Richard awoke and found that Corinne was asleep beside him. Gazing upon her peaceful face which was framed by her lovely hair and seeing the delicate way in which her soft eyelashes touched her cheeks filled his heart with such warmth that he almost shed a tear. It was indescribably gratifying to see the woman he loved so nearby and to know that there were no barriers between them any longer: it was a feeling for which there would be no price too high to pay and one which he wanted to experience every single morning of his life.
Richard looked around at all the empty bottles of alcohol and shook his head in disbelief and disapproval of his own actions. He glanced back at Corinne and knew that he would never again have reason to feel like he had to resort to nightly intoxication and that he would never dare risking hurting her by being in such a state. He rose to his feet, gently lifted her body and laid her upon his bed. He sat beside her, tucking the stray strands of her hair behind her ears and waited for her to wake up.
Seventeen years of hiding behind walls, Richard thought in wonder. And all it had taken for him to grant Corinne’s wish and his own rather more secret desire to bring her happiness had been to tell her of the event which had brought the walls about. Without a doubt it had been difficult and caused Richard to remember the pain the knowledge of his parents’ death had originally inflicted on him but after the hesitation and the agony, his actions had been easy. He had known that loving Corinne painlessly was possible and had felt no guilt at finally relieving himself of the chains he had placed around his own heart. All his emotions had been good and the outlook for the future was visibly brighter. As he had told Corinne, he felt liberated. He smiled to himself. May that freedom never end.