The day finally came when I had to return to work, and had to then apply full concentration there. No more waking up at 9am, Maya arriving within the following hour, being a guinea pig in her endless variations of recipes. No more long talks and debates and laughter and silliness. I could only see LuJayne in the weekends from thereon in. It was just pure, unadulterated concentration then. I needed to try to get my rhythm back, to try to water the seeds I had once planted at work before that fateful day.

I still kept in constant contact with Maya and LuJayne, and the endless debates and ideas kept flowing, but nothing stuck. Idea after idea was being meticulously scrutinised, and idea after idea was as a result being scrapped. We were over thinking things. We were over complicating them. An idea is meant to just appear in your head, not forced. So we decided to stop trying to come up with any ideas and just enjoy each other's company. So each other's company we enjoyed.

It was just before sunrise, when I got a call from the kind nurse that took a liking to LuJayne and looked after her. She had been successful in stopping any attempts to give her up in the past, and she continued to keep me updated about everything, but I had never received a call from her at this time of morning. Something was wrong. It had to be.

"They took her away. They took her away. Why did they take her away? I looked after her just fine. She was happy. They just took her away." She sobbed uncontrollably.

My heart beat faster than it had ever done. I was speechless; I didn't have a single valid thing to say. A million images flashed before my eyes, none I could capture, none I could remember. All I could muster was a feeble:

"Who took, erm, who took who away?"

I cried so hard, my eyes began to hurt, I already knew the answer, but I didn't know what else to do or say. I just cried. I cried some more as she was explaining what had happened through unfathomable sentences. Her words and grief had invented a new language, a language although incomprehensible to all; I managed to communicate in fluent dialect. Through the Twin Rivers of tears streaming down my face, creating valleys upon my cheeks, I could feel my heart fragment, as if in slow motion, to a thousand pieces. I could actually hear the creaking of my organ being clawed away layer by layer. I sat there, as still as a statue, the rivers ever flowing, for the remainder of the night. I had hung up on the nurse, and disconnected my phone. I just wanted to be at peace. Just a statue.

Going to work the next day didn't seem like the right thing to do, but I did it anyway. I didn't want to sit there and cry anymore. I wanted something else to steal my attention so I didn't have to think about it for at the very least, a few seconds. I didn't want to tell Maya either. I couldn't bear the thought of her being upset, for unlike her, my fondness grew to love, and I didn't want her upset. That day at work was the longest day. It just kept dragging. Even Time had been crying for it was not moving at all, just a complete stand still. It was like something was missing, like there was a void in the world. Nothing seemed to make sense. I mean, why would they take her away? There was no need for it. She was doing great and both parties where happy, we were happy. I just couldn't understand it.

Once I had arrived home, I found quite a few voicemails from a very hysterical nurse. She felt the brunt of it as she was constantly with LuJayne. I had been so selfish, I didn't even think about what she was going through. LuJayne had been such an integral part of our lives, that when they took her, we didn't know what to do. I burst into tears again. I had been accustomed to it over the last 12 hours that tears didn't actually come out anymore, just pathetic wailing. I stopped only to the sound of my doorbell, to which I tried to ignore for a little while, but whoever it was, was very persistent. I cleaned myself up, eyes still bloodshot and opened the door to find Maya, looking worse than me and I hadn't thought that was even remotely possible. No words were exchanged between us, just two pairs of bloodshot eyes staring blankly at each other until she just burst into tears and collapsed into the floor. I helped her up and onto the sofa, got her a drink of water and a wet towel to wash her face. Through the sobbing I could vaguely make out:

"How could they be so cruel? ... She was so happy... How could they do this to her?"

My new found speechlessness took over once again. I was using all my energy to stop myself from crying in front of her, after all, someone needed to be the strong one, and I guessed it had to be me.

After a few hours of analysing a solution for this matter, it became clear in my head that I could only do one thing. But how different would my life be? What would I need to change? Do I really want this change? I didn't know the answers to these thoughts, so I kept them to myself until I could figure them out. Maya in turn wanted to take the matter to court, and she may have thought that we would win, but I knew that it was a losing battle. We didn't have a leg to stand on. What would we say?

