THE TRIUMVIRATE Dana Bell

Peter woke to sunlight streaming across his face. He resisted the urge to cover his face and enjoyed the sensation of warmth. Small shadows moved across the windowpane. There must be a wind. He shifted in the bed stretching his long limbs. How good it felt to wake in the morning! He had much to thank the Charmed Ones, Piper, Phoebe and Paige for.

Speaking of the beautiful red head, he turned on his side relaxing next to her. She still slept, her long lashes dancing on her face. Their love making the night before had been a night of discovery and fulfillment. He felt content and complete.

With a slight frown, he slipped from the bed and pulled on his silk robe. His father had given it to him several years ago, when they had still lived in Sunnydale. It was one of the few things he had kept with him during his travels. He padded to the window and pulled back the lacey drape. He could see the tops of other houses and the trees in the backyard. He wondered how long it would take for him to forget his now demised vampiric abilities. No longer could he distinguish the rustle of every leaf and know where each barking dog resided.

"What are you doing, Peter?" Paige's sleepy voice caused him to glance behind him. She slipped on a short housecoat, which did nothing to hide her long legs. She joined him by the window. "Enjoying the sunshine?"

"Yeah." He smoothed her hair away from her face. She positively glowed.

She sniffed. "Piper is cooking breakfast. Smells like pancakes. Hungry?"

"Famished," he growled, grabbing her and pulling them both back to the bed. She let out a surprised yelp and then giggled.

"Peter, I've got to get ready. I work at the clinic today."

He stopped kissing her neck. She gave him a quick kiss. "I'm going to grab the shower while I can." She dashed out of the room. He heard the water start in the bathroom. With a sigh he tossed on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. He checked his appearance in the mirror. Funny, he hadn't seen his reflection for so long he'd almost forgotten what he looked like. His dark hair was slightly mussed and his brown eyes held a happy gleam. He still looked in his early thirties. Another advantage to being a member of the undead. He hadn't aged since Janette brought him across.

He trotted out of the bedroom and down the carpeted stairs. He followed his nose to the kitchen. "Smells great, Piper," he called as he sat down at the table.

She cast a surprised expression at him. She still cooked at the stove. "Morning, Peter. Where's Paige?"

"In the shower." He helped himself to some pancakes, smothered them in butter and syrup.

"Work up an appetite?" Phoebe teased, sipping coffee from a huge mug. She wore her dark hair down today and still wore her housecoat.

"Not working today, Phoebe?" He took a huge bite and savored the taste.

"Writing at home today," she replied.

Piper joined them. Peter knew she was due at anytime. She sat down carefully and sipped her juice. It amazed him she had so much energy to cook, run her club P3, and still kick demon butt when needed.

"Morning!" Leo greeted. He kissed his wife and sat beside her. The Whitelighter helped himself to several pancakes and ate with gusto.

"If I'd known you where that hungry, I would have made more," Piper observed with an affectionate smile to her husband.

"I've had a busy morning already. Orbing a lot makes me hungry."

"So I see." Piper started to rise to grab the pancakes still on the stove.

"I'll get them, Piper," Peter offered. He rose and fetched the rest of them.

"Thanks. So, what are you going to do with your day?"

Peter sat down again. He really didn't know. His days as a cop were over. He was officially dead. During his Sunnydale days, he'd helped Buffy and her friends fight demons. The years he wandered, he'd just toured the country. Being human again brought back complications he simply hadn't had as a vampire.

"I have no idea, Piper."

"Well, how about helping me out at the club today. I'm expecting a delivery and my usual help is out."

"Okay." He munched on his breakfast.

Paige bounced into the room. Her tight jeans and midriff top reminded Peter of the gorgeous body underneath. She grabbed a cup and helped herself to the coffee. "I'm running late," she took a sip and gave Peter a kiss. "See you tonight!"

"Was that a whirlwind or my sister?" Piper queried.

Phoebe finished her coffee and poured a second cup. "I'm working in my room. Got a deadline to meet."

Leo finished his breakfast. "Gotta go. I'm being called." He orbed out.

"Sometimes," Piper rested her chin on her hand. "I don't know why I bother to cook breakfast."

'You're a wonderful cook, Piper," Peter assured her.

"Glad someone appreciates me."

"How about I help you clean up here before we go to the club. What time is your delivery?"

