"Sunset is in an hour or so," she said blankly while staring at the back of the cyclist's head. Rohan was unsure if she was really concerned about sunset or merely trying to break the silence. Nevertheless, he chimed in. "Yes, at about 19:30. You wanted to be out on the water and drinking that Italian wine, right?"
Sneha nodded still entranced by the cyclist's head.
Rohan glanced over at her and noticed Sneha's straight face. "Sneha I-," he began then stopped mid-sentence to re-think bringing it up.
Sneha inhaled deeply and noticed the trembling in her chest. She was afraid he would touch her and afraid that whatever he was about to say would awaken that ugly monster of fear that had laid in wait since the worst day of her life. She held her breath and tried to see through the cyclist's skull as Rohan began again.
"Sneha, I just want to tell you that I never want you to worry about Stella or the past. Whether or not you would have accepted my proposal that day I would have never harmed you in the slightest. Even if when we get back home and you decide to leave me I still would never ever even consider hurting you. I was weak and selfish when I was with Stella but I am no longer that same man. I will always cherish every moment we have spent together. I know I don't deserve you. I especially don't deserve your love. But I will try to make you happy every day of your life if you still want to spend it with me. Please forgive me," he begged.
Sneha waited for him to touch her arm. For him to melt her defenses away with just his touch but he didn't touch her. She had to decide all on her own without his physical influence. Her body trembled as she revisited her initial decision to marry him as her parents wished and her second decision to marry him when he himself proposed to her. She weighed the fear she felt on that day of discovery against the many days of utter joy she had felt with him since. Did she trust him? She had decided to trust him when they first met only because she implicitly trusted her father's decision. She had decided to trust him after he begged for her forgiveness then and proposed. But her trust in him had not been a natural feeling from the start. It had always been a decision.
She reached out for his hand and held it tightly. She could barely formulate the words as she tried in vain to choke back her emotions but it all came gushing to the surface. "I love you and I forgive you but it's hard for me to trust you," she wailed.
Rohan held her tightly in his arms as the cyclist stopped just short of the pier. Rohan felt helpless as his heart began to sink into despair. He had ignored the fact that she had good reason not to trust him. He felt the undercurrent of mistrust but he pretended that it wasn't there in the hopes that it would just disappear on its own. He had hoped that his love would be enough to erase his regretful actions but clearly it wasn't. He wasn't sure how to win her trust back now. Unable to find the right words to console her he just held her and stroked her hair.
The boat captain jutted his face inside. "Time to go," pointing at his gaudy big face gold watch.
"Give us a minute," Rohan demanded then leaned into Sneha's ear and whispered, "We will stay here as long as you like. We won't leave until you feel like you're ready to go."