by Lynne

Assumpta sat on the side of her bed that night, just staring at the piece of paper with Peter's phone number on it that Doc Ryan had given her.

Finally, she worked up the nerve to call and speaks with Peter's brother for a little while. She explained that Peter's parishioners want to send flowers for the funeral and need the address. Not a bad cover story, she said to herself after she hung up. And it had the added advantage of being true. She stared off into space for a little while longer, then suddenly jumped up and started packing.

The next morning, early, she went to talk to Niamh about running the bar for her for a few days. When Niamh wanted to know where she was going, Assumpta told her, damn the consequences. "I'm going to see Peter," she said with a defiant look.

Niamh just stared at her for a few moments. Then said, "I hope it works out for you Assumpta." Then she looked away and started grumbling something about how she may as well be a full partner, as she's put so much time into the running of the place. The two stare at each other for a moment as if struck by the same brilliant idea at the same time.

"Of course!" says Assumpta.

"Do you think I could?" says Niamh at the same time.

Assumpta's thoughts were all over the place on the plane trip to Manchester. She wondered why it had never occurred to her before to ask Niamh to be a partner with her on the bar. She could share the responsibility with someone else, share the burden. Niamh was perfect for the job, and she seemed very keen on the idea too. Funny how your outlook can change, there was a time she would not have considered getting a partner in the bar, but now the idea of having a little more free time seemed very appealing. Assumpta's thoughts were also in a whirl over why she was going to see Peter, and what she would say to him. She finally knew for certain how she felt about him, but she had held her feelings in reserve for so long, would she be able to tell him that she loved him?

"I want to tell her that I love her," Peter told his brother. After some gentle questioning of his obviously distracted brother, Peter had started talking about Assumpta. "I've been struggling with my feelings for her. But honestly, I've been struggling with aspects of being a priest, and what I really believe." Peter's brother had let him talk it out. To tell the truth, he wasn't all that surprised. As Peter was telling him yet another wonderful thing about Assumpta, he happened to glance out the window and sees a young woman pacing back in forth across the street, glancing nervously up at their mother's house.

He casually asks Peter, "So, what does this woman look like?"

Peter answers, "Beautiful really, snapping dark eyes--"

His brother interrupts him, "--lovely curly medium length dark red hair, about 5'5" or 5'6", nice curves," he adds with a twinkle in his eye.

"What?" says Peter and finally notices his brother staring down at the street and hurries over to the window, he whispers, "Assumpta!"

His brother nudges him. "I wonder how long she's been there?" Peter is still standing there stunned. "Peter, go to her you eedjit."

"Oh, right." he runs down the stairs and out the front door.

Assumpta has been pacing back and forth in front of the house for 30 minutes, trying to work up the nerve to go ring the bell. She looks up at the sound of the door and sees Peter standing there. Suddenly she is feeling horribly embarrassed and self-conscious. She can't meet his eyes and doesn't know what to do with her hands. Peter waits for a car to go by and walks across the street to her.

Assumpta can think of nothing to say, not even a sarcastic comment. Peter asks her, "Assumpta, you're here." He asks with wonder in his voice.

"Um, Doc Ryan gave me your phone number," answered Assumpta.

Peter glances away for a moment. "Me mum died," he finally says to Assumpta.

Assumpta just looks at him for a moment with eyes full of compassion and empathy, remembering when her own mum died. She knew he wouldn't want to hear any empty platitudes. "I know," she whispers, still looking at him. Peter can't stand it any more.

He takes Assumpta in his arms and says, "God, I'm glad you're here." Assumpta sinks into his embrace for a moment and feels him kiss the top of her head.

Peter opens his eyes briefly and notices his old neighbor across the street staring out her window and him and Assumpta with a shocked look on her face. He pulls away from Assumpta and gestures at the window. "We have an audience," he says with an embarrassed laugh.

Assumpta rushes in before she can change her mind. "Peter, there's something I have to explain to you, I've thought about what I wanted to say all the way here and I'll probably still get it wrong, so bear with me, OK?" She had pulled away from him with a worried look on her face, wringing her hands together.

"Yeah, OK, let's walk." They start walking down the street together.

"Look, first of all let me say, it's all over between Leo and me. I knew it was a mistake when I did it, it was stupid and impulsive and I've hurt more than one person in the process. Second, Leo said something to me that I can't get out of my head and I can't deny." She was silent for a while.

Peter finally asked, "What can't you deny?"

Assumpta stopped and faced him. "That I'm in love with someone else, have been for a long time." At this her nerve failed her, she said, "Oh, hell" turned away from him and started walking away.

Peter grabbed hold of her arm and stopped her. "Assumpta, what are you trying to say?"

"Peter," said Assumpta, "I've no right to say this to you, especially now when you are trying to deal with your mum's death. Oh, why is this so hard for me to say? I've never said it to anyone else before, not even Leo. I am such an eedjit!" Assumpta ran her hands through her hair, the very picture of frustration.

Peter smiled gently at her and said with dawning understanding, "Maybe I can help you here."

"Yes?" Assumpta eyed him warily.

"I think I know where you're going with this, just listen and see if I have it right, OK?"

"OK," said Assumpta with relief in her voice, like someone who's just found a lifeboat on a stormy sea.

"Do you feel like you've been living on auto-pilot? Like you've been thinking about this person all the time and you're just going through the motions of day to day life, but it's someone else you're always thinkin' of?"

Assumpta stared at him with owlish eyes. "Yes," she whispered in reply.

"Hmmm," said Peter, pretending to study her thoughtfully, "and do you also wonder if this person feels the same way about you, can't stop wondering about it, in fact?"

Assumpta finally starts to catch on and something like hope starts to shine from her eyes. She stops and steps very close toward Peter. "Yes," she says, "That's exactly how I feel. You know what I mean then?"

"Oh yes, I know," Peter says as he closes the gap between them by taking Assumpta in his arms and kissing her like he's wanted to for a long time.

They had circled around the block by this time and were now standing in front of Peter's mothers' house. "Assumpta, will you come in? Meet my family, please?"

"Peter, this is awkward for me. Who will you say I am?"

"The woman who came all the way from Ballykissangel to tell me she loves me, who else?" Peter starts up the stairs with Assumpta's hand in his. He stops at the top of the steps and turns to add thoughtfully, "Oh, and the woman I love more than life itself. Will that do?" he says with a grin.