"We have a couple of hours."

Peter helped himself to couple more pancakes. He hadn't eaten a real breakfast meal in several years. He intended to enjoy it.

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"Careful with that box, Peter," Piper fussed.

He lifted the box and carried it into the back room. Somehow, he didn't remember carrying stuff being this heavy or tiring. But then, the last time he'd helped someone move things, he'd been a vampire.

"You doing okay, Peter?"

"Fine, Piper." He set his load down and wiped sweat from his face. He went back into the main club area. Piper sat on one of the couches. The stack she'd had him move was finally done.

"I poured you some ice tea. I figured you'd need it."

He flashed her a grin. "Thanks." He sat in a chair and took sip. The cold liquid cooled him and helped quench his thirst. He didn't realize how dehydrated he was. One of the things he needed to re-teach himself.

"Do you mind if I ask where you went after I drove you out of the house?" Piper's chocolate brown eyes pleaded for an answer.

Peter took another drink and set the glass back down. "I went to see a friend in LA."

"This friend have a name?"

"Angel." At her look he added, "He's one of the older vampires I learned from. He has a detective agency there."

"A vampire detective. Interesting."

"They fight demons. Like the three of you."

"Really. So we're not the only ones."

Peter shook his head. He glanced around the club area, taking in the smattering of table and chairs, a few couches with coffee tables along the walls, and the long bar complete with a mirrored back.

"No, you aren't, Piper. In fact, Angel has heard of the Charmed Ones. So had I."

"Guess we're getting a reputation."

"Most champions for good do." He picked up his glass and took a few more swallows. "Would you mind if I made a couple of calls when we get to the manor?"

"No." Piper rubbed her stomach and shifted uncomfortably. "Would you mind driving back, Peter? I could use a rest from the traffic."

"Not at all, Piper." Peter finished his tea.

Piper got up, checked a few invoices and indicated she was ready to leave. He drove them back to the manor.

"I'm going to take a nap. Go ahead and make your calls." She headed upstairs.

Peter went into the living room and grabbed the phone. He hesitated. Should he call Paul and break the good news? Or should he call Kermit first and have him relay a message to his father. He opted to call Kermit first. The 101st detective picked up on the second ring.

"Griffin here."

"Hello, Kermit."

"Peter! What are you doing calling during the day?"

"I'm no longer a vampire."

"How?" The disbelief in his voice echoed over the phone line.

Peter gave him a short version of the truth saying only he had met some witches who did a spell and cured him. "I'm currently living in San Francisco," he finished.

"Obviously you haven't talked with your father."

"I was wondering if you'd drop by his place and tell him."

"He's going to be very happy, Peter. I know he's missed you."

"And I've missed him."

"Have you called Paul yet?"

"No. I plan to do that next. Hey, Kermit, I hate to ask,"

"But?"

"Could you fix it in the computer for me so I can get a job? Being officially dead has some very serious drawbacks."

"Even with my connections, it won't be easy. It's going to take some time."

"I can wait." He'd had to learn.

"When you talk to Paul, let him know you talked to me and what you asked me to do. He can help."

Peter frowned puzzled. He knew Paul and Kermit had kept in touch. Maybe as the OSI deputy director, his foster father could pull some strings. "Sure."

"I've gotta go, Peter. Glad you called. Oh, is there a number I can reach you?"

"I don't know the number. I haven't been here very long."

"Call back tomorrow and give it to me. When I've got you set up, I'll let you know."

"Okay. Thanks, Kermit."

"Anytime."

Peter hung up the phone. That had been the easy call. He took a deep breath and called his foster father's office. Fortunately, Paul had given him the direct line. Paul picked up after three rings.

"Blaisdell."

"Hi, Paul."

Shocked silence on the other end. He heard, "Just a minute." He guessed he got placed on hold. After a couple of minutes, his foster father picked up the phone again.

"Peter? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine. I'm cured. No more frying in the daylight and living the night life."

"Thank, God! Peter, how?"

Peter told him the same brief story he'd told Kermit including the part about what city he was currently residing in. "I called Kermit and asked him to drop by and tell my father. I also asked him to fix it so I could get a job. He said to tell you."

"He was right about that. I can help on this end. If it weren't for the fact Annie thinks you're dead, I'd ask you to come work for me."

