Adrian's world shattered as he uttered those words. How much he despised himself for breaking the perfect serenity of the moment. He could feel Annalise draw in a shocked gasp, pulling herself away from him in that one second that followed his statement.
Her eyes reflected hurt at what he'd just said. Adrian felt guilt swell inside of him but didn't meet her gaze, looking out over the lake.
"What are you saying?" She asked, her voice shaking.
"It won't work because you're better than me, higher. How could I - some peasant at the mercies of the Prince ever be with someone like you?" His voice was bitter, giving away what he felt inside.
Annalise's face dawned with the realization of what he was saying. She shook her head. "Don't say that," she whispered, taking a step closer.
"No one would accept our love. I don't want to be the reason for your misery if your family shuns you. I don't want to-"
A cool finger fell over his lips, to stop the flow of the words from Adrian's mouth. His eyes met Annalise's soft gaze, a small smile lingering on her lips. "But you love me. And I love you. Isn't that all that matters?"
"Now you say so," he said, taking hold of her hand. "But you won't know...not until you experience the pain."
"Maybe that's true." Her smile widened as she stepped closer to him, reaching out with her hand to caress the side of his face. "But all I could ever get from being with you is happiness."
And before he could come up with an argument, she planted her lips upon his.