"Erm, sorry Your Honour, but I think LuJayne was happier at hospital with the nurse, so put her back there please..."

The mere thought of this made me ridicule the idea, but I wasn't about to ridicule a very beautiful, very vulnerable person at this moment in time. I couldn't see her like that. It was hard enough getting the news about LuJayne, but seeing Maya like that was destroying every inch of restraint I had. I was ready to collapse on the floor and wither away. I had to leave, I couldn't bear it anymore. Every now and then, I would go into the bathroom and take it out of my system, away from Maya. I couldn't let her see me like that.

By the end of the night, Maya was in no fit condition to drive back home and my back still caused me pain when I'm in the same position for too long, so I thought the best thing to do was for her to sleep over. I knew she would never accept this, after all, looking back at it; she had never even given me a hug, so I called my neighbour and asked her if Maya could sleep over at hers.

Ms Willow was a very generous woman who treated me like her own son. She had always been there for me, ever since the first day I moved into this apartment when I helped her move her furniture around after the passing of her husband. One of her sons was a very good lawyer in a big company in America, and she had offered his services to fight Social Services from the second she found out about the situation. I neither declined, nor accepted that offer. I didn't have a clear head at the time and I didn't want to sway either way in case I wasn't thinking straight. Maya was very reluctant with the idea of staying over at Ms Willow's house, only the promise of a traditional style home cooked apple pie convinced her otherwise.

Dawn approached and I had not slept for even a minute, all I could do was think about whether or not my thoughts were clear. By the time the sun was fully visible and out of its slumber, I had decided to call in sick to work. I used the excuse that my back was in so much pain, I could not move, but to not feel like a liar, I hadn't taken any of the painkillers so that the pain was actually there. I took a taxi straight to the hospital to speak to that kind nurse. I had to make sure she was ok, and to just get another point of view really to either establish my thoughts or completely disregard them. I went round to see every one of my closest friends to ask for their opinion, or any ideas they could provide. But just as my suspicions thought, I knew what to do since the second I got that call, maybe even before.

Once I had returned home, I saw Ms Willow and Maya have gotten comfortable and were cooking away, laughing along. Ms Willow had that effect on people, no matter what was wrong, she will always manage to make everything seem ok and embed a permanent smile on your face. Clearly Maya had fallen prey to her charms, and I wasn't going to be the one to take it away. Once we got down to eat, I explained what I had been doing for the whole day and why I wasn't at work and what my proposal was.

"WHAT?" said a shocked Ms Willow, "What are you talking about dear? You wouldn't know where to begin. You can't foster LuJayne; you can't even look after the goldfish Emily gave you. Do you remember what happened there? She is not a fish; she is a human being who deserves a mother and father who will devote all their time to her. You cannot be selfish. Think of what's good for her."

Maya stayed silent, as did I. The subject was closed after that little speech by my good neighbour. Although I understood, I wasn't entirely happy. I could look after her, and it would be good for her AND me. Why couldn't we both happy? But the subject was never to resurrect on this dinner table again. Ms Willow had made sure of that.

Weeks turned into months, and I hadn't heard LuJayne's voice once. We were not permitted to contact the child in case we 'caused her emotional undue stress'. So they took her away from us and filtered her through the system. It wasn't that we didn't try; it was a case of getting blocked in the way every time a little bit of progress was made. As far as we knew, she was moved from three different Child Care homes in the space of the seven months that went by since our parting. We carried on searching and searching, so much so, I had even given up work to devote my time to the cause.

On a day where everything seemed to go wrong from the first sign of light, I asked Maya to accompany me to go for a meal. I needed to change the environment I was in. I needed a day off from all this stress. I needed to collect my thoughts again.

Maya turned up at my place, looking nothing like I had ever seen. Her beauty was undefined. She was the epitome of perfection; she had eyes that can give hope to the most hopeless of souls, like they were the portal to her soul. In her eyes, I could see the light that was at the end of the tunnel. Her hair smelled so exotic, it was like a quarrelling fusion between the scents of Heaven and a violet field. So perfect was her smile, hearts would melt in an instant. She had no equal, she was unparalleled.

