Excerpt from Handyman Special

   
     He approached slowly, willing her to look up and see him, but she did not. She was walled inside her grief, far away from the world and from him.
     "Sage," he said, stopping about ten feet away.
     She lifted her head, startled. He moved toward her, and nothing else mattered except that he had come to her when she needed him. She floated somehow, lighter than air, lighter than light, until she was encompassed by his embrace and her cold cheek scraped against his jacket smelling of cinnamon and cloves.
     In the instant before they touched he saw it. Transcending the pain of Joy's disappearance was an emotion so real and so beautiful that he could not for a moment doubt its honesty. She loved him. He was sure of it. He didn't know how it had happened or why, but he had caught her in this off-guard moment, a moment of need, and the love, though unspoken, was so eloquent that there was no need for words.
     "We'll find Joy, my darling," he said, his arms sure and strong around her.
     "Oh, Adam, I'm so worried. It's all my fault," and Sage blurted the story of how Joy had wandered away from their picnic.
     She was exhausted, her nose clogged from crying, and the skin around her eyes was puffy and red. She hated having Adam see her like this, but he didn't seem to care how she looked. He tilted her face toward his so that she could see his eyes, so dark and so comforting. In them she saw kindness and decency and deep caring. Even though she had lost the one thing she'd always placed before everything else in her life, her child, Adam was there. His presence couldn't make up for Joy's absence, but it comforted her.
     Adam pulled her close once more and bent his head to nestle his face into her shoulder, making himself believe that they would really find Sage's daughter. Her vulnerability where Joy was concerned had always touched him, but this broke his heart. Sage's grief turned him inside out, leaving his emotions raw and bleeding. She had suffered enough; the injustices in her life already seemed too much for one person to bear. She had rallied after each blow, had picked herself up and dusted herself off and overcome whatever setbacks life had thrown in her way, to succeed in her work and with her family and as a mother. She didn't deserve this—she didn't!
     The cold wind pressed in on them with all the weight of the world, and a fine misty rain began to fall.
     "Let's go inside," he said finally, when he decided the weather was too biting for them to stay outside. He'd take care of her, stand by her through all of this, whatever happened.
     She pulled away, then pressed her hand into his and, for his sake, dredged up a reluctant smile.
     "That's my girl," he said, sounding more optimistic than he felt.
 
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