's deep frown disappeared, quickly replaced by a dazzling smile. "Hey, kiddo," she greeted as she stood from the kitchen table. "How was school, Munchkin?"

Little Sophie clung to her legs. "Good!" Oh, how she cherished her silly, precious daughter. With her pigtails that had begun to come out, strands of golden hair falling onto her face. Sophie gave her mother a toothy grin as she extracted something from the front pocket of her overalls. "Look what I got you!"

Donna was handed a shiny, pure black rock. "Oh!" she exclaimed. She tilted her head, trying to see any significance to the slab of earth. She was about to question the small child when she caught the eagerness of Sophie's awaiting blue eyes. 'It's just a rock,' she realized and she had to smile. "Thank you very much, sweetheart." She deposited the rock into the pocket of her own overalls before kissing the top of her daughter's head.

Sophie preened under her affection. "Mommy, can we go down to the beach?" she asked innocently.

Donna glanced at the piling bills. She knew she should really say no, but honestly? She could use a break from reality and how could she say no to that face? So, she gave Sophia a wide grin and took her small hand. "Of course we can, sweetheart."

And just like that, they were out the door. The boring parts of being a single parent could definitely wait.

OoOoOo

Sam Carmichael knew this was absolutely crazy.

Yet here he was, on a plane heading to Athens, Greece. He knew that his family would practically disown him, but at this point, he didn't really care. He just couldn't take it anymore, being stuck in a loveless marriage when the girl who truly owned his heart could be in his grasp. There was nothing wrong with Lorraine, something he had stressed in his letter left to her, but he couldn't continue this charade.

Donna Sheridan was the one and only love of his life. And he would prove it to her too, no matter how long it took.

'Idiot, you broke her heart,' a vicious voice in his reminded him. As if that memory didn't haunt him every time he closed his eyes. 'What if she doesn't even want to see you?'

And that was entirely plausible, he knew. The old woman's voice echoed in his ear, "She leave on a boat with the most famous stud in Europe." She was probably more than happy with that man right now, without him. In fact, when he showed up, she would probably laugh before slamming the door in his face.

But he knew that he would never be able to sleep at night if he didn't try. He loved Donna Sheridan as he had never loved another before and he missed her so terribly. He missed her joyful and adventurous grin. He missed her love for all things fun and spontaneous. He missed her musically playful nature. He missed her voice which could be silly and rough at one moment, but sweet and smooth the next moment.

Most of all, he missed her sparkling brown eyes that were unafraid and full of courage and brimming with love.

Over the last (nearly) six years, he had pictured the hurt he had caused those brown eyes many times. He could still recall the shakiness in her voice as she commanded that he leave. He was sure she had been close to tears as she turned away from them, but- being the stubborn and strong woman she was- never let them fall in front of her.

Damn, he had messed up bad.

Sam knew he had to do this or he would never forgive himself. At the very least, he owed her a long-overdue apology for never telling her about Lorraine. She deserved that much.

OoOoOo

Donna eyed the graying clouds. "I hope it doesn't storm," she mumbled. Before she had Sophie, she probably would have laughed at the clouds before dancing in the rain. But she knew that Sophie could easily get sick and there wasn't an easily accessible hospital for her to get to. Donna had to constantly remind herself that she didn't just have herself to think about; Sophie was her priority, first and foremost.

"Mommy, look!" urged the small girl in question, snapping Donna from her thoughts. "I made a sandcastle!"

Sophie's 'sandcastle' was more of a patted down pile of sand, but Donna smiled at her anyway. "Oh, good job, sweetheart!" she congratulated, genuinely proud of her. "But do you know what every good castle needs?"

"What?"

Donna crouched down and dragged her hand around the perimeter of the pile. "A mote!" she answered. "Why don't you find a couple of shells to carry water in?" She knew a bucket would have been better, but she hadn't thought to bring one. Sophie beamed at her anyway before running off to do as she was asked.

Donna simpered as she continued to dig the mote. There were often times that she thought about how lucky she was to end up with such a sweet and gentle daughter. The girl was nothing like she had been at that age. She had driven her own mother to the point of insanity more than once.

Her expression slipped into a grimace when she thought of her mother. Ruby Sheridan wanted nothing to do with her and her child and had made that perfectly clear. But honestly? She had expected it. Donna had stopped being hurt by her mother's actions a long time ago. She didn't need Ruby, she hadn't needed her in a very long time.

The boom of thunder interrupted her train of thought.

Donna's gaze darted up to the sky, where the clouds were now an angry dark gray. She was sure that it was about to start pouring any second now. "Soph, we need to go!" she announced, waving her daughter over. Sophie didn't hesitate, dashing to her mother's side. Donna attempted to shield her daughter from the rain as she led her back to the villa.

Fear clenched her heart as she felt the wind pick up. This was going to be a bad storm, she could already tell. It was going to be hard to get Sophie back to the top of the mountain in this weather.

She pushed the thought to the back of her head as she pressed on. No matter what, she would protect her daughter.