"You never told her the truth?"

"How could I, Peter? Your dying was hard enough on her. I think it would have killed her to know you were a vampire."

Peter had known he could never go back to his old life. Paul's words helped confirm it. Only his two fathers, Kermit and the Ancient knew the truth. "I just wanted you to know I'm okay now."

"What are you going to do now, son?" Paul's concern clearly communicated itself even over the few miles that separated them.

"Get a job. Decide what else to do with my life." He decided not to tell Paul about Paige. At least not until they made decision about what they wanted.

"Keep in touch. I love you, Peter."

"I love you, too." He hung up. He put the phone back and sat on the couch. He put his head in his hands. What was he going to do with this new life he'd been granted? He just didn't know.

He'd wait until nightfall to call Angel. He knew he should call Buffy too. Come night she'd be out patrolling and he'd have to wait until morning. He dialed her mother's house in Sunnydale. Willow answered.

"Hi, Peter? Hey, shouldn't you be sleeping?"

"I sleep at night now. Three witches did a spell and cured me."

"The Charmed Ones?" Her voice betrayed her excitement. "Are they really as powerful as I've heard?"

"I guess. I've only seen them in action a couple of times."

"Oh, Peter, you are so lucky! Hold on a sec. Buffy!"

He heard Willow quickly fill Buffy in and the slayer's voice came over the phone. "Hi, Peter. What wonderful news! How's your father?"

"Thanks. Last time I heard from him he was fine.. Happy to be back in Chinatown."

"We miss him here. I really could use his wisdom right now."

"What's going on?"

"Just more of the usual. He was such a calming presence."

"Remember what he taught you about inner peace."

"Yeah, I know. Look, I gotta run. It was great to hear from you. Don't be such a stranger."

He laughed. "I'll try not to. It was just hard keeping up with everyone while I was on the road. Maybe now that I'm in one spot, it'll be easier."

"I hope so. Bye, Peter."

"Bye, Buffy." He put the phone down again. Long shadows reached into the living room. It had to be late afternoon. He wandered into the kitchen looking for a snack. The bright yellow room cheered him. He snooped in the fridge and finally ended up making himself a sandwich and grabbed a soda to go with it. He found the sunroom and sat down on the white wicker love seat.

He munched happily on his food. When he finished his lunch, he laid back and closed his eyes. He hadn't gotten much sleep. Not that he regretted it. Being with Paige had been wonderful. He drifted and dozed and finally fell into a deep slumber.

################################################################

Paige found Peter asleep on the love seat. The early evening sun touched his face and she liked the peaceful look on his fine-featured face. She dumped her purse and jacket on the end table and kneeled beside him. His lean body sprawled on the cushions and one arm lay across his chest. Lightly she kissed his temple.

His eyes opened and he smiled at her. "Hi, beautiful."

"How long have you been asleep?"

"Couple of hours." He sat up. Paige settled beside him. "I helped Piper at the club today. I forgot how tired you can get."

"I hope she didn't wear you out too much," she knew promise reflected in her brown eyes.

"I doubt that." He drew her into his arms and kissed her. She relaxed in his embrace feeling safe and secure. He pulled back. "Much as I hate to stop kissing you, I still have one more call to make." She put on her pouty face. He laughed and kissed her again. "Stay here. I'll be right back." He went into the living room and returned with a phone. Once seated beside her again he dialed a number.

"Hey, Cordie, this is Peter. Angel there?.Hi, Angel.no, every thing is fine. I've got great news, I'm human again.the Charmed Ones.Yeah, that's about the way it happened.What did you say?..When?" Peter suddenly was on edge. Paige wondered what had happened. "Are you sure?.you don't think, Buffy..Well, I remember she was upset with Giles because.Yes, I did call her. .Sure, I'll see what I can find out." Paige noticed her two sisters were now in the room. "Say what?.You bet I will.Thanks. I'll call you soon." Peter hung up. "Alexander Lucard is dead."

"Who's he?" Paige took his hand.

"He was a vampire, wasn't he?" Phoebe asked.

Peter nodded. "A member of the Triumvirate. They're a ruling vampire council."

"I just had a premonition about them. What did your friend Angel say?" Phoebe took one of the chairs while Piper eased herself into the other.

