A/N: So with this book two comes to an end. I wrote this epilogue a few months ago, and I had promised myself that I would get it uploaded by Christmas. I cut it pretty close to the wire, but I did it. Once again, thank you to everyone who has read this and Lovers in a Dangerous Time. I have had so much fun putting out these stories, and I so appreciate all who have read it.
The final book will be coming in hopefully a few weeks.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!
Alison walked out onto the back deck of Flint's parents' house. The Christmas festivities had started to wind down, and she needed some air before she said her goodbyes to Flint's family. She flashed back to the time thirteen months prior, when she was newly engaged, pregnant with Marissa, and conflicted about the future. Now her one-year wedding anniversary was coming up, Marissa was a happy, healthy eight-month old, and Alison was still worried about what the future would bring.
She heard the muffled squeals of delight coming from her daughter, and she turned to watch her through the open double window that showed the living room. Marissa had the complete attention of one of the dogs that was playfully licking and nudging her. Flint was on his knees only a couple of feet away from the two apparently ready to rescue Marissa if the dog became too rough.
Alison had to swallow against the lump that once again formed in her throat. She had been told by many people the past month that Christmas was going to be a whole new experience now that she was a mother. Each time she heard that, she nodded politely, but she now realized that they were correct. She had spent the last couple of days choking back happy tears as she watched Marissa experience the joy of Christmas with her family. Alison imagined that each holiday going forward would become even more special.
That was, of course, assuming she would be around to see the future holidays with Flint and Marissa.
She turned away from the window and for the umpteenth time, replayed her last day at the Pentagon before they had left on Christmas break. It had been a pretty somber time there. A few offices tried to continue their holiday traditions, but out of respect for the fallen and the destruction at the Pentagon, any celebrations were kept to a bare minimum.
Flint too had tried to keep his enthusiasm in check. He had confessed to her early that morning, that he felt bad being so excited for their Christmas holiday, while other people were still in mourning. But he was so happy that they were together, and after nearly losing the two of them, he wanted to fully embrace the opportunity he had been given.
Alison shared his thoughts, and as the hours ticked away, she too became very excited for the start of the holiday. Until a grim-faced Hawk came over to her desk. "I'm sorry that they chose this time to do this. I considered waiting until after you got back to let you know, but unfortunately I think you're going to need all the time you can get to prepare."
With that ominous warning, Alison took the paper that Hawk held out to her. Flint instantly joined her side and asked her what was wrong.
Her heart stopped as she read through the summons. Once she was done she looked at Flint, and it took her a few moments to be able to speak. "I've been ordered to appear in front of Congress as soon as they return from their winter break. They apparently think I had something to do with the Red Shadows attack."
"That's ridiculous," Flint said as he took the paper from her to read it himself. Once he was done, he turned to Hawk, "Can they do this?"
"Of course they can. They've only started their investigation but from the little I've heard they think there might have been someone on the inside helping the Red Shadows."
"They think it was me?" Alison asked.
"I wouldn't jump to that conclusion. They're probably questioning dozens of people to see who knows what. Although, I don't like the fact that you were the only one from this office that was summoned."
Needless to say, the news had dulled Alison's excitement for the holiday. But after spending most of the rest of the day confessing her fears to Flint, she decided to make a conscious effort to not spend the whole vacation worrying.
The sliding glass door opened, and Flint walked out. "Are you okay?" he asked as he walked over and enveloped her in a hug.
"Yes, I'm just thinking. I was able to put the congressional witch hunt out of my mind the last couple of days, but now that Christmas is over, I can't help but worry over what is coming next."
"Alison, it's going to be okay. You're totally innocent."
"I know that. But I know they're looking for a scapegoat, so I'm afraid the truth isn't going to matter."
"Maybe. But they still can't convict you for a crime you didn't commit."
Alison nestled into Flint's chest. They had a similar discussion when they had first heard the news. At the time he told her to try and not worry about something she couldn't control. She forced herself to take his advice again. "Where is Marissa?"
"Mom's getting her changed for bed."
Alison nodded. She knew she should go back in to the house, but she was too content in that moment being alone with Flint. She was once again hit with the foreboding premonition that her happiness was not going to last. As had often happened the last couple of months, when she was feeling the most vulnerable, thoughts of the old Scottish woman entered her mind.
She pulled away from Flint and looked at him. He rubbed her cheek with the back of his hand and once again told her that everything was going to be okay. There had been several times that she wanted to tell him about what the woman had predicted, but each time she came up with a reason not to. Even though she didn't want to ruin his happiness, she needed his reassurance that what the woman said was not going to come true.
"When I went on my last mission with the Joes, I came across an old Scottish woman. I thought she was either the Baroness or Zarana in disguise so I chased after her. She wasn't a Cobra operative but she did give me a disturbing prediction for our future."
"What did she say?" Flint asked with concern.
"That a group in the shadows was going to destroy our happiness. Dash, I think she meant the Red Shadows. I'm so afraid that their attack on the Pentagon was only the beginning, and that it's not going to end well for us."
Flint grabbed her hand. "Alison, you can't take to heart the ramblings of a crazy old lady."
"Normally, I wouldn't. But at the time she knew I was pregnant. And that it was a girl, and that we were going to end up married. Those were both things I didn't even know for sure."
"That's how those charlatans work. She probably made vague generalizations that you twisted to match your situation." Alison knew that wasn't the case, but she also knew she wasn't going to be able to convince Flint otherwise. So she simply nodded. Flint continued. "It's perfectly normal to be afraid of another Red Shadows attack. And to be honest, that thought keeps me up more nights that not. The Joes are doing all they can to hunt them down. In the meantime we can be vigilant, take steps to protect ourselves, and live each day that we're given to the fullest."
Alison wiped at the dampness that formed under her eyes. "You're right. I'll try and stop worrying. These last few days have been amazing, and I want to keep that going." She squeezed Flint's hand and nodded towards the house. "Merry Christmas, Dash. Let's go kiss our baby girl goodnight."