Alina shoved aside the people around her and raced for the bell. She took one moment's pause before reaching up and ringing the bell.
Once. Twice. Three times.
"I confess," Alina began. There were tears running down her face. She turned to Alexander, who had sunk to his knees beside her.
God, give me courage!
Beginning again, Alina repeated herself. "I confess. I confess that I told a lie of the most grievous kind not even an hour earlier."
Heart pounding ferociously, Alina knelt beside Alexander. She ran her hand through his hair, then lifted his head so her eyes could look directly into his. I love you, her heart whispered. I love you more with every passing second.
"I confess that I told this man I hated him. I confess that I told him I used him. I confess that every word I said to him was a lie!"
Alina's voice faltered, yet she still pressed on, determined. "I don't hate you, Alexander. I love you. I love you more than you could ever imagine. I was afraid, but I can't hide the truth any longer. I love you so much my heart breaks with it all."
Turning to the shocked crowd, Alina continued. "I confess that I love Alexander Hale more than life itself. I confess that when I look at him, I see not a fool but the most beautiful creature that I have ever seen. I confess that when he speaks to me, the whole world seems to stop to listen. I confess that I have fallen, most completely, in love with this beautiful, beautiful man."
Alina bent and kissed Alexander's lips, her face strained with tears. "I confess," she whispered, "that I will never love another as I love you. God has given me a love for you that even I don't fully understand, but I'm not going to fight it any longer."
Alexander was shaking, and Alina wrapped him in her arms. "I love you," she whispered, cradling him. "You mean so much to me. I'm so sorry for everything." She closed her eyes, shoulders wracked with tears. "I'm so sorry!"
All around them, the world had gone silent.