"Someone staked Lucard in his hotel room in LA. Angel thinks maybe Gustaf Van Helsing finally got to him. The vampire hunter has been trying to kill him for years."

"Is that what you think happened?" Piper put in.

"Maybe. Maybe not. I know Buffy got very upset when she found out about them. Seems the Watcher Council didn't even want her to know there were different vampire species. They just wanted her to kill them all."

"Nice council," Piper commented.

"Peter," Phoebe said, "We have to stop whoever is killing them. The remaining two are still in danger."

"Protect vampires?" Paige held up a restraining hand. "I know, we were instructed to protect and help Peter."

"Angel told me about the Triumvirate. They're good vampires who use their wealth and position to help humanity."

"Does he know who they are, Peter?" Piper wanted to know.

Peter nodded. "Alexander Lucard, Julian Luna, Barnabas Collins and a mysterious alternate. From what Angel said, the alternate changes, just in case something happens and more than one replacement is needed."

"Lucard is already dead." Piper stated. "So we have to protect the other two. Do you have any idea where we can find them?"

"No. But I'd bet my foster father might."

Paige handed him the phone. "Call him."

Phoebe rose. "I'll go consult the Book of Shadows. I just hope we don't have to cross the slayer. She's one of the good guys."

Piper looked perplexed. "You're premonition didn't tell you?"

Phoebe shook her head. "No. I just saw a shadow stake two men."

Paige watched Peter. She saw something flash across his face. "Peter?"

"Buffy is like a sister to me. I hope it isn't her."

"Call your foster father. We can decide what to do from there." ###############################################################

Peter's call to Paul caught the deputy director on his way out the door. After Peter explained an old friend tipped him off about Lucard's death, Paul told him what little they knew. He had been found by the other two, or rather his ashes had been, and the Phoenix Foundation had been notified. Pete Thorton chose to very carefully cover up the Triumvirate member's murder. There weren't any real suspects and no fingerprints had been found at the scene. Peter pushed for the location of the other two. Blaisdell had been hesitant, but finally consented when Peter explained about the Charmed Ones and how they could protect the Triumvirate.

Peter put the phone aside. "Collins and Luna are here, in an OSI safe house. Paul gave me the address."

"Good." Piper waddled back in sipping a glass of water. "We need to get them here so we can protect them. Home field advantage." She sat down.

"Well," Phoebe fiddled with a bit of her hair. "The Book of Shadows pretty much told me the same thing you did. I didn't however, find the names of either vampire."

"Angel told me they were relatively new. Seems a few years back there was some kind of massive shake up in the vampire kingdom. Lucard, Luna and Collins stepped in as the new Triumvirate."

"So maybe our threat is a vampire holding a grudge," Piper suggested, "Someone who maybe didn't like the change."

"Could be." Peter rubbed his jaw. He needed a shave. One more thing he would need to remember to do. "Luna and a Romanian noble pushed to establish the Phoenix Foundation. Collins came in later," He paused, "Angel always suspected Lucard had a personal agenda."

"And maybe the murderer thinks the other two where in on it, too." Phoebe proposed.

"Or not," Paige commented.

"In the meantime," Peter got up. "I'd better go get them and bring them here. You three get ready for any unwanted guests."

"You're not going alone, Peter." Paige stood.

"I can take care of myself."

"But," Paige protested.

He kissed her. "I'm well trained in defending myself. Between my father, the police academy, and fighting with Buffy, I can handle just about anything."

"But you aren't a vampire anymore."

"I'll be fine, Paige. I'll probably be gone three or four hours. The safe house is a ways out." He took the offered keys from Piper and left the Manor. Outside, he surveyed the street thinking he'd seen a shadow. He shook his head, it was just the lamppost. He got into the suburban. It would take about an hour to get the safe house. He hoped the two vampires had that much time. ################################################################

"Paige, you're going to walk a hole in the kitchen floor. I don't want Leo to have to spend all day fixing it."

"Piper's right." Phoebe sipped her coffee. She sat at the kitchen table with Piper while Paige paced.

"What's taking so long? Peter should have been back by now."

"He did say," Piper drank some of her tea, "it would probably take awhile. He might have run into traffic."

"Or our killer." Paige stopped and faced her sisters.

"Come on, Paige, " Phoebe soothed. "Peter's had excellent training. I'm sure he can handle himself."

