"You don't have to go," Peter said, as she was walking across the deck towards the yacht. She turned towards him and smiled. She kept walking and blew him a kiss.

"I knew you would say that. I do need to go. I have some business I should have taken care of a long time ago. I appreciate the worry, but we'll both be fine." She crossed over to the yacht with one of the coast guard officers and Peter took a deep breath. She looked all along the deck and found no one. She knew that she would find no one, but she chose to eat up some of the time, an attempt to stall the inevitable.

She found him on the bed towards the back of the boat. "John?" she whispered. When he didn't move, she took a deep breath and held it, moving closer. "John," she said, louder. She tiptoed closer, her heart pounding with fear. "John," she said, rather loudly. She reached out to feel for a pulse and screamed as he rolled towards her and sat straight up. "JESUS CHRIST!" The coast guard officer that was on the deck of the yacht ran in.

"Miss, are you ok?" Claire nodded, as her heart began to calm down. Peter heard from the other boat and his face bleached of color. What was going on? Why was she screaming? Was it that bad? he thought. He ran towards the other boat as one of the officers stopped him to tell him that his father was ok.

"Claire, what are you doing here?" asked John. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and looked at his former step daughter.

"I'm with Peter, we were very worried about you. We found your suitcase and we thought..."

"You thought I was dead. Well, I can't blame him for thinking that about me. I've been near dead so many times that he's pulled me out of the gutter. But it isn't what you're thinking. I didn't come out here to kill myself. I came out here to sober up. But what do you mean that you and Peter found my suitcase. Does this mean that the two of you finally came to your senses and got back together?"

"Wait, you knew?"

"I may be a lousy drunk, but you'd have to be half dead not to notice how much you two loved each other. I ruined it all."


"Yes I did, you don't have to be nice to me because you guys think I'm on the edge trying to kill myself or whatever. You hate me, and I don't blame you."

"I do hate you," Claire said, with tears in her eyes. "But I'm ready to forgive you."

"I don't deserve forgiveness."

"You didn't kill her, it was an accident. I've been mad at you because I was mad at myself the whole time. She thought I hated her."

"She never thought you hated her."

"We had a fight about Peter. She thought it was wrong for us to be together, I was so mean to her. She never knew."

"She knew you loved her. We had a fight that night as well. That's why I got so drunk. Claire, I loved your mother more than anything, but she was being ridiculous. I never saw anyone as in love as you and Peter. I had known all summer, but she saw you kissing that night and freaked out.

She told me that she was going to forbid you to see Peter and I told her that it wouldn't work. She told me that I needed to mind my own business when it came to her daughter. I told her that if she couldn't see that this was the happiest time of your life, than she was crazy. That's when she slapped me and told me she didn't know if she could love me the same after this revelation.

When we got to the restaurant, we both started drinking heavily. Eventually she told me that she was sorry, that she was just worried that Peter would break your heart. She knew that you loved her. She was just very worried. She was always so worried about you. She loved you, Claire, more than anything." He put his arms around her as she weeped. Peter walked in a ran to them both. Claire looked up at Peter and put her arms around him.

"She knew that you loved him, Claire, she knew that it was real and that's why her last words were "Tell Claire to embrace love, tell her that it's okay, that I approve. Tell her that I love her and want her to be as happy with Peter as I was with you" And Claire just cried harder and harder.

"Why didn't you tell me before, John, why now?"

"Because you wouldn't talk to me before, because you weren't ready to hear it before. I know that now you're ready." She looked at them both and hugged them. It was time to let go and love again.

the end


epilogue and a/n to follow