She arrived wearing a long, sleek, black dress that accentuated her figure, and matched with the golden colour of her skin, her dark, long hair that was styled in simple, half up-half down style. She was just perfect, nothing short of it. The look on my face gave it all way. She could clearly see I was over impressed, that in those few seconds, I was in Paradise. I had let my guard down, my confident face was nothing but a distant memory and I didn't care. It was time she knew how I felt. I was tired of living the lie. I was tired of being the nice guy in case our friendship was lost. I needed to know, I HAD to know.

I had recently bought a new car, and I was still in the excited phase so I told her we'll go in my car. The look on her face was the reason I got it in the first place. It was a black Aston Martin DBS with red leather interior and black stitching. It had been chromed out, and I had a baby laptop installed under the passenger seat, that when you press a button on the dashboard, a mechanism would pull it out and it sits just above the gearstick. It was the car I had wanted since the day it came out and without being over proud and egotistical, I knew I looked good driving it. I was suited and booted, with the most beautiful car, and the most beautiful woman. I should've been the happiest man in the world with a smile to rival the Cheshire Cat, but I wasn't. Something was missing. LuJayne. But I knew that I went out to forget all that for one night, I just wanted to laugh. I hadn't enjoyed myself for a long time, I needed to laugh.

We got to this little Italian place secluded from the main High Streets. I had text my friend as soon as I got into the car with Maya. That wasn't where I had originally intended to go, but seeing her looking the way she did, I couldn't settle for second best, and he vouched for this place over and over again, even though I did suspect he was a little biased. He was Italian after all. We got inside, the atmosphere was eclectic. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it was too late now. I had to make her believe that I loved this place. Diego even got the owner to give me a warm welcome like he knew me for some time, which is always nice. There were people eating, laughing, dancing and even people attempting to sing along with the band. But Enrico took us to a nice quiet booth where we could see the whole restaurant so we felt involved, but still secluded enough for us to have a quiet talk.

For the first time since we laid eyes on each other, we weren't talking. It was as if we both had something to say, but both waiting for the other person to break the ice. It was awkward; I wasn't used to this with Maya. I went out to be comfortable and to enjoy myself, not sit there and feel awkward. So I called Enrico over so he could tell us what the specials were for the night; to which he replied enthusiastically every mentionable type of fish a person could have. I was pretty impressed and it proved pivotal as he helped us break the ice. He had just carried on talking, and talking, and talking, it didn't even look like he was breathing which caused us to steal a glance at each other, catch each other's eyes and burst out laughing. I was worried it may have looked rude on my new old friend, but he didn't think anything of it. We ordered our food and sat back and soaked in the atmosphere. I turned to face her, my heart beating too fast for my own liking, and began telling her something that I had not thought through properly.

"Maya, you look absolutely amazing, pretty close to perfection actually. And well, we have known each other a little under a year and in that time, well, let's be honest, you fell in love with me.. He He, erm, seriously, in that time, we have gotten to know each other pretty well I think, and ahem, well, wooh, well, look, let me just say it how it is. I think I'm falling in love with you. No no no, wait, I know I'm falling in love with you.. Oh shit, erm, that didn't come out quite as I had planned. Well, honestly, the fact I didn't plan this might be the problem, but I don't know, it's just around you, I feel like nothing can harm me, except that train of course, erm, well, you know what I mean."

She looked at me like she had just heard the most beautiful words, like a sonnet by the greatest in history. I just looked at her, she was looking down and her cheeks had gone red.

"Wow, I didn't see that coming. Well, look, since we are laying everything on the table, how do I usually dress to come and see you? I made an effort tonight for you. I do love you; I have done for a very long time. I knew you felt the same, but I was scared. I was scared of this new feeling. I had never felt like this before in my life for anyone. I didn't know what it meant, and I didn't want to say anything until I was 100% sure. Actually, let me rephrase that, I would never have said anything. You should know me by now; I'm an old school girl!"

She said this with the cheekiest of smiles. My excitement could not be explained in words. I felt higher than cloud nine, I felt more butterflies in my stomach than a whole field on a summer's day, and I felt so happy that my heart would have exploded if it wasn't for our surroundings. I could not explain how happy I was. I just looked at her, she was looking down and her cheeks had gone red.

"Marry me."