"What if it's a demon or another vampire? How can he." she paused as a car pulled into the driveway. She ran out of the kitchen. Phoebe and Piper followed.

The front door opened. "Come on in," she heard Peter invite. Two fashionably dressed men stepped into the manor. One had a distinct Italian appearance with black hair and eyes. The other dark brown hair and matching eyes and kind of reminded her of Ben Cross from that movie 'Chariots of Fire'.

Peter flashed her a smile. "Hi, This is Julian Luna and Barnabas Collins."

"So you're the Charmed Ones, " Luna commented. His smile touched his eyes with warmth.

"We've heard of you. Even in my distant state." Barnabas Collins glanced around the room. "I like your home."

"Thank you. Haven't I seen you on TV," Piper answered, "Didn't you run for the senate?"

Barnabas nodded. "After my term was over, I stepped aside for someone else. "

"We did a spread on you at the paper," Phoebe's excitement crept into her voice. "Many thought you'd make a good president."

"I'm flattered." He flexed his fingers on his silver-headed cane.

"Let's all sit down," Piper suggested. Everyone followed her to the living room. Their two guests choose to sit in chairs, Peter and Paige on the couch. Piper sat in another chair and Phoebe stood near the large door.

"We appreciate the offer to protect us." Barnabas spoke, "Lucard's demise was totally unexpected."

"You didn't hear or see anything?" Peter sat slightly forward. No doubt his cop instincts had kicked in.

"Nothing," Julian replied. "Whoever did this, knows us well. We're guessing he was killed during the day."

"Paul told me security was tight. I wonder how they got past."

"Same way I got in here."

Peter jumped to his feet. "Faith!" He immediately placed himself between her and the two vampires.

"Been awhile, Peter." The lanky dark haired slayer strolled into the room. "I thought I recognized your foster father at that ritzy hotel."

"Staked me out, didn't you?" he accused.

"In more ways than one." She dropped him a cocky smile. "Don't be so surprised, vamp. I promised you our little fight wasn't over."

Peter stiffened. Paige's concern grew. Who was this young woman?

"Peter, who is this and what is going on?" Piper demanded.

"Piper, take Luna and Collins somewhere else," Peter ordered.

"They're not going anywhere." Faith blocked the door. "I plan to redeem myself to the Watcher Council."

"You did that when you willingly went to jail for murdering that man," Peter countered.

"That's not enough."

"Piper, call Leo."

"Leo! Leo!" she called.

The whitelighter orbed in. He noticed Faith. "What's going on?"

"Orb Luna and Collins somewhere safe," Peter ordered. "Do it now, Leo."

Leo touched the shoulder of each vampire and the three vanished in sparkling light.

"Neat trick. I'll find them again you know." Faith turned her full attention on Peter. "Time to die vampire!" She raised a wooden stake she had hidden in her belt behind her back.

Paige threw herself in front of Peter. No way would she allow Faith to kill the man she loved. "Stop! Peter's human!"

"You're demented."

"No, she isn't." Phoebe also placed herself in front of Peter. Piper joined her sisters. "We're the Charmed Ones."

Faith hesitated. Her eyes darted from one to the other. "You're all lying." She lunged. Phoebe levitated and kicked the slayer. Faith's body sailed across the room. The stake clattered behind something. She hit the floor and rolled. "Okay, if you want to play rough."

Peter pushed the sisters aside. "This is my fight. Faith and I have some unfinished business."

"You could say that." She hit him midsection. Peter went down. She broke a wooden bit off one of the tables. "Time to die."

Peter caught her wrists and pushed back. He performed a Kung Fu move and tossed her off him. She hit the wall.

"Ow. That hurt." She came at him again.

Peter was back on his feet. He kicked her with his foot. She took a few steps back. "Been working out?" she taunted.

"Peter's human!" Paige screamed at her. "Stop it!"

"Stay out of this witch. Or you and your sisters are next."

The two started fighting in earnest. The sisters scattered as they combatants worked their way from the living room into the sunroom. They hurried after the pair.

"Can't we stop this?" Paige could feel her heart pounding. She was terrified the woman would kill Peter.

"I don't know how,' Piper said.

Peter managed to get Faith against the wall. He had her pinned by her arms. "Enough Faith. Its over."

"It's not over until you're dead!" She struggled against him.

