Ann sat down on the bench opposite the entrance to the Hall, cup of coffee in hand. She’d agreed to meet Anne there after her lunch meeting with Marian and Sam. They’d been getting along better, especially since Marian had taken more of an active interest in the Herald. Still, she had no desire to be present when they were in Editor-in-Chief and warring correspondent mode. She did not envy Sam the task he had mediating between the two of them, but he was seasoned in having to act as referee between them both.
Her mind drew back to the time they’d been sat on this bench, the day Anne had given her a back rub after she’d fainted. It all seemed so long ago now. Anne had finally fired Thomas from the Herald not long after that night at the Piece Hall celebration. He had threatened that the football team would boycott the paper and turn the whole town against them. Of course he had been completely wrong, the team welcomed James as the new sports correspondent. It didn’t hurt of course that the Herald had agreed to sponsor the new kit. Mariana had gone from their lives too, they still saw her around town but Ann heard that she spent most of her time with her family, somewhere near Cheshire. It had all been for the best.
She pulled her coat a little tighter around her. Spring was starting to make an appearance but there was still a chill in the air. She set her coffee down next to her as she reached into her bag and pulled out her sketchpad. It was one of the gifts Anne had gotten her for Christmas to try and encourage her to start painting again. It had worked. As much as she enjoyed writing, her true joy had always been found when she was holding a paintbrush in her hand, or when she was wrapped up in Anne’s arms.
She lifted it up onto her lap when she noticed something fall from between the pages. She bent down and saw an all too familiar pale blue envelope. She laughed lightly as she picked it up, Anne must have put it in her bag. She placed her sketchpad next to her coffee as she opened the envelope. The same blue paper inside, the same black typeface.
When I leave I tell you that I love you. I say it, even if at the moment I don't want to give you the satisfaction of knowing it. I say it because if anything were to happen I want my last words to you to be those, because they are the only words I've ever meant.
In anger, when I storm out, I know you find it amusing that it takes me all of ten seconds before I storm back in and tell you I love you, and then storm back out again. The first time it confused you. The second it amused you. And now, I know that you know as long as I say it, no matter what has gone before, it will be okay. I love you.
In the beginning my greatest fear was that in time the words would lose their meaning. That I would start to say them out of habit rather than genuine feeling. That you would hear the words, but wouldn't feel them. Countless moments later and although I have never needed to remind myself to say the words, it has never been an automatic response. In your eyes, even when you try to hide it, I see your heart's recognition. You know the words to be true.
I lean in and kiss you tenderly. Gaze into the eyes I have never stopped falling into. And I fall that much deeper. I smile. And I tell you I love you. Because I have never said three words that held more truth. Because I will never need any other words than those. Because I don't know how not to.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
“Do tell who has you smiling like that Miss Walker.” Ann shook her head without looking up as she folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. She tilted her chin up, “No one dearest, just a love letter from my secret admirer.”
“Oh is that right?” Anne pulled her up and lifted her till her feet no longer touched the ground.
“What are you doing?” Ann protested as she beat her hands playfully against her.
She kept a firm grip around her waist, “I’m not letting you go until you tell me who this admirer of yours is. Should I be worried?”
Ann lent down and placed a kiss on the tip of her nose, “Never.” Anne squinted her eyes, deciding if she believed her. She slowly placed her back down, “Okay.”
Ann smacked her lightly across her chest, “Okay? That’s all I get?”
Anne raised her chin and looked at her cautiously, “What else do you want me to say?” She never was very good at this, much better on paper she thought to herself. Ann waited patiently, her lips pursed waiting for her kiss. Anne looked lovingly back at her as she brushed her hair away from her face. She leant forward and placed a tender kiss on her lips which Ann deepened immediately. They lost themselves as their lips moved together, still so completely intoxicated by the other.
Slowly Anne pulled away, much to Ann’s disappointment. This was something they would definitely continue later. Anne stepped back and held out her hand, “Ann Walker, love of my life, for the rest of my life, I think it’s time I gave you that tour of Shibden.”
Ann placed her hand in hers, “Lead the way handsome.”