"Cass, please, just listen to me for a second. I love you. You love me. There's nothing wrong with that." John ran a hand thorough his hair. They'd been over this time and again. But this time Cassidy seemed serious about leaving him. Two seconds away from going down on his knees and begging, John reached for Cassidy's arm. "Please, let's just talk about this."
Cassidy pulled away, hands shaking. "You know it can't be. My family will never accept this."
"Baby, you knew this would be a struggle. But we're worth it, aren't we?" John crossed the room and picked up a framed picture of the two of them. "Remember this?" He held out the photo to Cassidy. "New Orleans, last year? Look at how happy we were together."
Cassidy took the photo and ran a finger over the glass. "We're always happy together."
"Exactly!" Encouraged, John pointed to another memento - an engraved vase friends had given them for their first anniversary. "Remember that? Our one year party? Everyone was there. Sure, not our families, but our friends, the people who really matter. Remember dancing all night? Remember Mindy trying to swing dance from the drapes?"
Cassidy burst into laughter. "She took out the buffet table."
"She did!" John couldn't suppress his own laughter. "And remember what else happened? How almost everyone toasted us? What did Bob and Alice say?"
Cassidy smiled. "That we were the best example of a happy couple they'd ever know."
"Yes! Baby,"--John took Cassidy's hands--"they were right. We work. You can't deny that."
"No, I can't." Cassidy sighed. "But my family can."
"So what? Did you like every girl your brother has ever dated? Hell, do you like his wife?"
"Not really, no. She's kind of a bitch," Cassidy admitted with a shy smile.
"Baby, everyone's not always going to get along with each other in the world. Some people are going to love you, some are going to hate you. But what's important is how you feel about yourself. And if I let you walk out that door, I'll hate myself for the rest of my life." John squeezed Cassidy's hands tight.
"Would you hate me? If I walked out?" Cassidy asked, voice barely a whisper.
John swallowed hard. This couldn't be it. This couldn't be how everything ended. "No. God...I could never hate you. Not for following your heart."
Cassidy smiled. "That's the difference, isn't it? You could never hate me for following my heart, but my family could." Cassidy pulled a hand away and cupped John's cheek. "That's the difference."
"Does that mean you're staying?" John held his breath, his entire life hinging on the answer.
Cassidy nodded. "Yeah. Where am I gonna go, anyhow?" Cassidy gestured around the apartment. "All my stuff is here."
John pulled the man of his dreams into his arms and held on tight. He didn't know what he'd done to deserve Cassidy, but he'd give his life before he ever let go.
Dear Romance Writers Ink,
You liked these characters two lines ago. You rooted for them. Did they become lesser?
Or did you?