Livy was surprised at Ray’s reply. She looked up and was lost in Ray’s beautiful and sad eyes. For a moment she forgot why she even wanted to leave the farm. All her life, living in her father’s house, she was taught restraint. She never complained, never allowed herself to show her true feelings. Her mother was the exception. Her mother was her only true confidante, the only person who knew her through and through. Her passing left such a big hole in her that no one else had been able to heal until this very moment...
She hadn’t noticed that Ray had taken her hand in his, he was still holding up the ring in his other hand. She looked at the ring again and wondered if she really deserved this.
Did he just say he loves me? Livy tried to recall.
She looks up to search for an answer in Ray‘s eyes.
Did she hear that right or was that just a figment of her imagination?
How can he still feel that way after all the hurt she’d brought upon him?
Livy started to weep. She had expected, despite her confusion that it was going to be easy to say goodbye.
Ray shifted and he gently slid the ring in her finger. He looked at her with an uncertain smile on his face.
Earlier that day, Ray awoke a determined man. He had decided he will set to do one thing and he will do it no matter if the outcome would just break his heart to a million more pieces. It was a restless night for Ray, his mind crowded with thoughts of Livy. He imagined how life will be at the farm without her and he felt that deep sadness and loneliness he felt when he lost the people he loved all his life. He felt so helpless and beaten. Ray recalled that one particular night when he heard Livy crying out to her Momma and how he finally came to grasp the turmoil that beset her since the day she arrived at the farm. It dawned on him finally that although he could not have prevented the loss of his parents and Danny, he could do something about not losing Livy.
By the time he had washed up and dressed very early that day, he came out in the hallway and paused to listen for any signs of Livy.
He stood there and dreaded the thought of many more silent mornings to come. He went downstairs and stoked the fire. All night he had thought of what to tell her. Ray knew it was easy to think and feel what was on his mind but it was a whole different matter when one had to say it out loud. He prayed for courage and summoned all his strength until Livy came down to bid him goodbye.
Ray was still holding her hand while Livy stared at the ring on her finger. Tears flowing from her cheeks, it felt all surreal to Livy. She saw him look at her with love and she couldn’t help but touch his cheeks. She wanted to believe that he deserved better than her but yet she can’t bear the thought of someone else for Ray. And now, here he is, in front of her tearful and sincere, saying all these wonderful things he felt about her.
She loves him.
Yes, Livy cannot recall when she finally did, she knew it came slowly but surely each day she lived in his house.
She saw him raise her hand to his lips and kiss it. Then a moment later, Ray, with his other hand caresses her cheeks, wiping away her tears. Their eyes connected. Ray draws even closer and he bends down to kiss her on the lips. Livy was stunned senseless. His kiss is different, it felt different. Was it more passionate? Livy thought. Maybe because there was less anger or frustration involved. She remembered the first time he kissed her and she resisted but yet deep down inside she had ached deeply for him. That time, her heart was tugged in so many directions, it confused her to no end. Then it happened again today, except now she is determined not to make the same mistake twice.
Ray was sure he can’t read the myriad of emotions that went through Livy’s face but he hope kissing her the second time will not end like the last time. He breaks the kiss to look at Livy and sees her with her eyes still closed. As she opens them, he knows, and now she ardently returns his kiss. Their kiss is sweet, very passionate and full of longing. Livy knows in her heart and soul that she is giving herself this time for the right reasons to the right man.
When the kiss finally ended Ray had yet to let her out of his embrace. He whispers in her ear, “Please...Livy, I want you to stay... ”. His voice was pained. Ray dreads the rejection that was sure to come. He never voiced his desire for her to stay only because he feels that Livy has to make her own peace and her own decision. But today, Ray is a desperate man, he can’t bear to lose this time around.
Livy heard Ray say those words she had been waiting to hear all this time. Since the day he told her about the cellar, she found herself reclaiming a part of her identity that she thought she had given up when she came to this farm. Since that day, Livy had started to plant some roots in this house and in Ray’s life until that day he came home with Edward’s letter. She thought what she did to Ray was unforgivable just like how her own Father had not forgiven her for getting pregnant out of wedlock. Leaving was the only way she knew will save Ray from further heartache. Livy never expected Ray to ask her to stay.
Livy gazes at Ray, she hears herself say “Yes” like it was someone else’s voice. She sees Ray smile. He too is surprised, he is very pleased and Livy cannot help but smile back at him.
“Oh Livy, you really will?!!” Ray was beside himself, feeling a bit incredulous.
“Yes!” Livy had to repeat herself just to make sure that it was coming from her this time.
Ray hugs her hard,“I love you, Livy”.
“I love you too, Ray”.
Not long after, she hears a deep chuckle deep within Ray. He heaves a deep sigh, eyebrows raised and then that impish smile, Livy now wonders if it was all a joke.
"To think that I was worried sick that you'd turn me down again…." He was playing with the ring on her finger. Ray unable to look her in the eye after he realized what had just transpired and feeling a little shocked that she felt the same way he did. It had occurred to him that this was the first time they’d declared their love for each other. He keeps his focus on Livy’s ring, rolling it between his fingers and thought of what to say next.
Livy breaks the awkwardness between them by giggling, remembering the first time they’ve met in the parlor. Only this time, she wasn’t peeved at his shyness but loving him for it. "Ray, I think I just needed the assurance that you wanted me here in spite of what I did. I really thought you were just being…uh….accommodating.. out of pity for my situation.”
Ray was surprised she felt that way “Why I was just trying my best to make you stay, I didn’t know what else I needed to do. I am sorry -- sweetheart” Ray pulls her close and they savor the closeness between them.
“Ray? You never asked me about the letter...” Now that the opportunity presented itself, Livy wants to come clean and she tells him about Edward and his letter. Ray quietly listened to Livy. Livy keeps talking, she desires to explain everything, and she wants to make sure that Ray finally knows about her past – start on a clean slate – so to speak. However, Ray eventually cut her short.
“Livy—" Ray pauses as he always does while he contemplates on the words he wants to say, “The day I agreed to marry you, I only had to rely on my faith that God was sending his intended to me. That day-- the very moment I saw you, it just made it even more certain-- without a doubt-- that everything happened for a reason. So you see, whatever feelings of shame and guilt you have doesn’t really matter to me, because what really matters is that you came here...to me.”