Ryan pulled Lovey close. "I love you. I always loved you."
Lovey cuddled Cupid, then handed Ryan the chocolate diamond. "Is that why you left me for this? It was right here all along, Ryan. Or should I call you Rouen?"
He took the big sparkling diamond. "I'm Ryan. But ... Lovey, a lot happened. We have get you back to the shop so we can get dried off and then we'll talk. I'll have to report this to the police and explain everything to them, too."
Lovey nodded, her teeth chattering. This day seemed like a lifetime. And Ryan has at least five years of that lifetime to make up to her. Once inside the shop, she changed into her Valentine red sweater and matching scarf, jeans and red boots. Then she brewed a fresh pot of hot chocolate and made them a sandwich, using her Valentine-shaped cookie cutter to clip the freshly baked bread. Yes, even though the man had left her and lied to her, she still loved him. But, she was stronger tonight than she'd been this morning. She wouldn't take him back so easily.
"Talk," she said as she shoved the sandwich across the wrought iron bistro table at him, her tone demanding. "And I mean everything."
"I had to leave," Ryan said, his cup in his hand. "That day when I took the boat out, Creamer was waiting for me. He and Athena had figured out I was undercover trying to retrieve the Chocolate Diamond. He pushed me overboard and took off, somehow making it look like I was alone and that I had drowned. But I survived. I washed up a few miles from here ... but Lovey, I hit my head on the side of the boat and at first, I couldn't remember anything. I got a hotel room and just sat there until bits and pieces started coming back. Then I realized Creamer and Athena wanted to steal the diamond. I watched them and I watched your shop. I was afraid they'd hurt you. I thought you might even be in on the whole thing--that you wanted a cut of the profits from that diamond. I wanted to return it to the museum where it belonged."
Lovey couldn't imagine any of this. She only wanted Ryan. "I would have helped you.."
"I had to pretend to be dead until I could find a way back to you," he explained. "I've been all over the world, trying to find the diamond—but it's been right here all alone. He reached across the table for her hand. "Lovey, I came back to save you. Athena knew I was back and she intended to kill both of us--after I gave her the code to the hidden diamond, of course."
"I don't care about all of that," Lovey said, her rising voice causing Cupid to hiss.
"I want to believe you, but it's so farfetched ...."
Ryan reached into the duffle bag he'd brought in earlier. "Maybe this will convince you." He pulled out a small black box. "I found this in an antique shop in Paris."
Lovey put her hands to her mouth then stared down at the perfect diamond solitaire. Could she trust him? Cupid eyed the sparkling diamond then hopped onto Ryan's lap.
"I love you," Ryan said. "And I'll spend the rest of my life making this up to you. Will you marry me, Lovey?"
Lovey heard Cupid's steady purr. It matched the steady purr in her heart. "Yes, yes," she said, holding her hand out so Ryan could put the ring on her finger. "I can't believe this. But ... I need some time, Ryan. If I still feel this way one year from today and … if you're still around, I'll marry you."
Ryan dropped Cupid and stood to pull Lovey into his arms. "I'm not going anywhere, I promise. I prayed for this moment. And ... I came back to you." Then he kissed her, the sweet smell of rich dark chocolate surrounding them. "You were so right. My treasure was right here all along."
One year later, at dusk on Valentine's Day, Lovey Hart married Ryan/Rouen in a beautiful sunset ceremony on the boardwalk, with the frosty waves crashing around them and a soft mist of snow falling. Cupid the cat, wearing a red bow around his neck, meowed at their feet. And they had chocolate cake and strawberries to celebrate.
Oh, and the Chocolate Diamond was safely returned to the Museum of All Things Chocolate, where it sits sparkling and rich behind laser-protected glass. We hope.