Sara opened the door to their apartment, the feel of home pervading her senses. She set her son's carrier on the floor in the entry and scooped him up out of his little cocoon of blankets. Cradling him in her left arm, she gazed down at him adoringly, then looked up at the rest of her family.
"Michelle, would you like to show your brother and sister where they'll be sleeping?"
The girl nodded excitedly. "C'mon!"
She led them into the master bedroom, where two brand-new cradles stood at the foot of Sara and Ian's bed. Smiling gently, the "new" parents settled their sleepy children into their respective beds, then tip-toed out of the room, turning back only to motion for Michelle to follow. The proud big sister was standing between the cradles, staring down, first into the soft pink one, and then into the baby blue one, admiring the two tiny new additions to her steadily growing family. Turning, she skipped happily—but quietly!—out of the room, her heart filled almost to bursting. She had a daddy now, and a baby brother and a baby sister. What more could she possibly ask for?
As they tucked their daughter into bed a few minutes later, she looked up at them, her green eyes glowing.
"Thank you, Mama and Daddy," she said softly.
"For what?" Sara asked, tucking an errant strand of her dark hair behind one ear.
"For you," she replied before drifting off to sleep.
Sara placed a tender kiss on her forehead. "You're welcome, baby."
Sara tugged on Ian's left arm, pulling him down onto the sofa beside her. As soon as he was comfortable, she situated herself in his lap, snuggling against his warm chest. Inhaling his unique, deliciously spicy scent, Sara sighed contentedly.
"We need to talk."
"About…?" he prompted.
"Us. Life. Our kids. Everything."
He remained silent, bidding her continue.
"What happened, exactly, all those years ago?"
Ian inhaled deeply, letting the breath out as he stroked her hair. "When my mas—when Mr. Irons discovered what I'd done, he sent me away to an all-boys military school. I returned three years later, and he greeted me with a vicious beating that left me nearly dead and badly scarred. He told me—he told me that I was stupid to think that I loved you, and even more so to think that you might love me back. I knew better, though." He hugged his fiancée tighter as he continued, "Knowing that we loved one another was the only thing that kept me sane all those years. It was the only reason that I survived all of his 'training,' and his brutal beatings. He never told me, though, that you were pregnant. If I had known, I would've come to your side, despite his rantings. I love you, Sara; I always have, and I always will."
The Witchblade purred happily as Sara fingered her engagement ring. "When do you think we should be married?"
"When do you want to?"
"It's your choice, too, you know."
"Yes, and my choice is to let you decide."
"How 'bout in August?"
The sound of the small, soft voice behind them made them turn quickly. To their surprise, Michelle stood in the doorway to her room, her hair mussed by sleep and her nightgown hitched up a bit on one side.
"What are you doing up, baby?" Sara questioned, climbing out of Ian's lap as they both moved to crouch beside their eldest daughter.
"I had a bad dream. I couldn't fall back to sleep again, and I heard you talking about the wedding, so I decided to come out here with you. Is that okay?"
"Sure it is, sweetheart." Ian lifted his precious girl form the floor, bringing her to sit between them on the sofa.
"Now, what were you saying about August?" Sara asked.
"Well, that way the wedding would be in the summer, when it's warm and I'm out of school. We could have it on…August 15th, ten days before my birthday! That way, you could go on your honeymoon, and we could stay at Aunt Lee and Uncle Danny's house, or maybe Grandpa Joe's, and then, when you get back, we can have my birthday party!"
The two parents looked at each other over the top of the child's head, amazed.
He shrugged. "Fine by me, as long as—"
"I like it. Let's do it."
A wail interrupted them, and Sara shot up, rushing into the bedroom and plucking Emma from her bed in an effort to keep her from waking her brother.
Christian, too, began to cry, just as Ian swooped in to retrieve him. But before he could reach their son, his sister scooped him out of the cradle, holding him close. Both infants' cries weakened, then stopped altogether as their big sister began to sing "Rock-a-Bye Baby" in a soft, crooning voice. Amazingly enough, both were calm in just a few minutes, staring up at the faces of the people holding them solemnly. Knowing they must be hungry, Sara settled herself onto the large bed, propping fluffy pillows up on either side of her. Carefully, she unbuttoned her loose shirt partway and guided the child she held to her meal. Once they had established a rhythm of sorts, Sara gestured for Michelle to bring her son forward. She did so, and soon he was suckling greedily alongside his sister. As Sara relaxed into this activity, Ian rose and took Michelle back to bed. He returned a few minutes later, reclining beside his bride-to-be and observing the beautiful picture laid out before him. Sara looked over to find him staring at her.
"Honey" Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Mm, just thinking."
She raised an eyebrow at the peculiar expression on his face. "You know, that could be dangerous to your health."
"Mm-hm," he said distractedly, nodding slowly. Then, registering her words, he looked up at her, baffled. "What?!"
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