"Find me something to tie her up with!"

Phoebe ran from the room and returned with some rope. Peter tied the woman up and sat her one of the wicker chairs.

"Okay, who is this and what is going on?" Piper glared at them.

Peter wiped some blood off his mouth with the back of his hand. "Meet Faith. She's another slayer." He shook his head. "Don't ask."

Piper sat down in a chair. Phoebe stood behind the slayer while Paige came to Peter's side.

"In love with the vamp, witch?" Faith spat.

Phoebe tied a bandana over Faith's mouth. She slapped her hands together like she was cleaning them off. "Much better. Okay, Peter, what's the scoop?"

"Faith was activated when a Kendra was killed. Kendra," Peter sat on the loveseat. "had been activated when Buffy died. Xander brought Buffy back. Long story. Anyway, Faith came to Sunnydale and I won't bore you with all the details. Let's just say she and I never got along. She thought it would be fun to get to Angel and to me. Even tried to get us to turn on each other. When I figured out her little scam and confronted her, she started a fight and nearly staked me."

Faith's eyes spit fury. She made noise and wiggled, trying to free herself.

"The Watcher Council tried to deal with her. She nearly succeeded in destroying Buffy." At her stunned look, Peter smiled tiredly. "I may have left by then Faith. That doesn't mean I didn't keep in contact. I've heard the entire story from Buffy, Willow and Angel."

Leo orbed back in. His two charges were with him. "The Elders want to talk with Faith. They told me it was safe to bring Julian and Barnabas back."

"She's all yours," Peter told him.

Leo placed a hand on the slayer's shoulder and the two orbed out.

"What do you think the Elders want with Faith?" Paige was puzzled.

"Hard to say," Piper answered. "Are you going to take them back to the safe house or do you think they should stay here?"

Peter shook his head. "I don't know."

"Peter," Phoebe sat down. "How did Faith know what your foster father looked like? I thought only your father was with you in Sunnydale."

"Paul sent me pictures of my family. Since Buffy and her friends were constant guests at our home, Faith probably saw them."

"Good memory," Piper observed.

"Part of a slayers training." Peter winced touching his jaw. Paige wished Leo were there to heal her lover.

"Peter," Luna asked, "where is the phone? I think we should call Thorton or Blaisdell and tell them the killer has been caught."

"You're right." Peter started to get up.

"Sit down, Peter," Paige gently ordered. "I'll get the phone." She fetched it and sat back next to him. Peter took it and dialed a number.

"Hi, Paul, it's over. The killer has been caught.No, she isn't." He rubbed his forehead. "Paul, it's been dealt with. Do you want me to take Luna and Collins back to the safe house?"

Barnabas laid a hand on Peter's arm. The young man glanced up. "Just tell him to send a car to this address. We need to get back to LA and activate one of the alternates."

"Paul, Barnabas Collins says just to send a car here.Yes, I'm sure it's safe.1329 Prospect street.Okay, I'll tell them." He hung up. "Car's on its way."

Luna pulled up another chair. "I'd like you three lovely ladies to tell me something about yourselves. I've heard so many stories about the Charmed Ones."

###############################################################

When Leo returned, Faith wasn't with him. He only said the Elders had rendered a judgement and Faith was serving a sentence accordingly. He and Piper went to bed shortly after. Phoebe stayed up and talked with their two guests until the limo pulled up and took them away. She then excused herself and went to her room. Paige stood in front of the sunroom windows. She had her arms hugged around herself.

Peter came up behind her and hugged her. "Penny for your thoughts."

"The slayer scared me. I thought she was going to kill you."

He didn't tell her he'd thought the same. Without his vampire strength, she could have easily defeated him. Only his father's training had saved his life.

"Paige," he turned her to face him. "I'm used to being in danger. So are you. That wouldn't change, " he held his breath and took the plunge, "even if we get married."

Her eyes bulged. "Married? Peter Caine are you proposing?"

He got down on one knee before her. "Paige Matthews, will you marry me?"

Emotions danced on her pretty face. She dropped to her knees and threw her arms around him. He held her warm and desirable body.

She pulled back. "Will you give me time to think about it."

He kind of expected that would be her answer. They really hadn't known each other that long. "Take all the time need, Paige."

She smiled and kissed him. He knew her answer would be worth the wait.